Parshvanatha,brass and copper. 1st century,Khajuraho,Madhya Pradesh.
By Daderot (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Parshvanatha is the 23rd Jaina tirthankara. He was born at Varanasi, into a royal family to King Asvasena and his queen Vamadevi of the Ishkvaku dynasty. He renounced the world to become and ascetic at age thirty. He meditated under a Dhaataki tree and attained enlightenment or kevalajnana after 84 days. His first disciples were his mother and wife. He attained moksa on Shikharji after preaching for 70 years, at the age of 100. He was much loved and called purisadaniya.
As per Svetambara texts of Jainism Parshvanatha taught four vows. They are ahimsa,aparigraha, achaurya and satya, The Digambara sect insist on it as including the fifth namely brahmacharya. He had previous births as Marubhuti, a prime minister, and as an elephant named Vajraghosha in the forests of Vindyachal, Sasiprabha, Prince Agnivega. As a prince he saved two snakes who were reborn as Dharnendra and Padmavati who sheltered Parshvanatha from a severe storm sent by Meghamali.
Parshvanatha had thousands of followers; sravakas and sravikas, sadhus(monks) and sadhvis (nuns). and eight ganadharas or chief monks. He is depicted either standing in kayotsarga posture or depicted seated meditating in lotus posture. He has a snake crown; symbolising the protection of Dharnendra and Padmavati.
Parshvanatha, 2nd century,Mathura,Uttar Pradesh.
By I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12403493
The biographies of the tirthankaras mainly Mahavira and Parshvanatha are the Kalpasutras and they are depicted in the illustrations relating to incidents in their life or concept-depictions. The images are seen in other Jain texts too, like the one below is from a Jain Sanskrit grammar text, the Siddhahema-shabd-anushasana by Hemachandra.
Worship of Parshvanatha, folio,14th century,Gujarat,LACMA,USA.
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Internet Archive Book Images – Image from page 29 of “The light of the world : a brief comparative study of Christianity and non-Christian religions” (1911), No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39823982
- The peaceful liberators : Jain art from India/Pal,Pratapaditya,Los Angeles : LACMA,1996.
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