Unlocking the Secrets of the Siddhachakra - Part 1
- What is Siddhachakra Mahayantra? What is its importance?
- How different is Siddhachakra Yantra from Navpadji?
- What all deities form a part of this yantra?
- What is the connection of Siddhachakra and Navpadji’s Ayimbil Oli?
Over the years, while conducting Siddhachakra Mahapujan’s, I have been asked many such questions with respect to the holiest yantra in Jainism - “The Siddhachakra Mahayantra”. Further, many Jains do daily puja of Siddhachakra, but do not know the complete importance of this Mahayantra.
Thus on the occasion of Navpadji’s Oli (commencing from 3rd April, 2017), I have tried to pen down the deepest intricacies of Siddhachakra Mahayantra - its constituents and its importance through a series of posts dedicated to the holiest yantra in Jainism. In this first post , we will try to gauge the basics of Siddhachakra Mahayantra.
What is Siddhachakra Mahayantra?
The Siddhachakra Mahayantra is an auspicious yantra (holy diagram) covering and depicting the entire Jain cosmos [Navpadji and all the protective demi-gods / goddesses] making it the holiest yantra in Jainism. The core of Jainism lies within the Siddhachakra Mahayantra, because in the core of Siddhachakra resides the Navpadji and in the centre of Navpadji resides Arihant Parmatma. Thus the yantra is also called as “Siddhachakra Bhagwant” and “Siddhachakra Maharaj”.
How ancient is the Siddhachakra Mahayantra?
"एयं च सिद्धचक्कं कहियं, विज्जाणुवाय परमतथं,
नएण जेअ सहसा , सिज्झनंति महंतसिद्धिओ"
The Siddhachakra Mahayantra has been worshipped since eternity. However to understand its depiction in current form, let us first understand Jain Agams.
Jain Agams are the original texts of Jainism based on the discourses of the Tirthankars. Lord Mahavir’s Gandhar’s (principal disciples) compiled the Agams (canonical scriptures) containing the most comprehensive description of every branch of learning. These Agama’s comprised of 12 parts, also referred to as 11 Angas and 14 Purvas (since the 12th Anga comprises the 14 Purva’s). The 14 Purva’s consisted of the knowledge collected before the era of Lord Mahavir, i.e. teachings of all the Tirthankar’s (before Lord Mahavir) encompassing the entire gamut of knowledge available in this universe. (The word 'purva' itself means 'before'). However, in the passage of time, the 14 Purva’s got extinct (Read the reasons for the same in Footnote 1 appended at the end of the post).
As per the “Sirisirival-kaha Granth” written in 1372 AD by Acharya Shri Ratnashekhar Surishwarji Maharaja, the importance of worshipping Siddhachakra can be found in the 10th Purva – “Vidyanuvaad”. This implies the existence of the Siddhachakra mahayantra prior to Lord Mahavir’s era. Acharya Vajraswami, a Purvadhar (a revered monk having the complete knowledge of the 14 purvas) also depicted the rituals and details for worshipping Siddhachakra Mahayantra (B.C. 31- A.D. 57)
Further Upadhyay Shri Vinayavijayji Maharaja and Mahopadhyaya Shri Yashovijayji Maharaj composed the “Shripal Raja Raas” about 300 years ago consisting 1252 verses in a pre-modern language called Maru-Gurjara based on the religious discourse given by Gautam Swami to King Shrenik on the lives of King Shripal and his wife, Queen Mayana, who together overcame several obstacles with their devotion to Siddhachakra. (Read more about Shripal Raja and Mayana sundari below)
What is the importance of worshipping the Siddhachakra Mahayantra? How is it related to Navpadji’s Ayambil Oli?
“यस्य प्रभावा द्विजयो जगत्यां , सप्तांग राजयं भुवि भूरि भाग्यम,
परत्र देवेंद्र नरेन्द्रता स्यात , तत सिद्धचक्रं विधधातु सिद्धिम”
Jainism states that if any religious activity is conducted with the wish of obtaining material desires, then such activity becomes useless. One should just wish for liberation while making any offering. The above verse states that if anyone worships the Siddhachakra without any wish of material desires, he/she receives immense Punya (virtues), good luck and the pleasures of heaven. Further, the Siddhachakra has the power to lead a true devotee towards liberation (moksh).
