Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

by Helen M. Johnson | 1931 | 742,503 words

This page describes Episode of the bath-water which is the fifteenth part of chapter IV of the English translation of the Jain Ramayana, contained within the “Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra”: a massive Jain narrative relgious text composed by Hemacandra in the 12th century. This Jain Ramayana contains the biographies of Rama, Lakshmana, Ravana, Naminatha, Harishena-cakravartin and Jaya-cakravartin: all included in the list of 63 illustrious beings or worthy persons.

One day, King Daśaratha held a festival of great magnificence at the shrines and bathed Śānti. Then the king sent the bath-water by the chamberlain to the chief-queen first and afterwards to the other queens by slave-girls. But the slave-girls, moving with the speed of youth, delivered the bath-water to the (other) queens first and paid homage to them. But because the chamberlain moved slowly, like Śani,[1] from age, the chief-queen had not received the bath-water and reflected:

“The king has shown favor to all the queens by the Jina’s bath-water, but not to me, the chief-queen. Therefore, enough of life for me, unfortunate that I am! When pride has been destroyed, life is more painful than death.” After these reflections, she went inside, resolved on death, and the proud lady began to hang herself with her garment. Just then the king came and saw her condition. Fearing her death, he set her on his lap and said: “Because of what disrespect have you commenced such a wicked, impulsive thing? Or have I by chance shown you any lack of respect?” Choking with sobs, she said, “You sent the Jina’s bath-water to each of all the queens, but not to me.”

Just as she said this, the chamberlain came, saying, “The king has sent you this bath-water of the Arhat.” He sprinkled her on the head with the pure water; and was questioned by the king, “Why have you delayed in coming?” The chamberlain said, “My old age is at fault. Book yourself, master, at me who am not able to do all tasks.”

Then, looking at him who was stumbling at every step as if about to die, his teeth moving like the tongue inside a bell, a vessel of wrinkles, the hair on his body white, his eyes covered by his eye-brows, his flesh and blood dried up, the trembling of his whole body apparent, the king thought, “While we are not yet like that, we will struggle for the fourth object of existence.” With such a wish the king passed some time in worldly existence, averse to objects of the senses, absorbed in disgust with the world.

Footnotes and references:


Saturn in Indian astrology is represented as an old man.

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