by Helen M. Johnson | 1931 | 742,503 words
This page describes Story of the seven ascetic-brothers which is the ninth part of chapter VIII 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 Śrīnandana established his son who was a month old on the throne and with his sons became a mendicant under the teacher Prītikara. Śrīnandana went to emancipation and the seven, Surananda, et cetera, acquired the art of flying with their legs through the power of penance. In their wandering the sages reached the city Mathurā. At that time it was the rainy season and they stopped on Mt. Guhāgṛha. They practiced the penances, the two-day and three-day fasts, et cetera, all the time; but they flew to far places to break their fast. They came back and stopped on Mt. Guhā at Mathurā, and by their power the disease arising from Camara disappeared.
One day they flew to Ayodhyā to break their fast and entered the house of the merchant Arhaddatta for alms. The merchant saluted them indifferently and thought: “Who are they? They do not live here. Dressed as monks, they are moving about even in the rains. Shall I ask them? Still, it is better not to talk with heretics.” As he was thinking this, they were given food by his wife.
The sages went to the dwelling of Ācārya Dyuti and were greeted respectfully by Dyuti who rose to meet them. They were not greeted by his monks with the idea, “They are wandering out of season.” Dyuti gave them seats and they broke their fast there. Saying, “We came from the city Mathurā and now we shall go there,” they flew up and returned to their own abode. Dyuti eulogized the merits of the leg-fliers and his monks who had shown disrespect felt remorse. Hearing that, the layman Arhaddatta felt remorse and went to Mathurā* on the seventh day of the light half of Kārtika. After he had worshipped the shrines, he paid homage to the seven sages and asked them for forgiveness, relating the sin of disrespect that he had committed.
Śatrughna learned that his territory had been freed from disease by the power of the seven sages and he went to the city on the full moon-day of Kārtika. Śatrughna bowed to them and said, “Take alms in my house.” They replied, “Royal food is not suitable for monks.” Again śatrughna said to them: “You are my benefactors. A disease sent to my country by a god has been allayed by your power. Remain here today at least as a favor to the people. For all your way of life is in order to benefit others.” They replied: “The rainy season has passed. This is the season for pilgrimages. Ṇow we shall wander. Monks do not remain in one place. You should put a statue of an Arhat in each house of the people. Then no one in this city will ever have any disease.” Saying this the seven sages flew up and went elsewhere. Śatrughna did as they said and the people became free from disease. He put statues made of jewels of the seven sages in the four directions of the city Mathurā.
Footnotes and references:
An eighth son.