“સિદ્ધચક્ર ના ગુણ ઘણા, કહેતા નાવે પાર, વાંછિત પુરે દુઃખ હરે, વંદુ વારંવાર,
સિદ્ધચક્ર આરાધતા , પુગે વાંછિત કોડ, સિદ્ધચક્ર મુજ મન વસ્યું , 'વિનય' કહે કર જોડ”
Further, Shri Vinayvijayji in the above verse writes- “There are so many innumerable qualities of Siddhachakra that even a Kevali cannot explain its glory in mere words. The attributes of Siddhachakra have the power to remove every sorrow and fulfil every wish, thus I repeatedly offer my prayers to the Mahayantra”.
To illustrate the importance of Siddhachakra, Indrabhuti Gautam (Bhagwan Mahavir’s first Gandhar – senior-most disciple), gave a discourse to Shrenik Maharaja, enlightening him on extraordinary achievements, fulfilment and prosperity attained in the current life and the lives to come, by the worship of Navpadji & Siddhachakra, he narrated the story of Shripal Raja and Mayana Sundari that has been known as “Shripal Raja no Raas”.
Following is the story of Raja Shripal and Queen Mayana in brief -
Once upon a time, King Singhrath and his queen Kamalprabha ruled over Champanagar. Even after years, they could not conceive an heir for the throne. After a lot of penance, a son was born to them named Shripal. However, the king died when Shripal was just five years old. King Singhrath’s brother Ajitsen was very ambitious and took this opportunity to seize the throne. He was keen on getting rid of Shripal in order to make his position as king secure. When Queen Kamalprabha became aware of Ajitsen’s vicious plan, she fled from Champanagar along with her son.
Learning about her escape, Ajitsen sent his trusted soldiers to pursue her. How long could the poor lady go, especially since she had to run on foot with a young child? As the soldiers got close, she did not know how to save her son. She saw a group of lepers. In desperation, she asked them to take her son into their custody. They warned her about the risk of her son contracting the disease of leprosy from them. However, she had no choice if she wanted to save her son, so she entrusted her son to them. The lepers offered them shelter and eventually they became very fond of Shripal and took great care of him. Ultimately, Shripal contracted leprosy. Kamalprabha left Shripal with the lepers and undertook various travels to find a cure for his son.
When Shripal attained youthfulness, the lepers made him their leader, and named him Umar Rana. Under his leadership, the group travelled from place to place and one day arrived at the city of Ujjain, the capital of Malwa region.
Ujjain at that time was ruled by King Prajapal and queen Rupsundari. They had two beautiful and intelligent daughters named Sursundari and Mayana-sundari. The king loved both of them and made adequate arrangements for their training in the arts and crafts. The girls mastered all of them in due course. Once the king decided to test their knowledge and called them in the assembly hall. He asked a number of questions to Sursundari who gave satisfactory replies to all of them. At the end, the king asked her by whose favor she got all her skills and also the amenities and luxuries that she enjoyed.
The girl humbly replied that she gained all that by the king’s favor. The king was pleased with her replies and decided to reward her appropriately. Then he asked several questions to Mayana-sundari. She too gave satisfactory replies to all his questions. At the end, the king asked her the same question that he had asked Sursundari. He had expected Mayana to give an identical reply and thus please him, but Mayana had total faith in the religious philosophy she had studied at length. She therefore replied: “O father! The great king! With due respect to you, all the comfort that you provide me are only because of my meritorious (Punya) Karma. Everyone gets whatever is written in his or her destiny due to his or her Karma. You yourself cannot give or take away anything.”
The king was exasperated to hear the unexpected reply. He repeatedly asked her to consider how she could have obtained anything but for his generosity. Mayana replied that everything right from her being born as his daughter up to her present situation could occur solely as a consequence of her good or bad Karmas, and no one or nothing could have made any difference. The king grew angry from her unexpected persistence. He could not believe that the girl could have received anything but for his favor. He could not believe that everything happens according to one’s own Karma.
He therefore decided to teach her a lesson and asked his men to find the ugliest man in Ujjain. The men spotted Umar Rana and brought him to the court. In utter disdain, the king instantly got Mayana married to Umar Rana and undergo the result of her Karma. Mayana was deeply religious and thus gladly accepted Shripal (Umar Rana) as her husband. However, she was saddened from the fact that due to this incident, people started ridiculing the theory of Karma and Jainism.
