Introduction to the Iconography of Jain Tirthankaras

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T.V.G. Sastri

I. i. Emergence of Jainism and Contemporary Religions

I. Jain religion may be said to have emerged following the rejection of the existing Aryan traditions and the authority of the Vedas. Consequently, the Jains have replaced the Vedas by their own literature in the form of Agamas and Sutras. The Aryan orthodoxy and its dominence was rejected outright and brought in their own independent sects with established ranks of their own.

The elaborate rituals that followed the sacrifice of animals was viewed as the greatest sin acquired by those that performed them. On the other hand, kindness shown to all the animals under the tenets of ahimsa was made second next to the worship of the Tirthankars who were considered superior even to gods. Nevertheless, the sraddha (^TT-?) rituals following the death were done away with.

There are however, some compromises with Hinduism. They admit the institution of castes and samaskars of birth, namakarna aksarabhyasa, etc.1 Several Hindu gods like Kumara, Ganesa, Kubera, and goddesses like Durga, Lakshmi, Sarasvati have been incorporated in the sanctuaries of the Tirthankars. As regards heterodoxy against Brahminism both Jainism and Buddhism stand on the same footing. According to Hunter, “Jainism is a religion allied to the doctrine of Buddhism but the former is humanised by saint worship. They agree on the attaiament of nirvana through ahimsa but differs essentially of the moksa view of Jaina. The proposed meaning of ahimsa of the Buddhists, is the extinction of the soul, where as, the Jains plead for a positive signi¬ficance implying the absolute pursuits and freedom from the snares of karma.

Again, Jainism recognises the pluralistic realism similar to the Nyaya- Vaisesika2 theory, while the Buddhists speak of the doctrine of universal void3 similar to the advitic monoism of Sri Sankaracarya. The idea of ahimsa of Jains in non-Jdlling, non-injury is different from ihe positive and humble to the extent of showing metta (mercy) as in Budd¬hism to the living creatures of the world. The Jains on the other hand favoured the- idea of ahimsa to the excessive limit of even not hurting a little molecule and in the refusal'to take food even of edable creatures. Jainism lays stress on- the rigours of asceticism which Buddhism has avoided in the extreme cases/i Ji {. n ifciAs regards god and godhood, "the* Hindis concepts are quite different from > those of; Jains. The Jain Tirthankars are the highest and their worship is even superior to that of gods and goddesses. In fact the latter were made secondary to Tirthankars though they accept the individual powers associated with the Hindu deities. The Tirthankar is-’viewed as a broad fording place.1 of virtue, to overcome or mitigate the miseries of- human life- His place is a tirtha or dharma by which the ocean of samsara can be crossed. The Tirthankars are deified heroes born of human parents and raised to the posi¬tion above the place, of gods by their renunciation and great services to religion for the deliverence of mankind.. The same was described in Samayika patha as follows : suddhammatirtha kare jim yande... Arahante. kitta yise. ehavu visam ch'eva kevalinno.

I, ii. Jain Religious Concepts

Before we take up the aspect of the details of the worship of Tirthankars, it is worthwhile considering the main religious concepts involved in its study. They are broadly divided into (a) Philosophical ; (b) Ethical (e)~ Ritualistic.

I. ii. (a) Philosopical : According to Jain belief, the world exists from eternity. It can be divided as two.dravyas or entities (1) loka (2) aloka.5:. ^. The dravyas of the loka are resolved into (1) jiva, the life force (2) ajiva, the rion-life force. An inhabitant of even the highest heaven cannot obtain liberation or moksa in the ordinary course unless he becames a Jina or Arhat' after being born as a man. Thus, it is evident that one can become a Jina or an Arhat by austerities and service to religion if only he takes birth as a man. The Ajiva dravyas are divided into 5 different groups.6 They are (1)pudgala (2)dharma (3) adharma (4) akasa (5) kala.

(1)Pudgala : This' forms the matter or physical basis of the world. It is- a combination of the body manas and speech. It is regarded as existing in atomic as well as'in aggregate form.

(2)Dharma : This represents the principle of motion.

(3)Adharma : This is opposite of the above that indicates a state of rest ■r suspension of the principle of motion.

(4)Akasa : The Ajiva dravyas also have their own locus-standi and their place may be identified' as- space-r!' i? '

(5)Kala : This is the eternal, ‘time-continuem.’

To the above five if jiva is added, they become sadangas or the six principles of Jain Philosophy. In Jaina metaphysics, there is a group of seven tattvas ,or principles underlying which stand the principles of karma and samsara. Karma is the activity of the wordly matter and samsara is the cycle of births and deaths performed by the jiva^ The tattvas are the following : (1) jiva which may be identified as. The soul il) ajiva, thc non-soull(3) asrava, the karmic influx into the soul (4) bandha, the bondage (5) samyara the stoppage or the inflow of fresh: matter into the soul (6) nirjara, removal of karma (7) moksa, the absolute liberation. To these punya, the merit and papa the demerit are added to make up what are known as.the ninepadarthas, described in the Pancastikaya as follows.

Jiva. ajiva bhavapunnam pavanca asavam tesim. Samvara nirjaro band ho mokkho hyavantite aha. The Jain metaphysics describes some stages to obtain salvation in human life. They reveal mainly the liberation of jiva from ajiva when it is entangled by the human activities, or karmas. The karmas bring in asrava that taints the pure soul which is removed by samvara. The karmic influx infesting the soul with matter and its riddence by samvarana is shown as asravanirodhah samvara in Tattavaradhadigama Suttra In general, the binding of the soul-the bandha to the body itself is a disadvantage to man. It accures both puny a and papa, in the cycles of births and deaths. Moksa, the final release is attained through nirjara, which could be practiced by the principles of conduct, self-control, concentration etc. bandhahetvabhava nirjarabhyam krtsna karmavipramoksa moksa.10 When the soul is completely purged of all impurities, the jiva in all its real refulgence, power and bliss, obtains the moksa.

