Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (2): Ācārya Sayyaṃbhava

Published: 09.05.2016

After Lord Mahāvīra's third successor Prabhava Swāmī, in 75 V.N. Ācārya Sayyaṃbhava became the fourth Pontiff. He was a great scholar and a Brahmin of Vatsa lineage. At the age of 28, impressed by the sermons of Ācārya Prabhava Swāmī, he got initiated into Śramaṇa Dharma, leaving his young wife behind.

Seeing the young wife left helpless, the townspeople grieved, "None else in the world can be as hard-hearted as Bhaṭṭa Sayyaṃbhava to leave behind a young, beautiful and chaste wife and embrace an ascetic life. At least if she had a son, she would have led her life with some hope and support and her life would not have been so arduous.

Bālarṣi (Child Monk) Maṇaka

The day Sayyaṃbhava took initiation, the same day the women in the neighborhood asked his wife, "Sarale! Do you hope that you have the light of the Bhaṭṭafamily in your womb?"

The demure face of Sayyaṃbhava's wife blushed like a rising sun, who trying to conceal her face in her sari, answered them with a little smile in the then prevalent language, "Maṇagaṃ" (Maṇaka) which means - Yes! There is something.

The news spread at lightning speed from ear to ear, to the kinsmen of Sayyaṃbhava Bhaṭṭa and to the town-dwellers and everyone was delighted and felt contented.

The birth of a son in the Sayyaṃbhava family at that time was like a sprinkling of the nectar of hope in the distressed life of his mother. The word she said "Maṇagaṃ" announced his arrival into this world; hence the boy was named "Maṇaka". His mother showered lot of affection and fulfilled her responsibilities both as a father as well as a mother in upbringing him.

Like the moon in the second phase, the boy Maṇaka grew up and entered into his eighth year; he played with the boys of his age and at the same time studied well. Right from the beginning the boy, Maṇaka was an affectionate and polite child. One day he asked his mother, "My dear mother! I never saw my father, please tell me who is my father and where he is?"

His mother trying hard to control the budding ocean of tears bravely said, "Child! Your father had taken initiation of Śramaṇa Dharma when you were in my womb. I brought you up as a single mother. Son! Just like you have not seen your father, your father also has not seen you yet. Your father is Sayyaṃbhava Bhaṭṭa. When you were in my womb, he was performing a Yajṅa. At that time, two Jain Śramaṇas arrived there. He was carried away by their words and sacrificed me and the household and took renunciation as Jain-Śramaṇa. This is the reason why your father and yourself have not met or seen each other"

Hearing the entire story about his father, the boy Maṇaka yearned to see his father Sayyaṃbhava Ācārya and so one day taking the permission of his mother set out to go and meet his father.

During those days, Ārya Sayyaṃbhava along with his group of disciples was wandering through various villages and cities and happened to come to Campāpurī. Incidentally, the boy Maṇaka who was roaming here and there in search of his father reached Campāpurī. In fact if one has a strong and true aspiration he eventually achieves it.

Because of his past good deeds Maṇaka's desire was fulfilled. Outside the city, he saw a monk who came to attend the nature's call to excrete. Maṇaka thought to himself, "He must definitely be a fellow-monk of my father" and felt very cheerful. He went closer to the monk and courteously bowed to him. The monk was also fascinated to see the handsome lotus-eyed boy and looked at him very affectionately. Looking at each other, they both spontaneously felt the waves of happiness rippling.

After the boy saluted him, the monk affectionately asked in a choked voice, "Son! Who are you? Who is your father? Where were you coming from and where are you going?"

The boy Maṇaka replied in a sweet voice, "Holy one! I am from the city of Rājagŗha, and the son of Sayyaṃbhava Bhaṭṭa, a Brahmin of Vatsa Gotra. My name is Maṇaka. When I was in my mother's womb, my father left all his worldly belongings including my devoted mother and took renunciation. After wandering various cities and villages in search of my father I have come here. Swāmī! If you know the whereabouts of my father please let me know where he is. If I meet him once, I will take renunciation from him and serve at his holy feet."

Hearing such words from the boy Maṇaka, what emotions might have crossed the mind of Ārya Sayyaṃbhava, cannot be comprehended, unless one experiences the same.

As solemn as an ocean, Ārya Sayyaṃbhava with great composure said in a friendly tone, "Long live Son! I know your father. He is in no way different from me, neither in soul nor in body. You can regard me as him and take initiation from me"

Maṇaka remained with the Saint and the latter brought him along towards the monastery (upasray).

