The Dreams of Queen Trishala

Posted: 22.09.2010
Updated on: 30.03.2011

The Dreams of Queen Trishala

Tirthankar Mahavir’s soul was an angel in the tenth heaven before being born as Prince Vardhaman. At midnight on the sixth day of the bright half of Ashadh, his Ayushya Karma ended, and so did his life as an angel. His soul came to earth and was conceived in the womb of a Brahmin lady named Devananda. That night, Devananda had 14 unusual and great dreams. She woke up and told her husband about the dreams. He told her that their son would be a great one and gifted with many virtues. After 82 days, on the thirteenth day of the month of Aaso, Saudharma Indra, the King of Angels was in his court. His throne started shaking, so he used his Avadhijnan, a special mental power through which one can see distant things, to see what was going on. He learned that Lord Mahavir’s soul was conceived in Devananda’s womb. For a moment, he was puzzled, but then he realized that this was the result of Lord Mahavir’s gotra karmas from his previous life. He said to himself, "No, Tirthankar Bhagwan is never born in a low status family. This should not happen to Mahavir. I will move his soul to a high status family." Saudharma summoned Angel Harinaigamesin to his court and commanded him to transplant the fetus from the womb of Devananda to the womb of Queen Trishala, the wife of King Siddharth, and to put Queen Trishala’s fetus in Devananda’s womb.

Angel Harinaigameshin left the court of King Saudharma Indra to go to Devananda’s home. With his divine speed, he soon arrived at the bed side of Devananda and paid his reverence to the soul of Lord Mahavir. With his divine power, he put Devananda into a deep sleep, removed the fetus and then left to go to Queen Trishala’s palace.

Again with his divine speed, he reached Queen Trishala’s palace within a very short time. He used his divine power to put Queen Trishala into a deep sleep and then he performed the exchange of the fetuses. Once again, he paid reverence to Lord Mahavir’s soul. Then he left with the fetus of Queen Trishala and went to Devananda’s home to replace the fetus in her womb. (Digambars do not believe in the fetus transfer part.) That night, Queen Trishala had those fourteen great dreams. The dreams filled her with wonder and joy. She woke up her husband, King Sidharth and told him what she saw in the fourteen dreams. He told her that those dreams seemed very auspicious. The next day, King Siddharth summoned the scholars to his court and asked them about the meaning of these dreams.

Digambar sect does not believe prince Vardhaman being conceived by Devananda.

The first dream Queen Trishala had was of an Elephant. It was a big, tall, and an impetuous with four tusks. It was an auspicious elephant, and was endowed with all the desirable marks of excellence.

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This dream indicated that she would give birth to a child with exceptionally high character. The four tusks signified that he would guide the spiritual chariot with its four components: monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen.


The second dream Queen Trishala had was of a Bull. The bull was noble, grand, and had a majestic hump. It had the fine, bright, and soft hairs on its body. Its horns were superb and sharply-pointed.

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This dream indicated that her son would be highly religious and a great spiritual teacher. He would help cultivate the religion.


The third dream Queen Trishala had was of a Magnificent Lion. His claws were beautiful and well poised. The lion had a large well-rounded head and sharp teeth. His lips were perfect and his eyes were sharp and glowing. His tail was impressively long and well shaped. Queen saw this lion descending towards her and entering her mouth.

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This dream indicated that her son would be as powerful and strong as the lion. He would be fearless, almighty, and capable of ruling the world.


The fourth dream Queen Trishala had was of the Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity, and power. She was seated on a lotus and wore many rows of pearls interlaced with emeralds and a garland of gold. A pair of earrings hung over her shoulders with dazzling beauty.

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This dream indicated that her son would enjoy great wealth and splendor. He would be a Tirthankar, the supreme benefactor of all.


The fifth dream Queen Trishala had was of a Beautiful Garland descending from the sky. It smelled mixed fragrances of different flowers. The flowers bloomed during the different seasons. The whole universe was filled with their fragrance.

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This dream indicated that the fragrance of her son's teaching will spread throughout the universe, and he would be respected by all.


The sixth dream Queen Trishala had was of a Full Moon. It was a very auspicious sight. The moon was at its full glory. It was as bright as a star. It awoke the lilies to full bloom.

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This dream indicated that the child would help lessen the suffering of the all living beings. He would bring the peace to the world. He would help the spiritual progress of entire humanity at large.


The seventh dream Queen Trishala had was of the Bright Sun. The sun was shining to destroy the darkness. It was as bright as the flames of the forest fire. The sun rose and ended the evil activities of the creatures who thrive at night.

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This dream indicated that her son would have the supreme knowledge and would dispel the darkness of the delusions.


