Page from a Kalpasutra manuscript depicting Parsvanatha on an elephant releasing Dharanendra from fire penance (above) and (below) Dharanendra sheltering Parsvanatha
Gujarat, western India
Late 15th- early 16th century
Opaque watercolour on paper
Museum no. IS.46-1959 (f.56)
Male and female nature spirits (yakshas and yakshis) are depicted in Jain art as guardian spirits who attend the Jinas. They are sometimes the focus of independent cults among the laity. Dharanendra is unique among the Jain yakshas because of his crucial role in sheltering the Jina Parsvanatha during his penance. As well as being considered a yaksha, Dharanendra is also a naga or serpent-king, and is often depicted as a multi-headed snake.