The complete facts of the Antriksh Parshwanath Dispute



More than 350 years ago, a Jain monk, Shri Yashovijayji Maharaja composed a beautiful stavan (devotional hymn) dedicated to Shri Antriksh Parshwanath, which included the following lines - 

कोड़ी देव मिलके न कर सके , एक अँगूठ रूप प्रतिचंद, 
ऐसो अद्भुत रूप तिहारो , बरसत मानु अमृत के बून्द , 
जय ! जय ! जय ! जय ! पास जिणंद , 
अंतरिक्ष प्रभु ! त्रिभुवन तारण, भविक कमल उल्लास दिणंद ! 

Translated, it would mean - 

“Even if the aura of a billon celestial beings be combined together, they would not be able to match even an ounce of your beauty!, Witnessing your divine beauty feels as if drops of nectar were falling from the heavens! O Lord Antriksh Parshwanath! Glory be to thee!” 


After reading the above lines, one may wonder how beautiful was the idol of Antrikshji Parshwanath, which led Shri Yashovijayji to pen such a beautiful hymn. The divine idol which is said to be so miraculous that it floats mid-air is, however the centrepiece of a lethal dispute between the two Jain sects: the Shwetambars and the Digambars, both of whom claim possession of the deity. Looking at the current state of the idol, one wonders do the devotees really love their lord or just want to take control and ownership? 

The current condition of the divine idol of Antriksh ji Parshwanath

Today, the derelict temple is surrounded by more policemen than devotees, which shows how an internal war between 2 sects can completely ruin an age old ancient pilgrimage. While the badly ruined idol remains locked up in the sanctum, only 2 pujaris (one of each sect) are allowed to conduct a daily Aarti while others are allowed to have a glimpse of the idol from a window situated at a distance. How did this happen? While it is very difficult to answer that, I try to provide the historical facts and the timeline of the entire dispute below- 

The Dilapidated temple of Antrikshji Parshwanath


Timeline of Antriksh Parshwanath Jain Temple Dispute 

1. Shri Antriksh Parshwanath, an ancient pilgrimage was highly revered by the Jain community. It was believed that this idol was built by Vidyadhar Raja (Husband of Ravan’s sister) and was the 3rd oldest Jain idol in the entire cosmos. 

2. 1142 AD- The idol was found immersed in a well by the king of Achalpur, who was cured of his illness by consuming its waters. With the help of celestial being Dharnendra, the idol was extracted from the well and was taken to Shripal’s kingdom for installation. However, against the orders of Dharnendra, the King looked back at the chariot (in which the idol was being carried) making the idol immovable and suspended midair in the town of Shirpur. Seeking guidance from Dharnendra, the hovering idol was installed in a newly constructed temple by Acharya Shri Abhaydevsuri Maharaja. It is believed that the idol floated 7 fingers above the ground, giving it the name of ‘Antriksh Parshwanath’. The tirth even finds a name in the following Shwetambar scriptures-
  • Sakal Tirth Vandana Sutra
  • Vividh Tirth Kalp by Acharya Jinaprabh Suri (13th Century)
  • Kalikacharya Katha by Acharya Dharmaghosh Suri (14th Century)
  • Shri Antriksh Parshwanath Chand by Lavanyavijayji (15th Century)
  • Updeshtarangini by Gani Ratnamandir (16th Century)
  • Hirsaubhagya Mahakavya by Acharya Devvimal Suri
  • Chaturvinshati Jin Stuti by Acharya Shilratna Suri
  • Purushadani Parshwadevnam Mala by Acharya Khushal Vijay Suri
  • Gurjar Kavya Sanchay by Atmanand Sabha
  • Prachin Tirth Mala Sangrah by Yashovijay Granthmala
  • Antriksh Parshwanath Stotra by Anandvardhan Muni
  • Tirthmala by Samaysundarji
  • 108 holy pilgrimages of Lord Parshwanath. 
3. 1867 – Antriksh Parshwanath temple was renovated and rebuilt. It was mentioned that the idol floated only 1 finger above the ground. 

