In the year 1594-96, according to a preserved inscription, a certain Ratnakuṁyarajī, of the wealthy and well-known Jain clan named Osvāl, with, probably, his sister and daughter as collaborators, financed in Pāṭan, 1 ancient capital of Gujarat, the construction of a temple dedicated to Pārśva, twenty-third of the twenty-four Saviours (Tīrthaṅkaras) recognized by his faith. This he did under the advice of Śvetāmbara pontiff, Jinacandrasūri VI of the Kharatara gaccha, on whom, says the inscription, the Mughal Emperor Akbar bestowed the title of “the most virtuous, glorious pontiff of the age” (sattamaśrīyugapradhāna). 2 This building came to be known as the Vāḍīpura-or Vāḍī-Pārśvanatha temple.
Either as part of the original structure or as a latter accretion, there was erected a small, elaborately carved wooden domed room, being the kind of architectural unit known as maṇḍapa(“porch, hall”), and this, which is now installed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Pls. IV-VI), is the subject of this paper. The incentive to build the temple was, of course, piety. A renewed urge of the same sort, over three hundred years later, led other Jains to dismantle the original relatively unpretentious temple complex and replace it with a more expensive edifice, made of stone and finished inside with marble, producing, we may hope, a notable entry of merit on its patrons’ account in the great cosmic ledger and so leading to happy rewards in future existences.
The older room was the more interesting and more beautiful of the two, and by a bit of good fortune, possibly due to virtuous acts in some previous life, two Americans, Mr. Robert W. de Forest and Mr. Lockwood de Forest, Some time after the dismantling, in 1916 acquired the room just mentioned, and then laid up, or presumably laid up, further rewards in some future rebirth by giving it to the Metropolitan Museum. It was installed and opened to the public in 1919, and has now the double distinction of being, first, one of the two Indian temple rooms on exhibition in the United States—the other is a pillared stone hall from Madura in the Philadelphia Museum of Art3—and, second, perhaps the finest ensemble of Indian wood-carving outside its native land.
There must, however, have been a flaw in the de Forests’ merit, because they never saw the temple while standing at its original site and so did not get certain basic information which would have been useful for the museum installation. But luckily two members of the Archaeological Survey of India did, Dr. James Burgess in 1869 and Mr. Henry Cousens in 1886-87. They published a photograph, two drawings, and a brief description of the room. 4 But unfortunately, again, somewhere along the line, merit was imperfect, for the account which they published was both brief and at certain vital points insufficient. They did not describe the temple complex as a whole, nor did they indicate the relative position of this room or explain its function. Most of their report concerns the inscription mentioned above, which, they say, was preserved on a slab “built into the wall of the principal maṇḍapa” of the temple. This allusion, whose brevity must have seemed to them unimportant, is to us tantalizing. Was the room or porch now in the Metropolitan Museum the “principal maṇḍapa” or not? If not, what was it and what was its purpose? And was it built at the time mentioned in the inscription? For lack of a sentence or two we are left to conjecture about the full significance of the inscription. But the architectural data which the two authors explicitly left us are of great value, and I shall refer to it frequently in the rest of this paper.
Wood-carving in Gujarat
Wood-carving, as so skilfully illustrated in this room, is widespread in Gujarat and nearby, and may be an art of long standing there. It is often found on doorways of private houses, mouldings, cornices, balconies, facades. It appears frequently inside small temples, where it is fully Painted; a few traces of paint are visible on the Metropolitan’s room. The intricate wood-carving of the region seems to be imitated in the interior marble decorations of such temples as those at Mount Abu, where the stone is as delicately and minutely worked as the wood in our maṇḍapa.
