Understanding the Archaeological Contexts and Iconic Details of Jaina Antiquities from Rakṣatpura and Śaṅkā, District Puruliā, West Bengal

Posted: 23.12.2014
Updated on: 02.07.2015

International Journal of Jaina Studies
(Online) Vol. 10, No. 1 (2014) 1-32


 

Abstract

Rāḍha, an important geo-cultural unit of ancient Bengal, was closely associated with the development of different religious traditions. Jainism, which is one of the ancient religions of India, has strong associations with the settlement parameters of this geo-cultural unit from a very early time. The present article focuses on some newly discovered Jaina antiquities from the villages of Rakṣatpura and Śaṅkā, situated along the Dāmodar river valley in the Puruliā district of West Bengal. Along this river valley there are several archaeological sites yielding old habitational remains as well as sculptural and architectural fragments. Most of these sites are associated with historical Jaina relics. Several scholars have already studied these archaeological remains from different perspectives. However, our recent discoveries have made us rethink our understanding of the nature of Jaina heritage in this region and also the iconographic development of its Jaina art

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Understanding the Archaeological Contexts and Iconic Details of Jaina Antiquities from Rakṣatpura and Śaṅkā, District Puruliā, West Bengal

The present article, though preliminary in nature, is an outcome of an extensive exploration carried out last year along the Dāmodar river valley in the Puruliā district of West Bengal. There are several reasons which motivated the choice of the study area. In connection with my Ph.D. work on 'Jainism in Ancient Bengal: A Study of its Archaeology, Art and Iconography', I have undertaken extensive field work in different parts of Bengal (West Bengal and Bangladesh) in 2013. While doing so, an amazing repertoire of Jaina sculptural and architectural remains has been recorded on the different river valleys adjoining the Choṭānāgpur plateau region and the present district of Puruliā, which remains the most important zone so far as provenances of the above remains are concerned. If we recall the development and spread of the Jaina faith in our subcontinent then we find that after its initial rise in the region of modern Bihar and the Mathurā region, followed by the development in the plains of north Bihar, it was the Choṭānāgpur plateau and its adjoining regions (so far as Eastern India is concerned) that witnessed the rapid diffusion of this faith during the 9th to the 11 th/12th centuries C.E. The archaeological remains of Jainism from Puruliā attest to this trajectory. In absence of any imperial ruling power before the 9th century C.E., there are no written records in form of epigraphs. The paucity of written records is a great constrain on reconstructions of the early historic phenomena of the region concerned. On the basis of sculptural remains and the abandoned and extant temples, one may record that the beginning of settlement started from 9th century onwards. The archaeological evidence shows that the settlements had a close association with the development of Jainism. About three generations of researches in Indology have highlighted, among others, the eastern Indian spread of the Jaina religion and several scholars have already studied the archaeological remains.[1] Most of the earlier works while investigating individual sculptural specimens, a temple or group of temples, have often ignored not only the archaeological context of their findings but also comparative stylistic study with reference to other contemporary Jaina remains found at other sites. Often, while reporting the Jaina images of this valley, they have placed them within the early medieval/medieval time bracket without suggesting the stages of stylistic development.

The objective of the present article is to record some hitherto unpublished Jaina icons found in the Dāmodar valley (innumerable sites along this valley have yielded Jaina remains assignable to the 9th to 11 th centuries C.E.), to relate the reported specimens to the archaeological context, i.e. the settlement parameters of the concerned sites, and to investigate their stylistic and iconographic features. The present work will also try to suggest a tentative framework accounting for the stylistic similarities of the sculptural specimens reported from the present study area. A good number of historical settlements (6th century C.E. to 13th century C.E.) have been traced in this region by Chattopadhyay and Acharya (2010: 9-11) and one cannot ignore the fact that the inhabitants of different social groups engaged in a variety of occupations. From ancient times, the Choṭānāgpur plateau region remained one of the prime resource bases of minerals, metals and forest products. Particularly those who were involved in the procurement networks between the plateau and the plain played an important role for the expansion of religious settlements. Amongst this group the Jaina religion was the predominant one. It seems that by the 10th century, the region was a major area inhabited by Jaina communities. In this connection, we may take recourse to ethno-archaeological data pertaining to the present day Sarāks, followers of the Jaina faith (Risley 1891/1981: 249). They are professional metal workers residing within the present confines of Puruliā. The importance of metal working in the Choṭānāgpur plateau and its adjoining regions lies in the fact of it being a potent survival strategy whose antecedence may be traced back to the time of the consolidation of the village farming cultures. The area along the Dāmodar-Ajay is also known for the distribution of the Sarāks/Māgis. In this connection, it should be mentioned that Sarāgdihi, a Black and Red Ware (BRW) associated metal working site also along the river Dāmodar, is situated between the Kuluhā hill and the Viṣṇupur region. Its remains, assignable from the 9thcentury onwards, suggest the spread of Jaina communities and the early phase (7th to 8th century CE) the spread of monumental architectural and sculptural activities (Chattopadhyay et al. 2011-12 & 2012-13: 142f.). The extensive spread of the Jaina faith in this region was a repercussion of prolonged settlement dynamics primarily associated with survival strategies like metal working, exploitation of
3 forest products and its allied procurement networks[2]. The present study attempts to trace the lost Jaina settlements and their remnants.

