by Helen M. Johnson | 1931 | 742,503 words
This page describes Former births of Ravana, Sita, Lakshmana, Sugriva, Bhamandala, Lavana and Ankusha which is the second part of chapter X 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.
Bibhīṣaṇa bowed and asked: “Because of what action in a former birth did Rāvaṇa kidnap Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa kill him in battle? Why are Sugrīva, Bhāmaṇḍala, also Lavaṇa and Aṅkuśa, and I exceedingly devoted to Raghūdvaha?”
The blessed muni explained: “Here in the southern half of Bharata in the city Kṣemapura there was a merchant, named Nayadatta. He had two sons, Dhanadatta and Vasudatta, by Sunandā; and they had a friend, a, Brāhman, named Yājñavalkya. In this city there was a merchant, Sāgaradatta, who had a son, Guṇadhara, and a daughter, Guṇavatī. Guṇavatī was promised by Sāgaradatta to Nayadatta’s son, Dhanadatta, who had suitable qualities. But her mother, Ratnaprabhā, from avariciousness gave Guṇavatī secretly to a rich man of that place, named Śrīkānta. Yājñavalkya knew that and, unable to endure the deceiving of his friends, told his friends, the sons of Nayadatta. Then Vasudatta went and killed Śrīkānta in the night and Vasudatta was struck down by Śrīkānta with a sword. Both became deer in the Vindhya forest and Guṇavatī, who had died unmarried, became a doe there. On her account they fought there also and died; and in the same way they passed through many births with mutual hostility.
At that time Dhanadatta, depressed by his brother’s death, impious, wandering at night saw some monks one time when he was hungry. He asked them for food and one of the munis said, ‘Even by day monks do not have any collection of food, drink, et cetera. It is not fitting for you to eat or drink at night, good sir. Who knows the contact of living creatures in food, et cetera in such darkness?’
Enlightened by him with such words, as if sprinkled with nectar on his heart, he became a layman. After death he became a god in Saudharma. After falling, he became the merchant Padmaruci, a very devout layman, the son of Dhāraṇī and Meru, in the city Mahāpura. One day he happened to be riding to the cow-pen when, he saw an old bull that had fallen on the road and was dying. Compassionate, he dismounted from his horse, approached him, and spoke the formula of homage to the Five Supreme Ones in his ear. By its power he became after death Vṛṣabhadhvaja, the son of King Chatracchāya and Śrīdattā, in the same place.
One day, strolling at random, he went to the spot of the old bull and recovered memory of former existences at the sight of the place of the former birth. He had a shrine built there and on one of its walls he had the dying old bull painted, a man reciting the formula of homage in his ear, and near him his horse with a saddle. He instructed the guards there, ‘If any one should look at this picture and understand it completely, I must be informed about him at once.’ With these instructions he went to his house.
One day the best of merchants, Padmaruci, went to that shrine to worship. After he had worshipped the Arhat he looked at the picture on the wall and said with astonishment, ‘All that agrees with me.’ Informed by the guards, Vṛṣabhadhvaja went there and asked the man, ‘Do you know the events of the picture?’ ‘Some time ago I recited the formula of homage to that bull when he was dying. I have been painted here by some one knowing about it,’ he said. Bowing to him, Vṛṣabhadhvaja said: ‘I, who was this old bull, have become a king’s son by the power of the formula of homage. To what birth would I, having an animal-birth at that time, have gone, if you, compassionate, had not recited to me the formula of homage? You are in every respect my teacher, my master, my divinity. Enjoy this large kingdom which was given to me by you.’
After saying this, Vṛṣabhadhvaja wandered with Padmaruci, no separation being made, observing a layman’s vows. After they had fully observed the state of a layman for a long time, they died and became powerful gods in the heaven Īśāna. When he fell Padmaruci became the son, named Nayanānanda, of Nandīśvara by Kanakābhā in the city Nandāvarta on Mt. Vaitāḍhya to the west of Meru. After he had enjoyed the kingdom, be became a mendicant. (After death) he became a god in Māhendra. When he fell, he became the son of King Vipulavāhana by Padmāvatī in the city Kṣemā in East Videhā, named Śrīcandra. After he had enjoyed the kingdom and had become a mendicant at the end under Muni Samādhigupta, he became the Indra of Brahmaloka.
When he fell, he became Padma here, the powerful Balabhadra, and Vṛṣbhadhvaja’s soul became in turn Sugrīva. After wandering through births, Śrīkānta’s soul became a prince, son of Śambhu and Hemavatī, named Vajrakaṇṭha, in the town Mṛṇālakanda. After he had wandered through births, Vasudatta became Śrībhūti, son of Vijaya, the chaplain of King Śambhu, and Ratnacūḍā. After various births, Guṇavatī became the daughter of Śrībhūti and Sarasvatī, named Vegavatī.
