Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Nemi’s attempt at marriage with Rajimati which is the third part of chapter IX 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 3: Nemi’s attempt at marriage with Rājīmatī

When Hari had finished the water-sport, he left the pool; Bhāmā, Rukmiṇī, and the others went to the bank and stayed there. Prince Nemi left the pool, like a marāla, and went to the place on the bank where Rukmiṇī and the others were. Rukmiṇī got up, gave him herself her jeweled seat and dried Śrī Nemi’s body with her own upper garment. Under pretext of a jest, Satyā said to Nemi:

“You are always tolerant of us. So T, unafraid, speak to you, brother-in-law. You are the brother of Śārṅgin, overlord of sixteen thousand women. Why do you not marry even one girl, fair sir? Your beauty is unequaled in the three worlds, brightened by grace, and youth has recently appeared. This being so, why docs this condition exist? Your parents, brothers, and we, your brother’s wives, ask you: Grant their wish for marriage. Consider, yourself, indeed, how much time you have passed, a mere eunuch, solitary, without a retinue of wives! Are you ignorant, dried up, impotent? Tell us. You are devoid of pleasure in women, prince, like a forest-flower. Just as Vṛṣabhadhvaja founded the first tīrtha, so he himself showed the auspiciousness of marriage. At the proper time undertake celibacy as you like. Celibacy is not fitting in the householder stage, like reciting a mantra in impurity.”

Then Jāmbavatī said: “In your line Muni Suvrata became a Lord Tīrthaṅkara, after he had married and had a son. Before and after him, those who married and attained emancipation are known in the Jina’s doctrine. You certainly know that. You wish to become emancipated young, having left the path of those who have become emancipated, since you have been averse to women even from birth.”

Angry at the affection shown, Bhāmā said: “Friend, why do you talk to him uselessly in a friendly way? Surely, he is not to be won by gentle words. He has been talked to respectfully by his father, elder brother, and others in regard to marriage, but he has not regarded them at all. Let him be besieged by us all together. If he will not regard our words, he must never be released.”

Then Lakṣmaṇā and others said: “He, a brother-in-law, must be propitiated. Soothing, not angry speech, as it were, is the device for him.” After this speech, Hari’s wives, Rukmiṇī and others, fell at Nemi’s feet, urging him to marriage with persistence. When Kṛṣṇa saw nemi being begged so by them, he approached and urged him in the marriage-business. Other Yadus also said to nemi: “Do what your brother asks. Make Śivā and Samudravijaya and other relatives happy.” Importuned persistently in this way by them, nemi thought: “Alas for their ignorance! Shame on that politeness of mine! Not only do they themselves fall into the ocean of worldly existence, they make others fall by the stone of affection tied (to them). Now this speech of theirs must be accepted by word only. At the right time I must necessarily do what is suitable for myself. That Ṛṣabha Tīrthakṛt married in the past was because of pleasure-karma. The course of karma is different.” With these reflections, Śrī Nemi agreed to their speech. Hearing that, all, Samudravijaya and others, rejoiced.

After passing the hot season there, Govinda went to Dvārakā with his retinue, eager in the search for a maiden suitable for Nemi. Satyabhāmā said to him: “I have a younger sister, named Rājīmatī, who is suitable for Ariṣṭanemi.” Kṛṣṇa said to her: “Salyā, truly you have helped me, since I am lifted out of the ocean of anxiety about a woman suitable for Neminātha.” Kṛṣṇa himself got up and went to Ugrasena’s house, observed eagerly by the Yadus and townspeople. Ugrasena welcomed him with the foot-water, et cetera of the reception of a guest, seated him on a lion-throne, and asked the reason for his coming. Kṛṣṇa said,

“King, you have a daughter, Rājīmatī, who is suitable for my younger brother, Nemi, superior to me in good qualities.” Bhoja said: “By good fortune, it has happened, lord, that Hari comes to our house and makes us content. This house, this wealth, we, this daughter—everything is at your disposal. What question of asking in case of what is one’s own?”

Delighted by this speech, Kṛṣṇa went and reported this to Samudravijaya and Samudravijaya said: “There is great devotion to your fathers and affection for your brothers, son. You give us great joy that you have caused a disposition toward pleasure on nemi’s part. For so long the wish clung to my very heart that Ariṣṭanemi should consent to marry.”

