Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Shrenika and Nanda which is the sixth 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.

With the idea, “My other sons, who think themselves fit to rule, must not know that he is fit to rule,” the king treated Śreṇika with contempt. The king gave territories to each of the princes, but nothing at all to Śreṇika with the intention, “The kingdom will be his in the future.” Śreṇika, proud, left his city, like an elephant leaving a forest, and in course of time went to Veṇātaṭapura. There, like embodied karma producing gain, he entered the shop of Sheth Bhadra.

At that time in this city there was an important festival thronged with townsmen in new and beautiful apparel and unguents. The sheth was bewildered by many customers and the prince tied up and delivered boxes, bags, et cetera. From the prince’s magnanimity the sheth acquired a great deal of money. Indeed, wealth is the companion of virtuous men even in a strange place. Asked by the sheth, “Of what truthful and virtuous man are you the guest today?” Śreṇika replied, “Of you.” The sheth thought to himself, “He is in person exactly the one I saw in a dream last night as a suitable husband for Nandā.” He said: “I am fortunate that you are my guest. Certainly, he (a guest) is a Gaṅgā met by means of indolence.” Then the sheth closed the shop and took him to his house. After having him bathed and clothed, he fed him respectfully.

One day the sheth asked Śreṇika, who was staying in his house, “Marry my daughter, named Nandā.” Śreṇika asked him, “How can you give your daughter to me whose family is unknown?” and he replied, “Your family is known by your virtues.” Then at his insistence Śreṇika married her, like Hari the daughter of the Ocean, with auspicious songs taking place. Enjoying manifold pleasures with his wife, Śreṇika remained there, like an elephant in a thicket.

Prasenajit knew about Śreṇika’s experience very soon. For kings have a thousand eyes from the eyes of their spies. Prasenajit contracted a severe illness and, knowing his death (was near), then ordered camel-riders to bring Śreṇika quickly. Then Śreṇika, informed of the news by the camel-riders, told Nandā affectionately the news of his father’s severe illness and started out. He gave (Nandā) words equal to a name-charm: “We are cowherds with a white house in Rājagṛha.” Thinking, “My father, suffering from illness, must not have additional suffering on my account,” Śreṇika quickly mounted a camel and went to the city Rājagṛha.

When the king saw him, delighted, with tears of joy he installed him on the throne with pure water in golden pitchers. Thinking of Jina Pārśva and the formula of homage to the Five, having resorted to the four refuges, the king died and went to heaven.

Then Śreṇika supported the whole burden of the world and Nandā, who was pregnant and deserted by him, supported the embryo hard to carry. She had a pregnancy-whim: “I wish that, mounted on an elephant, bestowing benefits by great wealth, I may give freedom from fear to creatures.” After asking the king, her father gratified the pregnancy-whim. At the completed time, she bore a son, like the East bearing the sun. On an auspicious day the maternal grandfather gave him the name Abhayakumāra, in conformity with the pregnancy-whim.

He grew up gradually and learned the unobjectionable sciences and, when he was eight years old, was skilled in the seventy-two arts. During a quarrel a playmate ridiculed him from anger, “Why do you, whose father, look! is not known, talk?” Abhayakumāra said, “Bhadra is certainly my father.” He replied to Abhaya, “Bhadra is your mother’s father.” Abhaya said to Nandā, “Mother, who is my father?” Nandā replied, “This Sheth Bhadra is your father.” “Bhadra is your father. Please name my father.” So told by her son, Nandā unwillingly said:

“I was married by a man who came from a foreign country. While you were in my womb, some camel-riders came to him. He talked to them secretly and went away somewhere with them. Even now I do not know who he was.”

“So I am a person of unknown origin. When he went with them, did he say nothing at all to you?” Questioned by Abhaya she showed the letter, saying, “These words were handed over.” Abhaya understood it and delighted, said: “My father is king in Rājagṛha. Now we are going there certainly.” They bade farewell to Sheth Bhadra and with all their possessions Nandā’s son and Nandā went to the city Rājagṛha. He left his mother with her attendants in a garden outside and Abhaya entered the city with a small retinue.

Now, at that time five hundred, less one, ministers, clever in counsel, had been assembled by King Śreṇika. Then the king sought some outstanding man among the people to make the full number of five hundred ministers. In order to test them the king threw his own ring in a dry well and told the people the conditions:

“Whoever, standing on the rim (of the well), gets this ring with his hand, shall have the office of my prime minister, bought by his sharp intellect.”

