/chuk'reuh vahr"tin/, n.

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Ancient Indian conception of the world ruler.

Buddhist and Jain sources distinguish three types of secular chakravartins: cakravala cakravartin, ruler over all four of the continents of Indian cosmography; dvipa cakravartin, ruler of one continent; and pradesa cakravartin, a ruler of part of a continent. The chakravartin was considered a secular counterpart to a buddha.

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▪ Indian ruler
also spelled  Cakravartin,  Sanskrit  akravartin,  

      the ancient Indian conception of the world ruler, derived from the Sanskrit akra, “wheel,” and vartin, “one who turns.” Thus, a chakravartin may be understood as a ruler “whose chariot wheels roll everywhere,” or “whose movements are unobstructed.”

      Buddhist and Jaina sources distinguish three types of secular chakravartin: cakravāla cakravartin, a king who rules over all four of the continents posited by ancient Indian cosmography; dvīpa cakravartin, a ruler who governs only one of those continents and is, therefore, less powerful than the first; and pradeśa cakravartin, a monarch who leads the people of only a part of a continent, the equivalent of a local king. The first reference to a secular king who achieved the status of a universal monarch, cakravāla cakravartin, appears in texts and monuments from the Maurya dynasty that praise the exploits of King Aśoka (3rd century BC). Buddhist and Jaina philosophers of this period conflated the notion of the universal monarch with the idea of a king of righteousness and maintainer of moral law. The chakravartin was considered to be the secular counterpart of a Buddha, with whom he shared many attributes.

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Universalium. 2010.

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