Episode 5: Jainism and Art: What the Dreams of Mahavir Swami’s Mother Symbolized
Symbolism or Symbolic art has been frequently associated with Jainism since its inception. There can be no better evidence than the 14 great dreams that Trishala Mata saw before giving birth to the 24th Tirthankar, the Mahavir Swami.
These dreams are considered so symbolically auspicious that any pregnant woman seeing these 14 dreams is believed to be giving birth to a Tirthankar. Interestingly, Kalpa Sutra is believed to be one of the sources of ancient dream interpretation theories.
These dream symbols mean to have a psychical significance behind them:
- An Elephant/Gaja – one whose voice or sound will be like a thunder.
- A Bull / Vrishabha – possesses such strength that he will lead the way all around without fear.
- A Lion / Simha – a magnificent lion will be the king and protector of all monks.
- Lakshmi Devi – The elephants pouring water on her from both the sides is a symbol of being a supreme benefactor.
- A Garland / Mala – the child will be born with beautiful fragrance or with fragrant body.
- The Full Moon / Chandra – the white moon meant eradicating all darkness from the society.
- The Sun / Surya – the kesuda red or parrot beak red Sun that revolves around Meru Mountain disperses all the evil that thrives in the night.
- A Flag / dhwaja – he will sound like the roar of a lion placed on a golden pole.
- A Golden Pitcher / Purna Kalasha – filled with clear water and jewels which meant fortune and happiness for ever.
- The Lotus Pond / Padma Sarovar – providing peace to the viewer.
- An Ocean of Milk / Kheer Sagar – this white ocean with energized waves symbolizes possessing Keval Gyan.
- A Vehicle / Dev Vimana – the celestial palanquin providing pleasant comfort to the Gods.
- A Heap of Jewels / Ratna – one who would possess the space around him with infinite virtues and wisdom.
- The Flame / Agni – it symbolizes the smokeless flame spreading awareness and enlightenment all around the world.
The indication of these 14 dreams as a whole or one can be summarized as a symbol of becoming a Tirthankar. The 14 symbols seen in dreams include animals, woman / Devi, nature and luxury objects and indicate the future being of a Tirthankar.