Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Story of the thief Kaka which is the fourth part of chapter V 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.

Part 4: Story of the thief Kāka

In time Rāma came to the Narmada and crossed it, and entered the Vindhya forest, though restrained by travelers. First, a crow, seated on a thorn tree to the right, cawed harshly; but another on a fig tree cawed softly. Nevertheless, Rāma felt neither depression nor joy. For it is the weak who consider a favorable or an unfavorable omen. As he went along, he saw an army of Mlecchas with raised weapons coming, consisting of innumerable elephants, chariots, and horses, which had set out to devastate the country. Its young general saw Sītā there and, afflicted by love, uncontrolled in conduct, he instructed his own Mlecchas emphatically:

“Look! Either drive away or destroy these two men travelers; seize this excellent woman and bring her along for me.” So instructed, they ran with him toward Rāghava, attacking with sharp weapons consisting of arrows and darts. Lakṣmaṇa said to Rāma: “Remain here, elder brother, with your lady, until I drive away these Mlecchas like dogs.” With these words, Lakṣmaṇa strung his bow and made it sound; and at its sound the Mlecchas trembled like elephants at a lion’s roar. Reflecting, “The sound of the bow is unendurable, to say nothing of the shooting of the arrow,” the Mleccha-king approached Rāma. His weapons laid aside, his face sad, he descended from his chariot and bowed to Rāmabhadra, watched angrily by Saumitra. He said: “Your Majesty, in the city Kauśāmbī there is a Brāhman, Vaiśvānara, and his wife Sāvitrī. I am their son, Rudradeva. Because of cruel karma, from birth I was a thief and devoted to other men’s wives. There is nothing which I, wicked, did not do. Then one day I was found at the entrance to a tunnel by the royal servants and was led away to be impaled at the king’s command. I, miserable, was seen near the stake, like a goat near the slaughter-house, by a merchant-layman and was freed because he paid a fine. Saying, ‘Do not steal again,’ the noble merchant dismissed me and I left the country. Wandering about, I came to this village and, known here by another name, Kāka, I gradually reached the village-headship. Remaining here, I had cities, etc. looted by robbers. I myself have gone and captured even kings and brought them here for ransom. I am obedient to you, like a Vyantara. Give me orders, master. What shall I, a servant, do? Pardon my lack of respect.” The king of Kirātas was answered by Rāma, “Free Vālikhilya.” He set him free and Vālikhilya bowed to Rāghava. At Rāma’s command he was conducted by Kāka to Kūbara again and saw his own daughter, Kalyāṇamālā, dressed in men’s clothes. Kalyāṇamālikā and Vālikhilya related to each other the news about Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa. Kāka went to his own village and Rāma set forth and reached the river Tāpī, after crossing the Vindhya-forest.

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