But though wood is abundantly used in Gujarat and many examples of fine wood-carving exist, few whole wooden temples or even temple rooms are now known. One which is similar to this but less satisfactory to study was acquired by the Baroda Museum in 1947, and as now installed is described by Dr. H. Goetz and Mr. U. P. Shah in the “Bulletin of the Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery”, vol. VI, Pus. 1-2, 1948-49, pp. 1-30, with 60 figures on XXIV plates. The latter room has a central portion, about the size of the Metropolitan’s maṇḍapa, and two wings. It has a complex history, being composed of pieces of varying date and diverse provenience, finally assembled by someone, probably a wealthy Jain layman, who used it in his house. The Metropolitan’s room, being a whole but for some figures removed after the dismantling, and having all been executed in a single period, is a rarity even in India, and the excellence of the carving makes it a most valued possession. Only as recently as 1939 the then Director of Archaeology for the Baroda State, in which lies the city of Pāṭan where the Metropolitan’s room was constructed, printed in his annual report a lament that this had been exported from India. 5 The carving of the room is deep and crisp; the figures full of action and life; the composition careful though traditional. All is filled with joyous devotion; it is a fitting memorial of the Jain religion.
The original structural features of the room are clear from the archaeological officers’ report and the elements of the room as they can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum. It was built on a very simple skeleton, consisting of four corner posts a little more than five feet high and set a little more than eleven feet apart, over whose tops extended beams or lintels. The corner posts rose from the level of the ground outside, but the level of their base was not the level of the inside floor. This was, instead, a little less than two feet lower. Inside the posts was a ledge or walkway about fifteen or sixteen inches wide, which ran around all four sides of the room, and at the inside edge of this was a straight drop of about twenty or twenty-one inches to the floor, which was, therefore, sunk that distance below the outside ground level. Mr. Cousens’ drawing shows this feature plainly.
The straight perpendicular sides of the room were about five and a quarter feet high, and were originally open to the air all the way around. There was no doorway. The way to enter the room was to step on the walk way inside the corner posts, and then step down to the floor. To do so one had to bend a little on coming to the walkway and then lift one’s feet care fully over the low railing on the inside of it as one stepped down to the floor level. The awkwardness of this procedure led to confusion when the room was installed in the Metropolitan.
In the center of each side of the room was a balcony (Pl. IV) projecting inwards, and the rear posts of the balcony served with the corner posts to support the superstructure. The pediments of the balconies were upheld by front posts and struts, and the balconies were supported from below by brackets. These elements and beams were all richly carved in higher relief (Pl. VI). The drop from the walkway to the floor was faced with a dado, which was also elaborately decorated.
The dome construction began above the lintels connecting the corner posts. First, an octagonal course was imposed upon the basic square, cutting off the corners and leaving squinches, which were then embellished with carving. Above the octagonal course was then laid a sixteen-sided course, which cut off the angles of the octagon. Rings were then raised on this latter course, diminishing in diameter and corbelling inwards. A center element with a large pendant bound the parts of many stone temples of Gujarat and lower Rajputana, notably those of the Jains at Girnar, Śatruñjaya, Mount Abu.
When the room was constructed, the sides were left open, as is the case with similar elements in stone temples, but at some later time an iron grating with a mesh of about an inch and quarter was introduced in the sides to keep out bats, swallows, and pigeons, which are a common nuisance in Indian temples. The published photograph shows a balcony (now installed in the Metropolitan at the east), and the drawings exhibit the cross-section and the ceiling.
When installing the room the Museum staff was baffled. It could see no obvious logic in a room which was so inconvenient to enter and to use. The Museum, therefore, rationalized the structure by giving it a lower part, which in effect amounted to another story, making the room high and narrow and rendering it practically impossible for any ordinary human neck to bend far enough backward to let one see the ceiling. The addition, like the room, was composed of carved wooden elements from Gujarat and Jain in their subject matter, but the wood was of a different kind, the carving was of a different style, and the two major parts of the reconstruction had never been together until they reached New York.
