Lord Mahaveera was the 24th and last of the Jain teerthankaras. Like the Buddha, He renounced a life of earthly fulfillment and turned to asceticism while still in His youth. Such is the sanskara of these realised yogis that once that happened there was no turning back. In fact, He is said to have attained kevalagyaan (omniscience), shortly followed by moksha (liberation from both life and death).
The stately bronze that you see on this page depicts Mahaveera standing on an expertly yet unassumingly carved plinth. The style is a lot like the Mathura school of sculpture, but for the medium. The pancaloha medium is a variety of bronze mixed from five (‘panca’) different kinds of iron-based (‘loha’ means iron) alloys. The superb, high-precision finish comes from the madhuchista vidhana process of working with such a complex medium (also referred to as the lost-wax method in contemporary circles).
A long, slithering, thick-bodied snake raises its multitudinous hoods above the Lord’s head. Its stance is one of fierce protection. When you look at a picture of the back of the standing sculpture, the artisan’s attention to detail comes to light: there is perfect symmetry and dynamism of musculature in the snake’s body as, like the kundalini, it traverses the length of Mahaveera’s body.
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