Early Jaina Iconography (Part 3)

Published: 08.12.2011
Updated: 02.07.2015

This essay was published in Berliner Indologische Studien No. 19. 2010, pp. 123-169. To make this online reissue citeable, the page numbers are added to the text (see squared brackets).


Early Jaina Iconography - An Overview (Part 3)


8. 23rd Jina Pārśva

[General:] HTr: IX, Sargas 2-4; Johnson Li, V: 356-424; Deleu My: 252-253; Bruhn Śi: 95-96; Vogel Se: 104; Glasenapp Jn: 320-323; Dundas Ja: Index (> Pārśva); Schubring Do: 28-31; JRM: 170-187 (literature and art); Dhaky Pā: Papers 1,3,4,9. [Kamatha incident:] HTr: IX, Sarga 4; Johnson Li, V: 391-392, 394-397; JRM: 171; Pal Li: 182-183.

A systematic survey of the different Nāga motifs would be useful. Our survey of the early period (mainly a survey of pictorial types) is an attempt.

Nāgas (bibliography). Vogel Se (Index: Nāga; pp. 102-103: Mucalinda); Zin Mi: 54-68 (Nāga King Apalāla); 138-145 (Kāśyapa and the fire-snake); Srinivasan Sa (Balarāma); Joshi Ba (Balarāma); Hopkins Ep: § 13 (Serpents), Index (> Nāgas, > Serpents); Moeller My (> 'Nāga', > 'Schlangen'); Grünwedel Bu (> Nāga); Grönbold My: 431-433 (> Nāgas); Gonda In: 316-318 (Nāgas); [142|143] Deleu My (> Nāgakumāras); Roth Ma: 78-81 (Nāga festival); Waldschmidt Bu: 112-113.

Waldschmidt (supra) distinguishes three types of Nāgas: (a) Nāga as cobra (one head, several heads); (b) Nāga as human being, several heads (or hood-circles) attached, rarely: one single head (or hood-circle) attached. [Different is the 'Mucalinda type', infra.]; (c) Nāga as hybrid being (upper body human, lower body cobra).

Nāgas physically. A Nāga is basically a human being with a biological appendix in the form of a single or multiple cobra (Waldschmidt Bu: 112-113; Vogel Se: 40-41).

Double personalities. Pārśva is in art a double personality, Buddha may be represented as a 'double personality': human beings plus friendly Nāgas (snake). There is a friendly Nāga in the Mucalinda story (Vogel Se: 102-105) and in the Kamaṭha story (infra). In art, Buddha and Nāga (Mucalinda story) are occasionally connected (if demanded by the legend), but Pārśva and Nāga (Kamaṭha story) are always connected (connection fundamental). - The concept (snake-hood) is always the same (general Nāga iconography), but in the case of Pārśva and Buddha snake body and human body are clearly separate ('Mucalinda type').

Naga gods (early). Joshi Ba: passim (Balarāma and other Nāga gods); Kala Te: 36 (Nāga divinities, terracotta); rtel So: 425-427 (apsidal Nāga Temple no. 2 at Sonkh), Nāga court scene on architrave (pp. 420-421: Sonkh); rtel So: 432,443 (four-sided Nāga image); JRM: 202, fn. 301 (bibliographical references).

The Pārśva type (five or seven snake heads) can be derived from the early Balarāma type (Joshi Ba). In Modern literature this dependence is rarely mentioned in plain language. But U.P. Shah writes: " … as is clear from the earliest available examples, the association of the Nāga with Pārśva is definitely older [than the available archaeological evidence] and possibly has some historical or an early mythological basis of which we as yet know nothing." (Dhaky Pā, U.P. Shah's p. 35). - Early standing Pārśvas are found in the North and in the South (infra). The coils are in the case of both images visible behind the back (Shah Su: pl. 1, PoW Museum, zig-zag; pl. 2A, Pudukottai Museum, long curve). Both Pārśva images have five hoods (Shah Su: 273-275, 2nd Century B.C.? and 4th Century A.D.?), but there is no stylistic connection. Transitional pieces (Balarāma/Pārśva) do not exist (there are no pre-Kuṣāṇa [143|144] Jina images at all). - Pārśva's place in Nāga iconography is the 'Mucalinda type' (supra).

Pārśva in art. North [Standing] Shah Su: pl. 1 (PoW Museum); Shah Su: pl. 2 (Chausa); Mitterwallner Ku: pl. 36. [Seated] Mitterwallner Ku: pl. 28; Smith St: 24 (Kaṇa plaque). Pārśva is shown, not with all, but with almost all sarvatobhadrikās (Joshi Ea: 354 and pl. 34.VIII.B: standing), and also (Section 12) on an āyāgapaṭa (Quintanilla Ea: 123-124: seated).

Pārśva in art. South [Seated] PJA: pl. 43 (Sittanavasal); [Standing] Shah Su: pl. 2A (Pudukottai Museum); PJA: pl. 33 (Tirakkol); PJA: pls. 1 and 76 (Kalugumalai); PJA: pl. 121 (Aihole); Dhaky (Tiwari's pl. 64, Badami); Dhaky (Tiwari's pls. 55-63, Ellora).

