After we published the previous article on Tirupati Venkaṭeśvara, several folks wrote to us expressing surprise especially regarding Padmāvatī. It’s unfortunate that followers of Mantra śāstra today are 'kūpa maṇḍūkas' who have the attitude, “there is nothing worth knowing in other systems be it Bauddha, Jaina or other Indic systems”. So it’s no wonder that these folks have never heard of Padmāvatī outside of the mythic tale of Venkaṭeśvara popularized through movies and popular media.
Jaina Tantra is a reasonably well-developed school where śakti upāsanā is chiefly centered around the śāsana devīs of Tīrthaṅkaras, such as Cakreśvarī, Ajitā, Duritāri, Kālikā, Vairoṭī and others. There is also a tradition of sixteen goddesses grouped as ṣoḍaśa vidyā vyūha that invokes Rohiṇī, Prajñā, śṛṅkhalā etc. In the same manner as the central position held by Srīvidyā for followers of āstika tantra, and Tārā to Bauddhas, the worship of Pamāvatī is important to Jaina Tāntrikas.
Various forms of Padmāvatī are worshiped such as Rakta-padmāvatī, Haṃsa-padmāvatī, Sarasvatī Padmāvatī, śabarī padmāvatī, Kāmeśvarī Padmāvatī, Bhairavī Padmāvatī, Tripurā Padmāvatī, Nityā Padmāvatī, Mahāmohinī Padmāvatī, Putrakarī Padmāvatī, Kajjalāvatārā Padmāvatī, Ghaṭāvatārā Padmāvatī, Dīpāvatārā Padmāvatī etc. It is clear from some of these names that these mantras are influenced by śākta tantra. In fact, a form of the goddess is called śaivāgamoktā Padmāvatī, hinting at her śaiva origin.
In the context of upāsanā of Padmāvatī, one can even find the statement: 'antaḥ śaktā bahirjainā', clearly copied from the older 'antaḥ śāktā bahiḥ śaivāḥ'. The only aspect missing in Jaina Tantra seems to be that similar to Kaula/Vāma practices, and those similar to Vajrayāna - as much of Jaina Tantra echoes Dakṣiṇācāra.
The popular tale of Jinadutta narrates the miraculous help by Padmāvatī which helped him establish a Jaina kingdom in Karnataka, making her a popular goddess in Southern India.
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