The conception of jnana among Jaina is more important for philosophy and religion. The jnana can be attained by intellectual and moral pursuits to remove the karmic impediment of the soul.11 By strict observance of austerties, one attains the right knowledge samyak jnana, right perception, samyak darsana, right observance samyak charitra and right conduct. These are indentified as the ratnatriya of the conduct rules to be followed to obtain moksa. Again, the knowledge otjnana is divided into five kinds. They are— (1)Mati—perceptual and imferential knowledge.

(2)Sruta—knowledge derived from reading and hearing of scriptures.

(3)Avadhi—direct knowledge of things even at a distance of time and space.

(4)Manahparyaya—direct knowledge of the thoughts of the other people.

(5)Kevala—omniscience or perfect limitless knowledge or bliss.12 1. ii(b) Ethical : After the study of philosophical concepts, on the ethical side, there are scriptural norms that bind the Jaina monks and laity to a moral system. Of these, the five fold vow of the Jain monks is important. They include : (1)non-injury (2) renunciation from lying (3) keeping away from theft, practic¬ing chastity (5) detachment from external and internal temptations. All these are insisted in Jain religion.13 Besides, the Jaina scriptures insist on that Jains should practice certain resignations of mind by thinking that nothing in the world really belongs to him. He should abstain from all intoxications gambling, adultry, hunting, taking food at night etc. There are others to be followed by Jains and the detail of which are beyond the scope of the paper.

1.ii(c) Ritualistic : As in the case of Hindus, the Jains have worship in chaityalas but they are not so elaborate as that of the Hindus. However, they surpass those of Buddhists in variety and extent. Jains have free access for others in their sanctuaries unlike those in Hindu temples. Jaina saints and gods are worshipped with special rites and ceremonies. The simple rituals in Jain temples include (1) jalapuja, washing of images (2) canadcinapuja, applying sandal paste to the images, (3) aksatapuja, offering raw rice (4) naivedyapuja,. offer of food, These are followed by (5) arati, offering of camphor light after the sunset.

Another custom that is important is the samayika, reading in chorus. The Jains also believe in expiation of sins or prayascitta as in Hindus. As regards the observence of self mortification or sallekhana by Jains, all others religions differ. Great importance is given to the pilgrimages on the full moon days that fall between October-November and in April-May. Fastings, reading of Sacred books, and spiritinal meditation are observed during four months of the year. More important fast known as pajjusana samvatsara during full moon days is observed which falls in spring and summer. Festivals14 like Divali, Dhantesara. Laksmi puja, Jnana panchami tnakara- sankranti etc, are common to the Hindus and Jains. Besides the Tirthankars* sub-ordinate deities and siddha chakras are worshipped in Jain temples. (Ghaityalayas).

As regards the rituals in temples, some differences exist in tradition, as the Jain society was split in two different groups as Svetambars (SV) and Digambars. Although, the main deities are the same the names of certain subordinate deities, the dress and ornaments shown on the associate, images and the other paraphernalia are different in the two groups. Moreover, the religious beliefs are also different.

The Jain religion insists that sravakas should have faith in their religious beliefs to do the meditation during the mUhurta of the samayika. They should keep certain fasts to limit his indispensible austerities of life, and to abandon part by part, wordly occupations, as a preparatory to monk’s life, jj The sravakas or the hearers, and the yatis or monks should hold no property and should not quit the dwelling, except to beg for good. The yatis must observe obstinence and continence. They have to sweep the ground before sitting, remain silent and steady at one place at night and not to ride any vehicle or do any travilling. Yatis are allowed to dispense with all the acts of worship while the sravakas, besides other religions duties should attend to the worship of Tirthankars. They should give profound reverence to their pious brothern.

Even a lay Jain worshipper should control his mind, tongue and acts. He should abstain from taking salt, green fruits honey, grapes, tobacco, in certain seasons. He should drink water after straining it three times to avoid organism getting, into the body and the purified water should be covered for use. He should walk around the temple three times and offer fruits and flowers to the images and offer prayers. The traditional number of Jinas in Jainism in given as twenty four.J® Although, the historicity of these people cannot be proved, both.Digambars and Svetambars are unanimous in their beliefs about the number and both the sects had erected chaityalas in their honour.

The Jinas are also known as Tirthankars and they are given the highest position in religious hierarchy. All the chaityalayas are dedicated for their worship, and have been in existence from times immemorial.

2.The Chaityalas History of Tirthankars and Tirthas

i.Jainism is a living religion in India and its Chaityalayas abound in icons, some of them, can be dated to a period as early as the early Christian period. All of them supply materials for the study of iconography and provide an insteresting scientific basis for naming each Jina and his associated details. The Jain Ghaityalayas17 are dedicated to individual Tirtbankaras sometimes two or even more are found in one. But the Chaityalaya goes by the name of the central deity. They may contain other deities also associated with the main deity. Each Tirthankar has his own parents, Yaksas and the Yaksinis that served on him' Besides these, each has his own identiftng marks, the cihnas or lanchanas and the Kevala trees under which he got the -enlight¬enment. Thus, the above varying factors afford a careful study and individual details in iconography.

ii.It would have taken a good lot of time for sculptors and religious Heads to portray the sculptures of Tirthankars, in human form. According to vedic concept, god could be represented in any form as he is’ present in all. But Jain saints are idealised human beings, that were freed from worldly bonds by individual austerities. In the beginning, there was an attempt to portray them not in human beings but in different symbols as astamangalas, animals, birds, etc. In this context it has to be stated that all the mothers of the Tirthankars had witnessed certain symbols and animals in their dreams foretelling the birth of their illustrious sons.18. The dreams and the astamangalas have a strong bearing in the development of the lanchanas and the iconographic sequence of,the Tirthankar images. When the human concept of god was introduced in Indian art, the astamangalas and other symbolic representations were relegated to the background. They were indicated in the form of lanchanas on the pedestals of Tirthankars.

