Chakravartin

Chakravartin

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Chakravartin is a term used in Indian religions for an ideal universal ruler, who rules ethically and benevolently over the entire world. Such a ruler's reign is called sarvabhauma. It is a bahuvrīhi
Bahuvrihi
A bahuvrihi compound is a type of compound that denotes a referent by specifying a certain characteristic or quality the referent possesses. A bahuvrihi is exocentric, so that the compound is not a hyponym of its head...

, literally meaning "whose wheels are moving", in the sense of "whose chariot is rolling everywhere without obstruction". It can also be analyzed as an 'instrumental bahuvrīhi: "through whom the wheel is moving" in the meaning of "through whom the Dharmacakra
Dharmacakra
The Dharmachakra , lit. "Wheel of Dharma" or "Wheel of Life" is a symbol that has represented dharma, the Buddha's teaching of the path to enlightenment, since the early period of Indian Buddhism. A similar symbol is also in use in Jainism...

 ("Wheel of the Dharma
Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...

) is turning" (most commonly used in Buddhism and Hinduism).

In Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

, three types of Chakravartins are distinguished:
  • Cakravala Cakravartin: a ruler over all four continents postulated in ancient Indian cosmography
  • Dvipa Cakravartin: a ruler over only one of four continents
  • Pradesa Cakravartin: a ruler over only part of a continent.


The first references to a cakravala cakravartin appear in monuments from the time of the Maurya Empire
Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC...

 (322–185 BCE), dedicated to Ashoka
Ashoka
Ashok Maurya or Ashoka , popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests...

. It has not been generally used for any other historic figure. The cakravartin in Buddhism came to be considered the secular counterpart of a Buddha
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

. In the Majjhima Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
The Majjhima Nikaya is a Buddhist scripture, the second of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism...

, Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 is quoted as stating that a woman can never be(come) a chakravartin. Bhikkhuni
Bhikkhuni
A bhikkhuni or bhikṣuṇī is a fully ordained female Buddhist monastic. Male monastics are called bhikkhus. Both bhikkhunis and bhikkhus live by the vinaya...

 Heng-Ching Shih states referring to women in Buddhism: "Women are said to have five obstacles, namely being incapable of becoming a Brahma King, 'Sakra', King 'Mara', Cakravartin or Buddha."

In general, the term applies to temporal as well as spiritual kingship and leadership, particularly in Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

. In Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, the term generally denotes a powerful ruler, whose dominion extended to the entire earth.

Maitrayaniya Upanishad


The Maitrayaniya Upanishad
Maitrayaniya Upanishad
The Maitrayaniya Upanishad or the Maitri Upanishad belongs to the Maitri or Maitrayaniya shakha of the , though some texts assign it to the . It figures as number 24 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads under the name of the Upanishad, which is included there as a Upanishad, associated with...

(1.5) uses the term for kings who had renounced their royal prerogatives in favour of asceticism
Asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

.

अथ किमेतैर्वा परेऽन्ये महाधनुर्धराश्चक्रवर्तिनः
केचित्सुद्युम्नभूरिद्युम्नेन्द्रद्युम्नकुवलयाश्वयौवनाश्ववद्धिया
श्वाश्वपतिः शशबिन्दुर्हारिश्चन्द्रोऽम्बरीषो
ननूक्तस्वयातिर्ययातिनरण्योक्षसेनोत्थमरुत्तभरतप्रभृतयो
राजानो मिषतो बन्धुवर्गस्य महतीं श्रियं
त्यक्त्वास्माल्लोकादमुं लोकं प्रयान्ति .. ५..



IAST
IAST
The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration is a transliteration scheme that allows a lossless romanization of Indic scripts as employed by the Sanskrit language.-Popularity:...

:
atha kimetairvā pare'nye mahādhanurdharāścakravartinaḥ
kecitsudyumnabhūridyumnendradyumnakuvalayāśvayauvanāśvavaddhiyā
śvāśvapatiḥ śaśabindurhāriścandro'mbarīṣo
nanūktasvayātiryayātinaraṇyokṣasenotthamaruttabharataprabhṛtayo
rājāno miṣato bandhuvargasya mahatīṁ śriyaṁ
tyaktvāsmāllokādamuṁ lokaṁ prayānti 5

Mahabharata


In the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, twelve princes beginning with Bharata
Bharata (emperor)
Bharata was a legendary emperor of India, and is referred to in Hindu and Jain mythology. He was son of King Dushyanta and Shakuntala and thus a descendant of the Lunar Dynasty of the Kshatriya caste. Bharata conquered all of greater Greater India, uniting it into a single entity which was named...

 are considered Chakravartins.
  • Ikshvaku
    Ikshvaku dynasty
    The Ikshvaku dynasty, in Puranic literature, was a mythical dynasty founded by Ikshvaku, grandson of Vivasvan or Surya and son of Vaivasvata Manu. This dynasty is also known as . The important personalities belonging to this royal house are Harishchandra, Dilīpa, Sagara, Raghu, Rama and Prasenajit...

