Article: Sumati

Sumatinātha or Lord Sumati is the fifth of the 24 Jinas of the present cycle of time.

The word Jina means ‘victor’ in Sanskrit. A Jina is an enlightened human being who has triumphed over karma through practising extreme asceticism and teaches the way to achieve liberation. A Jina is also called a Tīrthaṃkara or ‘ford-maker’ in Sanskrit – that is, one who has founded a community after reaching omniscience.

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This 16th-century manuscript painting shows a Jina in the lotus position of meditation. His jewellery and headdress show that he is a spiritual king. Jinas are always pictured in a very stylised way and this Jina has no identifying emblem.

A Jina meditating
Image by Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford © Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

There is no historical evidence of Sumati’s existence but traditional writings recount his life as following the usual career of a Jina. Tradition holds that he was born in Ayodhyā and achieved liberation on Mount Sammeta, also known as Pārasnātha Hill.

Sumati’s symbolic colour is gold. Digambaras say that his emblem is the crane – krauñca– or koka-bird – while Śvetāmbaras say it is a krauñca-bird.

Like all Jinas, Sumati has a pair of spiritual attendants, often shown in art. His yakṣa is Tumbaru. Digambaras call his yakṣī Puruṣadattā while Śvetāmbaras name her Mahākālī.


Historical Dictionary of Jainism
Kristi L. Wiley
Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies, and Movements series; series editor Jon Woronoff; volume 53
Scarecrow Press; Maryland, USA; 2004

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