After coming to the monastery (where the Monks live temporarily), when Maṇaka came to know from the other monks that the Saint whom he accompanied with to the Upāshraya, is none other than Ārya Sayyaṃbhava, without outwardly expressing his overwhelming joy, he was delighted in his heart. With overwhelming devotion and ecstasy he fell on the feet of his father and prayed, "Lord! Kindly initiate me into Śramaṇa monkhood immediately, now I cannot stay away from you."

Seeing the burning desire in the boy Maṇaka, Ārya Sayyaṃbhava granted him vows of celibacy and sell restraint from all sinful activities as per Śramaṇa Dharma. Maṇaka, who was a playful boy till yesterday, has taken to the true path of liberation today as a child - monk. The impact of the virtuous deeds of previous births is such that it neither needs advice nor inspiration.

Composition of Daśavaikālika

After taking initiation, when Maṇaka totally surrendered himself to Sayyaṃbhava, the latter started thinking about the spiritual elevation of Maṇaka. Using his meditative power he foresaw that the child – monk Maṇaka has only six months to live. Within such a short span of time how will he become a scholar in right knowledge and right conduct and how will he elevate himself spiritually? While contemplating over this issue, it occurred to Sayyaṃbhava that under exceptional circumstances, a transcendental scholar of ten Pūrvas can abridge the essence of these texts for the benefit of either himself or for others. Sayyaṃbhava felt that he has a justifiable cause as 'Maṇaka" was soon going to leave this world and thought of doing something for his benefit. So he decided to take the essence of the 'Pūrvas' and compose a Sūtra (collection of aphorisms on Jain canons).

Resolving thus, Sayyaṃbhava took the essence of different Pūrvas and composed a Sūtra of ten chapters. Maṇaka was then approximately 8 years old. After 72 V.N., in 73 V.N., the Sūtra was written during the life time of Prabhava Swāmī. As the Sūtra was concluded during twilight, it was named as Daśavaikālika. Ācārya Sayyaṃbhava himself made Maṇaka read the text and practice contemplation on them. Monk Maṇaka with his humility, obedience and quest of knowledge, within a short time, became the true worshipper of right Knowledge and right conduct.

When Ārya Sayyaṃbhava saw the imminent death of Maṇaka drawing near, he appropriately made him perform the essential final activities like self-criticism of current flaws (ālocanā) etc. which will benefit him in his final journey. Monk Maṇaka also within a limited time of just six months observed Śramaṇa Dharma sincerely and reached heaven after his death. The short life of Maṇaka and his sudden death after practicing Spiritual exertion for a brief period, naturally filled Ācārya Sayyaṃbhava's heart with emotional grief and tears rolled down from his eyes. When the ascetics noticed the languid and tear-filled face of Sayyaṃbhava, they were surprised and enquired him in humility, "Lord! We never saw a glimpse of sorrow on your face till today; what is the reason for tears in your eyes today? There must be some strong reason for an absolute ascetic like you who is free from sorrow to be struck by grief. Please clarify our doubt."

In answer to their query, Ārya Sayyaṃbhava, disclosing their father and son relationship to the ascetics said, "At a very small age this child ascetic practiced pure conduct with right knowledge; he left the world when he was half way through his Spiritual-exertion. Hence I was overcome with tears. Had he lived for some more time, he would have successfully completed his Spiritual-exertion".

When the ascetics came to know that Maṇaka was his son they felt remorse and said, "Sir! Why did you keep this a secret that you and Maṇaka were father and son? Had we known earlier, we too would have benefitted serving the son of our Guru."

Ārya Sayyaṃbhava replied, "O Ascetics! Had you known earlier that Maṇaka was my son, you would not have accepted his services; and in turn because of your love and affection, he would have been deprived of the benefits of serving elders like you? So do not regret for this. Considering the little life span of the child monk, I extracted the summary of the Pūrva Scriptures and conceived a small scripture to facilitate him into right knowledge and right conduct. As the purpose is achieved, I now want to expunge terminate this Daśavaikālika Sūtra and assimilate it back into the Pūrva scriptures.

Hearing Ārya Sayyaṃbhava words, the Mokṣa and the congregation politely requested, "O Venerable one! The Śāstra you have created for the sake of Monk Maṇaka is helpful even today for less intelligent Monks and Female monks to gain knowledge of right conduct; and we are sure that it would also cater to the needs of similar Monks and Female monks of the future and enable them to easily understand and practice the self-restraint dharma. Hence we request you to retain it as it is and not to terminate this scripture."

