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Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankar – Traditional, Classical Background and Idols

Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankar idols are found in various Jain caves, temples and Basadis. The article focus on its traditional background, details of different classics with related information and details of the ancient idols and related carvings.

– Article & Photos: Nitin H P, Bengaluru, HPN@JHC

Jainism, one of the oldest religions is spread all over India. Of the 24 Tirthankaras of the current times, we see that the 23rd Tirthankar Parshwanath is the most worshipped among all. Many idols of Tirthankar Parshwanath can be seen in different parts of India. Among these, the Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankar idols are very rare and signify an instance of Tirthankar Parshwanath’s life. These are the idols that depict the image of Tirthankara Parshwanath meditating in Kayotsarga posture with carvings of the Upasarga, ‘tirade of tormentation’, around the idol by Kamatha in his rebirth as Shambara.

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Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankar – Traditional, Classical Background and Idols
Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankara – Traditional, Classical Background and Idols

Traditional Background – 1The reason for attack and enmity between Parshwa and Kamatha is rooted to their previous births. When Kamatha was practicing penance, seeing snakes burning amidst the logs of wood, Parshwa pointed out to Kamatha the futility of practices that involved himsa. Perplexed by this Kamatha asked Parshwa to demonstrate in what way himsa was committed. Parshwa removed a log of wood from the fire, broke it into two, and two half snakes emerged. Enraged by this Kamatha pledged a revenge and was born as Shambara in one of his later birth. The snakes were born as Dharanendra, Lord of Nagas and Padmavati, queen of Dharanendra.

Standing under a cedar tree, Parshwa took up deep tapasya in the thick forests of Kaushambi. Shambara happens to pass by this region and his Vimana (mythological flying palace) stops there. Shambara through his Vibhanga Jnana2 (clairvoyance) remembering the past enmity attacked him3 through the lions, tigers, elephants and other wild animals, bow and arrows, made the mountains fall, finally lashed by heavy rains which evoked a flood of water drowning Parshwa up to his nostrils.

Knowing the calamity with his clairvoyance, Dharana with his queens rushed to the spot, spread his graceful umbrella – like hoods on Parshwa’s head, and entwining Jina’s body with his coils lifted Parshwa above water. Padmavati held the diamond umbrella above Parshwa’s head. To divert the attention from the pangs inflicted by Kamatha, Naga queens staged a play and danced. All the while, Arhat Parshwa stood indifferent, both to the calamity and to protective measures of Dharana. Giving up his evil ways, in the end remorseful Shambara with his wife bowed before Parshwa.

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Kamatopasarga in Jain Classics – The description of Kamatopasarga is vividly described in the various Jaina Puranas (legends) and in all the Parshwanath Puranas. Over 60 Parshwanath Puranas are found in different languages – Apabramsha, Dondari, Kannada, Marathi, Prakrit, Tamil, etc.

Details of some of those Puranas are given below –

  • Tiloyapannatthi (4th-5th Century AD) in Prakrit by Acharya Yati Vrushaba.
  • Mahapurana authored by Acharya Jinasena & Acharya Gunabadhra in Sanskrit consisting of 77 parvas (chapters) with 20 thousand verses is related to the life of 63 great men called as Trishashti Shalaka Purushas. It comprises of Purva Purana and Uttara Purana. Uttara Purana has details of the life of Tirthankar Parshwanath4.
  • An unpublished work in Prakrit found at Barmer (Rajasthan).
  • ‘Parshwanath Charitre’ that is part of “Chavundaraya Purana”5 – The Parshwanath Charitre has been retained in a flow as given in Mahapurana of Acharya Gunabadhra.
  • Parshwapurana6 (1222 AD) by Parshwa Pandita in Kannada. It is written in Champu Kavya format.
  • Parshwanath Purana7 (1733 AD) by ShanthaKeerthi’sin Sangathya Kavya format (Kannada).
  • PasanahaChariya8 (ParshwanthaCharita) in Prakrit by Gunachandragani.
  • ParshwanathaCharitre9also called as Parshwanath Dashabhava Charitra in Prakrit has 2564 Prakrit Gahes (Verses). The author’s name is unknown.
  • Parshwanath Purana10by Nagadeva in Prakrit.
  • Sri Parshwa Purana11by Ananatharaja Aabaaji Bhoopalkar in Marathi written during the period 1928-33 AD.

