Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Previous births of Dasharatha which is the seventeenth 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.

“You were a merchant of noble character in Senāpura and you had a daughter, Upāsti, by your wife, Dīpikā. She became hostile to sādhus and wandered miserably through existence for a long time in births as animals, et cetera. After your soul had wandered in existence you became the son, Varuṇa, by his wife, Sundarī, of Dhana in Candrapura. Then naturally liberal, you gave superior gifts to sādhus unceasingly with faith, and died. You became a twin in the Uttarakurus in Dhātakīkhaṇḍa and after death you became a god and then you fell. In the city Puṣkalā in the province Puṣkalāvatī you were born Nandivardhana, the son of King Nandighoṣa and Queen Pṛthvī. Nandighoṣa installed you, his son Nandivardhana, on the throne, was initiated by Muni Yaśodhara, and went to Graiveyaka. You, Nandivardhana, guarded your layman’s duties, died, became a god in Brahmaloka, and then fell.

In East Videhā in the city Śaśipura, the ornament of the north row on Vaitāḍhya, you became the long-armed son, Sūryañjaya, of the Vidyādhara-lord, Ratnamālin, by his wife Vidyullatā. One day Ratnamālin went to the city Siṃhapura to conquer an arrogant Vidyādhara-lord, Vajranayana. He began to burn by force the city Siṃhapura together with its children and old people, its women, its cattle, and gardens. Then a god, the soul of your chaplain in a former birth, named Upamanyu, came from Sahasrāra and said:

‘Listen! Noble sir! Do not commit such a great crime. You were a king, Bhūrinandana, in a former birth. Then you from discernment promised to abstain from meat and you were said by the chaplain Upamanyu to have broken the vow. One day the priest was killed by a man named Skanda, was born an elephant, and was captured by King Bhūrinandana. The elephant was killed in battle and then was born the son, Arisūdana, of King Bhūrinandana by his wife Gandhārā. The memory of former births took place, he became a mendicant, died, and became I, a god in Sahasrāra. Know me. King Bhūrinandana became a python in a forest, was burned by a forest-fire, and went to the second hell. He was enlightened by me who went to the hell from former affection, rose from there and became you, King Ratnamālin here. Do not burn this city, which will produce endless pain now, like the breaking of the vow to reject meat at that time.’

After hearing that account, Ratnamālin desisted from battle and installed Kulanandana, Sūrya’s son, on the throne. At that very time he took the vow with his son Sūryañjana in the presence of Ācārya Tilakasundara. The two died and became chief-gods in Mahāśukra. Then Sūryañjaya fell and became you, Daśaratha, sir. Ratnamālin fell and became Janaka. Upamanyu fell and became Kanaka, son of Janaka. Nandighoṣa, who was your father in your Nandivardhana-birth, became I, Satyabhūti, having fallen from Graiveyaka.”

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