“L 'ARCHITECTURE,” says Le Bon, “est beaucoup plus fille de la race que des croyances” (Architecture is more a product of the race than of creeds). And notwithstanding the artificial, and in some cases misleading, classifications of Indian Art into religious groups, Indian Art, as such, is, in the main, independent of variations in creed. And a student of Indian Art is likely to miss the psychology and significance of the history of art in India if he fails to realise the non-sectarian character of the main current of Indian craft traditions. And in many cases it is an absurd solecism to characterise any style as “Buddhistic,” “Jaina,” or “Hindu” merely from the accident of its employment under the service of any of these creeds, the fact being that practically the same general principles and canons of art have been employed in the service of different and even antagonistic creeds. Thus many forms of cave temples which were applied to meet the demands of Buddhist religion have also been employed to answer the requirements of Saiva worship. Thus the celebrated Seven Pagodas of Mamallapuram dedicated to the worship of Siva may be deduced from analogous forms used at Ellora for the edification of Buddhist or Jain creeds. The canons of craftsmanship were Indian first, and became Buddhist, Hindu, or Jaina afterwards, according to the patronage for the time being received from the adherents of one or other of these creeds. From this point of view, strictly speaking, there is no Buddhist or Jaina architecture — though there are various variations of style and also, in a few cases, a certain fundamental divergence in forms and ideals of architectural conception. And any particular style, however closely it may be associated with a particular creed, cannot logically be characterized as the necessary product of that creed. In this way the style of architecture that occurs in many Jaina places of pilgrimage, e.g., Palitana, Satrunjaya, Girnar and Mount Abu, cannot be correctly described as a “Jaina style,’ as Fergusson was led to call it by its association with Jaina worship. Yet the temples at these famous shrines offer some common characteristics and features which, though not originating from Jain creeds, may have developed such common features under the patronage of Jaina merchants of Guzrat. Curiously enough, these common features of the so called “Jaina style” are shared by such a weell-known Hindu shrine as the famous temple of Somnath, which is situated only 49 miles south of the hill of Girnar, and also by the sun-temple at Mudhera. Though Brahmanical temples, the illustrate the style employed by the Jains in Guzrat from the 10th to the 13th century, the most typically developed examples of which are offered by the famous temples erected by Tejpâl and Vimala Shah on Mount Abu. On the other hand, we find that at Ellora the Jains have employed the Dravidian temple forms of Southern India. Under the circumstances it is almost impossible to claim for the Jaina temples a specially original character. But although the many component features which make the so-called “Jaina stlye” what it is, have been derived from earlier architectural practices, the homogeneous mingling of the pecularieites in an imposing form not met with elsewhere cannot but be associated with the activity of the Jaina builders who, if they have not originated a style, certainly helped towards a fresh development and a new presentation of familiar and well-known architectural forms. Indeed, as Mr. Havell points out that “the Jains in their temple building usually followed the structural tradition of the Brahmanical sects” (Indian Architecture, 1913, p. 16), and if we compare any of the Jaina temples with the earliest types of Hindu shrines (vide Plan) we find that the fundamental structural elements are the same. We have first the nucleus of the temple in the “garva griha” (“holy of holies”), the primitive cell in which was located the image or object of worship; then a space corresponding to what is known as “antarâla,” and then the “mandapam,” the hall for the worshippers; and finally, surrounding these three units, we have the circumbulating passage, the “pradakshina” — which in its turn is enclosed by the “prâkâra,” or the walled enclosure, which is often honeycombed with innumerable minor shrines. This fundamental unity of Indian temple architecture is also emphasized by other writers. James Burgess, to whom we owe various publications on the antiquities of Guzrat, has observed: “The style of architecture which is so prevalent in Western India has sometimes been called, from certain of its best known examples, the Jaina or Guzrat style. It was not, however, in any way more a Jaina style than a Brahmanical one. The prevalence of the Jains, and the temples they built from the eleventh century at Abu and elsewhere in Guzrat, has led to this misnomer — as if it were the style of the sect. The fact is that it is the style of a geographical area and almost of a period — for the Brahmanical temples at Siddhapur, Sonmatha and Ambarnatha are built in the same style as those of the Jainas at Mount Abu and Bhadresvara, and it is this style, adapted to Muhammadan wants, that we find at a later date characterizing the buildings of Ahmedabad, Champaner, Dholka and other Mussalman cities of Guzrat. It has affinities with the Chalukyan style developed in the Dekhan, but is that employed in the Rajput Kingdom of Rajputana and in the Dekhan during the tenth and following centuries” (Burgess, “The Antiquities of Dabhoi,” 1888, pages 1 & 2).
