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Browsing: Mandala with 24 Jinas (Or. 13472)

Image: Mahāvīra and 23 Jinas

Title: Mahāvīra and 23 Jinas

Source:
The British Library Board
Shelfmark:
Or. 13472
Author:
unknown
Date of creation:
perhaps 19th century
Folio number:
N/A
Total number of folios:
1 object
Place of creation:
possibly Jaipur, Rajasthan
Language:
not applicable
Medium:
coloured metal plaque
Size:
13 cms diameter
Copyright:
CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
Image copyright: Creative Commons Public Domain

Background

This is a maṇḍala representing the 24 Jinas. The Jinas here are typical Śvetāmbara images, with jewellery and open eyes.

They are placed in three concentric circles, and can be identified by moving from the inside outwards.

Identification of Jinas in maṇḍala

Circle

Jina details

Central circle

Mahāvīra is in the centre, sitting in meditation and the largest figure

Second circle

Jinas number 13 to 23 are in the next circle, with Vimala at the top. Then, facing each other in pairs are, first left then right:

  • Ananta and Dharma
  • Śānti and Kunthu
  • Ara and Malli
  • Munisuvrata and Nami
  • Nemi and Pārśva.

Third circle

Jinas number 1 to 12 are in the outermost circle, with Ṛṣabha at the top. Then, facing each other in pairs, first left then right:

  • Sambhava and Ajita
  • Sumati and Abhinandana
  • Supārśva and Padmaprabha
  • Suvidhi and Candraprabha
  • Suvidhi and Śītala
  • Vāsupūjya and Śreyāṁsa.

Each Jina is depicted in his colour, along with his Śvetāmbara emblemlāñchana.

The maṇḍala is protected by glass and mounted in a brass case with a lid. A paper inside the lid contains the key to the picture in English. According to the 1975 British Library Journal ('Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books', volume 1, pages 99–104), this object is one of those the British Library acquired between July and December 1973. It is described as coming from Jaipur, dating back to the 19th century and having been presented by 'Mr. and Mrs. E. M. Prokofiev' (page 102).

The maṇḍala is more likely to have been in the house of a Jain lay man than in a temple. An object such as this one could be used for worship or as an aid for meditation or contemplation.

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.
Jain
Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.
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.
Lāñchana
The distinctive emblem of a given Jina. For example Ṛṣabha has a bull while Mahāvīra has a lion. These are commonly depicted under statues of the Jinas. Since this practice does not seem to have been known early on, perhaps it was influenced by the Hindu environment, where each god has his typical vehicle or emblem.
Pūjā
Sanskrit for 'worship' or 'homage'. All Jains perform rites of honour to the 24 Jinas. Rites of worship take place daily, with more elaborate ceremonies performed on holy days. Mendicant and lay Jains perform different rituals. Some sects worship images – mūrti-pūjaka – and others do not, and different sects have various practices. Focused on images or not, worship can be:
  • external or material – dravya-pūjā – involving offerings of food, drink and precious substances
  • internal or mental – bhava-pūjā – including singing hymns of praise, reciting mantras and meditating.
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.
Idol
An image of a deity or concept that is worshipped either as a god or as a representation of the deity.
Laity
Believers in a religion who are ordinary worshippers, not clergy or members of religious orders. In Jainism, lay people are often called 'householders', indicating that they live in houses and have domestic responsibilities, unlike ascetics.
Temple
A building reserved for public worship or prayer, usually dedicated to one religion and run by members of that religion's clergy.
Maṇḍala
From the Sanskrit for 'circle', a maṇḍala is a geometric design that symbolises the spiritual universe. It is used in religious rituals and to help meditation.
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