The Headless Tirthankara... for Steven Schutz
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Photo license: © All rights reserved
I initially titled this 'The Headless God' but upon correspondence with Steven Schutz, I realised this was a wrong title to give as the statue is that of a 'tirthankara', who is not a God.
In the Indian religion of Jainism, a tirthankara is a human being who achieves moksha ("liberation, enlightenment") through asceticism and who then becomes a role-model and teacher for those seeking spiritual guidance.
Tīrthaṅkaras are not God or gods. Jainism does not believe in the existence of God in the sense of a creator; they are considered super-human beings but also lack full enlightenment.
The seated posture is similar to that of Buddha and in fact, the 24th and last tirthankara Mahavira was a contemporary of Buddha. There was certainly an exchange of ideas between the two philosophies that led to the foundation of Buddhism.
This photo was taken at an ancient Jain temple in Polo, Gujarat, that was moss-covered and in runes. The head probably broke off over the course of time.
Also by Niharika Sanyal
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