The temples of Rajputana and Guzrat belong to one of the two parallel currents of the same building epoch to which we owe the most magnificent monuments of Upper India before the invasion of Mahomedan culture. The period between the 10th and the 13th century — during which the Ganga Kings were erecting the Sikhara Temples in Orissa — exactly synchronises with the corresponding building activity in Guzrat, which practically begins with the Jain temples at Palitana (960 A.D.) and ends with the Tejpâl Temple at Mount Abu (1231 A.D.), thus including within the span the Sikhara Temples at Khajaraho. The models of the Tejpâl Temple persisted a few years more in later imitations which carry the tradition of the school upto about the end of the 13th century. The most active part of the career of this school thus falls between 1031 A.D., the date of Vimala Shah's Temple at Mount Abu, and 1254 A.D., the date of the temples at Dabhoi. A peculiar significance is attached to these two dates and may help us to understand the cause of the peculiar intensity of its fertile building epoch. It begins, so to speak, within seven years from the sack of Somnath by Mahmud of Ghazni (1024 A.D.) and ends within a few years of the invasion of Guzrat by Allauddin Khiliji (1297 A.D.). The outrageous desecration and destruction of the famous temple of Somnath — the fabulous magnificence of which has never been surpassed — must have lashed into extraordinary fury the fire of faith which set to work, with unflinching resolve, to rebuild the temple at Somnath, with an energy which soon brought to life a virile school of temple building which flowered out in the magnificent examples at Mount Abu. In these great Jaina temples are crystallised, as it were, the aspiration and the dynamic consciousness of a great era of national life characterized by the fine frenzy of a religious zeal which flared up by a furious contact with an iconoclastic faith. Yet it would be somewhat misleading to attempt to explain the gems of Jaina and Hindu architecture of this period by regarding them as the mere product of the retaliation of an outraged religious faith. Mahmud’s invasion only stimulated and intensified the character of the activity which existed, long prior to the invasion, in the Hindu shrine of Somnath and many other Shiva temples of the ninth and tenth centuries and also in many Jaina shrines at Palitana and Girnar in Guzrat. The group of temples on Mount Abu was not an isolated phenomenon — but the logical outcome and culmination of a long period of artistic activity having an interesting history spreading over three centuries. During this period the sword of Islam had a somewhat regenerating effect upon the Jaina and Hindu culture which it sought to uproot. One of the obvious results of the Mahomedan invasion was the change that it wrought in the nature of the patronage of art. Hitherto the foundation and endowment of the temples appear to have been the peculiar privilege of royal patrons. In most cases the donor and builder of temples were invariably royal personages. During the period, we have been considering here, the patronage passed into the hands of merchants and humbler subjects. Most of the imposing Jaina edifices arose under the munificent patronage of Jaina Banias. And the temples on Mount Abu are very characteristic and typical examples of architecture of the people, as opposed to architecture of kings. Before we proceed to study the Jaina temples on Mount Abu, it may be useful to make a few remarks on the antiquity of the place, which seems to suggest that it was not in any sense a peculiarly Jaina site although the architectural magnificence of the Jaina builders put to shade the contributions made by the followers of other religions.
Abu is the modern form of the Sanskrit Arbuda, which hill we find mentioned even in so early a work as the Mahabharata. The mythical origin of the place is thus described. In the golden days of old when the gods visited the earth and mingled freely with mortals, the spot, where Abu now stands, was beloved of Siva and of the thirty-three crores of Hindu gods. With them sages also shared this spot, which was a level plain, stratching away to the Aravallis. There was, however, a great fissure of unfathomable depth in the ground of his plain. One day the cow of Sage Vasishtha fell into this abyss. In distress the great sage called on the sacred river, Saraswati, to help him. She responded to the call, and the cow was saved by a miraculous rise of the waters, which carried her up to the surface of the ground. The sage, fearing a repetition of the accident, besought the god, Siva, then in the Kailasa, for relief in a permanent form. Siva told him to beseech Himachâla, called all his sons together and enquired which one of them would volunteer to fill up the depth. The youngest son, Nandivardhana, came forward to undertake the mission. Being lame, he desired to be carried on the back of his friend, Arbuda, a dragon. Whereupon the sage, Vasishtha, besought the help of the dragon, Arbuda, and promised that the hill which was to fill up the abyss would be named after him, and not after Nandivardhana. Thus united, the dragon and Nandivardhana left the Himalayas, reached the fissure, and plunged themselves into the abyss. It was so deep that only Nandivardhana's nose was visible, while the dragon's writhings made the mountain quake. Once more he invoked his god's help; and from his shrine at Kasi, Visvesvara extended his foot through the earth till his toe appeared on the summit of the mountain. The hill came to a standstill and swayed no longer. Thus the great chasm was filled up, and a majestic mountain appeared in its stead, which was named, as stipulated, after the dragon and came to be called “Arbuda."
