Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Incarnation as Marubhuti which is the second part of chapter II of the English translation of the Parshvanatha-caritra, contained within the “Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra”: a massive Jain narrative relgious text composed by Hemacandra in the 12th century. Parshvanatha in jainism is the twenty-third Tirthankara (Jina) and one of the 63 illustrious beings or worthy persons.

Part 2: Incarnation as Marubhūti

In this zone, named Bharata, of this same Jambūdvīpa, there is a city Potanapura like a new piece of heaven. The ornament of the earth, a habitation for meetings with Śrī, it is frequented by kings, like the lotus-bed of a river by haṃsas. Rich men there shone like younger brothers of Śrīda because of their wealth and like full brothers of a wishing-tree because of their great generosity. It was magnificent beyond the sphere of words from its resemblance to Amarāvatī; or rather, Amarāvatī was magnificent because of a resemblance to it. Its king was named Aravinda, bee to the lotus-feet of the Arhat, the abode of Śrī, like the ocean. Just as he was unique among the powerful, so he was among the discerning. Just as he was chief of the wealthy, so he was of the glorious. Just as he divided money among the poor, protectorless, and unfortunate people, so he divided day and night among the aims of existence. Corresponding to the king, there was a Brāhman, a family-priest, an advanced layman, who knew the Principles—soul, non-soul, et cetera, named Viśvabhūti. He had two sons, Kamaṭha and Marubhūti, older and younger, borne by Anuddharā. Varuṇā was the name of Kamaṭha’s wife and Vasundharā of Marubhūti’s, endowed with beauty and grace. Both (the sons) had learned the arts and both were competent in the acquisition of property, affectionate towards each other, a source of joy to their parents. Recalling the formula of homage to the Pañcaparameṣṭhins, engaged in concentrated meditation, Viśva-bhūti died and became a chief god in Saudharma. His wife, Anuddharā, worn out by fever because of separation from him, her body dried up by sorrow and penance, died, engaged in the formula of homage.

The brothers performed the funeral rites of their parents and in course of time, enlightened by Ṛṣi Hariścandra, became free from sorrow. Kamaṭha remained there, always occupied with domestic affairs. When the father has died, generally the elder son is the head of the house. Marubhūti, always knowing the worthlessness of worldly existence, became averse to sense-objects, like an ascetic to food. Devoted to precepts of undertaking study and fasting, engaged in concentrated meditation, he passed days and nights in the fasting-house. Having desisted from everything objectionable, Marubhūti’s idea was always, “I shall wander near a guru.”

Intoxicated by the wine of negligence, always confused by wrong-belief, Kamaṭha on the other hand became devoted to other men’s wives and gambling without restraint. Vasundharā, Marubhūti’s wife, with fresh youth became the causer of delusion to people, like a living poisonous creeper. But she was never touched at all by Marubhūti, an ascetic by nature even in sleep, like a desert creeper by water. Then she, desirous of sense-objects and not having any union with her husband, considers her youth like a jasmine in a forest. Kamaṭha, who was naturally lustful, undiscerning, after seeing his sister-in-law again and again, addressed her affectionately.

One day Kamaṭha, seeing her alone, said: “Why do you waste away daily like a digit of the black half of the moon, fair-browed lady? Even if you do not tell it from shame, nevertheless I know your trouble. I think my younger brother, foolish, behaving like a eunuch, is the cause of that.” After hearing that improper speech of his, trembling, she began to flee, her hair and upper garment disheveled. Kamaṭha ran after her, held her by the hand, and said: “Foolish girl, why this fear of yours at the wrong time? Bind up your loose hair and put on your garment which has fallen off.” With these words he did it himself, though she was unwilling.

She said: “Elder brother, what is this? You are to be honored like Viśvabhūti. This is not right for you or for me, leading to disgrace of both families.”

Kamaṭha smiled and said: “Do not say this from simplicity. Do not make your own youth, deprived of pleasure, in vain. Enjoy pleasure of the senses with me, fair-eyed lady. Enough of this eunuch Marubhūti now, since the law (smṛti) is:

‘If the husband has disappeared, dies, become an ascetic, is impotent, or outcaste—in these five calamities, of women another husband is prescribed.’”[1]

So advised by him she, very desirous of pleasure in the beginning, seated on his lap first, abandoned shame together with propriety. Then Kamaṭha, wounded by love, dallied with her. In this way there were constantly secret opportunities, always concealed, for them.

Finding this out, Varuṇā, bereft of compassion, red-eyed, jealous, told Marubhūti everything. Marubhūti said to her: “Lady, this ignoble conduct does not exist in the elder brother, like heat in the moon.” Though restrained by him in this way, she told that day after day. He reflected, “Who can be certain from confidence in some one else?” Being averse to sexual pleasure, in order to be a witness himself, he went to Kamaṭha and said, “I am going to the village now.” After saying this, Marubhūti went away, but returned at night in the guise of an exhausted begger by changing his dress and speech.

He said to Kamaṭha, “Sir, give me, a traveler from afar, shelter in your house,” and he gave it unhesitatingly. He stayed in the window shown him, pretending to go to sleep, wishing to see the evil conduct of the two blinded by love. Vasundharā and Kamaṭha, evil-minded, dallied for a long time, unafraid from the thought, “Marubhūti has gone to the village.” Marubhūti, staying where he was, saw what should not be seen, but did not do anything hostile, fearing people’s censure. He went and told everything to King Aravinda. Intolerant of evil conduct, he gave instructions to his guards:

“Kamaṭha, committing a crime, must not be killed because he is the son of the house-priest. After seating him on a donkey with mockery, he is to be banished.”

After seating him on a donkey, they expelled Kamaṭha, his body spotted with mineral-mixtures, accompanied by drums sounding forth harshly. Watched by the townspeople, his head bent, unable to retaliate, Kamaṭha went to the forest, with a desire for emancipation. Then he became an ascetic under the ascetic Śiva and Kamaṭha began fool’s penance in the forest.[2]

Marubhūti suffered remorse: “Shame on what I did, that I told the king about my brother’s stumbling conduct. This stumbling of mine was greater than his stumbling. I shall go now and ask forgiveness of my elder brother.” With these thoughts, he asked the king and, though restrained by him, went to Kamaṭha and fell at his feet. Recalling the former disgrace at that time, Kamatha angrily raised a big stone and threw it at his head, as he was bowing. Taking it up even again, Kamaṭha threw the rock on him injured by the blow, as well as (throwing) himself completely into hell.

Footnotes and references:


See III, n. 122.


I.e., foolish kinds of penance that produce no results See III, p. 224, n. 285.

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