The untold story of Jainism - A 3000 year old Stupa at Mathura

Ask any Jain layperson whether he/she has ever been on a pilgrimage to Shikharji, Shatrunjay, Shankheshwar, Shravanabelgola etc.; The answer would most probably be a 'yes'. But if anyone was asked whether they had ever been on a pilgrimage to the Jain Stupa at Kankali Tila, Mathura where a “Dev-Nirmitta-Stupa” (a stupa installed by a demi-god) once existed containing almost the entire ancient history of Jainism – the answer would most probably be a ‘no’.

Ruins of Kankali Tila before excavations (Source: British Library)

While most of us may have never heard the name of this place before, this place has been extensively excavated and researched by Archaeologists, historians, Jainologists, Indologists and scholars across the world, which has thrown immense light on the history and antiquity of Jainism. I had been researching on this subject since long and after reading thousands of pages about the excavations and its significance, I was startled to find the immense treasure chest of archaeological and historical information that this site beholds. What was more surprising that such information was never shared by the monastic community in the modern era. Therefore, trough this write-up prepared in a Q&A format, I will try to explain the antiquity and importance of this place. 

An idol of a Jain Tirthankar excavated from Kankali Tila

What is Kankali Tila? Why is it so important for understanding the Jain History? 

Kankali Tila is a mound located at Mathura deriving its name from a temple of Hindu goddess Kankali which was erected in its vicinity in recent times. This 3,000 year ancient Jain stupa was excavated here from 1871-1896 by various scholars which brought forth many treasures of Jain art. The excavated rectangular mound is 500 ft. in length and 350 ft. in breadth testifying the existence of two Jain stupas. Numerous Jain sculptures, Ayagapattas (tablets of homage), pillars, crossbeams and lintels were found during archaeological excavations. The sculptures are provided with inscriptions that report on the contemporary society and organization of the Jain community. Most sculptures could be dated from the 2nd century BC to the 12th century CE, thus representing a continuous period of about 14 centuries during which Jainism flourished at Mathura. These sculptures are now housed in the Lucknow State Museum and in the Mathura Museum.  

The Jain Stupa of Mathura as carved on one of the Ayagapattas

Based on the artefacts, inscriptions, idols and ruins excavated here, following major discoveries have been made which give a deep insight on the Jain history (which will be deliberated further in this blog post) – 

  • The sculptures and the inscriptions found at Kankali Tila have revealed that Tirthankar idols were represented as mostly unclothed and monks were represented as with a cloth on one forearm or fully clothed. These monks carved on the panels can be seen carrying Alms bowls, Rajoharan and Muhpatti similar to Shwetambar monks. The names of divisions of the monastic orders appearing on the inscriptions match exactly with those given in the Shwetambar Kalpasutra (which is rejected by the Digambars). Thus it can be interpreted that although both nude and cloth wearing monks were present (as mentioned in the Agams – only Jinkalpis remained nude, the Sthavirkalpis wore clothes) these Shwetambar monks did worship and install idols of Tirthankars without clothes which is considered blasphemy today by most Shwetambars. 
  • Only first 2 lines of the Navkar (Namo Arihantanam , Namo Siddhanam) were used in ancient times as per the inscriptions of Kankali Tila, Hathigumpha (Udaygiri, Orissa). This rule was also adapted in the earlier Agams. The rest 7 lines were added at later stages to make it more comprehensive as is seen today. 
  • Although the story of the transfer of Lord Mahavir’s embryo from Devananda to Trishala by Hiranegameshi/ Naigamesa has been rejected by the Digambars, sculptures depicting the same have been excavated here dating back to 1st to 3rd CE AD. 
  • This stupa is believed to be visited by Lord Parshwanath in 8th Century BC who paid his respects to the 7th Tirthankar Shri Suparshwanath Bhagwan. It is also believed that this stupa housed the relics of Lord Parshwanath post his Nirvan.  
  • The discovery of various idols and artefacts throws immense light on the gradual development of the tradition of representing the Tirthankars as below- 
1. Before 1st Century AD, Stupas and Ayagapattas (stone tablets carved with images of holy symbols and Tirthankars) were considered as the objects of worship as constructing idols of Tirthankars was not so prevalent.

2. The practice of depicting the Srivatsa mark on the chest of the idol of the Tirthankar did not occur prior to 1st Century AD.

3. The idols which were constructed before the Gupta age (3rd-6th Century AD) period bore no Lanchans (symbols representing the Tirthankars). This suggests that all the idols bearing the Lanchans which are claimed to be thousands of years old were only installed after 6th Century AD, i.e. after 1000 years of Lord Mahavir’s Nirvana.

