Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Story of Udayana which is the fifth part of chapter XI 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.

Part 5: Story of Udāyana

Once upon a time, a certain wood-carrier who was disgusted with existence, took initiation under venerable Gaṇabhṛt Sudharmasvāmin. Wandering in the city, he was reviled, ridiculed, and insulted at every step by the citizens who scorned his former occupation. “I am not able to endure the contempt here, so wander elsewhere,” he said to his guru, Śrī Sudharmasvāmin. Sudharmasvāmin asked permission of Abhaya to go elsewhere and was told, after enquiry for his reason, “Wait one day; afterwards do whatever seems best to you.” The son of Śreṇika made obeisance and asked this.

Thereafter, he took three crores of jewels from the king’s treasury and had a proclamation made with a drum, “I am going to give this away. Come, people.” Then all the people came and Abhaya announced. “Whoever avoids water, fire, and women shall have this collection of jewels.” “This is too much for human beings. Lord, what are people able to do?” To them saying this, Abhaya replied, “If there is no such person among you, then let the muni, the wood-carrier, free from water, fire, and women, have the three crores of jewels.” “This sādhu, fully such a one, is truly entitled to the gift to a worthy person. We laughed at him unjustly,” they said to Abhaya. “In future you must not ridicule, abuse him, et cetera,” instructed by Abhaya to this effect, the people agreed and went away.

Thus Abhaya, a great ocean of intelligence, devoted to his father, desireless, intent on dharma, directed his father’s kingdom. Living according to dharma himself, he had his subjects live so. The affairs of subjects and cattle are subject to kings and cowherds. Just as he watched over the twelvefold royal circle,[1] so he watched over the twelvefold duties of laymen.[2] Just as he conquered external enemies—though difficult to conquer—so he, efficient in both spheres, conquered internal enemies.[3]

One day, Śreṇika said to him: “Son, rule the kingdom. Daily I shall practice the pleasures of obedience to Śrī Vīra.” Abhaya, fearing (on the one hand) rebirth and (on the other hand) breaking his father’s command, said, “What you intend is a good thing, but wait a while.”

Now, Blessed Vīra, having initiated King Udāyana, came there from Marumaṇḍala and stopped. “Heaven be praised, the Blessed One has come today,” said Abhaya, delighted.

After he had gone and paid homage to the Blessed One, full of devotion, he recited this hymn of praise.


“In the absolute permanence of a substance exist the destruction of the things done and the appearance of the things undone. Also in absolute impermanence exist the destruction of the things done and the appearance of the things undone. In the absolute permanence of the soul there is no experience of pleasure and pain; in the form of absolute impermanence there is no experience of pleasure and pain. Good and evil, bondage and emancipation are not in the doctrine of absolute permanence; good and evil, bondage and emancipation are not in the doctrine of absolute impermanence. Indeed, the function of an object is not joined to the successive order or simultaneousness of permanent things; the function of an object is not joined to absolute momentariness. But, when the character of permanence and impermanence is attributed to an object, as you teach, Blessed One, then there is certainly no flaw. Verily, sugar[5] is the cause of phlegm, and ginger the cause of bile; yet there is no defect in the medicine that has the twofold nature (i.e. a mixture) of sugar and ginger. It has not been demonstrated by means of knowledge (pramāṇa) that two contrary attributes in the same thing are wrong; for the union of opposing colors is seen in objects of variegated color. A learned Buddhist who considers one form of knowledge (consciousness) combined with several kinds can not scorn a many-sided statement. A Yauga or a Vaiṣeṣika who says that it is authoritative to consider a variegated form as one or as many, can not scorn a many-sided statement. The Sāṅkhya, foremost among the learned, who considers the first principle (pradhāna) to be strung together by opposing attributes, goodness (sattva), et cetera, can not scorn a many-sided statement. It makes no difference whether a Cārvāka agrees or disagrees, since his understanding in regard to the future world, soul, and emancipation is confused. Therefore, the philosophers have adopted your self-obtained knowledge, that every existing object is characterized by origination, perishing, and permanence, like cow’s milk, et cetera.”

Footnotes and references:


A king’s neighbors with whom he must maintain relations.


The 5 lesser vows and the 7 śīlavratas. See I, pp. 207 ff.; V, pp. 399 ff.


The internal enemies are the 4 passions: anger (krodha), conceit (māna), deceit (māyā), greed (lobha); love (rāga), and hate (dveṣa), Yog. p.56a.


This is no. 8 in Vs. p.96.


Guḍa is the first raw sugar, Anglo-Indian ‘joggery.’

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