Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Journey to Acalapura which is the fourteenth 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.

When day had dawned, the sūri descended from the mountain and purified the city Tāpasapura with his feet. After bowing to the shrine there, a teacher of the Arhatsdharma, an ocean of compassion, he caused the citizens to acquire right-belief.

Bhaimī remained there, like a begging nun, in a cave for a house for seven years, engaged in pious meditation, her body and clothes soiled. One day a traveler told her, ‘Today I saw your husband in such and such a place, Davadantī.’ When the nectar of that speech was drunk, Davadantī’s body expanded then with hair erect from joy. For that is a sign of affection. Thinking, ‘Who is this that makes me expand?’ Bhīma’s virtuous daughter ran after the sound like an arrow that strikes by sound. He, like a guarantee for drawing Bhīma’s daughter from the cave, went away after he had drawn her from the cave. She did not sec the traveler; she abandoned the cave. In this way she lost both. For fate destroys the weak.

She happened upon a large forest and walked, stood, sat down, rested on the ground, lamented again and again, and cried from weariness. Considering, ‘What shall I do? Where shall I go?’ She, knowing consideration, began to go to that same cave carefully. She was seen on the road by a Rākṣasī whose cavernous mouth was wide open, like a goat by a wolf, and was addressed by the words, ‘I shall eat you.’ Bhaimī said: ‘If my husband Nala, and no one else, is in my mind, by the power of that virtue, be hopeless, Rākṣasī. if the omniscient, the Blessed One, free from the eighteen faults,[1] the Arhat alone is my god, be hopeless, Rākṣasī. If the sadhus devoted to the eighteen kinds of chastity,[2] free from desire, devoted to compassion, arc my gurus, be hopeless, Rākṣasī. If the dharma of the Arhats is clinging to my heart from birth, like cement, be hopeless, Rākṣasī.’

Hearing that, the Rākṣasa-woman gave up her intention to eat her. for the words of virtuous wives are unerring like those of the very powerful. Thinking, “She is no ordinary person, as her power is not delident,” the Rākṣasī bowed to her and disappeared instantly like one that has come in a dream.

Going ahead, Nala’s wife saw a mountain-stream without water, full of sand in waves resembling water. As this was waterless like an empty garden-canal, and Davadantī was very thirsty, her palate dry, she said: ‘If my mind is filled with right-belief, let pure water with high waves be in this (stream) like the Gaṅgā.’ With these words she struck the surface of the ground with her heel and at once the river was provided with water, like a magic river. Bhaimī drank the water white as milk and sweet, as if it had come from a vein of the Ocean of Milk, as she liked, like a cow-elephant.

Then Vaidarbhī became wearied, walking, and sat down under a banyan, like a female Yakṣa.[3] Travelers from a caravan saw her seated thus, approached, and said, ‘Who are you, lady? You look like a goddess to us.’ She replied:

‘I am a mortal and I live in the forest, lost from a caravan, I wish to go to Tāpasapura. Direct me on the road to it.’ They said: ‘Take the direction toward the setting sun. We are in a hurry and are not able to show you the road. After getting water, we shall go to our own caravan. It is here. If you go in it, we shall conduct you to some inhabited town.’ She went with them to the caravan and the caravan-leader, Dhanadeva, compassionate, questioned her, ‘Who are you? And why are you here?’ Bhaimī said: ‘I am a merchant’s daughter. I left my father’s house with my husband and during the night, while I was asleep, he abandoned me on the road. I was brought here by these men of yours like brothers. Take me, good sir, to some inhabited place.’ The caravan-leader said, ‘I am going to Acalapura. You come, too, daughter. I shall take you like a flower.’ With these words the caravan-leader, affectionate, seated her in the best carriage, like a daughter, and started quickly.

Then the crest-jewel of caravan-leaders camped the caravan in a mountain-arbor with a cascade with murmuring water. During the night Vaidarbhī, comfortable, happily sleeping, heard the namaskāra recited by some one in the caravan. She said to the leader: ‘This man reciting the namaskāra is a coreligionist of mine. So I wish to see him with your permission.’ To fulfil her wish the caravan-leader, like a father, took her to the shelter of the layman of the namaskāra. Bhaimī saw the layman, like a brother, performing caityavandanā,[4] inside a tent, like tranquillity embodied. During the caityavandana, Bhaimī remained seated, her eyes full of tears, showing approval of the devout layman. Nala’s wife saw the Arhat’s image painted on canvas, dark as a cloud, being worshipped, and she paid homage to it. At the end of the caityavandana Bhaimī asked him who had given an auspicious greeting, ‘Brother, of which Arhat is this the image?’ The layman said: ‘Sister in religion, listen. This is the image of Malli, the future nineteenth Arhat. Now hear, good lady, the reason why I worship the image of a future Arhat, the cause of good fortune to me.