4. The representation of Ashtapratiharya’s on the Parikar along with Yaksha’s and Yakshini’s started only after the Gupta age (650 AD)

5. The oldest idol of Sarasvati goddess which was erected by a Jain layman and installed by a Jain monk has been excavated in the Kankali Tila.

Excavations at Kankali Tila (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Was Mathura really an important centre in the ancient Jain History? 

Mathura, situated in the heart of Braj was the southern capital of Kusanas and featured among one of the seven holy cities of India. The city was at the crossroads of the “Great Caravan" route, joining the strategically important towns of Patliputra (Patna, Bihar), Tamralipti (Tamluk, West Bengal), Avanti (Ujjain, MP), Bhrigukaccha (Bharuch, Gujarat) and Cambay (Khambhat, Gujarat) with Gandhar (Afghanistan) and other parts of the world. Thus Mathura was a trade hub connected with land as well as sea links. 

Mathura being a business center, became a strategic location for Jain traders who resided in large numbers there. Apart from being the ancient ruling kingdom of Yadav clan and being the birthplace of Krishna (who is believed to become a future Tirthankar, Amam Swami), there are various references to Mathura in the 45 Agams as well. The Mathuri Vanchana for compilation of Jain Agams under the leadership of Arya Skandil also took place in the city in the 3rd century AD.

Further, Mathura is also the Moksh bhumi of the Last Kevali Shri Jambu swami. The ancient temple of Shri Kalpadrum Parshwanath (which features among the 108 revered pilgrimages of Lord Parshwanath) was built by Kubersena Ganika and was renovated by Aam Raja is also located here.

Idol of Lord Neminath flanked by Krishna & Balaram excavated from Kankali Tila (Gupta Age)

Does the concept of Stupa exist in Jainism?

As per various ancient texts, a structure constructed at a funeral place in the memory of holy icons is known as a Stupa. However, the word thubha (stupa) does not occur independently in the ancient Jain scriptures (Agams). The earliest reference of stupa occurs in the first Agam, “Acharang-Sutra (5th to 6th Century B.C.) in union with ‘Kadarh’ and 'Chaitya' i.e. Chaitya-Kadarh -Stupa. In Sanskrit dictionary the meanings of the word ‘kadarh’ stands for a heap whereas ‘chaitya’ means: a heap of stones, a monument, a funeral place, yagna-vedi, adoration place, a shrine, a place where images are installed etc. In the Bhagvati-sutra and Sthanang Sutra, a wide description of the chaitya-stupa is given while referring to the Nandishwar Dwip. Besides in the Ang and Upang literature, the explanatory texts like Avashyak­ Niryukti, Avashyak-Churni, Vyavahar Churni as well as the commentaries mention the significance of Stupa and Chaitya­ stupa while describing the ancient practice of constructing stupas. Apart from the Kankali Tila stupa, very few stupas exist currently (the most revered being the Antim Deshna Stupa of Lord Mahavir installed at Pavapuri, Bihar) 

Gate of the Stupa as depicted in one of the Ayagapattas

Do we have any literary evidences which prove that such Stupa existed? 

Many revered monks like Acharya Bappabhatt Suri, Jinabhadra Kshamasraman, Haribhadra Suri (7th Century A.D.), Acharya Harisen (9th Century A.D.), Acharya Somdev (10th Century A.D.), Sangamsuri (11th Century A.D.) and Acharya Jinprabhasuri (14th Century A.D.) visited this sacred stupa in their times and narrated its enormous structure with adornment and also the legend about its establishment by Kubera. Following accounts were given in the ancient scriptures regarding the Stupa of Mathura-
  • Malaygiri-tika of Vyavahar-Churni and Vyavahar-sutra 
  • Nishith Churni 
  • Yashatilak Champu 
  • Tirthmala by Sangram Suri 
  • Prabhavak Charitra 
  • Sarvadev Chaityaparipati 
Idol of Lord Rishabhdev excavated at Kankali Tila

When was this Stupa constructed and by whom? 