Kalugumalai is unique. - Kamaṭha and the female parasol-bearer are optional attributes. Many Pārśvas are irregular (mainly peculiar coils).

Nāgas in art, human beings, snake attached (nāga in the case of the Buddha separate). Vogel Se: 103-104 (Sanci and Amaravati: varia); Härtel So: 420 (Nāga with consort); Dehejia Di: fig. 106 (Sanci, Nāga-king seated with consorts; motif doubled, snake separate); Franz Bu: pl. 45 (Sanci, Nāgas worshipping stūpa); Longhurst Nā: pl. 23b et passim (diverse Nāga motifs, e.g. Buddha with hood-circle on piled up coils, two worshipping Nāgas); Konczak Am: Abb. 1 (Amaravati, Nāga with consort; submissive-Nāga type).

Nāgas (Cobras) in art as stūpa decoration. Pal Pr: 13 (Mathurā pillar relief: stūpa behind entangled cobras); Barrett Am: pl. 1a.b (reliefs on two drum-slabs: stūpas with cobras); Barrett Am: pls. 14b and 22 (stūpas, domes enclasped by cobras); Franz Bu: pl. 237 (Amaravati slab: stūpa covered/decorated with cobras and surrounded by Nāgas).

Further Nāga motifs in art (all motifs unusual). Plaeschke Hi: pl. 45 (Badami, hybrid Nāga, ceiling medallion); Coomaraswamy Bh: fig. 88 (human being, male but servile [?], with strangely attached five-hooded serpent, flanked by two female Nāgas [hybrid, upright]); Mode Ce: pl. 89 (massive five-hooded Nāga flanked by two small female, human adorants); Mode Ce: pl. 87 (Nāga god [?], himself worshipping, flanked by two worshippers, no object of worship); Mode Ma: pl. 41 (fantastic male, legs ending with cobras); Härtel So: 432b (description), 444 (illustration): hovering Nāga on obverse and on reverse of fragment: human element grasped/supported by powerful three-headed serpent; Mitra Ud: pl. 14b (tympanon, partly framed by two long cobras, tails inwards, hoods outwards; Dehejia Di: fig. 119 [144|145] (Pauni, relief on a pillar, Mucalinda encircling empty seat of the Buddha); Kala Bh: No. 26 (Bharhut, Mucalinda concept following Pauni, but buddha-pada added).

At Mathurā, Pārśva had all the contemporary forms of hair style: plain skull (Joshi Ea: 340, pl. 34.IV.A, Alphen St: pl. 59); notched hair (Mitterwallner Ku: pl. 28); round spirals (Mitterwallner Ku: pl. 45). Artists in the south, in Aihole, Badami and Ellora paid little attention to the hair styles of the Jinas (oscillation between plain skull and curls), so that we can only make a distinction between Pārśvas and non-Pārśvas (Jina with cobra heads/ Jina without cobra heads).

Again at Mathurā (Kuṣāṇa period) and (after the Kuṣāṇa period) in North, West and East India, including Ellora, Pārśva has seven cobra-heads. In Tamil Nadu, Aihole and Badami Pārśva is shown with five cobra-heads. - The difference between five and seven cobras is in later Jainism equivocal: The general convention attributes seven cobras to Pārśva and five cobras to Supārśva, but there may be departures from this convention. Cihnas and inscriptions are clear in this respect but late and not frequent. See JRM: 139-142.

Pārśva's multiheaded hood-circle is obviously not mentioned in Jaina literature. Moreover, "The upasarga-episode [upasarga = attack, attack on a saint] of Arhat Pārśva has been nowhere mentioned in the āgamas, not even in the āgamic [canonical] commentarial literature." Dhaky Pā (Dhaky's p. 6). The story (Kamaṭha, de facto found in a commentary on a canonical work, infra) was utilized in order to explain the hood-circle, it is aitiological. - Stotras (later literature) could theoretically contain allusions to Pārśva's connection with Dharaṇendra (the god or demigod with hood-circle); but such allusions have not yet been found. - The snake, clearly derived from the hood-circle, became Pārśva's cihna (not very frequent, largely considered superfluous).

Pārśva (: Dharaṇendra) and Buddha (: Mucalinda) are connected with benevolent, good Nāgas (Dh. and M.). The Pārśva cum Dharaṇendra story contains also a malevolent character (Kamaṭha, an Asura).

Kamaṭha (otherwise known as Meghamālī) was in several former existences an enemy of Pārśva (i.e. of former incarnations of Pārśva). Dharaṇendra was one day (Pārśva's last existence) a snake protected by Pārśva. Kamaṭha, an evil ascetic, the malevolent character of the story, had nearly killed the snake, but the animal (one snake or two snakes, according to the versions) [145|146] was saved by Pārśva who thereupon rebuked Kamaṭha. When reborn as a demon, Kamaṭha, enraged by the rebuke (and of course remembering it), hurled stones on Pārśva and poured rain on him, while Dharaṇendra (the former snake, now reborn in heaven as a god) protected Pārśva with his hoods. See JRM: 170-171 (fns. 293-298); Bruhn Śi: 95-96. When Kamaṭha realized that his attacks were in vain, he asked Pārśva for forgiveness and returned to his abode.