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Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankar Idols – These can be found at Aihole and Badami Jain Caves (belonging to the last quarter of sixth century12), Ellora Jain Caves; Malainathar Temple, Melsithamur; Trikuta Jinalaya, Mulagunda; Parshwanath Basadi, Hombuja; Kalagumalai rock cut carvings; Sri Antarala Parshwanath Basadi, Chandragiri Hill, Shravanabelagola and a few other places. They are more in number in Tamil Nadu.

Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankar Idols in Karnataka

  • Aihole CavesA carving of Tirthankar Parshwanath is found in the Jaina cave called as Meena Basadi. The Tirthanakar idol has five hoods above its head with a carving of Kamatha throwing a mountain towards Parshwa. To its right is seen the idol of Yakshi Padmavati holding an umbrella with a handle and it is seen extending above Parshwanath Tirthankar’s head. Besides Yakshi Padmavati is seen the carving of Dharanendra Yaksha. Along the Tirthanakar’s feet to its left is seen Kamata sitting with folded hands and seeking forgiveness. Aihole is located in Bagalkote district of Karnataka.

This is probably the world’s oldest known carving of Kamatopasarga Parshwanath.

  • Badami CavesBadami is a town in the Bagalkote district of North Karnataka.
  • We can find a series of cave temples at Badami carved out of the soft sand stone. In all it has a group of four cave temples being carved on a hillock in 4 different steps that are accessible one after the other. The 1st three caves have carvings related to Hinduism and the 4th cave is dedicated to Jainism.

The 4th cave is called as Megana Basadi. We can find carvings of 24 Tirthankaras carved opposite to each other, a carving of a Tirthankar in padmasana said to be that of Lord Mahavir, a sallekhana memorial of a lady called as Jakkavve and carvings of Lord Bahubali and Parshwanath opposite to each other. The carvings of Bahubali and Parshwanath are very popular and noteworthy.

The carvings of Parshwanath seen over here is of Kamatopasarga Parshwanath. To right of the idol is seen Goddess Padmavati holding an umbrella with a handle extending above Tirthankar’s head. To the left above Tirthankar’s head is seen Kamatha trying to trouble Parshwanath and he is also seen sitting beside Tirthankar’s feet.

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Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankar Idol at Trikuta Jinalaya, Mulagunda, Gadag District, Karnataka, India. 902-03 AD | Photo: HPN@JHC
Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankar Carvings at Trikuta Jinalaya, Mulagunda, Gadag District, Karnataka, India. 902-03 AD | Photo: HPN@JHC
  • Trikuta Jinalaya, Mulagunda – A unique idol of Parshwanath in Kayotsarga with 1/3rd portion of the lower half in the mutilated state is found at Trikuta Jinalaya, Mulagunda. A Sanskrit inscription13 of A.D. 902-03 found on its back confirms its period. This idol was earlier fixed and built into the wall of the Jinalaya and was discovered while renovating by Jain scholar Prof. Hampa Nagarajaiah during his fieldwork in 1998-99.
    It has the carvings of the elephant troubling Tirthankar, Kamatha throwing a mountain towards Parshwanath and other carvings. On its top is seen the umbrella with its handle extending to its right.
    Mulagunda is a panchayat town in the Gadag district of Karnataka. It is located at a distance of 23 Kms from Gadag.
  • Parshwanath Basadi, Hombuja/HumchaAt the Navaranga of Parshwanath Basadi in Hombuja are seen 2 idols of Kamatopasarga Parshwanath on either side of the entrance to garbagriha. These idols belong to later part of 9th century14. Both the idols are about 7 feet high standing on a visvapadma (double-lotus) and identical except a few minor differentiations.