Apart from the literary evidences stated above, the most detailed account of this stupa was provided by Acharya Jinprabh Suri in the 9th Chapter of his work “Vividh Tirth Kalp” named “Mathurapuri Kalp”. It states that during the period of the 7th Tirthankar Shri Suparshwanath Bhagwan, two monks named Dharmaruchi and Dharmaghosh visited the city of Mathura, and stayed in Bhuaraman udyan. The presiding deity (demi goddess), Kubera (not to be confused with the deity of wealth, Kuber) witnessing the severe austerities of ascetics wanted to bestow a boon in adoration to these monks. However, as the monks refused the boon, Kubera favoured the Jain Sangh by creating a Stupa for veneration of Lord Suparshwanath. The stupa was made of gold, studded with jewels, adorned with torans, gateways, vestibules and Chatras. From demi gods to monks to laymen, all revered the stupa. Thus this Stupa came to be known as the “Dev Nirmitta Stupa” (i.e. the stupa made by the Demi Gods). On every Ekadashi (i.e. the 11th day of the bright and the dark half of the month) an Abhishek of Milk, curd, ghee, Chandan and Kumkum was performed on all the idols installed in the Stupa and offerings of flowers, garlands, clothes and incense was also made.

A Toran depicting reverence to the Tirthankar as well as the Stupa

Later, a local ruler attempted to grab the treasures of the stupa, but the presiding deity Kubera killed him and asked the Jain Sangh to cover the golden structure with bricks and to install an idol of Lord Parshwanath. The deity even made it a norm, that whoever becomes a king at Mathura, must establish an idol of Jain Tirthankar. Later on, Jain laymen also installed various idols in the Stupa. It is also believed that the stupa housed the relics of Lord Parshwanath post his Nirvaan at Sammed Shikharji. 

A pedestal of an idol of the Tirthankar whose inscription states that it was installed in the "Dev Nirmitta Stupa"

The earliest epigraphic evidences show that this place was visited by Lord Parshwanath (8th Century BC). As per Archaeologists, the Stupa probably enshrined the relics of Lord Parshwanath and was originally built of clay in the 8th Century BC, but was converted into a brick-stupa when burnt bricks, became a medium of construction in north India. Based on the styles of bricks used and art and architecture if the stupa, it is estimated that this Stupa is atleast 3000-year-old. Further, the earliest inscription records reveal that the stupa already existed during 2nd century B.C., i.e. around 300 years post the Nirvan of Mahavir Swami. 

A layman venerating the Stupa carved on one of the panels

How did the Stupa get destroyed?

The rich merchants and the artistic shrines of Mathura attracted invaders in large numbers. During the reign of Kumargupta-1, Mathura became a victim of Mahmud Gazni who attacked the city in the year 1017 A.D. and destroying many temples in and around Mathura looting its enormous wealth. He looted and destroyed the Stupa. The city was given up to plunder for 20 days. Gold and precious stones worth millions were looted by Mahmud and orders were given that all the temples should be burnt and levelled to the ground.

However, this was not the end of prosperity and culture of Mathura as it revived itself within five years, but the entire ancient treasure got lost in the attack. Later in the 15th century, Sikandar Lodi plundered the stupa and ordered the massacre of citizens who refused to be converted. Aurangzeb in 16th century also looted the stupa and converted many temples into mosques. Nadir Shah also invaded the city in 1739 and put an end to all the rituals involving idols. Lastly Ahmed Shah Abdali looted the city in 1757 and massacred all its remaining structures. All these attacks left nothing but fragmented ruins of the rich heritage of the golden era.

A Chovisi idol of Lord Rishabhdev (Gupta Age) excavated from Kankali Tila

What discoveries have been made here?

Nearly 800 Jain artefacts including idols of Tirthankars, Yakshas, Yakshinis, Ayagpatta’s, torans etc were discovered during the excavations made by Alexander Cunningham (in 1871), Mr. Growse (in 1875), Dr. Alois Anton Führer (in 1890-91) and Dr. Burgess (in 1896). The iconography of the idols discovered at Kankali Tila can be bifurcated into the following –

1. Pre-Kusana Period (i.e. before 1st Century AD): It was discovered that before 1st Century BC, standalone idols were not made. Like Brahmanism and Buddhism, image-worship in Jainism was preceded by worship of symbols. Representations of the Tirthankars usually occurred on architectural objects. Subsequently, the figures of the Tirthankars were carved on the Ayagapattas. Excavations reveal that the Stupa itself was an object of Jain worship apart from the idols and Ayagpattas. Excavations at Mathura have brought to light a number of Jain sculptures which contain depiction of stupa-worship, realistically as well as artistically. 