It may be noted here that the region comprising the present district of Puruliā was actually a part of the ancient geo-political unit of Rāḍha (Dakṣiṇa Rāḍha) (Hultzsch 1907- 1908: 229-33). According to several ancient literary sources, Rāḍha was closely associated with the spread of Jainism. Ācārāṅgasūtra1.8.3 (Jacobi 1884: 84f.) records that Mahāvīra's itinerary included Lāḍha (i.e., Rāḍha) comprising Vajjabhūmi (Vajrabhūmi) and Subbhabhūmi (Suhmabhūmi). It may therefore be surmised that there were some followers of Jainism in the Rāḍha early on. Mahāvīra must have followed a route well traversed by traders, missionaries and other itinerants. According to the text, he faced challenges from the local people. There are other literary sources such as this regarding Jainism in Bengal. However, the majority of these literary sources have not been corroborated by the archaeological sources.[3] The earliest epigraphic record in connection with Jainism in Bengal in general and Rāḍha in particular is an inscription of the year 62 C.E. on the pedestal of a Jaina image from Kaṅkāli-ṭīlā, Mathurā, which uses the epithet Rāraka in connection with a Jaina monk. The monk has been identified as a native of Rāra (Bandyopadhyaya 1909: 239f.), which can be equated with Rāḍha (Majumder 1984: 127). The Jaina lay worshippers who frequented the cities of Bengal could have been traders. The tenth chapter of the early medieval text Basanta Bilās (Ray1949/1993: 538) mentions one Vastupāl, a Śvetāmbara minister of the Cālukyan king Vīrpāl, who visited several Jaina temples in the company of the local kings of Lāḍha, Gaura, Maru, Dhara etc. It may therefore be assumed that the region of ancient Lāḍha (or Rāḍha) was frequented by Jaina monks, at least till the 12th-13th centuries C.E. and that the region had become very popular among the Jaina traders also. Significantly, during my field survey, I have recorded a few inscribed Jaina images from the different parts of Puruliā district. The inscriptions refer to different donors. On paleographical grounds the sculptural remains can be assigned to a period ranging from 9th/10th to 12th/13th century C.E. It is highly probable that these sculptures were sponsored by the Jaina mercantile communities.

One reason for exploring this region is to document the threatened Jaina heritage (Majumder & Biswas 2012: 262-85). In this river valley most of the archaeological sites are presently endangered. There are both natural and human causes which have contributed in the gradual deterioration of the cultural relics of the entire Dāmodar river valley. Activities, like the construction of dams, mining operations, etc., have wiped out the cultural remains of several sites in this area.

During the present course of my exploration in the north-eastern region of this district I have come across a large number of archaeological sites yielding old habitational remains as well as sculptural and architectural fragments. Most of the sites are associated with Jainism which over time underwent socio-religious transformation under the influence of Brāhmaṇism. The present paper will discuss the archaeological contexts and iconic details of some newly discovered Jaina sculptural specimens from both the sites of Rakṣatpura and Śaṅkā.

Sites and their Archaeological Assemblages and Contexts

The Dāmodar river basin played an important role in the growth and development of Jainism in Bengal. The famous temple site Telkupi (Beglar 1878/1966: 168-78; Mitra, 1969; Majumder, & Biswas, 2012: 262-85) now almost submerged (except two temples), is situated in this river-valley (Pl. I).The antecedent phase at Telkupi had some Jaina association but later on Brāhmaṇism dominated. Another temple in this valley is situated in Bāndā (Pl. II) which was most probably associated with Jainism and good numbers of Jaina sculptural remains were also reported from nearby area of Bāndā known as Celiyāmā (Majumder 2013: 1250-1260). Our present sites are not very far from these two well-known sites. The two newly reported sites Rakṣatpura and Śaṅkā may be visualized as contemporary sites or as catchment sites of Telkupi and Celiyāmā. Rakṣatpura and Śaṅkā (Map I) are both located on the left bank of the river Dāmodar, under the jurisdiction of Raghunāthpur II police station in the Puruliā district of West Bengal. Our present study area is located between the flood plain of the Dāmodar and the eastern borders of the undulating lateritic landscape of the eastern extensions of the Choṭānāgpur plateau. The works of several British administrators and oriental scholars (Beglar 1878/1966: 162-98; Bloch 1903: 14; Bevan 1865: 66-69; McCutchion 1961: 33-43) enrich our knowledge about the archaeological relics (both sculptural and architectural) of the concerned area. Most of the time earlier visitors were unable to identify the sculptural specimens properly and they had just described the sites and its assemblages. During the present exploration we were able to identify a large numbers of archaeological sites along with sculptural and architectural remains. These archaeological remains can be dated to the 9th to 13th century C.E. or the early medieval period and are overwhelmingly associated with Jaina ideologies. During the early medieval period the sudden appearance of the monumental structural and sculptural remains associated with the Jaina religion in this geographical region prompt us to search for logical explanations to interpret the same. The details of these two sites and its archaeological remains are given below.