Then summoning Kroṣṭuki, King Samudravijaya asked the day for the marriage of Nemi and Rājīmatī. Kroṣṭuki said: “Certainly no other auspicious affairs are suitable in the rainy season, to say nothing of a marriage.” Samudra said to him: “Delay in this case is not fitting. Nemi has been moved to marriage by Kṛṣṇa with difficulty. There must be no obstacle to the marriage. Name a day very near. A marriage in the Gāndharva fashion might take place with your permission.” After reflecting, Kroṣṭuki said, “If that is so, scion of the Yadus, the design must he accomplished on the white sixth of Śrāvaṇa.”

The king rewarded Kroṣṭuki and dismissed him and had the day announced to Bhoja. Then the two made preparations. In the city Dvārakā Kṛṣṇa had jeweled platforms, arches, et cetera made at every shop, at every city-gate, at every house. On the day near the wedding, the Daśārhas, Sīrin and Śārṅgin; the mothers, Śrī Śivā, Rohiṇī, Devakī, and others; Bala’s wives, Revatī and others; Hari’s wives, Bhāmā and others; the nurses and other important women, with loud songs seated Neminātha on a throne facing the cast; and Baia and Śārṅgin themselves bathed him with pleasure.

After preparing Nemi with the wedding-ribbon tied on and carrying an arrow in his hand, Govinda went to Ugrasena’s house. Then Kṛṣṇa himself in accordance with the ritual anointed Rājīmatī, a young girl with a face like the full moon.

He returned to his own house and, after passing the night, got Nemi ready to go to the marriage-house. Then Ariṣṭanemi, shining with a white umbrella and white chaurīs, wearing a white garment with a fringe adorned with pearl ornaments, wearing collyrium with charming gośīrṣa-sandal, got into a chariot with white horses. Princes by the crore went in front of Prince Nemi, the skies being deafened by the noise of the horses’ neighs. At his sides were kings mounted on elephants by the thousand. The Daśārhas, Govinda, Muśalin were in the rear. All the women of the harem, placed in very magnificent palanquins, went singing auspicious hymns, and other noble women, also.

Thus Śrī Nemi set out on the king’s highway with great magnificence, with panegyrists reciting auspicious things aloud, (going) in front. The glances, tender with affection, of young women perched on roofs of houśes and shops on the road, fell on Nemi, like auspicious parched grain. Being pointed out to each other by the citizens and being described with interest, Śivā’s son went to Ugrasena’s house. Lotus-eyed Rājīmatī became very eager at the noise of Nemi’s arrival, like a peahen at thunder. Friends, knowing her heart, said to her:

“You are fortunate, fair lady, of whom Nemi, the handsome one of three worlds, will take the hand. Even if Nemi is coming here, nevertheless, we, very eager, will stand in the window and watch for him coming, lotus-eyed lady.”

Delighted at the naming of her secret desire, Rājīmatī went in haste to the window, surrounded by her friends. Wearing a hair-dress with jasmines inside it, like a cloud with a moon; surpassing lotus-ear-ornaments with her (lotus-)eyes; with pearl-oysters defeated by her ears wearing pearl earrings; her lower lip with lac, like a bimba with ripe bimbas; wearing a gold necklace on her neck, like a conch with a gold band; her breasts marked with necklaces like cakravākas with lotus-stalks; looking, with her lotus-hands, like a river with lotus-plants; with a waist that can be grasped with (one) hand, like Manmatha’s bow; charming with hips like a golden slab; with thighs like a plantain tree and shanks like a deer’s; with nails like jewels; wearing a fringed white garment, anointed with gośīrṣa-sandal, she sat in the window like a goddess in a heavenly palace.

Placed there, she saw at a distance Nemi like Kandarpa before her eyes, lighting the flame of love in her heart. Looking at Nemi, she thought to herself: “This husband has been difficult to obtain, not within the range of (our) mind even. If he, the sole ornament of three worlds, has fallen to my lot as a husband, then is not the fruit of my birth fulfilled? Even if he has come here himself, intending to marry, nevertheless, I am not convinced of it. By what merit was he won?”

As she was thinking this, her right eye twitched[1] and her right arm; and there was a burning in mind and body. Rājīmatī told her friends this, stammering, shedding tears from her eyes like a woman in a shower bath. Her friends said: “Friends, evil has been allayed, anything inauspicious has been destroyed. May all your family-gods be propitious. Be firm. Your bridegroom has come, eager for marriage. What is this ill-omened anxiety on your part, while the marriage-festival is taking place?”

