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

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

Identification

This 1853 drawing of a sculpture from Pattadakal in Karnataka shows Jvālamālinī. One of the Digambara names for the yakṣī of the eighth Jina, Candraprabha, Jvālamālinī has developed as an independent goddess among the Digambaras, especially in south India

Jvālamālinī, yakṣī of Candraprabha
Image by British Library © British Library Board on www.Europeana.eu

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, symbols, yakṣa and yakṣī of Candraprabha

Colour

Emblem

Yakṣa

Yakṣī

'of the moon' – that is, white

crescent moon

Vijaya – Śvetāmbara
Śyāma or Ajita – Digambara

Bhṛkuṭi – Śvetāmbara
Mānavī or Jvālāmālinī – Digambara

Jvālamālinī is one of the yakṣīs who has developed as an independent goddess among the Digambara sect, especially in south India. The legends and cult around her are rooted in Karnataka. The earliest image of her dates back to the 8th century and is found in the temple of Aihole in this region. The Jvālāmalinī-kalpa, a work representing the Jain tantric tradition, was written by Indranandi in the 10th century.

More details

Besides the basic information, the sources provide more details on various topics. These are almost infinite and vary depending on the sources. Such information differs between Śvetāmbaras and Digambaras. Here are only a few instances of extra detail.

All of the princes who become Jinas are carried to the park where they perform the ritual gesture of initiation into monastic lifedīkṣā – on a palanquin. Candraprabha’s palanquin is named Jayantī. On this occasion, he is accompanied by one thousand kings.

He performs a two-day fast. The next day he breaks his fast at the house of King Somadatta in Padmakhaṇḍapura.

Candraprabha reaches omniscience under a tree of the nāga or punnāga variety.

Events, stories and hymns

This painting of a Jina is taken from a collection of hymns to the 24 Jinas written by Yaśovijaya in the 17th century. The Jina's white colour indicates that he is Candraprabhanātha or Lord Candraprabha, the eighth Jina

Image of Candraprabha, the eighth Jina
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

The extensive body of works dealing with Jain Universal History, such as the 12th-century Tri-ṣaṣṭi-śalākāpuruṣa-caritra by Hemacandra, describe the lives of the Jinas. Except for the major Jinas, the standard Śvetāmbara biographies in such works are not fleshed out with further events or stories. This is the case with Candraprabhanātha or Lord Candraprabha.

As with other Jinas, the standard account of Candraprabha is chiefly expanded and varied in the description of his former lives. These are set in the time before his last birth, when he is reborn as a prince who is initiated and then becomes a Jina. The number of these previous births is not fully standardised.

These previous lives act as the starting point for other stories that are recounted in the biographies of this individual Jina – the Candraprabha-caritras. These are written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or in modern Indian languages from western or south India. In prose, verse or in a mixture of prose and verse, these tales are composed by Śvetāmbara as well as Digambara authors.

There is no limit to the number of such works, but a good list is given on pages 19 to 20 in Pagaria 1999. An illustrated folio from Deva-sūri’s 1207 version in Sanskrit and Prakrit is reproduced in U. P. Shah, New Documents of Jaina Painting.

Similarly, Candraprabha is praised alongside other Jinas in hymns dedicated to the 24 Jinas. One instance is the devotional song dedicated to this Jina in the Gujarati set of hymns composed by Yaśo-vijaya in the 17th century. This example can be found among the manuscripts digitised on JAINpedia.

There are also several individual hymns dedicated to Candraprabha in all Indian languages. His moonlight complexion, which appropriately evokes serenity, seems to have made him distinct, as he shares this feature only with the ninth Jina.

Temples and images

This Jina idol clearly shows the individual emblem – lāñchana – that helps identify him. The crescent moon and the white colour indicate that the Jina is the eighth one. This idol is in the Digambara temple to Candraprabha at Kannalam, Tamil Nadu

Image of Candraprabha
Image by Karine Ladrech © French Institute of Pondicherry

Sculpted images of Candraprabha are available from at least the 4th to 5th centuries CE in north India though they can be found in all areas of the subcontinent (Shah 1987: 142–144 gives several examples). The oldest available image from this period was installed by Mahārājādhirāja Gupta. The Jina is identified by name in the inscription, but no emblem is shown (Shah 1987: 142).

Among the temples to Candraprabha mentioned in medieval literary sources is the one in Somanātha-Pāṭan in Saurāṣṭra. The 14th-century Vividha-tīrtha-kalpa, Jinaprabha-sūri's work on sacred places, also includes it. The same author also describes or narrates episodes relating to specific Candraprabha images.

An image of a Jina can be identified as Candraprabha if at least one of his two distinctive marks is shown:

  • the crescent moon
  • his white complexion.