An Ayagapatta with the Tirthankar in the center surrounded by auspicious symbols (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ayagapattas (a carved slab or a tablet installed in a sacred place) were stone slabs, square or rectangular in shape which were constructed in reverence to the Tirthankars. Archaeological excavations have brought to light 27 such stone tablets, mostly square and sometimes rectangular in shape all revering the Arhats. (It is pertinent to note here that the 24 Tirthankar’s were called Arhats during that period and not Jina’s or Tirthankars.) These Ayagapattas were installed on high and solid platforms in slanting position in the premises of the stupa and were not mere ornamental slabs but were objects of worship in themselves. The artists carved a large number of religious symbols on these Ayagapattas like the Ashtmangal (8 Auspicious symbols). However, the study of these Ayagapattas reveal that this set of eight auspicious symbols was not finally settled upto the Kusana period as they slightly differ from the later tradition. 

Ayagapatta with Ashtamangal

The idols of the Tirthankars in those Ayagapattas had no clothes carved on them. Further the marks of Lanchan (symbols of Tirthankars) and Srivatsa mark on the chest are also not present. These Ayagapattas were installed by common people from all strata’s of the society which can be known from the inscriptions on them- a daughter-in-law of the ironmonger, wife of a caravan leader, wife of a dyer, mother of the perfumer, perfumer, banker, wife of the village headman, worker in metal, wife of the perfumer, daughter of the treasurer, daughter-in-law of the perfumer, son of a goldsmith, wife of the cotton dealer, wife of a dancer and even a courtesan. Each inscription of the Ayagpattas started with a primitive form of Navkar Mantra offering reverence to the Arhats and Siddhas – “Namo Arihantanam” and “Namo Siddhanam”. It is interesting to note that the famous Hathigumpha cave inscription in Udaygiri (Orissa) by King Kharavela (in 2nd Century BC) also starts with the same 2 lines. Other lines revering the Acharyas, Upadhyas, Sadhus and the other 4 mangik pads are conspicuously missing. Further, the earliest Agams, also contain only the first 2 lines revering the Arhats and Siddha’s. Historians and scholars have thus concluded that initially the Navkar consisted of only first 2 lines making reverences to the Arihants and Siddhas. The rest 7 lines were added at later stages to make it more comprehensive as is seen today. 

  2. Kusana Period (1st Century to 3rd Century AD) – 93 of the Tirthankar idols excavated here were in the seated meditative posture (out of the total 119 idols). The idols of the Tirthankars have open eyes and the eye-balls, too, can be noticed in some of the idols of this period. Another remarkable feature is the representation of the dharma-chakra on the palms and both Dharma-Chakra and Tri-Ratna on the soles. In the earliest seated idols, cross-legging is very loose, but the seated idols of this period display padmasana or tight cross­ legging. The heads of the seated idols are either bald or characterized by small curls. But hair arrangements, like notched hair and hair combed back, can also be noticed in some of the idols. Representation of Bha-Mandal (Halo) was also a characteristic of this period. The depiction of Lanchans was not present in the Kusana period as well. However, the earliest depiction of the Srivatsa mark on the chest of the idol of the Tirthankar occurs on an Ayagapatta dating back to 1st Century AD. Also a lot of Chaturmukhi sculptures were excavated dating to this period.

Idols excavated pertaining to the Kusana period

A principal characteristic of the idols is their nudity. Except for a few sculptures, all idols of Tirthankars do not have any carvings of clothes/ are completely nude which give an impression that they were installed by the Digambar sect, but these idols also have many features peculiar to Shwetambar sect. Interestingly it has been found that these idols have been installed by the monks belonging to the Shwetambar sects as their names and monastic orders match exactly with the Kalpastura. Scholars have opined that the difference between the idols in respect of drapery and nudity did not exist in the Kusana period. 

Depiction of a half clad Jain monk with Rajoharan and Cholpatta in his hands. On the above panel the stupa can be seen placed on the same level with the idols of Tirthankars

Another interesting aspect of the depiction of monks in the idols excavated. It was found that the monks during that period did not practice complete nudity and are partially clad with a broad piece of cloth known as the “Cholpatta” draped over the left forearms. This practice is also shown in the Acharang Sutra of the Shwetambar sect. The monks are shown holding their distinctive piece of cloth in front of their bodies so as to cover their genitals. These monks also appear to carry muhpatti (small cloth used to cover the mouth during speech), Rajoharan (sacred whisk brooms) and Patras (alms bowl for collection of food). In inscriptions carved on these idols these monks are called “nirgranthas” (which means free from all bonds) - the name which was used for Jainism followers in the ancient era. Although Archaeologists and historians call these monks as “Ardhapalaka’s”, some scholars believe these monks practiced what was known as “Alp-Chelakya”. This practice is in line with Shwetambar Jain scriptures like Acharang Sutra (5th century BC). 