Painting depicting the temple of Shri Antriksh Parshwanath

4. 1901Due to migration of Shwetambar Jain population from Shirpur, day to day management of the temple fell in the hands of Maratha Pujaris known as Polkars. In course of time the Polkars, began to assert their rights to management of the temple which led to disputes between Polkars and Jains. Although Shirpur had no Shwetambar residents, 50 families of Digambar community resided in the town. As a result of this, the devotees belonging to the Shwetambar and Digambar sects came together to oust the Polkars by filing a case in the District court.

5. 1903 The Court held that the Jain Community was in exclusive possession of the property of Shri Antariksh Parshwanath Maharaj Sansthan and accordingly the Polkars were directed to hand over possession of the property to the Panchas of the Jain community. However, the court asked the Jain community to settle with the Polkars as their employee rights could not be waived away. The Jain community settled the case with Polkars and the following points were decided - 
  • 4 Polkars to be employed for cleaning/ maintenance of the temple 
  • A salary of Rs. 261/- p.a. to be paid to each of them 
  • Any currency deposited between Re. 1 to Rs. 10/- in the Bhandar (Donation box) to be handed over to Polkars. Any currency higher than Rs. 10/- to be deposited in the Temple trust. 
6. 1905 & 1906- Following the settlement of dispute with Polkars, Shwetambar Jains included Digambar Jains in the Trust board as they could not manage the temple alone (due to lack of population). In due course, both the communities started offering puja at the temple as per their ritualistic practices which led to disputes. Meetings were called for resolution of the dispute and following points were decided and agreed by both the communities- 
  • A time-table was formed wherein 4 time slots of 3 hrs each were given to the Shwetambars and Digambars for making their offerings (i.e 2 slots for both). 
  • On the occasion of (Shwetambar) Paryushan only one slot was given to Digambars (6 AM -9 AM). On other time slots, the idol was to be worshipped as per Shwetambar Traditions. 
  • On the occasion of (Digambar) Daslakshan only one slot was to be given to Shwetambars (6 AM -9 AM). On other time slots, the idol was to be worshipped as per Digambar Traditions. 
  • On the day of Kali Chaudas (day before Diwali) only one slot was to be given to Shwetambars (6 AM -9 AM). On other time slots, the idol was to be worshipped as per Digambar Traditions. 
  • On the day of Diwali only one slot was to be given to Digambars (6 AM -9 AM). On other time slots, the idol was to be worshiped as per Shwetambar Traditions. 
  • Members belonging to both the sects could do Darshan at any time of the day 
7. 12th February 1908 Shwetambars initiated the process of Lep (plastering of the idol to repair itin agreement with Digambars. Kalyanchand Lalchand Yewalkar was hired to undertake the job. Under the directions of Kalyanchand it was alleged that the artists who were to apply the plaster started making unauthorised additions and alterations to the idol and with a view to create and establish that it was an idol of Shwetambar sect. The difference between the two sects is that the Digambar Jains worship a totally nude idol while the Shwetambar worship an idol with a Kati-Sutra and Kachota. (a piece of clothing wrapped around the lower half of the body). Digambars objected to it and removed (the carvings) of Kati-sutra & Kandora with iron rods causing damage to the idol (The same was proved in the inspection notes made by Additional District Judge, Akola dated 24th June 1913). In response, the Shwetambars filed a case against Digambars for the complete possession of the idol and temple. More than 600 evidences were produced by Shwetmabars to prove their ownership rights. 