They said: “It is an impossible undertaking for people like us. One who could draw down the stars with his hand, he could draw up this ring.”

Then Abhayakumāra came there and said with astonishment, “Why is it not taken? What is difficult about this?” When they had seen him, the people thought, “He is some one with very superior intellect.” For on occasion the hue of the face shows men’s valor. They said to him: “Take this ring that has been made their stake and take the wealth of half the kingdom, a maiden, and the chief place among the ministers.”

Then Abhayakumāra, standing above, struck with a ball of moist dung the ring that was in the well. Then, clever, he threw a burning bunch of grass on top and at once dried out the dung. Nandā’s son quickly had a water-channel made and filled the well with water and the people with astonishment. Śreṇika’s son took the floating dung with his hand. What difficulty is there in a stratagem well-managed by intelligent persons?

When this incident was made known by the guards, the king, astonished, at once summoned Abhayakumāra to his presence. Śreṇika embraced Abhaya with a welcome suitable for a son. A relative, even though he is unknown, who has been seen delights the mind. Questioned by King Śreṇika, “Whence have you come?” Abhaya said, “From the city Veṇātaṭa.”

The king asked: “Good sir, there is a sheth there, named Subhadra and he had a daughter Nandā.” “That is quite right,” he said. The king said again: “Nandā was pregnant.

What offspring did she bear?” Then Śreṇika’s son, whose row of teeth had beautiful rays, said, “She bore a son named Abhayakumāra, Majesty.” “How does he look? What is he like?” the king asked and Abhaya said, “Master, consider that I am that same son.”

The king embraced him, seated him on his lap, smelled his head and sprinkled him with tears, as if bathing him, from affection. “Son, is your mother well?” the king asked. Abhaya, his hands folded respectfully announced,

“Remembering the meeting with your lotus-feet, like a bee, my honored mother is now in a garden outside the city, Master.”

Then the king, a shoot of great joy, instructed Abhaya to bring Nandā, after collecting all her effects first. Then the king himself, his heart torn by great longing, went to meet Nandā, like a rājahaṃsa a lotus. Joyfully, the king saw Nandā in the garden, her girdle loosened, her hair in disorder on her cheek, her eyes devoid of collyrium, her hair in a braid, her clothes soiled, very thin like a second digit of the moon. The king rejoiced and conducted Nandā to his own house; and set her in the rank of chief-queen, like Rāma Sītā. Then King Śreṇika gave Abhaya the daughter of his sister Susenā, the first place among the ministers, and half his kingdom. From devotion to his father and considering himself an insignificant footman, Abhaya conquered kings who were difficult to conquer.

And now there is a city named Vaiśālī, with extensive wealth, very important, like a crest jewel of the earth as a woman. The king there, whose commands were unbroken like Ākhaṇḍala’s, was called ‘Ceṭaka’ because he had made slaves of kings who were his enemies. He had seven daughters, each by a different queen, who were like seven goddesses of the seven divisions of royalty.[1] Prabhāvatī, Padmāvatī, Mṛgāvatī, Śivā, Jyeṣṭhā, Sujyeṣṭha, and Cillaṇā were their names in order. But Ceṭaka, a layman observing restraint in regard to other marriages, did not give the girls to anyone, remaining indifferent, as it were.

After their mothers had obtained permission from Ceṭaka even though he was indifferent, they gave five girls to suitable husbands. Prabhāvatī was given to King Udayana, lord of Vītabhaya; Padmāvatī to King Dadhivahana, Lord of Campā; Mṛgāvatī to King Śatānīka, Lord of Kauśāmbī; Śivā to King Pradyota, Lord of Ujjayinī; and Jyeṣṭhā to King Nandivardhana, Lord of Kundagrāma, who was the elder brother of Śrī Vīra; according to their liking. Sujyeṣṭhā and Cillaṇā remained maidens and the two of them were compared with each other for beauty and grace. Possessing divine figures with divine garments and ornaments, they were always together like the two constellations, the two Punarvasus. Expert in the collection of arts, knowing the esoteric meaning of the scriptures, they were happy with each other, like two personifications of Sarasvatī. Together they worshipped the god, together they listened to dharma, together they did everything, just as if the two had one soul.

