Monday, September 14, 2009

Architecture of Jain temples: Some relevant issues

Jain temples are built from time immemorial. However, there was no fix architecture or Vaastu for the same. It had been changing according to time and place. It was also changed according to wish and capabilities of the builders. 

Most of the Jain temples we see today are built within 1000 years. Jain temples older than that period are not  generally visible. Different types of Jain temples were built at the time of Lord Mahavira. Some of them were cave temples. A cave temple yet exists at Rajgir and perhaps this is the oldest existing Jain temple. Unfortunately, this is not being  treated and worshiped as Jain temple. It is in the Swarna Bhandar of Rajgir and an inscription in Brahmi script clearly depict it as Jain temple. The inscription also mentions the name of the inscriber Acharya Bhagwant. The cave temple is almost contemporary to Lord Mahavira.

Emperor  Samprati, Grandson of  Ashoka the Great, (2200 years back) built a huge number of Jain temples and Jain idols. A Large number of Jain idols are even found in these days but no temple.

Paramarhat Maharaja Kumarpal, King of Gujrat, built a large number of Jain temples (Before 1000 years) after Emperor Samprati. Rashtrakut Pratihar school of architecture for building temples had been developed by that time. Famous Somnath temple is an explicit example of that school. Maharaja Kumarpal built Jain temples with the architecture of his time. Actually, he built Jain temples in such a large number that the school of architecture became a symbol of Jain temple art in Gujrat.

 Most of the Jain temples built with the same architecture after Kumarpal. Some parts of present days Rajasthan was in Gujrat at that time. The same architecture was also famous in those areas. Renowned personalities like Vastupal and Tejpal also built Jain temples of Mt. Abu with the same architecture.

However, it does not mean that all the Jain temples at every place were built with the same architecture at that time. Jain temples in Malwa were built in different style at that time. Famous Suparswanath Temple of Mandavgadh, that was converted into a mosque forcefully by the Muslims, was the best example of different architecture.

Jain temples in other parts of Rajasthan such as Bikaner and Jaipur were built in different style and architecture. Jain temples of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, and Orissa were also built in different style. Old Jain temples of pilgrims like Sammet Shikhar, Pawapuri, Kshatriyakund Parasnath Glass temple of Kolkata are examples of the same. Temples in Chandni Chowk, Delhi; Temples of Varanasi and Lucknow, Azimganj and Jiaganj, Mahimapur (Kasauti temple), and Kolkata also represents the Eastern India style. and world famous

Some people with ignorance or vested interested had been campaigning wrongly against these types of temples. This is going on since last 30 - 40 years. It is being told that temples other than Rashtrakut Pratihar school architecture are improper (Avidhi) and not according to Jain Vastu. But the campaign is completely baseless. It is clearly with vested interested and malafied intention. Frankly speaking, there is no fix architecture of Jain temples since ancient times.

Sompuras (Present days architects of Jain temples) are dominant nowadays. They are not Jains. They design Jain temples according to the architecture of Somnath (Shiva temple) temple in Gujrat. The astonishing fact is that many of the Jain Acharyas, monks and nuns are supporting them.  They are wrongly speaking that the Jain temples built by the Sompuras are only with the right architecture.

It is regrettable that many old Jain temples are destroyed intentionally in the name of Vidhi and reconstructed with the advice of Sompuras. Sometimes it is done to satisfy egos of those so called Jain Acharyas, monks, and nuns. 

Are they doing Dharma by destroying and dismantling  unnecessarily and reconstructing old Jain temples just to  inscribe their names on those temples? Renowned Jain temple of Jeerawala Parshwanath, the famous pilgrim in Rajasthan, is detrimental  and is being reconstructed with expenses of crores of rupees. There are many other examples.

Gujrat and Gujaratis are dominant in Jain society since past few decades.  most of the monks and nuns are also from there. Hence, it is natural for them to think Gujrat architecture the right one. It is also one of the reasons of destroying and dismantling old Jain temples.

Raga-Dwesha of Gachchha is also involved in the matter. Most of the Acharyas, monks and nuns from Gujrat are of Tapagachchh.  Whereas, Khartar Gachchh and some other gachchhas were dominant in other parts of the country. Most of the temples in those places are pratisthit by ancient Acharyas of Khartar Gachchha, Vijay Gachchha, Paychanna Gachchha, Lonka gachchha etc. Hence, those temples are being dismantled and new temples are built. Pratishtha of most of those new temples is done by Acharyas of Tapagachchha. Historical evidence of other Gachchhas is destroyed in this way.

Doing such things has become a fashion nowadays. Even monks and nuns of Khartargachchha have qued before them. They are becoming instrumental in destroying temples and Dadabadis installed by their own ancestor Acharyas. A Jain temple is dismantled in Mundra, Cutch, by a Khartargachchha Jain monk. It is being told that the temple had ben shaken in earthquake to justify the work.

So called Vidhikarak and Sompura also support these for their own interests. Jain Shravakas and Shravikas also join them either because of their ignorance or devotion to monks and nuns. Sometimes rich Shravakas also join hands to satisfy their own ego.

We should think logically and judiciously before becoming part of it. It is advisable to be cautious. Otherwise, we will not only misuse public funds (Devadravya) of billions but also involved in the sinful act of destroying our own old culture.

जैन धर्म की मूल भावना भाग 1
जैन धर्म की मूल भावना भाग 2
जैन धर्म की मूल भावना भाग 3
जिन मंदिर एवं वास्तु

(Vardhaman Gems, Jaipur represents Centuries Old Tradition of Excellence in Gems and Jewelry)
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