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Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (1) : Kālacakra and Kulakaras

Published: 20.03.2016

According to the Jain holy texts (śāstras), the world has been progressing with a constant momentum since beginning less time. Change is the natural, permanent and innate quality of every living non-living thing. The entire ostensible / visible world is permanent / constant when compared to the fundamental matter / substance, but being ever changing, is equivalent to being transient. The cycle of night after day, again day after night, light after darkness and darkness after light, coming and going and coming again and return has been incessant since time immemorial. Rise and prosperity thereafter and the climax of prosperity and the fall followed by complete decline and rise again. In this way the world's incessant sequence has been continuing. This cycle of downfall and rise to excellence in the world is termed avasarpiṇī (regressive half cycle) and utsarpiṇī (progressive half cycle).Declining happiness period is the time moving towards the ebb like the waning of the moon in the dark fortnight and utsarpiṇī period is the period that rises towards excellence like the moon continuously rising in the bright fortnight.

Declining happiness period's declining time sequence is divided into 6 parts: 1. Suṣamā-Suṣamā (sukhamā-sukhamī or happy-happy) of 4 koḍ ākoḍīsāgara years duration;  Suṣamā (sukhamī or happy) of 3 koḍ ākoḍīsāgara years duration;  Suṣamā-suṣama (sukhamā-sukhamī or happy-unhappy) of 2 koḍ ākoḍīsāgara years duration; duṣamā -Suṣama (dukhamā-sukhamī  or unhappy-happy) of 42,000 years less than one koḍ ākoḍīsāgara years duration; duṣama (dukhamī - unhappy) of 21,000 years duration; duṣamā duṣama (dukhamā-dukhamī or unhappyunhappy) of 21,000 years. Similarly the sequence of excellent time, the utsarpiṇī, is also divided into 6 parts in the reverse order of the declining happiness. Avasarpiṇī and utsarpiṇī together make for 20 kodakodi sāgara, one cycle (Kālacakra) of time.

At this time we are all going through the declining happiness cycle. The first ārā (time sequence or period) of the declining happiness cycle is enriched with superlative form, taste, smell, touch and prosperity par excellence. In that time, living beings get all their life-needs met without any effort through the kalpavŗkṣa (the wish fulfilling tree). Hence their life is immersed in self and extremely joyful. There is no reason for frivolousness and conflicting thoughts in an intoxicated human mind enjoying natural and conveniently available material things. A human being of that time was free from all worries and spent a life of material happiness. This was called the age of enjoying material pleasures (or worldly things; sensual pleasures).

Because of the changing quality of nature, there comes a gradual change in that situation and that period of preeminence on this earth with time moves towards degeneration. Consequently, the qualities of form, taste, and charm (sweetness) of the earth decay subsequently decays and its impact is felt on a human being as well, whose physical development and mental peace and happiness also start to degenerate / decay.

Even as a man's material wellbeing decreases, and he has to face dearth of essential things of life, his peaceful mind becomes a centre of conflicting thoughts. "Deficiency gives birth to the demon tendencies" – according to this dictum along with deficiency (lack) conflicting thoughts and accusations also rise. In this manner when more than half the time of the third ārā of the declining happiness cycle has passed, the earth's qualities of form, taste, smell, fertility, etc. deteriorates to a great extent. Source materials for livelihood are not available in adequate quantity on account of the kalpavŗkṣa vanishing or decreasing in their potency to fulfill the wishes. In the unexpected (inexperienced) situation of scarcity animalistic tendencies of anger, greed, deceit, enmity, opposition rise to the extent of taking the form of a forest fire the entire human society starts to burn in. When the unbearable fire of disquietude reaches its climax man becomes restless for peace.

Consequently, some special, talented people from that human society, taking the opportunity, arise like a concealed seed from the earth, to show direction of peace to the terrified people.

Situation in the early times and the era of the Kulakaras

People endowed with special strength, knowledge (intelligence) and talents who establish the kulas (lineages) are called kulakaras. They make a temporary arrangement which solves the immediate problem partially. When the problems assume a bigger proportion beyond the capability of the kulakaras, then due to timely influences and the good fortune of people, an extraordinarily illustrious person is born; as a brilliant gem among men, he sets people on the right path by imparting to them the knowledge of religion, thereby leading them towards the right path of peace and happiness. This is the time when the social and religious history of humankind commences, a brief introduction of which is as follows:

Men of the times prior to Lord Vṛṣabhanātha were by nature peaceful, physically healthy and ones who led independent / free lives. They lacked in matters of worldly decorum / propriety. They behaved in a spontaneous manner, neither accepting help and services of others nor offering the same to others. They lived on the fruits borne by ten kinds of kalpavṛkṣas[1] and were untouched by any kind of disease or despair. With quantitative decline in the things accruing from the kalpavŗkṣa, mutual conflicts rose in order to address the lack and to fulfill needs. At that point they divided themselves into smaller families. Those who established these families became known as kulakaras. The main kulakaras were: - 1 Vimalavāhana, 2 Cakṣuṣmāna, 3 Yaśasvī, 4 Abhicandra, 5 Prasenajita, 6 Marudeva and 7 Nābhi. There is divided opinion amongst writers about the number of kulakaras. JambūdvīpaPrajṅapti refers to 15 kulakaras.

