Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Story of Shabdalaputra which is the twelfth 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.

Now in Paulāśapura there lived a disciple of Gośāla, a potter named Śabdālaputra, with his wife Agnimitrā. He had one crore of gold on deposit, another out at interest, and a third in business; and one herd of ten thousand head. Moreover, outside Paulāśapura there were always five hundred potter-shops that belonged to the potter.

A certain god said to him in a grove of aśokas: “At dawn the Omniscient, the Arhat, a very holy man, to be worshipped by the three worlds, will come here. You should serve him with plank,[1] stool, bedding, et cetera.” After telling him this two or three times, the god went away.

Devoted to the Ājīvika doctrine, he thought, “Certainly my teacher of dharma, omniscient, Gośāla, will come here at daybreak.” With this idea he stayed and at dawn Śrī Vīra came there and stopped in the garden Sahasrāmravaṇa. The potter went and paid homage to the Blessed One. The Master delivered a sermon and said to the potter: “Sir Śabdālaputra, yesterday a god said to you in the aśoka grove: ‘At dawn a holy man, omniscient, an Arhat, will come here. He must be served by you by delivery of a stool, plank, et cetera.’ At his speech you thought, ‘Gośāla will come.’”

After hearing this speech of the Master, he thought: “Oh! this omniscient Arhat, very holy, Mahāvīra has come. He must be honored, must be served in every way.” With this thought he got up, bowed to the Lord, and said, his hands held out in the aṭjali, “Outside this city I have five hundred pottery shops. Favor me by accepting a stool, et cetera, from them.” That proposition was accepted.

By arguments the Lord converted him from the doctrine of Fate taken from Gośāla’s teaching. He abandoned the doctrine of Fate and accepted human action as authority. Like Ānanda he took lay vows before the Master. But there was a difference in restrictions—three crores of gold in deposit, out at interest, and in business and one herd of cattle. His wife Agnimitrā was enlightened by him himself and came and took the lay-vows before the Master.

Then the Blessed One set forth to wander elsewhere and the wretched Gośāla heard all about this from popular report. “Śabdālaputraka has abandoned the doctrine of the Ājīvakas and has adopted the teaching of the Nirgrantha ascetics.” Then he thought, “I shall go there and reinstate Śabdālaputraka in the doctrine of the Ājivakas now, as before.” With this idea Gośāla went to his house, attended by Ājīvakas, and Śabdālaputra did not salute him even by a glance. Gośāla went away again, unable to reinstate Śabdālaputra in his own doctrine or to move him from his lay-vows.

Footnotes and references:


For a bed.

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