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The contribution of Jain art to the mainstream art in India has been considerable. Every phase of Indian art is represented by a Jain version and each one of them is worthy of meticulous study and understanding. The great Jain temples and sculptured monuments of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan are world-renowned. The most spectacular of all Jain temples are found at Ranakpur and Mount Abu in Rajasthan. Deogarh (Lalitpur, U.P.), Ellora, Badami and Aihole also have some of the important specimens of Jain Art.
Jain architecture cannot be accredited with a style of its own, for in the first place it was almost an offshoot of Hindu and Buddhist styles. In the initial years, many Jain temples were made adjoining the Buddhist temples following the Buddhist rock-cut style. Initially these temples were mainly carved out of rock faces and the use of bricks was almost negligible. However, in later years Jains started building temple-cities on hills based on the concept of mountains of immortality.
Compared to the number of Hindu temples in India, Jain temples are few and spaced out. The latter used to tear down their older, decaying temples and build new ones at the same site. On the other hand Jain temples had a certain militant aura around them, probably because of plunderers who may have carried away riches. Surrounded by embattled walls, the Jain temples are divided into wards in a manner similar to fortified cities with parapets and niches to repel armed aggression. Each ward in turn was guarded by massive bastions at its ends, with a fortified gateway as the main entrance. The reason being that Jain temples are the richest temples in the world, surpassing even Mughal buildings in terms of grandeur and material wealth.
The temple-cities were not built on a specific plan; instead they were the results of sporadic construction. Natural levels of the hill on which the `city’ was being built accommodated various levels so that as one goes higher so does the architecture and grandeur increases. Each temple, though, followed a set pattern, styles, designed on principles of architecture in use during the period. The only variation was in the form of frequent Chamukhs or four-faced temples. In these the image of a Tirthankar (fordmaker) would face four sides, or four Tirthankars would be placed back to back to face four cardinal points. Entry into this temple would be from four doors. The Chamukh temple of Lord Adinath is a characteristic example of the four-door temple. Built in 1618AD on the site of an older structure, it houses a 23 sq feet cell chamber. One doorway leads out to the assembly hall in front while the other three have porches leading into the main courtyard.
Interior Layout of Jain Temples
Usually the exits lead into a series of columned chambers into the central halls of the temple.
These columns, standing around for no apparent purpose, might make the place seem like a mindless labyrinth, but on closer scrutiny it becomes evident that there is a style and method in it.
Simply put, these are temples within a temple, divided into sanctums and surrounded by a range of chapels and shrines, and the maze of columns act as a defense against plunderers. The principle impression gathered from these temples is the variety of their sections but in harmony with each other. The pointed spires above each dome is different, yet it signifies the position of a chapel, hall or any other chamber inside.
The contribution of Jains towards art and architecture was specially important in view of the magnificent artistic creations, particularly in the forms of images, temples and paintings, spread all over the country and covering a time span in continuity from the earliest through the modern times.The Jain art with profuse variety changes innovations and embellishments (barring Jina images) has never been monotonous also. The Indus Valley civilization (c. 2300-1750 BC) is the earliest civilization of India. The figures on some of the seals from Mohen-Jo-Daro and also a male torso from Harappa remind of the Jina images on account of their nudity and posture, similar to kayotsarga-mudra, which is exhibited more emphatically in Lohanipur torso. But nothing can be said with certainty until the Indus Valley script is deciphered finally. The earliest-known Jina image, preserved in the Patna Museum, comes from Lohanipur (Patna, Bihar) and is datable to c. third century BC The nudity and the kayotsarga-mudra, suggesting rigorous austerity of the image were confined only to the Jinas. The two early bronze images of Parsvanatha, differently dated by scholars from 2nd century BC to 1stcentury AD are in the collections of the Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai and Patna Museum. These figures provided respectively with the five- and seven-hooded snake canopy are rendered as sky-clad and standing in the kayotsarga -mudra. 1st century BC, bearing the figure of Parsvanatha, seated in dhyana-mudra in the centre, is in the collection of the State Museum, Lucknow ( J. 253).The rendering of the Jinas in dhyana-mudra (seated cross-legged) and the representation of srivatsa in the centre of their chest appear for the first time in the Sunga-Kusana sculptures of Mathura.
