Jaina Art & Iconography



By Dr. M. N. P. Tiwari
(Dept. of History of Art, Banaras Hindu University)


Indian Culture is the confluence of varied cultural trends, religious thought and philosophy and art. Jainism indeed has been one of its main streams, but somehow it could not receive adequate attention earlier, despite the fact that it has contributed immensely to the development and enrichment of Indian culture, literature and art. The contribution of Jainas 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 Jaina art with profuse variety changes innovations and embellishments (barring Jina images) has never been monotonous also.

The only enigmatic and so far unanswered question is that what could have been the reasons that Jainism (and thereby Jaina art) like Buddhism did not spread beyond Indian subcontinent while Jaina traders and business community were frequently visiting foreign countries. Was it that there were no missionary activities in this context? Further the reference to the visit of Jaina monks are also not known. The situation in 20th century however has changed completely.

The religion and art in Indian context go hand in hand and virtually the religious thought and concept find visual expressions in different forms of art like architecture, sculpture, icon, painting and also fine arts and performing arts. These all in Jaina context are the vehicles of the principal ideas of spirituality, non-violence, absolute renunciation and austerity. It may be pointed out at the outset that it was only with the Jainas that they did never compromise with their basic tenets, which find best expressions in the images of the Jinas or Tirthankaras and Gommatesvara Bahubali. Before taking up the evolution of Jaina sculptures and their iconography in north and south India, it is also essential to have a background of Jaina pantheon also on the basis of which various Jaina icons were evolved which developed further in reference to time and space.

Pantheon : Historically speaking the evolution of the Jaina pantheon (devakula) was a gradual process. By the end of 4th-5th century AD the Jaina pantheon mainly consisted of:

24 Jinas, Yaksas and Yaksis (or sasanadevatas), Vidyadevis, Laksmi, Balarama, Krsna, Rama, Naigamesa, Bahubali and Bharata, Other Salakapurusas (or Mahapurusas).

The Salakapurusas, 63 in number, are Great Souls and their lives are invariably referred to in Svetambara Carit texts and Digambara Puranas. Their list includes the 24 Jinas, 12 Cakravartins, 9 Baladevas, 9 Vasudevas, and 9 Prativasudevas. It may be noted here that only the names and some of the general features of the deities were finalized by the fifth century AD, while their detailed iconographic features were finalized between the 8th and 13th century AD.

The development of Jaina pantheon was more or less identical in both the sects and the differences are to be noticed mainly in regard to their names and, at times, their forms and iconographic features. The story of the transfer of embryo of Mahavira, the image of Jivantasvamin Mahavira and reference to Mallinatha as female Tirthankara do not find mention in the Digambara works.

The terms Jina (invincible or liberator), Buddha (enlightened one), arhat (deserving worship) and nirgrantha (free from bondage) were commonly used by both the early Buddhists and Jainas to refer to those who had achieved spiritual liberation. The founders of Jainism were Jinas, also known as Tirthankara (maker of a tirtha, between the material and spiritual worlds.)

The Jainas have divided unending time cycle into two aeons-avasarpini (descending order of all virtues) and utsarpini (ascending order of virtues) with 24 Jinas in each of the two aeons. The present age is an avasarpini age, of which Parsvanatha and Mahavira are the last two Jinas who are accepted as historical ones. Thus in the Jaina conception of time, Jaina doctrine has no beginning or end.

Belief in the 24 Jinas evolved gradually.
1. Rsabhanatha (or Adinatha), 2. Ajitanatha, 3. Sambhavanatha, 4. Abhinandana, 5. Sumatinatha, 6. Padmaprabha, 7. Suparsvanatha, 8. Candraprabha, 9. Puspadanta (or Suvidhinatha), 10. Sitalanatha, 11. Sreyamsanatha, 12. Vasupujya, 13. Vimalanatha, 14. Anantanatha, 15. Dharmanatha, 16. Santinatha, 17. Kunthunatha, 18. Aranatha, 19. Mallinatha, 20. Munisuvrata, 21. Naminatha, 22. Neminatha )\(or Aristanemi), 23. Parsvanatha, 24. Mahavira (or Vardhamana)

The Kalpa-Sutra, a Jaina Canonical text, describes the lives of four tirthankaras in detail. Rsabhanatha (first Jina), Aristanemi (22nd Jina), Parsvanatha and Mahavira.