In the case of Sreyamsanatha, the 11th Tirthankara, whose birth place was Saranath, we still have an age old standing image preserved in Saranath museum. In religious tradition, it has its own significance. It was possibly placed in the centre of garbhagrha of a mulabhera.or a mtilanayaka which incidentally served as the tirtha of Sreyamsanatha. There are other connected images such as yaksa, sasanadevatas, vidyadevis Lakshmi, Ganesa etc, that played the part of subordinate deities in their relative positions in the same temple. Thus, the place of nativity, the subordinate deities and their position are also important in the iconographic sequence. As regards the symbolism, the Tirthankars form the highest divinities and they are belived to be abso¬lutely free from desires (ragas) while other gods and goddesses posses desires. This concept of the standing nude Jina serves as an ideal of asceticism and this is mainly brought out in Tirthankara iconography as against other deities along with their vehicles of lower rank. Again coming to the particular Tirthankar Sreyamsanatha, Uttarapurana gives details of his parentage, the dynasty and the place of birth as follows.

Diposniin bharate simhapuradhiso naresvarah.

Iksvakii vamsa vikhyato visnu namasya vallabhaha

This shows that his . native place was Simhapuri known today as Saranath and that his father Visnu was a king of the Iksvaku dynasty, The. Pur ana further gives reference to. the kevala tree as tumburadrumaand that his mother was known as Visnudri. Thus, in the panels of Sreyamsanatha if we see a kingly couple on -either side' of the Tirthankar, they, could be identified as the parents-Visnu and Visnudri.

Again, Jain literature speaks of his yaksa and yaksini as Isvara and Gauri. These are evidently the saivite pair attending on him. His chowri bearer is to be identified as Tripistavasudeva. In the Svetambara tradition, they are different and are shown as Yakseta and Manavi.

Uttaaprurana further speaks of the story connected with his parentage. It appears the king Visnudeva of Simphapura inherited a beautiful throne, but infortunately it was haunted by an evil spirit, as such, none of the earlier kings occupied it. His mother Visundri wanted to take a risk and sat on it. To their great surprise nothing had happend. Subsequently when she gave birth to a son, he was named as Sreyama when he was considered as the lord of good events. The earlier turbulance caused by the evil spirit on the part of both’ mother and child was symbolised as the ferocious rhinoceros. Hence the symbolic animal became the lanchana of Sreyamsanatha. Any panel representing the deity can be intepreted in the context of the above iconographic details. (See Table)

The details, of Tirthankar panels, show differences in the beliefs of Digambars and Svetambars, which made iconography more confused. Their lanchanas have emerged from the symbols, the mothers had witnessed in their dreams and the astamangala symbols used for success in religious ventures. In the case of Rsabhanatha, his mother had seen a bull first in the dream prior to his birth. On this evidence his lanchana is shown as bull, which identifies him as the first Tirthankar. In the case of all Tirthankars the details were duscussed in iconpgraphic texts. Incidentally, elephant was shown as the lanchana of the second Tirthankar Ajitnatha.

Coming to the astamangalas, we find symbols like swastika, minayugala or (fish pair), srivatsa etc., corresponding the Tirthankars, Suparsvanatha (sevanth) Aranatha (eighteenth) and Sitalnatha (tenth) They indicate that the lanchanas Were derived from the traditional beliefs in dreams and religious symbols. The particulars of the lanchanas of other Tirrhankars are found in the text Pravachana Sarodhara.21 (See the table of the details of Tirthankars).

iii.The Jain Tirthas Although we hear only of a few Jaina monuments, and temples Jaina litrature abounds in interesting information on several Jain sanctuarise spread


throunghout Indian sub-continent and the sources are mainly Tirthakalpa in pftiJhana Rajendra written by Jinaprabha, and manuscripts like Pratistasara frngrha preserved in Arrah in Bihar. A modern book entitled Tirthayatra Bnrsaka by B. Gavilai divides the tirthas into siddha ksetra, sri ksetra, ikhstcz kalyanaka ksetra and atisaya ksetras. Besides these, A. B. keith had krit at length about these anicient tirhthas in the aspect Of Jain Mythology m bis general treatise on Indian Mythology. Coming to Jain tirthas in general, Pratistasanra sangraha MSS preserved in Arrah has divided them, first according to incidents connected with the Tirth- mkars like (a) garbha or conception (b) Janama or birth (c) tapas or the resolution to leave home for penance, (d) Jnana or the enlightenment (e) mrsana or death. All the above categories come under kalyanakas, where they had taken place.

There are other places too mentioned in it. They include auspicious regions, sources or rivers, famous towns, villages of importance, beaches of the ocean and other important places which were considered to be holy for the erection of Jain tirthas.

They are referred to as follows :

Janma niskrmana sthana jnana nirvana bhumisu

anyesu punya desesu nadikule nagaresu cha
gramadi sannivesesu samudra puliesu cha
anyesu va manognesu karayet jinamandiram

According to the Arrah manuscript, nearly all the Tirthankaras obtained siddhi at their native places excepting of Rsabha Neminath and Mahavira. Rsabha become a kevalin at Parimatala, Neminatha at Girnar and Mahavira on the bank of Rjupalika river. The above four places and the native places of other Tirthankars were made important Jaina tirthas. Coming to nirvana, twenty of them were said to have left the mortal remains on Sammeta sikhara or Mt. Parsvanatha in south Bihar, Vasupajya at Champapuri in East Bihar, Mahavira at Pavapuri and Rsabha at Astapada Kalyanaka centres were treated in a general way for all places of Jaina tirthas.

