Sacred colours

Acharya Shri Shushil Muni explains the sacred colours of Jainism, which are found in several holy symbols, including the siddhacakra, the Namaskāra-mantra and the Jain flag. The information is provided by the Jainism Literature Center, associated with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.

Śālibhadra play during Mahāvīr Jayantī

The Institute of Jainology reports on the celebrations of the 2009 Mahāvīr Jayantī festival in London. One of the highlights of the two-day celebration was the performance of Tyagveer Shalibhadra. Young people from the Shree Chandana Vidhyapeeth school performed this original play in Gujarati, which featured music and dancing, short dialogues and narrations.

Samavasaran Temple

A recent building, the Samavasaran Temple is in the town of Palitana at the foot of Mount Shatrunjaya, one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjaka Jains. Built as a stepped circle, the temple recreates the samavasaraṇa or universal gathering. When a Jina reaches omniscience, he sits in the centre of a samavasaraṇa the gods have built for him so all living beings can hear him preach.

The HereNow4U website has images of the temple.

Śankheśvar Dādā

This recording of Śankheśvar Dādā on SoundCloud was made by JAINpedia contributor M. Whitney Kelting as part of her fieldwork into Jain devotional practices among Jain women in western India in 2009.

Scene featuring Śālibhadra and his wives

This amateur video on YouTube shows a scene from the Hindi-language play of Śālibhadra, which was performed in August 2010 to commemorate the opening of the Jain Vishwa Bharati centre in Houston, Texas, USA.

Science in Jain Canonical Literature

The HereNow4U website presents an essay by Manikant Shah based on the work of Professor L. C. Jain, director of the Vidyasagar Research Institute in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India. The 2011 essay points out some connections between Jain beliefs and scientific discoveries.

Science in Jainism

The Indian scholar M. R. Gelra of the Jain Vishva Bharati Institute in Ladnun, Rajasthan, has written a book called Science and Jainism: Perspectives, Issues and Futuristic Trends. It is available to read online on the HereNow4U website.

Sculpture of Malli

Flickr provides a photograph of the 19th Jina, Mallinātha or Lord Malli. Typically of Śvetāmbara idols of Jinas, this statue has wide open eyes and ornate jewellery, including a golden śrīvatsa in the middle of his chest. Although this image is not of a woman, Śvetāmbara Jains believe the 19th Jina is female. In fact, depictions of Mallī as a woman are rare or inconclusive, with nearly all artwork of Jinas showing them as extremely stylised and almost identical.

Selected songs of Ānandghan

A few songs by Ānandghan are available in Devanāgarī script, Roman transliteration and English translation. Ānandghan has been a popular poet of hymns among Jains of all sects since the 17th century. This selection, part of an ongoing project, is on a faculty private page on the Colorado State University website.

Seven Wonders of India – Palitana Temples

The Svetāmbara pilgrimage centre at Mount Shatrunjaya is showcased in this NDTV video on YouTube. Jain pilgrims are shown climbing the steep hill – some carried in a kind of palanquin called a ḍolī – and worshipping in some of the hundreds of temples on the twin hills. The presenter gives a brief outline of the Jain faith and mentions the navanū – ‘99fold’ – pilgrimage, which is one of the hardest and most demanding ones.

Beginning in 2008, the New Delhi Television show Seven Wonders of India asked viewers to vote for their favourite seven sites in the country over a year. Part of a publicity campaign organised by the Ministry of Tourism, the show's presenters visited many sites considered potential winners.

Seven Wonders of India – Ranakpur

The Jain temples at Ranakpur in Rajasthan are featured in this NDTV video on YouTube. The video includes a brief history of the site, interviews with foreign tourists and details of the famously intricate architecture of the temples.

As part of a publicity campaign organised by the Ministry of Tourism in 2008–9 the New Delhi Television show Seven Wonders of India asked viewers to vote for their favourite seven sites in the country. The show's presenters visited many sites considered potential winners.