Thus, the very next day she went to the temple to worship Lord Adinath. During Chaityavandan, the flower necklace offered to lord miraculously appeared on Shripal’s neck. Considering it as a pious omen , Mayana visited Acharyashri Munichandra Suri and narrated her tale. She humbly said that it was not Shripal’s disease that was troubling her, but she could not stand the ridicule of people towards Jainism. The Acharya being a well-known scholar of the time, advised them to worship Siddhachakra and go through the penance of Ayambil Oli for 9 days (Read more about Ayambil Oli in Footnote 2 appended at the end of the post).
Accordingly, Mayana and Shripal observed the worship of Siddhachakra and penance of Ayambil with all devotion. The result was miraculous; Shripal’s skin disease started fading with each passing day and got totally cured of leprosy by the end of the penance. On the 9th day, they celebrated “Snatra Puja” (a ritual celebrating the birth of the lord) and cured the disease of 700 lepers (led by Shripal) by sprinkling the Navhan Jal of the lord (holy water from which Abhishek is conducted on the Lord’s idol). Since the change was brought about by devotion to Siddhachakraji and Ayambil, both of them continued to observe the Ayambil Oli for years to come with complete devotion.
Read Part II by clicking here
Glimpse of Part II
- What is the structure of Siddhachakra Mahayantra?
- What are Navpad's ? What are its Attributes?
- What are Swar-Vyanjan's-Anahats?
- What are 48 Labdhi's?
- What are Gurupaduka's?
- Which Adhishtayak Dev's are worshipped in Siddhachakra?
- Who are Jayadevis?
- Who are Vidyadevi's?
- Who are 24 Yaksha's - Yakshinis?
- Who are 4 Dwarpaal's - Veerpaal's?
- Who are 10 Digpaal's?
- Who are Navgrah's?
- What are Navnidhis?
Footnote 1: Extinction of 14 Purva’s
The knowledge contained in the Agam’s was transmitted orally (and not written) by the Acharya’s to their disciple saints. In the passage of time, the knowledge of Purva’s became fairly vulnerable after Lord Mahavir's nirvaan (liberation) and on account of effects of famines; eventually only Acharya Shri Bhadrabahu Swami had a command over it. He refused to teach the last four Purvas to his chief disciple Acharya Sthulibhadra, who had previously used his knowledge of the Purvas to display his powers. Acharya Bhadrabahu, foreseeing the loss of the Purvas and a decline of morality and conduct, ultimately agreed to teach Sthulibhadra the rest of the Purvas, on the condition that he should not hand down the last four Purvas to anybody else. Hence, Acharya Sthulibhadra, in turn, taught his disciples Mahagiri and Suhastin only ten Purvas, for he was forbidden to teach the last four Purvas to anybody. Gradually, with the growth of schisms and the inability of monks to commit the scriptures to memory, the knowledge of the Purvas became extinct.
Footnote 2: Ayambil Oli
Ayambil is a type of external tapasya (under Ras Tyag), scientifically designed to give benefits to mind, body and soul. The fast of Ayambil is observed to attain spiritual upliftment through the achievement of victory over taste and to shed karmic bondage. This fast observed by having only one meal a day of plain food without containing any spices, milk (or milk products), sugar (or any form of jaggery), salt (except a specific salt), oil, butter, fruits or vegetables. Post the meal one can have only boiled water only till sunset. This penance is to be observed for nine days (dedicated to each of 9 Pads), twice a year, during the month of March/April (Chaitra) and September/October (Ashwin) which is known as Ayambil Oli. Scriptures state that Vigai (taste) is the house of enemy and the one who conquers the taste buds, takes a step forward in conquering one’s soul.
- Shri Siddhachakra Mahapujan Vidhi
- Shri Shripal Raja no Raas by Upadhyay Shri Vinayavijayji Maharaja and Mahopadhyaya Shri Yashovijayji Maharaj
- Shri Siddhachakra Aradhana ane tena Rahasyo by Chandrakant Mehta
- Shri Siddhachakra Aaradhan, Keshariyaji Mahatirth by Munishri Jinratna Sagarji 'Rajhans'
- Online resources like Jinvachan Blogspot, Jainworld and Wikipedia