I am a merchant in Kāṭcīpura, the crest-jewel of the girdle of the ocean. One day a muni came there, Dharmagupta, possessing omniscience. The muni stopped in the garden Rativallabha. After paying homage to him, I asked him, “In what congregation will my emancipation take place?” He told me: “In the congregation of the Arhat Mallinātha, you will be King Prasannacandra in Mithilā, after falling from heaven. After obtaining the sight of Malli, the nineteenth Arhat, omniscience having arisen, you will attain emancipation.” From that time I have had great devotion to Mallinātha. After painting her image on canvas, I worship it, pious lady.’ After he had told his own story the layman asked her,

‘Tell me, a brother in religion, who you are, fair lady.’ Dhanadeva, tearful, told the excellent layman the whole story told by her, the separation from her husband, et cetera. The layman, his cheek rested on his hand, his eyes moist with tears, penetrated by grief which, as it were, was not contained in[5] Vaidarbhī, said: ‘Do not grieve. Such actions being told are a source of pain to you. This caravan-leader is your father; I am your brother. Be at ease.’

At dawn the caravan-leader reached Acalapura and set down Vaidarbhī. He himself went elsewhere. Thirsty, she entered a tank at the city-gate quickly and was noticed by water-carriers like a water-goddess in person. On the edge of the water her left foot was seized by a lizard. Of the unfortunate trouble follows trouble as if from friendship with them. She recited the namaskāra three times and by its power her foot was released by the lizard, like an object kept in the throat by a sorceress. After she had washed her face, hands, and feet and had drunk the charming water, she left the tank slowly, slowly, like a marālī. She, depressed, a jewel-box for the jewel of good conduct, sat on the bank of the tank, miserable, purifying the city by her glance.

Ṛtuparṇa was king there, like Garuḍa in strength and Candrayaśas, whose glory was brilliant as the moon, was his wife. The slave-girls of Candrayaśas went there to get water and engaged in sport with each other, their pitchers placed on their heads. The slave-girls saw her like a goddess that had fallen into misfortune. For a lotus, though mired in mud, is still a lotus. Astonished, seeing Bhaimī’s beauty, they entered the tank slowly, slowly and left it slowly, slowly. They went and described her, how beautiful she was, to their mistress Candrayaśas, like a treasure that had been found.

Candrayaśas said to them, ‘Bring her here. She will be like a sister to my daughter Candravatī.’ They went quickly to the same vicinity of the tank and saw her facing the city, like Lakṣmī. They said: ‘In that city King Ṛtuparṇa’s queen, Candrayaśas, summons you respectfully. She says, “You are my daughter, like Candravatī.” So come, lady. Make an offering of a handful of water to your troubles.[6] If you remain here, distracted, you will experience misfortune, possessed by evil Vyantaras, et cetera who have used trickery.’ So Davadantī, her heart softened by the speech of Candrayaśas, won over by affection for the state of being a daughter, set out. She was conducted to the palace by them bowed with respect, saying, ‘Mistress, you are the adopted daughter of our mistress.’

Candrayaśas was a full sister of Puṣpadantī, Bhaimī’s mother, but Bhīma’s daughter did not know, ‘She is my mother’s sister.’ On the other hand, Caṅdrayaśas knew, ‘Davadantī is my niece,’ but did not recognize her seen (only) as a child. However, the queen saw her even at a distance with the affection for a daughter. Surely the heart is the authority for deciding on what is loved or not loved. Candrayaśas embraced Nala’s wife closely, as if to remove by solicitude her physical exhaustion arising from fatigue. Shedding tears, Vaidarbhī paid homage to the queen’s feet, as if offering a price for her affection by cleansing her feet.

Questioned by Candrayaśas, ‘Who are you? Bhīma’s daughter told the same story as she had told before to the caravan-leader. Candrayaśas said to Vaidarbhī, ‘Good lady, do you thrive in my house with happiness, just like Candravatī.’

One day Queen Candrayaśas said to her daughter Candravatī: ‘This sister of yours resembles my niece Davadantī. (But) such an arrival any place is not possible for her. For she is the wife of Nala, who is the lord of us even. She (lives) at a distance of one hundred and forty-four yojanas How could she come and whence would there be such misfortune to her?’

Daily Queen Candrayaśas gave gifts to suitable persons, the poor, the protectorless, et cetera, according to their pleasure, outside the city. One day Vaidarbhī said lo her.

‘I shall distribute charity here in ease my husband should return in the guise of a beggar.’ From that time Davadantī distributed charity together with Candrayaśas according to custom, enduring bodily austerities with hope for her husband. Daily Bhaimī questioned the beggars one by one, ‘Have you seen a man of such an appearance?’