The text of Tirthakalpa (S.V. Texts) describes a list 84 images of Jinas at diffe-rent places in India. It appears, Adinatha at Satrunjaya was installed by Virasvaim. An image of Santinatha was installed in Sudhukunda, Neminatha at Ujjain, Aristanemi at Kanehana Valanka, Nemisvara at Papamata Nandisvara or Yugadideva at Nagara-mahasthena etc. A manuscript from Sivapuri gives the names of tirthas according to the regions such as Champa Kalpa, Varan- nasi kalpa etc.83 In this context, mention may be made also to ancient Jina monuments which are famous even today. . They include (1) Temples of Abu in Rajasthan (2)Satrunjaya hill in Palitana State (-3) Girnar in Junagadh (4) Caves of Tndra and Jagannatha Sabha in Ellora in Maharastra (!) Mathura (U.P>) (6)Jain group of Khajuraho temples (M.P.) (7) Deogadh (M.P.) (8) Gomate- svafa in Sravanabelgola (Karnataka) (9) Gadag and Lakkundi (Karanataka) (10) Venur and Karkala in South Canara etc.

3..The Jina Sculptures and Iconographic norms

To understand the iconography of Jain- Tirthankars or iconography in general, it is not marely the objective study of the icons and deities Tying in temples, museums ancient monuments and isolated images alone but in augu- -meniation of the facts preserved in various authoritative and vastuTexts that laid down specific norms applicable for making of images; Such norm si go fa lpngway in their identification and significance. Besides, they furnish different artistic trends in specimens under examination as also .traditions, involved in The . process- Incidentally, they offer, a critical approach • tq -tlie departures from normal, that , throw light on the chrpnplogical. sequence of- deferent images made from time to time. i.The earliest work that gives the origins of iconographic norms is the Kalpasutras written by Bhadrabahu. The original text of which is dated to 3rd cent B.C. This is followed by Jinasena’s Uttrapurana dated to 8th cent A.D. Although most of the remaining are later works, several ancient manu-scripts have been poveserved in Jain Bhandaras at ArrafrTn Bihar, Jaipur in Rajasthan, Jnanamandir, Baroda etc. The later texts includes, Prdtisiasara, Prayachana Saroddhara, Mandira Pratistdvidhi, Nirvana Kalika etc. The theoritical approach to the problem of executing the. image of the Jinas in different media has been discussed at length in iconographic texts. Depending on the purpose and the utility, they were divided into Jbur different.

(1) Nama jina — Those that could be generally made ' out us;5 for general worship anywhere.

(2) Stapana Jina — Those made of gold copper stone‘btc-f meant for the installation in. temples and chaityalas.

(3)Dravya Jinas — Those images endowed with the qualifications 6f the Jina. Some of the Haryanka vamsa kings like Sreriika and Kunika the contempora¬ries of Mahavira, believed in the austerities and Wbrldly renunida^ofe and practiced^

(4)Bhava Jinas — Those that have attained samvasarana like. - ii. Coniing to the practical problem of the execution of the Jina images KBr individual details, the basic principles of Jain philosophy, the historical tradi- :on and their parentage, the helpful semi-divine beings that favoured their enlightenment, the events fortelling their birth,25 the signifying symbols or knchamis in individual cases and the practices followed in other religions Rae., were taken into consideration,

Although the above basic factors go a long way in the making of a Jina image, there were some practical hurdles that came in the way of the image «akers. (1) The division of the mulasahgha into Digambaras and Svetambras and fundamental differences in their doctrines

(2) lack of literary accounts of Jmas and the variation in hearsay tradition

(3) The growing popularity of Buddhist art with help 'of local kings and lack of patronage for Jain religion. t The governing idea in making an image reminds us of the condition through which a Jinas passed to attain salvation. This affords the devotee a strong incen¬tive to follow the noble example of Tirthankaras life. Possibly, the devotees found if necessary .to preser ve the images mainly in the sacred places associated with their birth enlightenment, personal association of the original places of their teachings, nirvana etc; The literature belonging to both Digambars and Svetambars supplies the above valuable data each in its own way.

When the Tirthankaras are worshipped in temples, they are’addressed with hymns full of their life history, kalyanakas or his auspicious moments which afford ‘a continuous descriptive memorial service that offer a picturesque and ^enlivening account in the memory of the devotees. Again, from the available Jina icons in temples, and tirthas and from Jain vastu texts, it ccould be easily understood that nude standing and sitting human figures have been made the basic feature in the representation of Jina images, ii. (a) Seated Jina images One significant contribution Of Jain philosophy that makes us believe is that the Jinas are not gods as in the Brahminical setup but simple human beings that attained realisation. In the iconographic norms, the nude seated human figures were identified as those in padmasana. Such images were confined to four Jinas or Tirthankars out of twenty four. The vastu texts have identified them as Mahavira, Prsvanatha, Nemi and Rsabha (24, 23, 22,1) as they had enlightenment while practicing austerities in that posture.26 They also indicate that the others had the. enlightenment while practicing in straight standing posture. Secondly the nudity of the Jinas was also made essential. This, , was mainly intended to free themselves from worldly bandhas.

The posture of padmasana could be described as the squatting on- a seat of lotus petals with right leg being placed on the left thigh and the left on right while the eyes should be closed or half closed and fixed on the tip of the nose. Some texts prescribe that the palms of the hand should be shown placed one over the other below the navel.

The above is also shown as the samparyankasana. The seating posture in padma or paryanka is a common form both in Hindu and Buddhist traditions. The iconography of Siva in similar posture is identified as Daksina- murti while the Buddha in Buddhist sculpture is a copy of Titrhankara Mahavira. Thus, the padmasana Jina icons have some difficulty in identi¬fication. Moreover from the beginnings of Christian period although there were attempts to produce Jina icons, there was no other way of identification except the lables written in brahmi characters. Later, it was realised that standard books should be written taking into account, the practice in image making and the sravaka tradition of the hymns practiced in temples. Subse¬quently, when the concepts were compiled the lanchanas or identifying symbols were made prominent. (See Plate I) Again, the padmasana Jina images had to face the challenge from the Buddhists. Both Buddha and Mahavira had the same posture and lanchanas. This discripancy had lead to the introduction of srivatsa symbol on the chest of Jinas. This was possibly introduced after the Gupta period (6th cent A.D.) When the mudras, and the other innovative laksanas were introduced in iconography-

ii. (b) Standing Jina images :