Whereas the lives of the remaining 20 Jinas are given in a brief format. This portion (Jina caritra-Lives of Jinas) of the above text seems to have been added and edited in about 4th century AD

The gods in Jainism are classified into four main groups
1 Bhavanavasis (gods of the house), 2 Vyantaras (intermediaries), 3 Jyotiskas (luminaries-navagrahas) and 4 Vaimanikas (astral gods).

Each of these are subdivided into several groups with Indras (chiefs) at the head and including also the lokapalas (guardians of the cardinal points of the universe) and armies of gods and queens of Indras.

The Vyantara gods are divided into : Yaksas (vegetation spirits), Bhutas (ghosts), Pisacas (fiends), Raksasas (demonical beings), Kinnaras (half-horse-half human), Gandharvas (celestial musicians), and Others. Such deities have played an important role in ancient Indian folk worship.

Besides these, certain other gods and goddesses are mentioned in various Jaina texts, including four gatekeepers of the rampart of the Jambudvipa and four goddesses-Jaya, Vijaya, Jayanta and Aparajita. A list of 64 dikkumaris (maidens of the directions) who act as nurses when the Jina is born, includes several goddesses that suggest Brahmanical influence or borrowing from some common ancient Indian heritage.

These deities are, however, assigned a position subordinate to the Jinas and other liberated souls (siddhas) who are called devadhidevas (Lords of Gods) by Hemacandra in 12th century AD. Next in order to the Jinas (arhats) and siddhas are the Jaina ascetic souls called acaryas (leaders of groups of monks), upadhyayas (readers who teach sacred texts and hence shown with manuscript) and sadhus (monks in general shown with ogho or rajoharana or mukha pattika and tarpani-wooden water vessel). These five constitute the Panca-paramesthins (five chief divinities).

The 24 Jinas along with certain other souls including 
12 Cakravartinsi (world conquerors) - Bharata, Sagara, Maghva, Sanatkumara, Santi, Kunthu, Ara (last three being Jinas), Subhuma, Padma, Harisena, Jaisena, Brahmadatta,
Nine Vasudevas - Triprsta, Dviprsta, Svayambhu, Purusottama, Purusasimha, Purusa Pundarika, Datta, Narayana or Laksmana, Krsna
Nine Baladevas - Acala, Vijaya, Bhadra, Suprabha, Sudarsana, Anand, Nandan, Padma or Rama, Balarama
constitute a list of 54 Salakapurusas (Great Souls) and
Nine Prati-Vasudevas (enemies of Vasudevas) - Asvagriva, Taraka. Merak, Nisumbha, Madhukaitabha, Bal, Prahlada. Ravana, Jarasandha are added subsequently making the total of 63.

The other figures such as 9 Naradas, 11 Rudras, 24 Kamadevas (gods of love), Ganesa, Saptamatrkas, 64 yoginis show Brahmanical influence. Bahubali, the son of the first Jina, Rsabhanatha is said to be the first of the Kamadevas.

North India : The contribution of north India (north of the Vindhyan Mountains) in the development of Jaina art and iconography is of much more significance than what has been brought out. According to the Jaina tradition, all the 24 Jinas of present avasarpini aeon were born in this region and it was here that they spent their active lives. Perhaps this was the reason that most of the Jaina deities gained sculptural representations first in the region. The earliest Jina images with their characteristic iconographic features such as flowing hair-locks of Rsabhanatha, seven-hooded snake canopy of Parsvanatha, srivatsa, astapratiharyas, cognizances and yaksa-yaksi pairs also make their first appearance in this region. However, the characteristic usnisa and the srivatsa are generally absent in the Jina images of south India. The figures of the Jaina Mahavidyas, the complete sets of 24 Yaksis, Jivantasvamin Mahavira and Jaina tutelary couples (or parents of Jinas) etc. are also conspicuous by their absence in south India. This absence requires proper investigation.

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.

Apart from the doubtful instance as above we do not have any literary and archaeological evidence regarding the Jina image prior to Mahavira. Mahavira is never said to have visited any Jina temple or worshipped any Jina image. Instead the Jinas in the agama texts are said to have stayed in yaksa ayatanas (temples). In this connection it would be relevant to make reference to the Jivantasvamin Mahavira image which is said to have been carved in the life-time of Mahavira (c. Late 6th century BC), hence called Jivantasvamin or Jivitasvamin. According to the tradition, a sandalwood image of Mahavira, wearing mukuta and other ornaments befitting royalty, was carved in his life-time during the period of his tapas in palace, about a year prior to his renunciation. Like the Bodhisattva before reaching Buddhahood, Jivantasvamin also represented a conception, which may be called Jina-sattva.