Seven Wonders of India – Shravanabelagola

The Digambara pilgrimage site of Shravana Belagola in Karnataka is the subject of this NDTV video on YouTube. The presenter gives a brief history of the site and the story of Bāhubali, whose huge statue is the focus of worship. Some pilgrims in ill health are carried in sedan chairs up and down the steep hill, atop which stands the Bāhubali colossus. Inscriptions protected by heavy sheets of glass are shown. Pilgrims performing worship rituals are filmed, including the sacred bath or ‘head-anointing ceremony’ – mastakābhiṣeka – of a small metal image of Gommaṭeśvara or Bāhubali.

The New Delhi Television show Seven Wonders of India asked viewers to vote for their favourite seven sites in the country. It was part of a publicity campaign organised by the Ministry of Tourism in 2008 to 2009. The show's presenters visited many sites considered potential winners.

Shatrunjaya photographs

This set of photographs on Flickr by amaury_217 of the holy site of Mount Shatrunjaya was taken in April 2010.

Shravana Belgola description

Description of the site of Shravana Belgola and the Mahā-mastakābhiṣeka – ‘Great head-anointing ceremony’ – of the Gommaṭeśvara or Bāhubali statue there. Background material on Jain holy places and Gommaṭeśvara is also given on this page on the Sacred Sites website.

Most of the photographs of the 2006 ‘Great head-anointing ceremony’ are taken from the BBC slideshow by Karoki Lewis.

Shravana Belgola summary

Background information about the pilgrimage site of Shravana Belagola in Karnataka. Holy to the sect of the Digambaras in particular, Shravana Belagola is focused on the towering statue of Bāhubal, frequently called Gommaṭeśvara or ‘Lord of Gommaṭa’. The 18-metre-tall idol is at the top of the hill of Vindhya-giri so visitors must climb 500 steep steps barefoot to reach it. The Archaeological Haecceities blog provides this information about the stone colossus.

Shri Nakoda Ji Jain Temple

The Shri Nakoda Ji Jain Temple website presents information about the Śvetāmbara temple in Nakoda, Rajasthan, dedicated to Pārśvanātha or Lord Pārśva, the 23rd Jina. Website visitors can perform online worship ceremonies to the cult figure of Nākoḍā Bhairava.

Shri Vallabhipur Tirth provides practical and historical information about the Shri Vallabhipur temple in Gujarat. Dedicated to the 24th Jina, Mahāvīra, the temple houses statues of Devarddhi-gaṇi Kṣamā-śramaṇa and 500 other ācāryas or religious leaders. The temple at Valabhī – now Vallabhi – commemorates the final compilation of the Āgamas that make up the scriptures of the Śvetāmbara sect.

Shrimad Rajchandra Ashram

Established in 1920 by Rājacandra’s closest disciple Laghurāja, the Shrimad Rajchandra Ashram is in Agās, Gujarat. The ashram publicises the teaching of Rājacandra and welcomes visitors to study and pray.

See Also

Shrine to Gaṇeśa

A portable Jain shrine to the popular deity Gaṇeśa. With an elephant head, Gaṇeśa is associated with wealth, knowledge of all kinds and wisdom. Details of this shrine are provided by Christie's of London, where it was auctioned in 2009.


The siddhacakra or navapada is a flower with nine sections representing the Five Supreme Entities and the 'Four Jewels'. It is thus a visual summary of key elements of Jain belief. Often known as a navpad nowadays, the siddhacakra is a mystical yantra used in worship rites. This photo on Flickr shows a Śvetāmbara siddhacakra, with an ornately bedecked Jina in the centre.

Siddhacakra mahāyantra

The Herenow4U website provides a picture of a siddhacakra or navapada mahā-yantra, the most popular yantra among contemporary Jains. This mystical diagram presents some of the main elements of Jainism. King Śrīpala and Queen Mayṇāsundarī, who are closely associated with it, are shown at the bottom demonstrating worship of the yantra.

Śītalanātha temple in Kolkata

The Śvetāmbara temple to Śītalanātha or Lord Śītala in Kolkata, West Bengal, is a distinctive design built in the 19th century. This 2011 picture on Flickr shows its ornate gardens.

