Jain Remains of Ancient Bengal

by Shubha Majumder | 2017 | 147,217 words

This page relates ‘Images of Tirthankara Vasupujya’ 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.

The twelvth Tīrthaṅkara Vāsupūjya was a kṣatriya price of Ikṣvāku race and Campapurī (modern Bhagalpur) was his birth place. His father was Vasupūjya and mother was Jayāvatī. Buffalo is the lāñchana of this Tīrthaṅkara and Kumāra and Caṇḍā or Gāndhārī are the śāsanadeva and śāsanadevī of this Tīrthaṅkara respectively (Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacarita, vol. IV: 2; Uttarapurāṇa Parva 58). The tree which gave him shade while acquiring the kevala knowledge is Pāṭalika “according to the Abhidhānacintāmaṇi and Kadamba according to the Uttarapurāṇa (Bhattacharya 1974: 48; Shah 1987: 148).

In the sculptural art this Tīrthaṅkara is not very frequently depicted. In our present study region three images of this Tīrthaṅkara are reported and all of them are from Purulia.

A mitature image of this Tīrthaṅkara is kept in the house of a villager at Palma. This image is badly damaged and it is very difficult to study the iconographic details. In this image the Jain standing in kāyotsarga posture on a double-petalled placed on tri-ratha pedestal. Lāñchana of the Tīrthaṅkara i.e., buffalo is depict at the centre of the pedestal. The image measures 36 x 28 x 6 cm.

The site Palma also possesses another image of this Tīrthaṅkara, presently kept in a modern temple of the village contrasted by the Sri Sarāk Jain Samiti Trust, Dhanbad (Mitra 1984: 173). This is a comparatively well preserved specimen of chlorite stone measures 82 x 42 cm (Pl.XXVI.E). Visually, it is quite schematic and rigid and the plastic tendencies are minimal. The Jina stands in kāyotsarga posture on a double-petalled lotus placed on a pañca-ratha pedestal, the central projection of which bears the lāñchana, a buffalo. The remaining facets are embellishing with ratna patras heaped with offerings, and stylized figure of lions. The Jina is sky-clad, has elongated ear-lobes, and his hair is arranged in schematic curls with a prominent uśṇiṅa. The circular śiraścakra is gracefully rimmed with rows of leaves and beads, and has flowering twiga on either side. The small but proportionate chatra is slightly damaged at the front. Vidyādharas holding garlands can be seen on the top of the parikara, and also a drum and a pair of cymbals struck by disembodied hands. On either side stands male caurī-bearers is graceful pose, wearing short lower garments and elegant ornaments comprising of wristlets, armlets, ekāvalī, kuṇḍalas, and a tall ratnamukuṭa. On the edge of the back-slab are eight planets arranged in a vertical row of four on either side of the Jina. Those on the dexter side appear to be Sūrya, Maṅgal, Bṛhaspati and Śani; while those on the left side are Soma, Budha, Śukra and Rāhu. The back of the throne onsists of jeweled posts supporting a cross-bar on which are triangular foliated plaques.

The remaining image of Tīrthaṅkara Vāsupūjya (Pl.XXVI.F) is presently housed in the Ramkrishna Mission of Purulia district. However, the exact find spot of this image is unknown. Iconographically this image is very much similar with the earlier image. The most important thing of the image is the presence of eight planets at the edge of the back-slab like the earlier image. The positions as well as the iconic details of these planetary dities are also similar with the earlier one. The image made of chlorite stone and measure 59 x 32 x 10 cm. The facial portion of this image is weathered face and the striking feature is the carving of a simple, almost ovoid śiraścakra adorning the head of the saviour, the centrally placed triple chatra at the apex of the back-slab flanked by two vidyādharas holding long garlands. The buffalo lāñchana is at the central projection of the pañca-ratha pedestal; the adjoining ones decorated with two kneeling devotees, almost in frontal view on the both the side of the lāñchana and the extreme portion occupied by the lions facing opposite directions. On the basis of the similar inonographic detail we can assume that the present image also recovered from Palma.

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