There are as many as fifty ancient and sacred places on Mount Abu. It is impossible to give even a cursory idea of them all within the space at our disposal. The most important of them, and, above all. those of great archaeological interest, shall alone be noticed here. The hill is noted for the beauty and diversity of its landscape. One of the most beautiful objects of nature on Mount Abu is the Nakhitalao, which lies close to the station in the midst of the lofty hills. The lake is locally believed to have been excavated by the nails of the Rishis. Hence it derives its name — Nakhitalao, or “naillake." There are several rocky islands in the lake which add greatly to the beauty of the scenery. The lake is held sacred by the Hindus who perform pilgrimages by walking around it, drinking from it, and washing and bathing in it.
The Jainas, and, among the Hindus, the Saivas, seem to be the only sects who cultivated a love of the picturesque. It is hardly, therefore, to be wondered at that Mount Abu was early fixed upon both by the Saivas and the Jainas as one of their sacred places. There is scarcely any secluded and well-wooded spot on this sacred hill which has not been appropriated by these sects for their worship. We shall take the Saivas first. On the western slope of Abu and not far from the road which leads to Anadra is a group of temples known as Karodidhaj. A lovelier site for these structures it is difficult to find on the hill. Just near the entrance porch is a roughly hewn standing figure of a Banjara, who is said to have amassed a fabulous wealth and styled Karodidhaj (the pinnacle of Crores) for that reason. It was he who built this cluster of temples, most of which are of marble. The principal temples are those of Patalesvara, Kotisvara and Kali, and are thus dedicated to Saiva worship. They belong to the tenth century A.D., but the spires of them all are modern work.
Not far from Karodidhaj, on the slopes of Mount Abu, are the shrines of Devangana which are now in a ruinous condition. The path from Karodidhaj to Devangana is of the most rugged kind. The temples are situated in a picturesque place, and a more picturesque scene on this hill cannot be found. In the midst of a thick bamboo jungle interspersed with tall magnificent trees, on the banks of a mountain torrent bed, over a pool of water furnished from a perennial spring, are the remains of the Devangana temples. Unfortunately, nothing now remains of the structures except the shrine. The latter is now empty, but, no doubt, it originally contained the image which is now lying outside.
But the most important of the Saiva temples on Mount Abu is that of Achalesvara. It is about five miles from the Civil Station and is situated at the foot of a hill fort called Achalgadh. According to our legend, when Nandivardhana, son of the Himalayas, and his friend Arbuda plunged themselves into the abyss, they were in great writhings, and not till Visveswara extended his toe from Kasi from below the earth that the hill became “achala,” or immovable. And it is this toe emblem of Siva which is called Achalesvara and is worshipped in this temple as Siva. Below the emblem is shown a hole into which no one is allowed to put his hand and which is considered to be unfathomable. The sanctum in which this toe of Mahadeva is worshipped is a very plain one, but the front porch has some architectural interest (Fig. 10). This will give one an idea of the style of the porch and also the shrine door which decorated the entrance to what may be taken as the typical temple of the Rajputana and Guzrat style of the 11th century A.D. The dwarf pillars resting on ledges provided with back rests constitute the special feature of the porch of this period. The carving, again, of the pillars is chaste and elegant and closely resembles that of the columns of Vimala Shah's temple on Mount Abu which we shall presently examine. In the close vicinity of the temple of Achalesvara is a “kunda” (tank) called Mandakini-kunda or Agni-kunda. The waters of this “kunda” are supposed to possess the same efficacy as those of the Ganges; hence it is called Mandakini-kunda. It is called Agni-kunda because it is supposed to be the fire-pit from which arose the original ancestors of the four principal Rajput families of the modern day.