One day while she was in the dispensary, she saw a thief being led by guards who had bound him, with a drum being played in front. Bhīma’s daughter asked the guards, ‘What crime was committed by him that it has such a punishment as the death-penalty?’ ‘He stole the jewel-case of Queen Candravatī. For that deed he must die,’ the guards replied. The thief bowed to Vaidarbhī and said: ‘I have been seen by your eye. How can I experience death? Be a protection for me, lady.’ Davadantī had the guards come near and said to the thief, ‘Do not fear. Doubtless you will have good fortune with your life.’

With these words, Bhīma’s daughler made a declaration of virtue, ‘If I am a virtuous woman, let his bonds fall completely apart.’ After she had made such a declaration of virtue, she splashed the thief three times with the water from a pitcher and his bonds fell apart quickly.

As a tumult arose, King Ṛtuparṇa and his attendants came there, thinking, ‘What’s this?’ Astonished, wide-eyed, the petals of his lips shining with the beauty of his teeth, he said to Davadantī, moonlight to the night-lotus of his eye:

‘Prevention of the law of fishes[7] is the duty of kings everywhere, so there is repression of the wicked and protection of the well-behaved, noble lady. A king, taking taxes from the earth, should protect it from the misdeeds of thieves, et cetera. Otherwise, he himself would be contaminated by the crime of the thieves, et cetera. So, daughter, if I do not punish that jewel-thief the people would strive fearlessly for stealing other people’s property.’

Bhaimī said: ‘if a person dies, while I took on, what kind of compassion is there on my part, a lay woman, father? Let his crime be pardoned. He sought protection from me. Let his pain (punishment) be transferred to me, like a severe disease, father.’ Then King Ṛtuparṇa released the robber at the importunity of his virtuous adopted daughter. As soon as he was released, the thief went to Bhīma’s daughter, saying, ‘You are my mother,’ making tilakas on his forehead with the dust on the ground. Recalling her, day and night, who had conferred the benefit of the gift of life, the released robber paid homage to Bhaimī daily.

One day Nala’s wife asked the best of thieves: ‘Who are you? Where have you come from? Tell me fearlessly.’ He told: ‘In the city Tāpasapura I was a slave, named Piṅgala, of a very wealthy caravan-leader, Vasanta. Overcome by evil passions, I dug a tunnel into Vasanta’s very house and stole the best part of his treasure. I escaped carrying the plunder, intent on saving my life;,and I was robbed on the road by robbers. How much enjoyment is there of the wicked? Coming here, I served King Ṛtuparṇa. What proud man would do service? Or (if he does), he should do it to the king.

As I was going into the palace with evil ideas, I saw Queen Candravatī’s jewel-case. At the sight of it my mind leaped with the desire to steal it like that of an evil-minded adulterer at the sight of another man’s wife. Like a kite stealing a necklace,[8] I stole the jewel-case. Arranging my upper garment, so it reached to the front of my feet, I went away.

1 was observed by King Ṛtuparṇa, very clever, because of some thief-gestures. Nothing can escape detection on the part of the clever. I was bound instantly by the guards at the king’s command and, as I was being led to execution, I saw you, noble lady. Crying out very loud, even from a distance, I attained you as a protection and was set free by you, like a goat that has conic to be slaughtered.

Besides, when you, mistress, left Tāpasapura, Vasanta, like an elephant taken away from the Vindhya, ceased to cat. Enlightened by Yaśobhadra Sūri and other people, he fasted for seven nights and ate on the eighth day. One day Vasanta, equal to Śrīda in wealth, took much money as a present and went to sec King Kūbara. Satisfied with the present, King Kūbara bestowed on him the kingdom of Tāpasapura, characterized by an umbrella, et cetera. After placing him in the rank of a vassal, the king, Nala’s younger brother, gave him another name, Vasantaśrīśekhara. Dismissed by Kūbara, Vasanta went to Tāpasapura with a drum being beaten and ruled the kingdom.’

Bhaimī said: ‘Friend, a bad deed has been committed. Become a mendicant. Expiate (it).’ ‘The mother’s command is authority,’ Piṅgala said. Two ascetics came there in their wandering and were given alms free from fault by Vaidarbhī. Bhaimī said to the sages, ‘Blessed Ones, if this man is suitable, favor him by giving him the vow.’ They said, ‘He is suitable.’ Piṅgala asked for the vow and he was initiated at once by them, after conducting him to the temple.

Footnotes and references:


See IV. n. 12: Abhi. 1.72-73 and com.


See J, p. 206 and n. 266.


The banyan is especially favored by the Yakṣas as a dwelling.


Caityavandana (or0 a) is a ritualistic performance. The worshipper must be in a proper spiritual state of mind, sit in a prescribed manner, and recite certain sūtras, during which, at certain places, he makes aṭjali and other gestures of worship. For a detailed account, see the Lalitavistārā.


This requires asammātṛ to be taken as an adjective.


As if at then funeral rites.


That the strong devour the weak.


Kites are great thieves and will snatch things out of a person’s hands.

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