JAIN VESTIGES RECENTLY DISCOVERED IN TAMILNADU – PART II

Other Jain Sculpture

A stone image is known as Abhinandana, the fourth Tirthankara, has been located at Kurumpundi in Kandarva Kottai Taluk of Pudukkottai District5. He is seated in Ardhapariyanka asana. The Mukkudai (triple umbrella) and the Priyala tree are seen above the head. On either side, one Yaksha is holding a chamara. A lady holding a flower in her hand and figures of monkeys are carved on the pedestal. This kind of figure is rarely available in Tamilnadu and is datable to 8th – 9th century A.D.

A stone image of Mahavira and a Tirthankara was discovered from Vadugappatti in Madurai district. On the side of the Tirthankara image, an inscription in Vattaluttu character is engraved. Both the image and the epigraph are contemporary, assignable to 10th -11th century A.D. This image is about 4½ feet high and 1½ feet wide. The inscription refers to the reclamation of the village Mananilainallur alias Malaikulam. It is known from this inscription that this village was one of the famous Jain centres and the merchant Tisai Yayirattavu Ainnurruvar had lived in it, employing a security force known as attanikal, the probable Tamil equivalent of Attikosam6, a Sanskrit word. Hence it is evident that this Mahavira image was worshipped by the merchant community.

A more than 900-year-old Mahavira sculpture carved on a stone slab which is about 120 cm high and 60 cm wide had been found at Iralacheri near Kaveripakkam, Arakkonam Taluk of Vellore District7. Mahavira is seated on a lotus pedestal in a dhyana pose, keeping his hands crossed on his lap. His head is seen in a half-circle prabha; mukkudai (triple umbrella), scroll decoration above his head, and the siras chakra behind his head are also found. He is flanked by a Yaksha on either side. At their feet, makaras are sculpted along with three lions in a seated posture on the front side of the pedestal. This image is datable to 11th century A.D.

A mutilated sculpture of Mahavira was discovered from Amarapuram, just one kilometre away from Iralacheri in the same Vellore district8. The face of this image is damaged. He is also in seated posture with his hands crossed and kept on his lap. As usual, one Yaksha is standing is standing on either side of him. The heads of the Yakshas are also broken.

A sculpture of Mahavira assignable to 12th century A.D., seated on a pitha that bears the figures of lions, is partly damaged in the face this image has been accidentally unearthed, while sand was being dug out of a riverbed of Aditangal, a hamlet of the village Alandur in Thiruninravur Taluk of Tiruvallur district9. It is believed that the name Aditangal of this hamlet could have been named after Adikalar, i.e. Tirthankarar.

An exciting seated Tirthankara sculpture has been spotted by the Tamilnadu Archaeological Research Institute at Nerkundram about 8 km southeast of Tozhuppedu in Kanchipuram district10. It is seated in a yogasana position, with the legs crossed one over the other. The hands are also kept in the same way. The eyes are almost closed, suggesting that he is in a deep dhyana.

The Tirthankara is flanked by a Yaksha in either side. It also appears that there are four more figures, apparently ladies, standing two on each side. The figures by his right thigh are more visible than those on the opposite side. Hence there are six human figures in total, apart from two Gandarvas who are seated above his head on either side of the triple umbrella. The flamed prabha around his head adds beauty to his calm serene face. This sculpture is datable to the 8th – 9th century A.D.

Inscribed Tirthankara Image

An inscribed stone image of a Tirthankara of the Rajaraja I period had been located at Pandalkudi in Kamarajar district11. Pandalkudi is situated on the highway leading to Ettayappuram from Aruppukkottai. This Jain image is found on the outskirts of a newly constructed Vinayaka temple. It is said to have been brought to this place recently as the banyan tree, under which it was originally installed, had broken and fallen on this image. It is further said that originally there should have been a small Jain temple, the remnants of which are still seen there.

This figure is seated in ardhapariyankasana on a pedestal, which is carved with two lion motifs in standing posture. Cushions at the back of this figure and halos around his head are also seen. The typical triple umbrella is found above his head. Chauri bearers are also carved on either side. On the front and sides of the pitha, the inscription in typical Chola characters is engraved in seven lines. It is written in the 22nd regnal year of Rajaraja, the great Chola king who ruled from 985 to 1014 A.D. It refers to the gift of the image to the Jain Palli of Nallur of Vembunadu by an individual Pugalsadaiyan in memory of his grandfather and grandmother.

Inscribed Bronze Image

An inscribed Dharmadevi bronze image of Appandainathar temple (Jain temple) of Tiunarungondai, a village in Ulundurpet Taluk of Villupuram district was identified recently12. The existence of the engraving on the pedestal of this image was brought to the notice of this author by Thiru M. Chandramurthy, Registering Officer of the Tamilnadu State Department of Archaeology, and was deciphered by both.

The inscription is in four lines in typical Chola characters assignable to 12th – 13th century A.D. and reads as follows:

  1. svasti sri tirunanrungondaikkupportama (rai) terkir kovillirundha
  2. (a) kshan padukkaum idupada ippon aria ip-proul koduttu, mittu ivarukku
  3. (ai) laip pudidakacceivittan chragibaadevi id dharmam ivaru gurukkal sri bha
  4. la tevarkkum udanpadu ivar tambi (Narayan) achchan upayam. 

The inscription refers to the gift of a new bronze image of Chragibaldevi to Tirunarungondai temple which was situated south of Porraamarai tank by the priest Baladevar and his brother (Narayan) Achchan.

The image, which bears the engravings, is now known as Dharmadevi and is datable to the same period of the inscription. It is one among twenty-five bronze images housed in the grilled chamber of the Mukhamandapa od Appandainathar temple. Among the above images, three bearing engraving, have already been noticed. But the current engraving which is on the pedestal of Dharmadevi has so far not been noticed. Hence it assumes importance. This and the earlier engravings are the authentic records for identifying the image, its date and the donor who made these offerings.

This Dharmadevi is standing in tribhanga posture on the padampita over a patrapita. It has two hands, one in Katakamutra and the other in lola hasta. The karanta maguta which adorns her head is found with a seated Tirthankara flanked by a makara head. On the right side of this Devi, there are three figures, two on the right and one on the left. Of the two on the right, one is left with feet only while the other appears to be a child. The left side figure is lady carrying a pot in her right hand. Her left hand is shown in lala hasta.

The height of the Dharmadevi bronze image is about 80 cm and the width between the two shoulders is about 16½ cm.

To be continued…

Natana Kasinathan
Director of Archaeology (Retd.)
Government of Tamilnadu

Source: Journal of Indian History and Culture, March 2002.

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