Friday, September 6, 2013

Chakravala Chakravartin & The Universal Monarch


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Chakravartin (चक्रवर्तिन् cakravartin; Pali cakkavatti), is an ancient Indian term used to refer to 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, 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 ("Wheel of the Dharma) is turning" (most commonly used in Buddhism and Hinduism).

A Chakravatin (possibly Ashoka the great), 1st century BCE/CE. Andhra Pradesh, Amaravati. Preserved at Musee Guimet

"One of the most constant references found in Iranian royal lore alludes to the seven climes of the world which are regions of both space and time and over which the universal monarch rules. The Iranian emperor is the “Lord of the Seven Regions” (keshwars) and he dwells in the central one, in the heart of the universal six-pointed star or Sun-shaped flower. For many centuries the central region of that heptarchy was seen as being located in today’s Iraq as the holy city of Babylon, with its major sanctuary of Baal Marduk, the Esagil –for more than a millennium a fount of sacred learning and initiation - regarded as the world’s navel since the days of Nabuchednazzar II at least, was adopted as capital by Cyrus and his successors."…..….

In the Mahabharata, twelve princes beginning with Bharata are considered Chakravartins.

"Jainism…..During the each motion of the half-cycle of the wheel of time, 63 Śalākāpuruṣa 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, 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. The mother of a Cakravartin sees some dreams at the time of conception. According to the Adipurana, Bharata's mother saw the sun and the moon, the mount Meru, the lake with swans, earth and the ocean. According to Acharya Hemachandra, 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."….

In Buddhism and Jainism, three types of Chakravartins are distinguished:
Chakravala Chakravartin: a ruler over all four continents postulated in ancient Indian cosmography
Dvipa Chakravartin: a ruler over only one of four continents
Pradesa Chakravartin: 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 (322–185 BCE), dedicated to Chandragupta Maurya and his grandson Ashoka Maurya. 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. In the Majjhima Nikaya, Gautama Buddha is quoted as stating that a woman can never be(come) a chakravartin. In general, the term applies to temporal as well as spiritual kingship and leadership, particularly in Buddhism and Jainism. In Hinduism, the term generally denotes a powerful ruler, whose dominion extended to the entire earth.

"…the palace and the tombs were of the Near Eastern type, because culturally, the ancient Elamites were very close to the Babylonians. The monument for which Choga Zanbil is famous, its temple tower (or ziggurat), is not an Iranian architectural form either: it was developed in southern Mesopotamia. The most famous ziggurat was in the city of Babylon itself, and was called Etemenanki. It was dedicated to the god Marduk and its builders, king Nabopolassar and king Nebuchadnezzar, claimed that it reached into heaven. This boast is repeated in the famous Biblical story of the "tower of Babel", which is simply the story of a ziggurat. And that is exactly what the monument in Choga Zanbil was: a stairway to heaven."…..

"In Jainism, a chakravartin was characterized by possession of saptaratna, or "seven jewels":
chakram…the precious golden wheel (Skt. cakraratna; Wyl. 'khor lo rin po che),
queen… (Skt. strīratna; Wyl. btsun mo rin po che),
jewel, precious wish-fulfilling jewel (Skt. maṇiratna; Wyl. nor bu rin po che)
horse…(Skt. aśvaratna; Wyl. rta mchog rin po che)
elephant…kt. hastiratna; Wyl. glang po rin po che),

"What do you think, Subhuti, is the Tathagata to be seen by means of his possession of marks? -Subhuti replied: No indeed, O Lord. -The Lord said: If, Subhuti, the Tathagata could be recognized by his possession of marks, then also the universal monarch would be a Tathagata."….from Cakkavatti Sutta.


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….September 2013


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