The Museum was quite frank in stating what it had done and why. When it opened the room to the public, it published in its “Bulletin” (January, 1919) a note signed “J. B. ” (Joseph Breck), telling something of the room’s history; referring to the publication by Burgess and Cousens, and also remarking, “Unfortunately, neither the drawings nor the photograph [that published by Burgess and Cousens] show the structure below the frieze [meaning the dado] nor give the ground plan of the temple; but presumably the structure was borne upon columns, thus permitting access to the Shrine and other halls. ”
The presumption, however was incorrect, and the reconstruction is unjustified. First, the addition of a lower section destroys the proportions of the original. These domed rooms from temples in Gujarat—and a number have been published6—are regularly constructed on the basis of a cube with the upper corners rounded off. This room was originally about eleven and a half feet in each dimension, and the length and breadth are that now. But the height of the reconstruction is about eighteen feet, or half as much again as it should be. Secondly, the drawing shows clearly that the room was built at ground level. Thirdly, the photograph, when carefully examined, shows beyond the grille, at the left of the balcony, faintly yet unmistakably discernible, a man standing on the outside ground or pavement, peering curiously within, looking very much like somebody’s chaprassi. His feet are at about the level of the ledge or walkway which runs around the inside of the room. The photograph also shows, just inside the dado, a few inches of the original floor. There can be no doubt that the room was complete without a sub-structure, that it was erected at ground level and had sunken floor, and that it was not meant for passage but had to be passed around.
In the reconstruction there is a wooden grille in place of the adscititious iron grille mentioned above, which kept out bats, swallows, and pigeons. The present grille is evidently otiose, since the Metropolitan Museum does not appear to be bothered by such pests.
Original position and function
Though Burgess and Cousens fail to state explicitly the position of this room in the total temple ensemble and its function, we may make deductions on these points with a fair degree of confidence. We may start by referring to the main features of temples in Gujarat. 7 There, as is general in India, the essential part is the cell or shrine called garbha (“womb interio”) or garbhagṛha (“womb-house”), which houses the image of the deity or, with the Jains, the Tīrthaṅkara who is being honored. This usually has only one opening, the door. Above the cell is ceiling or false roof, over which in temples of any pretensions rises a spire (śikhara). All this is called the vimāna (“celestial car”, ”palace”) of the god, and it may in itself constitute the entire temple. Usually, however, there are additional elements. Before the vimāna may be a maṇḍapa (“porch, hall”), which may be either open on the sides or enclosed by walls. In a temple of any size at all this has columns. When the porch has enclosed sides it is called antarāla (“passage way”) or gūḍhamaṇḍapa (“enclosed porch”). In front of this frequently appears, especially in large temples, another maṇḍapa serving for groups of people to use in various connections indicated by the names applied to it, which are sabhāmaṇḍapa (“assembly hall”) raṅgamaṇḍapa (“theatrical hall”), nṛtyasala (“dance hall”). This may be attached to the temple structurally or may stand independently of it in front. When it is without walls it may be known as an ākṅśamaṇḍapa (“open-air hall”)8. In a sabhāmaṇḍapa the ceiling is frequently a heavily carved dome, as in the example in the Vimalasahi temple on Mount Abu, which has as its chief theme the sixteen Jain Vidyādevīs9, or in the detailed example at Kanoda or that at Modhera. 10 There are many modifications of temple plans, with variation in the relative size, shape, and situation of elements, and with the addition in some large temples of still other accessory units. 11
To identify the purpose of the Metropolitan’s maṇḍapa, we may note three point. First, Cousens’ drawing clearly indicates that it was free standing. Second, Burgess and Cousens in referring to the long inscription say that it was “built into the wall of the principal maṇḍapa of this temple”. Since the only part of the temple which they describe is the porch (maṇḍapa) which we are discussing, it seems clear that if the inscription had been on it, they would have said so explicitly. In referring to the principal porch, they must have been referring to another than this; that would have been the maṇḍapa just before the vimāna, which in any case would have been the natural place to set an inscription. Third, the Metropolitan’s being awkward to pass through, would not have been meant to give access to the shrine. It was to be passed around except when being put to its own special use. We may conclude, I think with assurance, that the room was constructed as a sabhāmaṇḍapa (“assembly hall”) open to the air.
