The nAstika-s, smarting from their poor performance relative to the sanAtana-dharma, resorted to several distinct tactics: imitation, appropriation and distortion. But one of the problems they faced was that their hard-won converts tended to lapse back into the Astika ground state – this was especially so when the nAstika-s started imitating and appropriating the Astika traditions. Thus, even the virulent anti-Astika polemicist, the jaina yogin haribhadra sUri, concedes that the jaina-s might worship Astika deities, or even the tathAgata, in addition to the nagna. But still they needed mechanisms to keep their flock from dropping the ford-makers or the tathAgata-s from their respective pantheons because that was the most likely outcome. In particular, the itihAsa-s being the most important vehicle of the sanAtana-dharma across all socio-genetic strata they focused their attack on them. Thus, we hear buddhaghoSha proscribing the saugata-s from listening to the mahAbhArata and the rAmAyaNa. The jaina-s in contrast also created their own distorted versions of these texts in which the original heroes are down-graded and made to give way to promulgators of jina doctrines. Another approach was to insert tales into traditional collections of stories or invent new story collections to show the original deities and traditions of the sanAtana-dharma in poor light or as being ineffective. We review below some such creations of the jaina-s, which also throw some light on the sociology of the era. One such is from the jaina bR^ihatkathA of hariSheNa – massive work from the first half of the 900s of CE that was printed in the 1940s (kathA 54):
In Gujarat there was a town called guDakheDaka, rich in wealth and food, and endowed with many scholars. Therein lived a zealous jaina couple, the man called jinadatta and his wife jinadattA. They had a daughter called jinamatI who was skilled in various kalA-s and also a zealous jaina. In the town was also a rich vaNija known as nAgadatta with a beautiful wife called nAgadattA. They had a son called rudradatta who was handsome, virtuous and an ardent worshiper of rudra. Once nAgadatta asked jinadatta to give jinamatI in marriage to rudradatta. However, jinadatta refused saying that there was no way a zealous jaina could marry a pious shaiva, adding that they felt that those who worship rudra are dismal idiots. But the young rudradatta butted in saying: “Indeed all religions lead to the same end; there is no difference between them. Uncle I will become a jaina today”. Saying so (in reality he was motivated by lust towards jinamatI), he went to the jaina school and and acquired jaina dIkSha from the teacher samAdhigupta and gave up the shaiva-mata. When jinadatta heard of this he gave his daughter to rudradatta. Upon marriage, rudradatta gave up the jina-mata and returned to the shaiva fold.
One day after lunch, when jinamatI was resting, rudradatta decided to introduce her to the shaiva tradition. He said: “beautiful girl, shiva had taught a great dIkSha, which brings and end to duHkha and uplifts the sinful. This dIkSha can succeed even if one has committed crores of sins and those who are imbued with zealous hatred.” Then he cited to her a shloka regarding this from a saiddhAntika tantra. He then told her to give up the jina-mata, which is not for knowledgeable people and accept saiddhAntika dIkSha that brings the bliss of mokSha. jinamatI retorted by saying that she had no intention of forsaking the jina-mata and advised rudradatta to forsake shiva and follow the jaina path, which she said was the was actual way of the intelligent people. The charming husband and beautiful wife then started quarreling and arguing a lot about their respective mata-s each trying to lecture the other on their respective traditions. After some days rudradatta angrily remarked that if he ever caught jinmati go to the jaina shrine or giving food to jaina mendicants he would evict her from the house. However, he would dote on her if she went to a rudra temple or gave food to wandering pAshupata-s. She threatened to commit suicide if he forced her to do so. She then proposed that if he eschewed visiting shaiva temples then she would not visit shrines of the nagna. Then they settled on a compromise with each worshiping as per their own mata.