Some scholars have opined that these idols depicted the Ailaks and Kshullaks of the Digambar tradition; However, their titles on their pedestals clearly show that they were Munis and Acharyas of Shwetambar Gaccha's-Kula-Gana-Shakha's. In one of the idols it has been seen that a fully clothed Shwetambar monk is depicted together with the Ardhaphalakas. This suggests that by the mid to late Kushan Period, the monks started to wear complete clothes then partially covering nudity. .

Torso of a half clad Jain monk 

Pedestal of a Tirthankar idol displays a Jain monk and nun with Alms bowls amd jholi

One cloth bearer monks (right) with a complete clad monk (extreme left)

3. Gupta Period (320 AD to 600 AD) - The sculptures of the Gupta period discovered at Mathura consist of 25 Tirthankar images in the seated meditative mudra, 6 Tirthankar images in the standing meditative mudra, 23 detached heads of Tirthankars, and some fragmentary pieces. The Lanchans of the various Tirthankars did not evolve even in the Gupta period. Therefore, the idols have been recognised on the basis of inscriptions, hair styles, attendants and serpent­ canopy. The idols also appear unclothed in the Gupta period. The seats on which the idols were depicted in the pre-Gupta figures was plain. The character of the seat of the idol changed in the Gupta period. In one of the figures the Jain Tirthankar is depicted seated cross-legged in meditation on a cushion which is placed on a throne supported by a pair of lions. The cushion often bears ornamental patterns and profusely decorated back rests are also depicted. No Ayagapattas have been excavated pertaining to the Gupta period. 

Chaturmukhi idols excavated from Kankali Tila

4. Post Gupta Period (650 AD onwards) – The Lanchans of the 24 Tirthankars evolved at the end of the Gupta age  and this development gave a new shape to the idols. Attendant Yaksha and Yakshinis, Vidhyadhars, 3 Chatras etc. started appearing along with the idols of the Tirthankars in their background platforms known as Parikars. As the Digambar-Shwetambar split had arisen, clothed idols of Tirthankars started featuring more prominently during the period.
Idols of the Gupta and Post Gupta period excavated from Kankali Tila

5. Idols of Yaksha’s, Yakshini’s and other demi gods - While studying the sculptures of Mathura school, it appears that the adoration of Yaksha- Yakshinis was already in practice. The depiction of Hiranegameshi/Naigamesa, Kshetrapal, Sarasvati, Lakshmi, Ambika, Vidya etc. are available since the Kusana period while adoration of Aryavati is even prior to Kusana rein. 

From Top Left: Idols of Chakreshwari, Lakshmi, Ambika (with idols of Lord Neminath, Krishna and Balaram) and Kshetrapal

One of the most remarkable discoveries made by archaeologists pertain to the 16 idols of Hiranegameshi/Naigamesa (bearing an head of an antelope) excavated here. In one of the archaic frieze, Naigamesa, is shown seated on a lion throne, after transferring the embryo of Lord Mahavir to Trishala from Devananda. Here sweets are shown offered to him as a mark of honour. This sculpture relates to an event, which took place before the birth of Lord Mahavir. The Lord was first conceived by a Brahmin woman named Devananda. When Shakra Indra realized that Lord Mahavir's parents were not Kshatriya, as is always the case of Tirthankara, he had the embryo of Mahavira transferred to the womb of Trishala, queen of King Siddharth, by Hiranegameshi, the commander of Sahra's celestial army. This scuplture illustrates the transfer of embryo from Devananda to Trishala. This story is though available in the Kalpasutra and various other scriptures, Digambars reject it completely. However, scholars opine that this was not the case earlier as this sculpture dating back to 1st to 3rd century AD proves it otherwise. 

Depiction of transfer of embryo by Hiranegameshi

Another remarkable discovery was the excavation of an idol of Saraswati (the goddess of learning in Hinduism and Jainism) installed by a Jain layman at Mathura. This idol which forms part of the collection of State Museum, Lucknow, is the oldest image of this goddess discovered in India.

The most ancient Idol of Saraswati

Now that the Stupa does not exist and the idols/artefacts have been transferred to museums what is the point to visit Mathura? 

