Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Sermon of Nemi (Neminatha) which is the sixth 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.

After this hymn of praise, Indra and Upendra became silent; and the Lord began a sermon in a language suited to every dialect.

“All creatures’ wealth is as momentary as a flash of lightning; unions end in separations, resembling wealth obtained in dreams. Youth is fleeting like the shadow of a cloud; the bodies of corporeal creatures are like bubbles in water. Therefore, there is nothing at all of value in this worthless worldly existence, but value is the observance of (right-)belief, (right-) knowledge and (right-)conduct. Faith in the Principles is called right-belief, enlightenment on the Principles as they really are is known as (right-)knowledge; desistence from all censurable activity, the cause of emancipation, is (right-) conduct, fully for ascetics and partly for householders. A disciple of those who have full self-control, who has partial self-control (himself), who knows the true nature of worldly existence is a layman throughout life. He should avoid[1] wine, meat, new butter, honey, five kinds of figs, fruit that is known to have infinite bodies, eating at night, pulses mixed with raw milk, mouldy rice-pudding, curds more than two days old, and ill-smelling food.


Intelligence, even of a man adorned with cleverness, runs far away because of wine-drinking alone, like a woman because of unhappiness. Evil men, their minds made helpless by drinking Kādambarī,[2] consider their mothers as wives and their wives as mothers. One whose mind is disordered by wine docs not know his own or another’s; a wretch makes himself master and the master a servant. Dogs make water in the open mouth, with the idea that it is a crack, of the wine-drinker lying in the cross-roads like a corpse. Immersed in the liquid of wine-drinking, he sleeps nude at the cross-roads and easily betrays his secret purpose.[3] From the drinking of vāruṇī[4] beauty, fame, intelligence, and wealth disappear like various bright designs from a floating cloud. The wine-drinker dances constantly as if possessed by a demon and wails repeatedly like a sorrowful person; he rolls repeatedly on the ground like one suffering from a burning fever. Hālā[5] causes a relaxation of the body, injures senses, and causes a deep swoon, like the hālāhala.[6]

Discernment, self-control, knowledge, truth, purity, compassion, tolerance—all perish from wine, like straw from a spark of fire. Many creatures originate in liquids; therefore, wine must not be drunk by one afraid of causing injury. That which was given was not given; what was taken was not taken; what was done was not done—the wine-drinker speaks as he likes, indeed, as if from sovereignty over liars. In the house or outside or on the road, the wine-drinker, his mind confused, takes other people’s property, having snatched it away, unafraid of execution, imprisonment, et cetera. Suffering from intoxication from wine, at once he enjoys other men’s wives—very young, young and old, a Brāhmaṇī or Caṇḍālī.

Shouting, singing, resting on the ground, running, angry, pleased, weeping, laughing, standing straight, bending, roaming, staying in one place, the wine-drinker is an actor, the king of the wicked. Even though drinking wine frequently, the wine-drinker is never satisfied, always devouring a multitude of creatures, like Kṛtānta. Wine is the cause of faults, wine is the cause of calamities; therefore, one should avoid wine, like a sick person avoiding improper food.


One who wishes to eat meat from killing animals pulls up the root, called ‘compassion,’ of the tree of dharma. One who wishes to eat meat and wishes to show compassion, wishes to plant a creeper in a blazing fire. The killer of meat, the seller, the dresser, the eater, the buyer, the approver, the giver—they are all killers. Ones who eat another’s flesh for the nourishment of their own flesh are in fact killers, since there is no killer without an eater. Who would commit a sin for the sake of that miserable body in which clean food is turned into excrement and nectar[7] into urine?

The intelligence of one greedy for the taste of meat, like that of an evil-minded witch, revolves about killing one creature after another. Persons who eat meat, when divine food is present, eat hālāhala, putting nectar aside. There is no dharma of one without compassion. Whence is there compassion of a meat-eater? The one greedy for meat docs not know that; or, if he should know, would not warn (others).

The one devoid of compassion, who wishes to nourish his own flesh by the flesh of others, is fuel for the flames of hell—and no one else. Who, except worms, would eat meat originated in semen and blood, made to grow by feces and chyle, red when it has attained growth? Who, intelligent would eat dressed meat, spoiled at once by an infinite scries of coagulated[8] creatures, viaticum on the road to hell?

Eating of butter and honey

Fresh butter, in which heaps of very fine creatures come into existence from coagulation, must not be eaten by the discerning after an antarmuhūrta.[9] Considering what sin there would be in the destruction of even one soul, who would use fresh butter consisting of a multitude of creatures?

Who eats honey, disgusting like saliva, originating from the destruction of many collections of creatures? The one who eats honey originating from destruction of lacs of small creatures is worse than hunters, killers of a few creatures. Observers of dharma do not eat honey spit out, which bees vomit after sipping the juice from the interior of flowers one by one. Honey that is eaten even for medicine is the cause of hell. For even an atom of poison that has been eaten leads to destruction of life. Sweetness (mādhurya) is so called, alas! by the ignorant from honey (madhu), from eating of which the pains of hell are experienced for a long time.

Ealing of fruits and vegetables

One should not eat the fruit of the fig trees: uḍumbara, the banyan, the waved-leaved fig, the opposite-leaved fig, and the pippala trees, which is filled with insects. A virtuous person does not eat the fruit of the five fig trees, though emaciated from hunger because he had not obtained other food. All green bulbs and all budding leaves, the milk-hedge, the bark of the lavaṇa[10] tree, the aloe, girikarṇikā,[11] śatāvari,[12] forked grain that has sprouted, gudūcī,[13] soft tamarinds,[14] the beet, amṛtavallī,[15] the climbing bean named śūkara, and others that have infinite bodies, named in the sūtras, unknown to heretics, must be zealously avoided by the compassionate.