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. Another Jina image from Lohanipur is assignable to the Sunga period or slightly later. A terracotta Jina figure of c. 3rd century BC is also reported from Ayodhya. The reference to the Kalinga Jina (image), once taken away by Nandaraja, and brought back by Kharavela (c. 25 BC), in the Hathigumpha inscription of Kharavela is of special interest in this connection. Thus the Jina images from Lohanipur and Ayodhya and also the evidence of Hathigumpha inscription distinctly suggest that the antiquity of the Jina image may well be pushed back at least to c. 4th-3rd century BC

The two early bronze images of Parsvanatha, differently dated by scholars from 2nd century BC to 1st century 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.

Mathura in U.P. was a stronghold of Jainism from c. 100 BC to 1177 AD The early (c. 100 BC to the Kusana period) Jaina sculptures from Mathura are of special iconographic significance, because they exhibit certain formative stages in the development of Jaina iconograhy. The vast amount of veritable vestiges include the ayagapatas, independent Jina images, Pratima-sarvatobhadrika, Sarasvati, Naigamesi and also the narrative scenes from the lives of Rsabhanatha and Mahavira. Of all these, the ayagapatas (tablets of homage) of 2nd-1st century BC merit special attention, since they represent the transitional phase of Jaina iconography in which the worship of auspicious symbols together with the Jinas in human form was in vogue. One such example of c. 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 problem of exact sect affiliation of the Kusana Jina images from Mathura is a problem which to the most of the scholars are the products of the Digambara sect in view of the nudity of the Jina images. On the basis of the acelaka (sky-clad) and sacelaka (draped) ways of living for Jina friars and Jinas being conceived in Agama texts it has been observed that the Kusana Jaina images from Mathura, showing full concurrence with the Agamic tradition, can suggest no sectarian affiliation with the Digambaras, it rather, and up to at least the mid-2nd century AD, represents the undifferentiated proto-Svetambara and Digambara sects. The earliest examples showing the difference of the Svetambara and Digambara sects in visual representations are known only from late 5th century AD onwards after Valabhi council. The Kusana figures with volume and stiffness underwent stylistic change in respect of plasticity, serenity, elegance and animation during the Gupta period.

The Gupta period (4th century to 600 AD) was a milestone in the development of Jaina iconography, and some of the most significant iconographic features, as for example, the distinguishing cognizances (lanchana) and the yaksa-yaksi figures, were introduced during the period. The Gupta Jaina 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, Parsvanatha and Mahavira Jinas were carved during the period. The first Svetambara Jaina image, known from Akota (Gujarat), was also carved in the Gupta period. The Gupta sculptures show a wonderful synthesis between the external form and the inner meaning with the result that the figures touch the height of spirituality. The number of Jaina sculptures, as compared to Kusana period, sharply declined in Gupta period but the area of Jaina artistic activity widened extensively covering almost the entire country.

The history of Jainism continued uninterrupted in the post-Gupta period. The Jaina 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 Jaina 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 Jaina sculptures.

Gujarat and Rajasthan were the strongholds of the Svetambara sect while the vestiges yielded by other regions are affiliated mainly to the Digambara and the Yapaniya sects. The tradition of carving 24 devakulikas with the figures of 24 Jinas therein was popular mainly at the Svetambara Jaina sites. The Digambara Jina images show much more variety in iconographic details than the Svetambara images, wherein the figures of Navagrahas, Bahubali, Balarama and Krsna (with Neminatha), yaksa-yaksi, and few other goddesses, like Laksmi and Sarasvati, are carved in the parikara. At the Svetambara sites the mention of the names of the Jinas in the pedestal inscription was preferred to providing them with their respective cognizances which are usually found in the examples of Digambara Jina images. The rendering of the narratives from the lives of the Jinas was popular mainly with the Svetambaras.

The sixteen Mahavidyas were accorded the most favored position after the Jinas in Western India while in other parts of the country the most favored position after the Jinas in Western India while in other parts of the country the yaksa and yaksi occupied that position. Of the sixteen Mahavidyas, Rohini, Vajrankusa, Vajrasrnkhala, Apraticakra, Acchupta and Vairotya were the most popular ones.