Site of Supārśva’s birth

The Jaintirths website provides information about Bhadaini in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. This holy site is dedicated to Supārśvanātha or Lord Supārśva, the seventh Jina, who was born here. The exact place where Supārśva was born is supposed to be ‘Bhadaini Muhallah’, near the bank of the Ganges, which is known as the ‘Jain ghat’. Both main sects of Śvetāmbaras and Digambaras maintain separate temples here.

Sittanavasal temple

The HereNow4U website provides information about the Digambara site of Sittanavasal in Tamil Nadu. Famous for its colourful frescoes, the cave temple is also listed by the Archaeological Survey of India as a protected monument.

Sittannavasal cave temple

The Archaeological Survey of India supplies historical and practical information about the rock-cut temple at Sittannavasal in Tamil Nadu.

Sketch of a siddhacakra

This sketch of a siddhacakra is found in a manuscript held in the National Gallery of Australia. The Svetāmbara yantra or mystical diagram has nine parts, representing key elements of Jain doctrine. In the centre of the stylised lotus flower is a Jina and around him on alternating petals sit the other beings that make up the five highest beings. On the petals between them are phrases representing the 'four fundamentals'.

Some temples at Mukta-giri

The temple-city at Mukta-giri in Madhya Pradesh is a popular pilgrimage site for Digambara Jains. Unusually for Jain temples, the shrines are built in a valley instead of on a hill. Two of the temple compounds, joined by a bridge across a river, are shown in this 2008 photograph on Flickr.

Sonā-giri from the upper temples

The temple-city of Sonā-giri is one of the major pilgrimage sites for Digambara Jains. Over a hundred temples and shrines are scattered over hilly terrain in Madhya Pradesh, linked by paths. This 2010 photo on Flick shows a view of some temples from higher up the hill.

Sonā-giri temples and pilgrims

This 2012 photo on Flickr captures the view from the summit of the temple-city of Sonā-giri in Madhya Pradesh. Pilgrims walk barefoot from one shrine to another in this popular Digambara site.

Song to Nākoḍā Bhairava

A song dedicated to Nākoḍā Bhairava, the protective Śvetāmbara deity in Rajasthan, is available to listen to or download from Soundcloud.

Song versions of the Ātmasiddhi

One of the most influential works of the 19th-century poet and mystic Śrīmad Rājacandra is the Ātmasiddhi (Realisation of the Self). The Atmadharma website offers MP3 audio files of different singers singing the Ātmasiddhi in the original Gujarati and in Hindi. In the traditional bhakti devotional style, the music can be downloaded or listened to online.

Spectacular Jain festival – 2006 anointing of Bāhubali

The 2006 ‘great head-anointing ceremony’ – mahā-mastakābhiṣeka – of the immense statue of Bāhubali at Shravana Belgola in Karnataka attracted thousands of Digambara pilgrims, Śvetāmbara Jains and sightseers. Wealthy Jains who have bid for the privilege pour various substances over the head of the 18-metre tall statue in a waterfall of colours and materials. In this BBC News Special Reports on the BBC website, Karoki Lewis presents an audio-slideshow of the joyous celebration.

Śrī Śankheśvar Pārśvanāth

This recording of Śrī Śankheśvar Pārśvanāth on SoundCloud was made by JAINpedia contributor M. Whitney Kelting as part of her fieldwork into Jain devotional practices among Jain women in western India in 2009.

Śrīmad Rājacandra resources

The Jain Belief website offers resources on the influential 19th-century writer and reformer Śrīmad Rājacandra.

Śruta-pañcamī – part 1

Some features of the annual Digambara festival of knowledge – Śruta-pañcamī – are demonstrated in this YouTube video, such as the worship ritual and the procession of holy texts. Temple rites include the ritual anointment of freestanding metal plaques representing holy texts and idols, accompanied by jangling percussion. The main part of the ritual shown in this video centres around the worship of the śruta-skandha-yantra, a plaque made of brass in the form of a tree, which represents the kinds of scriptures Digambaras recognise. Carried in procession, the sacred books are garlanded with flowers and flanked by attendants using fly-whisks, which indicate the princely status of the artefacts, while devotees kneel before a naked monk and touch his feet. The Ṣaṭkhaṇḍāgama, the main authoritative source of Digambara teachings, is the book worshipped here.