Our maṇḍapa may have been erected at the same time as the main shrine or at a later time, and either by the same patrons or by some other. There is no way to determine this point with complete certainty. It could have been a separate expression of religious feeling by some sincere soul who set it up, a small jewel of a building, edifying to enter and behold, commemorating some specific occasion for gratitude to the superhuman powers or celebrating some pious purpose happily achieved. In it the patron and his family or some other small group might on occasion have entertained a distinguished monk to have the blessing of listening to his discourse or have had the Scripture recited at a festival season or have viewed a dance in honor of some exalted figure or have engaged in some other profitable exercise. It scarcely seems likely to have had frequent and regular use.
In view of the remarks made just above it is evident that there is no positive and unequivocal evidence about the date of the maṇḍapa. Burgess and Cousens in discussing the maṇḍapa refer to the inscription and imply that they consider the dates which it gives as applying to the whole temple including this part of it. The inscription says that the construction was begun “in the reign of the Pādishāh, the illustrious Akabbara, in the year 1651 after the era of the illustrious king Vikrama, on the 9th of the bright half of Mārgaśīrsa, on the civil day Monday, under the lunar asterism Pūrvabhadrā, in a propitious hour. ” This is equivalent to November 11, 1594. 12 The image was consecrated on May 13, 1596. But, as is intimated above, the maṇḍapa may have been built later than the vimāna and its porch. To answer the problem of the date, therefore, we must seek other criteria than the inscription. There are a few which may be used. One is the headdress worn by Tīrthaṅkaras. This is either a triple-tiered parasol or crown, such as appears in illustrated Jain manuscripts of the 16th century, 13 or a crown with points of varied length or a parasol, such as appear in manuscripts of the 17th and 18th centuries but cannot be absolutely denied for the late 16th century. Further, the goddess Lakṣmī had her attendants, who are shown on the parapets of the balconies, wear crowns with flaring points, such as are assigned by Goetz and Shah to the 16th and 17th centuries. 14 Again, the bullock carts on the parapets compare with one shown by Goetz and Shah, though it is more elaborate and has four wheels, and assigned by those authors to the late 16th century. 15
If the maṇḍapa was carved later than the dates in the inscription, the time seems unlikely to have been much later. It seems that we should take it to be of about the beginning of the 17th century.
When the room was constructed, it is likely that the architect and his patrons, or patron, had some overall unifying principle in the iconography. This we may try to deduce.
The temple of which it was a part commemorated Pārśva, the twenty third of the twenty-four Tīrthaṅkaras, but as a maṇḍapa it did not house an image, and the theme of the carvings is not Pārśva or any series of circumstances relating to him, nor is it concerned with the Tīrthaṅkaras as a whole. Those representations of Tīrthaṅkaras which occur in the room are in a secondary position. They are four, appearing in the pediments of the balconies, and are not easy to identify, since the characteristic marks (lāñchana) which differentiate Tīrthaṅkaras are here damaged. They seem to be as follows: in the eastern balcony (as now installed) Ṛṣabha, with his bull; in the southern, Ṛṣabha, with bull; in the western, Ṛṣabha, with bull; in the northern, Śānti with deer. All four are shown as perfected souls (siddha) in Īṣatprāgbhāra at the top of the universe. 16 There they exist as pure and incorporeal soul, and hence have no resemblance to anything material, whether animate or inanimate. But to symbolize them, and only for the purpose of symbolism, they are shown through the medium of the human body. The human body does not depict them; it only suggests them. When the Śvetāmbaras so symbolize their Saviours, they show them arrayed, ornamented, and crowned as kings, with royal parasols overhead, and flanked by attendants bearing fly-whisks and waterpots. A temporal world-conqueror would be similarly presented, and we may recall that according to Jain mythology each of the twenty-four Saviours could have had such a worldly career if he had not elected instead to follow the religious life and become a Jina (“Conqueror”) in the spiritual struggle. In this room the Jinas appear to be incidental to the main iconographic themes.