The representation of Santidevi, Brahmasanti yaksa, Jivantasvamin Mahavira, Ganesa, the parents of the 24 Jinas, and some unidentified goddesses (not known in Jaina tradition) was confined mainly to the western Indian sites. The figures of Sarasvati, Astadikpalas, Navagrahas and Ksetrapala were popular in both the sects. On the other hand the figures of Rohini, Manovega, Gauri and Gandhari yaksis, Garuda yaksa, Jaina tutelary couples and Rama and Sita occur only at the Digambara Jaina sites. There are also some icon types and images from the Digambara Jaina sites like Deogarh and Khajuraho, which are not known in the textual tradition. The rendering of the dvitirthi and tritirthi Jina images and the representation of Sarasvati and Bahubali in tritirthi Jina images, and also the rendering of yaksa-yaksi figures with Bahubali and Ambika are only some such rare examples.

The Jainas developed their pantheon by assimilating and transforming different Brahmanical legendary characters and deities in Jaina creed which could distinctly be gleaned through their vast literature as well as surviving visual imagery. Vimala Vasahi and Luna vasahi (c. 1150-1230 AD) exhibit some of very interesting renderings of Krsnalila and other Vaisnava themes which include Kaliya-damana, Krsna playing iholii with kanaka-srngakosa (as mentioned in Harsacarita) with gopas and gopikas, the episode of Bali and Vamana, samudramanthana and vivid carvings pertaining to Krsna janma and balalilas. The figures of saptamatrkas, finding no mention in Jaina works, were also carved in some of the examples known from Mathura, Gyaraspur, Vimala vasahi and Khandagiri.

We also encounter figures of several such deities, mainly the female ones, at the prolific Jaina sites like Vimala vasahi, Luna vasahi and Kumbharia which could not be identified on the testimony of the available textual prescriptions. Most of the deities of such cases show the influence of the Brahmanical goddesses. Vimala vasahi alone has 16 such goddesses, some of which with bull as mount and holding either trisula and sarpa or trisula in both the hands have distinct Saivite stamp.

The figures of male deities in these sculptures are meager in number as compared to the female ones, which probably owes to the Tantric influences and Sakti worship. The Parsvanatha Jaina temple (AD 950-70) at Khajuraho contains all along its facade the divine figures with their Saktis in alingana-pose, which include Siva, Visnu, Brahma, Rama, Balarama, Agni, Kama, and Kubera. Such figures are against the accepted norms of Jaina tradition and were actually carved under the influence of Brahmanical temples at the site. Many of these divine figures, excepting Ambika and a few Jinas, are related with the Brahmanical pantheon. On the south and north sikhara and also the facade of the garbhagrha of the Parsvanatha temple, there are four sculptures showing amorous couples.

The instances of erotic figures in Jaina context, datable between 10th and 12th centuries AD are also known from Deogarh (doorway, Temple No. 18), Santinatha temple at Nadlai (Pali, Rajasthan), Ajitanatha temple at Taranga (Mahesana, Gujarat) and Neminatha temple at Kumbharia (Gujarat). The presence of erotic figures at Jaina sites is gross violation of the Jaina tradition, which does not even conceive of any Jaina god alongwith his Sakti in alingana pose. Such figures hence were carved due to the Tantric influence in Jainism during the early medieval times (c. 9th to 11th centuries AD). The Jaina Harivamsa Purana (AD 783, 29.1-10) makes the point more clear by referring to the construction of a Jina temple by a sresthi-Kamadatta, who for the general attraction of people also caused installation of the figures of Kamadeva and Rati in the temple. It also alludes to the worship of Rati and Kamadeva along with the Jina images. It may also be noted here that the Tantric influence was accepted in Jainism with certain restraints. Overt eroticism was never so pronounced in Jaina literature and sculptural manifestations as was the case with Brahmanical and Buddhist religions, which is evident from the examples carved on the temples of Khajuraho, Modhera, Konark, Bhubanesvara and many other places. The erotic figures from Jaina temples as compared to Brahmanical ones are neither so large in number nor so obscene in manifestations.

During the Pala period the Jainas visualized some innovatory forms as well which was apparently inspired by the tradition of syncretic images. A few Jina images of 9th-10th centuries from Sonbhandar cave and Vaibhara hill at Rajgir are endowed with five- or seven-hooded snake canopy but the cognizances on the pedestals are conch, elephant and lion which thus show the composite features of the Jinas and hence identifiable as Parsvanatha-Ajitanatha, Suparsvanatha-Neminatha and Parsvanatha-Mahavira.