Examples of depictions of Candraprabha in visual art are provided throughout this article and in the Related links.

Images

  • Worship of Candraprabha 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. Richly dressed lay people raise their hands in homage under the ornate roof of a temple. The unadorned statue is typical of the Digambara sect. The accompanying text states that the painting depicts the image in the Digambara temple to this Jina in Karanja, Maharashtra, home of the author of the Ādityavāra-vrata-kathā.. Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
  • Digambara sculpture of Candraprabha 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.. Image by Gift of Sir Michael Sadler K.C.S.I., C.B. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
  • Jvālamālinī, yakṣī of Candraprabha This 1853 drawing of a sculpture from Pattadakal in Karnataka shows Jvālamālinī. One of the Digambara names for the yakṣī of the eighth Jina, Candraprabha, Jvālamālinī has developed as an independent goddess among the Digambaras, especially in south India. Her legends and cult are centred in Karnataka.. Image by British Library © British Library Board on www.Europeana.eu
  • Image of Candraprabha, the eighth Jina This painting of a Jina is taken from a collection of hymns to the 24 Jinas written by Yaśovijaya in the 17th century. The Jina's white colour indicates that he is Candraprabhanātha or Lord Candraprabha, the eighth Jina. This typically Śvetāmbara representation of a Jina shows him bedecked in rich ornaments and with open eyes.. Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
  • Image of Candraprabha This Jina idol clearly shows the individual emblem – lāñchana – that helps identify him. The crescent moon and the white colour of the statue indicate that the Jina is the eighth one, Candraprabha. This idol is in the Digambara temple dedicated to Candraprabha at Kannalam, Tamil Nadu.. Image by Karine Ladrech © French Institute of Pondicherry

Further Reading

Uttarapurāṇa
Guṇabhadra
edited by Pannalala Jain
Jñānapītha Mūrtidevī Jaina series; volume 14
Bhāratīya Jñānapīṭha Prakāśana; Delhi and Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India ; 1968

Full details

Jaina Temple Architecture in India: The Development of a Distinct Language in Space and Ritual
Julia A. B. Hegewald
Monographien zur Indischen Archäologie, Kunst und Philologie series; volume 19
Stiftung Ernst Waldschmidt, G+H Verlag; Berlin, Germany; 2009

Full details

Triṣaṣṭiśalākapuruṣacaritra: Lives of the Sixty-three Illustrious Persons
Hemacandra
translated by Helen M. Johnson
Gaekwad's Oriental series; volume 2
Oriental Institute; Baroda, Gujarat, India; 1937

Full details

Vividhatīrthakalpa
Jinaprabhasūri
edited by Muni Jinavijaya
Singhi Jain series; volume 10
Shantiniketan; Bombay, India; 1934

Full details

Śrī Candappahasāmi-cariyaṃ
Jasadevasūri
edited by Pt Rupendrakumara Pagaria
L. D. series; volume 122
L. D. Institute of Indology; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 1999

Full details

Jaina-Rūpa-Maṇḍana
Umakant Premanand Shah
Abhinav Publications; New Delhi, India; 1987

Full details

Historical Dictionary of Jainism
Kristi L. Wiley
Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies, and Movements series; series editor Jon Woronoff; volume 53
Scarecrow Press; Maryland, USA; 2004

Full details

Glossary

Auspicious

Favourable or lucky. Auspicious objects bring good fortune and may predict good events or a bright future. 

Candraprabha

The eighth Jina of the present age. His symbolic colour is white and his emblem the crescent moon. There is no historical evidence of his existence.

Caste

Hindu society is traditionally divided into numerous jātis or classes, which are usually grouped into the four varṇas – often called 'castes' – of:

  • Brāhmaṇa – priest
  • Kṣatriya – warrior
  • Vaśya – merchant or farmer
  • Śūdra – labourer.

Relating to ritual purity, castes are hereditary and probably based on occupation. Members of different castes performed particular socio-economic roles and did not mix or eat the same food. People outside the caste system were usually looked down upon.

Caturvidha-saṅgha

The ‘fourfold society’ of Jain tradition, which is made up of ascetics and the laity, and of males and females.

Common Era

The period of time starting with the year when Jesus Christ was traditionally believed to have been born. Using CE is a more secular way of dating events in a multinational, multi-religious world.

Cosmology

A belief system about the universe that covers its origin, structure and parts, and natural laws and characteristics such as space, time, causality and freedom.

Cult

Religious activity centred around a deity or saintly figure. Religious rituals are performed regularly to the god or goddess, who may be represented in images or relics or found in natural features such as springs and trees. Shrines and temples are frequently built at the site of a cult and pilgrims arrive to worship the deity.

