Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Previous birth of Bandhudatta which is the third part of chapter IV 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.

He then asked the Lord: “Because of what acts did six wives die as soon as married and why did my separation and imprisonment take place?” The Master related:

“Here in Bharata on Mt. Vindhya there was a Śabara-lord, named Śikharasena, intent on doing harm, devoted to sense-objects. Priyadarśanā was his wife, named Śrīmatī, and you continued playing with her in mountain-thickets at that time. One day a group of sādhus, who had lost the way, came there wandering in the forest and was seen by you with a compassionate mind. You went and asked the sādhus, ‘Why do you wander here?’ They told you, ‘We have lost the way.’

Śrīmatī said to you, ‘After feeding them with fruit, et cetera, help these munis cross the Vindhya-forest difficult to cross.’ You brought bulbs, et cetera and they said: ‘This is not proper. If there is anything devoid of color, odor, et cetera, give us that. Or fruit, et cetera, that was gathered a long time ago, is suitable for us.’ On hearing that, you fed them with such bulbs, et cetera. You led the sādhus to the road and they taught dharma. After giving you the formula ‘homage to the five,’ they instructed you as follows:

‘On one day in a fortnight you, staying in solitude, with all censurable activity given up, must recall this formula of homage. If some one should threaten you then, do not be angry at him. If you practice dharma in this way, the glory of heaven is not hard to attain.’ You said, ‘So be it.’

One day a lion approached you as you were doing just so and Śrīmatī was at once afraid of him. Saying, ‘Do not be afraid,’ you seized a large bow, (but) you were reminded by Śrīmatī of the self-control advised by the guru. Then you, motionless, and noble Śrīmatī were devoured by the lion and you became gods in Saudharma with a life-term of a palya.

After falling, you became the son of King Kurumṛgāṅka and Bālacandrā in Cakrapurī in the West Videhas. Śrīmatī, falling from heaven, became the daughter of King Subhūṣaṇa, brother-in-law of Kurumṛgāṅka, and Kurumatī. You two, Vasantasenā and Śabaramṛgāṅka by name, gradually attained youth, living in your respective places. She fell in love with you from hearing your virtues; and you with her from the sight of a painting of her figure brought by an esteemed painter. You were married to her by your father, knowing your affection. Your father became an ascetic and you became king. At that time the karma originating in your Bhilla-birth, caused by separating animals, matured. Hear the full truth, noble sir.

In that same province, a powerful king, lord of Jayapura, named Vardhana, angry for no reason, said to you through agents: ‘Send me Vasantasenā and accept my command. In that case enjoy your kingdom: if not, fight with me.’ Hearing that with anger, mounted on an elephant, you set out with an army for battle, being prevented by the people from seeing unfavorable omens. At that time King Vardhana, being defeated, fled; and a powerful king, named Tapta, fought with you.

You, your army destroyed by him who had defeated you, died and, because you were subject to cruel meditation, you became a hell-inhabitant in the sixth hell. Vasantasenā entered the fire, grieved by the separation, died, and was born at that time in the same hell. You, having risen from hell, became the son in the house of a poor man in Bharata in Puṣkaradvīpa and she became a daughter of a caste equal to his. The marriage of the two took place when they were grown and, though the pain of poverty was present, you two sported constantly.

One day you two were at home and saw some sadhvīs. Getting up with devotion, you presented them with food and drink zealously. Questioned, the sadhvīs said, ‘Our head is Bālacandrā and there is shelter in the house of Sheth Vasu.’ At the end of the day, you two went there, your minds purified, and were taught dharma completely by the head-nun, Bālacandrā. You both adopted lay-dharma at her feet and, after death, became gods with a life of nine sāgaras in Brahmaloka. After falling, you became these two (you arc now). You made severe separation of animals in your Bhilla-birth and she approved it. By the maturing of that (karma) you experienced the death of your wives, separation, and the pains of capture, imprisonment, et cetera. For the maturing of karma is painful.”

Bandhudatta bowed again and said to the Blessed One: “In future where shall we go and how long will our existence be?” The Master replied: “After death, you will go to Sahasrāra. Falling, you will be a cakrin in East Videha and she will be your chief-queen. After enjoying the pleasures of the senses for a long time and after becoming mendicants, both will go to emancipation.” Hearing that, Bandhudatta and Priyadarśanā took the vow at that very time under the Master, Śrī Pārśva.

One day a king, a lord of nine treasures,[1] went to pay homage to Pārśva who had stopped in a samavasaraṇa near his city. “By what acts in a former birth did I attain this magnificence?” So questioned by him, the Blessed One, Lord Pārśva said:

“In a former birth you were a gardener, Aśoka by name, in a village, Hellūra, in the country Mahārāṣṭra. One day after selling flowers, you started home. Half-way on the road, you entered a layman’s house where the statue of an Arhat was set up. Seeing the Arhat’s statue there, looking for flowers, you put your hand in the basket and found there nine flowers. You put them on the Arhat and acquired great merit.

One day you presented a priyaṅgu-blossom to the king. You were installed by the king as the head of the guild and, when you died, you became lord of nine lacs of drammas[2] in Elapura. After death you became lord of nine crores of money[3] in the same place. When you died, you became lord of nine lacs of gold in the city Svarṇapatha. After death you became lord of nine crores of gold in the same place. After death you became master of nine lacs of jewels in Ratnapura. In course of time you died and became master of fully nine crores of jewels in the same city, Ratnapura. You died and became a king, the son of King Vallabha in Vāṭikā, lord of nine lacs of villages. Then you died and became such a king—lord of nine treasures. From this birth you will go to the Anuttara-palace.”

After hearing the Master’s account, the king, very devout, became a mendicant at that time.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

For the nine treasures, see I, pp. 252f.

[2]:

Dramma, according to PH, equals a gold mohar, which was probably about 15 rupees in Hemacandra’s time. But he is supposed to be richer in each birth and, if he starts with a gold coin, what would his nine lacs of ‘gold’ be? I think probably dramma here should be taken as about a rupee.

[3]:

I strongly suspect that the ‘dravya’ of the edition should be read ‘dramma.’

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