We now come to the Dilwara group of temples. There are many small villages on Mount Abu. One of these is Dilwara, which is a mile and a quarter north of the Station of Abu. Dilwara is only a corruption of “Deul-wara," “deul” meaning temples and “wara” a locality or ward. “Dilwara” thus means a place or city consisting of temples. The grouping together of shrines into “Cities of Temples” is a peculiarity of the Jainas. Neither the Buddhists nor the Hindus possess such a group of temples as that at Satrunjaya (Palitana) or at Mount Abu. We have at the latter place not less than six tefpples, all belonging to the Jaina religion of which five are of the Svetambara and one of the Digambara sect. The Digambari temple has no architectural pretensions and consequently does not deserve even a passing notice here. Of the five Svetambari temples, the most important are the temples of Vimala Shah and Tejapâla. The remaining three are the temple of Santinatha, the temple of Adinatha, and the Chaumukha temple. The first of these, viz., the temple of Santinatha, is an insignificant structure, exciting no interest. The temple of Adinath, though bigger and more pretentious, creates no interest at all, especially in one who has seen those of Vimala Shah and Tejapâla. Such is not, however, the case with the Chaumukha temple (Fig. 8). In the first place, it creates some iconographic interest, because it contains four images of one and the same Tirthankara facing the four cardinal directions, the Tirthankara, in this case, being Parsvanatha. Secondly, the architectural effect of the temple is quite imposing, it being massive and symmetrical, the tessellated pavement of the porch also adding to the general effect. The type of the structure is somewhat peculiar, having four faces (“chaumukha”) each opening out on a quadrangle. This is a characteristic development of the Guzrat style under the patronage of the Jaina builders. This peculiar arrangement has some claims to be called a specially “Jaina style," as it does not appear to occur in connection with any Brahmanical temples. The Chaumukha temple is said to have been built of stones that were left unused after building the principal temples by the artisans, and is hence also called the artisans' temple. The temples of Vimala Shah and Tejapâla will next claim our attention. It will be useful to preface our study with a few remarks on the builders of these magnificent monuments.
About the beginning of the 11th century A.D. Mount Abu and the surrounding country was ruled over by a chief called Dhanduka, who belonged to the Paramara family. Paramara, we know, corresponds to the present Rajput clan Painvar. His overlord was Bhimaraja, who was of the Chaulukya or Solanaki dynasty founded in Guzrat by Mularaja about 941 A.D. When Bhimraja (1022 to 1064 A.D.) was reigning at Anahilapura or Anahilawada (modern Patm in North Guzrat), some friction arose between Dhanduka and Bhima, and to escape his overlord's anger Dhanduka fled to Dhar and took refuge with its ruler, Bhoja. And to keep control over the Paramara territory, Bhima sent Vimala Shah to Abu as his Dandanayaka, or commander of forces. Vimala Shah was a Porwar Bania (banker) by caste and Jaina by religion. According to the popular legend, Vimala Shah was visited in his dream by his family goddess, Ambikâ, who commanded him to build near her shrine a temple of Rishabhadeva, the first Tirthankara. But the place over which the shrine of Ambikâ stood had already been occupied by Brahmanical temples, and to obtain the buildings site from the Brahmans, Vimala Shah had to cover it with gold coins, as the price of the acquisition. The site was purchased, and the temple was constructed at an expense, we are told, of 18 crores and 53 lacs. According to Colonel Tod who was the first European to visit Mount Abu, Vimala Shah's temple is “the most superb of all the temples in India, and there is not an edifice besides the Taj Mahal that can approach it." His temple at Mount Abu is called after him, Vimala-Vasahi, and was completed in A.D. 1031. It appears from the inscriptions that the image of Rishabhanath was installed immediately on the completion of the temple. A part of this temple was destroyed by the Mussalmans, but was restored by two bankers, Lalla and Bijar, in 1321 A.D. during the reign of Chaukan Maharao Tej Singh. To Vimala Shah is also attributed the splendid group of temples al Kumbhariya on the Arasur hill, near the celebrated Brahmanical shrine of Amba Bhavani. Tejapâla was also a Porwar Bania by caste, and a Jaina by faith. He was, like his brother, Vastupala, a minister of Virdadhavala, who belonged to the Vaghela branch of the Solanaki family which reigned at Dhola in the Ahmedabad district of the Bombay Presidency. Vastupâla and Tejapâla were residents of Palan, and they had, as Jaina records go, spent about 372 crores 72 lacs 18 thousand and 8 hundred in works of religious charity and public utility. We also find their names associated with a magnificent triple temple on Mount Girnar in Kathiawar. To Tejapâla is also attributed the restoration of many Saiva temples. On Mount Abu, however, Tejapâla built the temple in memory of his son Luniga and called it “Luniga Vasati." The temple itself was consecrated in 1230 A.D., i.e., two centuries after the date of Vimala Shah's temple. Sobhanadeva is the name of the master builder who was commissioned by Tejapâla to carry out his architectural ambitions. This temple was damaged by the Mahomedans, probably during the raids of Allauddin Khilji, and was repaired, along with Vimala Shah's temple in 1321 A.D. by the bankers under the superintendence of Pethada, the master of the guild of architects of the time.