Yes, it is true that the remains of the stupa does not exist and the artefacts have been transferred to the museums, it is still important to visit the Kankali Tila park which once housed the stupa. Not only had Lord Parshwanath graced this place with his footprints, the aura of 1400 years of continuous years of constant divinity still remains here. The Mathura museum in the vicinity houses most of the artefacts and is a must visit for all Jains who wish to understand the unturned pages of Jain history.
Shri Kalpadrum Parshwanath

Further there are many Digambar Jain temples in Mathura along with one Shwetambar Jain Temple dedicated to Shri Kalpadrum Parshwanath which is one of the 108 revered Parshwanath idols in India. It can be reached at - 792, Ghia Mandi, Mathura-281001, Uttar Pradesh, India. Phone: 0562-2503356. A very famous Digambar Jain temple located at Chaurasi, Krishna Nagar Mathura also houses the Nirvan Bhumi of Antim Kevali Shri Jambu Swami.

How to Reach:
The Kankali tila is situated in Azad Nagar area of Mathura. It is currently known as Kankali Park. The artefacts are displayed in the Government museum, Mathura which is situated on the Museum Road, Dampier Nagar.

By Road: Mathura is situated between Delhi and Agra on National Highway 2, about 150 km south of Delhi and 50 km north of Agra. The city is now connected with New Delhi via Noida-Agra world class 6 lane express ways.

By Bus: Mathura is well connected to national capital Delhi, state capital Lucknow and all major cities by road. Many state transport departments buses are running through Mathura. There are also ISBT (Inter State Bus Terminal) services from Delhi Sarai Kale Khan with frequency of 25 minutes.

By Train: Mathura is an important railway junction. Most trains between Delhi and Agra stop in Mathura. The journey from Delhi takes 2-3 hours depending on the train type, while from Agra the trip takes about one hour. Most of the south bound and west bound trains stop at Mathura.

By Air: Nearest airport is Agra (Kheria Airport). It is 50 km from Mathura. Delhi IGI Airport is 150 km from Mathura. 

Panel depicting Jain monks excavated from Kankali Tila Mathura

  1. The Jain Stupa and other Antiques of Mathura by Vincent A Smith (1901) 
  2. The Jaina Stupa at Mathura : Art and Icons by Dr. Renuka J. Porwal (2016) 
  3. History of Jainism with Special Reference to Mathura by V.K. Sharma (2002) 
  4. Examplars of Anekanta and Ahimsa: The case of early Jains of Mathura in Art and Epigraphy by Sonya R. Quintanilla 
  5. Mathurano Kankali Tilo ane Bhagwan Mahavirna Jivan na be Vishisht Prasango by Muni Darshan Vijay” published in Shri Jain Satya Prakash magazine, 1936 Edition 
  6. Jainism in Mathura in the early centuries of the Christian Era by B.N. Puri 
  7. Shri Jinprabhsuri Virachit Sachitra Vividh Tirtha Kalp Translation by Muni Ratnatray Vijay and Muni Ratnajyot Vijay (V.S. 2056) 
  8. Jainagam Dharm me Stup by Sagarmal Jain (1998) 
  9. Nirgranth Aetihasik Lekh Samuuchya by Prof. Madhusudhan Dhaky published by Sheth Kasturbhai Lalbhai Smaraknidhi, 2002. 
  10. 108 Parshwanath Darshan 
  11. Wikipedia & Wikimedia Commons


  1. The sculptures are interesting. It points to close interaction between Hinduism and Jainism. Moreover I feel that it underscores the importance of keeping at least a section of such artefacts at the place of excavation. Then people can correlate.


      Link for idol of sage marichi

    2. Sir kindly go through the video link for idol of sage marichi as trinity idol in national museum of Delhi with tirthankaras idols alongside

      Sage marichi was soul or atma of vardhaman Mahavir born in same iksvakshu kul as tirthankara Rishabhnath

  2. really amazing experience to read

  3. Well researched and an eye opener. If what has been written here is true then there is a lot of unlearning that has to happen. It seems even our Jainism history has been distorted and a number of prejudices set in.

    Appreciate all the efforts that have gone in to bring light on this.

    1. DEAR sir ,

      This excavated idols seems to be more ancient than the dates you have mentioned. Kushites and gupta kings existed prior . Chandragupta maurya had taken shraman dharma diksha under sage bhadrabahu and his great grandson samrat sampriti also known as greater ashoka who was jainism follower had built several stupas and temple in india and outside india upto middle east . He was therefore known as greater ashoka . Also shraman dharma akka jainism was practiced heavily in South India too with Tamil Brahmi script inscription and cave temples found in South India which nobody is caring . Check vettuvian koil temple and jain carvings .

