Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Religious Studies


Professor Phyllis E. Granoff


Many aspects of medieval Western Indian temple art have been subject to scholarly attention. One type of temple-image which has been identified, but heretofore unstudied, is the stone portrait. I have gathered evidence of more than 200 images of historical lay people and ascetics, extant and/or from about 60 inscriptions. Some of the images are Hindu, but most are Jain. In this thesis, I undertake the first comprehensive study of the 'Western Indian portrait', emphasizing Jain examples. My approaches to the portraits are straightforward. First, I divide my study into analyses of images portraying the laity, and images portraying monks. Second, I consider (1) the religiosity and (2) the historical contexts behind certain lay and monastic portraits. The evidence of Jain monks' portraits is most significant. Notably, one-third of monks' portraits were donated by other monks. On the one hand, evidence indicates that certain monks donated portraits of their brethren to generate good karma for the portrait-subjects, in order to secure heavenly rebirth for those subjects. On the other hand, evidence indicates that certain portraits donated by monks represent the alleged divinity of the portrait-subjects, asserted in order to foster a cult of the dead for material and political gain (over monks from rival lineages). Thus, my research has uncovered some unexpected facets of Jain monasticism. It is commonly believed that Jainism is unswervingly dedicated to world-renunciation and the most severe austerities for the attainment of liberation from the cycle of rebirth. My research is significant in that it reveals a much different picture, one in which some monks shared the laity's concern for the acquisition of good karma in order to attain the felicity of heaven, and one in which certain monks involved themselves in very worldly political affairs.

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