8. March 1908 - Digambars filed a counter appeal against Shwetambars stating that- 
  • Shwetambars had wrongly framed the case. The temple belonged to Digambar community, so the complete possession of the temple had to be granted to the Digambars
  • As the Shwetambars had agreed to the time-table (with Digambars) in 1905, absolute right of ownership could not be granted to Shwetambars 
9. 11th February 1910The Additional District Judge, Akola delivered a 40-page judgement stating that- 
  • The temple and idol pertained to the Shwetambar community but as the Shwetambars had agreed to the time-table (with Digambars) in 1905, absolute right of ownership could not be granted to any sect. 
  • The Katisutra and Kachota were present on the idol before the Lep and Shwetambars had not added it later (as alleged by Digambars).
  • Both the sects to observe the points agreed upon the Time Table set in 1905 
  • As the person who had defaced the Katisutra from the idol had not been identified and caught, no one could be held guilty for the same. 
  • Shwetambars had the right to conduct Lep and add Chakshus (eyes) to the idol and decorate it with Tika, Mugat (Crown) and Aangi. 
  • To protect the religious beliefs of Digambars, the Shwetambars were instructed to make the Katisutra and Kandora thinner. 
  • Digambars were asked not to obstruct on Kati-Sutra made by Shwetambars.
10. 17th July 1918 – For complete ownership of the idol & temple, Shwetambars filed an appeal at Judicial Commissioner, Nagpur. 

11. 1st October 1923 Judicial Commissioner, Nagpur court delivered the following judgement- 
  • We declare that the Swetambaris are entitled to the exclusive management of the temple and the image of Shri Antariksha Parshwanath Maharaj at Kasbe Shirpur, with Katisutra, Kardora and Lape, and that they have the right to worship that image with Chakshu, Tika and Mugut and to put ornaments over the same in accordance with their custom. 
  • That the Digambaris have a right of worshipping the image in accordance with the arrangement made in 1905 without Chakshu, Tika and Mugut or ornaments, but are not to remove or interfere with the Kachota, Katisutra and Lape; we also declare that the Digambaris Sect are permanently restrained from obstructing the Swetambaris Sect in getting the image restored to its original form adorned with the Kachota, Katisutra and plastering the same now and hereafter” 
12. 1923 – Dissatisfied with the court ruling, Digambars filed an appeal against the Judgement at the Privy Council (the highest Court during British Empire) 

13. 1924 – As the idol had become very damaged, the Shwetambars initiated the process of Lep. The Digambars went to the court for a stay order which was refused. After the Lep process was completed, the Digambars allegedly poured boiling milk over the idol due to which the Lep got damaged. 

14. 9th July 1929Privy Council ruled in favour of Shwetambars confirming the decree passed by the Judicial Commissioner's Court, Nagpur . The Privy council added that the parties should continue to worship the idol according to old time table and asked both parties to maintain harmonious relations. 

15. 1934 – Shwetambars initiated the process of restoration of the idol. Digambars objected to it and filed a fresh appeal against Shwetambars in Akola District Court stating that the privy council judgement had not clearly mentioned what would be the size and shape of Kati-Sutra and when could the process of Lep be initiated. 

16. 11th January 1937- Akola Court dismisses the appeal. Aggrieved by the order, the Digambars moved to High Court. The High Court reordered the Lower court (Akola Court) not to dismiss the appeal and to decide on the size and shape of Kati-Sutra and Kachota

17. 13th September 1944- Akola District court decided the following- 
  • Kati-Sutra’s width was to be of 1 inch. It should cover the waist of the idol in a semicircle with a width of 1/3rd of an inch.
  • Kachota was to be of 2 inches in the beginning and 2.5 inch at the end. 
  • The authority of when to conduct Lep was to stay with Shwetambars and Digambars could not to object to it.
  • When the lep is under process, Digambars were prohibited from making any offering until the Lep dried completely. 
18. December 1944- Shwetambars initiated the process of Lep. Prior Advertisements were carried out in local newspapers by Shwetambars giving intimation about the Lep. Digambars objected to the process and filed a case in the Nagpur High Court against the plastering as they believed that the idol was made out of stone (and not sand & cow dung as stated by Shwetambars). 

19. 8th July 1947British Judge, R.T. Pollock delivered the judgement in favour of Shwetambars and stated that Digambars were trying to delay the case on purpose. The court ordered Digambars to pay all costs to Shwetambars incurred by them w.r.t. the case. Aggrieved by the order, Digambars filed a Special Appeal for a stay order in the Nagpur High Court. 

20. 17th March 1948 – Nagpur High Court dismissed the appeal and allowed the Shwetambars to carry on the Lep process. 