Of importance is the fact that the story (Mucalinda legend) is found in the Uttarādhyayana commentary, but not in the Uttarādhyayana text. The Utt. commentary includes comparatively early story material, but commentaries are on the whole later than the canon. - Refer for later (hymnic) literature on Pārśva to Dhaky Pā (Dhaky's pp. 45-67).

There is a clear historical connection between Dharaṇendra and Mucalinda. Both traditions have the motif of the deadly thunderstorm. Both versions present a helper (Dharaṇendra and Mucalinda) and a victim (Pārśva and Buddha). - Kamaṭha, the wrongdoer (Pārśva's enemy), apologizes, and this is in keeping with the general upasarga pattern of the UH.

There is finally a true parallel to the Buddhist version. The malevolent Nāga Apalāla attacks the Buddha with stones and flames. A monk with a magic gift and the tutelary spirit Vajrapāi protect the Buddha (as helpers). The Buddha himself is more or less passive. The humiliated Nāga feels repentant; Zin Mi: 54-68 (esp. 56-57). - Compare Vogel Se: 102-104 (Mucalinda) and Bruhn Śi: 57 (Regen als Waffe), 95-96 (Dharaṇendra).

The Mucalinda/Dharaṇendra tradition (in particular the Dharaṇendra tradition) is different from the well-known Brahmanical story of Kṛṣṇa and Mount Govardhana (protection of the cowherds), but there must have been at least a remote historical connection: Indra as aggressor (rain as instrument), the shepherds and the cows as victims, Kṛṣṇa as helper (mountain as shield), Indra as penitent sinner. Ruben Kr: 105-107.

Apart from the dress, the "Mucalinda Buddha" (Buddha shown with many-headed hood-circle) looks like Pārśva: Asher Ea: 43, pls. 60 and 62.


9. Sarvatobhadrikā

Four-faced icons (and shrines) are not rare in Indian art. P. Pal mentions the conceptual relationship of the quadruple Jina icon "with the four-faced sivalinga [and with other fourfold concepts]"; Pal Li: 132-133. The four-faced Śiva-ligas (Kreisel Śi: 65-73, pls. 57-62; pl. 57: "um 100 n. Chr.") [146|147] are part of the liga chapter of G. Kreisel's rich study of Śaiva iconography.

The sarvatobhadrikās of Mathurā (all Jinas standing) may be of the same age as the early Śiva-liṅgas. Refer for dated sarvatobhadrikās to Mitterwallner Ku: 109-115, year 14 (pl. 44), year 4 (pls. 41-43) and year 15 (pl. 45). The Jaina term pratimā sarvatobhadrikā appears in inscriptions on icons with "four Jinas, standing back to back in front of a rectangular core" (Mitterwallner Ku: 109 and fn. 230). See Joshi Ea: 353b-355, pl. 34.VIII.A-C. - Refer for a later form of the quadruple Jina icon, mostly called caumukha, to Pal Li: 132-133 (supra): "7th century", four Jinas seated.

The vocabulary of the sarvatobhadrikās is limited: standing Jinas (Ṛṣabhas, Pārśvas, non-Ṛ-non-P Jinas) in varying combinations. According to N.P. Joshi, twenty-eight sarvatobhadrikās have come to light, but only nineteen are fairly complete (Ea: 353b-355). Refer for the different combinations (e.g. "Pārśva, Ṛṣabha, 2 x non-Ṛ-non-P" ['J. 230' etc.], "Pārśva, 3 x non-Ṛ-non-P" ['B.70' etc.]) again to Joshi (Ea: 354a and 355). - Joshi distinguishes between plain pedestals and pedestals with bas-reliefs (Ea: 354a-b); the plain type shows figures in the corners, but no relief between the corners. See Joshi Ea: pls. 34.VIII.A-C; Mitterwallner Ku: pls. 41-43 and Mitterwallner Fr: 18-22, 23. The architecture of the 'low strata' of the images (pedestals etc.) is not uniform, however. See for the relief type also Section 4 (Categories).


10. Chausa

(Shahabad District, Bihar; Asher Ea: map). F.M. Asher observes that the eighteen Jaina bronzes of the "Chausa hoard" form "the first large group of Jaina bronze sculptures extant from any period in the history of Indian art." See Asher Ea: 17-18; Ray Ea: 17-19 and pls. 1-17; Shah Su: 275-276; Deshpande Ku: 22-28. Date of the figures, according to Ray Ea: 18-19, third-fourth century.

To the Chausa hoard belong two symbols (tree and cakra), four seated Jinas (Ray Ea: pls. 3-4,16-17) and twelve standing Jinas (Ray Ea: pls. 5-15). The two symbols, independent icons (height: 34 cm and 32.5 cm), are unique in Jaina iconography (Ray Ea: pls. 1 -2). - Two mutually related seated Jinas (Ray Ea: pls. 3-4) show, possibly for the first time, an uṣṇīṣa (Mitterwallner Ku: 93, beginnings of uṣṇīṣa in the Gupta period). On the top of the nimbus appears in both cases a crescent moon. The crescent moon is the cihna of the eighth Jina (Candraprabha), but actually cihnas are never represented [147|148] at the top of an image. N.R. Ray nevertheless takes the two crescent moons as cihnas of Candraprabha.