The main themes deal with lower goals than the difficult spiritual victory achieved by the Perfected Beings. They are, instead, the aims of creatures reconciled to remaining for an indefinite period in the transient phenomenal universe, where they are bound by the action of the senses and destined, therefore, to experience innumerable rebirths in the revolving samsara (“round of existence”). Such beings are satisfied with the temporary goals of prosperity, joy, and protection from evil, and these are the themes of the carving in the maṇḍapa. They are illustrated in a heavenly environment, and in an earthly. The creatures seeking and enjoying them or aiding mortals to enjoy them or to commemorate them are divinities and their attendants, human beings, and possibly some subterranean entities.
Protection from evil is the chief motif of the dome. Its hemisphere represents the vault of heaven, which meets the square earth at its circumference, 17 reaches to some great height at the zenith above us, and encompasses the activities of men and gods. It features carvings of the eight deities whose function it is to guard the universe at the cardinal and intermediate directions so that it may be free of molestation from any evil forces. The idea is a common one to all Indian faiths. It stems from the old notion of the Ṛg Veda that the universe operates, or should operate, in conformity with a body of cosmic law called the ṛta, which when fully observed insures its equilibrium or harmony. Unfortunately, there exist forces contrary to the ṛta, characterized as anṛta, which are constantly endeavouring to enter the universe of gods and men and disrupt its orderly cycle. These are demons (yakṣas) and beings whom they induce to do their will. The gods are continually engaged in repelling these evil forces, and men have the duty of assisting the gods, chiefly through due celebration of the sacrifice. In post-Vedic India the need for protection is formally recognized by designating certain gods, most of whom already in the Veda, as world protectors (lokapāla, dikpāla, vāstudevāta). They defend against evil intruding from the horizontal directions, either at the four cardinal points of the compass or at eight. They need not watch the nadir which is protected by the Earth goddess (pṛthivī, bhūmi, bhū), nor the zenith, which appears to need no protection, since the only opening in it, in Vedic mythology, appears to be that “straight path” (sādhu pathi; cf. RV 10. 14. 10) that leads to the realm of the gods and the blessed dead, where no evil is ever found. Protection by the Direction Guardians is invoked in India in many circumstances. At the dedication of a building in Gujarat, for example, as one of the final ceremonies, the master craftsman with attendants and a priest or two mounts a platform raised on a high scaffolding and calls to the regents of the eight airts. In Jain temples these same figures often appear on the domed ceiling of a maṇḍapa. This is the case with the Metropolitan’s carved room. To start at the east, which is the normal point of departure in India, and box the eight points of the compass, the deities with their vehicles (vahanas) in the original construction were:18
East; Indra and elephant
Southeast; Agni and ram (looking, however, more like a goat or deer)
South; Yama with buffalo (from some views looking like a horse)
Southwest; Niṛīti with dog
West: Varua with boar
Northwest; Vāyu or Marut with gazelle
North; Kubera with elephant
Northeast; Iśāna with bull
Each deity is set in an architectural niche and is flanked by two attendants. In many cases distinguishing attributes have been broken off. Between these eight gods originally stood eight female figures, but these were already disposed of before the room was acquired for the Museum, and the pieces of wood on which they were carved have now been replaced by blank substitutes. We can get a rough idea of them from Cousens’ drawings of the dome. They may have been meant for heavenly women (apsaras or surasundarī) or more probably the Direction Maidens (dikkumārī), who are fifty-six in number and assist at various important functions, such as the heavenly bathing of the future Tīrthaṅkara when born on earth for his last existence. 19 They stood on lotuses, which are still preserved, and play musical instruments (lute, both single-bowled and double-bowled, flute, drum, cymbals, flute), and danced.
Ancillary to the main figures in the dome and their attendants were other figures, human, animal, and hybrid in form, and a profusion of auspicious vegetation designs.
The most conspicuous position occupied by any of these was on the pendant, which was decorated with eight figures of female musicians and dancers, again likely to be either apsarases or dikkumārīs.
Next to the pendant is a ring of conventionalized flowers, then a ring of animals—lion, tiger, elephant, cow, camel, horse, buffalo, deer, bird, snake, mongoose, śarabha (lion’s body with elephant’s trunk), another hybrid consisting of quadruped’s body with a bird’s head. Some are suckling young; other may be engaged in fight— śarabha with lion, lion with elephant, snake with mongoose. These various creatures perhaps represent the animal world as it is considered to exist in the heavens.
