Jain Tirthankaras found during field study (2009-2011)

-Dr B. Jambulingam
While carrying out field work in connnection with my research on Buddhism in Chola country - from 1993 to 2003 -  I identified many Tirthankara statutes. In 2009-2010, I had the privelege of being the Supervisor to Mr G.Thillai Govindarajan for his project entitled "Jainism in Thanjaur District, Tamil Nadu" (Nehru Trust for the Indian Collections at the Vicoria & Alber Museum, New Delhi, May 2010). During our combined field study we found Jain Tirthankaras in Serumakkanallur (Thanjavur district), Suraikkudipatti (Thanjavuar district), Panchanathikkulam (Nagapattinam district) and Doli (Tiruvarur district). These statues were found while carrying out and on completion of the project. 

Serumakkanallur (June 2009)
Serumakkanallur Tirthankara
Photo: Thillai Govindarajan

Based on the information given by Mr.Ayyampet Selvaraj we carried out field study and identified a Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankara statue in Serumakkanallur of Papanasam taluk of Thanjavur district. It was found in Sabari Mukkayi Amman Thidal in Puliyankudi. Having a height of 3' and a breadth of 21/2' it was in padmasana sitting posture and is in mediation. It has a lion throne, chamara bearers, triple umbrella and a tree. The face and the top portion of the umbrella are broken. The sculpture belongs to the later Chola period. It has elongated ears and closed eyes and is in Tikambara posture. An inscription states that a government official Sirimakkanallur Kanniveran lived here. Another incriptin shows the areas were under the control o the Cholas and Jainism was widely prevalent. The local worship this sculpture as Karuppasamy and offer goat sacrifice. Daily worship is done and special pujas are conducted on Fridays in the Tamil month of Adi. 

Suraikkudipatti Tirthankara
Photo: Thillai Govindarajan
Suraikkudipatti (February 2010)
A Jain Tirthankara was identified during field study in Suraikkudipatti in Budalur block of Tiruvaiyaru taluk in Thanjavur district. It is found in the Ayyanar temple near Budalur. Having a height of 3 1/4' and a breadth of 21/2' it was found on a pedestal on sitting dhyana posture on the ion throne. At the rear side of the sculpture yakshas are found in standing posture. Triple umbrella is found above the head. It has elongated ears and closed eyes and is in Tikambara posture.  It belongs to later Chola period. A Pallava inscription found in Ponvilainthanpatti which is very near to this place records about the prevalence of Jainism here. From this it is understood that since th period of Pallavas Jainism was prevalent in this area. 
Panchanathikkulam (August 2010)  

During field work in Panchanathikkulam, with Mr Thillai Govindarajan
Panchanathikkulam Tirthankara
Photo: B.Jambulingam
From a newspaper report (Dinamani, Tamil Daily, 17.8.2010) it was learnt that a stone - possibly a sculpture of Jain or Buddha - was used for washing clothes in Mulliyar at Panchanathikkulam in Vedaranyam taluk of Nagapattinam district. In order to identify the sculpture we carried out field work in the area. Based on the iconographical aspects - though  without head - it was confirmed that it was a Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara.It was found without head.It was in sitting dhyana posture. Yakshas were found on either side. On the right side of the pedestal a lion was found. 

Doli (November 2011

Doli Tirthankara
Photo: B.Jambulingam
Based on an information we carried out field study and found a Jain Tirthankara at Doli  near Sangenthi in Tirutturaippundi-Muthupet road of Tiruvarur district. This sculpture was found in sitting posture and in dhyana. Lion throne, yakshas and triple umbrella were found in this sculpture. It has elongated ears and closed eyes. Praba is found behind the head. This sculpture belongs to later chola period. This sculpture was also in thikampara posture. 

During field study it was learnt that all these sculptures had many  iconograpical aspects of Jain Tirthankara such as triple umbrella, yakshas, lion throne, closed eyes and elongated ears. They were in thikampara and were in sitting dhyana posture. These findings vouchsafe the fact that like Buddhism, Jainism was also prevalent widely in the Chola country  

Manopubbangama dhamma manosettha manomaya
Manasa ce padutthena bhasati va karoti va 
Tato nam dukkhamanveti cakkam'va vahato padam.

Mind is the forerunner (of all) states. Mind is chief; mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with wicked mind, because of that, suffering follows one, even as the wheel follows the hoof of the draught-ox.The Dhammapada 1
A middle-aged devout person, named Cakkhupala, became a monk and was energetically leading a contemplative life. As a result of his strenuous endeavour he realized Arahantship, the final stage of Sainthood, but unfortunately went blind.
One day as he was pacing up and down the ambulatory he unintentionally killed many insects. Some visiting monks, noticing the blood-stained ambulatory, complained to the Buddha that he had committed the offence of killing. The Buddha explained that the monk had killed them unintentionally and that he was an Arahant.
The monks then wished to know the cause of his blindness.
The Buddha related that in a past birth, as a physician, that particular monk had given an ointment to a poor woman to restore her eyesight. She promised that, with her children, she would become his servants if her eyesight was restored. The physician's remedy proved effective, but the woman not willing to keep her promise, pretended that her eyes were getting worse. The cruel physician, yielding to a wicked thought, retaliated by giving her another ointment which blinded her eyes. In consequence of his past evil action the Arahant became blind.   
(The Dhammapada, Narada Thera, The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, Taiwan, ROC, 1993


  1. The story of the Tirthankarar being worshipped by the locals as Karuppusami is really a tounching one. Actually people are ready to worship the gods irrespective of the religion.
    let the journey of yours will unearth more Tirthankaras.

  2. தலை இல்லாத சிலையையும் கண்டுபிடித்து, அந்த சிலையின் தலை யாருடையது என்று கண்டுபிடித்த நீங்கள் தான் உண்மையிலேயே "தல" சார். உங்கள் கண்டுபிடிப்புகள் தொடருட்டும். நன்றி!

  3. உங்களை போன்ற சிலரால்தான் இன்னும் வரலாறு வாழ்கிறது. தங்களின் திருப்பணிக்கு தீர்த்தங்கரர்கள் துணை இருப்பார்களாக ! - Sanmathi


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