Deogarh was singularly important for innovatory icon types which although not referred to in literary injunctions are well in tune with the Jaina tradition. These include particularly the figures of Bharata cakravartin and Bahubali, the two sons of Rsabhanatha, who owing to their rigorous austerity were elevated in status to equal the Jinas, highest in Jaina worship. The features like the astapratiharyas and the figures of yaksa and yaksi (Gomukha and Cakresvari of Rsabhanatha), invariably shown with the Jinas, have also been associated with Bahubali to suggest his elevation.

In about the 16th century Lonkasaha started a subsect of Svetambaras known as sthanakavasis in western India and claimed that image worship is not sanctioned by the Agamas. In the 18th century Acarya Bhiksu organized Terapantha, which also was opposed to image worship. Tulasi Ganin, the leader of Terapantha, has organized a group known as the Anuvrata Sangha. In the 16th century a Digambara named Taranuasvamin organized the Taranapantha sect, which too repudiated image worship.

The most prolific Jaina sites of north India were Mathura, Deogarh, Chandpur, Chanderi, Khajuraho, Bilhari, Gwalior, Khandagiri (Barbhuji and Navamuni caves-Puri, Orissa), Akota, Delvada (Vimala vasahi, Luna-vasahi, Kharatara-vasahi), Kumbharia, Taranga, Jalore, Ranakpur, Girnar, Satrunjaya and many more.

South India : South India (south of Vindhyan mountain) has been an important seat of Digambara and also the yapaniya Jaina sect. The tradition says that the Mauryan ruler Chandragupta journeyed to the south towards the end of his life in the company of his teacher Bhadrabahu, some time before 297 BC The Digambara monk Visakhacarya with a number of followers went to South India in the areas of the Cholas and the Pandayas. Kundakundacarya also spread Jainism in the area. It was mainly during the period of the Pallavas of Kanchipuram , Rastrakutas of Malkhed and the Pandyas of Madurai that Jainism had its heydays. The whole of the south, particularly Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and great dynasties of these regions were often dedicated to Jainism. We know of the rulers (5th to 12th-13th cent. AD) of the Pallava, Pandya, Western Chalukya, Gangas, Rastrakuta, Kalchuri and Hoyasala royal families who were devoted to Jainism and its spread.

Many Jaina poets of great repute flourished under the patronage of Rastrakuta rulers of Manyakheta ) Malkhed). Under their patronage developed the Jaina caves of Ellora Cave (Nos. 30-34) which have yielded some of the masterpieces of Jaina sculptures of Bahubali, Parsvanatha and Ambika. Virasena wrote his monumental commentaries on Satkhandagama under Jagattunga and his successor, Jainasena and Gunabhadra Acaryas composed the great epic Mahapurana (consisting of Adipurana and Uttarapurana) at the time of King Amoghavarsa, a follower of Jainism. Mahaviracarya wrote a work on mathematics. King Amoghavarsa was himself the author of Ratnamalika, a work that became popular with all the sects. Puspadanta composed his famous Mahapursna in Apabhramsa under the patronage of the minister of the Rastrakuta ruler Krsna III.

The earliest vestiges of Jaina art in South India are of about 2nd cent. BC These are mostly natural saverns and caves in the extreme South. These caves are at Anamalai, Arachallevi, Aykudi Kalugumalai, Kurungalakkudi, Kidaripatti, Kilavalavu, Kongapulayankulam, Kunnakudi, Mamandur, Margalavalai, Mettupatti, Muttupatti, Pugalur, Sittanavasal, Tiruchirapalli, Tirupparankunram, Vavidhaiyur and Vikkiramangalam. There are several improvised rockcut beds carved for the monks with slightly raised pillows for supporting the head of slumbering monk. The short references to donations magnanimously made by lay followers are mentioned in early Brahmi inscriptions.