  4. No words can appreciate your efforts arpit bhaii

    1. Also in national museum of Delhi, in section of medieval era of history section ,there is idol of sage marichi, a trinity idol ,alongside tirthankaras and chariot of sungod as marichi means rays of sun in sanskrit and soul of marichi ,grandson of tirthankara Rishabhnath was none other than soul of vardhaman Mahavir. Trinity idol of sage marichi denotes the truth of prophecy about marichi ,that he would become pratham vasudev in bharatkshetra, chakravarti king in mahavirdeykshetra and last tirthankara of shraman dharma or anekantawad recently named jainism in avsarpani kaal of kaalchakra. First disciple of sage marichi who could not follow strict penance of lord rishabhdev was sage Kapil muni Who gave samkhya Darshan principle of prakriti and purush included in old rigvedic scriptures written in chandas. So in list of vedic surya mantra name of marichi is included

  5. A very nicely studied & well written piece of History of Jainism.

    Thankyou Arpitbhai.

  6. Really amazing experience..... your hard effort made it all to showcase the real glory of Jainism

  7. Well researched.Original Namo siddhanam Namo Arahantanam Namo bahmi liviye Namo suyasa

  8. Namo for language and script at Mathura.

  9. I couldn't stop myself from reading this after I read your post "prabhu Tamara pagale pagale". I now want to read the reference materials you have provided... where can I get them in Mumbai? Any idea?

    1. you can download them from
      Some of them are available on Amazon as well

  10. Jai jinendra. Splendid work.

  11. Arpit, you are doing a great job of conveying our rich history and tradition of Jainism to the youth in an unconventional manner. Pls bring out many such stories so that the young generation realises how lucky they are to take birth as a Jain.

  12. Hi arpit Ji,

    i like this history very much interesting so i searched it on internet
    what i find in wikipedia - just copy and past as it on wiki..

    The sculptures and the inscriptions found at Kankali Tila suggest that in that period a clear Digambar-Shwetabar division had not risen. The Tirthankar images are all unclothed and monks are represented as not wearing a loincloth, but with cloth on one forearm. The names of divisions of the monastic orders match exactly with those given in the Shwetambar Kalpasutra.[6]

    now i copy past what you have written above:

    The Tirthankar images are all unclothed and monks _________________are with cloth on one forearm.
    you forgot some thing to write in between this.
    in wiki only these sentence are written no other things like
    monk have rajoharan, muhpati and all thise stuff
    as i agree i only takes ref from wiki not from other sources but still all lines in that paragraph are same as wiki with some addition and some deletion.
    i am shwetamber only so dont take it on other way.

    1. Dear Dr. Modi,

      I am actually unable to comprehend what you are willing to tell.

      Does my blog have the same/ similar content as Wikipedia that's bothering you or something else.

      I have already stated in my references that Wikipedia has been referred to along with a host of literary evidences.

    2. Arpitji,

      I would like tell that your writing miss out some facts from Wikipedia.
      As in wikipedia says
      Monks are not wearing loincloth but you didn't mention it and also added that they have rajoharan , muhpati which is not mentioned in wiki.

    3. Dear Dr. Modi,

      The detail has not been missed. Instead of loincloth, I have used the word "Cholpatta"

    4. What Doctor modi is trying to say is you've modified the actual details. There were no mention of Muhapatti, chola patta kind of words in any research that have published so far. That loin cloth holding monk can be from extinct yapaniyas sect of Jainism or can be one cloth keeping Ailakas of Digambar sect. I can make you available actual details and official documentations which no where mentions those monks were exclusively Swetambara. Even those scriptures that you've talked were written way before Schism and were actually written by Bhadrabahu the last leader of undivided sangha.

    5. Please refer the bibliography at the end of the article. You will get the details....and the monks are from Shwetambar sect as their names of Kula gana shakhas match exactly with Kalpasutra

    6. This is what I meant to say, Kalpasutra is wrote by Bhadrabahu and it's factfully known that Bhadrabahu was the last leader of undivided Sangha, so if you're referring to Acharya Bhadrabahus work, it will again be difficult to say they were Swetambara monks, they did not wear the loin cloth instead they are holding it in hands just like Yapaniyas who are now extinct.