The Gupta period (4th century to 600 AD) Jain sculptures are reported from several sites, like Mathura, Rajgir, Kahaum, Nachna, Durjanpur (Vidisha), Varanasi, Chausa and Akota. The images of Rsabhanatha, Ajitanatha, Candraprabha, Puspadanta, Neminatha.
The Jain art and literature thrived most vigorously between the 10th and the 15th century AD The period saw the building of a very large number of Jain temples with exquisite sculptural carvings. During the period the new forms and iconographic features (excepting that of the Jinas) of various deities were formulated and gradually the number of arms and thereby the attributes increased to make the most of the manifestations more as the specimens of codified texts. The parikara(surrounding) of Jina images also developed with the figural depictions of Navagrahas, Sarasvati, Laksmi and diminutive Jina figures. Besides, the usual astapratiharyas and the yaksa-yaksi figures were also carved. The angularity and flexion along with embellishments and ornamentation were other distinct features of medieval Jain sculptures. Parsvanatha and Mahavira Jinas were carved during the period.
The art and architecture of the Jains have the main objective to maintain, preserve and glorify the culture extensively. They also glorify the devotees too internally with psychological bliss. Jains realized that true art represents the spirit of true religion. Besides its religious value, it has been taken as a treasure of the country. That is why many Jain art centers have become tourist attractions now.
The Jains could feel proud of their rich cultural heritage since the earliest times. It has a religious orientation in its art in varied forms. Being predominantly idolaters, they have good iconography and icon making art. They could make the victor's icons of different sizes, materials, (wood, stone, metal, marble etc.) and postures (seated or standing). They could carve icons out of stones also. All icons have been made according to dimensions with attractive meditating faces of victors expressing the idea of successful withdrawal from worldly life. There are many idols of international accreditation one of Bahubali at Shravanbelgola in Karnataka (983 AD) and Lord Rishabhdev ar Barvani in Madhya Pradesh state need special mention for their magnificence and heights. The icons are worshipped only after consecration ceremony lasting for seven days with high pomp and show. This ceremony has a large frequency for the last quarter of this century.
Jain icons are found ever since 400 BC in different parts of India. They are most numerous. Seeing a number of different icons in any museum, one can judge about the development of iconography with respect to material and aesthetic beauty. Palitana is one of the best center for variety of idols. Formerly, all Jina idols were made nude and without identification marks, but later they had the marks like lion (Mahavir), hooded cobra (Parshvnatha) and bull (Rishabhdeva) etc. sometimes with or without eight auspicious symbols on both sides of identification marks. The images of many lesser deities were also incorporated later in this art. They included demigods and the like.
Footprints are also a specialty of Jain art to make one remember to follow the path led by the Victors.. Marked and adored images were also made for sectional identification later. This idol making art is a highly creditable one in Gujarat and Rajasthan states of India.
The temple making art is also superb in Jain architecture. Currently, one can distinguish the regional temples by their architectural designs in west and central part of the country. These temples are places of worship where Jina idols along with demigods and goddesses are kept on stone or marble made altar under aesthetic beauty. Many temples have fine decorative art of surprising nature such as at Khajuraho, Deogarh, Mt. Abu, Ranakpur etc. The temples sometimes have a magnificient tope in front of them such as at Hastinapur, Mathura etc. Many temples have free standing pillars called vanity-subduing pillars again a speciality of the Jains in religious field.
Excellent Jain architecture and sculpture can also be seen in the rock-cut caves found in Mathura, Bundelkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. A number of rock-cut caves have been discovered in Udaigiri and Khandagiri, twin hills in Puri District of Orissa and in Ellora in Maharashtra.
