Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Mrigavati and Pradyota which is the fourth part of chapter VIII 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.

Caṇḍapradyota said: “I, a lion, shall take Mṛgāvatī, a doe from the buck, Śatānīka, as he looks on. Nevertheless, let royal usage be observed. Let a messenger go to ask for her. If he obeys my commands, a calamity must not happen to him first.”

Saying thus, he sent Vajrajaṅgha to him with instructions. The chief-messenger went to Śatānīka and said to him. “Śatānīka, King Caṇḍapradyota commands you: ‘Certainly Queen Mṛgāvatī was obtained by you by chance. Such a jewel of a woman is suitable for me alone. What are you like? Send her quickly to us, if kingdom and life are dear (to you).’”

Śatānīka said angrily: “Contemptible messenger, you, talking about such improper conduct, are not killed now because of your status as a messenger. What kind of conduct is there, indeed, of people subject to a villain who has such a desire, even though I am independent?”

Reviling him fearlessly in this way, King Śatānīka expelled the messenger. He went to Avantī and told Pradyota about it. Angry, Caṇḍapradyota covered the quarters with soldiers and set out for Kauśāmbī like a boundless ocean. When Śatānīka, like a serpent, heard that Pradyota, like a garuḍa, was approaching, he had dysentery produced by terror and died.

Queen Mṛgāvatī thought: “Now my husband has died and my son Udayana is a child of little strength. Following a stronger person is good policy. But in the case of this lustful man, it would result in a stain on my family. Therefore, a trick is proper in this matter. I shall stay here and, luring him by flattering speeches, shall pass the time with the hope of finding a suitable occasion.”

With these reflections, she gave instructions to a messenger and despatched him. He went to Caṇḍapradyota who was encamped and said to him: “Mṛgāvatī says to you:

‘Since Śatānīka has died, you alone are my refuge. But I have a son whose strength has not been reached. If he is abandoned by me, he will be overcome by rival kings as well as powerful agitations of grief caused to a high degree by the death of his father.’”

Delighted by this speech, Pradyota said: “What king, pray, would be able to overcome her son, if I am his protector?” The messenger said again: “Your Majesty, the queen said: ‘If Pradyota is my lord, no king is able to defeat my son. But His Majesty is far away: neighboring kings are near. Remedies are on Mt. Hima, but the serpent is on the pillow. Since you wish an unhindered union with me, do this—make a high wall in Kauśāmbī with bricks from Ujjayinī.’”.

Pradyota agreed to that and set his own fourteen kings with their attendants in a row on the road. He had bricks brought from Avantī by a line of men and soon made a very strong wall at Kauśāmbī.

Again Mṛgāvatī said to him through a messenger, “King Pradyota, fill this city with money, grain, fuel, et cetera.” King Caṇḍapradyota did everything just as she said, quickly. What does a man, bewitched by the snare of hope, not do? Knowing that the city could stand a siege, clever Mṛgāvatī stayed and, after closing the gates, mounted soldiers on the wall. King Caṇḍapradyota besieged the city on all sides, feeling extreme embarrassment like a monkey that has missed its jump.[1]

One day, Mṛgāvatī, with disgust with the world rising, thought, “If the Blessed Vīra comes, then I shall take initiation.” Knowing this decision of hers, the Supreme Lord came very soon with a retinue of gods and asuras. When Mṛgāvatî heard that the Arhat had a samavasaraṇa outside, she opened the gates fearlessly and went there with great magnificence. After paying homage to the Lord of the World, she remained in the proper place. Pradyota also came there, paid homage, and sat down, his hostility abandoned. Lord Śrī Vīra delivered a sermon in a speech extending for a yojana and adapted to every dialect.

Having heard from the people, “He is omniscient,” a certain man, an archer, standing near, mentally asked the Teacher of the World about a doubt. The Lord of the World said to him, “Tell your doubt in words, that other souls capable of emancipation may be enlightened.” This being said, he, embarrassed, unable to speak clearly, said, “Blessed One, who-she-she-she-” in a few syllables. The Master replied briefly, “It is so.” Gautama asked, “Master, what is this speech, ‘Who-she-she-she’?”

Footnotes and references:


For the seriousness of a monkey’s falling, Cf. I, p. 329 and III, p. 341.

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