21. 3rd October 1948 – Shwetamabars start the process of Lep which was completed on 13th November 1948. 

Idol of Shri Antrikshji Parshwanath after the lep (during Shwetambar rituals)

Idol of Shri Antrikshji Parshwanath after Lep (during Digambar rituals)

22. 1949-1959 Both sects peacefully conducted their offerings as per the agreed time-table. 

23. November 1959 The Shwetambars re-initiated the process of Lep as the condition of the idol had deteriorated in the previous 10 years. Accordingly, a retired sessions judge was appointed 'Lep commissioner' and along with two observers from each Shwetambar and Digambar sects, watched sculptors from Gujarat as they went about their work. The progress was meticulously documented every chip of stone was sealed in a bag. After a certain stage, the Swetambars declared that the work of deplastering the idol was over and that replastering should begin. But the Digambars insisted that the deplastering go on as they were certain that the original form of the idol, when laid bare before the world, would prove their point, that it was originally made of black stone (and not made of Cow dung and sand as believed by Shwetambars). As disputes took a violent turn, the Government had to intervene and put a cage round the idol to protect it from its own devotees. 


The idol of Shri Antrikshji Parshwanath Bhagwan placed inside a cage. (Dated 26th January 1960)

24. 1960- Subsequently, the Digambars instituted a civil suit in the Court of Civil Judge, Senior Division, at Washim to put a stay on the plastering and to declare that the judgement by Privy Council was obtained by fraud by the Shwetambars. The court case lingered on in the High Court and the Judge personally visited the Antriksh Parshwanath Temple to see whether the idol required Lep or not. Without Puja clothes, the Judge entered the Garbha Gruh (Sanctum) and scraped the idol with his nails to see the condition. On witnessing Sand particles inside his nails, the Judge observed that the necessity of plaster for this idol was obvious.



25. 1967-1969 - Both the sects, viz. Digambars and Shwetambars appointed a committee of Panchas, i.e. 5 eminent people namely Shri Babasaheb Naik, Shri Vinaykumar Parishar (M.L.C. & President of the Akola Municipal Council), Shri Jethmalji Maheshwari (M.L.C., Pusad), Shri Shriramappa (Pusad) and Shri Ramrao Zanak (M.L.A.) to suggest a way forward.  The committee visited the temple in July 1967, October 1967 and February 1968 and made the following observations -
  • Against the judgement of the Privy Council, the Digambars had placed various new articles and inscribed on the walls of the temple - "Digambar Sansthan"and "Digambar Vedi"
  • The Digambars had installed new idols in the first and second cellars which were not present during previous visits.
  • The original chatra above the main idol had been replaced.
  • The idol of Padmavati Devi was found removed from its original place
This report was sent to the Govt. of Maharashtra to improve matters, but no major action was taken.

26. 1977 - Digambars filed a revision application in the Bombay High Court to remove the plaster on the idol as seen at end of November 1959. 

27. 22nd April 1981Continuing disputes, skirmishes and violent attacks between the Shwetambars and Digambars forced the Government to lock the temple

28. 8th March 2007 – Mumbai High Court declared that the lep (plaster) could not be removed as demanded by the Digambars on the following grounds – 
  • Findings showed that in 1947 the idol already had the Kati-Sutra and Kachota.
  • Digambars wanted the primafacie character of the idol to be changed which would lead to the conversion, if at all the idol is found to be Digambari upon removal of the plaster. 
  • Law did not permit that as Section 3 of the Places of Worship Act 1991 prohibited any kind of conversion or alterations on ancient idols
Meanwhile the case is pending at the Supreme Court of India with respect to a lot of issues, major being- 
  • Ownership & Management rights of Antriksh Parshwanath Temple and Idol 
  • Ownership of adjacent plots/ garden/ pathways 
  • Removal of Plaster from the idol 
  • True identity (Shwetambar or Digambar) of a Padmavati Devi idol inside the temple 
  • Opening of the temple for worshippers 