Most of the standing images differ in one way or another from the standard (Mathurā).

Chausa has three Pārśva images (Ray Ea: pls. 8,9 and 13). The Pārśva of pl. 8 shows five hoods (unusual in the North, supra) and coils behind the body (visible between the legs). The physiognomy of this Pārśva is peculiar. The Jina of pl. 9 can be identified as Pārśva on account of the remains of the serpent coil seen at the back (Deshpande Ku: fig. 3). The Pārśva of pl. 13, seven hoods, requires no comment.

The Jina of Ray Ea: pl. 11a has an unusual chest-mark, the other Jinas have primitive (illegible) chest-marks or no chest-marks at all. Two Jinas are "almost feminine in appearance" on account of the "raised breasts": Deshpande Ku: 24-25, figs. 2 and 3 (= Ray Ea: pls. 5 and 9). The Jinas of Ray Ea: pls. 6 and 7 appear weak and bloodless.

The hair styles are not uniform, perhaps even less homogeneous than the Mathurā styles (Section 3: Ṛṣabha's strands, plain skull, "notched" hair, round spirals). We see (a) round spirals (Ray Ea: pls. 5 and 15); (b) spirals or curls of the later type (pls. 9 and 10); (c) parallel strands hanging down on the shoulders (pl. 12); (d) "notched" hair (pl. 11); (e) "notched" hair with strands on the shoulders (pls. 16 and 17, two hair styles combined); (f) minimal indication of hair (pls. 6, 7, 8 and 13); (g) pointed uṣṇīṣa and unclear indication of hair (pls. 3 and 4). The Jina of pl. 14a/b has strands of the "A-pattern" (see Section 5), and the strands cover his back. The Jina is furthermore provided with a nimbus (nimbus with decoration).

Stylistic criticism is difficult, if only the body of the Jina is shown (all Jinas except standing Śvetāmbara Jinas). N.R. Ray says about the Chausa Jinas, "Their faces are either round or ovoid, eyes wide open with bulging pupils, lips wide and set apart and turned to a smile" (p. 18). M.N. Deshpande emphasizes the psychological aspect: "The face [of one Jina] … reflects serenity and equanimity born out of austerities and faith" (Deshpande Ku: 26, fig.4 = Ray Ea: pl. 11a). F.M. Asher's emphasis is on the history of style: He says (Asher Ea: 18a), "The slightly smiling mouth [of some Chausa Jinas] set onto a depressed area of the face and the rather round, open eyes also recall the late Kuṣāṇa style at Mathurā. [but]... the flesh is loose, almost flaccid." See Asher Ea: pl. 7 = Ray Ea: pl. 1 la.

Chronological discussion: Asher Ea 18a/b [pl. 7]. [148|149]


11. Sarasvatī.

A seated female figure can be identified as Sarasvatī on account of an inscription and on account of her hand-attributes (Smith St: pl. 99, right hand figure; Shah Sa: 198-199, fig. 1; Joshi Ea: 356, pl. 34. IX.A; JAA I: 67, pl. 20; JRM: 323-324, fig. 20). Other Jaina divinities are inconspicuous (but see Joshi Ea: 356-357, pl. 34.IX.C).

The present goddess has bare breasts (no clothes, no ornaments), obviously rare in the case of Jaina females. The preserved portion of this Sarasvatī gives no clear idea of the original. Moreover, the posture is unusual ("Sarasvatī … sits … [with] knees up", JRM: 324). The goddess is flanked by a lay-man (with añjali-mudrā) to the proper left and a monk to the proper right. The monk is naked and carries a pitcher (different from a simple water pot) in his proper right, while a colapaṭṭa is draped over his left forearm. The pitcher is traditionally connected with the goddess Sarasvatī (JRM: 323-324). The present goddess is carrying rosary and manuscript (proper r. and proper l.). The appearance of a solitary Sarasvatī is surprising. The earliest Jaina deities are, apart from Sarasvatī, an anonymous couple and Kubera-and-Ambikā (Bruhn Gr II: §§ 2 and 3).

Chronologically, the Kuṣāṇa Sarasvatī is followed by a bronze image of the goddess from Vasantagadh (7th century, Shah Sa: 199, fig. 2). Sarasvatī figures (sculptures and paintings) become common at a later date (early medieval or medieval), Shah Sa. - Refer for the Hindu Sarasvatī to Ludwik Sa.


12. Microcosm of symbols

We use the word 'symbol' without precise definition. A few observations on the concept of 'symbol' will be found at the end of the first subsection (i). Hinduism is always present, but it is here no subject.

Different from 'Symbolism,' as we use the term, is the widespread 'deep' interpretation of Indian art. S.L. Huntington observes inter alia: "What we call the art of ancient India is, in fact, the reification of certain metaphysical concepts, the purpose of which is to enable the religious devotee to more easily internalize the ultimate Truth." And "In spite of the fact that an image is not the same as that which it represents, images are believed to embody tremendous religious energy." Huntington An: xxvi.