As Nemi went along, he heard the pitiful cries of animals and asked his charioteer, “What is this?” though he knew well. The charioteer replied: “Lord, do you not know? These various animals have been brought here to provide food for your marriage. Earth-dwellers, goats, et cetera and sky-dwellers, partridges, et cetera, belonging to village and forest, these will die, master. These are being watched by guards inside enclosures, crying out. For fear of life is a great fear of all.”

Then Nemi, a hero of compassion, said to his charioteer, “Drive my chariot to the place where these animals are.” The charioteer did so; and the Blessed One saw many animals, their hearts terrified at losing their lives. Some were fastened by ropes on the neck, some on the feet, some had been thrown into cages and some had fallen into snares. Their faces upturned, their eyes pitiful, their bodies trembling, they looked at Nemi friendly from (his) appearance.

“Protect! Protect!” they said to Nemi, each in his own language. Neminātha, giving orders to the charioteer, had them released. When the animals had gone to their respective places, the Lord had the chariot turned back towards his own house. Śivā, Samudravijaya, Kṛṣṇa, Rāma, and others left their own conveyances and were in front of Nemi.

Śivā and Samudravijaya, their eyes filled with tears, said, “Why have you suddenly turned away from this festival?” Nemi said: “Just as these animals were bound by bonds, so we are bound by bonds of karma. Just as there was release from bondage for them, so I shall take initiation to make my own release from the bondage of karma—the sole source of happiness.”

On hearing Nemi’s speech, the two swooned and all the Yadus cried out, their eyes downcast. After Janārdana had revived Śivā and Samudravijaya and had restrained the outcry, he said to Ariṣṭanemi: “Always you have been worthy of honor by me, Rāma, and the fathers, honor-giver. This beauty of yours is unequaled and your youth fresh. Moreover, the daughter-in-law[2], lotus-eyed Rājīmatī, is suitable for you. So tell the reason for your disgust with existence. These animals that you saw have been released. So fulfil the wish of your fathers and relatives. You can not disregard your parents immersed in grief. Show compassion common to all in this matter, brother. Just as these miserable animals have been gladdened by you, so gladden your brothers, Rāma and others, by the sight of your marriage.”

Blessed Nemi said: “I see no reason at all for sorrow of the parents nor of you, brother. This worldly existence, which has four states of existence in which pains must be experienced by creatures born in them, is the reason for my disgust with the world. In each birth there were other parents and brothers, but no one shares karma. One consumes his own karma himself. If the pain of one person could be destroyed by another, then even life would be given for his parents by the discerning man, Hari. But a creature himself experiences pains, such as old age, death, et cetera, even though there are sons, et cetera. No one is a protector of any one. If sons are merely for the pleasure of a father’s sight, then Mahānemi and others are sources of happiness without me. I am exhausted by the comings and goings on the road of worldly existence, like an aged traveler. I shall strive for the destruction of karma, the source of worldly existence. The destruction of karma is not gained without mendicancy. So I shall undertake it alone. Do not make useless opposition.”

Samudravijaya said: “Son, you have been a prince from birth. How will your tender body endure discomfort? Without an umbrella the heat of other seasons even is hard to bear, to say nothing of the terrible heat of the summer which must be borne. Hunger, thirst, et cetera can not be endured by others; how much less by you, my dear, with a body suitable for heavenly joy?”

Neminātha said: “Why is this pain of men, who know the hell-inhabitants with a multitude of ever increasing pains, mentioned? Emancipation, the cause of infinite bliss is gained by the pains of penance; hell, the cause of infinite pain, is gained by pleasure originating in the senses. Having considered that, say, yourself, ‘What is fitting for men to do?’ Every one, considering, knows; but only one here and there will reflect.”

Hearing that, his parents, Kṛṣṇa and others, Rāma and others, realized Nemi’s determination on mendicancy and gave loud cries. The elephant Nemi, breaking the chains of affection for his own people, his chariot being driven by the charioteer, went to his own house.

Footnotes and references:


Unlucky for a woman. See IV, p. 371.


The loose use of terms of relationship is sometimes confusing. Rājīmatī is a daughter of Ugrasena, hence a sister-in-law of Krṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa and Nemi are cousins. So snuṣā is inaccurate for both present and future.

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