One day an old female ascetic came to the women's quarters adorned by Sujyeṣṭhā and Cillaṇā. With her cheeks puffed out, she expounded to them, as if to an ignorant assembly, dharma which had its root in cleanliness, destructive of evil. Sujyeṣṭhā said: “Oh! cleanliness[2] has the form of a channel of impure things! How can an impure channel, a source of evil, be of any use for destroying evil?” So Sujyeṣṭhā, excelling in good qualities, scorned her dharma with words armored with reason, like water-troughs to the well of the scriptures. Then the slaves of the women’s quarters laughed at her, because she could not answer, her mouth sealed, as it were, and made monkey-faces, et cetera. The harem slave-girls excited by the victory of their mistress, making a loud tumult, took her by the neck and threw her out.

The ascetic had gone to receive and had been obliged, as it were, to give. She had come for a pūjā and, on the contrary, she obtained a reverse. Going away, the ascetic thought,

“I shall make her, conceited because of her cleverness, the receptacle of pain among many co-wives.” Having fixed Sujyeṣṭhā’s figure in her mind, clever in all the arts she painted it on canvas with facility and thought combined. The cruel ascetic went in haste to Rājagṛha and showed the painted figure to King Śreṇika. When he had seen the painting of her, the sole snare for the deer of the eye, the king, lord of Rājagṛha, had her described from love:

“The tails of peacocks become slaves to her hair; her face with beautiful eyes is like a lotus to which bees are clinging; the shoot of the neck gives support to the leaf of the three lines,[3] her chest is adorned with breasts like a pond with ruddy geese playing; her wide hips are like a country suitable for the archer Love; her things, gradually round, resemble an elephant-post; her lower legs, straight and soft, are copies of lotus-stalks; her feet with straight legs are like lotuses with upraised stalks. Oh! the peerless beauty! the dazzling grace! Oh! the charming whole of the doe-eyed girl, which is unrivaled!”

He asked, “Good lady, is this paragon of a woman painted by your skill or from a sight of her person?”

The ascetic replied: “That figure was painted from life to the best of my ability. If it should appear in a mirror, it would be like this, king.”

The king, looking at her even in a picture, confused by love, felt like embracing her or kissing her. He said;

“In what family[4] did she, like a necklace of pearls, originate? What city does she adorn, like a digit of the moon the sky? Of what happy man is she the daughter, like Lakṣmī of the Ocean of Milk? What pure letters form her name? With what different arts is she endowed by Sarasvatī? Is her hand touched by a husband’s hand, or not?”

The ascetic replied: “She is a maiden, the daughter of Ceṭaka, lord of Vaiśālī, belonging to the Haihaya-line. A depository of all the arts, her name is Sujyeṣṭhā in accordance with her beauty and virtues. So you deserve to marry her. While you are in existence, if she has any other husband, surely you have been deceived by the third object of existence (dharma).

The king dismissed the ascetic and remained (where he was) with difficulty, wishing to go to Vaiśālī, having made wings, as it were, when he thought of her. One day the Lord of Rājagṛha gave instructions for asking for Sujyeṣṭhā in marriage and sent a messenger to King Ceṭaka. The messenger went at once to Vaiśālī, bowed to Ceṭaka and, skilled in making speeches, said what was neither flattering nor harsh: “My master, Lord of Magadha, asks for Sujyeṣṭhā from you. Surely, the request for a maiden is not a reason for shame even to the great.”

Ceṭaka replied: “Your lord does not know himself,[5] seeking a maiden belonging to the Haihaya-line, when he belongs to the Vāhīka-line. Marriage should be between equal families only, certainly not between others. So I will not give the maiden to Śreṇika. Go, sir!”

When this was reported exactly by the messenger who had returned, King Śreṇika was depressed like a soldier who had been defeated by enemies. Abhaya, who was there, the bee to his father’s lotus-feet, said, “Do not despair, father. I shall accomplish, your wish.” Abhaya, the Kumbhajanman (Agastya)[6] of the ocean of the collection of arts, went to his house and painted a likeness of the Lord of Magadha on a tablet. Then he changed his color and voice by means of a pill, put on the dress of a merchant, and went to the city of Vaiśālī. He took a shop near King Ceṭaka’s harem and gave much merchandise to the harem’s slave-girls. Abhaya constantly worshipped Śreṇika painted on the tablet and said, when he was questioned by the slave-girls, “This is King Śreṇika, my god.” Astonished, the slave-girls described to Sujyeṣṭhā Śreṇika’s form, just as they had seen it, surpassing that of gods. Sujyeṣṭhā instructed her chief slave-girl, who was like a friend: “Bring that picture quickly. I have great curiosity.” The slave-girl got it from Abhaya by persistence and showed King Śreṇika’s picture to her mistress.

