The Wandering And Emancipation Of Parsvanatha
Then the Teacher of the World, wandering for the benefit of all the world, went one day to the country Pundra, which was like a tilaka of the earth.
Story of Sagaradatta
Now there was at that time in the city Tamralipti in the eastern territory a merchant’s son, Sagaradatta, knowing the arts, young, intelligent. He was always averse to women from the memory of former births which had taken place and he did not wish to marry any woman, even though beautiful. For he, a Brahman in a former birth, had been abandoned, unconscious, somewhere else by his wife who had given him poison, because she was in love with another man. He had been restored to life by a herd-girl and he became a mendicant. He died and became the merchant’s son, with memory of his former birth, averse to women. The herd-girl, devoted to worldly matters, died in course of time and became the beautiful daughter of a merchant in the same city.
She, won with dignity, was chosen for Sagaradatta by his brothers together with the idea, “His eyes should take pleasure in her.” Yet his mind did not relax even on her. For he considered women to be messengers of Yama, because of his experience in his former birth. The merchant’s daughter thought: “There is some memory of a former birth. He has been mistreated by some courtesan in a former birth.”
After reflecting thus in her mind, at the right time she herself wrote a sloka on a leaf and sent it. He read: “It is not fitting for a man, who has been burned by a milk-pudding, to abandon curds. Are small creatures that originate in a little water present in milk?” After considering carefully the meaning, he wrote and sent a sloka. She read: “A woman takes delight in an undeserving person; a river flows to low ground; the cloud rains on the mountain; Laksmi resorts to a man devoid of merit.” After considering the meaning, in order to enlighten him, she again wrote and sent a sloka. He read: “Where is the fault of the writer? Why the abandonment of her by one so great? Surely the sun does not abandon the devoted twilight.” Pleased by such words, Sagaradatta married her and, delighted, enjoyed pleasures daily.
Then one day Sagaradatta’s father-in-law went with his sons to the town, Patalapatha, to trade. Sheth Sagaradatta also began to do business and sometimes went to another coast with a very large ship. Seven times his ship was wrecked in the ocean and, when he returned, he was laughed at by the people, “He is without merit.” His money lost, he did not abandon effort.
One day in his roaming he saw a boy drawing water from a little well. Seven times the water did not come, but it came the eighth time. After seeing that, he thought, “Men’s efforts are fruitful. Even Fate fears those, for whom it has made obstacles*, whose energy is unhindered by obstacles and who do not abandon an undertaking, and it (Fate) is broken.”
With this thought, he tied an omen-knot, set out for Sinhala by boat, and arrived at Ratnadvipa because of the wind. There he sold his merchandise, bought collections of jewels, filled the boat with them and started to his own city. The sailors, coveting the jewels, threw him in the ocean at night. By chance he reached a plank from a boat wrecked before and he swam out. He reached Patalapatha on the coast, where his father-in-law saw him and took him to his house.
After bathing, eating, and resting, Sagara told the affair of the sailors from the beginning and his father-in-law said: “You stay here. The sailors will not go to Tamralipti from fear* of your relatives, but, stupid, will come here.” Sagara agreed and his father-in-law told the story to the king. For that is the rule of the far-seeing.
One day the ship came to that shore and was recognized by the king’s agents from signs described by Sagara. The king’s men asked all the wretched sailors:266” Who is the owner of the cargo? What is the cargo? And how much is here? “They, terrified and answering one way and another, were observed and the agents quickly summoned Sagaradatta. When they saw Sagara, terrified, they bowed and said: “At that time we, candalas in acts, did a wicked thing, lord. Yet you were saved by your merit, but we have been brought to the edge of capital punishment on your account. Do what is fitting to be done by the master.” Compassionate Sagara had them released by the king’s men, gave them some food* for the journey, and dismissed them, pure in mind. He, noble-minded, was highly honored by the king, saying, “He has merit,” and he acquired much money from the merchandise on the boat.
He gave gifts and, seeking dharma*, asked the teachers of dharma:267” I wish to make the god of gods in jewels. Say who he is.” There was no agreement among them who had no trace of the truth about god. Then a learned man said: “Do not ask stupid men like me. After practicing penance, and investing a jewel with divinity, concentrate your thoughts. The gods will tell you who is the supreme god.”
Sagara did so and at the end of a three-day fast, a deity showed him a purifying statue of a Tirthakara. The deity said to him, “Sir, this is the Supreme God, whose true nature the munis no others know.” With these words, the deity went away. Sagara, delighted, showed the sadhus the golden statue of the Arhat. The sadhus taught him the dharma* taught by the Arhats and he became a layman.
One day he asked the sadhus: “Of which Arhat is this the image? By what procedure must I install it? Now do your Reverences tell me.” The sadhus said: “Sri Parsva is now stopped in the district Pundravardhana. Go and ask him.” Sagara went at once, bowed to Sri Parsva and asked him about the procedure suitable for the jeweled statue in all respects. The Master explained to him with reference to his own samavasarana all the supernatural powers of the Arhats, the worship of the Jinas, and the installation (of the statue). He had it installed in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the Jina, thinking, “It is the statue of a Tirthakrt.” The next day he became a mendicant in the presence of the Master. Then the Blessed One with his retinue, attended by gods and asuras, endowed with all the supernatural powers, went elsewhere.