Subsection (i): Unusual elements of early Indian art (Buddhist or Jaina) may strike inquisitive observers. The relevant motifs are, inter alia, real animals, [149|150] hybrid animals, Nāgas (and cobras), familiar plants, exotic plants, humans and dwarfs in many constellations, plants and animals spewed forth by animals (and gnomes); Coomaraswamy Ya II: passim. Coomaraswamy sees in Bharhut furthermore a "… Galerie von Blumen- Tier- und Ungeheuer-Motiven, sowie Lotusrosetten, die oft Männer- oder Frauenköpfe enthalten, …" (Ge: 33), and J.C. Harle observes in Amaravati "the swirling rhythms of the massed compositions" (Pe: 38). See also Harle as quoted in Section 13, second paragraph (Pe: 51-52, Pitalkhora).

A few typical (in some cases bizarre) examples can be added. See the āyāgapaṭa reproduced in Pal Li: 118-119 (= Quintanilla Ea: 129-134, fig. 160), the East gateway of Sanci Stūpa 1 (Franz Bu: pl. 50), the vegetative chaos on a cave relief (Udayagiri, Rani Gumpha, Zimmer II: pl. 53), the "swirling rhythm" on a stūpa medallion (Amaravati, Zimmer II: pl. 95b), a stūpa covered with Nāgas and mushrooming chattras (Amaravati, supra), and buddhapadas, covered with numerous motifs (Quagliotti Bu: figs. 18-19, Nagarjunakonda). - Mythical animals (winged lion, winged horse, winged elephant …) have been described in Sivaramamurti Am: 91-95 and pl. IV).

In Buddhism, symbols have (i) a definite point of reference (uniconic representation of the Buddha), or they are (ii) 'general'. Numerous symbols have been connected with the life of the Buddha: tree ('tree of enlightenment'), cakra (first sermon in Sarnath), buddhapada (the Buddha in legends, see also Quagliotti Bu: 169-193), and stūpa (the Buddha's Parinirvana). See Grönbold My: 466 (also 377) and Waldschmidt Bu: 60. Two or three of these motifs (hardly four) may appear together (Franz Bu: pls. 245-248). - 'General' is the world of those symbols which are not 'symbols of the Buddha' (infra) and which form the majority of the symbols (e.g. the iconography of Aśokan pillars). They have no connection with the Buddha or with the doctrine, but 'float around.'

The general symbols of Buddhist art have a touch of Buddhism, an aura of this religion. We have in many cases besides the individualizing plane (cakra representing the Buddha, first sermon) a general plane (pillar capitals, buddhapadas etc.).

As a specimen of the discussion we mention a 'symbolizing' study, a study with emphasis on symbolism (i and ii) by Coomaraswamy (Bh: 19-28): bodhi-tree, dharmacakra, and buddhapada. The bodhi-tree presents "deux niveaux de reference: cosmique et supra-cosmique, represented respectivement [150|151] par le tronc de l'Arbre et l'etage inferieur, et par la cime del'Arbre et l'etage superieur." (Bh: 20). - Further studies of the three motifs (making allowances for the particular and the general): Viennot Ar: Deuxieme Partie; Franz Bu: 22-25; Grönbold My: 326-327 (tree in the Buddha legend). - Quagliotti Bu: Ch. V and App. I; Begley Ca: 7-10 etc, (p. 7: "A wealth of concepts and connotations has accrued to the cakra from the earliest period of Indian civilization" [cakra]). - Quagliotti Bu: pasim, Symbols on buddhapadas.

From the field of early Jaina art we mention in connection with symbolism typical examples of tree worship.

A seated Pārśva at Mathurā shows on the reverse snake-coils (incised) and a sacred tree (low relief, full tree), Joshi Ea: pl. 34.111. Another Mathurā Jina (non--non-P) shows remnants of a tree surrounding the nimbus (pl. 34.II.A, the tree is an attribute of the Jina and the Buddha). Refer for an abstract tree attribute to JID: fig. 7A and for a reduced formalization to JID: fig. 144 (both Jinas belong to Overview II).

The Jaina canon describes an idealized tree sanctuary (Pūrabhadra-caitya) which houses an āyāgapaṭa (Leumann Au: 25-26; JRM: 11-13), but a tree sanctuary (or a comparable complex) does not occur in Jaina art. Tree sanctuaries were probably public parks, originally centred on a tree, and gradually redesignated and adapted to Buddhist requirements. - A representation of a tree-sanctuary (tree with quadrangular railing) appears as part of a tympanon in Cave 3 on Khandagiri (Mitra Ud: pl. XIV B).

