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Importance Manastambha In Jain Temples

Manastambha is the monolithic pillars found in Jain temples. It is a free standing pillar, often found at the main entrance of Jaina temples. It is a huge monolith or a structural one. Erecting mana stambha is of great importance in Jain religious tradition.

According to Adi Purana, a Jaina Digambara text, mana stambha is to be erected in the first rampart of the congregation hall (samavasarana) in which the Tirthankara delivers his sermon. At the base of the pillar place images of jinas. As the pillars are believed to be erected by Indra, they are called Indra dhvajas. Such Indra dhwajas are perhaps the ancient dhwaja pillars referred to in Jain canons, and are reminiscent of the worship of the Vedic God Indra.

The earliest manastambha, presumably of the Kushana period, was obtained from Kankali Tila at Mathura, and shows pratima-sarvotabhadrika, i.e. the figure of four different Tirthankaras on the four sides, two of which have been identified as Rishabhanatha and Parsvanatha. The Kahaum stone pillar inscription of Skandagupta (459-60 CE) states that this pillar was erected by the Jaina devotees who set up images of Tirthankaras in the niches of the column. This is considered to be a manastambha.

One of the best specimens of manastambha is in the Jaina cave temple known as Indrasabha at Ellora in Maharashtra (8th-9th century CE). It is a huge monolithic column about nine meters high. On the summit of the column are seated a quadruple or caumuka image of the four yakshas facing the cardinal directions.

The proliferation of the manastambha is seen in Karnataka. At Shravana Belgola, manastambhas are found in many Jaina temples known as basti, e.g. Parsvanatha basti. At Paithan in Maharashtra is seen an elegant manastambha of the late medieval period.