The next ring consists of musicians whose instruments are drums, lutes (vīṇā), trumpets, flutes, cymbals. One has a horn with a bend like a saxophone. Many of the musicians have bird’s legs and tail on a human torso, or a bull’s head or monkey’s head and tail on a human torso, and are therefore, kiṁnaras (“what sort of man”, “near-man”).
Outside this ring is a ring of conventionalized flowers. Then come the main figures, already mentioned, and below them is a ring of elephants in procession, Under these are suspended the eight conventionalized lotuses on which originally stood the eight female figures now missing, which may be meant to represent the Direction Maidens. On a level with these flowers is another ring of musicians, playing a variety of instruments, and singers. Beneath this are the other ring-courses of the dome, showing conventionalized vegetation decoration. Next, below the lowest ring is a sixteen sided course carved with three half-lotuses to a side. Then appears an eight-sided course in two registers, of which the upper contains sixty-four male figures seated, each holding a jar or a rosary. Though these have only two hands each, it is possible that they represent the sixty-four Indras. In each side with its eight male figures are nine attendant fly-whisk bearers, many of whom are in dance poses. The lower register has an elaborate foliage design. In each of the squinches under the cross pieces at the room’s four corners was an elaborate floral design ending in the corner in a krtimukha (“glory face”). These are now all badly damaged, but one has two kiṁnaras playing flutes and two makaras (sea monster) standing up right on their curled tails, with bodies twisted as in the dance. The decoration of the squinches seems to end the representation of heavenly regions. All there has been joyousness secure by the protection of the Direction Guardians with probably the accompanying Direction Maidens.
Below the squinches we come to a representation of the four-square earth, and there the significant subject matter is treated in the carvings of the balconies. Each of these is an elaborate architectural unit surmounted by a pediment in which is seated a Tirhankara as a perfected being, flanked by attendants. The structural elements are heavily decorated with jars and other lucky symbols. But the most important feature of each is the parapet which has as its theme adoration of the goddess Lakṣmī. She is the dispenser of prosperity, especially worshipped by merchants, and therefore supremely favored by the Jain community. Her annual festival in the autumn, when shopkeepers close their accounts, people pay their debts, and the prudent worship the rupee, bears the name of Dīvalī (Skt. Dīpāvali “row of lights”), and with Jains it not only honors the goddess but also marks the entry into complete nirvāṇa of Mahāvīra, the last of their twenty four Tīrthaṅkaras, (Saviours), which they say occurred on this day. 20
The central figure in each balcony carving is clearly this goddess Lakṣmī, because the four hands hold her regular attributes. In the upper ones are lotuses; in the lower are a rosary and a small jar. Still more, two elephants stand beside and above her, sprinkling her with water from their trunks. Her seat is regularly a lotus, not shown here as a seat, but appearing triply in the dado, below, and she symbolizes the productive earth resting upon the cosmic waters, while the clouds, represented by the two elephants, send down the fructifying rain.
In the different balconies, the figures which accompany the goddess vary. In that now at the north they are female musicians and dancers, crowned as she is, some of them playing the vīṇā, the Indian lute. At each end is a lay figure holding a rosary and leaning upon a long bamboo staff, which in India is still a common weapon. He is perhaps a pious warder.
In the present eastern balcony fly-whisk bearers attend the goddess, while musicians blow trumpets, and girls with joined hands dance around a tree, probably meant for the tulasi, or basil, which is sacred to Lakṣmī. 21 Here seems to be a reference to one of Lakṣmī’s autumn harvest festivals, when there is feasting, and young girls dressed in white sing and dance.