Rakṣatpura

The site is under the jurisdiction of Raghunāthpur and located about 3 km away from Celiyāmā along the Raghunāthpur - Celiyāmā road. A substantial section of the present-day population of the village is represented by the Jaina 'Sarāk' community. At the entry point of the village one can easily locate a low structural mound, possibly assignable to the early mediaeval period and strewn with architectural fragments and other categories of habitational remnants including potsherds and brickbats. In the center of the village, in front of the modern Brāhmaṇical Temple, is a solitary well carved specimen of a Jaina Tīrthaṅkara Pārśvanātha. Local people worship this image as a Brāhmaṇical deity.

The image of the 23rd Tīrthaṅkara Pārśvanātha is hitherto unpublished and it belongs to Digambara Jainism (Pl. III). It is carved from a local variety of sand stone and it measures 128 cm x 57 cm x 14.5 cm. The present image is highly eroded. The nude Jina is depicted as seated in padmāsana posture on a double-petalled lotus placed on a two tier unusual pedestal and his hands are held in the dhyāna-mudrā gesture indicating meditation. A seven hooded snake canopy, which is quite defaced, provides shelter to the Jina. The finely carved mūlanāyaka bears a svelte figure, a lucid expression reflecting yogic or spiritual power. The Jina is devoid of any worldly attire, has elongated ear-lobes, and his yogic hair is arranged in schematic curls with a prominent uṣṇiṣa. It is flanked on both sides by stout male cauribearers. They wear incised loin cloths and elaborate jewellery and both of them have plain, small oval shaped halos. Obviously, the modulation of surfaces apparent from the drapery and jewellery are restricted to these parikara elements. These cauri-bearers stand on lotus pedestals and their left hands are rested on the thigh (kaṭyāvalambita) and the right hands hold a fly-whisk.

On the edges of the back stela, on a projected frame, are miniature figures of eight planets (jyotiṣka-deva) arranged in a vertical row of four on either side of the Jina. Those on the dexter side appear to be Sūrya, Maṅgala, Bŗhaspati and Śani; while those on the sinister side are Soma, Buddha, Śukra and Rāhu. The eight planetary deities are seated in padmāsana posture and holding their respective attributes in both the hands. The figures of the eight planetary deities are not possible to study with minute iconic details due to their defaced condition. For their detailed iconography we may refer to the works of Mevissen.[4]

The upper part of the stela depicts the usual vidyādhara couple, the prātihāryas of heavenly hands playing on musical instruments and a projected tiered chatra surmounting the almost completely damaged snake-hood. The pedestal of the image is quite unique (Pl. IV). The central portion of the pedestal represents a nāga couple with their tails inter-coiled gracefully. At the centre of the pedestal just above the inter-coiled tail section is a tripartite floral motif, looking like a lotus bud, which is flanked by two strands of outward flowing lotus stalks. The nāga couple has a snake canopy over their heads and they are wearing deeply incised loin cloth and elaborate jewellery. The nāga holds a water vessel while the nāgi plays on a musical instrument. A ratna–pātra is depicted below the nāga and nāgī figures. The lower portion of the pedestal is further embellished with a pair of crouching lions placed on either side of the entwined nāgas. The extreme corners of the lower portion of the pedestal depict devotees in namaskāra-mudrā. The central portion of this lower half of the pedestal is decorated with kalaśa and floral motifs. The lower projected portion of the pedestal is decorated with series of floral designs. Stylistically, the image may be assignable to c. 11 th -12th century C.E.

As a whole, the present image of Pārśvanātha is unique and rare and most probably represents an installed deity. The scattered architectural fragments suggest that there must have been a Jaina temple at the site during the early medieval period. In West Bengal we commonly find the Tīrthaṅkara images in kāyotsarga posture. However, Tīrthaṅkara images seated in padmāsana posture are not frequently found. Except the present image, two other images of Pārśvanātha seated in padmāsana posture are so far reported from West Bengal. Among these two images, one image is from Deulbhirā (MitraDutta 2004: 111), Bānkurā district, and presently displayed in the Indian Museum, Kolkata. The next one is from Pākbirrā (Bhattacharyya et al. 1986: 147f.), Puruliā district, West Bengal. A noteworthy feature of the present image is the presence of eight planetary deities. Other seated Jaina Tīrthaṅkara images of West Bengal do not bear these eight planetary deities. The context of the sculpture and structural remains suggests the previous existence of a Jaina establishment in this village. The presence of the Sarāk (Jain) community in and around the village even today supports the hypothesis that at the time the dominant religious structure was associated with Jainism whereas the Brāhmaṇism was responsible for its socio-religious transformation in the subsequent period.