    7. Sir, you are not getting the point. Kalpasutra is not accepted by Digambars. Further, the names of the Kula Gana Shakhas are present in Shwetambar tradition and not present in Digambar tradtion. Further Yapaniya tradition came into being very late. Their Kula Gana shakhas do not match as well

  13. Amazing work Arpit. I will reach out to you on FB.

  14. Char Dham Yatra Packages Hey loved reading your blog, must say that I can fully relate. Was checking out such genres to start up my own.Thankyou. Char Dham Yatra 4 Dham Yatra

  15. Dear Arpit, I am a professional art historian with interest in Buddhist rock-cut monuments, especially Ajanta. But, I can never write with such precision, clarity, brevity, and lucidity as you have addressed your subject. You have also provided sources, citations, archeological, epigraphic, textual, and art historical evidence to elucidate the points. You have also used the technical terms like a professional without overdoing it, as many of us do, just to display our otherwise shallow knowledge. Your piece has been an eye opener as I have been looking for information about the Jain stupas but had not explored the Mathura material. Thanks again. May God bless you 🙏. -- Dr Rajesh Kumar Singh.

    1. Dear Dr. Rajeshji,

      Thank you for such kind words and blessings. It means a lot.

  16. Dear Arpit Bhai .Your quest for unraveling various aspects of Jainism is clear.There is lot of depth in your write up and clearly you have put a lot of effort.Aapko sadhuwaad aur bahut bahut shubhkamna.

    1. Dear Dr. Jain,

      Thank you so much. It means a lot. I am deeply humbled and honoured.

  17. Nice article, but it seems that you are a bit biased on justifying the shvetamabara sect as the original one. It would've been great if you kept all the facts in an unbiased way and would've been more neutral.

    1. Hi ! Thank you for your feedback, Please let me know which points you felt that had a bias. Will try to modify. Also if you have some additional facts, please let me know, would love to add value to the article

  18. What a research ! Keep up the good work ! You should plan guided visits as well.

  19. I really appreciate your hard work in collecting so much information regarding the Kankali Tila and presenting it in a very informative and authentic menner. Most of the other people still think that the Jain religion was initiated by Bhagwan Mahaveer Swami and a very few historical facts that proves antiquity of Jainism are known even to Jains .
    You may have valid reasons to disable some functions like copying from the blog, but in my opinion it is not correct in our larger interest. It is our duty to make available this valuable information to as many people as possible and at various sources on internet. Please make all efforts so that this article could easily reach to anyone and everyone who is interested in knowing about Jainism and it's history.
    Best wishes,

    1. Thank you for all the appreciation. You are correct, but I had to disable copy paste as unscrupulous persons were copying material without giving any credit. An article takes months of research and some people just copy and paste without any qualms; Therefore had to take this step.
      There are sharing options at the end of the post which can help spreading the message!



  20. Valuable imformation.Heard about Mathura jain Stupa. but now saw all artifacts.Thank you for blog.My husband Pradeep n me are Indologist.Will communicate .

  21. Amazing read. In addition to your references, a lot of information can now be seamlessly searched using, which I believe is an initiative of Jainelibrary

  22. Great work sir
    Please visit karanja village , in washim district in maharashtra which known to be jain kashi...
    Karanja has one and only scroll about Jainism, wooden work and ancient sculpture.......

  23. Thanks a lot. I was doing some research on Shree Jag Chintamani Chaitya Vadan Sutra, by Shree Mahavir Swamy Gandharv Shree Guru Gautam Swami and was confused, should it be Muhari Parshwa (Tintoi Village in Gujarat) or Mahuri Parshwa (Mahuri = Mathura) i.e Kalpendru Parshwanath. This article has helped me a lot. Though I need more citation. excuse me for any spelling and grammar mistakes.

  24. सर जी , science journey चैनल भी देखा करो ,

    हमारे जैन धर्म की दूसरी संगति पांचवी छठी सदी में हुई थी जिसके कारण बहुत सारे गप्प भी शामिल हो गई है स्क्रिप्चर में , परंतु पुरातात्विक प्रमाण आज भी मौजूद है उन्हीं को सही मानना चाहिए

    जैन और बौद्ध संस्कृति ही भारत की मूल संस्कृति है ब्राह्मण संस्कृति सातवीं सदी के बाद भारत में आई है और उसने महाविनाश कर इन दोनों धर्म को लगभग खत्म कर दिया भारत से , बौद्ध धर्म की वज्रयान हीनयान महायान तंत्र यान शाखा ही बाद में जाकर ब्राह्मणी करण होने के बाद हिंदू धर्म बनी है

    जैन धर्म से भी बहुत कुछ कॉपी किया गया है


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