Article: Jvālamālinī

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Temples

Karnataka is the region where the cult of Jvālāmālinī has developed most, with inscriptions showing that individual temples dedicated to her existed in the 12th to 13th centuries (Settar 1969: 311).

This goddess is associated with the site of Simhanagadde or Narasimharajapura in Karnataka, in Shimoga district, which has an important monastery – maṭha. There is an eight-handed image here in seated posture, which the monk Samantabhadra is said to have installed.

Other centres of Jvālāmālinī worship in Karnatak are:

  • Maleyur in Chamarajanagar district, also known as 'Kanakagiri kshetra', which houses images of Jvālamālinī, Kūṣmāṇḍinī and Padmāvatī
  • Nittur at Gubbi, near Tumkur has a temple possibly dating back to the 12th century which attracts many devotees (see Iyengar 254ff.).
  • a dedicated temple in Gerusoppe, in north Karnatak, where the iconography of the main idol resembles that of the Hindu goddess Mahiṣāsuramardinī (Iyengar 249).

Worship

Decorated figure of Jvālāmālinī in a Tamil Nadu temple. The yakṣī – female attendant deity – of the eighth Jina, Candraprabha, is swathed in rich fabric. The halo of flames and the attributes she holds in her eight hands help identify her.

Decorated image of Jvālāmālinī
Image by Ramesh Kumar © French Institute of Pondicherry

Jvālāmālinī is worshipped to gain protection and help, as are all Jain deities. She is the subject of many songs of devotion that praise her good qualities.

A popular hymn is the Sanskrit Jvālāmālinī-stotra (Nawab 1937/1996: 187–190; described in Jhavery 1944: 335–336), given according to the Śvetāmbara tradition. Written in prose, it provides the:

  • various names of the goddess
  • mantras to use for various aims, such as controlling or paralysing other people
  • relevant yantras.

Another such stotra can be read on page 212 of Nawab 1937/1996.

This deity has a fierce, terrifying aspect, as shown in the story involving the man who would be king. Thus Jvālāmālinī is often the subject of Tantric ceremonies.

Tantric rituals

The trident is a weapon associated with a variety of gods and goddesses in Indian religions, with the three points frequently symbolising significant trinities. The trident is a divine attribute of several Jain deities, including Jvālāmālinī.

Trident
Image by Frater5 © CC BY-SA 3.0

The connection of Jvālāmālinī with Tantric worship is shown in hymns of praise or in kalpas, which set out rituals and yantras for efficient, successful worship. The ceremonies include recitation of mantras, meditation and visualisation through yantras (see Nawab 1995: 190).

The most famous of the kalpas on Jvālāmālinī is the Jvālāmālinī-kalpa, written by Indranandin in the 11th century (Nawab 1995: 42–86). It narrates how the Digambara monk Helācārya, leader of a southern monastic lineage, saw that one of his female disciples, Kamalaśrī, was possessed by a fierce demon. He took her to the top of Nīla-giri Hill to ask for help from Vahnidevī – ‘Fire-Goddess’. This goddess gave him a mantra and instructed him in its use. She recited the mantra herself to drive out the demon from the possessed woman. The monk then began to teach others the worship of Jvālāmālinī, whose name of ‘Flame-garlanded’ is a clear reminder of the original goddess (Cort 1987: 246).

Written in Sanskrit verses, the Jvālāmālinī-kalpa is divided into ten chapters and needs further scholarly exploration.

Chapters of the Jvālāmālinī-kalpa

Chapter number

Number of verses

Contents

1

35

  • origin of the Jvālamālinī mantra
  • Helācārya and the nun Kamalaśrī
  • the moral qualities required from the practitioner

2

24

Description of the diverse types of beings who 'seize' – graha – one’s body and life and have to be propitiated by meditating on mantras and yantras

3

72

Mantras and gestures – mudrās – relevant to accomplishing various aims, such as controlling or paralysing others

4

43

How to draw the maṇḍalas used in Tantric rites

5

20

Process of applying oil to disturb malevolent spirits

6

46

Mantras and yantras to control other people

7

51

Tantric worship

8

34

Bath of Vasudhārā (?)

9

25

Lustration ritual

10

17

Ceremony to gain success

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