Article: Siddhacakra

The siddhacakra is the mystical diagram – yantra – associated with the Navkār-mantra in the Śvetāmbara tradition. Digambara Jains call it the navpadjī. It consists of nine parts, representing each of the Five Highest Beings and ‘three jewels’ of Jain tradition, along with a quality often called the ‘fourth jewel’.

The yantra is venerated in a variety of ceremonies, including those associated with the Āyambil Oḷī festival and fast. The siddhacakra is particularly linked with the story of Śrīpāḷ and Mayṇāsundarī. It is the most commonly used yantra in contemporary Jainism.

Structure of the siddhacakra

This manuscript painting of a Svetāmbara siddhacakra shows the five highest beings in Jain belief, depicted in different colours. The petals in between contain Sanskrit mantras praising the 'four fundamentals'. It is a visual summary of key Jain doctrines

Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

The Jain siddhacakra is a stylised flower with eight petals surrounding a central circle. The centre and four of the petals bear depictions of the five highest beings in Jain theology. These alternate with petals showing the symbols of the ‘three jewels‘ of:

The last petal contains the sign for what is frequently thought of as the ‘fourth jewel’ – ‘right austerity‘. These nine features are essential to reaching liberation, which is the ultimate aim of all Jains.

The five highest beings shown on the siddhacakra account for its close association with the Navkār-mantra. The mantra also glorifies the highest beings in Jain liberation ideology:

In the grander siddhacakra mahā-pūjā the siddhacakra yantra is surrounding by rings of protector deities including the gods of the directions and the nine planetary deities. Digambara Jains have a yantra called the ‘nine deities’ – nava-devatā – which is similar in form and use.

Rituals involving the siddhacakra

Most Śvetāmbara temples have several siddhacakrayantras made from pañca-dhatu metals. These yantras are ritually bathed and worshipped with sandalwood paste alongside images of the Jinas.

There are several rituals involving the siddhacakra. It is especially linked with the festival of Āyambil Oḷī and its associated fast. The worship of the siddhacakra is a key part of the tale of Śrīpāḷ and Mayṇāsundarī and partly accounts for the yantra’s popularity among contemporary Jains.

Āyambil Oḷī

The siddhacakra is the central object of veneration in the ritual practices associated with the Āyambil Oḷī festival. The festival and the associated fast are believed to promote marital wellbeing and good health.

During the Āyambil Olī, the yantra is installed separately and worshipped daily by those who are performing the fast. On some occasions, the yantra is created out of grains in a mandala form on the temple floor and worshipped, though not bathed.

Siddhacakra mahāpūjā

The siddhacakra mahā-pūjā is often performed to celebrate and bless important life moments in a sponsor’s life and as a protective rite for those in difficult circumstances.

The ceremony entails creating a mandala form of the siddhacakra on the floor of the temple. This mandala is then worshipped with offerings placed on the various segments in turn.

Purpose and source of siddhacakra rituals

This manuscript painting shows three episodes in the colourful adventures of Prince Śrīpāla. A favourite Jain hero, Śrīpāla is closely connected with the worship of the navapada or siddhacakra, which aids him when he faces danger

Śrīpāla’s adventures
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

Jains who use the siddhacakra as a devotional aid hope to encourage the happiness of husband and wife and, more generally, good health and riches. These hopes explain some of the widespread worship of this yantra.

The rituals associated with the siddhacakra are drawn mostly from the example of the worship of the siddhacakra in the well-known story of Śrīpāḷ and Mayṇāsundarī.

Mayṇāsundarī heals the leprosy of her husband Śrīpāḷ by performing the Āyambil Oḷī and the worship of the siddhacakra. Later, Śrīpāḷ’s worship of the siddhacakra protects him from storms, thieves, disease and other misfortune, and grants him great wealth and happiness.

The strong associations of the story of Śrīpāḷ and Mayṇāsundarī and their marital contentment with the siddhacakra are powerful reasons for the continuing popularity of the yantra.


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