Jain Statues, Sculptures, and Symbols

Each religion has its symbols. Each of those symbols has inherent meaning when paired with religious history or practice. These represent a form of sub-culture within society. Jainism is no different in this manner. It is one of the oldest religions on the planet, and there are many statues, sculptures, and symbols that Jain believers find very important. These are a few of the most noteworthy creations.

Sculptures of the twenty-four Tirthankaras can be found dotted around India. Jains typically worship four of these god-like entities above all the rest (although it should be remembered that they do not promote a Supreme Being like other religions). Three of these stand out more often: Parshvanath, Rishabhanatha, and Mahavira. They are most often in the sitting position. 

These idols are generally sculpted in similar or same fashion, but can be identified by a specific symbol unique to each. Perhaps most noteworthy is Parshvanath, because the head is literally crowned with a snake!

Those who venture to Shravanabelagola, Karnataka will find a massive 59-foot-tall statue of Bahubali, which was erected by Chavundaraya, who was a Ganga minister and commander. It was built all the way back in 981 CE. 

A customary means of fashioning these sculptures and statues is known as “Ashtadhatu,” which means “eight metals.” These were bronze, brass, gold, silver, stone monolith, rock, and various other “precious stones.”

Those familiar with the history of the Nazi swastika will know that the radical group actually borrowed the symbol from other groups. One look at the Jain flag will turn some stomachs, but it’s important to recognize that the swastika is not inherently a symbol of hate — and truly, Jainism is one of the most resolutely pacifist religions in existence. 

The colors of the Jain flag are orange, yellow, white, green, and black. These represent the five vows that nearly all Jains take: ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, and aparigraha.