India, Gujarat or Rajasthan
White marble; H. 38 7/8 in. (98.7 cm)
Purchase, Florence and Herbert Irving Gift, 1992 (1992.131)
At the heart of daily Jain religious observance is the veneration of the image of the jina, the conceptual basis of which is the pan-Indian ideal of the yogic ascetic. This ancient practice, celebrated in the Vedas, equates the acquisition of superior knowledge ("spiritual wisdom") with the pursuit of advanced forms of meditation, austerities, and withdrawal from the material comforts of a householder's life. Those who attain such a state are respected and revered. In Jainism twenty-four liberated souls are recognized as having attained this level and are worshiped as the twenty-four tirthankaras ("ford crossers").