Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Episode of Kapila which is the fifth 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 5: Episode of Kapila

After he had crossed the Tāpī, as he advanced Rāma came to a village, Aruṇagrāma, situated on the border of that country. As Sītā was thirsty, Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa went to the house of Kapila, who maintained the agnihotra,[1] and who was bad-tempered. His wife, Suśarmā, gave them each a seat and herself gave them fresh, cool water to drink. Then Kapila came, harsh as a Piśāca, and seeing them seated said angrily to his wife, “Why was admission to my house given by you to these impure persons, wretched woman! The agnihotra has been made impure”. The younger brother of Rāma, angered, lifted up the cruel Brāhman scolding in this way, like an elephant, and began to whirl him around in the air. Rāma said, “What is this anger against this man, a mere worm! Turn him loose, calling himself a Brāhman, though making a false statement, honor-giver.” At Rāma’s command, Saumitri gradually released the Brāhman and Rāma with Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa left his house.

The rainy season:

As they went along, in time they came to another great forest; and the season with clouds black as antimony arrived. While it rained Kākutstha remained under a banyan tree. He said, “We will pass the rainy season in this same banyan tree.” The god presiding over the banyan tree, a Yakṣa named Ibhakarṇa, was terrified at hearing that speech and went to his lord, Gokarṇa. Bowing to him, he said: “Master, I have been driven out of my own house, the banyan tree, by some persons with unbearable brilliance. Therefore, make a refuge for me shelterless, lord. For they are going to stay in my tree for the whole rainy season.”

Gokarṇa knew from clairvoyance and wisely explained, “These are the eighth Rāma and śārṅgin who have come to the house. They are to be worshipped.” Going there at night, the god created for Rāma a city which was nine yojanas wide and twelve long, filled with money and grain, etc., with high-walled palaces and rows of shops filled with merchandise, named Rāmapurī. Awakened at dawn by an auspicious noise, Rāma saw the magnificent city and the Yakṣa carrying a lute. He said to the astonished Rāma: “Master, you are my guest. I am a Yakṣa, Gokarṇa, and I made the city for you. Remain here comfortably, served day and night by my attendants and myself, as long as you like, master.”

Thus urged by him, Rāma remained there comfortably with Sītā and Saumitri, served by the Yakṣa’s men.

Now the Brāhman Kapila came to this great forest one day, when he was roaming about for fuel, et cetera, carrying an axe. He saw the city and thought to himself in astonishment, “Is this an illusion, or sorcery, or a mirage?” He saw there a Yakṣiṇī in human form, wearing beautiful clothes and ornaments, and asked her, “Whose is this new city?” She replied: “This new city was made’ by the Yakṣa Gokarṇa for Rāma, Sītā, and Saumitri. It is named Rāmapurī. Here Rāma gives money to the poor and such persons, an ocean of compassion. Every suffering person who comes here has his wishes gratified.”

Abandoning his load of fuel and falling at her lotus-feet, he said, “Tell me, faultless lady, how I can see Rāma.” She said: “In this city there are four gates and they are guarded constantly by Yakṣas. Entrance to these is hard to obtain. If you go to the east gate, after paying homage properly to the shrine there and after becoming a layman, then you can obtain admission.” According to her speech, Kapila, seeking money, went into the presence of sādhus; honored the sādhus, and listened to religion from them. He became a layman, purified because of light karma; went home, and made a laywoman of his wife by teaching her religion.

Consumed by poverty from birth, they went to Rāmapurī to ask Rāma for money and bowed to the shrine. The Brāhman was greatly terrified, when he entered the palace and saw Maithilī, Rāma, and Lakṣmaṇa, recalling the abuse he had given. Saumitri, compassionate, said to him wishing to escape, “Do not be afraid, Brāhman. If you are a beggar, come. Ask for money.” Then Kapila went fearlessly to Rāma, gave him a blessing, and sat down before him on a seat assigned by Gūhyakas. Asked by Rāma, “Whence have you come?” he said: “Do you not know me, the Brāhman living in Aruṇagrāma? Though you were my guest, I abused you with harsh speech, You, compassionate, had me released from him (Saumitri).” His wife, Suśarmā, sad-faced, sat down near Sītā, after bestowing a blessing, accompanied by a narrative of former events. Then the Brāhmans wishes were gratified with much money and, dismissed by Rāghava, he returned to his own village. Enlightened, the Brāhman gave gifts according to taste and took the vow under Sūri Nandāvataṃsa.

At the end of the rainy season Gokarṇa noticed that Rāghava wished to leave and he said to him respectfully, his hands folded submissively: “If you are going to leave here, master, be gracious to me. Pardon me for any stumbling in devotion to you. Who is able to show honor suitable for you, long-armed one?” With these words he gave Rāma a necklace called Svayamprabha, to Saumitri ear-ornaments made of divine jewels, and to Sītā a crest-jewel and a lute which played anything desired. Rāma received permission from the Yakṣa and set out according to his wish, and then the Yakṣa destroyed the city that he himself had made.

Footnotes and references:


The oblation to Agni, consisting chiefly of milk, oil, and sour gruel, MW.

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