Excavated mainly as retreats for Jain ascetics, they belong to the first century and second century BC. The eighteen Udaigiri and fifteen Khandagiri caves differ in plan from the rock-cut viharas of the Buddhists. The Jain viharas here do not have the assembly or prayer hall surrounded by cel1s nor a sanctuary like the Buddhist viharas. Excavated at different levels, the cells are narrow with low ceilings. There are no niches in the walls. The cells are small and plain, in keeping with the rigorous asceticism of Jain monks. Some of the cells have shelves cut across the walls. The doorways are small and one has to bend or crawl to enter a cell. In some of the cells the floor is raised at the rear end to serve as a pillow. Some cells have low raised platforms for beds. The lay-out of the cells is such that they get sufficient light - the cells opening on to a verandah. The Udaigiri caves are double-storeyed and have a courtyard in front.
The largest and finest of the Udaigiri caves is Cave 1 called the Rani-Gumpha or Rani cave. (Gumpha the local word tor cave). The Rani-Gumpha is important for its heavily sculptured friezes. The architecture of the cave is simple, having been excavated on three sides of a quadrangle. The roof of the verandah projects outwards like an overhanging cornice (eave). Pillars have been cut to support the roof giving the caves an effect of structural houses. The right wing of the lower storey has one cell with three small entrances and a pillared verandah. Two armed dwarapalas stand guard on either side of the verandah. Though the pillars have collapsed, the capitals with sculp¬tured bulls and lions are to be seen intact. The entrances to the cells are arched with motifs of the lotus and creepers coming out of the mouths of animals. The back wall of the verandah is covered with a frieze of elaborately carved figures. The left wing has three cells and the main wing has four cells. The doorways of all the cells are decorated with sculptured pilasters and arches. Carved friezes depicting the reception of a king returning victorious from a battle adorn the rear walls of the verandahs. In the upper storey also, the plan is the same - with four cells in the main wing and one cell each on either side. Each cell has two doorways with curved arches and engraved pilasters Symbol, auspicious for the Jains are carved in the space between the arches. The workmanship in the upper storey is superior to that of the lower. On the whole the figures are shown in easy natural poses with their faces in various profiles and moods. The designs on the pillars are similar to those used in Buddhist caves. The inscriptions on the cave walls give valuable information about the rulers and dynasties of that period. The cave is a good exhibit of the water supply system at the time. As there was no worship of images then, there is no Jain thirthankara in the original carving. Figures of thirthankaras carved on the walls of the cells are a later addition to the Khandagiri caves which were redone in about the 11th and 12th centuries A.D. to serve as sanctuaries.
Wall paintings are also found in many temples and caves representing religious stories, tenets and prominent incidents of Victors lives, mother's dreams, legendary scenes, miniature painting and palm leaf or paper decoration (manuscripts) which has also been an art of respect. The exquisite samples of this art are found in many Jain manuscript libraries. Wood carving has also been an art. It seems some of these arts have been declining considerably.
Jain Architecture in Indian History
The Jains have been amongst the foremost in contributing to the field of art and architecture since early days. The images of Tirthankara Risabhadeva and the figures of standing or seated nude Yogis found inscribed on some terracotta seats, relics of the prehistoric Indus Valley Civilization, discovered at Mohenjodaro, as well as nude Harrappan red stone statue are almost equally old. The latter is remarkably akin to the polished stone torso of a Jana image from Lohanipur (Patna), which is ascribed to the Mauryan times (4th c. B.C.) King Kharavel of Kalinga, as the Hathigumpha inscriptions speaks, reinstalled the Jain image which had been taken away by Nanda to Magadha in (4th c. B.C.) During the Satavahana period (60 B.C. to 225 A.D.) Mathura and Saurastra were the main centers. The earliest Mathura sculpture represented by Kankalitila where from Ayagaptta, Stupa, images, and other Jain cultural material are recovered. Gandhara art and Mathura art belong to Kusana period (First B.C. to 2nd A.D.) in which Jainism flourished to Mathura and the Ardhaphalaka sect, Yapaniya Sangha and Nagara art came into existence.