The erection of the temple of Neminath is generally associated with the two brothers, Tejapâla and Vastupala, although the inscriptions only ascribe the erection and endowment to Tejapala. There is no doubt, however, that Vastupâla had a very active share in raising this monument. Indeed, according to the records of history, Vastupâla figures more in contemporary chronicles, as the most generous patron of all the arts and a prolific builder of public places and temples. His deeds are sung by more than one poet. He was himself a gifted poet and his fame travelled to all parts of India and extracts from his poems occur in many anthologies. He was a liberal patron of the poets, the most well-known being Arisinha, Harihara, Jinnaharsa and Somesvara, the last two of whom have immortalized their patron and his deeds in eulogistic poems (Kirtikaumudi and Vastupal-charita). To Vastupâla is also attributed the building of three great libraries. His first outburst of poetry took the form of a hymn in the praise of Adinath on the Satrunjaya Hills on his first visit to the famous Jaina temple where he erected a shrine. If we do not accept the extravagant statements of his bardic chroniclers, there cannot be any doubt that the number of temples he built or restored must have been numerous According to one account, his benefactions to temples and shrines numbered forty-three. He favoured all creeds and sects and even restored Saiva temples and built mosques for Mahomedans. Besides the temples at Mount Abu, he built the following important temples: (1) Temple of Adinath at Dholka; (2) The Indramandapa before the temple of Adinatha and two new temples, one of Neminath and one of Parsvanath, at Satrunjaya; (3) Three temples, one of Parsvanath, one of Neminath, and a remarkable triple temple dedicated to Mallinath at Girnar. The list of temples he restored is too long to recapitulate. Of works of public utility, the number of tanks for drinking water and resthouses attributed to him are numerous.
We will now proceed to study the temples. Externally the features of the temples are perfectly plain and one is totally unprepared for the splendour, the delicacy and richness of the carvings and ornaments which decorate the interiors and which will meet the stupefied gaze of the surprised visitor. A passing familiarity with the general arrangement and plans of the temples is an instructive introduction to the beauties of the interior. From the plan here reproduced, it will be evident that the general arrangement in both the temples is practically the same, except in the placing of the portrait gallery which is within the enclosure in Tejpâl's temple, while in Vimala Shah's temple it is outside the principal enclosure (prâkarâ). The only other noticeable difference is that the one faces the north and the other the south. Both the temples reproduce the style and arrangement of the older temple of Neminath at Girnar (Fergusson, Indian Architecture, Vol. II, Woodcut No. 280). Though varying in minor details the arrangement and the general design of construction are practically identical, and they may be taken to represent completely developed and typical examples of Jaina temples from the 11th century onwards. Each of the temples stands in its walled court, in the centre of which is the main cell (garva-griha) with the image of the Tirthankara to whom the temple is dedicated. In the case of Vimala Shah's temple, the shrine contains a large brazen image of Rishabhanath or Adinath, the first Tirthankara, with jewelled eyes and wearing a necklace of brilliants. To the shrine is attached a “gudha mandapa” or closed hall with two side porches. In the front is a platform which, with the shrine and the closed hall, is raised three steps above the surrounding court (Fig. 6). In front of the platform is a “sabhamandapa,” or assembly-hall, supported by 48 free-standing pillars. The eight central of these pillars, again, are so arranged as to form an octagon supporting a dome. The octagonal dome is the most important and imposing feature of the temple. The central and the assembly hall are enclosed in an oblong courtyard surrounded by a double colonnade of smaller pillars forming porticos or rather corridors to a range of cells, 52 in number. The cells with the colonnaded passage running in front of them are situated on a platform slightly higher than the assembly-hall. In each of the 52 cells are installed seated images of Jinas. On many of the doors of these cells are donative inscriptions, some of which are dated a century later than the erection of the main temple. The repetition of the main cell with its Tirthankara in the surrounding minor cells may be an architectural symbol of the Jaina theory of multiplicity of souls. Whatever may be the origin or motive of this arrangement, it has offered to the craftsman a very admirable opportunity for devising a very imposing passage of circumbulation and for elaborate decoration of a series of domes which are placed on the pillars facing each cell round the corridor — the two longest of which run to about 128 feet. Each dome is ornamented with decorations which are different from the other and some of them are little masterpieces of their kind. The surface of the ceilings are sculptured with incidents from Jaina mythologies, principally from stories of the Satrunjaya Mahatmya as indicated by the names engraved beneath them. Some of the panels are devoted to representations of Siva, Vishnu, Narasimha and other Hindu deities. Whether we consider the general effect of the pillared corridors or the detailed embroideries on its panels and ceilings, the feeling is one of uniform wonder at the magnificent forms which the Jains have chosen to record their prayers in stone, finding expression for them in a language of superb richness and delicacy which the resources of Indian Art of the time could devise. It is impossible to convey in words an accurate impression of the mysterious beauty of this long “pradakshina” in the mystic play of light accentuated here and there by the gleam of the white marble. The accompanying plates will help us to realise to a certain extent the beauty of these temples. The amount of ornamental detail spread over these shrines in the minutely carved decoration of ceilings, pillars, doorways, panels and niches, is nothing short of marvellous. The crisp, thin and translucent shell-like treatment of the marble surpasses anything seen elsewhere and some of the designs are just dreams of beauty.