    , the son of Ila
    Ila (Hinduism)
    Ila is an androgyne in Hindu mythology, known for his/her sex changes. As a man, he is known as Ila or Sudyumna and as a woman, is called Ilā...

     of the Suryavanshi
    Suryavansha
    The Sooryavamsham or Suryavansh or Suryavamsa or Sun Dynasty or Solar Dynasty was one of the most prominent dynasties in the mythical history of India, along with the "Chandra-vaṃśa" or Lunar Dynasty.-Introduction:...

     lineage after whom India was named as Ilavarta and Eelam
    Eelam
    Eelam also spelled Eezham, Ilam or Izham in English is the native Tamil name for the South Asian island state of Sri Lanka. Eelam is also a name for the spurge , toddy and gold. The exact etymology and the original meaning of the word are not clearly known, although there are number of...

    . In Hindu mythology
    Hindu mythology
    Hindu religious literature is the large body of traditional narratives related to Hinduism, notably as contained in Sanskrit literature, such as the Sanskrit epics and the Puranas. As such, it is a subset of Nepali and Indian culture...

     he is said to have conquered the world.
  • Bharat
    Bharata (emperor)
    Bharata was a legendary emperor of India, and is referred to in Hindu and Jain mythology. He was son of King Dushyanta and Shakuntala and thus a descendant of the Lunar Dynasty of the Kshatriya caste. Bharata conquered all of greater Greater India, uniting it into a single entity which was named...

     was the son of the Puru
    Puru
    The Purus were a tribe, or a confederation of tribes, mentioned many times in the Rigveda, formed around 3180 BCE. RV 7.96.2 locates them at the banks of the Sarasvati River. There were several factions of Purus, one being the Bharatas...

     Dynasty. The official name of the Republic of India, Bhārat (भारत) in Hindi and Bhāratam (भारतम्) in Sanskrit is named after him. He was able to conquer the whole Indian subcontinent
    Indian subcontinent
    The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

    . Legend holds that he even conquered regions outside of the Subcontinent such as Afghanistan (then referred to as Gandhara
    Gandhara
    Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

    ) and Tibet (then referred to as Bhūta
    Bhuta
    Bhūta is a Sanskrit word that has several meanings:* true, matter of fact, reality, existing, present, being or being like anything, consisting of, mixed or joined with...

    ).
  • Shibi
    Shibi (king)
    King Shibi Chakravarti is a famous king in Hindu mythology and Buddhist Jataka Tales. Sibi was the son of Usinara a famous king of Chandravamsa...

    , famous in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. He sacrificed his flesh. There have been several dynasties which have claimed heritage from Emperor Shibi's line. The Cholas
    Chola Dynasty
    The Chola dynasty was a Tamil dynasty which was one of the longest-ruling in some parts of southern India. The earliest datable references to this Tamil dynasty are in inscriptions from the 3rd century BC left by Asoka, of Maurya Empire; the dynasty continued to govern over varying territory until...

     were one of the dynasties and they referred to him as Sembiyan.
  • Imayavaramban Neduncheralathan, a Sangam age king said in inscriptions to have conquered up to the Himalayas
    Himalayas
    The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

    .

Jainism


During the each motion of the half-cycle of the wheel of time, 63 Śalākāpuruṣa
Salakapurusa
According to the Jain cosmology, Salakapurusas , also known as trisastisalakapurusa are 63 illustrious beings who appear during each half-time cycle. The Jain universal or legendary history is a compilation of the deeds of these illustrious persons...

 or 63 illustrious men, consisting of the 24 Tīrthaṅkaras and their contemporaries regularly appear. The Jain universal or legendary history is basically a compilation of the deeds of these illustrious men. As per Jain cosmology
Jain cosmology
Jain cosmology is the description of the shape and functioning of the physical and metaphysical Universe and its constituents according to Jainism, which includes the canonical Jain texts, commentaries and the writings of the Jain philosopher-monks...

