Article: Candraprabha

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Candraprabhanātha or Lord Candraprabha is also known as Candraprabha-svāmī and Candraprabhu-svāmī. He is the eighth of the 24 Jinas of the present cycle of time. The word Jina means 'victor' in Sanskrit. A Jina is an enlightened human being who has triumphed over karma through practising extreme asceticism and teaches the way to achieve liberation. A Jina is also called a Tīrthaṃkara or 'ford-maker' in Sanskrit – that is, one who has founded a community after reaching omniscience.

Candraprabha is not an historical figure. He is not singled out for individual biographies in the Śvetāmbara canonical scriptures. Treated like most of the other Jinas, he is provided only with basic biographical information. This information is fairly standardised and remains identical throughout later sources except for occasional variations, or confusions, in numbers.

The meaning of his name is straightforward, a feature not shared by all the Jinas’ names. Candraprabha means ‘having the splendour of moonlight’ in Sanskrit. Therefore he has a white complexion, often shown as such in paintings and sculptures.

There are minor differences between the accounts and descriptions of this Jina among the two main Jain sects. According to Śvetāmbara biographies, Candraprabha married princesses. He governed the earth as a king before leaving worldly life for monastic initiation. According to the sect of the Digambaras, none of the Jinas assumed the responsibilities of a householder or king before becoming monks.

Basic information

This manuscript painting shows an idol of Candraprabhanatha or Lord Candraprabha being worshipped. The white colour and the emblem – lāñchana – of the crescent moon identify the statue as the eighth Jina. Above his head is the triple parasol of royalty.

Worship of Candraprabha
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

Each Jina has standard biographical information found in various sources.

Among the earliest Śvetāmbara canonical sources that provide biodata of all the 24 Jinas are the final section of the fourth Anga, the Samavāyānga-sūtra, and the Āvaśyaka-niryukti. Among the earliest Digambara sources is a cosmological work, the Tiloya-paṇṇatti.

The standard Digambara biography of Candraprabha is found on pages 44 to 65 of the 1968 edition of Guṇabhadra's Uttarapurāṇa in Sanskrit and Hindi. The standard Śvetāmbara biography is on pages 314 to 323 in volume II of Johnson's English translation of Hemacandra's work, Tri-ṣaṣṭi-śalākāpuruṣa-caritra.

The biographical data can be categorised in a standard manner, and includes numbers, which are significant in wider Indian culture. These standard details can also be used to identify individual Jinas in art, since they are usually depicted as stereotyped figures. Jinas are presented in either the lotus position or in the kāyotsarga pose. Both of these imply deep meditation.

Parents

The important feature of a Jina’s father is that he is a king, from the kṣatriyacaste.

A Jina’s mother has an important role because she gives birth to a future Jina, and in practice a Jina is often called ‘the son of X’. Another reason for her importance is that the names given to the various Jinas are said to originate either in pregnancy-whims or in a dream their mothers had, at least in Śvetāmbara sources. This dream is specific, and adds to the traditional auspicious dreams that foretell the birth of a child who will become a Jina. In the case of ‘Candraprabha’ – ‘Moonlight’ – it is reported in Śvetāmbara sources that his mother had a fancy to 'drink the moon' during pregnancy.

Parents of Candraprabha

Mother

Father

Lakṣmaṇā

Mahāsena

Places

Of the five auspicious events that mark a Jina’s life – kalyāṇakas – four take place on earth and are associated with a specific village or town in the sources. Archaeological evidence often helps to identify the old names with modern places. Even when it is lacking, there is a tendency to carry out this identification process. Associating auspicious events with certain locations makes these places sacred to Jains, so that they are potential or actual pilgrimage places and temple sites.

Places associated with Candraprabha

Birth place

Initiation and omniscience

Emancipation

Candrānana or Candrapurī

Sahasrāmravana, a park outside Candrānana

Mount Sammeta

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Related Manuscripts

Related Manuscript Images

  • Twenty Jinas

    Twenty Jinas

    British Library. Or. 11921. Unknown author. 1488

  • Fourfold community

    Fourfold community

    Victoria and Albert Museum. IS 46-1959. Unknown author. Late 15th to 16th centuries

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