Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Mahavira’s (Vira’s) moksha (nirvana, emancipation) which is the fifteenth 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 15: Mahāvīra’s (Vīra’s) mokṣa (nirvāṇa, emancipation)

After explaining this, the Lord left the samavasaraṇa and went to the pure house of king Hastipāla. The Master, knowing that his emancipation would take place in the night of that day, thought: “Alas! Gautama has a secure affection for me. It is an obstacle to the omniscience of him, noble-minded. It must be destroyed.” After deciding this, he said to Gautama: “In another village, a Brahman, named Devaśarman, will attain enlightenment through you. For his sake go there, Gautama.” Muni Gautama said, “Just as my Master commands,” and, having bowed, he went and executed the Lord’s command. Then at the last moment of the night of the new moon of Kārtika, the constellation Svāti being in ascendancy, the Teacher of the World, having made a two-day fast, recited fifty-five lessons about the good results of merit and the same number about the bad results of sin. After making thirty-six unasked explanations[1] the Teacher of the World originated the lesson named ‘Principal.’[2]

Knowing from the shaking of their thrones that it was the time of the Master’s emancipation, all the Indras of the gods and asuras went there with their retinues. Sahasrākṣa, his eyes filled with tears, bowed to the Teacher of the World, made the aṭjali at his head, and said respectfully:

“At your conception, birth, initiation, omniscience, the constellation Hastottara (was in ascendancy), Lord. Now the planet Bhasmaka is in ascendancy. It, an unfavorable planet, crossing the birth-constellation of you, dying, will oppress your successors for two thousand years. Guard against the moment of its entry, Lord, so that the planet will become without effect by your power. Bad dreams, bad omens, bad planets of all others who keep you in their hearts will become favorable; how much more, where you arc in person, Master. Please remain a moment; let the subsidence of this evil planet take place.”

The Master replied: “No one is able to mend life, Śakra. Though you know this, why do you say such a thing, confused by affection for the congregation? Oppression of the congregation will come from advancing duḥṣamā and the rising of Bhasmaka was in conformity with destiny.”

After enlightening Vajrin in this way, the Teacher of the World, who had passed thirty years less six and one half months in omniscience, seated in the paryaṅka-posture, continuing the coarse activity of the body, blocked the coarse activity of mind and speech. Continuing the fine-activity of the body the Supreme Lord, expert in activity, blocked the coarse activity of the body. The Lord blocked the fine activities of speech and mind and made the third pure meditation which has fine action. The Teacher of the World blocked fine activity of the body and made the fourth pure meditation in which action is destroyed. By means of the fourth meditation which lasts long enough for the utterance of five short vowels, unfailing for the fourth object of existence (mokṣa), the Lord, having an upward path from the absence of bondage like the seed of a castor-bean plant, went to emancipation alone by a path naturally straight. Then there was a moment of comfort even for the hell-inhabitants, who are never the recipients of even an atom of comfort.

Then the year was Candra; the month Pritivardhana; the fortnight Nandivardhanaka; the day Agniveśa and it had another name, Upaśama; the night, Devānandā, Nairṛti by another name; the lava, Arcya; the prāṇa,[3] Śukla; the stoka, Śuddha; the muhūrta, Sarvārthasiddha: the karaṇa,[4] Nāga.

At that time (the creature) kunthu by name originated, which can not be lifted up. It can not be seen by the eye when it is motionless. When it moves, it can be seen. When they had seen it, with the thought “Henceforth, self-control will be difficult to preserve,” many sādhus and sādhvīs observed a fast.

The light of knowledge, the Master, having been extinguished, at that time all the kings made material lights. From that lime among the people also a festival, called Dīpotsava, takes place everywhere on that night by making lights. The gods, their eyes full of tears, bowed to the body of the Teacher of the World and remained near, grieving over their lack of a lord. Then Śakra regained composure and made apart a funeral pyre from fuel of gośīrsa-sandal brought from the groves of Nandana, et cetera. He had the Lord's body bathed in water from the Ocean of Milk and Hari himself anointed it with divine unguents. After putting divine garments on it, Śakra himself lifted up the Master’s body, bathing it again, as it were, with tears. Watched by weeping gods and asuras, Śakra laid the Lord’s body on a bier that was equal to the best aerial car. His grief restrained somewhat, Purandara took the Master's bier on his head, like the Master’s command. The gods rained divine flowers on it, crying, “Hail! Hail!” just like a troupe of bards. The gods sprinkled the earth all around with fragrant rain mixed with water from their own lotus-eyes. The Gandharvas sang aloud and the gods sang like Gandharvas; recalling again and again the Master's virtues, they recited then again and again. The gods beat violently hundreds of musical instruments, mṛdaṅga, pāṇava,[5] et cetera, as well as their own breasts from grief. Goddesses danced before the Master’s bier, their feet stumbling in the dance-steps from grief, like inexperienced dancers. The gods of the four classes worshipped the Lord’s bier with divine cloths, ornaments, necklaces, et cetera, and garlands of flowers. Laymen and laywomen, filled with grief, danced and sang and wept at the same time. Grief made a very deep impression on the sādhus and sādhvīs, like a heavy sleep on the day-blooming lotuses at the setting of the sun.

Then Purandara placed the Master’s body on the pyre, his heart torn by grief as if a spike had entered. The Agni-kumāras created a fire on the pyre; the Vāyukumāras created a wind that made it burn. Other gods threw fragrant incense and pitchers of ghī and honey by the hundred on the burning pyre. When the flesh, et cetera had been consumed, the Stanita-gods at once extinguished the pyre with water from the Ocean of Milk. Śakra and Īśāna took the Lord’s right and left upper eye-teeth; Camara and Bali took the lower eyeteeth. Other Indras and the gods took the Lord’s other teeth and bones; and men, longing for good fortune, took the ashes of the pyre. On the place of the pyre the gods made the best jeweled mound, the abode of the wealth of good fortune. After they had held the Lord’s emancipation-festival in this way, the gods went to Nandīśvara and held an eight-day festival to the eternal Arhats. When they had gone to heaven, the gods put the Master’s eye-teeth in round diamond boxes on top of pillars named Māṇava inside their own palaces.

With thirty years as householder and forty-two years in the vow, the life of Lord Vīra (Mahāvīra) was seventy-two years. The emancipation of Lord Śrī Vīra took place when two hundred and fifty years had passed since the emancipation of Śrī Pārśvanātha.

Footnotes and references:


This is generally assumed to be the Uttarādhyayana, but that does not fit. Gautama takes part in the Uttar., but Gautama is away at this time.


KSK. p. 129, says this is the lecture on Marudevā. So far as I know, nothing more is known about it.


A prāṇa is the time required for inspiration and expiration; 7 prāṇas=l stoka; 7 stokas=1 lava. K., p. 337.


A karaṇa is half of a lunar day.


Two kinds of drums.

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