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...

Introduction to volume 6

The Mahāvīracaritra, the tenth parvan of the Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacaritra deals with the life of Mahāvīra only and includes many historical events associated with him, e.g., the association of Gośāla and Mahāvīra and their subsequent enmity, and the heresy of Jamāli. Historical events subsequent to Mahāvīra’s time are introduced in the guise of prophecies by Mahāvīra. Its historical data, if not altogether dependable, may be assumed to report a Jain tradition well-established in Hemacandra’s time. The parvan has much exposition of Jain doctrine, next to the Adīśvaracaritra; and numerous devotional hymns.

The Triṣaṣṭi0 doubtless does not have much originality. Encyclopedias do not have originality and that is what the Triṣaṣṭi0 is an encyclopedia of Jain doctrine, of life and customs of mediaeval Gujarat, of historical tradition, of contemporary history, of botany, of popular language. Hemacandra drew his material from the whole range of the canonical literature and also secular literature that was relevant, such as the Vasudevahiṇḍi. He was well-versed in the literature of the Hindus. Many obscurities have been made clear by comparison with parallel passages. Probably they all have parallel passages somewhere, but I could not always find them.

Bṃhler’s Ṃber das Leben des Jaina Mönches Hemacandra remains the standard biography of Hemacandra, though much new information has come to light since it was published in 1889. It has now been translated into English, but unfortunately the translation leaves uncorrected a number of errors. My biographical summary is based on Bṃhler. I do not think it necessary to repeat here the discussion of all the legends concerning Hemacandra’s life. I give only the fundamental authenticated facts for the benefit of those unacquainted with Hemacandra. And it is surprising how many educated Indians do not know him.

Hemacandra’s enormous literary activity earned him the title Kalikālasarvajṭa, “Omniscient of the Kali Age.” Bṃhler has discussed very thoroughly the chronology of his works. The Triṣaṣṭi0 and the Pariśiṣṭaparvan were obviously composed after Kumārapāla’s conversion, i.e., after 1160 A.D. I have thought it most useful to give a list of Hemacandra’s extant works and where they are published. Doubtless there are other editions. One work is often called by so many names that considerable confusion results.

Hemacandra’s life

Hemacandra was born in Dhandhukā, a town in Kathiawar in November-December, 1088 A.D. His parents belonged to the merchant class and were Jains. His original name was Cāṅgadeva. He became the pupil of the monk Devacandra and was initiated, while still a child, at Cambay and received the name Somacandra. For twelve or fifteen years presumably he studied with Devacandra. Bṃhler says (p. 10) that Hemacandra nowhere mentions the name of his teacher, but he does, of course, mention him in the Praśasti. The Sthānakavṛtti, which Devacandra wrote, is not, as Bṃhler says, a commentary on the Sthānāṅga, but on the Sthānakāni of Pradyumnasūri, which deals with the ‘saptakṣetrī,’ the ‘seven fields’ of Jainism. Devacandra’s commentary is called Mūlaśuddhi.

About 1110 A.D. Hemacandra received the rank of sūri or ācārya and then took the name of Hemacandra. He later went to Aṇhilwāḍ-Pāṭan, where he obtained the favor of Jayasiṃha-Siddharāja. The time and the circumstances of his meeting with the king are uncertain and are recounted in different versions. At the king’s request he wrote his grammar with its supplements and commentary. There are various stories of the semi-miraculous composition of the grammar. Undoubtedly it was received with great favor and soon became the most popular grammar in use. It was based on many earlier grammars.

Jayasiṃha died in 1143 A.D. and was succeeded by his nephew, Kumārapāla. In his case, too, there are various accounts of the incidents that led to Hemacandra’s favored position with Kumārapāla. But regardless of how it happened, Hemacandra exercised great influence at court and can be credited with the conversion of Kumārapāla to Jainism and its domination in the state.

Hemacandra died in 1173 A.D., a few months before Kumārapāla.

His extant works

According to the Praśasti, the grammar and its supplements were written at the request of Siddharāja. It was named Siddhahemacandraśabdānuśāsana, or Haimavyākaraṇa. Hemacandra wrote two commentaries, a long one, Bṛhadvṛtti, and a short one, Laghuvṛtti, and a nyāsa. It is in 8 books, the first seven dealing with Sanskrit, and the eighth with Prakrit. Books I to VII with the Laghuvṛtti are published in the YJG, Benares 1905. Book VIII has been edited and translated by Pischel as: Grammatik der Prākrit Sprachen. 2 Parts, Halle, 1877-80. There is a new edition with commentaries being published by the Śrīsiddhaprakāśana Samiti, Bombay.

Its supplements are: Dhātupārāyaṇa, or Dhātupāṭha, with Hemacandra’s commentary. Edited by Kirste. Sources of Sanskrit Lexicography, Vol. IV, Vienna, 1901.

Uṇādigaṇasūtra with Hem.’s commentary. Vol. II of Sources of Sanskrit Lexicography. Vienna, 1895.

Liṅgānuśāsana with Hem.’s commentary. Published in the Abhidhānasaṅgraha. Bombay, 1896.

