Article: Candraprabha

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Candrapurī

Candrapurī is the same as Candrāvatī – known nowadays as Chandravati or Chandrawati – a small village on the bank of the Ganges, 3 kilometres from Kādīpur railway station and about 20 kilometres from Varanasi.

The Vividha-tīrtha-kalpa, a 14th-century work on sacred places by the Śvetāmbara monk Jinaprabha-sūri, records the town's:

  • existence
  • location near Varanasi
  • link with four auspicious events connected with the eighth Jina.

The Śvetāmbara temple to Candraprabha visible today dates back to 1832. Although it is built on a mound 18 metres above the River Ganges, it has been often endangered due to floods. A Digambara temple was built close to it in 1856.

Dates and numbers

This 19th-century idol from Jaipur, Rajasthan, is of Candraprabha, the eighth Jina. This typical Digambara image shows the plainly sculpted Jina nude with closed eyes. He wears a small cap but his emblem of the crescent moon is missing

Digambara sculpture of Candraprabha
Image by Gift of Sir Michael Sadler K.C.S.I., C.B. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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.

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.

The birthday of Candraprabha is the occasion of an annual festival at the Śvetāmbara temple in Candravati.

Dates associated with Candraprabha

Last incarnation

Birth

Initiation

Omniscience

Emancipation

5th day of the dark half of Caitra

  • 12th day of the dark half of Pauṣa – Śvetāmbara
  • 11th day – Digambara
  • 13th day of the dark half of Pauṣa – Śvetāmbara
  • 11th day – Digambara

7th day of the dark half of Phālguna

  • 7th day of the dark half of Nabha – Śvetāmbara
  • 7th day of the dark half of Phālguna – Digambara

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.

There are also other numbers associated with the life of this Jina.

Other numbers associated with Candraprabha

Height

Total lifespan

150 bows

1,000,000 pūrvas

Monastic and lay communities

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.

Candraprabha's fourfold community

Chief disciples

Monks

Nuns

Lay men

Lay women

93, led by Datta

250,000

380,000, led by Vāruṇī

250,000

410,000

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Related Manuscripts

Related Manuscript Images

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