Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Birth and childhood of Kanakavati which is the third part of chapter III of the English translation of the Neminatha-caritra, contained within the “Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra”: a massive Jain narrative relgious text composed by Hemacandra in the 12th century. Neminatha in jainism is the twenty-second Tirthankara (Jina) and one of the 63 illustrious beings or worthy persons.

In the course of time Lakṣmīvatī bore a daughter who by her own splendor was like an auspicious lamp in the lying-in-house. Possessing all the favorable marks from her very birth, like Śrī who had come to the house, she delighted her parents. Immdiately Dhanada, her husband in a former birth, deluded by former affection, came there and rained a shower of gold on her. Delighted by the shower of gold, Lakṣmīvatī’s husband gave his daughter the name of Kanakavatī.

Going from lap to lap, nursing at the breasts of nurses, in course of time she bècame able to walk, like a haṃsī. When they saw her approaching on her feet, the nurses, their hands held out, sang to her with ever new coaxings. When she was speaking very slowly in an indistinct, whispering voice, the nurses made her, like a maina, speak often from curiosity. With her hair bound, earrings dangling, anklets tinkling, she amused herself with jeweled balls, like Ramā (Śrī) in another form. Playing with dolls constantly, she shed the highest degree of joy on her mother with wide-open eyes.

Leaving sweet and simple childhood gradually, Kanakavatī became suitable for learning all the arts. On an auspicious day the king took Kanakavatī to a suitable teacher of the arts to learn the arts. She learned the eighteen alphabets, like the creator of alphabets, and learned grammar by heart like her own name. She became able to challenge her teacher from study of dialectics; she was conversant with the ocean of texts on meter and rhetoric. She attained facility in poetry in six dialects; she was distinguished in painting; she was confident in sculpture; she knew sentences whose verbs and subjects are hidden; she was versed in enigmas; she was expert in all kinds of gambling; she was skilled in the art of the charioteer. She was competent in massage; she knew how to cook; she acquired dexterity in exhibiting magic, sorcery, et cetera. She was qualified to be a teacher in comprehension of the three divisions of music.[1] Indeed, there was no art which she did not know thoroughly.

With a form beyond criticism, immersed in the water of grace, she arrived at youth which makes all the arts bear fruit. Observing that, her parents engaged in the search for a husband for her and, not finding a suitable bridegroom, planned a svayaṃvara.

Footnotes and references:


Song, dance, and instrumental music. Abhi. 2.193.

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