In each of the other balconies the accompanying carving is of two oxcarts (over one is a bird) and their drivers with small figures seated in their passenger’s compartments dressed as monks preaching, but surely not really monks, since the latter are forbidden to travel on land in vehicles. These scenes suggest a custom of wealthy pious Jains to go on pilgrimages and to finance large parties of accompanying pilgrims. 22 Such a layman usually takes a monk’s vows temporarily, travels on foot, and goes to Mount Śatruñjaya in Kathiawar, about 150 miles from Pāṭan, where our maṇḍapa was constructed. Śatruñjaya is sacred to Ṛṣabha, first of the Tīrthaṅkaras in the present world-cycle, who died there. It is he who seems to be represented in the pediments of those balconies whose parapets show the carts. At the top of Mount Śatruñjaya is a fortress filled with temples, of which the chief is dedicated to Ṛṣabha. Pilgrims who can afford the price may ride around this shrine in a silver cart, thus putting a perfect finish on the sanctified journey.
In the two balcony scenes showing carts the attendants standing at the ends hold fly-whisk and water jar, as did the attendants flanking the Saviours in the pediments. The pillars beside the goddess Lakṣmī appropriately enough terminate with the vessel of plenty.
The floor of the balconies is at the same level as the walkway around the interior of the room and was originally, as has been indicated, at the level of the ground outside. Between the walkway and the sunken floor is the dado. The drop to a level below the surface of the ground may signify that this, the lowest part of the structure, represents that part of the subterranean world which is just below the earth’s surface and above the hells. Here dwell the eight classes of kindly creatures known as the Vyantara gods, who are custodians of the treasure within the earth and are known sometimes in Jain texts as sajjana, literally “good folk”. In a well-ruled city filled with righteous people they spread their treasures abundantly. As appearing in our carving they are male and female; some carry jars, presumably full of riches; some have weapons, swords and battle axes; some are attendants bearing fly-whisks; some beat drums; some dance.
On the same level with these figures are lotuses shown in three medallions below each balcony, possibly to represent the earth as Lakṣmī’s seat, resting upon the cosmic waters.
Underneath the row of figures is a procession of haṁsas, each carrying a spray of leaves or a flower bud in its beak. Below the lotuses and in the same register with the haṁsas are panels of jālī (“network”), wood pierced in delicate geometric designs. 23 Underneath this register were originally further carved wooden courses, a few inches in height, which can be seen in the Archaeological Survey’s photograph but are missing from the Museum installation.
The dado is surmounted by a low railing which borders the walkway. It consists of a repeated motif common as an ornament on Jain buildings, which is highly conventionalized but may perhaps have one of two origins. It may be geometric or even foliage motif from Islamic art, since many such items appear in Western India after the Muslims established themselves there. The other possibility is that it derives from the vase of plenty which is well known in Jain symbolism. In late times this is shown in a kind of cusped niche which frames it. 24 Between the separate examples of this motif are shown pots with sprigs of some plant whose leaves grow in threes. 25 The significance of the motif seems in any case to be good fortune.
What now is the general content of the carving which decorates the room; Taking together the ideas illustrated in the dome, on the balconies, and on the dado, we may find in this room, I think, an epitome of practical Jainism for a well-to-do pious layman. He knows and lauds the great goal of salvation which those mighty Victors, the twenty-four Jinas, have won, and the others of the Perfected Beings. He recognizes the importance of the shrine at the rear of the temple which honors one of them, the Tīrthaṅkara Pārśva. But few indeed are those who have ever attained such success. He knows that he could not become one of them. He is more modest in his pretensions and aspirations; he must be content with something less lofty, less abstract, less difficult. And so he does not frequent that cell which points to salvation in the non-phenomenal world. Rather, he stops in the phenomenal universe to make the most of it, and in it he takes his seat under the well-guarded vault of heaven. No harm will come to him, thanks to the vigilance of the Direction Guardians. He may even hope, by virtuous living, appropriate alms-giving, reverence to the holy ones, abstinence from killing and other vices, and the practice of not too severe austerities, to check the worst effects of karma and cultivate good ones, and some day himself win to a celestial abode where he will hear the divine music and enjoy the divine pleasure. That is his highest expectation. Meanwhile, whatever may be his lot in the unpredictable future, he can count with some more assured hope upon the best that life can give in the here and now. Lakṣmī has favoured him with the wealth to achieve expensive pilgrimages, erect costly temples, practice lavish philanthropies. It is only fitting that he should honor her—honor her, and thank her too. And thank her not only for favours already granted, but also, with a bow to her proverbially fickle nature, thank her for favours still to be received. With her have co-operated the yakṣas and other subterranean beings who guard the treasures beneath the earth’s surface. Them, too, he honors that they may prolong their generosity. In this way he will continue to enjoy the comfort and plenty brought to him, one of the deserving rich, by the united action of heaven, earth, and the underworld. His are the solid blessings of the successful business man.
