Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Tests of the princes which is the fourth part of chapter VI 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.

One day, to test the fitness of his sons to rule, the king sent dishes of rice pudding to a certain place for their meal. When the princes had began to eat, he, strong-minded, had dogs, with their mouths wide open like tigers, turned loose. When the dogs rushed at them, the princes got up in a hurry. Śreṇika alone stayed just as he was, the abode of wisdom. He gave the dogs rice pudding from another dish, little by little, and while the dogs lapped, he himself ate. The king, delighted by that, thought, “By some device or other, he will crush his enemies and enjoy the earth himself.”

One day, to test his sons again, the king gave them sealed baskets of sweetmeats and pitchers of water. The king told them, “Eat the sweetmeats without breaking the seal and drink the water, but do not make a hole (in the pitcher).” Not one of them ate nor drank except Śreṇika. What can strong men do in matters to be solved by wit? But Śreṇika turned the basket around and around and ate the dust of the sweetmeats which fell from the spaces between the slats. By means of a silver shell under the jar which was filled with drops of water oozing out he drank the water. What is difficult for intelligent persons to accomplish by intelligence? So the King of Kuśāgra city decided that Śreṇika had passed the tests with a wealth of cleverness suitable for sovereignty.

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