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Framing the JinaNarratives of Icons and Idols in Jain History$
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John Cort

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385021

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385021.001.0001

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The Spread of Icons in Our World

The Spread of Icons in Our World

(p.113) 3 The Spread of Icons in Our World
Framing the Jina

John E. Cort (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In addition to the cosmological argument that icons are eternal, there are also Jain narratives that account for the existence and spread of Jina icons in the world that we inhabit. The first of these tells the establishment of the first Jina temple in this era of time atop Mount Ashtapada by the emperor Bharata. The Jain temple is symbolically modeled on the samavasarana (universal preaching hall) that the gods create whenever a living Jina preaches. One of these was created on Mount Ashtapada, a semi‐mythical mountain sometimes identified with Mount Kailasha in the western Himalayas, for the preaching of Adinatha (Rishabhanatha; Rsabhan_tha), the first Jina of this era. This was also the site of Adinatha's bodily decease. At the site of Adinatha's cremation, the Indra gods erected stupas for his bodily relics, and his son Bharata erected temples with icons. This allows us to see the close connections between icons and relics, and also between temples and stupas. The temple atop Mount Ashtapada is no longer accessible according to Jain cosmology, so the chapter turns to narratives accounting for the Jina temples and icons that fill India today. These narratives describe how the Mauryan emperor Samprati (grandson of Ashoka) built 125,000 temples in India, in a narrative closely modeled on the Buddhist narratives of Ashoka's distribution of stupas and relics of the Buddha throughout India. A second narrative of accessible icons concerns the sixteen renovations of Mount Shatrunjay in western India, the most revered Shvetambara pilgrimage shrine. The narratives of these renovations bring us into the recognizable historical time of medieval India, and allow us to see how “myth” and “history” work in similar ways as narratives that account for origins of institutions and objects.

Keywords:   Adinatha, Ashoka (A_oka), Ashtapada (Ast_pada), Bharata, history, myth, relic, Rishabha (Rsabhan_tha), samavasarana, Samprati, Shatrunjay (_atruñjaya), stupa

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