Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Vasudevahindi (the wanderings of Vasudeva) which is the first part of chapter IV 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.

Part 1: Vasudevahiṇḍi (the wanderings of Vasudeva)

One day when he (Vasudeva) was asleep, he was kidnaped by Sūrpaka. Awakened, he struck Sūrpaka with his fist and Sūrpaka released him. Śauri fell into the Godā (Godāvarī), swam adross it, went to Kollāpura, and married Padmaśrī, the daughter of King Padmaratha. There he was carried off by Nīlakaṇṭha and, released, fell into Lake Campā, swam across it, and married a minister’s daughter. Then carried off by Sūrpaka and released, he fell into the Gaṅgā, came out of it and, roaming about, went to a village with other travelers. He married the village-chief’s daughter, named Jarā, and begot a son on her, named Jarākumāra. He married Avantisundari, Sūrasenā, Naradviṣ, Jīvayaśas, and other princesses.

One day as he was going on the road, a deity said to him: “Rohiṇī, daughter of King Rudhira, will be given to you by me in a svayaṃvara. You must play a drum.” So instructed by her, he went to the svayaṃvara-pavilion in Ariṣṭapura. Rohiṇī came to the marriage-pavilion, like Rohiṇī[1] come to earth in person, the kings, Jarāsandha, et cetera, being seated there. Wishing to make themselves pleasing to her, they did this and that; but no one pleased her, who did not see anyone suitable for herself.

Śauri, disguised, in the midst of the drummers played a drum with clear words in a recital: “Come! Come to me, doe-eyed! What do you look at, like a doe? I am the husband suitable for you, eager for union with you.” After hearing that, Rohiṇī, her hair erect from the sight of him, threw the svayaṃvara-wreath around Vasudeva’s neck. A great tumult arose among the kings who cried, “Kill him! She chose a drummer,” and there was loud laughter at these words.

Dantavakra, lord of Kośala, whose speech was very crooked, said to Rudhira with ridicule, just like a clown: “If your daughter wished you to give her to a drummer, why were these well-born kings summoned by you well-born? If she, not knowing good qualities, chooses a drummer for a husband, she must not be respected by her father. For the father is the ruler of a child.”

Rudhira said: “Enough of this discussion of yours, king. The man chosen in the svayaṃvara of maidens is authority.” Then King Vidura, skilled in law, said this good thing, “Nevertheless, it is proper for the groom to be asked about his family, et cetera.” Vasudeva said: “What is this introduction to the praise of family, since whatever I am, being such, I have been chosen by her. Whoever, unable to endure it, tries to take her away from me, to him I shall tell my family by showing my strength of arm.”

When Jarāsandha had heard this bold speech of his, angry, he said to Samudravijaya and the other kings: “Now, Rudhira causing embarrassment to kings, is the basest of kings. This drummer is second, crazed by the playing of drums. He is not satisfied by so much: ‘The princess has been obtained by me.’ He is insolent like a dwarf from obtaining the fruit of a tall tree blown down by the wind. So kill them, Rudhira and the drummer, very quickly, sirs!” Thus addressed, Samudravijaya and the others prepared for battle.

A Khecara-lord, Dadhimukha, became charioteer himself and had Vasudeva, eager for battle, get into his chariot. Then Śauri, hard to endure in. battle, took the bow and quivers which had been given by Aṅgāravatī, the mother of Vegavatī. Rudhira’s army was broken by Jarāsandha’s kings. Vasudeva had the horses urged forward by Dadhimukha. The best of the Yadus defeated Śatruñjaya, who had risen up (to fight) first. He broke Dantavakra and King Śalya. Jarāsandha then said anxiously to King Samudra: “This man is not a mere drummer, unconquerable by other kings. Rise up and defeat him yourself. If he is killed, Rohiṇī is yours. Remove the disgrace of defeat from all the kings.” Samudravijaya said: “Enough of other men’s wives for me! But at your command, I will fight with him powerful.”

Saying this, Samudravijaya fought with his brother. For a long time their sword against sword caused amazement to all. As the chief of the Yadus was thinking, “Who is he, equal to me even?” Vasudeva threw an arrow with a message before him. Samudra seized the arrow and read its words as follows, “Vasudeva who went away by a trick at that time bows to you.”[2] Delighted, the lord of the Daśārhas got down from the chariot and ran forward, saying “Child! Child!” like a cow in the evening eager for its calf. Vasudeva also got down and fell at his feet. Samudra raised him up and embraced him immediately.

Asked by his elder brother, “My dear, where have you been for a hundred years?” Vasudeva told all his adventures from the beginning. Just as Samudravijaya was rejoiced by his brother having such power, so Rudhira was rejoiced by his son-in-law'. When Jarāsandha knew that he was the brother of his own vassal, his anger was appeased. For one’s own man of superior merit is a reason for joy. Then a festival was held by the king’s people who met for the occasion; and the wedding of Rohiṇī and Vasudeva took place on an auspicious day. The kings, Jarāsandha and the others, departed after they had been honored by Rudhira. The Yādavas, together with Kaṃsa, remained there[3] for a year.

One day Vasudeva asked Rohiṇī privately, “Why did you ignore kings and choose me, a drummer?” She said: “I have always worshipped the magic art Prajṭapti. She told me: ‘The tenth Daśārha will be your husband. You can recognize him by the playing of a drum in the svayaṃvara.’ From complete confidence in her words, I chose you at that time.”

One day when Samudravijaya and the others were present in the council, a middle-aged woman descended through the air, bestowing a blessing. She said to Vasudeva: “I am Bālacandrā’s mother, named Dhanavatī. For my daughter’s sake I have come to take you away. Bālacandrā is my daughter and Vegavatī is like a daughter.[4] Day and night they are miserable because of the separation from you.” Vasudeva looked at Samudravijaya’s face and the king said, “Go, but do not stay for a long time as before. Then Vasudeva asked forgiveness of the king[5] and went with her in an aerial car to the city Gaganavallabha.

Samudravijaya went to his own city with Kaṃsa and looked constantly for Vasudeva’s coming. Vasudeva married moonfaced Bālacandrā who was made ready by her father, the Khecara-lord, Kañcanadaṃṣṭra. Then he collected the beautiful maidens, previously married, from their respective homes and, accompanied by Vidhyādharas like footmen, went to Śauryapura, seated in a lofty aerial car. He was embraced ardently by Samudravijaya, eager, like the moon by the ocean with waves in the form of arms extended.

Footnotes and references:


The favorite wife of the Moon, one of the asterisms.


When he left Śauryapura. See above, p. 45f.


In Ariṣṭapura.


Putrikā. Two Indian Sanskritists take putrikā to mean ‘like a daughter.’ But I think the -ka has a deprecatory tinge. Perhaps ‘small daughter,’ like ‘baṛā sāhib’ and ‘choṭa sāhib.’


For any offence he may have committed.

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