When Sujyeṣṭhā had looked at the very handsome form, she became absorbed, her lotus-eyes motionless, like a yoginī. After a moment, she went in haste secretly to her friend, the earth for the deposit of wealth of secret plans, and said: “Clever girl, I wish the man whose likeness is on the tablet for a husband. Who shall be an honored creator to arrange a meeting with him? If he is not my husband, beyond doubt my heart will break in two, like a ripe cucumber. Lady, what device is there in this matter? Or perhaps, this is a device. This same merchant, who worships this picture is a refuge. Cultivate him, manager of my affairs. Go quickly and tell him this message from me, ‘Greeting to you, illustrious sir.’”

After urgent requests from the slave-girl who had gone (to him), Abhaya said: “I shall soon accomplish the wish of your mistress. I shall have an underground passage dug. I shall bring him by the passage. Your mistress must get into his chariot immediately. When your mistress has seen Śreṇika who has come then, she will be delighted at the agreement of his looks with the picture. The king will come by the tunnel to that place on that day, at that moment,” Abhaya made an appointment by her mouth.

The slave-girl came and reported this to her and told Abhaya, “Your speech is a command,” and went back to the harem. Abhaya, devoted to his father’s purpose, quickly told his father and informed him of the appointment. From that time on Sujyeṣṭhā, in subjection to the God of Love, thinking of Śreṇika, experienced great unhappiness.

Some time on the appointed day Śreṇika went to the door of the passage with the thirty-two sons of Sulasā. Śreṇika in a chariot, accompanied by Sulasā’s sons in chariots, entered the passage like a cakrin entering a cave of Vaitāḍhya.[7] When Sujyeṣṭhā saw the Lord of Magadha emerge from the passage and had observed that he looked like the picture, she was greatly delighted. She told the whole affair to Cillaṇā and said good-bye to her. Cillaṇā declared, “I will certainly not stay here without you.” Sujyeṣṭhā had Cillaṇā get in the chariot first and she herself hurried to get her jewel-casket. Then Sulasā’s sons said to King Śreṇika, “Master, it is not fitting to stay too long in an enemy’s house.” Impelled by Sulasā’s sons, the King took Cillaṇā, returned by the same passage, and went away as he had come.

When Sujyeṣṭhā came, after getting her jewel-casket, she did not see Śreṇika like the moon hidden in a cloud. Then because of her frustrated love and her sister’s abduction, Jyeṣṭhā cried out, “I have been robbed. Cillaṇā is being kidnaped, alas!” Then the charioteer Vīraṅgaka said to Ceṭaka, who was rapidly arming himself, “What is this insult to you, lord, when I am here?” Then Vīraṅgaka, prepared for battle, irresistible, went to the door of the passage with the intention of taking back the maiden. Then, as Sulasā’s sons left the passage, long-armed Vīraṅgaka slew them with just one arrow. While the charioteer dragged out their chariots because of the crowded condition of the passage, the Lord of Magadha went far away.

Then Vīraṅgaka, whose wish was done and not done by the rule of incompatibility in argument, told the whole thing to Ceṭaka. Ceṭaka was filled with anger and delight simultaneously at the abduction of his daughter and the slaughter of the charioteers. Sujyeṣṭhā thought, “Shame, shame on greediness for sense-objects, since such disappointments are experienced by those seeking pleasure.” Having become disgusted with existence thus, Sujyeṣṭhā herself took leave of Ceṭaka and became a mendicant under Āryā Candanā.

Śreṇika spoke to Cillaṇā, calling her “Sujyeṣṭhā, Sujyeṣṭhā,” not knowing that it was Cillaṇā who was there. Cillaṇā explained to him, “Sujyeṣṭhā did not come. I am Cillaṇā, Sujyeṣṭhā’s younger sister.” Śreṇika asserted, “My effort was not useless. Fair lady, you indeed are most excellent.[8] Certainly you are not inferior to her.” Cillaṇā was inflamed with joy and sorrow to a high degree at the same time at the acquisition of a husband and the cheating of her sister. Śreṇika quickly arrived in his own city with a chariot of insuperable speed like the wind, and Abhaya also after him.

