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Victorious Ones: Jain Images of Perfection

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Item Code: HAG304
Author: Phyllis Granoff
Publisher: Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9780944142820
Pages: 308 (With Color Illustrations)
Other Details 12.00 X 10.00 inch
Weight 2.15 kg
Book Description

About The Book

Jainism is one of India's three classical religions, along with Buddhism and Hinduism. Though older than Buddhism by a generation, the two religions arose and first spread in northeastern India and have much in common. Both Buddhism and Jainism aim to offer practitioners a path to follow that leads from the painful cycle of endless rebirths to liberation from all suffering. Both religions also rejected many of the practices and ideas of early Hinduism, particularly its core ritual of a sacrifice that involved the killing of animals, preaching instead a doctrine of nonviolence. Today, nonviolence, the commitment to an ethic that regards all life, animal and human, as inviolate, continues to be the heart of Jain practice and belief.

With essays by leading scholars of Asian religions and art, this catalog illuminates the core ideas of Jainism and the founding figures of Jainism, the Jinas, "Conquerors" or Tirthankaras, and the various spaces they sanctify. The Jinas, having achieved liberation and escaped from the world in which we live, are nonetheless considered to remain accessible to us as objects of our devotion. They are accessible to their worshipers through their teachings and their images, although some Jains reject image worship. Images of the Jinas and temples are said to exist throughout the vast reaches of the cosmos. We see them carefully depicted on painted maps of the Jain universe. Closer to home they are worshiped at famous pilgrimage sites and in private domestic shrines. This publication brings together sculptures and paintings of the Jinas, depictions of many kinds of Jain sacred spaces, as well as illustrated of Jain sacred texts. Many of the objects discussed and illustrated here have never before been published.


Jainism is an ancient Indian religion, at least a generation older than Buddhism, with which it has much in common. At its heart are an ethic of nonviolence, a respect for all living beings, and a belief in the existence of a permanent soul, whose true nature is obscured by an individual's accumulated karma. The goal of Jain religious practice is ultimately to end the painful cycle of rebirths (samsara) and attain liberation from all suffering. This is done by the practice of asceticism and the careful elimination of the passions that lead us astray. When all the obstructions have been removed and the influx of new ones prevented, the soul in its pure state is freed from bondage.

The Jain community is divided into two groups: monks and nuns, who have renounced the world and practice stringent austerities; and laymen and women, who remain in everyday life and observe the vows ordained for householders. While liberation is possible only for those who have renounced the world, lay devotees earn merit by supporting the monks and by donating temples and images, and throughout history wealthy Jain merchant families have been the mainstay of the religious community, Jain monastics eventually formed two separate groups: the Svetämbaras, whose monks wear white robes; and the Digambaras, whose monks reject even the possession of monastic robes and go about naked. While Jain communities once flourished most parts of India, today Jains are most numerous in the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan in western India, Madhya Pradesh in central India, Maharashtra in the Deccan, and Karnataka in the south.

The Jinas

All Jains pay homage to the founders of the faith, who are called Jinas (Conquerors) and also Tirthankaras (a term that has been interpreted to mean both "Founders of the Tirtha, the fourfold Jain Community" and "Makers of the Ford that gives safe passage across the waters of worldly existence"). Jains believe in a series of time periods of descending prosperity. There have been twenty-four Jinas in our present time cycle, the last of whom was Mahavira, an older contemporary of the historical Buddha Sakyamuni, according to most scholars. The twenty-four Jinas of the present cycle-only two of whom scholars agree were historical figures-have been liberated from worldly existence and dwell in a special realm reserved for perfected beings. Nonetheless, they are accessible to worshipers in the here and now through their teachings and their images-although certain groups reject image worship. The Jain universe is a complex structure of multiple continents and encircling oceans; even now there are said to be other Jinas, who continue to preach the Jain doctrine in distant lands beyond the reach of most mortals living in our part of the universe. Prayers are also addressed to these Jinas and their images in sacred shrines. The Tirthankaras, or Jinas, are the focus of the exhibition organized in conjunction with the publication of this catalog: they are sculpted in stone, cast in bronze, painted. The presence of the Jina creates a uniquely Jain sacred space, and we also display maps that depict the vast Jain cosmos and the distant worlds where Jinas still dwell and paintings that portray the earthly temples and pilgrimage places that the twenty-four Jinas of our age sanctified by their presence.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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