Jain Remains of Ancient Bengal

by Shubha Majumder | 2017 | 147,217 words

This page relates ‘Images of Tirthankara Padmaprabha’ of the study on the Jain Remains of Ancient Bengal based on the fields of Geography, Archaeology, Art and Iconography. Jainism represents a way of life incorporating non-violence and approaches religion from humanitarian viewpoint. Ancient Bengal comprises modern West Bengal and the Republic of Bangladesh, Eastern India. Here, Jainism was allowed to flourish from the pre-Christian times up until the 10th century CE, along with Buddhism.

In the Jain iconography he is the sixth Tīrthaṅkara and was born in Kausambi. His father name is given in the Śvetambara text as Śrīdhara and in the Digambara texts as Dharaṇa. His mother was Susīmā. The red lotus is his cognizance and the kevala tree associated with his is chatrābha. He achived parinirvāṇa at the peak of the Mt. Sammeta Śikhara (Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacarita, vol. II: 244; Uttarapurāṇa Parva 52; Tiloyapaṇṇatti, 4.522: 217). Kusuma and Acyutā were his yakṣa and yakṣīṇī respectively to Śve. sect, while they were known as Mātaṅga and Apraticakrā or Kusuma and Manovegā according to the tradition of the Dig. sect (Bhattacharya 1974: 42-43; Shah 1987: 137).

Till today very few images of the Tīrthaṅkara Padmaprabha have been reported from different part of Indian subcontinent. In our present study area we have been able to document only two images of this Tīrthaṅkara and both are from Purulia (one form Pakbirra and another from Baramoshya).

The Pakbirra specimen is a caubisī type of image measuring 66 x 38.5 x 10 cm. and badly damaged. In this image the Jain is in kāyotsarga and samapādasthānaka postures and stands on a full blown lotus placed on a eka-ratha pedestal. Lotus i.e. the lāñchana of this Tīrthaṅkara is placed in the centre of the pedestal between the two crouching lions. The edge of the back–slab is relieved with miniature figures of twenty four Tīrthaṅkaras arranged in four vertical rows of three each on either side on the mūla-nāyaka. The upper-most row on the dexter side together with a portion of the stele broken away. The miniature Jina figures are badly effaced and mutilated and their cognizences are difficult to recognize.

The Baramoshya specimen is small in size measuring 20 x 9 x 4 cm and badly weathered (Pl.XXIV.E). It is very difficult for us to study the every iconic details of the image though we have able to identify this image as Tīrthaṅkara Padmaprabha. In this miniature from of the image the mūla-nāyaka is standing in kāyotsarga posture on a double-petalled lotus placed on a tri-ratha pedestal and the centre of the pedestal contain the stylized lotus i.e. the symbol of this Tīrthaṅkara. This is an also a pañca-tīrthika type of image and some parts of the upper portion of the back–slab is completely damaged. The Jina is flanked by two bejeweled caurībearers. On stylistic grounds, these two images can be assigned to a period ranging from the tenth to the twelfth centuries CE.

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