Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This is the English translation of the Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Charita (literally “The lives of the sixty-three illustrious People”), a Sanskrit epic poem written by Hemachandra in the twelfth century. The work relates the history and legends of important figures in the Jain faith. These 63 persons include: the twenty four tirthankaras , the t...

Then the lion’s soul, experiencing pains in worldly existence, was born as a son in a poor Brāhman family in some hamlet. His father, brothers, et cetera had died soon after he was born. He had been kept alive by the people from compassion; and he was called Kaṭha. He survived childhood and had reached youth, always in a miserable condition. Ridiculed by the people, he got food with difficulty.

One day, seeing rich men wearing jewels and ornaments, disgust with existence having developed at once, Kaṭha reflected; “These thousands of gluttons, adorned with various ornaments, are like gods. I think that is the fruit of penance in a former birth. I, always craving mere food, surely did not perform penance. So I shall practice penance now.” Reflecting to this effect, from desire for emancipation, he took the vow of an ascetic and practiced the penance of the five fires, et cetera, his food consisting of bulbs, roots, et cetera.