After he had married Cillaṇā with a gāndharva-marriage, the king told Nāga and Sulasā that their sons were dead. When the husband and wife heard from the king the inauspicious news about their sons, they wept at the top of their voices, and lamented:

“O Kṛtānta, why have you caused the death of our sons at the same time? Did they come to have a single chain of yours at some time? Of birds, too, there are many offspring, but these perish gradually, not all at once at some place like this. Moreover, sons, you died at one time because of being united from affection. Are we known to be lacking in affection, defrauded of death at the same time?”

While they were lamenting aloud in this way, Abhaya, who had come with Śreṇika, enlightened them, like a teacher knowing the truth. “Death is the normal nature of living things; life is the abnormal. Then why should there be regret for an object that has fulfilled its own nature, O ye with discernment?” Śreṇika made some suitable remarks to the husband and wife enlightened by Abhaya with these words and went to his house. Then the Lord of Magadha enjoyed delights with Queen Cillaṇā without hindrance, like Purandara with Paulomī.

After he had passed through a birth as a Vyantara, the ascetic with the uṣṭrikā-vow descended into Cillanā’s womb as a son. Through the fault of the embryo, Cillaṇā had an evil pregnancy-whim—one which not even a Rākṣasī would have—for eating her husband’s flesh. Devoted to her husband, Cillaṇā did not tell any one her pregnancy-whim and because the pregnancy-whim was not fulfilled, she waned like the moon by day. The embryo did not fall, though Queen Cillaṇā, disgusted with the evil pregnancy-whim, tried to make it fall, having recognized that it was evil.

The king observed her with her body dried up like a creeper without water and asked her the reason in a voice tender with love.

“Have I aggrieved you? Is any order of yours disobeyed? Have you seen bad dreams? Is any wish of yours frustrated, dear?”

Questioned thus persistently by the king, with difficulty she told such a thing with stumbling words, as if she had drunk poison. The king consoled his wife, “I shall have your whim fulfilled.” “How can this pregnancy-whim be fulfilled?” he instructed Abhaya. Abhaya put the flesh of a hare with its skin removed on Śreṇika’s stomach and had him lie down on his back. Then at Śreṇika’s command, Cillaṇā ate the flesh eagerly in secret, like a goddess of the Rakṣases. Just while she was eating the flesh thus, the king fainted several times, like one skilled in the art of acting. One moment when she thought of her husband, her heart trembled; but another moment, when she thought of her embryo, it rejoiced. So, Celaṇā, whose pregnancy-whim had been fulfilled by the use of wit, fainted at the thought, “Oh! I have killed my husband. I am wicked.” At that time the king showed himself uninjured to the queen and she rejoiced at the sight of him, like a day-lotus at the sight of the sun.

When nine months had passed, Ceṭaka’s daughter bore a son, like the Malaya land bearing sandal. She commanded the slave-girl: “The child is an enemy of his father. Therefore, abandon him, wicked, somewhere far away like the young of a serpent.” The slave-girl took him to a grove of aśokas and left him there. He shone on the ground, resplendent as a god who has appeared in the place of spontaneous birth.[9]

After the slave-girl had abandoned the baby there, as she returned the king asked her, “Where have you gone?” and she told just what had happened. The king went to the aśoka-grove, saw his son, and took him up in his arms, delighted as if at a favor from a master. He went to Celaṇā and said:

“Discerning lady, born in a good family, why have you committed this crime which is not committed even by outcastes? Even a woman of evil life, who would be very harsh and ignorant of dharma, does not abandon a son born in adultery while her husband is living nor one born after he is dead.” Cellaṇā said: “He is an enemy of yours, lord, in the form of a son. While he was an embryo, there was a pregnancy-whim leading to hell. For that reason he was exposed as soon as he was born. What is a son, or anyone else, to women wellborn and desiring the welfare of their husbands?”

Śreṇika advised the queen, “If you abandon your eldest son, then your other sons will be weak, like bubbles.”

