Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Arts and Architecture


Buddhist and jaina Vestiges

Kerala has no extant Buddhist monastery. But images of Buddha ascribable from the seventh to the ninth centuries have come to light from the places like Karumadi Mavelikkara, Bharanikavu and Pallikkal in the districts of Alleppey and Quilon in South Kerala. The discovery of an image of Buddha at Marudurkulangara, near Thiruvananthapuram, bearing the stamp of the

Anuradhapuram tradition from Sri Lanka the image has been dated stylistically the seventh or eighth century. Of the Buddhist monasteries in Kerala, the most renowned was one known as Srimulavaasam identified generally with Tirumulpadam of the Paliyam plates of the Ay King Vikramaditya Varaguna recording the grant of land to the Bhattaraka of Tirumulpadam. A Vihara of the same name (Mulasava) is mentioned in the Mushika-Vamsa a Sanskrit epic of about the eleventh century, composed by Atula, the court-poet of the Mushika King Vikramarama. The monastery was about to be engulfed by encroaching sea. The image of Bodhisattva Lokanatha of this monastery attained renown throughout India and its representation is preserved in the Cambridge University Manuscript dated to AD 1015. It depicts the figure of a four-armed standing Lokanatha white in colour, with the inscription Daskhinpatha Mulavasa-Lokananta. The Bodhisattva is shown accompanied by two attendants. Tara with a blue lotus and Bhrukuti with a lotus and a water pot.

The Jaina monuments, mostly ascribable to the period from the ninth to the eleventh centuries, are available over different parts of Kerala. The most impressive one, amongst the rock-shelters, is the Tiruchcharanattumalai, near Chitral district Kanyakumari. One the side of natural cavern formed by an over hanging rock are sculptured a number of Tirthankara figures apart from some inscribed votive images carved the visitors hailing from distant places. Of these relief's, the most important are Parsvanatha, Mahavira, Padmavati and Ambika, the last with the lion mount. An important inscription here, is the one belonging to the Ay king Vikramaditya Varaguna, and it records the gift of some golden ornaments to the Bhatariyar of the Tirichcharaanattumalai. After the mid-third  century it was converted into a Bhagavati shrine. 

There is a Jaina rock-shelter at Kallil, near Perumpavur, at Ernakulam district which was later transformed into a Bhagavati shrine. On the facade of this rock shelter is carved an unfinished seated image of Mahavira, represented also on the back wall of the cavern.

Of the structural temples, the ruined site of Sakkiyar Bhagvati Shrine at Godapuram, near Alattur in Palaghat district deserves special mention as it is associated with two Jaina figures, Mahavira and Parsvanatha, now in the Trishur museum and an inscription of the tenth century. At present, the site is represented by a few buried structures and some scattered architectural pieces. Palaghat proper has also a Jaina temple dedicated to the eighth Trithankara Chandraprabha. In front of the present temple stands the basements of an earlier shrine, a headless Jina figure, of the ninth / tenth century sealed in the vajra-Payranka pose was recovered from the site. Sultans Battery also known as Ganapati-Vattam, has the ruins of a Jaina Basti, which may be dated to the fourteenth century. It is an example of cloistered temple built entirely a granite.