Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Sermon by Svamin Simhakesharin which is the twelfth 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.

The muni’s guru, Yaśobhadra Sūri, came there then and, knowing that he was a kevalin, paid homage to him, and sat down before him. Svāmin Siṃhakeśarin, an ocean with the water of compassion, delivered a sermon which penetrated the vulnerable spots of non-dharma.

‘Look you! A human birth is very hard to attain for Jiving beings wandering in existence. After obtaining it, action must be fruitful, like a self-sown tree. You, intelligent, should take the fruit of a human birth, the dharma of the Arhats, whose fundamental principle is compassion to living beings and which offers emancipation.’

After he had described the pure dharma, nectar to the ears of the listeners, the sage said to the (Brāhman) abbot, to destroy his doubt: ‘The dharma which was taught you by Davadantī, it is the same as this. She speaks as a traveler on the road of the Arhats’ dharma, not otherwise. Virtuous, a follower of the Arhats from birth, she showed you proof. At that time when the cloud was raining, it was kept away from the trench-line by her. Because of her virtue and devotion to the Arhats, even gods were always near her and she had good fortune even in the forest. In the past the caravan of the caravan-leader was protected from thieves by her merely by a shout. What power in the future?’

At that time a god came there, very magnificent. He paid homage to the kevalin and said to Bhaimī, his voice not terrifying: ‘Mistress, I was a disciple, Karpara, of the abbot in this hermitage and I was unequaled in sharpness of penance. The ascetics in the hermitage did not honor me even when I accomplished the penance of five fires and did not even commend me in words. Then I left the hermitage from pride and quickly went elsewhere, possessed by the demon of anger. Walking fast at night in dense darkness I fell into a mountain-cave like an elephant into a pit.

Then as I fell on mountain-crags, all my teeth were broken into a thousand pieces, like old oyster-shells. I stayed in that condition for seven days, injured by the fall on the crags. The ascetics did not even talk about me, like a bad dream. On the contrary, when I had left the place, like a snake a house, there was great happiness on the part of the ascetics. On my part, there appeared anger connected with pain, resembling a blazing fire, against these ascetics. I died, blazing with anger, evil-minded.

I became a poisonous serpent in this same forest of the ascetics. One day I approached you to bite, expanding my hood, and you recited the namaskāra which was an obstacle to my course. I was held by the syllables of the namaskāra, which fell w ithin my hearing suddenly, like a pair of tongs and I was not able to go near (you). I entered a cave again, my power destroyed, and, staying there, kept alive by eating living creatures, frogs, et cetera.

One day when it was raining, I heard this dharma being taught by you, O advanced laywoman, to these ascetics: “Whoever injures living creatures incurs pain, wandering unceasingly in this worldly existence, like a traveler in a desert.” Hearing that, I reflected, “I am a serpent, wicked, always engaged in injury to living creatures. What will be my fate?” Again I reflected, “It is knowm to me by ūha and apoha[1] that these ascetics have been seen by me somewhere.” Then this spotless memory of my former births arose and I remembered past births like something that happened yesterday. Then imperishable disgust with existence, like canal-water with high waves, rose in me and I observed a fast unto death by myself.

Then after death I became a god in Saudharma. For emancipation is not far away for those who have endured bodily austerities. I am a god, Kusumaprabha by name, enjoying the bliss of heaven in the palace, Kusumasamṛddha, by your favor. If your teaching of dharma had not fallen on my cars then, what would have been the fate of me, a boar in the mud of sin? Recognizing you, (my) benefactor, by clairvoyance, fair lady, I have come here to see you. Henceforth I am like a son of yours.’

After making himself known to Vaidarbhī, the god spoke to the ascetics, like brothers who had come from the village, in a gentle voice: ‘Sir ascetics, pardon my angry behavior in a former birth and guard the laymanship which you have assumed.’ With these words, Kusumaprabha drew the snake’s body from the mountain-cave, hung it on a toon tree, and said, ‘O people, whoever practices anger will become such a serpent as I, Karpara, was formerly, as a result of this anger.’

First the abbot, possessing right-belief, attained extreme disgust with existence from the maturing of good fortune. Bowing to the kevalin, the head of the ascetics asked for the vow, the best fruit of the tree of disgust with existence. The kevalin said: ‘Yaśobhadra Sūri will give the vow. For he, rich in indifference, is my guru.’ Astonished, the abbot asked the muni again, ‘Tell us, Blessed One, how you have taken the vow.’ The kevalin said:

Footnotes and references:


Two divisions of sense-knowledge. ūha is the desire to know more about something apoha (—avāya) is finding out the facts, See I, n. 248 and III, p. 339.

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