The most prolific sites of sculptural and architectural embellishments in South India (including Maharashtra) from c. 600 A. D. to 16th cent. A. D. are Badami Aihole, Arsikeri, Lakkundi, Halebid, Mudabidri, Humcha Sravanabelgola (Chalukya 8th-9th century to Nayak period), Karur (Shimoga) and Venur and Karkoil in Karnataka, Ellora (five caves-Nos. 30-34, 9th cent. AD) in Maharashtra, Tiruparuttikunaram (c. 8th-16th-17th cent. AD-both sculpture and painting), Sittannavasal, Tirakkol, Armamaloi (all three Pallava), Melsittamur and Deviagaram (South Arcot), Kalugumalai, Karaikoyil, Tirumalai (Vellore, 9th-10th century A.D.), Vallimalai and Danavulapadu (Cuddapah) in Tamilnadu (Guntur-8th century A. D. ), Vallimalai and Chandragiri (Chittoor - 9th to 12th century A.D. and Penukonda (Anantapur - 11th century A .D.) in Andhra Pradesh and Kallil (c. 8th-9th century A. D. ) in Kerala.

The western Gangas, who made Jainism almost the religion of their state, were great patrons of Jaina teachers, Simhanandin revered by Kongunivarman. Chamundaraya, the general of Marasimha, the Ganga king, was the architect of the great colossus of Sravanabelgola, the unique sculpture of Bahubali (A. D. 983) that is probably the Bapatala one great example of Ganga art if one were to choose a single example to represent that phase of art itself.

Among the Hoysala Kings, Vishnuvardhana, originally a disciple of Jaina Prabha Chandra, subsequently embraced Vaisnavism though his queen Santaladevi, a remarkable scholar with a high aesthetic taste, continued to be a Jaina. Queen Santala like her husband Visnuvardhana had deep faith in temple building and making endowments to Jaina monuments. Vishnuvardhana continued a favourable attitude towards Jainism and freely endowed several Jaina temples.

The Vijayanagara rulers had the largest empire in the south and some rulers specially Bukka I created an amicable atmosphere by bringing together in friendship the devotees of Jaina and Vaisnava faiths. The queen Bimadevi of Deva Raya I was the disciple of a Jaina acarya Abhinava Charukirti. Panditacharya, the general of Bukka II was a Jaina by faith and Krishna Deva Raya himself, the greatest emperor of the Vijayanagara royal family, endowed in A. D. 1517 for Vardhamana temple at Tirupparuttikunram.

The extension of the Gupta style can distinctly be noticed in the early Chalukyan sculptures from Badami and Aihole, datable to c. A. D. 600. The style and subjects are almost identical at both the places where the images of only Parsvanatha and Mahavira Jinas and Bahubali and Ambika are found. The Jaina caves at Badami (No. 4) and Aihole have seated figures of Mahavira in the sanctum while the mukhamandapa contains the figures of Bahubali and Parsvanatha facing each other. The Parsvanatha images from Badami and Aihole are significant as these are the earliest examples showing the onslaught of the demon Sambar (or Kamatha) during the course of Parsvanatha's trance and meditation. Bahubali, also known as Gommatesvara, is represented as standing in deep trance. The austerities of Bahubali are aptly shown for the first time at Badami and Aihole. The rendering of entwining creepers around the hands and legs of Bahubali, and also the presence of snakes coming out of anthills, carved close to his legs, are peculiar features of both the Babubali images, suggesting thereby the long passage of time of penance. In concurrence with the Digambar Jaina tradition, there also appear the figures of two Vidhyadharis, embellished in beautiful decorated mukutas and other ornaments. Aesthetically, the Bahubali and Ambika images at Aihole are among the finest works of the early Chalukyan artist showing superb grace, plasticity and suppleness.

Jainism in South has contributed in no small measure. The great monuments speak eloquently of the aesthetic taste of the patrons and the architects who constructed the embellished abodes for their deities and also carved or painted their figures in the spirit and glory of divine forms.

The most frequent representation of the Jinas found in South India are Rsabhanatha, Parsvanatha, Suparsvanatha, Mahavira, Santinatha and Neminatha. The attack by Kamatha with his dreadful hordes to dissuade Parsvanatha from his tapas as an ascetic, corresponding to the beguilement of Mara (Maradharsana) to wean away Buddha from his firm resolve to attain enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, has been a very popular theme. One of the finest representations from South India of this theme is at Tirakkol (North Arcot, Tamilnadu). It is an impressive carving of Pallava period carved on a large boulder.



Information Courtesy : Mr. Pravin K. Shah
Chairperson JAINA Education Committee
 Federation of Jain Associations in North America 
509, Carriage Woods Circle Raleigh, NC 27607-3969, USA 
E-Mail : pkshah1@attglobal.net, Tele & Fax : 919-859-4994 
Websites : www.jaina.org & www.jainism.org


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