Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes The story of Kumaranandin and Nagila which is the seventh 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 7: The story of Kumāranandin and Nagila

Now, in the city Campā, there was a wealthy goldsmith, named Kumāranandin, who was very lustful from his birth. Whatever maiden with a beautiful form he saw or heard of, he gave her five hundred pieces of gold and married her. Gradually he acquired five hundred wives and sported with them in a palace with one pillar, because he was jealous. He had a very dear friend, Nagila, who was a worshipper of ascetics and observed the five pure lesser vows.

One day, two Vyantara-women who lived on the island Paṭcaśaila started out on a pilgrimage to Nandīśvara at Śakra’s command. At that time, their husband Vidyunmālin, lord of Paṭcaśaila, had fallen, and they thought,

‘Who is to be found now who can be our husband?’ As they went along, they saw Kumāranandin playing with his five hundred wives in the city of Campā; and they descended in his vicinity with the intention of seizing him, because of their desire for a husband. Kumāranandin saw them also, and said, ‘Who are you?’ They replied, ‘We are goddesses, O mortal, named Hāsā and Prahāsā.’ Looking at them, he fainted. When he had regained consciousness, the lustful goldsmith made a request, to which they replied, ‘You must come to the island Paṭcaśailaka,’ and with these words they flew away.

The goldsmith, however, gave money to the king and had a proclamation made by the drum: ‘Whoever will guide me to Paṭcaśaila will receive a crore of money.’ A certain old man stopped the drum and received the money. The old man had a boat made and filled it with many provisions, but gave the money to his sons. Embarked with Kumāranandin, after he had gone a long way on the ocean-path, the old man said: ‘Look here, please. On the shore of the sea at the foot of a mountain one can see a fig tree. Cling to this when the boat passes underneath. The bhāruṇḍas, three-legged birds, will come here from Paṭcaśaila. While they are asleep,[1] bind yourself firmly with a cloth to the middle foot of one of them and hold on with a tight grip. At daylight, you will reach Paṭcaśaila by the bhāruṇḍas flying up. Later the boat will perish in the whirlpool and, if you do not cling to the fig tree, you also will perish in the same way, alas!’

The goldsmith followed these instructions and was carried there by a bird. He was seen by them (the goddesses) and at the sight of them, he fell very much in love. They said, ‘We are not to be enjoyed by that (mortal) body of yours, faultless sir; therefore become lord of Paṭcaśaila by entering the fire, et cetera.’ ‘What am I to do? Where am I to go?’ asked the goldsmith. They made hollows of their hands and set him down in a garden in Campā. Questioned by the people who observed him, he told his story. Recalling Hāsā and Prahāsā, he began the fire-ceremony.

His friend Nagila enlightened him thus: ‘A death suitable for a coward is not suitable for you, surely. The birth of a mortal is hard to attain. Do not pass it uselessly by the acquisition of the trifling reward of pleasure. Who would be willing to take a cowrie in the place of a jewel? Or even if you have pleasure as your object, even so, rely on the religion of the Arhat. It is indeed a cow of plenty for both wealth and love and grants also heaven and emancipation.’ Even thus restrained by Nagila, he performed the iṅginī-death[2] and because of a nidāna became lord of Paṭcaśaila. Nagila attained disgust with the world at once from the foolish death of his friend and took initiation. Observing mendicancy, after he died he became a god in Acyuta and saw by clairvoyance that his friend had gone to Paṭcaśaila.

When the gods had set out on a pilgrimage to holy Nandīśvara, at their order Hāsā and Prahāsā began to sing before them. Appointed by them to carry the drum, Vidyunmālin said, ‘Is there any lord, pray, giving orders to me?’ However, while his mouth was buzzing with conceit with these words, the drum stuck to his throat like servant-karma embodied. The drum clung to his body as if it had been produced at the same time like hands, feet, et cetera and he, though ashamed, could not make it come down.

Hāsā and Prahāsā said: ‘This is the work of those born here. Do not be ashamed. Begin. You must necessarily play the drum.’ Then he went in front of the gods, playing the drum and accompanied by Hāsā and Prahāsā singing. The god, excellent Nagila, going on the pilgrimage, saw the god—the drummer—in the troupe of Hāsā and Prahāsā. When he saw Vidyunmālin in front playing the drum and knew by clairvoyance that it was his friend, he approached to speak to him. Unable to endure even from afar the light of his body, he (Vidyunmālin) fled even as an owl flees from the light of the sun. Restraining his own splendor so that it was like the evening sun, the Acyuta-god spoke to Vidyunmālin, ‘Look, do you not know me?’ The drummer-god replied, ‘Pray, who am T, since I do not know even the magnificent gods, Indra and others?’ Then the Acyuta-god assumed the form of a layman and enlightened the husband of Hāsā and Prahāsā.

‘O friend, you did not follow my advice and rely upon the religion of the Arhat, but—like a foolish moth—underwent the fire-death. I, who knew the religion of the Jina and observed mendicancy, died; and each one of us received a reward according to his acts.’

Then the god, lord of Paṭcaśaila, who had attained disgust with the world, asked, ‘What am I to do?’ and the god Nagila said: ‘In the picture-gallery of a householder you should have made a statue of the Lord Mahāvīra, an ascetic in spirit, standing in kāyotsarga. Verily, when the image of the Arhat has been ordered made, friend, the seed of knowledge which produces great fruit will shoot up into another existence of yours. Whoever has an image made of the holy Arhats who have conquered love, hatred, and delusion, verily on him religion will bestow heaven and emancipation. There is no inferior birth, no low condition of existence, no poverty, no misfortune, nor anything else contemptible for the worshippers of the Jina.’

Vidyunmālin assented to his command and, making haste, saw us[3] standing like a statue in Kṣatriyakuṇḍagrāma. Going to Mahāhimavat, he cut gośīrṣa-sandal and made a statue of us adorned just as he had seen us. He put the image, like a miser a treasure, in a box which he himself had made from real sandal. Then Vidyunmālin went to the ocean and saw a boat which had been wandering for six months because of (natural) calamities. He stopped the calamities at once and, after he had told about the box with the image inside, gave it to the sea-trader and said to him, ‘Good luck to you. Go without misfortune to the town Vītabhaya in the country Sindhusauvīra. Then stop at the cross-roads and make a proclamation: “Listen! Receive, receive the image of the god of gods.”’ By the power of the image, the sea-trader at once crossed the ocean like a river and reached the shore. He went to the country Sindhusauvīra and the city Vītabhaya, stopped at the cross-roads, and made the proclamation just as he was told.

Footnotes and references:


Elsewhere the bhāruṇḍas are said not to sleep. KSK. p. 112a.


The iṅginī-maraṇa is one of the well-known deaths by fasting. See I, n. 126. I have not been able to find an explanation of its use in connection with a death by fire. Cf. Meyer, p.99.


Vīra is speaking.

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