Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Meeting with Goshala which is the seventeenth 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.

After this explanation, the Lord went in his wandering to Śrāvastī and stopped in a garden Koṣṭhaka in it. Gośāla had come here earlier, his rivals destroyed by a hot flash, the people’s wishes known by knowledge of eightfold omens, and, calling himself by the word ‘Jina,’ although he was not a Jina, he resided in the shop of a woman potter, Hālāhalā. The simple-minded people, after hearing his assertion that he was an Arhat, kept coming and gave him constant service.

Now when the proper time came, with the Master’s permission Gautama entered the city for alms, wishing to break a two-day fast. Gautama heard, “Gośāla, an omniscient Arhat, is here,” and, after he had received alms, went to the Lord, in a depressed state of mind. After he had broken his fast properly at the right time, pure-minded Gautama asked the Lord, while the townspeople looked on: “Master, in this town all the people call Gośāla ‘omniscient.’ Is this possible or not?”

The Blessed One said: “The son of the Maṅkha, Maṅkhali, thinking himself a Jina though he is not a Jina, Gośāla is a house of deceit. Initiated by me myself, taught by me, he resorted to wrong belief about me. He is not omniscient, Gautama.”

After hearing this speech of the Master, the townspeople here and there in the city talked to each other at the junctions of three and four streets, “Oh! the Arhat who has come here, Vīra Svāmin, says that Gośāla, the son of Maṅkhali, falsely considers himself omniscient.” Then Gośāla heard that by rumor and, surrounded by Ājīvakas, was filled with anger, like a black cobra.

Now, the Master’s disciple, Ānanda, bead of the elders, entered the city for alms to break a two-day fast. Seated in Hālāhalā’s house, Gośāla called Muni Ānanda, who had come in his vicinity, and said contemptuously: “O Ānanda, your ācārya, Vīra, seeking respect for himself from the people, reviles me very much in public. He says that I am the son of a Maṅkha, not an Arhat, not an omniscient. Does he not know my hot flash which is capable of consuming an enemy? I will reduce to ashes him and his followers. I will spare you alone. Hear an example:

In the past Avasara, Prasara, Samvāda, Kāraka, and Bhalana were traders in the city Kṣemilā. They filled carts with merchandise and went on a trading trip. As they went, they entered by some road or other a waterless forest. The five were suffering from thirst, like travelers on a desert road, and searched for water, roaming over the forest.

As he roamed about, Avasara saw an ant-hill with five peaks and he showed it to his four friends. At once they broke open its east peak together and got water from it and, after drinking, were restored to good condition.

Then Prasara said: ‘Its south peak should be broken open. Surely we shall get some other treasure from it.’ Avasara said: ‘It is not proper to open it. A serpent will come out of it. An ant-hill is the home of serpents.’ Samvada, disagreeing with this, said, ‘No serpent came out of the east peak when it was broken open.’ Again Avasara said, ‘By chance there was water here.’ Then Kāraka said, ‘By chance there will be money in this one.’ With these words Kāraka began to dig. Saying, ‘This is not my opinion,’ Avasara went to his cart.

Bhalana said: ‘If Avasara has gone, let him go. We will dig without him.’ And all dug. At once drammas fell out of that peak of the ant-hill when it had been opened and the four, without Avasara, divided and took them. Then from greed they dug open the third peak of the ant-hill and found silver. They took it and threw away the drammas. They dug open the fourth peak and found gold. They threw away the silver from greed for taking the gold. With the idea, ‘In the fifth peak there will be jewels,’ blind with greed, they dug it open. For greed increases with gain.

Like strong poison from the ocean when it had been stirred up very much, a serpent which poisoned by its glance came out of that peak when it was dug open. Standing on the top of the ant-hill, the serpent first looked at the sun and by its glance reduced to ashes the four with their carts and bulls. Saying, ‘He is not greedy,’ the serpent’s tutelary deity had Avasara with his cart and bulls reach the place he wished. I will consume your guru as the serpent consumed the four. I will spare you as the serpent spared Avasara.”

Then Ānanda, without even carrying out his intention of obtaining alms, went to the Lord, told him what Gośāla had said and, troubled, asked, “This talk of Gośāla, ‘I will make them a heap of ashes,’ is it the talk of a crazy man or is he able to do this?” The Blessed One explained: “He is able to do it except to Arhats. He, with dishonorable intention, could cause mere discomfort to Arhats. So go and explain this to Gautama and the others so that they will not annoy him, if he comes here, by driving him away, even though it would be just.”