Coming back to the standing Jina figures, most popular is again the Yogic posture. This is identified in the Vastu texts as the kayotsrga form or raised up erect body. The same posture is also known as khadganasa. The Tirthankars were essentially Yogic on one hand and teachers of religion on the other. In the Kayotsraga form, they are idealised in the practical aspect of teaching of the observance of penence to the devotees. According to the iconographic norms, precisely the erect standing figures should have the feet two inchs away or four fingers width between the toes and lesser width of the heels.27 The straightened hands should be nearer to the body but not touching it. (See plate II)

(iii) Other iconographical elements :

Along with the introduction srivatsa on the chest, the identifying lanchanas for all the Tirthankars have been brought into iconography. Starting from Rasabha, the 24 lanchanas given to them are (1) bull, (2) elephants, (3) horse (4)ape, (5) krauncha, (6) Kamala, (7) swastika, (8) cresientic Chandra (9) alligator (10) Srivatsa, (11) rhinocerus, (12) buffalo, (13) varaha, (14) sneya (hauk), (15) Vajra (diamond) (16) deer (17) goat (18)handyavarta (akind of fish) (19) kalsa (20) kumbha (pot), (21) blue lotus, (22) eonch, (23) hoods of a snake and (24) lion. Excepting for Parsvanatha, these lanchanas were represented in the centre of the pedestals for the respective Jinas. The hoods of snake are shown as the lanchana crowing the head of Parsvanatha.

Besides there was attempt to show the individual Yaksas and Yaksinis helpful to their success in their effort for spiritual enlightenment. These were represented on either side of Jina figures. Along with these, there was also an attempt to portrary the local kings who became the followers of Jinas. In many cases they were represented with fans or Chamaras to relieve the strain of austerties. Moreover, each Tirfchankara according to Vastu texts, should be shown with trees under which they got the enlightenment. These are shown as kevala trees. In the case of Rasabha it is nygrodha, the banyan tree and Mahavira is to be shown under a sala vrksa. Ajitanatha, and Abhinandan- natha have the trees sala and piyala. Thus, different trees are shown in panels of Tirthankars.

There is also repetition of iconographic elements which we come across in yaksini and yaksa figures. Moreover, their names are common to Brahmi- nical, Buddhist and Jain deities and same type of artists have been employed to execute them. However, as already stated the nudity and the lanchanas were backed up by all authorities as belief and tradition, while the seuptural changes from time to time, could be shown as norms adopted to suit the artistic tastes. Iconographically the artistic peculiarities of different period are helpful in the dating sequence of the icons. Besides, the yaksas and yaksinis have their individual iconography.

(iii) Yaksas

Yaksas are considered to be semi divine beings helping the Tirthankars in their austerities and enlightenment. Their characteristic features are similar those yaksas found in Hinduism. Kubera is believed to be the king of the yaksas and a treasurer of Siva and lord of Alakapuri. With the rise of Jainism and Buddhism, he was incorporated in their religions as the controller of wealth and as the directional deity of north. In Buddhist inscriptions and literature, we hear of yaksas like Purnabhdra, Manibhadra Salibhadra, Sumana- bhadra, Purnaraksa and Sarvana. From Jain iconography we come across a number of yaksas with different names. Yaksesvara or Kubera is also identi¬fied hs pot bellyied and is shown with rich jewellry and money bags.

It is stated earlier that inspite of godly element in them they assisted the Tirthankaras in raising them from baisic human beings to ideal deities. Each Tirthanakara had different yaksa and yaksinis assisting him. They are mostly derived from saivite iconography. In the case of the first Jina Adimffha, it is Gomukha, yaksa, with a bull face and the yaksini Chakresvari symbolised as a wheel.29. Brahma30 and Isvara31 are the yaksas of 10th and 11th Tirthankaras Sitalanatha and Sreyamsnatha. These have their own iconography and even in this, the hands,- vehicles and symbols played and important part. Isvara as a Jaina yaksa is represented with 3 eyes. Incidentally/, the sakta concept of multiple hands, four, six etc., were also adopted with different weapons. Thus, the yaksas are iconographically more complicated than the Tirthankaras themselves. Kumara yaksa of Vasupujya- is similar to saivite Kartikeya, but he is represented with 3 heads and six hands while ihe vehicle peacock remains the same for both.

Again, the yaksa of Vimalnatha . is. shown as Sanmukha , (Sy). He is identical with Kartikeya. He is also assigned the vehicle peacock.32 Accord¬ingly he has twelve arms with saivite weapons like kauseyaka or (scimiter), gksamani, staff etc. . Isvara yaksa of Sreyamsanatha has bull vehicle, four hands and three eyes. Vijaya33 is the yaksa of Chandraprabha with three eyes in the face. Vijaya is also the yaksa of the 8th Tirthankara Puspadanta or . Suvidhinatha. Yaruna yaksa is a third with three eyes associated with 20th Jina Munisuvrata31 Vijaya is two handed like Hindu Isvara, while yaruna has four hands,,. Again, iconographically, Gomukha of the first Tirthankara is different from Gomedha35 of 22 Tirthankara Neminatha. While the' former primarily is indicated by a bull face, and 4 hands, the latter is indicated by 3 . faces, and 4 hands. Moreover, his vehicle is man and hence referred to as nara- vahana and holds drughna (hammer) axe, staff, fruit, vajra and varada. The vehicles of these yaksas- form an important' study in iconography. Some of them occur in the astamangalas and the dream sequence of mothers of Tirthankars, eg, elephant is a common symbol in #the dreams , and the same is found, as the vehicle of the yaksas Gomukha. It is also associated with the yaksas, Mahayaksa, Trimukha, Matanga of the Tirthankars 1, 2, 7 and 24. Sometimes, bull is shown for yaksa Gomukha, of Adinatha. The yaksas, Varuna and Bhrkuti have also bull like the Tirthankars Munisuvrata and Naminatha.