In Gupta Period
Gupta period (4th to 7th C.A.D.) is said to be the golden period of ancient Indian Culture. Harigupta, Siddhasena, Harisena, Ravikirti, Pujyapada, Patrakesari, Udyotanasuri and other Jaincaryas have been in existence during the period. Karnataka, Mathura, Hastinapur, Saurastra, Avanti, Ahicchatra, Bhinnamala, Kausambi, Devagumpha, Vidisa, Sravasti, Varanasi, Vaisali, Pataliputra, Rajagraha, Campa etc. were the main Jain centers of art and architecture. After the Gupta period, Kakkula, Vatsaraja, and Mahendrapala were the Jain kings in the Pratihara dynasty. King Mona, Navasahasanka and Bhoja were followers of Jainism. Dhanapala, Amitagati, Manikyanandi, Prabhacandra, Asadhara, Dhananjaya etc. had contributed to the literary field during the same period. Chittod was the capital of Paramaras where Kalakacarya and Haribhadra devoted their lives for he development of Jain art and architecture. During Candela dynasty, Khajuraho, Devagadh, Mahoba, Madanapur, Canderi, Ahar, Papora, and Gwaliar became famous for their Jain art. Some important inscriptions, Toranas, images and other sculptural material are found in Tripuri.
As mentioned earlier, Bihar has been a prominent state since very early days with regard to Jain culture. It is the Parinirvanabhumi of so many Tirthankaras and is enriched through Jain statues, relics, sculpture etc. at Radiograph, Melinda, Parsvanatha hill, Simbhabhumi, Barabar hill, Patna, Pavapuri etc. The earliest Jain images are recovered in Bengal from Surohar and Mandoil of Mathura style. The images of Jain Tirthankaras found in Udisa at Udaigiri-Khandagiri, and some other places such as Keonjhar, Mayurabhanja, Jaipur, Cuttack are very beautiful from artistic point or view.
In Gujarat and Rajasthan
Gujarat and Rajasthan have been strongholds of Jainism since an early time. Satrunjaya, Girinar, are Siddhaksetras of Jainism. Rastrakutas and Calukyas, Pratiharas, Paramaras, Cauhan and other dynasties patronized Jainism and its art and architecture. Hemacandracarya was a court poet of Jayasimha and Kumarapala. Vastupala and Tejapala who were ministers of Baghelas of Solanki branch built a large number of Jain temples at Girinar, Abu, Satrunjaya, etc. They are also found in large number at Ranakapur, Udaipur, Sirohi, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Alwar and so many places. The existence of Jainism in Punjab and Sindh can traced out long before the Christian era, from the sites of Mohanjodaro, Harappa, Taksasila, Simhapur, Sindhudesh, Lahore etc.
The inscriptional history of Jainism in Maharashtra starts with the Parle inscription of first c. A.D. that commences with "Namo Arihantanam". Keljher, Pavanar, Nagpur, Bhandara, Remtek, Akola, Karanja, Achalpur, Latur, Bhadravati etc. are main Jain ancient sites with archaeological remains. Sirpur is famous for its artistic decoration. Malakhed was found inhabitant when Padaliptacarya visited in about 1st c. A.D., Jain caves are found at Ellora, Nasik, Dharasiva, (Osmanabad) etc. Pratishthanpur, Belgaon, Kolhapur, Ehol, Alaktakanagara, Kunthalgiri, Ardhapur, Kandhar Karanataka (Karad), Mahimagiri, Vatapi, Meghuni etc. have been main centers of Jainism where huge and magnificent Jain temples idols and inscriptions are found. Mrgesavarvarman's in inscription (450-478 A.D.) states that a huge donation was made to Digambaras, Svetambaras, Kurcakas and Yapaniyas. Belagaon and Kolhapur were also ruled over by Silaharas of Konkana who built their huge Jain temples like Adataraditya, Satyavakya, Candraprabha, Ratta, etc. Vatapi, Ehol, Meguli were also Jain centers of this period when Pulakesi First, Kirtivarman, and Ravikirti constructed Jain temples.
In Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesa has been a stronghold center of Jainism. Acarya Kundakunda (1st c. A.D.), the spiritual leader of the time hails from Kondakunda situated on the boarder of Andhrapradesha. King Vishnuvardhan of Calukyas, Akalavarsa, Amoghavarsa, and Krashnaraja of Rashtrakutas, Bhima, Ganga Vijayaditya, Durgaraj etc. of Vengis, Tailapa, Vikramaditya of Badami Calukyas, some kings of Velanatichoda period patronized Jainism by way of constructing temples, Vasadis and Vidyapeethas. Some of them, afterwards, were occupied by Virasaivaitas and Lingayatas, who have been great destructors of Jain monuments and the community as well. 176. Jainism in Karnataka goes back at least to Bhadrabahu and Candragupta Maurya who migrated to South India via Ujjain with twelve thousand disciples due to severe calamity and famine into he North. Simhanandin, the Jaincarya, established Gangavadi dynasty. Jainism was its state religion for about seven hundred years during which hundreds of Jain monuments were erected by the kings. Pujyapada, Prabhacandra, Jinasena, Gunanandi, Patrakesari, Puspadanta, Vidyanada, Anantavirya, Joindu etc. get the patronage of the dynasty. Of the kings the name of Racamalla Satyavakya may be specially mentioned under whose reign Camundaraya, his great minister erected the colossal statue of Gomatesvara Bahubali, the unparallel statue in the world. After Rashtrakutas Jainism got set back. One Vasava murdered his master Vijjala, the Kalacuri Jain king and perished Jainism and its adherents. He established an independent sect named Lingayata and persecuted the Jains. From Jain archaeological standpoint, the main sites are Mangal, Nandidurga, panditarahalli, Candrasala vasadi, Aarapur, Arkettar, Sarangipattam, Halebid, Kelasaur, Aihole, Marol, Honwad, Honnur, Kalholi, Mulguna, Lakkundi, Nagire, Billigi are the main places where the Jain monuments are richly available.
Jainism entered in Tamilnadu most probably from Kalinga in about 4th c. B.C. Visakhacarya proceeds to Cola and Pandya countries with the entire Munisangha. It can be supported by the caverns containing beds carved out in the rock found in hills and mountains around the Pudukottai, Madura and Tinnevelly and rock-cut sculptures and inscriptions in the hills of the north Arcot district which indicate the existence of Jainism in Tamil Nadu in 3rd c. B.C. Kanci was one of the important seat of learning in South India. It was the capital of Pallvas who were mostly Jains in early centuries. The inscriptions of Jinakanchi refers to some prominent Jaincaryas of the city like Kundakunda, Samantabhadra, Jinacandra, Pujyapada, Akalanka, Anantavirya, Bhavanand, mallisena etc. The North and South Arcot region is very rich from Jain archaeological standpoint. Pancapandava, Trirumalai, Vallimalai, Vidal, Villipuram, Chinglaput may be specially mentioned. Sittanavasal, Narttamalai, Tenimalai, Bommamalai, Malamala, Samanar Kudagu, etc. have been the Jain centers since last two thousand years. Most of these places have paintings, and sculptures of Sittanavasala tradition, which may be compared with Ajanta and Sigirya. Some of the rock-cut temples like Samanar Kudagu have been converted into Visnu temples.
Madurai was the capital of Pandyas who took their favorable attitude towards Jainism. Its neighboring hills Annaimalai, Nagamalai, Alagarmalai, Muttupatti, Eruvadi, etc. are very rich from Jain sculptural and painting standpoint. It is a land of origin of Samgama literature. Tirukurala, Tolkappiyam, Naladiyara, Cintamani, Silakppadikaram, Nilakesi, Manimekhalai, Kurala etc. are the Jain epics of early period. Pujyapada, Vajranandi, Aryanandi, Patrakesari etc. were the prominent Jaincaryas of the period. Afterwards Jainism was patronized by the Kadamba kings. In Tinnevelly region the Kalugumallai, Tiruchcharanattumalai, Nagarajaswami temple belonged to Jains but they are under the control of Vedicas. Thus the survey of Jainism in South India gives and apparent picture of its position that it was there popular during the period of Tirthankara Mahavira or even earlier to him. The popularity augmented gradually and Digambara sect became the prominent one. During about 11th c. A.D., Vaisnavism, Alawara and Lingayatas came into existence and stood against Jainism that caused a serious blow to its propagation. The devotees of Sambandara, Tirunavukkarasata, Appara, Mukkanti, Tirumalasai, Tirumangai Vira-Saivas committed heavy atrocities on Jain society, temples, sculptures and Vasadis. Their massacres took place and the Jain centers were converted into Saiva or Vaisnava temples. Some places like Pillaiyarapatti and Kunnakkundi, Arittayatti, Nartamallai, and Kulugamalai, Tiruccirapalli, Virasikhamani, Kudumiyamalai, Dalavaura, Siyamangalam and Mamamdura can be cited in this respect. All this can be evaluated as follows.