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Parshwanath Idol to the right of Garbagriha – on the idol’s right side are depicted (from top to bottom) a demon throwing a boulder at Jina, a demon shooting a dart, leaping lion, bouncing bull and on the idol’s left are depicted (from top to bottom) a Kumbhanda monster with a heavy mace on his shoulder, a demon with a dagger in his right hand and a venomous serpent in his left hand, a ferocious elephant in rut and a rushing tiger. Below these depictions on the idols right is Dharanendra Yaksha and to the left is Padmavati Yakshi, both of them are seen wearing numerous ornaments and jewels.

Dharanendra is standing in Tribhanga posture with a lotus in his right hand and his left hand on the waist. Padmavati Yakshi is seen holding an umbrella with a handle and it is seen extending above Tirthankar’s head. Below Dharanendra Yaksha is seen the carving of Kamatha with folded hands bowing down in front of the Tirthanakar seeking forgiveness. Opposite to Kamatha and below Padmavati Yakshi is seen Kamatha’s spouse raising her right hand in praise of Parshwa. In between Kamatha and his wife are see Nagas, serpents in human form holding the viswapadma pedestal. This suggests that the body of Tirthankara Parshwa was lifted above Dharanendra’s hood from water which had covered up to his nostrils.

Parshwanath Idol to the left of Garbagriha – This idol is similar to the other idol except a few variations. These are – Kamatha’s consort is seen folding her hand similar to her husband, the two nagas holding viswapadma are not seen even though the Tirthankara still stands on the double lotus, Kukkutasarpa is depicted as a Lanchana (symbol) below the idol in its centre.

Hombuja is popular for the Goddess Padmavati temple and has one of the oldest Jain Math’s of Karnataka with Dr. Deevendrakeerthi Bhattarakha Swamiji as its pontiff. It is located in the Hosanagara taluk at a distance of 55 Kms from Shivamogga.

Kamata Parshwanath Tirthankar, Antarala Parshwanath Basadi, Chandragiri, Shravanabelagola, Hassan District, Karnataka. 12th Century AD. | Photo : HPN@JHC
Kamata Parshwanath Tirthankar, Antarala Parshwanath Basadi, Chandragiri, Shravanabelagola, Hassan District, Karnataka. 12th Century AD. | Photo : HPN@JHC

Antarala Parshwanth Swamy Basadi, Shravanabelagola – The Parshwanth Swamy Basadi with 15 feet high idol of Parshwanath found on Chandragiri hill at Shravanabelagola. It is popularly called as Antarala Parshwanath Swamy Basadi among the common folk. It is called as Kamatha Parshwanath basadi in records and was probably erected in the late 11th century15. One of the other inscriptions found in this temple’s hall refers to a gift made in 1257 AD to Kamatha Parshwanatha.

Carvings of Kamatha’s Upasarga – Below the keen on either sides of this idol are seen carvings of some reliefs related to Kamatha’s upasarga. On carefully examining the reliefs on to the left we can see the 1st relief is that of Kamatha throwing mountain towards Tirthankar. The 2nd relief is that of a demon throwing dart towards the Tirthankar The the 3rd relief is that of 2 demons with the demon on the left holding a serpent in his hand and the 4th relief is that of Kamatha with folded hands kneeling down with his wife and seeking the Tirthankar’s forgiveness. These carvings help’s us conclude that these are related to Kamatopasarga. Not many are aware of the presence of Kamatopasarga related carvings around this idol.

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Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankar Idols in Maharashtra

  • Ellora Jain Caves Ellora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, India. It has large rock-cut cave complex featuring Jain, Buddhist, and Hindu monuments with the artworks of 6th to 10th century A.D. The Jain caves were constructed during the period of Yadava dynasty.  Funding for the construction of the monuments was provided by royals, traders, and the wealthy of the region. There are five Jain caves (caves 30-34) belonging to Digambara sect, excavated in the ninth and early tenth centuries. All the caves except cave 34 have carvings of Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankar. We can find over 15 such different carvings of Kamatha troubling Tirthankar Parshwanath through different means. Above the Tirthankar’s head and on either sides are found depictions of Kamata troubling Parshwanath Tirthanakar through different means. To the right of Tirthankar’s feet is seen the idol of Goddess Padmavati holding an umbrella with a handle extending above Parshwanath Tirthankar’s head. Along the feet of the Tirthanakar idol to its left is seen Kamata sitting with folded hands and seeking forgiveness.