The tree of enlightenment is mentioned in the Ācārāṅga Sūtra (Mahāvīra) and in the Kalpa Sūtra (Mahāvīra, Pārśva, Ariṣṭanemi, Ṛṣabha); see Jacobi Sū I: 201 (Ācārāṅga Sūtra) and pp. 263, 273, 277, 283 (Kalpa Sūtra). It is a standard element in the enumeration of the circumstances - time and place of enlightenment (e.g. Sū I: 201: "... in the field of the householder Sāmāga, in a north-eastern direction from an old temple [called Vijayavartta], not far from a Sāl tree … "). The full list of different trees (24 trees) existed already in the Samavāya Sūtra (Shah St: 73-76; our Section 2). Jaina art had only a single standard tree. Refer for the tree theme in Jainism to Shah St: Chs. II 2-3 and II 5. - Sacred trees were at any rate an important element of the socio-religious infrastructure. Refer also to Section 10 supra (the bronze tree as icon at Chausa).

The direct or indirect claim that something is a symbol in the strict sense requires in principle a clear answer to the question "symbol of what?" But the [151|152] question-answer relation is generally not emphasized by the scholars, and the answer may become complicated. An authoress observes: "… the buddhapadas are symbols of the Buddha in his cosmic phase, in his timeless cosmological body. Here [in the "famous Sanchi 1 relief, Quagliotti Bu: 134] the buddhapadas in conjunction with the tree and "co-motif are intended to express the values inherent in the concept of Buddhahood, epitomizing the manifold cosmological and cosmogonic significance which converge in a common interpretation rooted in the earliest Indian tradition …" (Quagliotti Bu: 137). It would be possible (and actually necessary) to study the logic and language of modern interpretations (modern interpretations of the old texts/reliefs, i.e. of early thoughts, p. 136, fn. 7), e.g. to study the logic of axis-mundi-theories (Quagliotti Bu: 136 and 138).

'Symbol' is largely used without methodical scruples. Refer for the general usage of 'symbol' to Deleu My: 268-270, "Symbolik" (mainly our Period II); and to Grönbold My: 466-468 "Symbolik des Buddhismus". C. Sivaramamurti (Am) employs the word 'symbol' frequently in his survey of Amaravati motifs (pp. 44-95). We use this word inter alia for āyāgapaṭa motifs and for the central motif on the pedestals of Jina images.

The microcosm of symbols is described in Buddhist literature in the form of innumerable lists. "The Lalita-vistara describes Siddhārtha's hair as having the shape of śrīvatsa, svastika, nandyāvarta and vardhāmana" (Quagliotti Bu: 85, fn. 6). See Subsection (ii). There are hardly any explanations in the old texts. A modern explanation is the following: "The cakra [depicted on the soles of the Buddha's feet] is one of the attributes of the cakravartin which allows him to guarantee the cosmic order" (Quagliotti Bu: 98). See Quagliotti Bu: 79-107 ("Symbols on Buddhapadas").

Ancient Indian art is replete with symbols but there is no commentary. Even Aśoka's pillars are silent. Symbols can be studied, but they cannot be deciphered with the accepted philological methods.

Subsection (ii): We proceed to the second part of the present section: mainly āyāgapaṭas (devotional tablets, etymology not known). The symbolism of the āyāgapaṭas is interconnected with the aṣṭamagalas, a set of eight symbols (motifs): infra.

The āyāgapaṭas belong almost exclusively to Jaina art. Following S.R. Quintanilla (Ea: 97-98), we distinguish between pictorial āyāgapaṭas [152|153] (āyāgapaṭas in the wider sense: rare) and diagrammatic āyāgapaṭas (āyāgapaṭas in the narrowest sense: more common). "Tablet" is a convenient general term, covering both cases. There are, according to S.R.Q., twenty-one diagrammatic āyāgapaṭas and seven āyāgapaṭas of the pictorial type (Ea: 97). S.R.Q. dates the āyāgapaṭas from "ca. 150 BCE" to "Second and Third Centuries CE" (pp. ix and 140). Refer to Quintanilla Ea: 97-141 (Ch. Four) and 268-287 (inscriptions) for a monographic treatment of the tablets. The tablets had previously been studied by N.P. Joshi (Ea: 333, 335, 360-361).

Jina images do not show the symbols known from āyāgapaṭas, they have their own peculiar programme. There is a distance 'in genre' between both iconographic groups. Moreover Jina images are somewhat monotonous, whereas āyāgapaṭas present remarkable variety.

We have selected four tablets for the information of the reader about āyāgapaṭas. Tablets (1) and (3) are diagrammatic, (2) and (4) are pictorial. S.R. Quintanilla describes the pictorial type: "Pictorial āyāgapaṭas do not display the proliferation of imagery and design within the abstract structure of concentric circles set within a square format that typifies the diagrammatic type. Instead they are more illustrative, with emphasis on a larger-scale object or figure of veneration." (Ea: 98).

