Article: Śānti

Contributed by Jasmine Kelly

Śāntinātha or Lord Śānti is the 16th 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.

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Story and images

This manuscript painting depicts the 16th Jina Śāntinatha or Lord Śānti, with lay people around him, raising their hands in worship under a domed roof. The statue's jewellery, ornate headdress and open eyes indicate that it belongs to the Śvetāmbara sect.

Worship of Śānti
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

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

Śānti’s symbolic colour is gold and his emblem a deer.

Like all Jinas, Śānti has a pair of spiritual attendants, often shown in art. His yakṣa is Kiṃpuruṣa to the Digambara sect and Garuḍa to the Śvetāmbaras. The Digambaras call his yakṣī Mahāmānasī while the Śvetāmbaras name her Nirvāṇī.

Images

  • Worship of Śānti This manuscript painting depicts the 16th Jina Śāntinatha or Lord Śānti. Lay people stand around him, raising their hands in worship. The domed roof hints they are worshipping an idol in a temple. The statue's jewellery, ornate headdress and open eyes indicate that it belongs to the Śvetāmbara sect.. 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

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.

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.

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.

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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