One day, when she had grown up, she saw Sādhu Sudarśana, engaged in pratimā, being worshipped by the people, and she said jeeringly: ‘Listen! This monk was seen before sporting with a woman whom he has sent elsewhere. Why do you worship him, people?’ After hearing that, all the people changed quickly and began to revile the muni together with spreading the news of his sin. The sage took a vow, ‘I will not break my fast until this accusation against me has been completely removed.’
Then Vegavatī’s mouth became swollen from the anger of the gods. She was rebuked severely by her father when he knew her transgression against the sādhu. Terrified by her illness and her father, she said in a loud voice to Muni Sudarśana before all the people: ‘You are entirely blameless. This same sin was falsely alleged against you by me myself, master. Pardon me, ocean of forbearance.’ After hearing this speech, the people again worshipped the muni. From that time Vegavatī was cured and she became a laywoman.
When King Śambhu had seen her, beautiful, he asked for her (in marriage). Śrībhūti replied, ‘I will hot give her to a false believer.’ Śambhu killed Śrībhūti and enjoyed her by force. ‘May I be able to kill you in another birth,’ she cursed him. Released by Śambhu, she became a mendicant under Āryikā Harikāntā and, when her life was completed, went to Brahmaloka. When she fell, by the power of the nidāna she became Sītā, Janaka’s daughter, for the destruction of the Lord of the Rakṣasas, who was Śambhu’s soul. Because of the false accusation of a sin against Muni Sudarśana, she was falsely accused by the people here.
After wandering through births, Śambhu’s soul was born as the son, named Prabhāsa, of the Brāhman Kuśa-dhvaja and Sāvitrī. One day he became a mendicant under Vijayasena, practiced severe penance, enduring trials. He saw Kanakaprabha, lord of Vidyādharas, start on a pilgrimage to Sammeta, magnificent as Indra. He made a nidāna, ‘May I have such magnificence as he because of this penance.’ After death, he was born in the third heaven. After falling, he became Rāvaṇa, lord of Khecaras, your elder brother, who had made at that time a nidāna for the magnificence of Kanakaprabha. The Brāhman, Yājñavalkya, who was the friend of Dhanadatta and Vasudatta, became you, Bibhīṣaṇa, after wandering through births.
When Śrībhūti was killed by the king, he went to heaven. Then he fell and was born Punarvasu, a Vidyādhara in Supratiṣṭhapura. Afflicted by love, he kidnapped Anaṅgasundarī, daughter of Cakrin Tribhuvanānanda, in the province Puṇḍarīka. Anaṅgasundarī fell from his aerial car into a thicket, when he was bewildered by fighting with Vidyādharas sent by the cakrin. After making a nidāna for winning her, Punarvasu became a mendicant, went to heaven, fell and became Lakṣmaṇa. Left in the forest, Anaṅgasundarī practiced penance, fasted, and in the end was devoured by a serpent. Having died with concentrated meditation, she became a goddess in the second heaven and, after falling, was born as Viśalyā, chief-queen of Lakṣmaṇa. Guṇavatī’s brother, Guṇadhara, wandered through births and became Prince Kuṇḍalamaṇḍita. After observing the vows of a layman for a long time, he died, and was born as Sītā’s full brother, King Bhāmaṇḍala.
Now there were in Kākandī two sons of the Brāhman Vāmadeva and Śyāmalā, Vasunanda and Sunanda. Once upon a time a muni came to their house and, fasting for a month, was fed by them with devotion. Because of their liberality to him, after death they became twins in the Uttarakurus, and then gods in Saudharma after they died. Falling, they became the two sons of King Rativardhana and Sudarśanā in Kākandī, Priyaṅkara and Śubhaṅkara. After they had guarded the kingdom for a long time, become mendicants, and died, they became gods in Graiveyaka and, after falling, they became Lavaṇa and Aṅkuśa. Their mother in a former birth, Sudarśanā, wandered through births for a long time and was born as Siddhārtha, the teacher of Rāma’s sons.”
After hearing the muni’s speech, many attained the desire for emancipation, but Kṛtānta, Rātna’s general, became a mendicant at that same time. Then Kākutstha got up, bowed to Jayabhūṣaṇa, approached Sītā, and reflected: “How will my wife Sītā, a princess whose body is as soft as a śirīṣa, endure the discomfort of heat and cold? How will she bear the load of self-control, which exceeds all loads, difficult to bear even in the heart? Or rather, she, whose wifely fidelity Rāvaṇa was not able to destroy, will observe her vow for self-control also in the same way.” With these reflections, the elder, brother of Lakṣmaṇa paid homage to Vaidehī; and Lakṣmaṇa and the other kings, their minds purified by faith, also did so.
Footnotes and references:
He is talking to Bibhīṣaṇa. Rāvaṇa is not usually called a Khecara.