Tag Archives: Jaina art

Samavasarana depictions : some images

       Samavasarana is an assembly hall for imparting of wisdom gained after kevalajnana by the Jina or tirthankara. This is built by heavenly beings. The word literally means equal opportunity to all to gain wisdom The tirthankara addresses all creatures . He sits on a throne but two inches above it.  Though he sits facing east it seems that he looks in all directions. He teaches Jaina philosophy is a simple and clear way, after listening to which beings become less violent and greedy.

 The ganadharas or chief disciples sit around the tirthankara.  In the later halls, the ascetics,aryikas or Jaina nuns, heavenly beings and lay women are present. In the eleventh hall men and lastly animals. Animals also can understand the discourse, so it is believed.

Samosarana Mahaviras enlightenment.jpg

Samavasarana, manuscript,15th century,Patan,Gujarat.

By Anishshah19 – 15th Century art, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10723234

Jain manuscript page with Mahavira teaching to all creatures, western India, c. 1500-1600, gouache on paper, HAA.jpg

Lord Mahavira teaching all creatures, manuscript,16th century, Western India, Honolulu Academy of Arts,USA,

By Hiart – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17620530

Samavasarana painting from 1800 AD Rajasthan.jpg

Samavasarana,painting, 1800, Rajasthan.

By Unknown – Painting, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18780461


References :

  • wikipedia.org
  • jainpedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh



Goddess Ambika : images in sculpture

     Goddess Ambika is a Jain goddess; the mother goddess. She is also called  Ambai, Amba, Kushmandini and Amra Kushmandini. She is the yakshi, sasana devi or protector deity of the 22nd tirthankara Neminatha.  Goddess Ambika is of a golden colour and her vehicle is the lion. She is depicted as a four armed goddess. In her two right hands she carries a mango and in the other a branch of a mango tree. In one of her left hands, she carries a rein and in the other she has her two sons, Priyankara and Shubhankara. This underlines her connection with motherhood and children. Many temples are dedicated to her in Rajasthan and other places across India.

         As per Svetambara tradition Ambika  is a wife and the mother of two children in Gujarat. Her husband makes her leave the house because she gives food to a Jain monk.  She goes to a nearby forest with her children and settle down under a withered mango tree. But the mango tree provides fruit and a dried-up lake fills with water for them, so they survive. When her repentant husband comes to look for them, she misunderstands and escapes him by jumping into a well with her sons. She is reborn as the yakshi to Neminatha and her husband is reborn as her lion vahana or vehicle. This account is from the Ambikadevi-kalpa.

       File:Arte indiana da bihar, dea ambika, VI VII sec.JPG

Goddess Ambika, sculpture,6th-7th century, Bihar.

I, Sailko [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


        The image of Goddess Ambika shown below at Kalugumalai in Tamil Nadu displays the attributes commonly associated with this goddess, namely the mango tree, her two male children and the lion. Ambika here is depicted as a two-armed goddess and stands with her right hand placed on the head of a small female attendant. The male figure on her right has been identified as Ambika’s agitated husband prior to his transformation into a vahana, the lion. 


Goddess Ambika, sculpture,8th-9th century,Kalugumalai, Tamil Nadu.

By Balajijagadesh – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21456326

           The sculpture at the south end of the verandah of the Indra Sabha rock-cut temple at Ellora,  a group of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cave temples which extend for over 2 km on the west face of a basalt cliff in Maharashtra. Indra Sabha is the largest of the Jain caves, excavated under Rashtrakuta patronage in the 9th century. Depicted below is a carved figure of the Goddess Ambika with two hands, with a male child seated on her lap and a lion beneath. The mango tree is also represented.The columns next to her image have foliate motifs.

Image result for ambika jain goddess

Goddess Ambika, Cave 34, 9th century,Ellora, Maharshtra.

By Henry Mack Nepean [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ambika at V&A.jpeg


Goddess Ambika,12th century,grey chlorite, V & A Museum, U.K.