Eating at night

A wise man should cat fruit known to himself or another. He should not use forbidden fruit nor poisonous fruit. He should not cat food, which has been made uneatable by ghosts, demons, et cetera wandering unchecked, in the evening. Who would cat at night food in which creatures falling are not seen at all because their eyes are obstructed by the darkness of night? An ant destroys intelligence, a louse would cause dropsy, a fly causes vomiting, and a spider leprosy.

A thorn and a splinter of wood cause pain in the throat, a scorpion that has fallen into vegetables splits the palate. A hair stuck in the throat causes stammering. Such evil consequences as these, et cetera, to all from eating at night arc seen. If one should eat pure food at night, without seeing fine creatures, there would necessarily be destruction of creatures in eating at that time. How can those people, stupid, who cat food at night which has a collection of creatures attached, be distinguished from Rākṣasas? Whoever continues eating day and night is clearly nothing but an animal, whose horns and tail are lost. Whoever eats at the beginning and end of the day, excepting forty-eight minutes each time, knowing the evil results of eating at night, is a receptacle of merit. One who has not made a vow to cease from eating at night, even though eating in the daytime, would not share the fruit free from trickery. There is no interest without speech.[16] The ones who, abandoning eating by day, cat only at night, have laid aside a jewel and taken a piece of glass, stupid. Owls, crows, cats, vultures, sambars, hogs, serpents, scorpions, and lizards are born from eating at night. The one who, rich (in dharma), always avoids eating at night, would necessarily observe fasts for half of a man’s lifetime. What merits there are in the avoidance of eating at night, the causes of only a good status of existence—who would be able to enumerate them fully? Many fine creatures have been seen by the kevalins in the forked grain mixed with raw milk, et cetera. Therefore one should avoid them. One devoted to compassion should give up fruit, flowers, leaves and other things that are connected with live creatures and also pickle that is contaminated. Thus, being first in compassion, with a discriminating mind in food, even a layman is freed from worldly existence in course of time.”

Nemi’s first disciple

After hearing the Lord’s sermon, King Varadatta attained extreme disgust with existence, eager for the vow. Kṛṣṇa bowed and asked: “Every one is devoted to you; what is the reason for Rājīmatī’s extreme devotion?” Then Nemi narrated his own relation with her for eight births, beginning with the birth as Dhana and Dhanavatī. Then King Varadatta arose, bowed, and his hands folded respectfully, declared to Neminātha, the Lord of the World:

“Even laymanship taken from you would bear great results for creatures, like water from a cloud in the nakṣatra Svāti.[17] But, since you have been obtained as a guru, I am not satisfied with so much. Who wishes for mere dishes, when a wishing-tree has been obtained? I wish to be your first disciple. Give me initiation, a boat for crossing worldly existence. Show compassion, O ocean of compassion.”

The Lord himself initiated the king talking in this way; and after him two thousand warriors became mendicants. Dhanadeva and Dhanadatta, (his) brothers from the Dhana-birth, the minister Vimalabodha from the Aparājita-birth, who had wandered through births with the Master, were three kings in this birth, and had come there from devotion to Rājīmatī. Their recollection of former births arose from hearing the former births and, a wealth of disgust with existence being produced (in them), they took the vow at Ariṣṭanemi’s feet at that time.

Nemi’s gaṇabhṛts

Neminātha, the Teacher of the World, installed properly eleven gaṇabhṛts, Varadatta and others, with them. The Master taught them the three-steps—permanence, origination, and perishing; and they composed the twelve canonical books in accordance with the three-steps. A princess, Yakṣiṇī, accompanied by many maidens took mendicancy at that time and the Master appointed her head of the nuns.

The Daśārhas, Ugrasena, Vāsudeva, Lāṅgalin; the princes, Pradyumna and others became laymen. The wives, Śivā, Rohiṇī devakī, Rukmiṇī and others became laywomen; and other women in the Master’s presence. Thus the Lord’s congregation originated in the samavasaraṇa, fourfold like dharma, purifying the earth. The Lord finished his sermon in the first watch which had passed. In the second watch Varadatta delivered a sermon. Then the gods, Vāsava and others, the kings, Kṛṣṇa and others, and others bowed to the Blessed One and went to their respective places.

Footnotes and references:


The sermon now follows almost word for word the Yogaśāstra, 3.6ff. I have followed the Yog.’s commentary, pp. 158ff.


A kind of liquor distilled from flowers of the Cadamba.


I.e., he is easily forced to betray a secret, such as designs against the king.


Liquor from hogweed mixed with juice of date or palm and distilled. MW.


‘A spirituous liquor.’ MW.


A deadly poison.


Water, etc.


Sammūrchita. See 1, n. 29, p. 21.


An infinitesimal fraction less than 48 minutes. See II, n. 265.


The Yog. says ‘a tree named lavaṇa.’ I suspect this should be ‘lavana.’ Anona Reticulata. For all these botanical names, see Yog., p. 166.


‘A variety of Achyranthes with white blossoms. L.’ MW. Yog., ‘vallīviśeṣa.’


Yog., ‘vallīviśeṣa.’ Asparagus Racemosus, MW.


Yog., ‘villīviśeṣa.’ Cocculus cordifolius, MW. The Auṣadhi. calls it, ‘heart-leaved moonseed.’


Before the kernels are formed.


Yog., ‘vallīviśeṣa.’ Cocculus cordifolius, MW. But obviously guḍūcī and amṛtavallī both can not be Cocculus cordifolius.


He must make the vow, just as one can not collect interest without an agreement.


Rain in Svāti is supposed to produce pearls. See I, n. 107.

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