To the east of the town was a dense jungle in which lived violent tribesmen. One day a tribal band raided the town and set fire to it. As the fire started nearing rudradatta’s house, the beautiful jinamatI told her husband that the deity who saves them from the fire will be the one whom they would follow. To this rudradatta declared that the fire was a small problem and that he would worship shiva to quench it. Facing the southern face of rudra he worshiped rudra and the lokapAla-s with various mantra-s. He called upon rudra to protect him and his wife in total conviction of the shaiva dIkSha. Each time he recited a name of rudra the fire on intensified and threatened to engulf them. At this jinamatI said may be the rudra mantra-s do not work so deploy other deties. rudradatta invoked brahmA, kumAra, viShNu, agni, sUrya, soma, gaurI and then the navagraha-s but their mantra-s also failed to quench the fire. Then terrified he said all these deities whom most people worship are not real gods. He implored jinamatI to invoke the nagna to save them from the conflagration. She then renounced all attachment to pleasure of the world invoked the ford-makers. Standing in deep dhyAna she made an offering to the nagna and right away the fire and the hordes of tribesmen vanished. At this miracle rudradatta gave up the shaiva-mata and became a jaina. Likewise many others from the town also did so seeing jinamatI’s miracle.
A second sample which we present is from samarAichchakahA a prAkR^ita collection of stories written by haribhadra sUri, which is also retold by hariSheNa in his bR^ihatkathAkosha:
The king yashodhara surprised his wife amR^itamatI while she was committing adultery. To save herself she poisoned the king and his mother chandramatI when they were sacrificing a piShTa-kukkuTa to chaNDikA. yashodhara was reborn as a peacock and chandramatI as a bitch. In the mean time yashodhara’s son yashomati ascended the throne as the king and acquired these animals as pets. The peacock had a brief recollection of his past birth and seeing former adulteress wife having sex with her lover pecked both of them. They struck the peacock wounding it. It was then attacked by the bitch (chandramati reborn) and killed. The king disturbed in his game of dice by all this clubbed the bitch killing it. Then yashodhara reincarnated as a mongoose to blind parents, while chandramatI is reincarnated as a cobra. One day while the mongoose was in a fight with this cobra, a hyena attacked them and killed both. Then yashodhara was reborn as a fish while chandramati reincarnated as a crocodile. The crocodile met an untimely death and soon was reborn as a wild female goat. The fish (yashodhara) was caught and fed to the adulteress queen mother amR^itamatI. He was then born as a wild male goat. In this life he was in copulation with the female goat (chandramatI reborn) when a rival male goat struck him with his horns and killed him even as he was discharging his semen. Now yashodhara was reborn as his own son via chandramati in female goat birth.
The king yashomati on a hunt killed the female goat chandramati but spared the baby goat yashodhara. Now chandramati was reborn as a she-buffalo. One day yashomati was planning a sacrifice of twenty buffaloes for the great goddess kAtyAyanI. One of the sacrificial days amR^itamatI the former queen did not want buffalo meat and instead requested mutton. So the goat (yashodhara reborn) got killed and fed to his former wife. Likewise, chandramatI reborn as a buffalo was sacrificed to kAtyAyanI and eaten by the royal court. Both of them were reborn as a cock and hen reared by the hunter chaNDakarman. One day chaNDakarman met a jaina yogin in the mold of haribhadra sUri, who started teaching him jaina yoga. In course of this he noticed the cock and hen and tells chaNDakarman their past lives and said that they were suffering these births due their adherence to kShatriya dharma. The birds hearing of their past life decided to accept the jaina-mata and in the joy of conversion started crowing. At this point yashomati is hunting with his wife and killed both birds with a single arrow. They were reborn as twins of yashomati’s wife.
One day when yashomati was hunting he ran into a jaina muni who asked him to stop hunting. Enraged he sent his dogs to kill the jaina, but they refused to do so. Seeing this he spares the muni who told him of the past births of his twin children. He also said that their births were all due to worshiping a cruel goddess with a piShTa-kukkuTa. The king became a jaina right away. His children became jaina ascetics and made the entire kingdom forsake vaidika and tAntrika animal sacrifices. They eventually committed jaina suicide and attained a divine state, which is followed by the whole kingdom becoming jaina.