The Chakravartin and his Precious Possessions

We are glad to present a rare and unusual “Chakravartin Mandala”
Nepal - 16th century - paint on cotton - 1090 x 22 cm - 430 x 9 inches “

Chakravartin or “universal monarch or emperor” literally means “wheel turner” or “ a wheel that travels everywhere without obstruction”. It refers to the Sun, the Discus of Vishnu and the trasmission of the Doctrine for the buddhists. The turning of the wheel symbolises both secular and religious authority: it denotes change, movement, conquest, the formation of a new ethical and moral order. The delivrance of the Buddhist teachings are known as “turning the wheel of dharma”.
The concept of the Chakravartin probably arose from the Vaishnavite ideal of the “mahapurusha” or “great man”. Such a being is destined to become a world leader and, like the Buddha, there can be only one chakravartin at any one time.
The birth of a chakravartin heralds the onset of seven wealths or abundance which arise in the realm; a wealth of faith, morality, honesty , modesty, learning, renunciation and wisdom.

At the time of his birth his seven precious jewels or possessions also appears simultaneously: the precious wheel, jewel,queen,minister,elephant,horse and general.
The seven possessions are “the property” of the chakravartin and karmically come into existence as his “mandala”.
The wheel and jewel are both symbols of his temporal and spiritual majestsy, and the miraculous means of its accomplishment. The horse and the elephant as symbols of speed and strength, are his vehicles. The queen, minister and general are his trinity of love, wisdom, and power: their fidelity, his blessing.
An auxiliary or lesser group of seven jewels also accompanies the rule of the chakravartin.
These are the sword, the naga skin, the throne, the robes, the boots, the palace and the palace gardens. These seven secondary jewels represent the material inheritance or attributes of the chakravartin.

A third group of seven auspicious royal jewels also occur as insignia or emblems of the chakravartin possessions. These comprise the rhinoceros horn, the square earrings of the minister, a branch of precious coral, the round earrings of the queen, the insignia of the general, a pair of elephants tusks, and a triple-eyed gem enclosed in a trefoil gold mount.
These seven symbols represent the precious horse, minister, wheel, queen, general, elephant and jewel respectively. As a single or composite group these seven insignia are very commonly placed as offerings before the deities.

The chakravartin is, first and foremost, a righteous universal monarch who rules purely through compassion and wisdom. The divine human form realises its perfection in the non-dual identification of the chakravartin and bodhisattva ideals.

re. “R.Beer, The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs”

 

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