Jain Remains of Ancient Bengal

by Shubha Majumder | 2017 | 147,217 words

This page relates ‘Miniature Tirthankara and Planatary Deities type of Candraprabha’ 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.

Miniature Tīrthaṅkara and Planatary Deities type of Candraprabha

[Full title: Images of Tīrthaṅkara Candraprabha (4): Miniature Tīrthaṅkara and Planatary Deities type of Candraprabha sculptures]

Two images of this type of Tīrthaṅkara Candraprabha sculptures are recorded from the study area. Among them one hails from Govindapur near Dinajpur and now displayed in the Bangladesh National Museum, Dhaka, Bangladesh (Pl.XXVI.B). The image is 72 cm high and made of chlorite stone. The nude image of Tīrthaṅkara Candraprabha stands in kāyotsarga pose angainst an architectural throne-back on a high viśvapadma. The upper part of the slab with the head of the Jina is missing. He is accompanied on either side by an attendant holding a cāmara in the right and a cylindrical attribute in their left hands. Along the rim of the slab are preserved seventeen seated miniature Jina figures. It is impossible to determine whether the original number of the miniature Jinas was 23 or 24. All are completely identical except for the lowermost figure on the proper right, identifiable by a canopy of seven snake-hoods as Pārśvanātha. The distribution scheme thus resembles the one seen on the sculpture from Surohar. Quite different, however, is the iconographic programme found in the socle. The centre shows a twelved-armed goddess in rājalīlāsana. Her lotus seat is supported by a crouching elephant flanked by two lions. A bearded priestlike figure is seated to her right; he holds ritual objects for worshipping the goddess. He may be the donor Cācadeva whose name is recorded in the inscription carved just above the figure. On the opposite side is a high padmapīṭha supporting a crescent moon, the cognizance of Candraprabha, flanked by another seated two-armed figure. The latter belongs to the group of nine planetary deities or Navagrahas who populate the lateral sections of the socle. Sūrya, Candra, Maṅgala and Budha are carved on the proper right side, Bṛhaspati near the elevated moon cihna, and Śukra, Śani, Rāhu and Ketu at the end of the sequence. All these figures are seated on high viśvapadmas and show individual iconographic features: Sūrya, the Sun god, holds two lotuses; Candra, the Moon god, has a waterpot in his left hand; Maṅgala (Mars) holds a spear; Budha (Mercury) is severely damaged, but enough remains to recognize the arrow held across his chest and his characteristic fluttering hairstyle; Bṛhaspati (Jupiter) and Śukra (Venus), the preceptors of the gods and the demons respectively, show the teaching gesture; Śani (Saturn), easily recognizable by his corpulence and crippled legs, holds his characteristic staff; Rāhu appears as a large, bearded face without a lower body, holding a crescent in his hands; and snake-hooded and a snake-tailed Ketu, the personification of comets, has a sword in his right and a fire-pit in his left hand. This individualized iconography of the Navagrahas is known from numerous sculptures from North Bengal, suggesting that the artist was well-acquainted with the contemporaneous sculptural traditions prevalent in the region. The placement in the socle of the image, however, is generally not found with Hindu sculptures. This feature is characteristic for Jain images, not only from Bengal but also from Orissa, central, and western India. This position suggests that the world of the Jina is considered higher than the cosmic space in which the astral deities are located.

The remaining one is presently kept and regularly worshipped in the house of Magur Kshetrapal in the Sat Deuliya village of Burdwan district. In this image the head of the Jina and the upper part of the back-slab are missing and the remaining portion is measures 53 x 34 x 11 cm. The Jina is in kāyotsarga and samapādasthānaka postures and stands on a full blown lotus placed on a pañca-ratha pedestal. On either side of the mūla-nāyaka stand sensitively modelled cāmaradharas with their left hands in kaṭyāvalambita posture and the right hands holding a flywhisk. They stand on lotus pedestals and are in ābhaṅga posture. This is a pañcatīrthika type of image and only two miniature figures of Tīrthaṅkara s images are present on the edges of the damaged back-slab. Like the principal image, they also stand in kāyotsarga posture on a double-petalled lotus and their respective lāñchanas are carved at the centre of their lotus thrones. Just below the full blown lotus the crescent, the lāñchana of the mūla-nāyaka is carved. In this image the pañca-ratha pedestal is decorated with nine planetary deities are flanked by a lion on either ends of this pedestal. The line starts with Sūrya and followed by Candra, Maṅgal and Budha. On the right of the panel starts with Bṛhaspati and followed by Śukra, Śani, Rāhu and Ketu. In this panel except Rāhu and Ketu all the planetary deities are seated on viśvapadma and hold their respective attributes in their hands.

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