Article: Ajita

Contributed by Jasmine Kelly

Ajitanātha or Lord Ajita is the second of the 24 Jinas of the present cycle of time.

The word Jina means 'victor' in Sanskrit. A Jina is an enlightened human being who has triumphed over karma through practising extreme asceticism and teaches the way to achieve liberation. A Jina is also called a Tīrthaṃkara or 'ford-maker' in Sanskrit – that is, one who has founded a community after reaching omniscience.

This piece is a summary of the article "Ajita". The full article will be available soon.

Story and images

This manuscript painting of an elephant shows an important animal in Jain myth. The elephant is the emblem – lāñchana – of Ajita, the second Jina, and appears in parables, stories and auspicious dreams in Jain myths

Elephant
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

There is no historical evidence of Ajita's existence but traditional writings recount his life as following the usual career of a Jina. Tradition holds that he was born in Ayodhyā and achieved liberation on Mount Sammeta, also known as Pārasnātha Hill.

Ajita’s symbolic colour is gold and his emblem the elephant.

Like all Jinas, Ajita has a pair of spiritual attendants, often shown in art. His yakṣa is Mahāyakṣa. Digambaras call his yakṣī Rohinī while Śvetāmbaras call her Ajitā.

Images

  • Elephant This manuscript painting of an elephant shows an important animal in Jain myth. The elephant is the emblem – lāñchana – of Ajita, the second Jina. According to the Śvetāmbara sect, the elephant is the first of the 14 dreams experienced by the mother of a baby who will grow up to be a Jina. Elephants also appear in parables, stories and other auspicious dreams described in Jain myths. . Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

Further Reading

Historical Dictionary of Jainism
Kristi L. Wiley
Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies, and Movements series; series editor Jon Woronoff; volume 53
Scarecrow Press; Maryland, USA; 2004

Full details

Glossary

Mokṣa

The 'liberation' of the soul from its body and thus from the cycle of rebirth because it has no karma and becomes omniscient. The ultimate aim of Jainism is to achieve mokṣa and become a liberated soul in siddha-śilā.

Yakṣa

The male attendant of a Jina, one of the pair of guardian or protector gods for each Jina. The śāsana-devatā protect his teachings – śāsana – and can appease evil powers. The yakṣa and yakṣī's closeness to the Jina and their divine powers mean they are popular subjects of worship.

Yakṣī

The female attendant of a Jina, also called yakṣinī. One of the pair of guardian or protector gods for each Jina. The śāsana-devatā protect his teachings – śāsana – and can appease evil powers. The yakṣa and yakṣī's closeness to the Jina and their divine powers mean they are popular subjects of worship.

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Related Manuscripts

Related Manuscript Images

  • Ten Jinas

    Ten Jinas

    British Library. Or. 12744. 1522. Unknown author.

  • Twenty Jinas

    Twenty Jinas

    Wellcome Trust Library. Gamma 3. Unknown author. 1503

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