Article: Puṣpadanta or Suvidhi

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

More details

This manuscript painting is of 20 identical Jinas, who are very probably those between Ṛṣabha, the first one, and Nemi, the 22nd. Omniscient and seated in the lotus pose of meditation, they are Śvetāmbara spiritual rulers, symbolised by their jewellery.

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

Besides the basic information, the sources provide more details on various topics. These are almost infinite and vary depending on the sources. Such information differs between Śvetāmbaras and Digambaras. Here are only a few instances of extra detail.

All of the princes who become Jinas are carried on a palanquin to the park where they perform the ritual gesture of initiation into monastic lifedīkṣā. The palanquin of Puṣpadantanātha or Lord Puṣpadanta is named Suraprabhā. On this occasion, he is accompanied by numerous kings.

He performs a two-day fast. The next day he breaks his fast at the house of King Puṣpa in the town of Śvetapura.

Puṣpadanta wanders for four months as an ordinary ascetic and reaches omniscience under a tree of the mālūra variety.

Events, stories and hymns

The life of the ninth Jina is almost eventless. In the 9th-century Lives of the 54 Jain Great MenCauppaṇṇa-mahāpurisa-cariya – written in Prakrit by the Śvetāmbara monk Śīlānka, where he is known only under the name Puṣpadanta, the relevant chapter about the 11th Jina has only a few paragraphs.

The 12th-century Sanskrit text Tri-ṣaṣṭi-śalākā-puruṣa-caritra, written by Hemacandra, has become the standard Śvetāmbara version of the Jinas' lives.In this text the chapter about the ninth Jina is amplified by the preaching he delivers after he has reached omniscience.

Puṣpadanta is mainly praised alongside other Jinas in hymns dedicated to the 24 Jinas. One instance is the devotional song dedicated to this Jina in the Gujarati set of hymns composed by Yaśo-vijaya in the 17th century. This example can be found among the manuscripts digitised on JAINpedia.

Temples and images

A 15th-century Śvetāmbara metal altarpiece has the ninth Jina at its centre. Though there is no identifying emblem, he is named in an inscription on the back. Known as both Suvidhi or Puṣpadanta, this Jina is surrounded by symbols of royalty

Suvidhi or Puṣpadanta image
Image by Victoria and Albert Museum © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Puṣpadantanātha or Lord Puṣpadanta is not one of the most popular Jinas. Yet he is known through a number of sculptures (Shah 1987: 145), such as:

  • an early image of the 4th century preserved in the Vidisha Museum, Madhya Pradesh, where the Jina is identified through an inscription but has no emblem
  • rock-cut sculptures in caves 8 and 9 at Khandagiri, in Orissa, where he is shown with his emblem
  • a figure in cell 9 of the Pārśvanātha temple at Kumbharia in Gujarat
  • an image in the Bhaṇḍāra Basti at Shravana Belgola, where he stands with his yakṣa and yakṣī.

Metal images showing Puṣpadanta alone or with other Jinas are also available in temples and museums.

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Related Manuscripts

  • Text

    Text

    Victoria and Albert Museum. IM 161-1914. Unknown author. 16th century

  • Mahāvīra and 23 Jinas

    Mahāvīra and 23 Jinas

    British Library. Or. 13472. Unknown author. Perhaps 19th century

Related Manuscript Images

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