This three-part YouTube video records the festival at Mudalur, Tamil Nadu in India, held over 28th and 29th May 2009. This is the first part and you can watch the second part at:

Śruta-pañcamī – part 2

The procession of holy texts in the annual Digambara festival of knowledge – Śruta-pañcamī – is the main subject of this YouTube video. As the centre of festivities, the sacred books are decorated with flower garlands. They are placed on a model elephant, protected from the sun by a canopy and fanned with fly-whisks, all symbols of royalty. The Jain flag is waved in front. Lay Jains, many dressed in orange – the colour of spirituality in India – take part in the noisy procession. Some carry the metal sculptures of the 12 dreams of a Jina’s birth. A nude monk, holding his peacock-feather broom, and white-clad nuns also participate. The procession ends with a display of holy books, the reflection of which is ritually anointed, and a rite of worship in which the auspicious symbol of the svastika can be clearly seen.

This three-part YouTube video records the festival at Mudalur, Tamil Nadu in India, held over 28th and 29th May 2009. This is the second part and you can watch the last part at:

Śruta-pañcamī – part 3

This YouTube video follows the end of the first day’s events of the annual Digambara festival of knowledge – Śruta-pañcamī. First, a rite of worship before a brightly coloured rangoli – a design of coloured powder or rice symbolising joy and welcome – is performed. The lay community files past the rangoli and metal sculpture representing knowledge while monks and lay people chant a Sanskrit hymn. This song praises knowledge, omniscience, the scriptures and the goddess Sarasvatī, who embodies knowledge. Behind the rangoli piles of holy books can be seen, which have been carried in procession through the village as guides to knowledge. After the fire ritual, an inititation ceremony – dīkṣā – of a new monk, featuring keśa-loca  – ‘pulling out of the hair’ – takes place before the crowd. Afterwards, they move trays of fire in circles – āratī – offering pūja or worship to the new mendicant. An anointing ceremony – abhiṣeka – of the māna-stambha pillar found in front of Jain temples follows, with a final procession past the symbols of knowledge.

This three-part YouTube video records the festival at Mudalur, Tamil Nadu in India, held over 28th and 29th May 2009. This is the final part and you can watch the first part at:

Statue of a meditating Jina

This idol of a Jina shows him in the characteristic lotus position of meditation. He has a serene half-smile on his face, elongated earlobes and curly hair. The severe style and lack of clothing indicates that the 11th-century statue belongs to the sect of the Digambaras. It may depict the 24th Jina, Mahāvīra. The photograph provided by the Philadelphia Museum of Art is accompanied by a brief audio commentary on the statue.|7

Statue of Malli

This picture on Flickr is of a Digambara statue of Malli, the 19th Jina, seated on a lotus-flower pedestal. The statue's long earlobes signify the renunciation of wealth and worldly status. Depicted in the lotus pose of meditation with closed eyes, the sculpture exhibits the typical unadorned style of Digambara Jinas.

Statue of Mallinātha

This Flickr photo shows the 19th Jina, Mallinātha or Lord Malli. The statue's golden colour, closed eyes and severe style indicate that it belongs to the Digambara sect. Digambara Jains do not agree with the belief of the other main sect, the Śvetāmbaras, that Mallī is the only female Jina.

Statue of Puṣpadanta or Suvidhi

The temple at Kakandi in Uttar Pradesh, India, houses an idol of the ninth Jina, who is known as both Puṣpadanta and Suvidhi. Puṣpadantanātha or Lord Puṣpadanta was born in Kakandi and has been associated with the area since at least the late medieval period. His colourful emblem – lāñchana – of the crocodile is clearly visible on his cushion, above the auspicious auṃ carved on the pedestal.