Śaṅkā

The site is situated about 51/2 km south east of Celiyāmā under the Raghunāthpur police station and 2 km from the site Rakṣatpura. The scattered architectural fragments as well as sculptural remains associated with Jainism suggest that the earlier religious affiliation of the site was mainly Jaina in character. Furthermore, habitational remains including the remnants of metal working (mostly in form of iron slags), the presence of brick bats and fragmentary pieces of architectural members confirm the Jaina cultural heritage of the site.

On the eastern side of this village is a big tank locally known as barasayar (Pl. V). On the left side of the tank there is an image of Jaina Tīrthaṅkara Ṛṣabhanātha. It is made of grey stone and measures 125 cm x 68 cm x 10 cm (Pl. VI). The Jina stands in kāyotsarga posture on a double-petalled lotus placed on a tri-ratha pedestal. There is a clear depiction of the bull lāñchana on the center of the tri-ratha pedestal. The mūla-nāyaka is devoid of any worldly attire, has elongated ear-lobes, and a simple jaṭājuṭa (coiled crown) with keśa-vallarī (flowing hair) falling down the sides of the head and over the shoulders. A circular śiraś- cakra with leafed edges adorns the head of the savior. Above the śiraś-cakra, a tri-linear chatra is found near the curved top portion of the stele, and the latter is flanked by two vidyādharas holding long garlands and also a pair of drums struck by disembodied hands. The Jina is flanked on both sides by stout male cauri-bearers. They stand on lotus-pedestals and their left hands are rested on the thigh and the right hands hold fly-whisks. At the sides of the stela and on a projected frame, miniature figures of twenty-four Tīrthaṅkaras are arranged in six vertical rows of two each on either side of the mūla-nāyaka. Like the principal image, they also stand in kāyotsarga posture on double-petalled lotus-pedestals.

The second Jaina image is on the right side of the tank (Pl. VII). The upper portion of this image is visible while their lower part is buried under the earth. This unidentified Tīrthaṅkara image is made of chlorite and measures 64 cm x 56 cm x 10 cm. It is a wellexecuted image in kāyotsarga pose. Stylistically, this image is quite different in showing a rounded top and the side-figures placed in niches. The Jaina is flanked by two attendant deities on both sides but only the left one is visible. The stela is decorated with some miniature shrines/niches and the background of this image consists of a finely carved miniature temple whose embellishments are unfortunately quite abraded. The face of the Tīrthaṅkara is badly mutilated. In the stele portion the miniature shrine like structural carvings contains the images of eight planetary deities. However, only five are visible now and they are highly abraded[5]. The edge of the stele contains the depictions of miniature figures; probably of the twenty four Tīrthaṅkaras (only seven are visible now). Beside these depictions the stele also contains the representations of vyāla (mythical animal form) figures and couchant elephants on the both sides of the main image. The elephants hold some objects in their trunks and are surmounted by a pair of vyālas. The back throne also consist of posts decorated with mouldings and criss-cross scratched pilasters, supporting a horizontal crossbar with lightly incised square rhizomes at its ends, above which are triangular foliated plaques. The tiered chatra above the head of the Tīrthaṅkara is damaged. This image is quite important as it differs from the other images of this area. The depiction of the main figure within a shrine in the central part of the stela and side figures within architectural niches is unique. Iconographically, it is also a rare specimen as it shows the maximum number of side figures, i.e. 24 Tīrthaṅkaras and 8 grahas, a combination only rarely encountered on Jaina sculptures in Eastern India (an image of Tīrthaṅkara Candraprabha [Pl. VIII] from the Mānbhum region, presently in the collections of Indian Museum, Kolkata, also portrays this combination).[6]