Jain images, Ayagapttas, Stambhas, Toranas, Vedicas etc. were excavatd from Kankalitila in Mathura belonging to Kusana period. The Stupa made of bricks is called Devanirmita Stupa. The symbols are not traceable on these images, the Sarvatobhadra Pratimas. The names of Kaniska, Ruviska and Vasudeva are inscribed on these images. The unique Jain image of Sarasvati may also be mentioned in this context. The Chausa bronzes, in some Jain images in Lucknow and Patana museums, the Jain remains at Vaibhara hill Rajagiri and the bronzes of the Akota hoard are also belonging to this period. Some auspicious symbols like Phana, Srivats, a Purnaganata, Svastika, Vardhmanaka, Matsya, Nandyavarta etc. are also inscribed on one of the Parsva images. The image of Jivantasvami may also be referred to the period. Then the crystallized forms of the iconography were transferred to rocks on hills like Vaibhara hill, Udaigiri hills in Sanchi and Udaigiri, Kalagumalai in South. Afterwards, the iconography became fixed.
In other words it can be said that the Jain iconography was developed during the Gupta period in 4th century A.D. Decoration on Padpitha, Dharmacakera, Paramesthis, Gandharva Yugala, Navagrahs, Triratnas, Bhamandala, and Astapratiharys were included as the symbols of Jain images. However, all the symbols could not be decided in the early Gupta period. The images of the period can be viewed in Mathura museum, Vesanagar, Budhicanderi, Deogarha, Rajagiri, Kumarahara, Vaisali and other places. Some more images of the Gupta period are found in Udaigiri, Vesanagara, Nacana (Patana) etc. with somewhat more decorated forms. Some of the bronzes of the Akota hoara, particularly the image of Jivantasvami in Kayotsarga pose bearing a crown, Bhujabandha, Kundala, Kangana, and the image of Ambika decorated with ornaments and Yaksa-Yaksis are the representative images of the period. Sasanadevatas, Drum-player, a pair of elephants etc. were also included in the symbols.
In late Gupta period these symbols were more developed and in about 8th-9th c. A.D. all the symbols, Yaksa-Yaksis, Sasnadevidevatas, were fixed. Afterwards, Ksetrapalas, Dikpalas, Navgrahas, and Vidyadharas were also placed around the Jana images. Tantrism entered into Jain iconography in about tenth century A.D. and as a result, the Yaksa-Yaksis etc. got their due place on the pedestal or around the Jain images with more decorative sculptural surroundings. Sandy stone is widely used in about twelfth century along with black and white marble. The bronze images are also popularly available of the period. In the fourteenth century the development of Jain iconography stagnated and the decline started. This can be understood through perspective of iconographical peculiarities of Tirthankaras and their associates.
Temple art is of three types, Nagara, Vesara and Dravid. In Niagara style, the Garvagraha is quadrangular and its summit (Sikhara) is circular with Kalasa. It is used in Punjab, Himalaya, Rajasthan, Madhyapradesa, Udisa and Bengal. The Sikhara becomes flat in Vesar style, which is found in Madhyabharat, and the temple gets the form of pillar in Dravidian style. The earliest Jain temple is found at Lohanipur (Patna) of Maurya period. Then the temple art is available from the seventh century onwards. Painting has also been one of the best methods for expressing the ideas.