Vimalavāhana was the first kulkara. Once while roaming in the forest, a beautiful white elephant saw a human yugala (male of twin brother sister) and placed him on its back. When people saw the yugala thus seated on a bright vehicle they called him Vimalavāhana and, considering him to be powerful since he was astride an elephant, they made him their leader. On becoming a leader Vimalavāhana prescribed duties for everyone and punishment for those violating them.

When someone violated the code he would be punished by humiliating him exclaiming, "Hā, what did you do!" For a shameful and reticent person of those times this was seen as severe a punishment as losing everything and he would never indulge in any criminal deed thereafter. This method of punishment ("hā" kāra–admonition) continued for a long time. After some time the pair of Vimalavāhana and Candrajasā gave birth to the second kulakar pair Cakṣuṣmāna. In the same way, the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh kulakaras were born. Since they established human families, they were called kulakaras. The hākāra mode of punishment carried on in the time of Vimalavāhana and Cakṣuṣmāna. When the word "hā" did not work with a criminal the use of "mā", or "do not" was used. This stopped people from doing criminal acts. This came to be known as the "mā" kāra" method and continued till the time of the third and fourth kulakaras. Due to the harshness of the times and rudeness of behaviour when "hākāra" and "mā kāra" methods started to decline in impact, the dhikkāra (reprimand) method began to be used which continued in the times of the fifth, sixth and seventh kulakaras.

Kulakaras: an analysis

In the latter half of the third part of the third Āraka of the avasarpiṇī (regressive half) cycle when earth's fertility declined, the production of fruits from the kalpavṛkṣas too decreased. In that period those who depended on the kalpavṛkṣas started arguing among themselves over the notion of ownership of those trees. When this conflict assumed the form of dispute, spreading chaos, people agreed to choose a special talented person as their leader to end the conflict and maintain order. This way, many kulas were formed and the person managing the kulas came to be known as kulakara. Even if there is unanimity about the system and role of kulakaras opinion is divided in the scriptures when it comes to the number of kulakaras. The Jain āgamas – Sthānāṃga, Samavāyāṃga and Bhagavatī and Āvaśyakacūrṇi and Āvaśyakaniryukti talk of 7-7 kulakaras, viz.:- 1 Vimalavāhana, 2 Cakṣuṣmāna, 3 Yaśomāna, 4 Abhicandra, 5 Prasenajita, 6 Marudeva and 7 Nābhi. But Mahāpurāṇa mentions 14 and Jambūdvīpaprajṅapti speaks of 15 kulakaras.

Paumacariyaṃ in Jambūdvīpa Prajṅaptiadds Vṛṣabhanātha to the list of 14 to make it 15 kulakaras, which is not problematic even if it differs in terms of the required number. Leaving out the first six kulakaras of the 14 and the 11th, Candrābha, the remaining 7 names are in keeping with the Sthānāṃga. It is possible that the first 6 kulakaras, who looked after the welfare of people and guided them, and unlike the last 7 kulakaras, did not take active part in the system of punishment, etc, hence were considered only secondary in importance. In the same way, Vṛṣabhanātha is considered the first king for having ended the system of twins and establishing a new kingdom, and is not considered one of the kulakaras and it is possible that the Jambūdvīpa Prajñapti took the common meaning of kula as a community and counted him among the big kulakaras.

This description in Jain literature is also found in the Vedic literature. There the term manu is used in place of kulakaras. Probably their contemplative character is a reason behind the title 'manu." Manusmṛti talks of seven illustrious manus like the seven kulakaras of the Sthānāṃgasūtra – Svayambhū, Svārociṣa, Uttama, Tāmasa, Raivata, Cākṣuṣa and Vaivasvata.

Other 14 manus are also mentioned among whom Sāvarṇi, Dakṣasāvarṇi, Brahmasāvarṇi, Dharmasāvarṇi, Rudrasāvarṇi, Raucyadevasāvarṇi, Indrasāvarṇi, following the seventh manu, are mentioned in Śrīmad Bhāgavata as Aṣṭama-manu.

Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa mentions 5 Sāvarṇi after Vaivasvata, along with Raucya and Bhautya, as seven more manus. 14 manus are referred to in Matsyapurāṇa, Daivī Bhāgavata and Viṣṇu Purāṇa including the manus from Svāyaṃbhuva to Sāvarṇi and following them, Raucya, Bhautya, Meru Sāvarṇi, Ṛbhu, Ṛtudhāmā and Viśvakasena.

The time-period of 14 manus is considered to be a thousand yugas (epochs). For an elaborate introduction of the manus 9th to 21st chapters of Matsyapurāṇa and the 421st to 509th hymns of the 4thmahādhikāra of the Jain text Tiloyapaṇṇatti are worth reading.

The above comparative evaluation throws good light on the historicity of the ancient order of Indian people.


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Title: Jain Legend: Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (1)
Acharya Hasti Mala
Shugan C. Jain
Publisher: Samyakjnana Pracaraka Mandala, Jaipur
Edition: 2011
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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anger
  2. Avasarpiṇī
  3. Deceit
  4. Dhikkāra
  5. Greed
  6. Jambūdvīpa
  7. Kula
  8. Kulakara
  9. Kālacakra
  10. Manu
  11. Meru
  12. Prajñapti
  13. Purāṇa
  14. Utsarpiṇī
  15. Vedic
  16. Vṛṣabhanātha
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