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...
Now the Meghakumāra, the Asura Meghamālin, knew by clairvoyance his own crime in a former birth. Recalling his hostility to Pārśva in each birth, the Asura blazed inside with anger like an ocean with submarine fire. Meghamālin, the basest of gods, blind from anger, approached to attack Pārśvanātha, like an elephant to split a mountain.
The god created tigers, their mouths terrifying from saw-like teeth, with claws the shape of hooks, tawny-eyed. They beat the top of the ground with their tails again and again and gave loud roars resembling the words of a charm of Death. The Blessed One was not shaken by them, his eyes motionless in meditation; they went away somewhere as if from fear of the fire of his meditation.
Elephants, created by him, attacked, trumpeting, dripping with mada, their trunks lifted, lofty like living mountains. The Master was not disturbed by them terrifying even to the terrifying. They fled quickly and went somewhere, as if ashamed. Bears, filling the heavens with their growls, devoid of pity; many panthers, cruel, like an army of Yama; scorpions, splitting rocks even with the tip of the sting; serpents, burning trees by their glance, were created there by him with the intention of attacking the Lord. The Lord did not stir from meditation on their account, like the ocean from its boundary.
Then he created vampires holding knives, like clouds with lightning, with projecting teeth, giving loud cries of “Kila! kila!” With pendent tongue and liṅga like trees with hanging serpents, with long legs and feet, just as if mounted on palm-trees, discharging long flames from the mouth, like a stomach-fire, they attacked the Lord on all sides, like dogs an elephant. The Lord was not shaken by them, absorbed in the pool of nectar of meditation. They too fled somewhere, like owls at dawn.
Then exceedingly angered, the Asura Meghamālin himself created clouds in the sky like the night at the end of the world. Lightning flashed in the sky, terrifying like a tongue of Death; thunder, splitting open the universe, as it were, spread over the skies. A terrible darkness took place, taking away the function of the eye. Heaven and earth became one as if sewed together. With the evil intention, “I will destroy this former enemy,” Meghamālin began to rain like a cloud at the end of the world. He beat the earth with streams of water like pestles, or like arrows, as if digging it up with spades. The sleeping birds flew up and flew down from the trees; boars and buffaloes, et cetera moved here and there. Creatures were dragged away by the streams of water terrifying from speed; even big trees were rooted up from the roots.
In a moment the water reached Pārśva Svāmin’s ankles; in a moment his knees, in a moment his hips, in a moment his neck at that time. In that wide-spread water, the Lord had the beautiful appearance of the great lotus, the home of Lakṣmī, in the lake Padma. The Master was motionless in the water, like a jeweled pillar, and, his eyes fixed on the end of his nose, did not move at all from his meditation.
When the water reached the tip of Śrī Pārśva Svāmin’s nose, then the throne of Dharaṇa, the Indra of the Uragas (Nāgas) shook. He knew by clairvoyance, “Oh! Kaṭha, practicing foolish penance, attacks my lord, considering him an enemy.” Then the Nāga-king went with his wives to the Teacher of the World with speed, as if competing with the mind. Dharaṇa bowed to the Master and placed beneath his feet a tall lotus with erect stalk, resembling the seat of an omniscient. The serpent-king covered the Lord’s back, sides, and breast with his own coils and made an umbrella with seven hoods over his head. The Blessed One, standing comfortably on the lotus with a stalk the length of the water, absorbed in meditation, looked like a rājahaṃsa.
Dharaṇendra’s wives, their minds penetrated by devotion, sang, danced, et cetera before Pārśva Svāmin. The loud sound of flutes and lutes, the intense sound of the drums spread there, imitating hand-clappings many-fold. A dance was displayed with various beautiful dance-steps, splendid with dramatic actions of the hands, et cetera, with various aṅgahāras and karaṇas. Absorbed in meditation, the Lord remained indifferent to both the Nāga-lord Dharaṇa and the Asura Meghamālin. This being so, when he saw Meghamālin raining angrily, the Nāga-king, angered, said to him with contempt:
“O villain, what is this undertaking for your own disadvantage, evil-minded wretch. I am the servant of the Compassionate. Henceforth, I will not tolerate it. What crime against you was committed by the Lord, when he showed the snake being burned inside the log, if you were prevented from sin at that time? Good advice then led to your hostility, villain, like rain-water on saline soil. You are an enemy for no reason to the Lord here who is a brother (to everyone) for no reason. Villain, if you have injured him in this way, you will die today.”
After hearing that speech, Meghamālin looked down and saw Pārśva standing so, attended by the Nāga-Indra. Terrified, he thought: “My power, great as it is, is useless against him, like that of the Payomucs (Meghamukhas), partisans of the Mlecchas, against the cakrin. He, an ocean of compassion, able to grind mountains with his fist, does not reduce me to ashes. Nevertheless, I am afraid of Indra Dharaṇa. I can not remain in the three worlds because of the crime against him, the lord of the three worlds. Where shall I go for a refuge, if this lord is a refuge?”
Thus reflecting, he destroyed at once the expanse of water; terrified, he went to the Master himself, bowed, and said: “If there is ṅo anger on your part, Lord, toward me committing a crime. I am delighted; nevertheless, I am terrified by my own act. After doing such a wicked act, shameless, I ask you: Save me, save me, miserable, afraid of falling, Lord of the World.” With these words, the god Meghamālin asked forgiveness of the Lord of the World, bowed to him, and remorsefully went to his own home. Knowing that the Lord was free from attacks, after hymning him and bowing to him, the Naga-king went to his own house. The dawn appeared.