So at her husband’s order, Celaṇā, though unwilling, cared for the child like a serpent by nursing it. The king gave him the name Aśokacandra because he was seen in the aśoka grove, like a moon in brilliance. While he was abandoned in the forest his little finger, tender as an aśoka-leaf, was pierced by a cock-feather. He was crying from its pain and the king put the finger, though it was infected, in his mouth from affection, and he stopped crying. The finger became contracted, though the wound healed, and because of that he was called Kūṇika by his playmates.

In the course of time, two other sons of Queen Celaṇā, Halla and Vihalla, were born, suns to the lotus of her heart. Celaṇā’s three sons were always in the company of the king, like visible embodiments of excellence of treasure and army, good counsel, and energy.[10] The mother always sent sweetmeats of molasses to Kūṇika, his father’s enemy, but sweetmeats of refined sugar to Halla and Vihalla. Kūṇika, spoiled by karma of a former incarnation, always thinking, “Sreṇika has this done,” reached middle age.

One day Śreṇika, affectionately disposed, married Princess Padmāvatī to Kūṇika with a great festival.

And now there was an embryo of Dhāriṇī from Śreṇika, indicated by a dream of an elephant and he caused a pregnancy-whim of roaming in the rain. At the king’s order it was fulfilled by Abhaya who prayed to a deity. Then she bore a son named Meghakumāra.

Now, in a the past a Brāhman began to make the Soma-sacrifice. He employed a slave in that and the slave said to him: “If you give me the remains of the sacrifice, then I

will stay; not otherwise.” The Brāhman agreed to that and the slave stayed in the sacrificial compound. The slave always gave the remains of the sacrifice that he received to sādhus and by the power of that he acquired the status of a god. After death he went to heaven. The slave’s jīva fell from heaven and become Śreṇika’s son, Nandiṣeṇa, but the Brāhman wandered through many kinds of births.

Now in a certain forest there was a lord of the herd in a large herd of elephants that was like a son of an elephant of the quarters in strength. “There must not be any lover in his prime of this herd of cows.” With this idea he killed every young male as soon as it was born.

One day the Brāhman’s soul descended into the womb of a cow belonging to this herd and she, pregnant, thought,

“Many sons of mine have been destroyed by that wretch; but now I will save my son by some device.”

With this determination, the cow-elephant pretended to have a foot pierced by a thorn and walked very, very slowly, fraudulently lame. Thinking, “She must not be enjoyed by any other lord of a herd,” the lord of the herd guarded the cow, roaming very little. The cow-elephant, who had become extremely slow in gait, joined the elephant for a watch, or a half watch, or for a day or two. Thinking, “This poor creature, disabled as she is, does join me at last,” the elephant became over-confident. Who is not deceived by the crafty?

One day when the lord of the herd was far away, the cow-elephant put a bunch of straw on her head and went to a hermitage. Falling at their feet, the bunch of straw on her head, she was recognized by the ascetics as a poor creature who was seeking protection. They told her, “Be comforted, child,” and she remained comfortably in their hermitage, like a maiden in her father’s house.

One day after her son was born, she left her son in that hermitage, but she herself went back to the herd in the forest as before. For some time she came frequently and nursed the young elephant and he grew up gradually like a tree of the hermitage. The ascetics fed him from affection, as if he were their own child, with mouthfuls of cooked rice and olibanum.[11] He sat on his haunches and with his trunk made a high crown of twisted hair on his head, playing at the side of the ascetics. The ascetics sprinkled their trees with watering-pots and he, observing them, filled his trunk with water repeatedly and sprinkled. The ascetics gave him the name Secanaka (Sprinkler), because he sprinkled the trees of the hermitage daily in this way. With curved tusks joined to the trunk, with eyes yellow as honey, with the tip of the trunk touching the ground, with high withers, with a high boss, a short neck, a gradually sloping back, with a tail not quite equal to his trunk, adorned with twenty nails, with low hindquarters and high front quarters, endowed with all the favorable marks, in course of time he became a mature elephant.

One day when he went to the river to drink, he saw his father, lord of the herd who, engaging in a fight, was killed. He himself became lord of the herd and thought to himself: “I have been protected in that hermitage by my mother by trickery. Some other elephant, born and protected in that hermitage, must not do to me what I, having been protected, did to my father.” With this thought he destroyed the entire hermitage and made its site unmarked, like a river dry ground.

