Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Incarnation as Nayasara which is the second part of chapter I of the English translation of the Mahavira-caritra, contained within the “Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra”: a massive Jain narrative relgious text composed by Hemacandra in the 12th century. Mahavira in jainism is the twenty-fourth Tirthankara (Jina) and one of the 63 illustrious beings or worthy persons.

Part 2: Incarnation as Nayasāra

There is a city, named Jayantī, in the province Mahāvapra, the ornament of West Videha in this same Jambūdvīpa. Śatrumardana, very magnificent, who resembled a newly arisen Janārdana in his strength of arm, was king there. In one of his villages, named Pṛthivīpratiṣṭhāna, there was a village-overseer, named Nayasāra, devoted to the Master. Although he was outside of the organization of monks, he was opposed to crimes, averse to incurring guilt, and devoted to the acquisition of merit.

One day, at the king’s command he took food and carts and went to the great forest for teak trees. While he was having the trees cut, midday came on, and the sun in the sky burned intensely like a fire in the stomach. Then Nayasāra’s servants, knowing that it was time, brought him an excellent meal under a pavilion-like tree. With the thought, “If I should have a hungry or thirsty guest come, I would give him food,” Nayasāra looked here and there.

Just then sādhus came, hungry and thirsty, tired, their bodies bathed in perspiration, who were occupied in looking for a caravan. Reflecting, “How fortunate! These sādhus have come here as my guests,” the village-overseer bowed to them and said: “How did your Reverences come to this great forest? Not even armed men wander here alone.” They replied: “We started out from our station with a caravan in the first place. We entered a village for alms and just then the caravan left. Without receiving alms we set out after the caravan and then, as we went along, we happened into this great forest.”

Nayasāra said: “Alas! the caravan is very pitiless; alas! it does not fear evil; alas! it destroys men who trusted it, since it went ahead without waiting for the sādhus who had started with it and had stopped with confidence in the caravan cruel from devotion to its own business only. Because of my merit, you have come here to the forest as my guests.”

With these words, he led the great munis to the place where the food was and gave the munis the food and drink brought for his own use. The sādhus went elsewhere, according to rule, and ate. After the village-overseer had eaten, he went to the munis, bowed, and said, “If your Reverences are ready to go now, I shall show you the road to the city.” They went with him and reached the road to the city. Seated under a tree, they taught him dharma. He adopted right-belief (samyaktva) and took leave of them, considering himself blessed. He returned (to the forest), sent the trees to the king, and went himself to the village. Henceforth, always practing dharma, meditating on the seven Principles,[1] preserving right-belief, noble-minded, he passed the time.

Footnotes and references:


Tattva. Usually Śvetāmbara writers make the Tattvas 9, including puṇya and pāpa. For a full exposition, see I, Appendix IV.

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