Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Past births of Goshala which is the twentieth 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.

Gautama asked again, “By what act in a former birth did Gośāla become your enemy, Blessed One?”

Then the Blessed One related: “In this Jambūdvīpa in this Bharata in the past twenty-four there was an Arhat named Udāya. Gods and asuras came to hold his emancipation-festival. A man who lived near saw them and remembered his former births. He, self-enlightened, high-minded, became a mendicant at that same time and a messenger-deity delivered the ascetic’s outfit to him.

An evil-minded man, named Īśvara, saw him practicing severe penance and being honored by the people, approached and asked him: ‘By whom were you initiated? Where were you born and what is your family? From whom have you obtained your text and interpretation?’ The self-enlightened muni explained in detail and Īśvara thought: ‘Surely he obtains followers by fraud. I think what he said is the same as the Jina says. However, should he, free from delusion, not say such, then I shall go to him. I welcome mendicancy, the destroyer of all pain.’ With this thought he went there and did not see the Lord Jina. He, slow-witted like a monkey, with disgust with existence filled with delusion, took initiation at the gaṇadhara’s side.

When, the Jina having attained emancipation, the gaṇabhṛt, seated in the assembly, recited the texts and interpretations pronounced by the Jina, then there was conversation to this effect, “Whoever destroys even one earth-jīva, he is considered without self-control in the teaching of the Lord Jina.”

Īśvara thought: ‘Jīvas of the earth-category are crushed everywhere. Who is able to protect them? This incredible speech only shows his insignificance. After hearing that, who would follow the teaching of one like a crazy man? Without this, if he teaches some moderate asceticism, then surely all the people are pleased. However, if I do not follow it, saying, “Oh! Oh! I am killed,” why would not the people follow? For that was said by the omniscients. Now I must accept atonement for falsifying the teaching of the Arhat.’ With this thought he went to the self-enlightened muni. In his exposition of dharma also he heard that the muni must avoid injury to earth-bodies, et cetera in three ways.

Īśvara thought: ‘Who would not injure them? For instance, he sits on the ground, he eats food cooked by fire, he drinks water. He, speaking inaccurately, says what is contradictory in itself. The gaṇadhara would be better. However, his speech is contradictory, also. So enough of both of them. I myself shall teach a dharma which people who are not disgusted with the world will follow in perfect comfort.’

While he was reflecting thus, lightning fell from the sky on his head. He died and was born as a hell-inhabitant in the seventh hell. After experiencing there for a long time pain that arose from the sin of hostility to right-belief in the teaching (of the Jina) when it was heard, he became a fish in the ocean here. Again he went to the seventh hell and, coming here, he became a crow. Then he went to the first hell and, coming here, became a villainous man. Again he went to the first hell and became a donkey here for six births. Then he became a human and, after he died, became a man living in a forest. Then after death he became a cat and then went to hell. Rising up, he became a potter here and then a leper filled with worms. Devoured by worms for fifty years, he died and attained godhood from the involuntary destruction of karma. After falling, he became a king; and after death he went to the seventh hell. After wandering in this way in man-, animal-, and hell-(births), he became the miserable Gośāla. So from intentness on knowledge derived from memory of practices in former births, he became extremely hostile to Tīrthakṛts, dharma, and sādhus.”

When they had heard this speech of the Master, many people were enlightened and, afraid of existence, took initiation: and some became laymen.

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