Panca-Paramesthis (Five Supreme ones)

The plaque depicts the five supreme ones from the Jain religion, Arhat (liberated Soul), Siddha (formless liberated Soul), Acarya (Mendicant leaders), Updadyaya (Preceptors) and Sadhu (Monks). As per the Jain philosophy, they are superior to all other objects of worship. They are the Devadhidevas (Gods of the Gods).

In this particular example, the forms of the five appear to be the same. In paintings, they tend to show differences, colours and gestures. The central figure in the top row looks like a Kalasa, an auspicious container for water, and that probably indicates the figure below is Arhat.

These are also called Siddhachakras. An explanation of Siddhachakra may be found in this Victoria Albert museum Video.

One other variety of Siddhachakras, from the Digamber sect, depicts Navadevatas. In addition to the five supreme ones, it shows Jaina, a temple of the Jinas, the Wheel of the Sacred Law and the Jaina Scriptures. This website has an example of a Navadevata Siddhachakra.

In the book Jaina Rupa Mandana, Umakant P Shah mentions that Suddhachakras were used in Jaina Tantric rituals.

The plaque is about 15.5 cm in height. It is from North Karnataka. It probably dates prior to the nineteenth century.


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