Jina Parsvanatha

This relief sculpture is part of a pillar which would have adorned the exterior of a temple wall. There are twenty-four Jinas, figures from the Jain religion who have attained a state of bliss and transcendance. Parsvanatha, is the 23rd Jina identified by the seven-hooded serpent. The figure is naked, or ‘sky clad’, indicating that it is from the Digambara sect of Jainism. The posture is called kayotsarga or body abandonment posture. It is an austere form of meditation. The slim waist contrasted by the broad shoulders is a convention to draw attention to the chest expanded with the sacred breath during mediation. The hands hang down and do not touch the body to emphasis the abandonment of self. The diamond-shaped holy mark on his chest together with elongated earlobes, long slender arms, and cranial bump further indicate his superhuman nature. On either side stand a pair of bejewelled nature spirits (yakshas), mirroring one another with the inward thrust of their hips. Above the serpentine canopy, another Jain saint sits in mediation (dhyanasana), flanked by two attendants carrying floral garlands.