“He will not give the hermitage any peace, evil-minded,” the ascetics described the elephant to Śreṇika as suitable for a king, with all the favorable marks. Śreṇika went quickly, captured this best of elephants, and led him back. Kings are eager about the divisions of the army.[12] The elephant, though insuperably strong, was tied at once to a post. Just as nothing is impenetrable by water, what is impossible for men to accomplish? His trunk, tail, and ear-flaps motionless from anger, he stood as if painted, though he was free of leg-fetters.

“Thank heaven, the hermitage has become peaceful.” The ascetics, delighted at this thought, came and reviled the elephant tied to a post.

“We cherished you, protected you, fed you, and reared you; and you, wretch, destroyed your own house, like a fire. Since you, arrogant because of your strength destroyed, our hermitage, you have attained this friendship with the tying-post, the fruit of that deed.”

The elephant thought, “Certainly these ascetics have made me reach this condition by employing some device.” Angered, he quickly broke the post like a plantain-stem and broke the chain with a crack, like a lotus-stalk. His face red like heated copper, he ran to the forest, scattering the ascetics like bees even from afar. Śreṇika went with his sons horseback to bring him back and surrounded him like a deer found in hunting. The elephant did not pay the least attention to the enticements nor the abuse of the horsemen, as if he were possessed by a powerful Vyantara. But when he heard the voice of Nandiṣeṇa and saw him, knowing the former birth[13] fully from clairvoyance, he became quiet. At once Nandiṣeṇa took hold of a girth and, his foot supported on another one, mounted the elephant with three handholds. At Nandiṣeṇa’s order, making the exercises, a bite, et cetera as if trained, he was reduced to the state of being subject to the tying-post. Śreṇika gave the elephant a frontlet and made him a recipient of favor like an heir-apparent.

There were other sons, Kāla and others celebrated for their valor, of King Śreṇika from his high-born wives.

And now the Teacher of the World wandering for the enlightenment of souls capable of emancipation, attended by gods and asuras, went to the city Rājagṛha. The Lord adorned a samavasaraṇa made by the gods, resplendent with a caitya-tree at the shrine Guṇaśila. When he had heard that Śrī Vīra had stopped in a samavasaraṇa, King Śreṇika and his sons went with great magnificence to pay homage to him.

King Śreṇika circumambulated the Lord, bowed, sat down in the proper place, and recited a hymn of praise with devotion.

Stutī: [14]

“O Protector, let other qualities of yours be victorious over the world. The three worlds have been conquered by a high degree of tranquillity, (like) an actual material form. Meru was reduced to straw, the ocean made into a small puddle from delusion by those evil men who disowned you, the most to be revered among the revered. A crest-jewel fell from their hands; nectar was received uselessly by those by whom, ignorant, the wealth of your teaching was not acquired for themselves. Whoever has given you a glance with the appearance of a firebrand,[15] may the fire visibly—or, enough of this talk. Whoever think there is equality of your doctrine with other doctrines, nectar and poison are the same to them, their minds lost, alas! Let them be deaf and dumb, who are jealous of you. In evil acts defectiveness leads to auspicious consequences (in future). Homage to them; this aṭjali to them; we worship those by whom the mind is sprinkled daily with the nectar of your teaching. Homage to this world in which the tips of the nails of your feet have been crest-jewels for a long time. What more can we say? I have a (fruitful) birth; I am blessed; I am satisfied, since I have been frequently eager for the beauty of your collection of virtues.”

Footnotes and references:


MW gives these as 7-9. Hem. takes 7: king, minister, friend, treasure, territory, fortress, army. Abhi. 3.378.


The śauca that is an “impure channel,” is mere physical cleanliness.


Three lines in the neck, indicative of good fortune.


With a play on vaṃśa as ‘family’ and ‘bamboo’ which is considered a source of pearls. See I, n. 314.


I.e. does not recognize his inferiority as a Vāhīka.


Agastya was born in a water-jar and was very accomplished and powerful.


See I, pp. 233 f.


With a play on her name.


Gods come into existence spontaneously on a couch in heaven. Cf. I. p. 47.


See II, n. 117. These are the 3 śaktis.


Emend to sallakī, another name of which is gajapriyā, ‘dear to elephants.’ Abhi. 4. 218.


Of which one is elephants.


See above, p. 158.


This is the fifteenth in the Vītarāgastotra, p. 196.


I.e., red from jealousy.

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