Yielding to the request of the congregation, Ārya Sayyaṃbhava retained the "Daśavaikālika Sūtra" in its original form. Even today the Monks, Female monks, Votary's and Female-votaries are enjoying the fruits of his grace and boon by studying Daśavaikālika Sūtra and by progressing in the spiritual path.

The ten chapters of Daśavaikālika Sūtra are not meant for only attaining Mokṣa; it kindles the transcendental light in the life of every Spiritualpractitioner. The gist of the most significant spiritual principles propounded by him in ten chapters is as follows:

  1. In the first chapter named 'Druma Puṣpaka' he explained the Dharma as the doctrines of non-violence, self-restraint and penance. Ācārya Sayyaṃbhava abridged this vast doctrine / principles of the Jain philosophy into five verses thus filling the ocean into a vessel.
  2. In the second chapter 'Śrāmaṇaya Pūrvaka' he propounded some internal and external means of controlling the mind that tries to go astray from asceticism.
  3. In 'Kṣullakācāra', the third chapter he gave a list of 52 deeds that are not to be performed by an ascetic.
  4. In 'Ṣaḍjīvanikāya', the fourth chapter he briefly discussed the six types of jīvas (empirical souls) and suggested their protection.
  5. In the fifth chapter 'Piṇdaisṇā', in two Uddeśakas, he discussed about the rules of diet and the rules to be followed by the ascetics for taking alms.
  6. In 'Dharmārtha Kāma" the sixth chapter he discussed about the conduct to be followed by the ascetics and explained about the 18 places that should be avoided by an ascetic.
  7. In the seventh chapter 'Discoursea Śuddhi' he explained the categories of the spoken words and language and warned the Mokṣa to be wary of untruthful and blemished language and advised to adhere to truthful innocent and unartful language.
  8. In the eighth chapter 'Ācāra Praṇidhāna' he classified the rules of conduct of the Mokṣa.
  9. In Vinaya Samādhi, the ninth chapter, he imparted knowledge about humility in four Uddeśakas, and 1. Vinaya Samādhi, 2. Śruta Samādhi 3. Tapa Samādhi and 4. Ācāra Samādhi, along with four reasons for Samādhi are discussed.
  10. In the tenth chapter, 'Sahbhikṣu' - he explained who deserves the life of a monk, how to attain salvation, what is its medium, etc.; the ideal life of an ascetic is analyzed in essence, with limited vocabulary.

Apart from the Niryukti written by occult Ācārya Bhadrabāhu Swāmī (different from Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu) on Daśavaikālika, other remarkable commentaries are also available on it even in the present times.

The way the analysis of self-righteousness is presented in its totality, in a beautiful and organized manner in this text, cannot be seen in any other text.

After thoroughly studying & analyzing all the scriptures, Ācārya Sayyaṃbhava composed this canon that occupies a very important place in Jain literature.

Monk Maṇaka made it a point to read and contemplate the text in his daily routine. Thus within a short period of time he could practice perfectly the conduct o a monk which is very difficult to observe and progressing in the spiritual path in an astonishing way he finally reached heaven.

Ācārya Sayyaṃbhava attains heavenly abode

Ācārya Sayyaṃbhava was initiated into Jainism in 64 V.N., when he was 28 years old. He was an ordinary monk for 11 years and for 23 years he remained as Pontiff and served the congregation with utmost sincerity. When he became aware of his approaching death, he declared Yaśobhadra, his Chief disciple as his successor Pontiff and by observing fasting died while in meditation (Samādhi) in 98 V.N., at the age of 62.

The viewpoint of Digambaras According to the religious texts and Paṭṭāvalīs of Digambaras, the name of Nandimitra is seen in the place of Ācārya Sayyaṃbhava. In the Digambara Scriptures, however, there is no introduction of even Ācārya Nandimitra.


Title: Jain Legend: Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (2)
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. Body
  2. Brahmin
  3. Celibacy
  4. Contemplation
  5. Daśavaikālika
  6. Daśavaikālika Sūtra
  7. Dharma
  8. Digambara
  9. Digambaras
  10. Fasting
  11. Gotra
  12. Guru
  13. Jain Philosophy
  14. Jainism
  15. Kāma
  16. Meditation
  17. Mokṣa
  18. Niryukti
  19. Non-violence
  20. Pūrva
  21. Soul
  22. Sūtra
  23. Tapa
  24. Vinaya
  25. samādhi
  26. Ācāra
  27. Ācārya
  28. Śruta
  29. Śrutakevalī
  30. Śāstra
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