Stylistically, these two hitherto unpublished images may be assignable to c. 11 th -12th century C.E. The presence of these images leads us to the assertion that they formed part of an abandoned Jaina temple complex, either situated at the site or at some place in its vicinity. Though this particular find spot requires further investigation to get more supportive evidence to elucidate the actual context of the said sculptural remains and their association with Jainism, yet the possibility of the existence of another Jaina complex here cannot be ruled out altogether. Now we shall discuss the socio-cultural and stylistic implications of these Jaina images. Besides, these two sites, during our recent explorations along the river Dāmodar, we were able to document some other archaeological sites associated with Jaina religion. The site Badrā is situated 3 km away from Celiyāmā, along the Celiyāmā – Bardā road. In the center of the village a modern Śiva temple is situated and on the left side of the temple an unique Jaina antiquity is affixed to the wall. This is a Jaina paṭṭa also known as Jaina aṣṭapādatīrtha[7] image (Pl. IX). Close to the temple site of the village there is a ritual spot known as ṣaṣthitalā. In this place a highly abraded Jaina caumukha shrine is kept and worshipped as ṣaṣthi, i.e. as a local deity worshipped for the welfare of the people. Another site is Maṅgaldihā, situated about 4 km east of Celiyāmā. In the center of the village there is a place for worship, locally also known as ṣaṣthitalā, where some other fragments of Jaina sculptures are scattered (Pl. X). In this cluster the most important image is the image of Ṛṣabhanātha. In this image only the upper part of the image is left. This image made of greenish stone and measure 55 cm x 30 cm x 6 cm. I also documented a Jaina pillar from the well-known Jaina site Celiyāmā (Pl. XI) (Majumder 2013: 1250-60). This specimen is very unique and not reported earlier. The pillar made of schist measures 123 cm x 20 cm. The top of the pillar depicts a Tīrthaṅkara. The Jina stands in kāyotsarga posture. The figure is highly abraded and the lāñchana is not clearly identified. Local people informed us that similar pillars were also discovered earlier from the village and most of them were reused by the villagers to construct their houses. The presence of these pillars indicates that there must have been a Jaina temple at the site during the early medieval period. This premise is further strengthened by the presence of broken parts of amlaka and kalaśa.

Observations

In the foregoing pages we have analyzed our data to get a coherent picture about the newly documented Jaina sculptural sites in the Dāmodar river valley, Puruliā district, West Bengal. The present study though preliminary in nature has attempted to investigate the cultural heritage of a region during the early medieval and medieval times along with its regional identity and the contribution of Jaina religious tradition in the area. Apparently the cultural heritage of this region received special momentum (with the radiation of sites, construction activities of temples, installation of icons etc.) with the arrival of the Jainism. Still, there are some unresolved questions related to the popularity of Jainism in the said forested plateau region. The expansion of trading networks and the presence of trading communities from the early medieval period onwards besides the movement of population from the Ganga valley to the coastal region of Bengal and Orissa particularly in the context of pilgrimages may be the prime reasons for such development. The procurement networks particularly in the context of metal and forest products may be responsible for the expansion of settlements both secular and religious along the river Dāmodar. Our knowledge about the routes associated with such network also suggests the formation of the pilgrimage routes by following the river course of the Dāmodar and our present sites are also part of the same.

In the present paper I have discussed the iconographic features of the newly discovered Jaina images in detail. Stylistically, these sculptures are similar to those reported from Sāturi in Puruliā and Tiluri and Bihārinātha in Bānkurā (Chattopadhyay 2010: 195-206) and Punchrā in Burdwan (Gupta 2002: 83-100) districts. Hence, a regional style is clearly evident. This may be due to the fact that compared to the other major Jaina art centres, like Pākbirrā, Charrā, Śuisā and the Viṣṇupur region etc., the present study area used a different stone, the carving of which rendered an aesthetic expression that may be equated with a different art style. The region needs further intensive exploration for the reconstruction of the history of Jainism in this segment of the fringe area of the Choṭānāgpur plateau.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I am grateful to Dr. R.K. Chattopadhyay and Dr. Swati Ray for their suggestions. I thank Dr. Ranbeer Rajput for preparing the site map. I also thank Dr. Goutami Bhattacharya and Pampa Biswas for their kind support in preparing the manuscript.

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Mitra, Debala. Telkupi: A Submerged Temple-Site in West Bengal. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India (MASI No. 76) 1969.

Mitra, Pratip Kumar. "A Note on the Jaina Sculptures at Palma." Jain Journal 18, 4 (1984) 171-174.

MitraDutta, Debajani. A Survey of Jainism and Jaina Art of Eastern India. Kolkata: R.N. Bhattacharya, 2004.

Mukhopadhyay, Subhas Chandra. "Some Jaina Temples of Puruliā." Jain Journal 18, 4 (1984) 156-164.

Nagar, Shanti Lal. Iconography of Jaina Deities. 2 Vols. Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corporation, 1999.

Ray, Amita & Samir Kumar Mukherjee, "Excavation at Mangalkot." Pratna Samiksha 1 (1992) 107-134.

Ray, Niharranjan. Bangalir Itihās, Adi Parba (in Bengali). Calcutta 1949/1993.

Risley, Herbert Hope. The Tribes and Castes of Bengal: An Ethnographic Glossary. Pts. I-II. Calcutta: Firma Mukhopadhyay, 1891/1981.

Shah, Umakant P. Studies in Jaina Art. Varanasi: Parsvanatha Vidyapitha, 1955.