The eighth dream Queen Trishala had was of a Large Flag flying on a golden stick. The flag fluttered softly and auspiciously in the gentle breeze. It attracted the eyes of the all. A radiant lion was pictured on it.

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This dream indicated that her son would carry the banner of the religion. He would reinstate the religious order throughout the universe.

The ninth dream Queen Trishala had was of a Golden Vase filled with the clear water. It was a magnificent, beautiful, and bright vase. It was decorated with a garland.

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This dream indicated that her son would be perfect in all virtues and would be full of compassion for all living beings. He would be a supreme religious personality.


The tenth dream Queen Trishala had was of a Lake full of Lotuses. Thousands of lotuses were floating in the lake, and they all bloomed and opened at the touch of the sun's rays. The lotuses had a very sweet fragrance.

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This dream indicated that her son would be beyond worldly attachment. He would help liberate human beings who were tangled in the cycles of birth, death, and misery.


The eleventh dream Queen Trishala had was of an Ocean. Its water rose in all the directions to great heights. The wind blew gently and created the waves.

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This dream indicated that her son would have a serene and pleasant personality. He would achieve the infinite perception and knowledge and would escape from worldly life which is the ocean of birth and death and the misery. This would lead his soul to Moksha (liberation).


The twelfth dream Queen Trishala had was of a Celestial plane. The plane resounded with celestial music. It was saturated with the pleasant and spiritual aroma of the incense.

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This dream indicated that all of the Angels in the heaven would respect, honor, and salute her son's spiritual teachings.


The thirteenth dream Queen Trishala had was of a Big Heap of Jewels. It was a mixture of all types of gems and precious stones.

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This dream indicated that her son would have infinite virtues and wisdom and he would attain the supreme spirit.


The fourteenth dream Queen Trishala had was of a Smokeless Fire. The fire burned with great intensity, but there was no smoke.

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This dream indicated that her son would reform and restore the religious order. He would remove blind faith and orthodox rituals. Furthermore, he would burn or destroy his karmas and attain salvation.

Some scriptures say that Queen Trishala had sixteen dreams.


The fifteenth dream was of a Pair of Fish which indicated that her son would be extremely handsome.

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The sixteenth dream was of a Lofty Throne which indicated that her son would have a very high spiritual status.

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To summarize the indication of all these dreams is that the child to be born would be very strong, courageous, and filled with virtues. He would be very religious and would become a great king or a spiritual leader. He would reform and restore the religious order and guide all the creatures of the universe to attain salvation. He would also be liberated.

Lord Mahavira was born on the thirteenth day of the bright half of the month Chaitra, five hundred and forty-three years before the Vikram Era, that is in 599 B. C.


The Motif of the Auspicious Dreams in Jaina Miniature Painting

According to the Kalpasutra Mahavira's primal intent was to incarnate as the son of the Brahmani Devananda. This occasion had been announced to Devananda by sixteen auspicious dreams. But when god Shakra was aware of Mahavira's descent from heaven and to be born to the Brahmani, he instructed Harinaigameshin to remove the embryo from Devananda's womb and transfer to queen Trishala, since a future Jina had to be descended from a Kshatriya family. So Trishala had the same sixteen auspicious dreams.

 

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A modern painting (late 19th or early 20th century) depicting queen Trishala sleeping with the pictured dreams above.

 

These dreams are a common motif of the Jaina miniature paintings right from the beginning. In the manuscripts the dreams of Devananda are usually pictured first, followed by the same depiction of Trishalas dreams. Both scenes are painted in an equal iconographic manner and are mostly indistinguishable.

 

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Brahmani Devananda and the fourteen auspicious dreams. Miniature painting of an undated Kalpasutra manuscript (c. 15th century CE) from Hamsavijayaji collection, Atmanand Jain Gyan Mandir, Baroda (Ref.: S. M. Nawab, The Life of Lord Shri Mahavira, Ahmedabad 1978, Fig. 28).

 

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Queen Trishala and the fourteen auspicious dreams. Miniature painting of an undated manuscript (c. late 14th century CE) from Sri Jaisalmera Gnana Bhandar, Jaisalmer (Ref.: S. M. Nawab, The Life of Lord Shri Mahavira, Ahmedabad 1978, Fig. 29).

 

The dreams are usually imaged as pictograms. Additionally some manuscripts contain separate depictions of single dreams or the pictograms are composed around an picture of goddess Lakshmi, who appears in one of the dreams herself.

 

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The fourteen auspicious dreams, arranged around a picture of goddess Lakshmi who appears in one of the dreams herself. Miniature painting of an undated manuscript (c. 15th century CE) from Sri Kantivijayaji collection in Atmanand Jain Gnana Mandir, Baroda (Ref.: S. M. Nawab, The Life of Lord Shri Mahavira, Ahmedabad 1978, Fig. 31).

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