In Hindu iconography, we. come across Brahma, seated on a lotus. Similarly, in Jain iconography, Brahma the. yaksa of Sitalanatha is shown seated on a lotus. Though Sanmukha and Kumara are one and the same in Hindu iconography, in Jain iconography, they are different yaksas of Vasu- pujya and Vimalanatha with different heads and hands. Thus, the icono¬graphy of the yaksas is more complicated in Jainism than, in Hinduism. (See . the iconographic chart of yaksas).


iv. Yaksinis :

As in the' cases of yaksas, yaksinis also constitute a class of deified beings in Jain religion. The Jain vastu texts have suggested that the Tirth¬ankars had quite a number of female attendants who played a major role in the religious propogation as such yaksinis were also depicted in Jain temples. The reason is not important but the fact is that we have a well developed iconography enriched by the presence a number of yaksinis represented as sasanadevtas86 vidyadevis etc. The sasanadevis are Chakresvari, Nirvanidevi of the Trithankars, Rsabhanatha and Dharmanatha. The vidyadevis are indicated by their association with vina, swan, lotuses etc., as' in the case of Hnidu Saraswati.

Manovega, is the yaksini of Padmaprabha describedin the, tradition of Digambars. She is shown as Achyuta or Syama by the Svetambars. Her symbol vina identifies, her as a vidyadevi. Her vehicle was shown as ‘man’ whose mind responds quickly, aptly suggesting the yaks ini’s name as Mano¬vega.

Similarly, all other yaksinis are variously named in both sects indepen¬dently. Sometimes, the Tirthankar may be. associated with a yaksini who is called by more than one name. The popular yaksini of Neminatha is Ambika.39 She is referred to in the Digamber literature as Amra and Kusmandini also. Incidentally, in her iconography, she is shown with children, substantiating her name as Ambika. Along with the above a bunch of fruits of mangoes, suggests her name as Amra. But, Kusumandini is a peculiar name after ‘Kusmandas’ who were a hilly clan attached to Siva. It is quite likely, that this yaksini might have originated from the northen Himalayan region.

The yaksini of Vimalanatha is Vairodhi or Viroti,41 but the Svetambars call her as Vijaya or Vidita. She is represented as vidyadevi. Her icono¬graphy shows that she is four handed with lotus bow, arrow, snake in the hands. She rides on gonasa, possibly a reptile.

Most of the yaksinis are four handed. But the yaksinis of Sambhava- natha and Suvidhinatba have six hands each, of course, the attributes very with Svetambars. Again, the yaksini of Chandraprabha is Jvalamalini, she has 8 hands and holds disc, arrow, noose, shield, trident, sword, bow etc. Her vehicle is a cat for Svetambers. She is identified by the Digambers as a sasanadevi, riding over a buffalo.42 The yaksini of Rsabhanatha is either 4 handed or 12 handed. She is Chakrasvari who rides on a garuda. Her important attribute in the hand

is the disc. In the twelve handed specimens, eight of them hold- the .discs while the other four carry citrus fruit, two yajras and one hand in varada- mudra. • . Most of the sasanadevis, or the vidyadevis are of Brahminical origin and their iconography is also similar. But in Svetainbar tradition there -is the repetition of the names of Yaksinis like Vijaya, Both- the names Achyuta and Vijaya occur as the attendants of Vimalanatha and Mallinatha. But Yaksini Kali of Suparsvanatha is different from Mahakali.of Puspadanta in the same Digambara tradition. Again Kali is a yaksini of Abhinandananatha in the Svetambar tradition. But Digambars call her ;:as ,.:Vajrasrunkhala. (See the iconographic chart of yaksinis).

4. Chronology in Jain sculptural tr adition : '

It is contended by several people that Jain image worship started as early as 3 mill B.C. No doubt there are some .nude fqrsbs :and seals from the Indus valley cities of Harappa and Mohenjadaro in the archaeological context. But, how far, they could be attributed to Jainism is still a mystery. Moreover, if we agree that Jainism had taken firm ground after Mahavira who died aonnd 527 B.C. the above concepts of nude Tirthankars to 3rd mill. B.C. cannot be ascertained.

Studying the art objects in religious context, Mauryan period was earliest to be cited. We have much .archaeological material in the form of terracotta and sculptures of this period, but mainly attributed to Buddhism and Hin¬duism. However, the images of Buddha were much later than the early Buddhist art objects of the Mauryan period. Moreover, as regards religious import in the early art forms, the main deities were shown in the form of symbols. In the early Buddhist art off Bharhut and Sanchi,. Buddha was symbolinsed by his sandals or ‘footprints’ and this was found to be so in the contemporary sites of Sravasti, Sarnath and Amaravati. The belief of making images may be quite early but the archaeological evidence indicates that even in Jainism, Mahavira Parsvanatha were represented hy . stupa symbol. How¬ever, the Jaina artists kept up the ide.ntitity of their religion in avoiding certain symbols. Astamangals were shown as swastika lotus, pum 'aghata, dhama- chakra, seat etc. but the ‘footprints’ which formed the primary symbol in Buddhism was completely avoided.

One argument that could be put forward for the absence of deities in anthropomorphic form in the beginning was that the god is mutiple headed, multiple eyed, and multiple footed aiid:- evolved into several forms of life, as such, the multiple concept- did not allow the main gods to be made in


specific human form.45 Subsequently, when it was realised that the highest and the well evolved life form is the human being itself, as propounded in Mahayana Buddhism, the anthropomorphic form of deities have been intro¬duced in Indian art. ' Although, the human concept of deities was attributed to the emergence of Mahayana Buddhism under Acarya Nagarjuna,46 it is quite likely that the uplift of man ;to the stage of Trithankara might have had a deep impact initially in changing over from symbols info human forms. The concept of Mahavira as jiwntasvami, possibly, was based on the principle of living Master in human form itself.’ '

Historically, we know of a Kalinga Jina, the image of one Tirthankara carried away earlier by one Magadhan king from Kalinga, was subsequently recovered by Kharavela and reinstalled according to Hathigumpha inscription.47 The incident had taken place during the time of Kharavela who defeated the Satavahana king. The sequence of these events show a chronology bordering on the early Christian period. However,, it appears to be earlier than Maha¬yana Buddhism,as the propounder of Madhyamika pratipat Nagarjuna, was said to have lived during the first quarter of 2nd cent A.D.