, out of these 63, twelve are Chakravartins, who are Universal Monarch or World Conquerors. The Jaina Puranas give a list of twelve such Cakravartins who flourished in this Avasarpini. Golden in complexion, they all belonged to the Kasyapa gotra
Gotra
In the Hindu society, the term Gotra broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor. Panini defines gotra for grammatical purposes as apatyam pautraprabhrti gotram , which means "the word gotra denotes the progeny beginning with the son's son"...

. The mother of a Cakravartin sees some dreams at the time of conception. According to the Adipurana
Adipurana
Adipurana is a 10th century Kannada text written in Champu style, a mix of prose and verse, dealing with the ten lives of the first tirthankara, Adinatha, also known as Rishabhanatha . This work is known to be the first work of Kannada poet Adikavi Pampa . It is based on the story narrated by...

, Bharata's mother saw the sun and the moon, the mount Meru, the lake with swans, earth and the ocean. According to Acharya Hemachandra
Acharya Hemachandra
Acharya Hemachandra was a Jain scholar, poet, and polymath who wrote on grammar, philosophy, prosody, and contemporary history. Noted as a prodigy by his contemporaries, he gained the title Kalikāl Sarvagya "all-knowing of the Kali Yuga"....

, Marudevi, mother of Bharata, sees fourteen great dreams. A chakravartin is considered an ideal human being endowed with thirty-two major signs of excellence and many minor signs of excellence.

The list of 12 Chakravartins as per Jainism is as follows:
  1. Bharata, son of Tirthankara Rishabha
    Rishabha (Jain tirthankar)
    In Jainism, R̥ṣabha or Ādinātha , also known as the "Lord of Kesariya") was the first of the 24 Tīrthaṅkaras. According to Jain beliefs, R̥ṣabha founded the Ikshvaku dynasty and was the first Tīrthaṅkara of the present age...

  2. Sagara, ancestor of Bhagiratha
    Bhagiratha
    Bhageeratha was a great king in Hindu mythology who brought the River Ganges to Earth.-Early life:Bhageeratha was the king of Kosala, a kingdom in ancient India. He was a descendent of the great king Sagara of the Suryavamsa, or Sun Dynasty...

     as in the Puranas
    Puranas
    The Puranas are a genre of important Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religious texts, notably consisting of narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography.Puranas...

  3. Maghavan
  4. Sanatkumara
  5. Tirthankara Shantinath
    Shantinath
    Shantinath was the sixteenth Jain Tirthankar of the present age . According to Jain beliefs, he became a siddha, a liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma. Shantinath was born to King Viswasen Raja and Queen Achira Rani at Hastinapur in the Ikshvaku clan...

  6. Tirthankara Kunthunath
    Kunthunath
    Kunthunath was the seventeenth Jain Tirthankar of the present age . According to Jain beliefs, he became a siddha, a liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma. Kunthunath was born to King Shursen Raja and Queen Srirani Rani at Hastinapur in the Ikshvaku clan...

  7. Tirthankara Aranath
    Aranath
    Aranath was the eighteenth Jain Tirthankar of the present age . According to Jain beliefs, he was born around 16,584,980 BCE. He became a siddha - a liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma. Aranath was born to King Sudarshan Raja and Queen Devi Rani at Hastinapur in the Ikshvaku clan...

  8. Subhauma
  9. Padmanabha
  10. Harishena
  11. Jayasena
  12. Brahmadatt


In Jainism, a chakravartin was characterized by possession of saptaratna, or "seven jewels":
  1. chakram
    Chakram
    The chakram , sometimes called a war quoit, is a throwing weapon from India. Its shape is of a flat metal hoop with a sharp outer edge from in diameter...

  2. queen
  3. chariot
  4. jewel
  5. wealth
  6. horse
  7. elephant


Some lists cite navaratna
Navaratna
Navaratna is literally a Sanskrit compound word meaning "nine gems".-Royal setting:The ancient origin of the 9 Gems—called Navaratna in Sanskrit, Hindi, Burmese, Indonesian, and Nepalese, Navarathinam in Tamil, Navarathnalu in Telugu,Navarathnam in Malayalam, Navaratne in Singhalese, Nopparat in...

 or "nine jewels" instead, adding "prime minister" and "son".

Important quotes



from External Links
from Buddhist Wisdom Books, The Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra, translated and explained by Edward Conze
from The Diamond That Cuts Through Illusion , commentaries on the Prajñaparamita Diamond Sutra
Diamond Sutra
The Diamond Sūtra , is a short and well-known Mahāyāna sūtra from the Prajñāpāramitā, or "Perfection of Wisdom" genre, and emphasizes the practice of non-abiding and non-attachment...

, Thich Nhat Hanh
from Cakkavatti Sutta