But it is the octagonal assembly-hall terminating in a magnificently curved dome which forms the most striking and beautiful feature of the two temples, as well as the distinguishing characteristic of the style. As you face the principal shrine from the entrance, the Sabhamandapa is before you with its intricate forest of pillars elaborately curved and ending in bracket capitals. Over these a series of upper dwarf columns are placed to give additional height to the pillars, and on these upper columns rest the great beams or architraves. Each capital has four bracket struts from which spring ornamental arches, or toranas, touching the centres of the beams above, the remaining two brackets supporting dancing figures. The octagonal architraves develop into a circular cornice, richly carved, which support the dome, which can be well studied from the detailed photographs illustrated in photogravure (p. 11). The domes are undoubtedly the pride of the Dilwara temples. The curve of the domes is broken and relieved by a graduated series of ribs decorated with various derivatives of lotus-shapes — while the centre of the dome develops into a lotus pendant of exquisite design and workmanship. An important feature of the dome is a series of sixteen large female figures standing on brackets and arranged in a circle, each figure representing a “Vidyadevi” or “Sâsan-devi” of the Tirthankara. They seem to correspond to the Saktis of tantric deities. Each devi is known by the symbols she carries, while on a few of them their names are engraved. The introduction of the female figures, no doubt dictated by the Jaina donator of the temples, has been made very skilfully. For although the figures themselves are not very artistic specimens of sculpture, they are cleverly woven into the composition and fit in very easily into the decorative schemes, providing a useful foil to the other ornaments, helping to break the monotony of the continuous decorative figures.
It is, however, the singular ornament pendant which forms the most striking and beautiful feature of the entire composition and will appropriate the attention of all visitors. Its many intricate ornamentations may be studied in the details afforded in plate opposite (Fig. 1). This special form of ornament has been a peculiar feature of this class of temples erected by the Jainas during the eleventh century — though the peculiar arrangement of the domed assembly-hall with its pillared porch is anticipated in the Sun-temple at Mudhera erected six years before Vimala Shah's temple at Mount Abu. It has been suggested that this style of architecture and particularly the many details of the ornaments and decorative lintels and toranas (the angular struts springing from the lower capitals) have been derived from wooden originals. It cannot be doubted that some of the details — particularly the decorative arches, the “toranas” — are directly borrowed from wooden specimens. In Guzrat there existed a very fine and well-developed style of wooden architecture. But it is now impossible to trace the derivation of the style of the Dilwara temples from any existing specimens of wooden architecture. We have, no doubt, an example of a somewhat similar ceiling carried out of wood in the temple of Vadi Parsvanath at Anahilawada, but the latter temple was not built before 1594 A. D. and hence cannot be taken to be the prototype in wood from which the temples at Abu could be taken to have been translated into stone. It is possible that the craftsmen who built these temples had developed their skill by previous exercises in wood which gave them courage to attempt such a difficult medium. But the history of Indian craftsmanship precludes any supposition of stone architecture of this class being derived directly from wooden predecessors. The training and tradition of Indian builders have been to work in more than one material simultaneously, and there is no question of one medium preceding the other. Whatever may be the origin of this peculiar style, there is evidence that it continued for a long time and spread over a wide area, at least as far down as Ambarnath near Kalyan (Bombay) where we have a similar temple erected in 1060 A. D.