Moreover, the recent excavations at Veerapuram had substanted both stratigraphically, and on the evidence of Radio carbon dating, that the early Maharathis South of Srisailam region, exerted as independent kings from 50 B.C. onwards, freeing themselves from Mauryan yoke. Incidentally, we also see on the northern side of Srisailam hills, the emergence of the descendents of Kharavela of Kalinga in the coastal region. Since, Veerapurain Mauryan cultural level, can be equated to the Mauryan antiquties of Vaddamanu, Kalinga Jina of Hathigumpha being carried away by the Magdhan king must have taken place in about the later half of first cent B.C.

Again, coming to, the line of kings of Kharavela in the coastal region of Andhra Pradesh, Vaddamanu, the Jain site named after Mahavira near the famous Buddhist site of Amaravati, had yielded the coins of indepen¬dent kings like Siri ’Sada, Mahasada, Sivamaka Sada etc., who were conte¬mporaries to the early Maharathis south of Srisailam hills. They were Jain kings who embellished the Jain stupas on Vaddamanu hill.

In keeping with the above views, the sculptures or other antiquities found during excavation, had not yielded any image or statue or Mahavira br any other Tirthankara. Oil other hand, the railing pillars of the summit stupa an<l other antiquities had yilded iseveral symbols of stupas, astaman- galas, like swastika, dharmachdkra, ;.purnaghata, srivatsa, and handyavarta etc. All these show that the Tirthankaras were not represented in anthropo¬morphic form. The railing pillars were dated between 50 B. C. add 100 A. D.

The excavated Jaina site of Mathura (Kankali Tila) had also yielded several archaeological remains. They include an inscribed Jain image dated to 42 year of Satrap king Sodasa. Possibly, this could be cited as the earliest Jaina icon that was ever produced. Another ayagapata (tablet of homage) with a seated image in the centre shows, another image from the same site. Of course this could be of a slightly later period. From the above, it is clearly seen that the anthropomorphic form the Jinas had been tried in Mathura much earlier than in the Krishna

valley of Andhra Pradesh.Chronological evidences suggests,Mathura, as the place of the origin of Jain Tirthankars and other images.Again, at Mathura the figures shown in the ayagaptas (plates VII, IXX) published by Smith, indicate a conventional type of Jina, like a yogi seated in meditation. They do not show any emblems or lanchanas like those in well evolved images of Tirthankars, but show the astamangala symbols alround like the pair of fish, svastika, vase of foliage, etc. A headdress, and the trace of a parasol are visible in one.

In the next stage of scurptural evolution of Jinas, the site ofKankali-tila had yielded an image of Aristanemi (Neminatha). It is an inscried image referring to the deity as Aristanemi and dated to the 18th year of an unspecified era. The sculpture as preserved in Lucknow Museum. The The characters of the legend indicate a period between first and second cent A.D. Some progress appears to have been achieved in Jain Sculptures during the Gupta period. Another early sculpture of Neminatha is seen in an image at Vaibhara hill in Rajgir (Bihar). An inscription below refering to Rajadhiraja Srichandra51 is identified as Chandra Gupta II, who ruled between376-412 A. D.

From Gupta period onwards, there appears to be some impediment in the execution of Jain sculptures. Whatever be the cause, up to 10th Cent A- D., we do not come across datable specimens, supported on styllistic considerations. During the subsequent period, Dasarna and Chedi regions of Madhya Pradesh have yielded innumuable icons. During the period, most promient are Sarvatobhadrika pratimas. There are broad squarish obeliks in different stone media, with four pratimas shown in relief on the four sides. These are known as Chawmukha and seeing them is considered as anspicious. They were developed from the earlier Brahminical sculptures of Trimurti.

Sarvotabhadrika pratimas became popular throughout India. They were reported from Punjab, Rajastan, Western India, etc. ‘ Again, during the period from 7th—10th cent A. D., we come across a number of hoards of copper and bronze from Punjab, Gujarat, South India. They were however without any embellishments. According to tradi¬tion the Tirthankars are nude standing in Kkadgasana with srivatsa on- the chest. There are also seated specimen’s in Padmasana With srivatsa also. But most of them do not have any lanchanas on the pedetals. As regards the Parsvantha figures, the seven hooded cobras are invariably seen. However, some of the specimen’s are inscribed with letters in regional brahmi charac¬ters indicating the names of respective .Tirthankars. Along with them some yaksa and yaksini figures are also seen. But they cannot be identified without their association with Tirthankars.

One specific point in the specimens^ under consideration is? -that, the traditional differences of Digambars and Svetambars is clearly seen. According to Svetambars, standing Jina figures with a cloth wrapped round the loins and with flowing trusses of hairs over the shoulders.. afe identified as ‘Rsabhanatha’. This is possibly based on the belief in the vedic tradition of ‘Rsabha’ as Kesin.52 Evidently, the Digambars do not entertain these views, as they emphatically believed in the nakedness of all the Tirthankars. I Some specimens in the hoards of Tirthankafs are shown with pratiha- ryas5s of (1) heavenly tree (2) throne seat (3) trilhiear umbrella (4) Auora or radiance (5) drums (6) showers of celestial-flowers (7) two chowribearers (8) heaventy music. These were mentioned in Jaina Santipatha of Akathnka.

After 10th Cent A. D. there was revival of Jainism. Several Jain temples have been established in South nas < well; as in 'Northern India. The Chalukyas especially of Vermulavada and the Rastrakutas - had erected numerous temples, dedidated to different Tirthankars with full complements of pratiharyas, Yaksas, Yaksinis, directional gods, ksetrdpdlas, srtitadevis, vidyadevis etc. In the north, the Pratiharas, the Paramars and Toiflar kings of Delhi have taken very active part in the establishing several Jain ksetras, spearheaded by the Bhattarak mo vements from - Mathura - At the time of Tomar kings during 16th cent A. D. the hill of Gwalior was converted into a Jain sanctuary with gaint; size Tirthankars in individual - caves carved for them.

