Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Mahavira’s samavasarana which is the first part of chapter XIII 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 1: Mahāvīra’s samavasaraṇa

Then the gods, made there a beautiful samavasaraṇa, a preaching-hall for the Master, ornamented with three walls. Knowing that the end of his life was near, the Lord, attended by gods and asuras, took his seat in it to deliver his last sermon. Learning that the Master had stopped in a samavasaraṇa the lord of the city Apāpā, Hastipāla, came, bowed, and sat down.

The gods and others remained there in their proper places, wishing to listen, and Sahasrākṣa came, bowed, and recited a hymn of praise of the Master.


“Without merit and demerit there is no body; without a body, how would there be a mouth? Without a mouth, there is no speech. How would others (gods) be teachers? Activity of one without a body in the creation of the world is not suitable. There is no work from his own will nor by the command of another. If he should act in sport, passionate, he would be like a boy. If he should create with compassion, in that case he would create everything pleasant only. But, of him creating people distressed by the afflictions of pain, a low condition of existence, birth in low categories, et cetera, what compassion is there of him, compassionate? If he is dependent on karma, in that case he is not independent, like us and others; in the variety produced by karma, what is the use of that weakling?

The activity of the Supreme Lord is not to be considered from his own nature. In that case he, (Lord) of investigators, is the drum for giving up investigation. If in all objects, the state of being the performer is agreed to be the state of being a knower, our doctrine is: the omniscients are emancipated, even while they have bodies. Having given up the evil whim of the doctrine of creation which is without authority, they are happy in your doctrine, whom you favor, Lord,”

After this eulogy, Sunāsīra stopped and king Hastipāla, Lord of Apāpā, eulogized Vīra Svāmin.


“Not only something mild, but something harsh must be declared to the Master knowing distinctions, pure in heart. (Of him) there is no body seated on a bird, domestic animal, lion, et cetera as a vehicle. There is no appearance changed by transformation of eyes, mouth, limbs, et cetera. There are no fingers characterized by weapons—trident, bow, disc, et cetera. There is no devotion to the embrace of beautiful bodies of women. There are no important people made to tremble because of censurable behavior. Gods and men are not annoyed by anger, favor, et cetera. There is no zeal shown in the origination, the permanence, and the destruction of the world. There is no existence distressed by the evils of the dance, laughter, song, et cetera. Thus you are different from all the gods in every respect. How, pray, are you to be invested with divinity by investigators? Leaves, grass, wood, et cetera moving with the stream are reasonable; by what reasoning can an object going against the stream be admitted? Rather, enough of investigations by investigators of slow wit. Also enough of this boldness of mine, Lord of the World. The very dissimilarity of character from that of all the creatures of saṃsāra which exists, let the wise observe—that is characteristic of you. You, different from this world overcome by anger, greed, and fear, are not at all within the sphere of the senses of stupid people, dispassionate one.”

Footnotes and references:


This is no. 7 in Vs., p. 85.


This is no. 18 in Vs., p. 222.

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