Enlightened One looks like a lady

A terracotta image of Mallinath, the nineteenth Jain Tirthankar of the present age, has been discovered by archaeologists in Jessore, Bangladesh, and she’s all woman.

In the ancient religion of Jainism, Tirthankars are ascetics who have achieved enlightenment (aka nirvana) and are therefore no longer bound by karma to the circle of reincarnation.

There are two main sects of Jainism: Shvetambar and Digambara. Shvetambars hold that Mallinath was a woman and the only female Tirthankar of the present age. According to the Digambara, women (in the present age, at least) cannot achieve enlightenment.

The Khulna Archaeology Department kept this discovery on the down low “for security reasons”. I’m curious as to what the concern might have been exactly, but I bet it has something to do with the controversy over Mallinath’s gender.

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5 Comments »

Comment by Blake
2008-01-02 20:34:43

Fabulous! I love it when history and the present-day intersect. What is the “present age” in Jainism?

Comment by livius drusus
2008-01-02 20:55:14

Oh lawds I couldn’t explain it with a supercomputer and Stephen Hawking feeding me lines. This wikipedia entry attempts to lay it out: Tirthankar.

 
 
Comment by Blake
2008-01-02 21:09:15

Dear lord. Umm … thank you. Yes, I’ll be reading that for a while.

 
Comment by P-dub
2008-01-04 05:08:46

You know them men, they sure like to change herstory. :lol:

Comment by livius drusus
2008-01-04 11:11:28

Power to the shepeople! :giggle:

 
 
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