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Jain Saraswati in Rajasthan : An Observation

   Saraswati in Janism

In Jainism Saraswati recognized as supreme deity of knowledge and wisdom The various Jain texts mentioned about the different name of Saraswati such as Srutadevata, Bharati Sarada ect. As Srutadevata, she presides over the Sruta or preaching of Tirthankara. The antiquity of the worship of Saraswati among Jain community was very popular from very ancient times and it can be established from literary as well as archaeological evidence.    
 The ancient Jain text like Jain Sutras. Bhagawati- Sutra, Mahanistha- Sutra, and Sansare-Daranala etc.mentioned about her form and different attributes. As per as the textual reference Saraswati is popularly depicted; in standing posture. Though her four armed form is very popular but her two armed, six armed. eight armed and sixteen armed forms are also found. She is always white complexioned. Varada (boon), Kamal (lotus), Pustaka (books),  and Mala (rosary) are her usual ayudhas but vina ; has also been used in some cases, probably in imitation of Hindu Saraswati. Her vahana is hamsa but in some exceptional cases it is ; replaced by mayura generally in the Digambara tradition. The literally reference are also supported by archaeological evidences. Mathura is the place from where the earliest of Jain Saraswati was discovered.

The site has yielded three significant Sarasvati sculptures including the oldest known one. The earliest extant image of Sarasvati, dated 132 C.E. also belongs to Jaina tradition is now housed in the State museum of Lucknow, U.P. Rajasthan is one of the most important places of Jainism where it spread from very early times. Among the two sect of Jain community Svetambara sect has more popularity in this region. A good number of Jain art and architecture are observed in this state. Saraswati the learning goddess of Jainism were also acceptable in this region and we found her sculpture from different temple as well as discard form. One of the earliest sculpture of Sarasvati found form Vasanthgadh in Rajasthan, is measured 15.5 cm. and stylistically similar to the images from Akola (Gujarat). She holds book in her left hand and padma  in her right arm. She stands on a pedestal and wears an elaborate crown made of projections. This image has been shifted to the Mahavirsvami temple in Pindawada Rajasthan and on the basis of stylistic ground the image assignable to c. 7th  century C. E.

Two image of the goddess Saraswati are found on the Caumukha temple at Ranakapur in Udaipur distric of Rajasthan (Shah. 1941). First one carved on a pillar of this temple. The deity standing in the tribhanga pose plays on her vina with both the hands. Her cognizance swan resting near the right foot and  appears to be enchanted by the divine music. The other one shows that the goddess with vina and book in the two upper hands, and rosary and kamandalu in the two lower ones. Here also the deity rides on a swan. No Jaina literary evidence is forthcoming fot this form. But it would be interesting to note that the Hindu tradition, as maintained the Visnudharmottara puran describes the variety


A marble image of Sarswati, is probably from Southwest Rajasthan at present displayed in the British Museum

The Vimala Vasahi temple of Dilwara at Mt. Abu in Rajasthan is a very famous Jain temple where some marble images of Saraswati are found. One of them is carved on the ceiling of dome of the mandapa (Kramrish. 1965). The goddess seated in padmasana, with her body quite erect, shows rosary, lotus, vina and book as her attributes. Vidyadharas fly above, whereas the small figures, probably representing donor, kneel at the bottom of the throne. In this example Saraswati is being saluted by two architects who built the Vimala Vasahi temple. The bearded architect to the right of the goddess is inscribed as Loyana Sutradhara, the other holding the measuring rod is names as Sutradhara Kela. The goddess is elegantly ornamented. A small swan as the vehicle is seen in the pedestal.

Another image carved on a pillar ; of this temple. shows ; the goddess Saraswati in a standing attitude and holding lotuses in the two upper hands; the right lower hand is mutilated, while the left lower carries a book. This form has been further illustrated in a palm-leaf miniature from a manuscript of the Jnatasutra, dated 1127 A. D., and preserved in the Santinath Bhndara, Cambay (Ghose. 1975). Here the goddess standing in tribhanga, holds the rosary in the right lower ;pustaka in the left lower and the lotuses in the upper two hands. The swan, her vehicle, is shown beside the left leg. Two male attendants with folded hands sit by her two sides.    A beautiful sculpture of sixteen-armed form of the goddess of learning is Found on the ceiling of Vimala Saha's temple, Mt. Abu. Unfortunately, the image is mutilated. Two male figure on dancing posture stand on each side, the goddess ; sites in bhadrasana showing lotus (padma), book (pustaka) and water-vessel (kamandalu) in the three left hands. All other hands, along with the ayudhas they held, are mutilated beyond recognition. However, the figure of the swan can be seen on the pedestal. A small seated figure of a Tirthankara is noticed above the crown.


Marble images of Saraswati in Vimala Vasahi temple of Dilwara at Mt. Abu

A marble image of Sarswati, is probably from Southwest Rajasthan at present displayed in the British Museum (Ghose. 1975) In this example the goddess is shown standing gracefully in tribhanga pose on an ins cribed padmapitha.  Her right hands are lost, while in her left hands she holds a  rosary   and a  book. The   elaborate   karanda-mukuta the charming jewelry and the diaphanous sadi secured with a girdle remind us of the famous Pallu image of Sarswati. She is flanked by two cross-lagged dhyani Tirthankaras on her either side. ;A miniature figure of Padmaprabha along with garland-bearing flying gandharva couples is shown above the image. Two standing figure of female attendants one each side, and two figures to the right a male and to the left a female-representing evidently the donor couple, are depicted near   her feet.  The image can be assigned to the days of the Paramaras, and more specifically to the 11th Century A. D.

Another marble image of Jain goddess Sarswati from Rajasthan is now preserved in the National Museum of New Delhi. In this image deity has four armed and seated on lalitasana. The twenty third Tirthankara  Mahayira seated on the top ; par t of steal. The back slab of the deity is fully decorated with floral design. Two attendants standing on the both side of the goddess and devote in namaskara mudra seated near the left leg of deity.

In the summarize of this paper it would be appropriate to mention in the words of U. P. Shah in his "magnum opus Jain Rupa Mandan" A clear indication of Hindu influence on the Jain ritual is the various Samaskara vidhis dictated by Acara dinakara. Goddesses were worshiped as Gotra devatas or Kula davatas. The Kuladavatas are divinities worshipped in families from ancient times. Cakreswari, Ambika or Kusmandini, Padmavati, Jvalini, Rohini, Mahakali, Saraswati, Gouri and Durga etc. are such Kuladavatas who should be worshipped by those desirous of welfare".


Bhattacharyya, B. C.    1939 Jaina Iconograph , Lahore.
 Shah, U. P.  1975 Jaina Pupa Mandan ,       1941 The Iconography of Jain Goddess Saraswati, 
  Journal of University
  of Bombay.
Mumbai.  1955 Studies in Jain Art, Varanasi. Ghose, A. 
    1975 Jaina Art and Architecture, vols. I - II, New Delhi.
Bhattacharyya, K. 1983 Saraswati A Study On Her Concept and Iconography, Calcutta.
  - Indian Archaeological Society, Qutub Institutional Area, New Delhi -67   
  ( Source : Prachin  Tirtha Jirnoudhar Magzine)





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