Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Sixth incarnation as Vajranabha which is the twelfth 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 12: Sixth incarnation as Vajranābha

Now in this Jambūdvīpa in the province Sugandha, the ornament of West Videha, there is a fine city, Śubhaṅkara by name. The king there, named Vajravīrya, whose strength was irresistible, was like Indra in person, pious, the chief of the rulers of the earth. He had a chief-queen, Lakṣmīvatī by name, like another Lakṣmī in form, who had attained the ornaments hip of the earth.

Kiraṇavega’s soul fell from Acyuta when its life-term had been completed, and descended into Lakṣmīvatī’s womb, like a haṃsa into a pool. At the right time she bore a son possessing a pure form, an ornament of the earth, named Vajranābha. Moon to the night-blooming lotus of the world, cherished by nurses, he gradually grew up, with joy to his parents, in course of time he attained youth, expert in weapons and sciences; and he was installed on the throne by his father himself on a pure day. Vajravīrya took the vow with his wife; but Vajranābha guarded properly the kingdom given by him.

In time there was a son, like another form of Vajranābha, named Cakrāyudha, like Cakrāyudha (Viṣṇu) in strength. Cakrāyudha—the bee to the lotus-hands of nurses—grew along with the desire for mendicancy on the part of his father who was terrified of worldly existence. Complete with the arts like the moon with digits, the prince attained youth and his father begged him: “Take the kingdom. But I, depressed by existence, the burden being taken now by you, shall undertake mendicancy, the only means of emancipation.”

Cakrāyudha said: “Because of what fault committed from thoughtlessness and irresponsibility is there such disfavor to me? Pardon that, lord. Guard the kingdom as well as myself for a long time. Do not abandon me, father, after guarding me for so long.”

Vajranābha said: “There is no fault on your part, faultless one. But sons, like horses, are guarded for lifting a burden. Do you, having been born and having reached military age, fulfil my wish in the sphere of mendicancy now. For it has been known even from your birth. If I, even though you were born, weighed down by the burden, fall into the ocean of existence, then who will strive for good sons?” Saying this, the king installed him on the throne, though he was unwilling, by his own command. For the command of the elder is very powerful for the well-born.

Then the Blessed Jina, Kṣemaṅkara, came and stopped in a garden outside the city. After hearing that, Vajranābha thought: “The coming of the Arhat because of (my) merit is favorable to my wish.” He, wishing to become a mendicant, went with great magnificence at once and paid homage to the Jina, and listened to a sermon he delivered. At the end of the sermon, his hands folded in obeisance, he said to the Blessed One:

“Master, favor me by giving me the long-desired vow. Though I have acquired another good sādhu as guru because of merit, I have especial merit since you have come here as guru. I, wishing initiation, have installed my son on the throne now. I am ready for your favor characterized by giving mendicancy.”

The master himself at once initiated him saying this. He studied a section of the scriptures and practiced severe penance. Wandering alone bv his guru’s permission, observing the pratimā-posture, his body emaciated by penance, the great sage wandered in cities, et cetera. By unbroken principal vows and firm lesser vows, the muni acquired in course of time the magic art of going-through-the-air, as if he had wings. One day flying up, the yati went to the province Sukaccha, like another sun in the sky from his excessive brilliance from penance.

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