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Browsing: Bhaktāmara-stotra (Or. 13741)

Image: Modern title page

Title: Modern title page

Source:
The British Library Board
Shelfmark:
Or. 13741
Author:
Mānatunga
Date of creation:
perhaps 18th to 19th centuries
Folio number:
1 recto
Total number of folios:
25
Place of creation:
western India
Language:
Sanskrit and Gujarati
Medium:
paper
Size:
29.5 x 13 cms
Copyright:
CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
Image copyright: Creative Commons Public Domain

Background

One of the most popular devotional hymns of the Jain hymns is the Bhaktāmara-stotraDevoted Gods Hymn. With either 44 or 48 stanzas, it is accepted by both main sects of Śvetāmbaras and Digambaras. It is dedicated to the first Jina, Ṛṣabhanātha or Lord Ṛṣabha, frequently known as Ādinātha, meaning ‘First Lord’. The title comes from the first verse, which says that 'his feet enhance the lustre of the jewels set in the crowns lowered by the devoted gods'.

The Bhaktāmara-stotra is written in Sanskrit in an elaborate poetical style. Many followers know the original text by heart and may daily recite or meditate upon it. This hymn of praise belongs to the categories of Sapta Smarans – 'Seven Remembrances' – or Nava Smarans – 'Nine Remembrances'. These refer to seven or nine popular hymns that form the core of Śvetāmbara Jain liturgy.

Mānatuṅga is the author of this hymn, and a figure who is the starting point of several legends. Recent scholarship considers that he was 'a Śvetāmbara devotional poet who lived in the second half of the 6th century A.D' (Wiley 2004: 53).

The Bhaktāmara-stotra has generated a number of commentaries from the 14th century onwards. It is also part of the Jain tantric tradition and is often given a magical value. Manuscripts of this text are often artefacts with noteworthy features. This manuscript demonstrates vignettes in the middle of each side of every folio, showing Jinas, auspicious symbols or mystical diagrams.

Glossary

Dhyāna
Sanskrit for 'meditation', one of the six internal austerities or tapas that help purify the soul of karma. Meditation is deep thought about religious doctrine or mental focus on spiritual matters over a period of time. An important part of many religions, meditation is especially important in Jain belief because it forms key elements of religious practice and spiritual development.
Jina
A 'victor' in Sanskrit, a Jina is an enlightened human being who has triumphed over karma and teaches the way to achieve liberation . A synonym for Tīrthaṃkara, which means 'ford-maker' or one who has founded a community after reaching omniscience through asceticism. The most famous 24 – Ṛṣabha to Mahāvīra – were born in the Bharata-kṣetra of the middle world , but more are found in other continents. There have been Jinas in the past and there will be some in the future.
Hymn
The terms stavan, stavana, stava, stotra and stuti are all used for a prayer, song, chant or hymn to a Jina, a god or any other holy figure. Religious songs are always hymns of praise in Jainism. These devotional songs may be performed during daily rites or on special occasions, such as completion of a fast or a wedding. The hymns may be performed:
  • solo or in groups
  • as a form of meditation
  • as a rite offered as part of worship.
Śvetāmbara
'White-clad’ in Sanskrit, the title of one of the two main divisions of Jainism, in which both male and female mendicants wear white robes. There are some differences of doctrine or belief between these two sects and to some extent their followers consider themselves as belonging to distinct branches. Divisions can be fierce in practical matters, for example, over the ownership of pilgrimage places, but all sects see themselves as Jains.
Rite
A sequence of actions that must be followed to perform a religious ceremony. The set of actions is largely symbolic, for example offering food to statues symbolises sacrificing to a deity. The ritual actions are often accompanied by set phrases.
Bhaktāmara-stotra
One of the few hymns accepted by both Śvetāmbara and Digambara sects, the Bhaktāmara-stotra is a Sanskrit hymn praising the first Jina, Ṛṣabhanātha or Lord Ṛṣabha. Its name means Devoted Gods, which comes from the first verse, in which the deities pay homage to Ṛṣabha. It is attributed to the medieval poet Mānatuṅga. The Śvetāmbara version has 44 verses and the Digambara one 48.
Sanskrit
A classical language of India, originally used by priests and nobility. Sanskrit has a rich literary and religious tradition. With only a few thousand native speakers nowadays, it is predominantly used in Hindu religious ceremonies and by scholars.
Folio
A single sheet of paper or parchment with a front and a back side. Manuscripts and books are written or printed on both sides of sheets of paper. A manuscript page is one side of a sheet of paper, parchment or other material. The recto page is the top side of a sheet of paper and the verso is the underside.
Auspicious
Favourable or lucky. Auspicious objects bring good fortune and may predict good events or a bright future. 
Commentary
An essay explaining a text. Commentaries on the scriptures are common in the Jain tradition and there are various types, including the:
  • bālāvabodha
  • bhāṣya
  • cūrṇi
  • niryukti
  • ṭīkā.
Tantra
Jain Tantric worship aims to control other people or counter evil influences. Tantric rituals try to placate the aggressive side of a deity 's nature, encouraging the divinity to behave benevolently. If not worshipped correctly, the vengeful deity may cause harm. The devotee invokes the deity under his or her various names, places images of the deity on yantras – mystical diagrams – and meditates, repeating mantras.

Related Manuscripts

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