Czuma Ku: 53, pl. 3; Quintanilla Ea: 114-118 (two [three] āyāgapaṭas described), figs. 140-142b, 192. Dhanamitra(?) tablet. Tablet dominated by a revolving svastika within a 'great circle'. Medallion with seated Jina in the centre of the svastika; four symbols in the svastika arms; flying celestial beings and four religious motifs in the 'great circle'. - Inscription (few akaras legible): Quintanilla Ea: 273. Rectangular inscription area (bottom) flanked by four plus four indistinct symbols. - (2) Sharma Ma: 80-81; Quintanilla Ea: 135-138 (two āyāgapaṭas described) and figs. 168-172. Vasu tablet. Tablet donated by Vasu (prostitute, daughter of Loaśobhikā). Motif: stūpa with mundane and celestial (flying) worshippers. Two deities (indistinct, with railing) in two niches on the wall of the 'platform' supporting the stūpa (pp. 136-137). - Inscription: Quintanilla Ea: 282. Adoration to Vardhamāna (Mahāvīra). - (3) Smith St: pl. 7; Wayman Ma; Quintanilla Ea: 126-128 (two āyāgapaṭas described: Si[m]hanāndika and Acalā), figs. 156-158. Si[m]hanāndika tablet. Medallion with seated Jina in the centre. Eight symbols (infra) in two horizontal lines (four and four, top and bottom). Cakra pillar to the left and elephant pillar to the right. - Inscription: Quintanilla Ea: 278-279. [153|154] - (4) Smith St: pl. 14; Quintanilla Ea: 120-123, figs. 148-149, 273. Amohini tablet. Tablet donated by Amohini in the year 72 of the Mahākatrapa Śoāsa. Goddess (no name) with female worshippers. Chronology: Harle Pe: 494b, Mitterwallner Ku: 19-20. - Inscription: Quintanilla Ea: 275-276. Adoration to Vardhamāna (Mahāvīra).

Āyāgapaas produce speculative analyses. We quote from S.R. Quintanilla's treatment of Si[m]hanāndika and Acalā (Ea: 126-128, figs. 156 and 159): "Because the magalas and the stambhas are placed within a square format, they may be understood as being symbols that are manifest in the world, since the square can be indicative of the earth." (Quintanilla Ea: 126). - Ibid. p. 128, footnote: "He [A. Wayman] went on to interpret the four nandyāvartas surrounding the central circle [Si(m)hanāndika āyāgapaṭa and Acalā āyāgapaṭa] as forming the sides of the mythical mountain atop which the Jina meditates."

Another point are the animal capitals. S.R. Quintanilla observes (Ea: 127) "… These animals [Si[m]hanāndika: elephant capital plus cakra capital, Acalā: lion capital plus cakra capital] can be identified as the cognizance of the particular individual Jina who is depicted in the center". In fact: the elephant is the cihna of Jina no. 2 (Ajita), whereas the lion is the cihna of Jina no. 24 (Mahāvīra). But we are in the Kuṣāṇa period with conspicuous animal capitals (but without identificatory value), not in the later period with cihnas (identifying the respective Jinas). Cihnas are by the way absolutely inconspicuous (JID: e.g. fig. 146 and fig. 213); they have their little place in the centre of the image below the Jina. - The relevant Kuṣāṇa arrangement is also found on the Vasu tablet (Ea: fig. 168, lion capital plus cakra capital).

Buddhist āyāgapaṭas are rare (Lohuizen Sc: 151; Harle Pe: 494b, Quintanilla Āy: 85). The Bhikhu Phagula tablet (quintanilla Ea: 108, 270-271) is clearly Buddhist.

Several reliefs form a fairly cohesive group of Jaina symbols: Si[m]hanāndika āyāgapaṭa (eight symbols, supra). - Quintanilla Ea: 126-128 and fig. 159, JRM: 322 and fig. 10: Acalā āyāgapaṭa (close to the Si[m]hanāndika āyāgapaṭa, but eight regular plus four irregular symbols: bottom and top). - Dhanamitra āyāgapaṭa with four symbols which belong to the cohesive group ("svastika arms") and with eight largely defaced symbols (śrīvatsa et alia) in a bottom series. - Āyāgapaa fragment of Quintanilla Ea: 107-108 and fig. 129 (-tusikā āyāgapaṭa) with four preserved symbols of the cohesive group. [154|155]

Further sculptures of the group are the following: A square ceiling slab with eight symbols (Sharma Ma: fig. 40, Jaina?), three stone umbrellas (Sharma Ma: 122-123, figs. 42-43, Jaina?), and a stone umbrella of a Buddha image with a considerable number of symbols (Huntington An: pl. 8.30; Quintanilla Ea: fig. 135). See also Shah St: 111 on a stone umbrella (Mathurā), and on further stone umbrellas (also Mathurā?).

The cohesive group of symbols is part and parcel of the āyāgapaṭa subject. Different from this somewhat loose 'cohesive group' with the more casual occurrence of the figure eight is the aṣṭamaṅgala motif (eight auspicious symbols), a limited set of symbols where the figure eight is firmly established. Cohesive group and aṣṭamaṅgalas may be taken as one single group.

The octad surfaces for the first time and in an isolated form in the Aupapātika Sūtra of the Jaina canon (Leumann Au: §§ 2-10 and 491: parallelism); it is an element of the description of the Pūrabhadra tree sanctuary (the magalas hover above the sacred tree: § 10, § 49). See JRM: 31, fn. 103 for two further canonical occurrences of the Pūrṇabhadra description.