APPENDIX I

Archaeological Sites Associated with JainaVestiges along the DāmodarRiver Valley in the Districts of Puruliā, Bānkurā, Burdwan of West Bengal

Some Jaina antiquities in the Dāmodar river valley such as images, temples and temple remains were already discussed by previous scholars. Here, I have briefly summarized their findings.

District

Site

Nature of Antiquities

References

Puruliā

Telkupi, on the left bank of the river Dāmodar about 16 km to the north-west of Raghunāthpur.

A submersed temple site. Presently only two temples are approachable. Some sculptural remains were collected from the river bed and presently kept in the locality known as Gurudi. Among these sculptural remains one is an image of Tīrthaṅkara Ṛṣabhanātha made of grayish stone and it measures 100 cm x 60 cm x 12 cm. The Jina is standing in kāyotsarga posture on a double-petalled lotus placed on a tri-ratha pedestal. The bull lāñchana is neatly carved on the pedestal along with two crouching lion devotees at both corners of the pedestal. On the edges of the back stela, on a projected frame, miniature figures of twenty-four Tīrthaṅkaras arranged in six vertical rows of two each on either side of the mūla-nāyaka. Some Brāhmaṇical sculptural remains are also present there. The site was most probably associated with both Jaina and Brāhmaṇical religions.

Mitra 1969: 1-64.
Majumder et al. 2012: 262-85.

Puruliā

Sāturi, 7 km south-west of the village Tiluri.

In the center of the village there is a heap of broken sculptures and most of them belong to the Jaina faith.

Recent exploration

Puruliā

Cālkā, 2 km east of the village of Naḍihā under the jurisdiction of Pārā.

During our recent exploration in the present village we have noticed two sculptural remains of Jaina Tīrthaṅkaras from the eastern outskirt of the village. Among them one is the image of Pārśvanātha and another one is unidentifiable. The find spot exhibits two foundations of temples and we documented a good number of architectural remains from this spot.

Recent exploration

Puruliā

Senerā, 3 km from Raghunāthpur, Raghunāthpur Barākar road.

At the western side of the village there is a low structural mound. A broken image of Tīrthaṅkara Pārśvanātha lies on the top of the mound. This is one of the largest images of Pārśvanātha reported from West Bengal. It is made of very low quality of grey stone and measured 223 cm x 62 cm x 20 cm. The Jina is standing in kāyotsarga posture under a seven hooded snake canopy.

Recent exploration

Puruliā

Palmā, 20 km from Puruliā town along the Puruliā- Mānbāzār road.

This is a well-known archaeological site mainly associated with Jaina religion. A good number of Jaina sculptures were reported from this site and some of them are presently kept in the local temple and some of them are displayed in different state, national museums of India and international museum. At present the village has four images among which two are of Tīrthaṅkara Ṛṣabhanātha, one image of Tīrthaṅkara Vāsupūjya and the remaining one is unidentifiable. Two Tīrthaṅkara images are presently in the Patna museum of Bihar and one image of Mahāvīra is presently in the collection of Museum Für Indische Kunst, Berlin.

Mitra1984: 171-4. Bautze-Picron, Claudine 1998: 100.

Puruliā

Charrā, 6 km north-east of Puruliā.

This is a large village and has extensive archaeological ruins. These ruins are associated with Jaina religion. Dalton and Beglar reported that the village had two temples and plenty number of Jaina sculptural remains. Among these two temples presently only one temple survives and similar with Telkupi temple no 18. The dharmarājtalā and the bāsantitalā of the village contain a number of Jaina images among them a dvi-tīrthīkā (i.e., twin image) variety of Jaina image is worth mentioning.

Dalton1866: 187. Beglar1878/1966: 182. Mukhopadhyay19 84: 156-64. Chakrabarti1993: 128.

Puruliā

Bhavānipur, 11 km east of Puruliā along the Puruliā – Hurā road.

An image of Tīrthaṅkara Ṛṣabhanātha was reported from the site. In his image the Tīrthaṅkara stand in kāyotsarga posture on a padmāsana. The Bull, lāñchana of the Tīrthaṅkara is depicted at the center of the pañca-ratha pedestal. The pedestal of the image has an inscription which is no longer legible. The Jina is flanked by cauri-bearers at both the sides and the back slab of the image is decorated with twenty four miniature Tīrthaṅkaras.

Bhowmick1984: 165-170.

Puruliā

Hatuyārā, 8 km north-east of Puruliā.

An image of Tīrthaṅkara Supārśvanātha was reported from this village. In this image the back slab of the Tīrthaṅkara is decorated with eight planetary deities. The Jina stands in kāyotsarga pose on a double-petalled lotus.

Bhowmick1984: 165-170.

Puruliā

Golāmārā, 14 km north of Puruliā.

Three Jaina Tīrthaṅkara images were reported from this site. Among them one is the image of Tīrthaṅkara Vāsupūjya and another one is the image of Tīrthaṅkara Mahāvīra and remaining one is unidentifiable.