The supreme Court of India has started the proceedings (2 hearings have occurred one in April & second in July 2018). While we do not know, what judgement will be delivered by the Supreme Court, I revisit some lines which I had posted in one of my earlier articles on Kesariyaji Tirth which faces a similar fate– 

We must start loving our lord and stop dividing ourselves on the basis of beliefs. Where there is love, there are no differences, where there is love, there are no disputes, where there is love, there is only faith and devotion, which is selfless and unconditional. It is time we understand the meaning of true devotion as Shri Rakeshbhai Jhaveri puts it beautifully: 

“To understand devotion, you must at least know what love is. He who has not loved in life, has never been in even worldly love, cannot understand the divine love either. Whatever love energy has manifested in you, pure or impure, direct it at the feet of God. Love when directed towards the dispassionate one cannot remain impure; it soon sheds off its impurities. It becomes pure, and gets transformed into devotion. In fact, while loving God, love increases in quality and quantity and eventually this devotion transforms into supreme devotion, oneness with the divine” 

I conclude this post by quoting a few lines from one of the most beautiful prayers: 

“भेद वो तो किसी में नहीं देखता , चाहता है वो सब में रहे एकता, 
उसको इंसान बन कर दिखाएंगे हम , क्या हुआ बन न पाए अगर देवता , 
जिसने दी है हमें भावना, मन ऊसी की करो प्रार्थना"

The badly damaged idol of Antriksh Parshwanath

References: 
  • Case Law: Manikchand Pratapmal Baj Vs. Sakarchand Premchand Gujarathi 
  • Case Law: Yadarao Dajiba Shrawane (dead) by Lrs. Vs. Nanilal Harakchand Shah (dead) and Ors. 
  • Sadhu to Chalta Bhala – Muni Prashamrati Vijayji 
  • Tare Te Tirth 
  • India Today Magazine Article– Jainism: A sectarian war 
  • Shri Antriksh Parshwanath - Muni Jambuvijay

Comments

  1. So clearly and perfectly written...Am sure most of us didnt know such minute details...Dhanyavad!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arpit bhai have u confirmed this details are exactly true and testified

      And howcome u got these information in such minute details

      As i felt to acknowledge this happenning to the whole jain community via social media and delivering request letters to every jain muni of Jain sects
      (Digambaras and Śvētāmbaras)

      Please give confirmation

      Delete
    2. Hi Abhishek, Pranam.

      I have mentioned all the sources at the end of the blog. Furthermore most of the details are mentioned in the following Court case Judgetements -
      Case Law: Manikchand Pratapmal Baj Vs. Sakarchand Premchand Gujarathi
      Case Law: Yadarao Dajiba Shrawane (dead) by Lrs. Vs. Nanilal Harakchand Shah (dead) and Ors.
      These details are available in the High Court websites which are Government Sourches

      Delete
  2. An eye opener for many. How human thinking, craving for one-up-manship and ego divides also the GOD. May peace and light prevail in the end.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautifully explained with a message that we Jains should stop dividing our religion between two sects. We should love the God, the deity and honour court judgements.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nailed all the events marvelously Thank you for valuable insights. Today Shwetambaras won the case.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. However, the judgement has not yet been passed. The next date of hearing is in the 2nd week of July

      Delete
  5. Pray to HIM to have the judgement passed at least this time - 2nd week of July 2018, so that we all - Shwetambers & Digambers can do darshan, puja ... as before 22/04/1981.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think it is a bias opinion and only one side of the story because if your obvious preferences. Don't mislead by the title. Have a good future !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not provided any opinion. Only facts have been stated above.

      Delete
    2. I agree with the unknown comment posted. No points for guessing it seems you're a Shwetambar.
      Is there anyone who can neautrally MENTION ALL the facts irrespective of his faith and belief??

      Delete
    3. Its ironic that some consider me pro-Digambar and some pro-Shwetambar. Just to solve your guess, I am Shwetambar by birth. However, I respect and honour both the faiths equally. Secondly if you doubt the neutrality, kindly provide the alternative facts which deny the facts stated above. I would love to add more value to this post.

