Article: Sūri-mantra-paṭa

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Date

The RAS document has a date in the middle of the right-hand portion:

saṃvat 1506 pratiṣṭito ‘[yam] ārādhaka

it was consecrated in the year 1506 of the Vikrama era. The worshipper is this

This date corresponds to 1449 CE. If this date is authentic and genuinely refers to the year when the object was consecrated, it means it is an old specimen and thus very valuable.

During the period corresponding to this date, the head of the Kharatara-gaccha was Jinabhadra-sūri, but his name does not appear anywhere here. However, there is no clear reason to doubt the authenticity of the date on the yantra.

One element of information is missing, however. This is the name of the ārādhaka, namely the monk who would have worshipped this diagram and become a sūri using this diagram. This indicates that this yantra was perhaps not actually used.

Modern label

Here, the object designation appears in the last line of the bottom right corner. Written by a hand different from all the rest, this label states:

//saṃvat 406 ro Sūramaṃtra ṭebā //1//

commentary on the sūrimantra of saṃvat 406

The term ṭebā is a variant of ṭabo, which is a Gujarati word meaning 'commentary' or 'word-to-word paraphrase'. The term ro is the Rajasthani postposition meaning 'of'.

The date as written here is strange. But the intention of the writer is certainly to identify the maṇḍala with a tag and a repetition of the original date of 1506, before selling or presenting it as a gift. This label thus is likely to date back to the 19th century, when many Jain manuscripts and yantras changed hands, and was added to the object for identification.

Reverse side

One of the two nandyāvartas found hidden at the rear of the sūri-mantra-paṭa held in the Royal Asiatic Society in London. Discovered during conservation, these nandyāvartas were probably added after the completion of the main yantra.

Nandyāvarta
Image by Royal Asiatic Society © Royal Asiatic Society Images/RAS, London

Unusually, this paṭa has more mystical diagrams on its back. At first sight, the reverse of the cloth was blank. But the restoration and conservation work to prepare the sūri-mantra-paṭa for digitisation on JAINpedia led to the discovery of an intermediate lining somehow fixed at the back of the recto.

In this lining two labyrinth-shaped diagrams in red are visible. But they are not inscribed with mantras. The two symbols are examples of the nandyāvarta, which is one of the eight auspicious symbolsaṣṭa-mangala. It is unknown when these diagrams were inked onto the reverse of the main maṇḍala, but it is probable that adding them was thought to increase the auspicious power of the yantra.

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