Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Parshva’s initiation which is the eighth part of chapter III 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.

Now Pārśva, the Blessed One, knew that the fruit of his own pleasure-karma had been consumed and set his mind on mendicancy. As if knowing his intentions, the Lokāntika gods came at that time and announced to Pārśva, “Lord, found a congregation.” Then the Master began to give gifts for a year with money furnished by the Jṛmbhakas instructed by Vaiśravaṇa. The initiation-ceremony of Pārśva, the Supreme Lord, was held by the Vāsavas, Śakra and others, and by the kings, Aśvasena and others. He got into a litter, Viśālā by name, carried by gods and mortals and went to the garden Āśramapada. The Blessed One, son of Aśvasena entered the garden whose surface was darkened by the dense masses of marjoram; which was making an invocation to Love, as it were, by the bees of the jasmines; with swarms of bees kissing the multitude of mucukundas;[1] fragrant from the pollen of the lavalī[2] floating in the air; with singing gardeners seated on the edge of sugar-cane fields.

The Lord Pārśva, wearing (deva-)dūṣya given by Vāsava, got out of the palanquin, and laid aside ornaments, et cetera,[3] thirty years old. On the forenoon on the thirteenth of the dark half of Pauṣa, the moon being in Rādhā, observing a three-day fast, the Master became a mendicant with three hundred kings. At that time the Lord’s knowledge called “mind-reading” arose. For it arises at the initiation of all the Arhats.

On the next day the Lord broke his fast in a hamlet, Kopakaṭa, with a milk-pudding in the house of the householder Dhanya. The gods made there the five things, rain of treasure, et cetera.[4] But Dhanya made a footstool on the ground of the Master’s feet.[5] Unhindered like the wind, the Lord wandered in villages, mines, cities, et cetera, an ordinary ascetic, his gaze fixed six feet ahead. One day in his wandering the Master came to a hermitage near a town and the sun set. The Teacher of the World stood in pratimā under a banyan tree near a well, motionless as its foot.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Pterospermum suberifolium. It has fragrant white flowers.

2.

The lavalī is one of Hemacandra’s favorites in the botanical world, but it is difficult to identify. MW calls it Averrhoa Acida and Dutt calls it Phyllanthus longifolius, which is the same (Roxb). This is a tree and Hem.’s lavalī is a creeper. Artabotrys suaveolens or odoratissima has been suggested, but their flowering seasons do not agree with lavalī’s. Sec I, pp. 156. 223; III, pp. 72.96.138.233.

3.

In this instance the pulling out of his hair is not described. Pārśva., p. 115. n. 4. says that Pārśvanātha was the first Jain to practice this austerity, but that is an error. Rṣabha and all the Arhats did so, as is said above in this same note.

4.

See I, p. 180 f.

5.

I.e., he made a platform where Pārśva had stood. Cf. I, p. 183.