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Siddhasēna Divākara (Jain Prakrit: सिद्दसेन दिवाकर) was an acharya of Jainism in the fifth century CE. Siddhasēna was the best known Jain scholar of the time. He was like the illuminating lamp of the Jain order and therefore came to be known as Divākara "Lamp-Maker". He is credited with the authorship of many books but most of them unfortunately are not available. Sanmatitarka is his best book on logic and is widely read even at present. The Kalyāṇamandirastōtram was also composed by him.
Approximate 2000 years ago there lived a preceptor named Devarshi in the court of King Vikramaditya. Devarshi's son, Kumud (this was the birth name of Siddhasen Diwakar) was very handsome, smart and highly intelligent and so Devarshi sent him to the best monastery school of the time. There Kumud quickly mastered all the arts and sciences. Devarshi was very proud of his son. It was customary in those days to hold contests to determine who was more knowledgeable. Devarshi believed that Kumud would defeat anyone in such contests and Kumud did not believe his expectations. In a short amount of time, Kumud defeated everyone in the court of King Vikramaditya. From there he went to other prominent courts of India and was victorious every time. However these successive triumphs generated a sense of vanity in his mind and he started believing that there was no one was more learned than himself.
He announced for an open contest with any one who claimed superior knowledge and also vowed that if any one could beat him, he would instantly become the winner s disciple. No one however came forward to accept his challenge. This made him even more egotistical. His vanity now knew no bounds. He sewed the emblems of a lamp, a net, a fork, a ladder and a spade onto his clothes and when any one inquired about the purpose of such amazing emblems, he would say that they were meant for his rivals. If any of his opponents, out of fear of defeat, escaped in the dark, he would locate him with his lamp, if one escaped in water, he would trap him with the net, if one escaped in fire, he would get him out with the fork, if one escaped in the sky, he would bring him back with his ladder and if one escaped in the nether world, he would dig him out with the spade. At that time, Jain Acharya Vriddhivadi was the head of the Jain religious order. He was very learned but because he was a Jain saint he would not come out to challenge Kumud. Someone told Kumud that his universal conquest would remain incomplete until he vanquished the Jain Acharya.
Acharya Vriddhivadi was then camping at Mandu (Madhya Pradesh, India), a little away from Ujjayini (Ujjain). Kumud rode out to meet him, however, Jain monks do not stay at any one place very long. Accordingly the Acharya happened to move towards the next camp that very morning. As Kumud arrived in Mandu, he came to know that the Acharya had left. He felt that the Acharya was scared of him and had escaped knowing about his arrival. He sped towards the place where the Acharya was headed and intercepted him near the river Kshipra.
He informed the Acharya that he was Kumudchandra, the most learned man of India and since the latter claimed to be very learned, he had come to have a contest. The Jain Acharya was rather indifferent but Kumud insisted upon the contest. Acharya then suggested to have the contest in the nearby court but Kumud was rather impatient and insisted upon the contest right there with the ranchers of the Kshipra as their judges. Acharya had heard about Kumud and was aware of his reputation as a well known scholar. He saw that the knowledge of Kumud was obscured by the vanity, however he also visualized the immense contribution that Kumud could make to the religious order, if he accepted the Jain faith. Acharya thereupon agreed and asked Kumud to first make his presentation. Kumud seized that opportunity and started exposing the weakness of different schools of thought including Jainism. The ranchers had no idea what he was talking about. Then came the turn of the Jain Acharya. He knew the real caliber of the ranchers and asked them to form a circle and recite a song. Then with his melodious voice he started singing a song with the following lines:
"Nonviolence is the path of peace; That ultimately leads to bliss."
The ranchers liked the song and merrily recited the same in chorus. Simultaneously they played flute in tune. At the end of the song, Acharya said that he did not want to say anything else. Kumud was sure that he had made his exposition very well and asked the ranchers about the outcome. Ranchers unanimously declared Acharya to be the winner. Kumud immediately realized his folly. His vanity disappeared and he fell at the feet of the Jain Acharya begging him to accept him as the pupil.
Acharya however did not intend to take advantage of that unfair contest. He therefore declined the offer and asked Kumud to a rematch at a nearby court. Kumud replied that the "Acharya was his true preceptor because he made him realize that the real essence of knowledge lay in equanimity of mind and not in vanity with which his own knowledge had been clouded." At the insistence of the Acharya he however agreed to have one more contest in the nearby court where Acharya decisively defeated him. So Kumud became his pupil and was renamed Siddhasen that is known as Siddhasen Diwakar.
According to the tradition, Siddhasena Divakara once planned to translate all the Jaina works from prakrit to sanskrit. He was asked by his master to visit all the Jaina temples as a punishment. He thus visited the Jaina temples for twelve years. He then came upon a Linga temple in Ujjain. He slept at the temple with his feet towards the Linga, which is a symbol of Siva. King Vikramaditya had him beaten for the sin on request of the devotees. However, with miraculous powers, Siddhasena Divakara made that the King's wife received the beating instead of him. He was then set free. He broke the Linga by raising his hand and an idol of Parsva emerged from there.
He inspired the Jain monks to study profoundly the Jain scriptures. He himself devoted to the deep study of Jain works. He was bitterly opposed to the storage of Jain works in isolated places; he eagerly desired to bring them to light for the propagation of Jainism. He himself wrote collected and edited certain important Jain works. He complied the famous Kalyanmandir Stotra. It is a monumental work in Sanskrit poetry. Sanmatitarka is his best book on logic and is widely read even at present. He wrote well known Sakal tirth stotra with the details of all Jain Tirtha of that time. This work itself places Siddhasen Diwakar on a high pedestal of Jain scholars and pioneers of religious Acharya's of the fifth century.
- Glasenapp 1999, p. 126-127
- Shri Abhidhan Rajendra Kosh Vol 5, written by Acharya Rajendrasuri (1827–1906)
- Glasenapp, Helmuth Von (1999), Jainism: An Indian Religion of Salvation, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-1376-6