Jain Remains of Ancient Bengal

by Shubha Majumder | 2017 | 147,217 words

This page relates ‘Images of Tirthankara Candraprabha (Introduction)’ 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.

Images of Tīrthaṅkara Candraprabha (Introduction)

Candraprabha, the eight Tīrthaṅkara in Jain ideology, was the son of king Mahāsena and queen Lakṣmaṇā of Candrapuri in Varanasi (Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacarita, vol. III: 49; Uttarapurāṇa Parva 54). There is a historical tradition accounting for this name “before his birth, his mother longed to drink the moon. To assuage her carving, a plate of water was one night handed to her in such a way that the moon was reflected in it; when the child was born, he was found to be as bright and white as the moon, which accordingly became his emblem, and he was called Candraprabha” (Stevenson 1915: 53). He obtains highest knowledge while meditating under a Nāga tree and attain his nirvāṇa on the Mt. Sammeta in Western Bengal.

According to the Śvetāmbara tradition his Yakṣa is Vijaya and yakṣī is Bhṛkuṭi where as Digambaras tradition mentioned that Śyāma and Jvālāmālinī are the Yakṣa and Yakṣī of this Tīrthaṅkara. Crescent moon, the cognizance of this Tīrthaṅkara, is accepted by both the Jain sects (Bhattacharya 1974: 44; Shah 1987: 142).

The images of this Tīrthaṅkara appeared over the religious horizon of the Jainism in the eight-ninth centuries CE onwards, with his symbol. The earliest image of this Tīrthaṅkara, without his symbol, was reported from Vidisha, which dates back to the fourth century CE. This image was installed by Mahārājādhirāja Rāma Gupta, according to the inscription depicted in the centre of the pedestal. The name of the Tīrthaṅkara i.e., Candraprabha is also mentioned in that inscription (Gai 1970: 46-9).

In our study area the sculptural representation of this Tīrthaṅkara is not rare and till today we are able to documented several types of fourteen images of this Tīrthaṅkara. Among these fourteen images thirteen are from zone I area (eleven from Purulia and two from Bankura) and one from zone IV area (present Bangladesh). In zone I area he is represented as standing in kāyotsarga posture or seated in meditation in padmāsana.

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