To return to our study of the ceiling of the assembly-halls. It is usual to compare the effect of the domical ceilings with those of Gothic cathedrals. Indeed, all writers who have recorded their impressions have not omitted to refer to the supposed analogy with Gothic architecture. Fergusson's remarks are worth quoting: “In the centre of the dome is a pendant of most exquisite beauty; the whole is in white marble and finished with a delicacy of detail and appropriateness of ornament which is probably unsurpassed by any similar example to be found anywhere else. Those introduced by the Gothic architects in Henry VII.'s Chapel in Westminster, or at Oxford, are coarse and clumsy in comparison. It is difficult by any means of illustration to convey a correct idea of the extreme beauty and delicacy of these pendant ornaments” (History of Indian Architecture, Vol. II, p. 41). Colonel Tod has expressed himself in somewhat similar language: “Although it has some analogy to the corbeille of a Gothic cathedral, there is nothing in the most florid style of Gothic architecture that can be compared with this in richness. Its form is cylindrical, about three feet in length, and where it drops from the ceiling it appears like a cluster of the half disclosed lotus, whose cups are so thin, so transparent and so accurately wrought, that it fixes the eye in admiration” (Travels in Western India, p. 106-09). While every one will endorse the eulogy lavished on the skill of the decorations of these hanging clusters, the analogy with features of Gothic architecture is not very close. The spirit behind these architectural forms at Mount Abu is undoubtedly akin to that which inspires the Gothic cathedral, but it is futile to look for any fundamental similarities with the forms and structures of Gothic architecture except in minor and inessential features. The outstanding similarity in the two styles is afforded by the peculiar inequality between the interior and exterior of the temple which is also a very characteristic peculiarity of Gothic cathedrals. It has been said that the Gothic style imposes a sacrifice of the exterior to the interior of the building. This remark applies with greater force to the Jaina temples at Mount Abu. For while the flying buttresses and the intricate profusion of struts and stays and pinnacles of mediaeval cathedrals in Europe offer mysterious effects in sky lines, the exteriors of the temples of Mount Abu have not the least pretensions to any architectural effect. The low domes and lower sikharas of these Jaina temples have the most uninviting and bald effect, which is due to the architects concentrating their designs wholly upon the interior of the temples. Indeed, it is difficult to cite examples of such complete sacrifice of the exterior features of a temple to the necessities of its interior designs. There is no question that the sacrifice has been justified. It is difficult to cite any example of such richly decorated interiors which could rival the Dilwara temples. The imposing effect produced by these surface ornaments must, however, be distinguished from the kind of beauty which is produced by clever spacing and by juxtaposition of masses in proportions that give pleasure to the sight. The architecture of these Jaina temples is not certainly of that order. And, if we can free ourselves for a time from the enchantment of its elaborate trappings and superficial embroideries to peer behind its magic veil — to get a glimpse of the naked integrity of its forms, — we shall be in a better position to judge of the exact logic of its expression. As soon as we disengage ourselves from the blandishments of its fairy decorations, we begin to realise that ornament, as such, cannot be accepted as the principal part or the essence of architecture. It has to be judged by the logic of its construction and by the integrity of its forms, stripped of all its surface decorations and plastic figures of speech. Nothing should be introduced in architecture for mere ornament, and the effect depends quite as much on the satisfaction the eye receives from the way in which the structure explains itself visibly as from the agreeable proportion and picturesqueness of the design. Judged by the reasons of construction and the laws of proportion, there are many features of the Abu temples which can hardly escape criticism. The most obvious one is the lack of any constructional function in the decorative “toranas” (arches) between the central pillars of the Sabhamandapa. In the medium of wood the “toranas” might be taken to help to keep the pillars in position, but there is no justification for them in the marble pillars. To Mr. Henry Cousens, the late Superintendent of the Archaeological Surrey, Western Circle, is due the credit of recording a sound criticism of the architecture of these temples. In his Report for the year 1901, Mr. Cousens has remarked: “Though the detail work of these temples is exquisite, and the designs are not only novel in their treatment but extremely pleasing to the eye, yet the setting of the work is at fault. The general outlines of the buildings are not in the best proportions. Such large domes as these two principal ones of Vimala Shah's and Tejapala's temples are set too squat; they require greater height. The fault lies in the pillars, they should have been much taller.” This criticism is justified as regards the mandapa of Vimala Shah's temple rather than that of Tejapâl's, the pillars of which are loftier in height. Mr. Cousens' criticism of the position of ceilings of the corridors is, however, difficult to meet. “The corridor ceilings are specially too low, and the unnecessarily heavy massive beams do not improve them (vide Fig. 4). These beautifully executed ceiling panels, many fitted with delicate gossamer traceries, are stowed away in the deep-set bays between a multitudinous arrangement of heavy deep beams. Owing to the depth of the latter, one small panel only can be satisfactorily viewed at a time (Fig. 7), and that only by standing immediately underneath it and straining one's neck to see it, as it hangs but three or four feet above the head. The adjoining bays are almost entirely cut off from view by the heavy deep beams. Had half the thickness of these beams been buried in the roof above, the panels and beams would have merged into one general ceiling, which would not look, as it does, made up of samples dropped into deep bored compartments.” The short height of the ceilings can be explained, but cannot be justified. The corridor of Vimala Shah's temple was built much later than the main shrine and its height was determined long ago by the height of the central shrine and the assembly-hall. But the limitation could have been compensated, as Mr. Cousens suggests, by reducing the thickness of the beams so as to expose the ceilings to a general view now obstructed by the deep bays.