Bhowmick1984: 165-170.

Bānkurā

Tiluri, 8 km. north-west of Sāltorā.

At the center of the village in front of a modern Durgā maṇḍapa a heap of broken sculptures are kept. Most of them are badly damaged and only one image is complete and it is the image of Tīrthaṅkara Candraprabha. In this image the Jina is in dhyānāsana posture. The crescent (Candra) lāñchana of the Tīrthaṅkara is depicted at the center of the tri-ratha pedestal. The back slab of the Tīrthaṅkara is decorated with eight dikpālas. This depiction is quite rare.

Chattopadhyay 2010: 158.

Bānkurā

Bihārinātha, 3 km from the site Tiluri

In the north slope of the hill there is a flat roofed temple enshrining a Śiva liṅga. In this temple compound some other sculptural specimens are kept. An image of Tīrthaṅkara Pārśvanātha is also in this collection. The image is badly damaged and the Tīrthaṅkara stand in kāyotsarga posture on a padmāsana. The back slab of the Tīrthaṅkara is decorated with eight planetary deities.

Chattopadhyay 2010: 158.

Bānkurā

Pakhannā, on the south bank of river Dāmodar, 10 km. from Barjorā.

So far as Jaina remains are concerned, a beautiful Jaina votive stūpa (caumukha or caturmukha) is noticeable amidst the locally worshipped deities and heaps of terracotta offerings at Manasātalā. This chlorite specimen with figures of Tīrthaṅkaras in dhāyanāsana posture on all the four sides is made of chlorite stone and measures 66 cm x 31 cm. It is square in shape and is a miniature model of a śikhara temple. Besides, a Jaina tutelary couple made of grey coloured stone is also noticed in this village.

Chattopadhyay 2010: 156f. Chattopadhyay et al. 2011-12 & 2012-13: 138f.

Bānkurā

Hāt Āsuriā, 6 km from Barjorā on the Durgāpur – Sonāmukhi via Rāngāmāti road.

It has yielded a Jaina votive shrine (caumukha) stylistically assignable to circa 12th – 13th centuries C.E.

Chattopadhyay 2010: 158. Chattopadhyay et al. 2011-12 & 2012-13: 139.

Bānkurā

Madanpur/ Jaynagar, 2.5 km from Pakhannā, along the southern bank of the river Dāmodar.

The architectural vestiges at the site along with other sculptural fragments are enough to elucidate the religious identity of the site which is mainly Jaina in character. Kālbhairavtalā, a local place of worship, has an image of Tīrthaṅkara Mahāvīra lying under a tree. The specimen is made of greyish stone and measures 56 cm x 40 cm. The Jina stands in kāyotsarga pose on a double-petalled lotus. The image has a triratha pedestal with a lion carved at its centre. This lāñchana is flanked by two devotees in añjali-mudrā.

Chattopadhyay 2010: 170. Chattopadhyay et al. 2011-12 & 2012-13: 136f.

Bānkurā

Rādhāmohonpur, 31/2 km. northeast of the Bondalhāti bus stop on the Sonāmukhi Durgāpur (via Rāngāmāti) road.

A modern temple locally known as Buddha Mandira has a sculpture of Tīrthaṅkara Ṛṣabhanātha. According to the villagers the sculpture was collected from the bank of the river Dāmodar. The massive black stone image stands in kāyotsarga posture on a double-petalled lotus placed on a sapta-ratha pedestal. It measures 240cm x 60cm x 10cm. There is a clear depiction of the bull lāñchana on the pedestal. The mūla-nāyaka is devoid of any worldly attire, has elongated ear-lobes, and a simple jaṭājuṭa with keśavallarī falling down the sides of the head and over the shoulders. At the sides of the stela and on a projected frame, are miniature figures of twenty-four Tīrthaṅkaras arranged in five vertical rows of three in upper two rows and two in rest on either side of the mūla-nāyaka.

Chattopadhyay et al. 2011-12 & 2012-13: 137.

Bānkurā

HadalNārāyānpur, 8 km north of Pātrasāyer. The site actually denotes two villages, Hadal and Nārāyānpur.

The village has some stone sculptural remains among them one is an image of Jaina tutelary couple. This image is presently worshipped as Śiva–Pārvatī.

Chattopadhyay 2010: 169f. Chattopadhyay et al. 2011-12 & 2012-13: 139f

Bānkurā

Madanpur/ Jaynagar, 2.5 km from Pakhannā, along the southern bank of the river Dāmodar.

The architectural vestiges at the site along with other sculptural fragments are enough to elucidate the religious identity of the site which is mainly Jaina in character. Kālbhairavtalā, a local place of worship, has an image of Tīrthaṅkara Mahāvīra lying under a tree. The specimen is made of greyish stone and measures 56 cm x 40 cm. The Jina stands in kāyotsarga pose on a double-petalled lotus. The image has a triratha pedestal with a lion carved at its centre. This lāñchana is flanked by two devotees in añjali-mudrā.