Deity

A god or divine figure, often with physical powers beyond those of a human and with superhuman abilities.

Dhyāna

Sanskrit for 'meditation', one of the six internal austerities or tapas that help purify the soul of karma. Meditation is deep thought about religious doctrine or mental focus on spiritual matters over a period of time. An important part of many religions, meditation is especially important in Jain belief because it forms key elements of religious practice and spiritual development.

Digambara

'Sky-clad' in Sanskrit, used for one of the two main divisions of Jainism, in which monks are naked. There are some differences of doctrine or belief between these two sects and to some extent their followers consider themselves as belonging to distinct branches. Divisions can be fierce in practical matters, for example, over the ownership of pilgrimage places, but all sects see themselves as Jains.

Disciple

An active follower of a religion, especially one who passes on teachings to others.

Fast

Giving up or limiting food or specified foods for a period of time, usually as part of a religious practice. Fasting is a key part of Jainism, chiefly because it is believed to:

  • help destroy karmas that bind to the soul
  • gain merit – puṇya.

Festival

A public commemoration of a religious ritual. Often a celebration that involves holding a religious ceremony to mark an important event in a religion's history. 

Folio

A single sheet of paper or parchment with a front and a back side. Manuscripts and books are written or printed on both sides of sheets of paper. A manuscript page is one side of a sheet of paper, parchment or other material. The recto page is the top side of a sheet of paper and the verso is the underside.

Gaṇadhara

'Supporters of the order'. This term is used for the first mendicant disciples of a Jina. They are able to understand his teachings properly and can pass them on. A gaṇadhara leads his own group of ascetics until he becomes enlightened.

Gujarati

The language that developed in Gujarat, in western India. It is also spoken in neighbouring states. Also a term for someone or something associated with or coming from Gujarat.

Hindi

The most widely spoken group of languages in India, originating in the northern part of the subcontinent. Local dialects and Hindi languages are spoken all over northern India and in surrounding countries. Standard Hindi is used in administration by the central government of India, along with English.

Hymn

The terms stavan, stavana, stava, stotra and stuti are all used for a prayer, song, chant or hymn to a Jina, a god or any other holy figure. Religious songs are always hymns of praise in Jainism. These devotional songs may be performed during daily rites or on special occasions, such as completion of a fast or a wedding. The hymns may be performed:

  • solo or in groups
  • as a form of meditation
  • as a rite offered as part of worship.

Idol

An image of a deity or concept that is worshipped either as a god or as a representation of the deity.

Initiation

Formal or ceremonial admission into an organisation or group.

Jina

A 'victor' in Sanskrit, a Jina is an enlightened human being who has triumphed over karma and teaches the way to achieve liberation. A synonym for Tīrthaṃkara, which means 'ford-maker' or one who has founded a community after reaching omniscience through asceticism. The most famous 24 – Ṛṣabha to Mahāvīra – were born in the Bharata-kṣetra of the middle world, but more are found in other continents. There have been Jinas in the past and there will be some in the future.

Kalyāṇaka

An auspicious moment in a Jina's life. There are five pañca-kalyāṇakas:

  • garbha – conception
  • janma – birth
  • vairāgya – renunciation
  • kevala-jñāna – enlightenment
  • mokṣa or nirvāna – liberation.

Kāyotsarga

'Absence of concern for the body'. This commonly refers to a standing or sitting posture of deep meditation. In the standing position the eyes are concentrated on the tip of the nose and the arms hang loosely by the body. The individual remains unaffected by whatever happens around him.

Kevala-jñāna

Omniscience, enlightenment or perfect knowledge – the highest of the five types of knowledge, where one knows everything wherever and whenever it is. It is extremely difficult to attain, equivalent to the 13th stage of spiritual purity in the guṇa-sthāna. Digambaras believe only men can achieve it whereas Śvetāmbaras believe that both men and women can become enlightened.

Kṣatriya

The Indian caste of warriors and kings, with the role of 'protectors'. Jinas are born into this caste.

Laity

Believers in a religion who are ordinary worshippers, not clergy or members of religious orders. In Jainism, lay people are often called 'householders', indicating that they live in houses and have domestic responsibilities, unlike ascetics.

Lāñchana

The distinctive emblem of a given Jina. For example Ṛṣabha has a bull while Mahāvīra has a lion. These are commonly depicted under statues of the Jinas. Since this practice does not seem to have been known early on, perhaps it was influenced by the Hindu environment, where each god has his typical vehicle or emblem.

Padmāsana

Said to resemble the petals of a lotus, the lotus position involves sitting cross-legged with each foot on the opposite thigh. The soles face upwards while the knees rest on the ground. This posture is associated with meditation. Jinas and other enlightened figures are often depicted in this pose.