By Jonathan Cardy – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16276702

File:Goddess Ambika - Mediaeval Period - Rataul - ACCN 88-16 - Government Museum - Mathura 2013-02-23 5193.JPG

Goddess Ambika, medieval period,Rataul ,Government Museum, Mathura.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


References :

  • The peaceful liberators : Jain art from India/Pal,Pratapaditya,Los Angeles : LACMA,1996.
  • wikipedia.org
  • jainpedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh


Parshvanatha in art : various depictions

File:Shrine of Parshvanatha, 1097 AD, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India, brass and copper alloy - Freer Gallery of Art - DSC05191.JPG

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.

Mathura (Uttar pradesh), tirthankara parshvanatha, II sec.JPG

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 from a Jain text of Sanskrit Grammar, the Siddhahemashabdanushasana by Hemachandra (1089-1172) LACMA M.88.62.1.jpgWorship of Parshvanatha, folio,14th century,Gujarat,LACMA,USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Parshvanatha,15th century,Rajasthan.

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

File:Indian - Jina Parshvanatha with Attendants - Walters 543013.jpg

Parshvanatha,brass,16th century,Karnataka.

Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons



References :

  • The peaceful liberators : Jain art from India/Pal,Pratapaditya,Los Angeles : LACMA,1996.
  • wikipedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh




Lord Mahavira : painted images

      Lord Mahavira is the 24th tirthankara in Jainism. He lived in 6th century B.C and was born in Kundagrama in present day Bihar in India. He  was born to King Siddhartha and his queen Trishala of the Ishkvaku dynasty. In his childhood he was called Vardhamana. He was given the name Mahavira or Great hero because of his heroic deeds in his childhood. He is believed to be consecrated by Indra on Mount Meru. His previous births are mentioned in Mahapurana.

   At the age of thirty Mahavira left the comforts of his palace and left to lead the life of an ascetic. His aim was spiritual awakening. He gave up everything he had including his clothes. He went to various places and meditated; underwent rigorous hardships. The places included Nalanda, Mithila,Shravasti and Vaishali.  He attained enlightenment or kevalajnana under a sala tree. Jaina texts Harivamsa-purana and Uttara-purana have described this event. He  became all-knowing and all-seeing. After this he travelled all over India to spread his message. He had thousands of lay followers, sravakas(male) and sravikas(female). His royal followers included King Bimbisara of Magadha and King Kunika of Anga. His teachings are brought together in Agamas, canons. His chief disciple Gautama Swami compiled many of his teachings.  Lord Mahavira preached ahimsa or non-violence, satya or truthfulness, brahmacharya  or chastity, for monks, aparigraha or non-attachment and achaurya  or non-stealing.

   Lord Mahavira attained to nirvana from samsara or the cycles of birth and death at 72 in Pawapuri (in Bihar). The funeral rites are done by heavenly beings of tirthankaras and only the hair and nails are left behind, the rest of the body dissolving into air, as said in the Pravachana-sara.

File:Detail of a leaf with the birth of mahavira.jpg

Birth of Mahavira, Kalpasutra, late 14th century, gouache on paper, India.

By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The depiction below shows  Mahavira  on the left decked in jewellery, probably during his consecration.

File:The Consecration of Mahavira.jpg

Mahavira in a miniature from Kalpasutra, early 15th century,Gujarat, British Museum, London.

By Jaina manuscript [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

        Depicted below is Mahavira’s nirvana, the crescent shaped siddhashila,a place where all siddhas reside after nirvana is clearly seen.

File:Kalpasutra Mahavira Nirvana.jpg

Mahavira’s nirvana or moksa, Folio from Kalpasutra series, loose leaf manuscript,15th century, Patan, Gujarat.

By Anishshah19 (15th Century art) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Image result for mahavira

Mahavira attaining enlightenment in goduhasana posture,painting.

By Amitjain80 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


Mahavira,manuscript, early 15th century,Gujarat.

