Article: Ananta

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Dates and numbers

The five auspicious events that mark a Jina’s life – kalyāṇakas – are traditionally associated with a specific date. This is given according to the system of the Indian calendar:

  • month
  • fortnight
  • day in the fortnight.

Astrological considerations also play a role here and the texts normally mention the constellations when an auspicious event takes place.

Dates associated with Ananta

Last incarnation

Birth

Initiation

Omniscience

Emancipation

  • 7th day of the dark half of Śrāvaṇa – Śvetāmbara
  • 1st day of the dark half of Kārttika – Digambara
  • 13th day of the dark half of Caitra – Śvetāmbara
  • 12th day of the dark half of Jyeṣṭha – Digambara
  • 14th day of the dark half of Caitra – Śvetāmbara
  • 12th day of the dark half of Jyeṣṭha – Digambara
  • 14th day of the dark half of Caitra – Śvetāmbara
  • 15th day of the dark half of Caitra – Digambara
  • 5th day of the bright half of Caitra – Śvetāmbara
  • 15th day of the dark half of Caitra – Digambara

The dates associated with these events are potential or actual dates of commemoration. These may be marked in festivals, which determine the Jain religious calendar.

There may be variations in the dates in different sources, Śvetāmbara on one side, Digambara on the other. But there are also cases of differences within the same sectarian tradition.

Other numbers associated with Ananta

Height

Total lifespan

50 bows

3,000,000 years

Monastic and lay communities

This detail of a manuscript painting shows the universal gathering – samavasaraṇa. When a Jina reaches omniscience, he sits in a samavasaraṇa the gods have built for him. The term is also used for the gathering of animals, humans and gods that listen.

An omniscient Jina preaches
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

A Jina is not an enlightened being who exists alone after reaching omniscience. After perfect knowledge comes general preaching – samavasaraṇa. This sermon, which is attended by all, is reported in the scriptures as resulting in large numbers of listeners being inspired. Many turn to religious life, becoming monks or nuns, while many others make the vows that lay peopleśrāvaka and śrāvikā – can follow in their everyday lives. Further, the Jina’s teachings are preserved and passed on by his chief disciples – the gaṇadharas. This is why a Jina is also called a Tīrthaṃkara, meaning ‘ford-maker’ or ‘founder of a community’.

Each Jina establishes a 'fourfold community', led by the chief disciples. Made up of monks, nuns, lay men and lay women, the fourfold community follows the principles the Jina has set out in his preaching. How members follow the religious teachings vary according to whether they remain householders or take initiation into mendicancy. Individual figures relating to each Jina are thus important.

Ananta's fourfold community

Chief disciples

Monks

Nuns

Lay men

Lay women

50, led by Yaśas – Śvetāmbara
Jaya – Digambara

66,000

62,000 or 100,800 led by Padmā – Śvetāmbara
62,000 led by Sarvaśrī – Digambara

206,000

414,000

Note that, in this case, the size of the nuns' community in certain sources is slightly less than the monks' community, which is unusual. No explanation is available for this.

Identification

All Jinas have individual emblemslāñchanas – and colours that help to identify them in artwork. They also have attendant deities known as yakṣa and yakṣī, who often appear flanking them in art.

Colour, symbol, yakṣa and yakṣī of Ananta

Colour

Emblem

Yakṣa

Yakṣī

gold

falcon – Śvetāmbara
bear – Digambara

Pātāla – Śvetāmbara
Pātāla or Kinnara – Digambara

Ankuśā – Śvetāmbara
Anantamati or Vairoṭī – Digambara

EXT:contentbrowse Processing Watermark

Related Manuscripts

Related Manuscript Images

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