- 1. Otherwise known as Anahilavāḍa-Pattana.
- 2. See description of this temple in James Burgess and Henry Cousens, The Architectural Antiquities of Northern Gujarat (Archaeological survey of Western India, Volume IX), 1908. pp. 49-51, Plates IV, XX, XXI
- 3. Published by W. Norman Brown, A Pillared Hall from a Temple at Madura, India, in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1940
- 4. See Footnote No. 2
- 5. Annual Report of the Archaeological Department. Baroda state for the year ending 31st July. 1938 (Baroda State Press, 1939), p. 15 and plate XII. The Director, Dr. Hirananda Sastri, thought only one balcony was involved, not a whole room. For some other examples of wood carving from Northern Gujarat, see Burgess and Cousens, op. cit. , plates XXXVI and XLVI.
- 6. See Burgess and Cousens, op. cit. , plates XLVIII, XLIX, L for an especially elaborate example at Modera.
- 7. For the Indian temple in general see Stella Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple, 2 vols, Calcutta, 1946 For temples in Gujarat, see Burgess and Cousens. op. cit. , pp. 21-32, from which the material following in this paper is drawn.
- 8. See Kramrisch, op. cit. , I. pp. 21-7, 257.
- 9. See Muni Vidyavijaya, Ābū, Sirohi, 1933. p. 64
- 10. See Burgess and Cousens. op. cit. , pp. 71 ff. , 110f. , plates VII, XLVII. XLVIII, XII; cf. Also p. 108, plates LXXXII, LXXXIV, LXXXVI.
- 11. See Burgess and Cousens, Passim.
- 12. Burgess and Cousens, op. cit. , pp. 49f
- 13. Cf. W. Norman Brown, Miniature Paintings of the Jaina Kalpasutra, Washington. 1984 fig. 101
- 14. Goetz and Shah, op. cit. , figs 24, 27, 28, 30, 59.
- 15. Goetz and Shah, op. cit. , fig 13.
- 16. Cf. Brown, op. cit. , figs 81, 100, 114, 128
- 17. Cf. Kramrisch, op. cit. , I, p. 29
- 18. In the Metropolitan’s installation these have been moved backward two places.
- 19. Cf. Brown, op. cit. , pp. 30f These female figures hardly seem likely to represent the Vidyā devis, which are shown in other sabhamaṇḍapas (cf. footnote 9 above).
- 20. Cf. W. Norman Brown, op. cit. , p 40
- 21. Cf. Goetz and Shah, op. cit. , fig 27
- 22. For a painted cloth depicting such pilgrimages, now owned by the Brooklyn Museum of Art. See an article by W. Norman Brown in Art and Thought ( Studies in Honour of A. K. Coomara swamy), pp. 68-72
- 23. Comparison of the installation of the balconies in the Museum with the photograph of a balcony when in situ published by Burgess and Cousens shows that the pierced wooden panels belonging originally to it are now under another balcony. The pieces of the dado originally on the two sides of the balcony have also been placed elsewhere; so, too, the beam of the octagon originally above the balcony has been moved to some other place.
- 24. Cf. Brown, op. cit. , figs 4, 28, 132. For a late example see Helen Johnson Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacaritra, Vol I, Ādīśvaracaritra (Baroda, Gaekwad’s Oriental Series, Vol. II, 1931); plate IV.
- 25. Cf. Goetz and Shah, plate I, fig. 1; plate VI. Fig. 19; the lintel in the former figure, showing this motif, appears to be upside down.