Article: Śreyāṃsa

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 Śreyāṃsa

Last incarnation

Birth

Initiation

Omniscience

Emancipation

6th day of the dark half of Jyeṣṭha

  • 12th day of the dark half of Phālguna – Śvetāmbara
  • 14th day – Digambara
  • 13th day of the dark half of Phālguna – Śvetāmbara
  • 14th day – Digambara
  • 15th day of the dark half of Māgha – Śvetāmbara
  • 3rd day of the bright half of Māgha – Digambara
  • 3rd day of the dark half of Nabhas (= Bhadrapada) – Śvetāmbara
  • 14th day of the dark half of Bhadrapada – 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.

The birth of Śreyāṃsanātha or Lord Śreyāṃsa is commemorated by annual festivals in Sarnath, which is the area traditionally connected with this Jina.

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

Other numbers associated with Śreyāṃsa

Height

Total lifespan

80 bows

8,400,000 years

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.

Śreyāṃsa's fourfold community

Chief disciples

Monks

Nuns

Lay men

Lay women

76, led by Gośubha – Śvetāmbara
77 led by Kunthu – Digambara

84,000

103,000 led by Dharaṇadevī – Digambara

279,000 led by Tripṛṣṭha

448,000

Identification

This detail from a manuscript painting is of a rhinoceros, which is a significant animal in Jain iconography. The rhino is the emblem – lāñchana – of Śreyāṃsa, the 11th Jina. The rhino is also the symbol of the Prāṇata heaven, the tenth paradise of 12.

Rhinoceros
Image by Victoria and Albert Museum © V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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 Śreyāṃsa

Colour

Emblem

Yakṣa

Yakṣī

gold

rhinoceros

Īśvara or Kumāra

Mānavī – Śvetāmbara
Gaurī or Mahākālī – Digambara

EXT:contentbrowse Processing Watermark

Related Manuscripts

Related Manuscript Images

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