SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Flügel, Peter (2011) 'Burial Ad Sanctos at Jaina Sites in India.' International Journal of Jaina Studies, 7 (4). pp. 1-37.

Text - Draft Version
Download (1MB) | Preview


The analysis of the process of gradual integration of religious artifacts into the originally anti-iconic protestant Jaina traditions, starting with relics of renowned saints, and the evolution of pilgrimage centres from the early nineteenth century onwards shows that it followed the same logic as proposed by the theory of aniconism for the development of anthropomorphic images in ancient India: relics, stūpas, aniconic representations, anthropomorphic iconoplastic representations. It is argued in this article that it is unlikely that extant aniconic Jaina religious art from ancient India evolved along similar lines for at least four reasons: The absence of (1) doctrinal aniconism in early Jainism, (2) of a notable cult of the relics of the Jina, (3) of evidence for Jaina stūpas antedating anthropomorphic miniature reliefs, and (4) of sharply demarcated Jaina sectarian traditions before the Digambara-Śvetambara split. The reputedly oldest iconographic evidence from Mathurā rather suggests a parallel evolution of iconic and aniconic representations; with footprint/foot-images (caraṇa-pādukā) as a relatively late addition to the vocabulary of aniconic Jaina art. The apocryphal development of aniconic iconography in protestant Jaina traditions with progressive emphasis on the individual identity of renowned gurus and gurunīs of particular monastic traditions seems to replicate earlier developments in the iconic traditions which must have started in the early medieval period. The particular evolutionary sequence and selectivity of aniconic Jaina iconography with its characteristic exegetical impediments against the worship of Jina images and increasing emphasis on the practice of burial ad sanctos and cities of the dead however represents a genuine novelty not only in the history of Jainism but in Indian religious culture as a whole.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Jainism, aniconism, aniconic religious tradition, cult of the saint, relic stūpa, samādhi, caraṇa-pādukā, tīrtha, Namaskāra-Mantra, Sthānakavāsī
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of Religions & Philosophies
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of the Study of Religions > Centre of Jaina Studies
ISSN: 17481074
Copyright Statement: with permission of the editor
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2011 08:31

Altmetric Data

There is no Altmetric data currently associated with this item.


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item