Jain Prilgrimages

The country like India is melting pot of different cultures, faith-following, religions, beliefs but still it boasts of unity among the vast diversity. From ancient times India has been the productive ground for various religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. As true with other faiths, Jainism has also countless followers as this has become a truly world religion.

Founded by Vardhaman who later came to be known as Mahaveer, Jainism preached the lessons of non-violence and peace. For the expansion of the faith, Jain monks went to all the corners of India and preached their basic tenets and principles. Till this date those monuments and places of worship are conserved which has become in recent times the places of interests and reverence for the believers and tourist.

There are two sects in Jain religion – Swetambaras and Digambaras. In both the sects, pilgrimage is being taken by the followers, although such pilgramages are not compulsorily mentioned in the religion. The Jain pilgrims generally like to visit those places and temples which are related with the lives, preachings and works of the Jain gurus or Tirthankaras.

Places Related with Jain Pilgrimage in India

A number of destinations and places are considered important for pilgrimage in Jainism. In fact, these places are scattered all around the India in all its direction whether it is north, south, east or west.

Bhavanganja is situated in the state of Madhya Pradesh which much famous and highly acclaimed among the Jains. A huge statue of Lord Mahavira, measuring almost 72 feet is splendid rich in fine artistry. The other places in North India of Jain importance are Kampil, Muktagiri, and various monasteries, temples and caves situated in the Indian States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Similarly, Bihar has an special importance for Jains as Lord Mahaveer was born in the state. There are places in Bihar like Rajgeer, Pavapuri, Vaishali which are associated with Lord Mahaveer in some way or the other.

Similarly in South India, there are various places which are considered important and worth pilgrimage. Kolanupaka is one among them and has a great significance among the followers of Jain religion.

Architecture and Art in Jain Temples

Location and local effect comes in the architectural designs. This holds true with the architectural design of Jain temples found at various places in India. The architecture of Jain temples in North India is much different from those of South India and this holds true for the westere and eastern part of India. However, we can broadly categorise the architectural designs into main types. These are:-

  • Shikar-bandhi Jain temple (Temple with the dome), and
  • Ghar Jain temple (Home Temple without dome)

The presence of pillars which are carved with aesthetic designs of their Demi- Gods is the chief characteristic of all the Jain temples made in shikar-bandhi style. The chief deity or God is placed in every derasar inside the temple who is called Mulnayak. The most important part of these Jain temples is named "Gambhara" (Garbha Graha) which cases stone idol of the Chief god . The sanctity and piousness of the place is maintained and nobody is allowed to enter into the premises with bath, ablutions or proper clothes.

Tirtha is name given to those Jain temples which has an antiquity of hundred years. As mentioned earlier also, the most important deity is known as Mulanayak and is placed at the centre of the Jain temple. Every temple has pillar in front of the temple. This pillar is called Manastambha or Column of Honor.

Important Places Associated with Jain Pilgrimages:

Jain temples State
Sammed Shikharji Jharkhand
Rajgir Bihar
Pavapuri Nalanda District, Bihar
Kundalapuri Nalanda District, Bihar
Champapuri Bhagalpur, Bihar
Dilwara Temple Mount Abu, Rajasthan
Gomateshwara Temple Shravanabelagola, Karnataka
Khajuraho Jain Temple Khajuraho

Other Popular Jain Pilgrimages in India are:

Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir ; Parsvanatha Jain Temple ; Nasiyan Digambar Jain Temple; Sonagiri Jain Temple; Ranakpur Jain Temple; Palitana Jain Temple, Shravanabelagola Temple etc

Some of the Etiquettes –discipline which need to be observed in Jain Pilgrimages:

  • Clean clothes worn before ablutions and not later.
  • No pilgrim should chew anything like mint, gums or any kind of food etc.
  • If one takes eatables inside derasar, they should be left inside the premises.
  • A person with injury, hurt who is bleeding should not go inside the temple.
  • A woman who is menstruating or even after 3 days of the end of menstruation should not go inside derasar.
  • Footwears are not allowed.
  • Silence is thoroughly maintained. So, gossiping, talking, noises or mobile phones are not allowed inside the temple.
  • In few Jain temples, items made of leather are prohibited.

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