Then Ānanda went and told this to them. The wretch Gośāla went there and, standing before the Master said: “O Kāśyapa, you say this: ‘Gośāla, is the son of Maṅkhali, my pupil, et cetera.’ That talk of yours is false. The Gośāla who was your disciple, of pure birth, died while engaged in pious meditation and was born among the gods. I, a sage named Udāya, abandoned my own body and entered this body of his which endures attacks and trials. Then, since you do not know me, how can you say Gośāla is Maṅkhali’s son, your disciple? Certainly you are not my guru.”

The Master said: “Just as a robber, when approached by guards and when he has not reached a cave, or a stronghold or a forest, or invisibility of himself, being stupid, thinks himself concealed by a thread of wool or a thread of hemp or a bit of cotton or grass placed between, so you, the same Gośāla, are calling yourself otherwise. Why do you lie? You are the same one; you are not another.”

Angered by this speech of the Master, Gośāla said to the Lord, “Now you are crushed, you are destroyed, you cease to exist, Kāśyapa.” A disciple of the Omniscient, Sarvānubhūti, unable to endure this talk because of devotion to his guru, said to the wretch Gośāla: “You were initiated by him as guru; you were taught by him alone. Why do you deny it, Gośāla? You are he and no one else.” Then from anger the wretch Gośāla discharged his unbeaten hot flash at Sarvānubhūti like a poison-eyed serpent a flame from its eyes. Consumed by Gośāla’s hot flash, Sarvānubhūti died engaged in pure meditation and became a god in Sahasrāra.

Gośāla then, puffed up by the power of his hot flash, began to revile the Blessed One again and again. Sunakṣatra, a disciple of the Master, from devotion to his guru reproved him severely as he was abusing the Master, as Sarvānubhūti had done. His body burning from a hot flash discharged by Gośāla, after circumambulating the Lord, taking the vows again, making confession, repenting his faults, asking forgiveness of all the munis, Muni Sunakṣatra died and became a god in the heaven Acyuta.

Then Gośāla, behaving like a conqueror, ranting with very harsh words, was addressed by the Master with compassion: “You were initiated and taught by me; you were made to know the scriptures by me. You speak evil of me alone. What is this perversion of mind of yours?”

Gośāla, so addressed by the Master himself, exceedingly angered, coming a little nearer, discharged a hot flash against the Lord. Powerless against the Master like a hurricane against a mountain, it circumambulated the Lord, resembling a devoté. From the hot flash there was only warmth in the Master’s body like that of river-water from a fire originating in a wood on the bank. The hot flash, as if angry because he had used it for a crime, alas! turned and entered Gośāla’s body forcibly.

Burned internally by it, Gośāla had recourse to audacity and said arrogantly to the Blessed Mahāvīra, “Consumed by my hot flash, you will die at the end of six months, succumbing to a bilious fever, still an ordinary ascetic, Kāśyapa.”

The Master said, “Gośāla, your speech is false, since I, omniscient, shall wander for sixteen years more. But you, suffering from a bilious fever from your own hot flash, will die at the end of seven days. There is no doubt about it.”

His miserable body injured by the hot flash, like a sāl tree (felled) by a wind, Gośāla fell moaning to the ground. The munis, Gautama and the others, angered by his contempt for their guru, said to Gośāla in a loud cutting speech: “Look! Such as this happens to those opposing a teacher of dharma. Where is that hot flash of yours used against a teacher of dharma? Disregarded by the Lord for a long time from compassion, though you were making false statements, though you killed two munis, you will die from yourself alone. You would have perished in the past from Vaiśakāyana’s hot flash, if the Lord had not protected you by his own cool flash.”

Fallen among the sādhus, like a tiger into a hole, unable to subdue (them), he continued rolling on the ground from anger. Taking long, hot breaths, pulling out teeth and hair, beating the ground with his feet, saying repeatedly, “I am killed,” having left the Master’s house like a thief, Gośāla, watched by the people, went to the shop of the potter woman, Hālāhalā.

Then the Master said to the munis: “This hot flash which was discharged by the miserable Gośāla to kill me has very strong power. Able to destroy sixteen countries: Vatsa, Accha, Kutsa, Magadha, Vaṅga, Mālava, Kośala, Pāṭa, Lāṭa, Vajri, Māli, Malaya, Avādhaka, Aṅgaka, Kāśi, Sahyottara, Gośāla’s hot flash was acquired by severe penance.”

All the munis, Gautama and the others, were astonished. Good people do not feel jealous of the power even of an enemy.

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