A description of the Śvetāmbara Sthānakavāsin sect is given in the Encyclopedia of Religion provided by the Division of Religion and Philosophy at the University of Cumbria, UK.

Story of Śrīpāḷa and Mayṇāsundarī

The Jain eWorld website provides the well-known tale of Śrīpāḷa and Mayṇāsundarī. The story illustrates that accepting karma, worshipping the siddhacakra or navapada and staying true to religious beliefs are crucial to being a good Jain and moving towards liberation. The tale is part of the epic Śrīpāḷ Rājāno Rās, which recounts Śrīpāḷa’s adventures after he is cured of leprosy. The story is a major element in the festival of Āyambil Oḷī, which focuses on religious devotion, especially revolving around the siddhacakra yantra, and marital happiness.

Sudatta and Yaśomati

A zoomable manuscript painting in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art shows the Jain monk Sudatta receiving King Yaśomati. This 17th-century folio from a manuscript of the popular Jain tale Story of Yaśodhara has a picture of a royal procession on the verso side.

Summary of the three gems

The Religions section on the BBC website provides an outline of the three gems of the Jain faith.

Supreme Court upholds a Paryuṣaṇ ban

Details of the Supreme Court of India's 2008 ruling to uphold the state government of Gujarat's ban on the operation of slaughterhouses and butchers during the Jain festival of Paryuṣaṇ. The provides this information in its Judiciary section.


The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts presents this colourful sūri-mantra-paṭa dating to the second half of the 17th century. Click on the picture to view the image in more detail.

Sūri-mantra-paṭas are yantras used only by Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjak monks, especially the Kharatara-gaccha and the Tapā-gaccha, when they reach the rank of sūri. Typically, this example depicts Indrabhūti Gautama, the first disciple of Mahāvīra, in the centre.

Svastika during Paryuṣaṇ

A svastika formed out of traditional clay lamps – dīpas in Sanskrit – is arranged on the petal-strewn floor of a temple during the festival of Paryuṣaṇ. The svastika is an ancient symbol of good luck and is frequently found in Jain temples, on religious equipment and on books, clothing and so on. The four dots among the arms of the svastika represent either the four states of existence or the parts of the fourfold community. Lasting eight days in late August or early September, Paryuṣaṇ is the most important Śvetāmbara Jain festival. This photograph on Flickr was taken in 2007.

Śvetāmbara initation candidates in the crowd

As part of the renunciation ceremony to become a monk or nun – dīkā – the initiation candidates pass through a joyful crowd, who throw sandalwood powder over them. The initiates have already shaven and plucked out their hair and wear the white monastic robe of Śvetāmbara mendicants. This undated ceremony on YouTube takes place in Gujarat.

Śvetāmbara initiation candidate prepares

A Śvetāmbara candidate for monkhood is prepared for the renunciation ceremony – dīkā. Note the tufts of hair left on his shaven head, ready for the keśa-loca ritual in which he pulls out his hair. This YouTube video in Hindi shows a ceremony that took place in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, on 27 November 2010.

Svetāmbara Jina emblems

This picture from the Jeevraksha blog gives the emblems – lāñchana – of the 24 Jinas according to the Svetāmbara sect.

Śvetāmbara list of Triśalā’s dreams

This community page on Facebook describes and interprets Queen Triśalā's dreams according to the Śvetāmbara sect. It also provides photographs of silver and gold sculptures of the dreams. Frequently found in temples, freestanding metal representations of the dreams are used in rituals among both Digambara and Śvetāmbara sects, such as the celebrations of Mahāvīr Jayantī. The 14 dreams of the Śvetāmbaras also play a role in their festival of Paryuṣan.

Śvetāmbara monks and yantra

This colourful 19th-century miniature painting depicts Śvetāmbara monks on one side and a yantra or auspicious diagram on the other. The 24 monks are named and sit in meditation. The yantra represents the samavasaraṇa – universal assembly – in which an omniscient Jina preaches to all sentient beings. The zoomable photograph of both sides of this artwork is on the website of the auctioneer Christie's.

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