There is a story that the Jain saint Bhadrabāhu predicted a famine which would last for twelve years and, as a result of this famine, he led twelve thousand Jains in search of better lands. King Candragupta Maurya is said to have accompanied them and lived for twelve years after the death of the saint in Mysore; then, according to the legend, he starved himself to death. In commenting on this Jain story, Vincent Smith says, “… after much consideration I am disposed to accept the main facts as affirmed by tradition. It being certain that Candragupta was quite young and inexperienced when he ascended the throne in or about 322 B.C., he must have been under fifty when his reign terminated twenty-four years later … the twelve years' famine is not incredible. In short, the Jain tradition holds the field, and no alternative exists.”
This story is repeated with some variations in other sources. Cf. Mbh. (Crit.)
Idem. Pargiter remarks: “The Vasiṣṭha Devarāj or Bhūtakṛt mentioned in those two verses can only be this Vasiṣṭha who governed the kingdom of Ayodhyā in the twelve years' drought during Satyavrata's exile. This identification is corroborated by the remarkably simple and appropriate explanation it offers.”
There appears to be a relationship between the symbolic significance of the number twelve in ancient India and the number forty in Biblical literature. In Genesis VI–VIII, the Lord repents of having created the world because of the wickedness of men. He resolves to destroy all except the family of Noah (who was righteous) and one of both sexes of all living things. (The latter appears to be an afterthought, cf. Gen. VI. 7). The destruction takes the form of a flood which lasts for forty days and nights (Gen. VII. 12). When we consider such events as Israel walking forty years in the wilderness (Josh. V. 5), Moses wandering in the wilderness for forty years (Acts VII. 36), the people bearing their iniquities for forty years (Num. XIV. 34), the wicked shall be beaten with forty stripes (Deut. XXV. 3), and the current season of forty days for Lent (with its scriptural basis in the New Testament), the relationship of the number forty to penance or expiation of guilt is suggested. A present-day English tradition connects rain with forty by suggesting that if it rains on St. Swithin's day, it will rain for forty days thereafter.
It is undoubtedly a mistake in the transliteration which confuses Romapāda and Lomapāda as the name of the king of Aṅga. The reference is clearly to the same person in both cases.
Maṇicora Jātaka, No. 194. 124. Cf. Kurudhamma Jātaka No. 276.
Other Buddhist texts make this same point which we need not labor here. Cf. The
There is a recognition of a relationship between rain and righteousness in the Biblical thought, “the rain falleth upon the just and the unjust alike” (Matt. V. 45) although this would not be acceptable by Indian standards of dharma.
This is the view expressed by several texts,
A king who is not righteous obviously cannot preserve dharma, and some texts suggest that such a king is no king at all and deserves to be slain by his subjects (cf.
Ś. B. IX. 3. 3. 10–11.
Ś. B. V. 3. 4. 5, V. 4. 9, V. 3. 4. 11, V. 3. 4. 14, V. 3. 4. 21.
We should note that the texts do not suggest that the king draws his authority exclusively from water. Different hymns or verses suggest other forces as well.
For further discussions of the attributes of Varuṇa, cf.
Ibid. p. 97. For an indication of the punishing aspect of Varuṇa, cf. A. L. Basham's translation of R. V. VII. 89 in
It is of no consequence that the violation of dharma, in some cases, was originally perpetrated by a subject of the king rather than by the king personally. The theorists would hold that all acts of adharma, committed by no matter whom, were caused by improper rule of the king and that he was therefore personally responsible.
The most detailed study of sin and penance has been done by P. V. Kane in his
Ibid., p. 91.
Agni Purāṇa I. CLVIII.
Ibid. I. CLVI. 13–14.
Ibid. II. CCI. 9–I2.
Viṣṇupurāṇa quoted by
I am indebted to Rhoads Murphey and Carl Allendoerfer of the University of Washington for calling these points to my attention.