      Delete
  7. Thankyou for the info...
    Jain temple he sabko darshan vandan Pujan ka jaldi se jaldi Labh mile jaldi hi mandir ka lock khule yhi prarthana he aapsi ladai me hum apni bahumuly sampda khote ja the he hamre tirth ki rakhsha nhi kar pa the he

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jagado se aur Maar pit se Kabhi kisika bhala nhi hua . . .Mandir Jaisi Pavitra Jaga ki kya Halat bana raki hai hum logo ne...Kitne Gir gai hai hum... Parmatma ki Halat dek ke Rona agaya...Kitne nistur and Kator bangye hai Bhaio Hum Sab ek hai Aur . . . I Request U all Forget the Past and Get Together. . .Unity Is Most Important Thing & Withdraw the Case aur
    Miljul ke Kare Parmatma Ki Pooja, Bhakti . . . Parmatma ki Asadna Se Bache
    Michami Dukadam

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you very much for the information.
    Let us unite and worship the God. Hope the judgement is passed soon and doors of the temple be open for worship.
    Namo Arihanthanam !!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Beautifully and detailed explanasion... just awesome.. Hatsoff to you..

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for all the details. It was really awesome.

    Don't take me wrong, but there will be some different story from Digamber side as well ..?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. May be, But documented court order speaks the reality.

      Delete
  12. Arpitbhai... Isn't there anyway to solve the case...?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only way to solve this case is through mediation. Both parties need to reconcile and adjust.

      Delete
  13. First of all thank you so much for sharing all information in so details. It feels so bad to see God is in charge.
    How can any one keep person (God) like this to whom you worship or believe more then self?
    Pooja is not how, in which way, when we worship or asking for all good thing should happen to you or god should take away your pain. Pooja is when you feel some very strong connection, Oneness, Positive energies, no complaints, no demands, where you feel pure. Then if it is with chaksu without chaksu, etc. doesn't' matter. Why we are fighting?? God is god. Everyone have different thought process, different way of worshipping.
    I believe more being spiritual then religious(respecting everyone, no harsh feelings).

    This matter is on from 1908 & till now. Strange thing is still it is on & people are fighting. There is tear in my eyes when I heard about this all & i think in everyone's eyes when they heard or have seen Idol of Antrikshji in this condition. It's like we have forgot humanity, kindness in fighting for religious (Shwetambar, Digambar) point of view.

    I really want to do something, But what & how I don't know. Please anyone can guide

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing can be done to change the orthodox, rigid and egoistic mindset of the leaders of both the sects. Both have to compromise on some aspects. Until it is done nothing can be resolved.

      Delete
    2. I known what Arpit wrote is the situation, very hard to change orthodox mindset, but there were disputes in other tirths that has been sorted out, we should learn from the history

      Delete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Articles is tilted towards one party. Facts in favor of one side is highlighted in details.
    Tittle is misleading it should be some facts instead of "Complete facts".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Request you to share the facts of the "other side" as well. Would love to add value to the post.

      Delete
  16. Thank you Arpit For providing us so detailed information of Antriksh parshwanathji .I hope both shwetamber and digambers come together and decide some good for the sake of JAIN religion.

    ReplyDelete
  17. For this situation to get solved, we all need to approach our gurumuni,discuss with them and insist to make a way out.If is out of their control atleast request them to escalate to their superior muni.
    Secondly adding a very strong prospect,
    Person or samaj whosoever taking initiative will be trolled as biased with his sect
    So i prefer to leave the decision on the respective dharmguruji.our job is put forward our need and a definite solution

    Also urge them the story of that small child in the circle. 2 mothers pulling hands from either side.as soon as child cries in severe pain,real mother leaves the hand.
    So as true jaini we cant see our antriksh parshwanath ji bhagwan idol to be in this condition
    So one has to leave and other has to take responsibility.

    I understand many factors to be considered,disputes to be resolved,compromises to be made for the result ending this whole saga

    Please push out this to our gurumuniji


    Take it as a responsibility who ever reads it


    Jai jinendra

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Abhishek,

      Revered Acharyas from both the sects are very deeply involved in this case. They are aware of all the facts.

      Delete

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