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6698017

References :

  • The peaceful liberators : Jain art from India/Pal,Pratapaditya,Los Angeles : LACMA,1996.
  • wikipedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh


Jain tirthankaras : depictions in art


       The term tirthankara in Jainism refers to a saviour who has crossed the samsara or cycle of birth and rebirths and made a path for others to follow. Jain cosmology mentions that the 24 tirthankaras grace this part of the universe in each half of the cosmic time cycle. A tirthaankara teaches dharma, the righteous path,organises sangha with sravakas and sravikas, male and female monastics. There teachings are similar and their blessings are available to all beings. The teachings are found in the Jain canons.

 The tirthankaras are arihants  or jinas meaning conquerors of one’s inner enemies such as anger, attachment, pride and greed. They attain kevalajnana or pure infinite knowledge.  Then they guide others through their darshana or divine vision and deshna or divine speech towards kevalajnana and moksha or liberation.

  A tirthankara is usually depicted in the seated padmasana or lotus position and in kayotsarga if depicted in standing posture. One can recognise them through their symbols because they look similar. The two sects of Jainas depict the tirthankaras differently. The Digmabara sect depicts them unclothed while the Svetambara sect depicts them with clothes and  some ornaments.

Rishabhanatha, 1st Jaina tirthankara,7-8th century, Uttar Pradesh.

By I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17563963

Parshvanatha,15th century,Ranakpur,Rajasthan.

By Gérard Janot – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=610652

 The 24 Jaina tirthankaras are Rishabhnatha,bull symbol,Ajitanatha,elephant symbol,Sambhanatha, symbol horse, Abhinandananatha,monkey symbol, Sumatinatha,goose as symbol, Padmaprabha, lotus symbol, Suparshvanatha,swastika, Chandraprabha, moon symbol, Pushpadanta, makara or crocodile symbol, Shitalanatha , srivatsa symbol, Shreyanasanatha, rhinoceros symbol, Vasupujya, buffalo symbol, Vimalanatha, boar symbol, Anantanatha, porcupine or falcon, Dharmanatha, vajra symbol, Shantinatha deer or antelope, Kunthunatha, goat symbol, Aranatha, fish symbol,Mallinatha ,kalasha  symbol, Munisuvrata, tortoise as symbol,Naminatha,blue lotus as symbol, Neminatha, conch as symbol, Parshvanatha, snake as symbol and Mahavira with the lion symbol.

Naminatha,Mathura,12th century, Government Museum,Uttar Pradesh.

By Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30298466


      The statues depicted below are on the Gopachal Hill in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh which were carved around 15-16th century A.D. by the Tomar dynasty rulers.  These colossal  statues were built during the reign of Tomar Kings  :Viramdev, Dungar Singh and Kirti Singh. the front side of the hill has 26 caves having rock cut carvings. The Parshvanatha  image is 47 feet in height, present in one of the caves, the Rishabhnatha one is 58 feet tall, outside of the Urvahi Gate,the Suparshvanatha image is 35 feet high in a cave in the padmasana posture. The images have survived in spite of invasions. Parshvanatha is believed to have delivered a deshna or discourse on Gopachal Hill where the Gwalior Fort also stands.

File:247 Gwalior.jpg

 Jain tirthankaras, 15th-16th century,Gwalior,Madhya Pradesh.

By YashiWong (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

        As per Jain beliefs time has no beginning and end. The tirthankaras were royal figures and Jaina texts have their past lives’ records.  The first tirthankara Rishabhanatha is believed to have founded the Ishkavaku dynasty from which 21 other tirthankaras also rose over time. Two tirthankaras; Munisuvrata, the 20th, and Neminatha, the 22nd belonged to the Harivamsa dynasty.

File:Lord Mahavir Gold.jpg

Mahavira, gold statue.

By Sidparakh (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The 24 Jain tirthankaras, painting,19th century,Jaipur.

See page for author [Public domain ], via Wikimedia Commons




References :

  • The peaceful liberators : Jain art from India/Pal, Pratapaditya, Los Angeles : LACMA,1996.
  • wikipedia.org


Posted by :


Soma Ghosh