Ellora is the only place in the entire world where we can find so many idols of Kamatopasarga Parshwanath!

Ellora is located at a distance of 31 Kms from Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra.

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Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankar Idols in Tamil Nadu

  • Malainathar Temple, Melsithamur – Behind the vast Parshwanath Tirthankar temple at Melsithamur is found the Malainathar temple. This temple has various Jain carvings carved on a huge rock. Hence the name “Malainathar temple”, in Tamil ‘Malai’ means hill.

We can see the carvings of Bahubali with his sisters Brahmi and Sundari; Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankar, above the Tirthankar are seen carvings of elephants on either side and an umbrella, along the feet are seen Kamata and his wife seeking Tirthankar’s forgiveness; besides the Parshwanath idol are seen the carvings of Adinath and Neminath Tirthanakar’s in padmasana and to the extreme end is seen the image of Goddess Kushmandini/Ambika. These carving belongs to 9th century A D and is one of the rare carvings with as many as five different deities carved on a single rock.

  • Tirakkol – An impressive carving of Parshwanath is found in an open-air rock cut sculpture at Tirakkol near Vandavasi, North Arcot District, Tamil Nadu. It was commissioned by Vasudeva Siddhanta Bhattarakha during 8th century16. It has the idol of Parshwanath in Kayotsarga posture and is canopied by five hooded serpent. Kamatha17 is seen furiously hurling the rock towards Parshwanath in his upper arms. In his lower arms he is seen holding a Gada in his right arm and an indistinct object in his left hand. Yakshi Padmavati on Parshwanath’s left is seen holding an umbrella that extends above the serpent hood. Kamata is seen kneeling to the right of the icon, pays homage to the God.
  • Atchippakkam – Atchippakkam houses a 9th century18 Chola art of Tirthankar Parshwanath in Kayotsarga being carved on a huge boulder atop the hill. Parshwanath is flanked by Dharanendra Yaksha and Padmavati Yakshi with Padmavati holding an umbrella that covers above the snake hoods. Kamatha is seen carrying a huge boulder in his four arms and throwing at the Jina, on the other side opposite to Kamatha is seen a four-armed figure riding the chariot. Besides the Tirthankar’s feet is seen Kamatha kneeling down.
  • Siyamangalam – Siyamangalam in North Arcot district has a cave temple founded by the western Ganga king, Rajamalla II19 (877-907 AD). The Parshwanath idol is flanked by Dharanendra Yaksha and Padmavati Yakshi with Kamatha aiming a boulder to hurl at Parshwa.
  • Kalagumalai – It has the rock cut carvings of Tirthankar Parshwanath and belongs to 9th Century A D. Carving of Kamatha’s Upasarga is depicted are a demon throwing rock. Dharanendra Yaksha with the snake is seen above Tirthankar’s head along with Chowri in his hand. This kind of depiction is not seen elsewhere in the world. To the right is seen Kamatha bowing before Sri Parshwanath and to the left is seen Padmavati Yakshi at the service of Tirthankar. Kalugumalai is located in Kovilpatti Taluk, Thoothukudi District, Tamil Nadu, India.
  • A few other Kamatopasarga Parshwanath Tirthankar idols are found at Samanarmalai (near Madurai), Tiruparankudram and Anandamangalam.

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References:

  1. Prof. Hampana – Glory of Hombuja, 2013, Sri Siddanta Keerthi Granthamale, Hombuja, Pg. 110-111.
  2. Translated by G.Brahmappa Acharya Sri Jinasena – Gunabadhra – Mahapurana (1985), Sri Siddhantakirti Granthamale, Hombuja Jaina Matha, Hombuja, Pg. 1017.
  3. Nadoja Prof. Hampa Nagarajaiah – Hombuja Kshetra Anusandhana (2011), Vikrantha Prakashana Pg. 39.
  4. Translated G.Brahmappa – Acharya Sri Jinasena – Gunabadhrara Mahapurana, 1985, Sri Siddanta Keerthi Granthamale, Hombuja, Pg. V.
  5. Ref: Editor Dr.T.G.Kalaghatagi – Tirthankara Parshvanatha, A – Study, 1977, Published by Department of Jainology & Prakrits, University of Mysore, Manasagangotri, Mysore – 570006, Article – ‘Chavundaraya Purana’ Bhagavada Parshwanatha Charitre – T.V.Venkatachala Shastri, Pg – 72.
  6. Ref: Editor Dr.T.G.Kalaghatagi – Tirthankara Parshvanatha, A – Study, 1977, Published by Department of Jainology & Prakrits, University of Mysore, Manasagangotri, Mysore – 570006, Article: Parshwanatha Panditanu Chitrisiruva Parshwanatha – B.S.Sannaiah, Pg – 75.
  7. Ref: Editor Dr.T.G.Kalaghatagi – Tirthankara Parshvanatha, A – Study, 1977, Published by Department of Jainology & Prakrits, University of Mysore, Manasagangotri, Mysore – 570006, Article: Parshwanatha Kannada Sahityadalli  – M.A.Jayachandra, Pg – 92.
  8. Ref: Editor Dr.T.G.Kalaghatagi – Tirthankara Parshvanatha, A – Study, 1977, Published by Department of Jainology & Prakrits, University of Mysore, Manasagangotri, Mysore – 570006, Article: Prakruta Sahityadalli  Parshwanatha – S.A.Shiraguppi, Pg – 123.
  9. Ref: Editor Dr.T.G.Kalaghatagi – Tirthankara Parshvanatha, A – Study, 1977, Published by Department of Jainology & Prakrits, University of Mysore, Manasagangotri, Mysore – 570006, Article: Prakruta Sahityadalli  Parshwanatha – S.A.Shiraguppi, Pg – 129.
  10. Ref: Editor Dr.T.G.Kalaghatagi – Tirthankara Parshvanatha, A – Study, 1977, Published by Department of Jainology & Prakrits, University of Mysore, Manasagangotri, Mysore – 570006, Article: Prakruta Sahityadalli  Parshwanatha – S.A.Shiraguppi, Pg – 129.
  11. Ref: Editor Dr.T.G.Kalaghatagi – Tirthankara Parshvanatha, A – Study, 1977, Published by Department of Jainology & Prakrits, University of Mysore, Manasagangotri, Mysore – 570006, Article: Anantharajakaviya Marathi Sri Parshwanpurana – S.P.Patil, Pg – 130-131.
  12. Dr. Nagarajaiah Hampa – Jina Parsva Temples in Karnataka (1999), Sri Siddhantakirti Granthamale, Hombuja Jaina Matha, Hombuja, Page 2. Parshwanath Purana Charite – Achhanna Pandita
  13. Ref: Dr. Nagarajaiah Hampa – Jina Parsva Temples in Karnataka (1999), Sri Siddhantakirti Granthamale, Hombuja Jaina Matha, Hombuja, Page 31-32.
  14. Dr. Nagarajaiah Hampa – Jina Parsva Temples in Karnataka (1999), Sri Siddhantakirti Granthamale, Hombuja Jaina Matha, Hombuja, Page IX-X.
  15. Ref: S.Settar – Sravana Belagola, Published by: Karnataka Tourisms, 1981, Pg: 14.
  16. Journal of the Madras University, XLI, 1969 Pg. 112
  17. Dr. A. Ekambaranathan – Jainism in Tamilnadu (Art and Archaeology), 1996, Published by Jain humanities Press, Pg 84.
  18. Ref: Dr. A. Ekambaranathan – Jainism in Tamilnadu (Art and Archaeology), 1996, Published by Jain humanities Press, Pg 84-85.
  19. Ref: Dr. A. Ekambaranathan – Jainism in Tamilnadu (Art and Archaeology), 1996, Published by Jain humanities Press, Pg 85.

Special Thanks to:

  1. Dr. Abhijeeth Shastry, Mysuru, Karnataka.
  2. Prof. Ajith Prasad, Moodabidri, Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka.
  3. Dr. H.A.Parshwanath, Mysuru, Karnataka.
  4. Prof. KanakaAjitha Doss, Chennai, Tamil Nadu.