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The first Incarnation of Rishabhdev as the Merchant Dhana – Part 1

The first Incarnation of Rishabhdev as the Merchant Dhana   Part 1
Now then there is a continent named Jambudvipa, enclosed by innumerable circles of Oceans and Deep’s on this earth and this dweep is surrounded by a diamond wall. It is adorned with rivers, zones, and mountains, and at its center, like a navel, stands Meru made of gold and jewels. It (Meru) is a lac of yojanas high, adorned with three terraces; and its peak, forty yojanas high, is adorned with shrines of the Arhats. To the west of it, in the Videhas there is a large city, Ksitipratisthita by name, an ornament to the whole earth. In it Prasannacandra was king, unwearied in works of Dharma, resembling the king of the gods, resplendent with great magnificence. There also lived a merchant, named Dhana, with a wealth of fame, the sole depository of wealth as the Ocean is that of rivers. Unequaled wealth belonged to this magnanimous man, which, like the moon’s rays, had benefit to others as its sole result. By whom was he not at-tended he, always the sole mountain for the river of good conduct, purifying the earth? In him were qualities, such as generosity, earnestness, strength of character, which are unfailing seeds for the growth of the tree of fame. In his house were heaps of jewels, as if they were grain, and piles of divine garments, as if they were sacks. His house, with its horses*, mules, camels, and other draught animals, looked like the Ocean with its sea-monsters. He was foremost among wealthy, virtuous, and renowned men, like breath among the body-winds. A rich man, he filled his attendants with wealth, just as a large lake fills adjacent ground with its water. One day, he, like embodied energy, wished to go with much merchandise to the city Vasantapura. Then the merchant Dhana had a drum beaten, and a proclamation made to the people throughout the city. “The merchant Dhana is going to Vasantapura. Whoever wishes to go, may go with him. He will give merchandise to those without it, conveyances to those who have no conveyances, companions to the friendless, and provisions to those lacking in provisions. He will protect his weak followers from robbers and from attacks by wild animals on the way, and will cherish them like relatives.” At an auspicious* moment, propitious rites having been performed by high-born women, he, vigorous, ascended his chariot and went outside the city. All the people who were going to Vasantapura came there at the sound of the drum of departure, as if summoned by public-criers.

The first Incarnation of Rishabhdev as the Merchant Dhana   Part 1
Just then, the Acharya Dharmaghosa, purifying the earth by Dharma by his wandering as a sadhu, approached the merchant. Dhana hastily rose and with folded hands praised the Acharya shining like the sun with the light of his penance. Questioned by Dhana in regard to the reason of his coming, the Acharya explained, “I wish to go to Vasantapura with your caravan.” The merchant replied, “I am fortunate today, O Blessed One, since you who should be visited, have come and wish to go with my caravan.”

He gave orders to his cooks, “Prepare food*, drink, etc., every day for the Acharya.” The Acharya said, “Food, etc., which has not been made nor caused to be made, nor intended (for them) is suitable for ascetics.16 Water too that has come from tanks, wells, ponds, etc. is prohibited unless it is purified by some means, according to the teaching of the Jinas, O caravan-chief.”

Just then, someone brought the merchant a dish filled with ripe mangoes that looked like fragments of a twilight-cloud. Then Dhana, whose mind was filled with delight, said, “Favor me and accept this fruit.” The Suri said, “We are not allowed to even touch such fruit, etc., that is still animate, to say nothing of eating it, O layman.” Dhana said, “Oh, what observance of vows hard to observe! Such is impossible for careless men even for a day. I will see that you get food, etc., that is suitable for you. Please set out, today.” And bowing to the Suri, he left him.

The first Incarnation of Rishabhdev as the Merchant Dhana   Part 1
Then the merchant set out with horses, camels, carts, and oxen moving to and fro, like the Ocean with its high waves. The Acharya too set out, surrounded by Sadhus, like the embodied mulagunas followed by the uttaragunas. Dhana went at the head of the caravan and a friend of his, Manibhadra, brought up the rear. They advanced unhindered, attended by multitudes of horsemen at their sides. With his white umbrellas he made the sky look as if it were made of autumn clouds, and with his” peacock-feather umbrellas he made it look as if made of rainy-season clouds. His merchandise, difficult to carry, was carried by camels, buffaloes, fine oxen, mules and donkeys, like the earth by the dense winds. The mules had wings, as it were, in the sacks on their sides, and went like deer, so that their steps could not be seen because of their speed. The carts, the place of sport of the young men placed in them, looked like moving houses. The huge-bodied, high-shouldered buffaloes, carrying water, satisfied the people’s thirst, like clouds that have reached the earth. Then the earth, pressed on all sides by the weight of his loads of merchandise, cried out, as it were, by the creaking of the line of carts. The dust, raised on all sides by the multitudes of oxen, camels, and horses, covered the sky so that dense darkness prevailed. Far away, the Yaks with their young, their ears erect, trembled at the sounds of the oxen’s bells by which the heavens were deafened. Even though carrying large loads, even though walking, the camels frequently lopped off the tops of the trees with their necks turned. The donkeys, with their ears erect and necks outstretched, biting each other with their teeth, were at the very last, with bags put on their backs. Surrounded on all sides by armed guards, the caravan advanced along the road, as if inside a cage of adamant. Robbers stayed at a distance from the caravan though it had great wealth, just as if it were the serpent-king with a head jewel of great value. Dhana, equally eager for the poor man’s obtaining and the rich man’s enjoying, led them all with him, like the lord of the herd leading young elephants.

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