To the visitors to the pilgrimages of art — the Sabhamandapa auld the corridors of the temples appropriate more attention than the shrine itself where the main images are located, one of which is illustrated in Fig. 2. The corridors and the Sabhamandapa are treated with utter indifference by the majority of the people who frequent these temples. “Scores of pilgrims go in and out of these shrines, having come from the uttermost ends of the land to this holy ‘tirtha,’ who seldom look about them at all and pass by all this beautiful work without heeding it. They go straight to the shrine, perform the necessary rites and walk out again. The fact that the temple is constructed of white marble might dawn upon some of them, but the beauty of the endless variety of forms into which its ornamental detail is so cunningly wrought appeals to them in vain.” To one more sensitive to aesthetic appeal the delicate lotus petal string course, of the basement mouldings of the shrine (Fig. 3), will offer more attraction than the shrine itself. The only other noticeable feature of the temples is the portrait gallery of the donators. In the temple of Vimala Shah, this gallery is situated opposite the entrance to the main shrine, and contains ten statues of elephants, on each of them was seated a figure on a rich “hauda” behind the driver. These represented Vimala Shah and his family in procession to the temple, but the figures have been destroyed during Mahomedan invasion. The portrait gallery attached to Tejpâl's temple is illustrated in Fig. 5. The elephants with their rich trappings are sculptured with exquisite precision. Behind the elephants are ten slabs, each with a male and one or more female figures on it. These are representations of the donators who were riding on the elephants together with their wives. Two of the slabs represent the two brothers and their wives — of Vastupâla with Lalita Devi and Wiruta Devi and of Tejapâla and Anupamâ. In building this temple the brothers have not only exchanged their perishable wealth for an immortal name, but immortalized the name of more than one member of their family. The names of their relatives are engraved in the small niches (jinâlaya) of which there are fifty-two here, and each niche was built for a distinct personage.
On the comparative excellence of the two temples, critics have expressed different opinions. Fergusson has found it difficult to decide which should bear the palm. Very few people will, however, differ from Tod's estimation. Referring to the temple of Tejapâla he remarks: “The design and execution of this shrine and all its accessories are on the model of the preceding, which, however, as a whole, it surpasses. It has more simple majesty, the fluted columns sustaining the munduff (hall) are loftier, and the vaulted interior is fully equal to the other in richness of sculpture and superior to it in execution, which is more free and in finer taste."
We have begun by suggesting that the architecture of the Dilwara temples is not the expression of any special necessities of Jaina religion. Generally speaking, the Jains adopted existing styles rather them originated any new styles. And it is somewhat difficult to glean from the group of temples on Mount Abu any contributions which we may consider as due to Jaina inspiration. To one endowed with a special degree of assthetic imagination, the use of the material — the sparkling white marble which contributes to such a magnificent effect — may be taken to symbolize the Jaina theory of the purity of soul. The function of Jaina ritual is to purify the soul of the “dirt of human actions” until the soul shines resplendent, all pure and powerful. And in the gleam of its white marble we may fancy an embodiment of this doctrine. Again, the purity of contemplation in Jaina theology is suggested by the word “sukla” (white) and may have suggested the use of the white marble for the temples. If Jainism had suggested the material for this monument, it does not appear to have suggested the form for the structure. And the enthusiasm of the religious faith of its builders found pleasure in expressing itself in the supreme and unstinted magnificence of its decorations. And it is difficult to think of any sect making such superbly magnificent places of worship for locating its deities. The Jain builders can well claim, with the French mediaeval builders, to call themselves “logeurs du bon Dieu." If they did not devise any special language, any new style of architectural expression, they have certainly improved the existing form to the utmost capacity of its expression by moulding the current speech to meet the demands of a religious faith, which at this particular place was pledged to exuberant embellishments never to be surpassed even by its own adherents. Indeed, Jain builders have never been able to over-reach the extravagant magnificence of the Abu temples. But if the faith that found utterance in such exquisite prayers in stone has flagged or become less dynamic, the legacy that it has left to posterity is indeed rich and of Extraordinary value and magnificence.