Yogaśāstra with Hem.’s commentary, composed for Kumārapāla’s benefit. Published by Prasāraka Sabhā, Bhavnagar, 1926, Also edited by Dharmasūri in Bibliotheca Indica, 1907. The first 4 chapters, text and translation by E. Windisch, appeared in ZDMG 28 (1874).

The Dvyāśraya, Chandonuśāsana, Alaṅkṛti, and other manuals, collections of nouns, et cetera, were composed “for the people.” The Dvyāśrayakāvya is a panegyric on the Chaulukyas. It also illustrates the rules of his grammar. The first 20 chapters in Sanskrit illustrate the first 7 books of the grammar; the eight chapters in Prakrit illustrate the eighth book. The Sanskrit Dvyāśraya is published in Bombay Sanskrit and Prakrit Series, no. LXIX, 1915-21.

The Prakrit Dvyāśrayakavya, or Kumārapālacaritra, is published in the Bombay Sanskrit Series, no. 60. 1900.

The Alaṅkāracūḍāmaṇī, or Alaṅkṛti, is a treatise on rhetoric. It is the commentary on the KĀVYĀNUŚĀSANA and has a commentary of its own, a viveka. All three are published by the Mahavīra Jaina Vidyālaya, Bombay, 1938.

The Chandonuśāsana, or Chandaścūdāmaṇi, with commentary by Hemacandra, is a treatise on metrics. Published by Devakarana Mulji, Bombay, 1912.

The “collections of nouns” include:

The Abhidhānacintāmaṇi, or Ekārthakoṣa, with Hem.’s commentary. A dictionary of synonyms, it is indispensable for any one reading Jain Sanskrit. Edited and translated by Boethlingk and Rieu, St. Petersburg, 1847. Also published by the YJG, with an Index volume, Bhavnagar, 1919.

Śesakhyānamālā, or Abhidhānacintāmaṇipariśiṣṭa, or Śeṣasaṅgraha. It is included under the second title in the Abhidhānasaṅgraha.

Nighantuśeṣa, a botanical glossary, a supplement to the Abhidhānacintāmaṇi. It is included in the Abhidhānasaṅgraha.

Anekārthanāmamālā, or Anekārthasaṅgraha. A dictionary of homonyms. Vol. I of Sources of Sanskrit Lexicography. Vienna, 1893. It is included in the Abhidhānasaṅgraha.

Deśīnāmamālā, or Deśīśabdasaṅgraha, or Ratnāvalī, with commentary. A vocabulary of local words. Published in Bombay Sanskrit Series, XVII. Edited by Pischel in 1880, Second edition with Glossary in English, 1938.

After Kumārapāla had mentioned these works, he asked Hemacandra to write the biographies of the sixty-three illustrious persons (of Jainism) for the enlightenment of persons like himself. This request resulted in the Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacaritra. It was published by the Prasāraka Sabhā, Bhavanagar, 1905-09. This edition has long been out of print and a new edition is being published by the Ātmānanda Sabhā, Bhavnagar. Parvan 1, 1936; Parvan 2-4, 1950; Parvan 7, 1961, have appeared. Translation into English, GOS, 51, 77, 108, 125, 139, 140.

Pariśiṣṭaparvan, or Sthāvirāvalī, The Lives of the Patriarchs, is a continuation of the Triṣaṣṭi. It was published by the Prasāraka Sabhā, Bhavnagar, 1912; and, edited by H. Jacobi, in the Bibliotheca Indica, second edition, Calcutta, 1932. Extracts were translated into German by Hertel, Ausgewāhlte Erzählungen aus Hemacandras Parishishtaparvan. Leipzig, 1908.

Hemacandra says nothing in the Praśasti about his works on logic or his devotional works.

The Pramānamīmāṃsa is a work on logic, published by Motilai Ladhaji, Poona, 1925.

Dvātriṃśaddvātriṃśikā, a devotional hymn in two parts. The first part is called Ayogavyavacchedadvātriṃśikā. The second part is called Anyayogavyavacchedakadvātriṃśikā. It has a commentary by Malliṣeṇasūri called Syādvādamaṭjari. This is very well-known and is often taken to be the original text. Each of these two hymns is also called Mahavīrastotra. Both are published in the Kāvyamālā, Part VII. The second with the Syādvādamaṭjari was published by Motilal Ladhaji, Poona, 1926.

Vītarāgastotra is another hymn to Mahāvīra, consisting of 20 short hymns. It contains an exposition of Jainism. Published with avacūrṇi, viveka, and Gujarātī translation by DLF, no. 95. Second edition, Surat, 1949.

The Laghvarhannītiśāstra, published in Ahmedabad, 1908, was formerly attributed to Hemacandra, but, according to Velankar in his Jinaratnakoṣa, it is now rejected.

Mahādevastotra. This has been published by the Ātmānanda Sabhā, Bhavnagar, 1934, in a small booklet entitled Śrīvītarāga-Mahādeva-stotra. It contains also the Anyayogavyavacchedadvātriṃśikā and the Ayogavyavacchedadvātriṃśikā.

Helen M. Johnson

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