Chattopadhyay 2010: 170. Chattopadhyay et al. 2011-12 & 2012-13: 136f.

Bānkurā

Rādhāmohonpur, 31/2 km. northeast of the Bondalhāti bus stop on the Sonāmukhi Durgāpur (via Rāngāmāti) road.

A modern temple locally known as Buddha Mandira has a sculpture of Tīrthaṅkara Ṛṣabhanātha. According to the villagers the sculpture was collected from the bank of the river Dāmodar. The massive black stone image stands in kāyotsarga posture on a double-petalled lotus placed on a sapta-ratha pedestal. It measures 240cm x 60cm x 10cm. There is a clear depiction of the bull lāñchana on the pedestal. The mūla-nāyaka is devoid of any worldly attire, has elongated ear-lobes, and a simple jaṭājuṭa with keśavallarī falling down the sides of the head and over the shoulders. At the sides of the stela and on a projected frame, are miniature figures of twenty-four Tīrthaṅkaras arranged in five vertical rows of three in upper two rows and two in rest on either side of the mūla-nāyaka.

Chattopadhyay et al. 2011-12 & 2012-13: 137.

Bānkurā

HadalNārāyānpur, 8 km north of Pātrasāyer. The site actually denotes two villages, Hadal and Nārāyānpur.

The village has some stone sculptural remains among them one is an image of Jaina tutelary couple. This image is presently worshipped as Śiva–Pārvatī.

Chattopadhyay 2010: 169f. Chattopadhyay et al. 2011-12 & 2012-13: 139f.

Bānkurā

Pataspur, in the vicinity of HadalNārāyānpur village on the bank of the dried up bed of the river Dāmodar.

Archaeological importance of the site is amply highlighted by the old habitational remains and a stone sculpture of Tīrthaṅkara Ṛṣabhanātha. This well executed specimen (80 cm x 40 cm x 8 cm) though damaged, is in kāyotsarga posture on a full bloomed lotus-pedestal. The representation of the lāñchana of this Jina, i.e. bull, is depicted between the two figures of devotees on the pedestal.

Chattopadhyay 2010: 167. Chattopadhyay et al. 2011-12 & 2012-13: 139.

Burdwan

Punchrā, 14 km from Āsānsol, via Domohāni. The village is situated under the Bārābāni block of the Āsānsol subdivision of the present district.

This site is well known for its sculptural and architectural remains associated with both the Brāhmaṇical and Jaina religions. So far as Jaina remains are concerned we have documented three Tīrthaṅkara images. However, all of them are badly damaged and it is very difficult to identify them.

C. Gupta 2002: 83-100.

Burdwan

Sāt Deuliyā, jurisdiction of Jāmālpur, 2 km north-east of Masāgram railway station.

This is a unique site associated with Jainism. At present there is an extant śikhara type of temple. Now there is no image inside this shrine. However, we documented a wellexecuted image of Tīrthaṅkara Pārśvanātha from a place near the temple. Earlier a Jaina
aṣṭapāda-tīrtha sculpture was also discovered from the site.

Dasgupta1973: 130-132.

APPENDIX II

 

Maps & Plates

 

16696691416

Map 1. District map of Puruliā showing the sites.

16535167070

Pl. I. Temple no. 18 from Telkupi, Puruliā, West Bengal.

16721510652

Pl. II. Temple of Bāndā, Puruliā, West Bengal.

16536469279

Pl. III. Image of Jaina Tīrthaṅkara Pārśvanātha from Rakṣatpura, Puruliā, West Bengal.

16696690746

Pl. IV. Detail of the Pedestal of the Image of the Jaina Tīrthaṅkara Pārśvanātha from Rakṣatpura, Puruliā, West Bengal.

16100267694

Pl. V. Ancient Tank from Śaṅkā, Puruliā, West Bengal.

16721333861

Pl. VI. Image of JainaTīrthaṅkara Ṛṣabhanātha from Śaṅkā, Puruliā, West Bengal.

16535020838

Pl. VII. Unidentify JainaTīrthaṅkara Image from Śaṅkā, Puruliā, West Bengal.

16515304987

Pl. VIII. Image of Jaina Tīrthaṅkara Candraprabha from Mānbhum (presently in the collections of Indian Museum, Kolkata).

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Pl. IX. Jaina Aṣṭapādatīrtha from Badrā, Puruliā, West Bengal.

16721333021

Pl. X. Jaina Sculptural Remains from Maṅgaldihā, Puruliā, West Bengal.

16536467939

Pl. XI. Jaina Pillar from Celiyāmā, Puruliā, West Bengal.

© The Editor. International Journal of Jaina Studies (Online) 2014

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