The Pūrṇabhadra octad contains the following members (Pkt./Skt.): sotthiya/svastika (particular symbol), sirivaccha/śrīvatsa (p.s.), nandiyāvatta/ nandyāvarta (p.s.), vaddhamānaga/vardhamānaka (p.s.), bhaddāsana/bhadrāsana (p.s.), kalasa/kalaśa (jar), maccha/matsya ("fish": actually two fishes), dappaa/darpaa (mirror). The last three motifs are based on real objects.

In the present case it seems useful to consider also Period II. Western Indian aṣṭamaṅgala paintings are rare and later than ca. 1400 (Shah St: 111-112, JRM: 18-19, Moeller Sy: 132). The aṣṭamaṅgalas play an important part in Tibetan Buddhism (literature and painting): Wayman Ma; Waddell La: 392-393; Huntington Bo: 351-352, col. pl. 121 and fig. 67 (aṣṭamaṅgalas 'g, d, a, f, e, c, b, h' outside the outermost ring of the painting). We do not know when and where the aṣṭamaṅgalas of Jainism were included into the Buddhist (Tantric) tradition.

A special word is necessary in the case of 'śrīvatsa'. The Sanskrit word (mark of hair, chest mark etc., precise meaning fluctuating) can be used for a particular symbol. In the present context we use as the basic form of the śrīvatsa the fish prominent style of Joshi Ea: fig. 34.10 (and Wayman Ma: pls. 26.I-II). This style is an upright fish flanked by two opposed S's. The āyāgapaṭas show the basic type: Quintanilla Ea: figs. 156 (no. 3) and 159 (no. 1): Si[m]hanāndika and Acalā tablets. They also show a transformation [155|156] of the śrīvatsa (corner motifs of the square middle field: figs. 156 and 159). - The 'śrīvatsa' was finally the designation of the chest mark of the Jina (Mitterwallner Ku: 91-92, pls. 26-35). It persisted in the old form in the Gupta period, but was later on transformed into a lozenge (North India; Wayman Ma: 240b-242a; Shah Ak: fig. 10, Akota). - The 'śrīvatsa' is not confined to the Jina. In a number of cases Viṣṇu is shown with this symbol (Desai Vi: 74-75, fig. 58, early Viṣṇu/Varāha with śrīvatsa; Mathurā). See also Wayman Ma: 245, fn. 59.

V. Moeller has published (Sy: 132) a 15th-century miniature where two maṅgalas (nos. 7 and 8) are derived from the svastika, and Waddell has published a Tibetan drawing where one maṅgala (called śrīvatsa) presents what is generally called the 'endless knot' (La: 392-393, labyrinthine diagram). A. Wayman says about (i) śrīvatsa and (ii) the 'endless knot': "While the eight maṅgala symbols in Lamaism always are the list given by Buddhaguhya, his description of the śrīvatsa, given above, provides no hint of how this symbol became the 'endless knot'". Refer for the 'endless knot' to Wayman Ma: 240b, 242a, fig. 26.1.7; 242b-243a; and note 39 on p. 244b. The 'endless knot' was probably introduced into the archaeological discussion by A. Wayman or by an earlier authority. It has been used as a jacket design for BIS (BIS 1.1985 ff). - G. Grönbold mentions the 'endless knot' as an element of the tradition of Nepal (My: 363). Details are not given.

The ω-motif (Quintanilla Ea: 16-17) appears in Jaina iconography also in several forms, e.g. Quintanilla Ea: fig. 143 (right margin, centre) versus fig. 125 (main area, ω-motif in quadruplicate). The modem terms are not uniform, and the discussion has become complicated (Bhattacharya Na). See also Mitterwallner Ku: 96-98 (terms), Quagliotti Bu: 15 (terms) and Quintanilla Ea: 16-17 (terms).

In contrast to Buddhism, Jainism did not encourage the copious and varied representation of symbols on the body. There are, nevertheless, a few symbols of this type, mainly on the chest (śrīvatsa), but also on palms, soles, finger tips, and toes (Joshi Ea: 339b). The relevant symbols are in this case cakra, maibandha, nandipada, svastika. Refer for cakra on soles and palms to Joshi Ea: 342 (fig. 34.11). G. v. Mitterwallner emphasizes'nandipada' and cakra as body marks (Ku: 79 and 94-95). The ūrnā ("A small circular mark in between the eyebrows") occurs in a few cases (Joshi Ea: 340a). See also Joshi Ea: 340a on "Horizontal line(s) on the neck". [156|157]

A rare painting (Central Asia) shows the Buddha's chest covered with symbols (PJA: pl. 15).

At Mathurā and in the South, the uṣṇīṣa ("cranial protuberance", motif unexplained, common meaning of uṣṇīṣa being "turban") is not shown in Jina iconography. Refer for the early uṣṇīṣa in Jainism to Chausa (Section 10, Ray Ea: pls. 3 and 4). - The Buddha has at Mathurā two types of uṣṇīṣa (Sharma Ma: fig. 36 and col. pl. IX). There is little evidence of the Buddha (and of the uṣṇīṣa) in the early South, but see Huntington An: pl. 9.25 (Amaravati).


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