5. Significance of Tirthankar Conecpt.

The age old belief of 24Tirthankars, appears to have had some link-with ancient: astronomical observations. This could be arrived form' the. etymology of their names and the associated vehicles. It is clearly known that Adinatha (1) and Vira (24), the first and the last of the Tirthankars, have vedic origins. They represent the same heavenly celestial deity, the resplendent sun. Both are clear visible lights of knowledge. Rsabha55, Kesi56, Arhan57, are the Vedic epithets identifying the sun, implying the meaning as Adideva or Adinatha. In Ramayanah\ while explaining the secret of Adityahrdayam to Sri Rama, Agastya uses the word ‘Vira’ as the hero of celestial heavens that ensures his success in war over Ravana.

The vedic tradition underlines the human affort in the ‘sramana samskriti in explaining the concept of Rsabhanatha. Just as the visible sunshine initia¬tes the activities.from the stage of the sprout? to the state of the yield or produce, the austerities initiated by Vira are said to have borne the fruit of sramana samskriti.59 Thus, both the Trithankaras are identical in their conceptions with their positions at the Zenith. Looking to the other aspects, Adinatha is symbolised by a bull while that of Vira is the lion. Both form the important rasis of Solar constellation. One is the master of open fields while the other is that of forest clad regions of Jambudyipa (Aranyakas).

Turning to the east after sun set, we are lead to probe the dark half identified as the night. At the time of dusk, When the sun fairly receeds the light dims away, the symbolic lotus of the day looses its bloom. The flower does not respond to the dark hours of the night, instead, stores the sunlight within for rejuvination. The beginning of the dusk period symbolises the potential padma and the Tirthankara representing this stage goes by the name of the flower itself as Padmaprabha (6). Padmaprabha is more or less, the floral aspect of sun Adideva. Again, a couple of hours after the sunset another luminary of suti is visibly seen. He is: Chandra who rules the entire dark half the night. As in the case of Padmaprabha, the 8th Tirthankara takes his name after his symbol the cresent Chandra as Chandraprabha (8).

Chandra initiates the nocturnal activities of amphibian ubhayacharas, like pig buffalo etc. One digs into the soil and the othor fertitises it. The dark half of the night is symbolised by the bufflo, the vehicle ofVasupujya (12). As the Jina cycle of Tirthankars move to Vasupujya making him the lord of the hidden earthly wealth and the. austerities associated with him enlightens the sramanas secrectly.

As the nightly hours receede, we find once again, the sun’s glow brigh¬tening the visible rasis in the horizon. These, were initiated by *SantV that drives away the evils of the dark half and the presiding Tirthankar goes by the name Santinatha (16). His herbivorus simplicity and the end of austeri¬ties are symbolised by ‘deer’ that is alerted by consciousness and knowledge. The hourly cycle proceeding the day break is initiated by the spoke or the radiant light that traces the circular lining or the rim. ‘Ara’ repressenting the spoke of radiant light is shown as Aranatha (18) while Neminatha (22) identifies the full circumference. Again, the symbol of Aranatha is Nandyavartha (Fish)'while that of Naminatha (20) is Kumbha:. They form the important rasis auspicious for initial austerities.

There are other Tirthankars representing the visible period of sun light like Ajita (2) and Sambhava (3) and the dark half of the night, like Ananta (14) and Dharma (15) with their vehicles elephant and horse, hauk and vajra. The names are etymologically more abstract/ representing a constant state of mental concentration aiming for the fruitful stage of austerities. Judging from the above conceptions, the numerical number 24 appears to be the hourly stages or the bright streak of sun’s rays that illumins the dark regions of the earth throughout the day. From sunrise to sunrise, thes unit is identified by the astronomers as ‘ahoratrd’60 Again, the hourly stages keep up the ‘time-continuem’ to Eternity that include the paksas,or the bright and the dark halves of the month, the seasons, the ay anas and the annual cycles. Thus, the 24 divisions of the day have been visualised- as standard earthly energy reserves derived from sun and which in turn preserve the eternal potentialities of human effort.

In this context, it has to be stated, that according to Jain belief that Trithankarhood is possible only for human beings and not gods-01 While the gods incornate, the Tirthankars enjoy the permanent: ideal place of knowledge and bliss.62 Though helpful, the godly actions are voluntary and effortless. Through sincere austerities, the sramans of Jambudvipa . had gone much beyond the heavens in search of spiritual light.

Following the sramanic simplicity, even the siddhantists divided the Zodaical circumference into 360 soura days of the solar year. As the austeri- tes are regular and progress oriented for the practice by earthly Sramanas, the heavenly obliquities of the days months and years have not been consi¬dered. Getting to the astronomical interpretation the Jain Sraman investigators have envisaged the two suns of Adinatha and Vira at' coalacing point, the zero hour of the midday of the ahoratra whith was originally divided irijo 30 muhurtas. But the sramans sitting for the practice of Austerities, in the station of Jambudvipa, perceived the knowledge of light for'# greater length that reduced the day from 30 muhurtas into 24 hourly units. This is the symbolism underlying the earthly time .cycle,, of 24 Tirthas of conscious progress, to reach the flashy point of enlightenment.

In conclusion, the conception of the Jain Tirthankars, is a disciplined thought of standardising the earthly time of philosophers, that have observed the maximum visibility of sunlight for 12 hours, in the horizon. Possibly it corresponds the mid annual period that initiates the Jaina year in siddhantic literature. According to Jain tradition, there have been Jinas, from beginningless time and they continue to appear even in future. There will be specialities of the teachings of the dharma by yogis identified as Jinas. Thus, the Jina or the teachings of the dharma by yogis constitutes a cyclic process which is unending. This is the belief that has been brought into Jain tradition.