Palanquin

A bed or seat attached to poles, which are carried by bearers on their shoulders. The palanquin is usually a closed box or has curtains sheltering the person within.

Prākrit

A term for any of the dead vernacular languages of ancient and medieval India. It may be contrasted with classical Sanskrit, the language used by priests and the aristocracy. The Jains used a large variety of Prakrits, with the Jain canon written chiefly in Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit.

Preach

To deliver a speech on a religious topic, usually given by a prophet or member of the clergy. It may be a formal task of a religious office or open to all believers in a religious faith. Often covering social and moral subjects, preaching may be intended to:

  • remind hearers of religious principles and rules
  • encourage piety
  • persuade non-believers of the correctness of the preacher's religious beliefs.

Sāgāra

Sanskrit term meaning 'with a home’ – that is, a ‘householder’ or lay Jain. A synonym for a lay person, emphasising that he or she is a member of a household, with responsibilities to the family, community and society that a Jain mendicant does not have.

Samavasaraṇa

Literally, Sanskrit for 'universal gathering'. A holy assembly led by a Jina where he preaches to all – human beings, animals and deities alike – after he has become omniscient. In this universal gathering, natural enemies are at peace.

Sanskrit

A classical language of India, originally used by priests and nobility. Sanskrit has a rich literary and religious tradition. With only a few thousand native speakers nowadays, it is predominantly used in Hindu religious ceremonies and by scholars.

Sect

An organised group of believers in a religion, often distinguished from other groups within the same religious faith who have differences of doctrine or practice.

Sermon

A speech on a religious topic, usually delivered by a member of the clergy. Frequently a sermon has a moral lesson or is based on a sacred text.

Śrāvaka

'Hearer’ of the teaching. This commonly refers to the Jain lay man, who follows the teachings of the 24 Jinas and is not a member of the clergy or a religious order. The feminine form is śrāvikā.

Śrāvikā

'Hearer’ of the teaching. This commonly refers to the Jain lay woman, who follows the teachings of the 24 Jinas and is not a member of the clergy or a religious order. The masculine form is śrāvakā.

Subcontinent

The Indian or South Asian subcontinent is a term for the geographical area roughly covering modern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Śvetāmbara

'White-clad’ in Sanskrit, the title of one of the two main divisions of Jainism, in which both male and female mendicants wear white robes. There are some differences of doctrine or belief between these two sects and to some extent their followers consider themselves as belonging to distinct branches. Divisions can be fierce in practical matters, for example, over the ownership of pilgrimage places, but all sects see themselves as Jains.

Tantra

Jain Tantric worship aims to control other people or counter evil influences. Tantric rituals try to placate the aggressive side of a deity's nature, encouraging the divinity to behave benevolently. If not worshipped correctly, the vengeful deity may cause harm. The devotee invokes the deity under his or her various names, places images of the deity on yantras – mystical diagrams – and meditates, repeating mantras.

Temple

A building reserved for public worship or prayer, usually dedicated to one religion and run by members of that religion's clergy.

Universal History

A Western academic term used for the largely medieval texts that hold the Jain legendary history of the world. Recounting the life stories of the '63 Great or Illustrious Men', the writings are intended to provide role-models for later Jains. The main texts of Jain Universal History are the:

  • Śvetāmbara monk Hemacandra's Triṣaṣti-śalākā-puruṣa-caritraLife Stories of 63 Great Men
  • Mahā-purāṇaGreat Ancient Tale – of the Digambara writers Jinasena and Guṇabhadra.

Vrata

Vows are extremely important in Jain religious life. Mendicants take the compulsory Five Great Vows – mahā-vratas – as part of their initiation – dīkṣā

Lay people can choose to take 12 vows, which are divided into:

  • aṇu-vratas – 'Five Lesser Vows'
  • guṇa-vratas – three supplementary vows
  • śikṣā-vratas – four vows of spiritual discipline

All of these vows are lifelong and cannot be taken back. The sallekhana-vrata is a supplementary vow to fast to death, open to both ascetics and householders. 

Yakṣa

The male attendant of a Jina, one of the pair of guardian or protector gods for each Jina. The śāsana-devatā protect his teachings – śāsana – and can appease evil powers. The yakṣa and yakṣī's closeness to the Jina and their divine powers mean they are popular subjects of worship.

Yakṣī

The female attendant of a Jina, also called yakṣinī. One of the pair of guardian or protector gods for each Jina. The śāsana-devatā protect his teachings – śāsana – and can appease evil powers. The yakṣa and yakṣī's closeness to the Jina and their divine powers mean they are popular subjects of worship.

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