The Mahayatra - Part 2


Continued from Part 1 (background of the Mahayatra). To read click here.

Agra

On the day of the Mahurat, i.e. on 25th January 1613, the Sangh-yatra started amidst great fanfare. The brothers mounted on elephants and started the journey. They crossed the Yamuna river on boats where all the members from various parts of the country had assembled since in the past fortnight. The Sangh offered puja at temple of Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan and proceeded with the yatra.

The temple of Parshwanath Bhagwan mentioned in the Raas is known as Shri Chintamani Parshwanath Jinalay and is situated near the banks of Yamuna at Roshan Mohalla in Agra. The idol of the Mulnayak (main deity) Shri Chintamani Parshwanath Bhagwan was carved out from a single rock of a rare gemstone Yashab (Jade). In ~1583 AD, the temple’s Anjanshalakha & Pratishtha Mahotsav was conducted in the holy presence of Jagad-guru Acharya Shri Hirvijaysuri.

The idol of Shri Chintamani Parshwanath Bhagwan installed by Acharya Hirvijaysuri

Adjacent to the Garbha Griha (Sanctum Sanctorum) of the temple, a divine idol of Shri Shitalnath Bhagwan carved out of Kasauti Patthar (Touch stone- used to test the purity of gold) was installed in 1648 AD on a marble throne brilliantly inlaid with Pietra-Dura work (Parchin-Kari) which has more intricate designs than those inlaid on the Taj Mahal. Rare and precious gemstones like Lapis Lazuli, Onyx, White Jasper, Red Jasper, Jade, Tiger Stone, Torques, Jaisalmer stone among others were used in this inlay work. This idol was excavated when Mughal Emperor Shah laid the foundation for construction of Jama Masjid.

The beautiful idol of Shri Shitalnath Bhagwan

Agra to Sauripur

Gifts of one Thaal (metal plate) along with one Ser (1.25 kilograms) of Khaand (naturally granulated sugar) and Shrifal (coconut) were offered to the households of Oswals and Shrimals enroute the entire journey. The first stop was made at Bhana-Sarai[1] after which the sangh-yatra reached Pirojpur (via Mahamudpur) where the sangh offered puja at the temple of Shri Munisuvrat Swami.

The author is unable to locate the current location on Pirojpur. A Shwetambar monk, Panyas Vijaysagarji had visited this place as per his Tirthmala composed in 1605 AD. As per the information available, the new name of the town is known as Pachokhara[2]. It has a recently constructed Digambar Jain temple dedicated to Shri Munisuvrat Swami

From Pirojpur, the sangh-yatra moved towards Chandanwadi (now known as Chandrawal) where they offered puja to an idol of Shri Chandraprabha Swami made out of Sphatik gemstone (Quartz Crystal) and thereafter-reached Pirojabad (now known as Firozabad)

The Sphatik Pratima of Shri Chandraprabha Swami at Chandanwadi (Chandrawal) is currently installed at a Digambar Jain Temple in Firozabad[3]. A Shwetambar monk, Panyas Shri Saubhagyavijayji had also offered his respects at this Sphatik pratima as per his Tirthmala composed in 1720 AD.

The idol of Shri Chandraprabha Swami carved in Sphatik gemstone

Sauripur

From Pirojabad (Firozabad), the sangh moved towards Khari (currently known as Nagla Khari) and thereafter reached Sauripur by crossing Yamuna river on boats. Sauripur is the location where the Chyawan and Janma Kalyanak’s of Shri Neminath Bhagwan took place. The Raas mentions that the Sangh offered worship at the Bawan Jinalay (A temple with 52 subsidiary shrines) of Shri Neminath Bhagwan and the Sanghpati brothers offered the first Kadahi (Feast) to the Sangh.

Shri Sauripur Tirth (also known as Sauripuri) is one of the major pilgrimage sites for Jains and finds a mention in various Jain Agams (Canonical scriptures) like Shri Samavayang Sutra, Shri Uttaradhyayan Sutra, Shri Bhagwati Sutra, Shri Kalpasutra, Shri Avashyak Niryukti etc. The city was named after Sauri, the grandson of a Yadava King. This is the place where Chyavan (conception) and Janma (birth) Kalyanakas of the 22nd Jain Tirthankar Shri Neminath Bhagwan, took place. Shri Bhagwati Sutra mentions that Shri Mahavir Swami visited this place and gave a sermon regarding the past lives of a fisherman.

The renovated Shwetambar Jain Temple at Sauripur

The Vividh Tirth Kalp composed by Acharya Jinaprabh Suri in the 14th century CE mentions of renovation of the temple at Sauripuri and of installation of the idol of Bhagawan Neminath in it. The present idol of Mulnayak (Main deity) Shri Neminath Bhagwan was installed by Jagadguru Acharya Hiirvijaysuri in 1582 AD. Many Jain relics were excavated from Sauripur by Alexander Cunningham in the 19th Century. However, there are no traces of the Bawan Jinalay as mentioned in the Raas. Recent renovations to the temple were undertaken under the guidance of Acharya Shri Padmasagarsuri.

The ancient idol of Shri Neminath Bhagwan reinstalled after renovations


There are Digambar Jain temples in Sauripur as well. The Adi Mandir was constructed in 1667 under the guidance of Bhattarak Vishwa Bhushan. Baruva Math Digambar Jain temple has the 8 ft. idol of Shri Neminath Bhagwan installed in 1953. The Shankh Dhwaj Mandir has idols dating back to 13th CE AD
 

Ancient idol of Shri Neminath Bhagwan at Digambar Jain Temple, Sauripur

Sauripur to Kaushambi

From Sauripur, the Sangh again went back to Khari from where it reached Saras (Currently known as Saras Chauraha in Saifai). Here the Sangh worshipped at the Digambar temple of Saras and stopped overnight at Ahir Sarai. From Ahir Sarai, the Sangh reached Etawah.

Currently there is no Digambar Jain Temple at Saras Chauraha/ Saifai. However, in Etawah there are several Digambar Jain temples, notable being the Lalpura Jain temple which has various ancient idols including that of Mulnayak Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan. It can be assumed that the idols of Saras would have been shifted to the Etawah Jain temples

Shri Lalpura Digambar Jain Temple, Etawah

From Etawah, the Sangh moved ahead towards Mahua via Babarpur, Fulkamital, Bhoginipur, Saankhi Sarahi, Korattai, Bidli Sarai, Fatehpur, Hathiyagam, Kadai and Sahijadpur. Munishri Jaskirti (the author of Sammetshikhar Raas) informs that Sati Mrugavati had taken Diksha (initiation as a nun) from Shri Mahavir at Mahua. Shri Jayvijayji (author of Sammet Shikhar Tirthmala) mentions that the Sangh offered puja at five Jain temples in Mahua.

Currently, there are no traces of Jain heritage in Mahua. It was a suburb of Kaushambi kingdom in the ancient era. Currently, the village is situated ~37 km from Kaushambi Tirth.

Kaushambi

From Mahua, the Sangh continued ahead and reached Kaushambi. Sammetshikhar Raas informs that Kaushambi was situated in Vatsa Desh and it was the place where three Kalyanaks of Shri Padmaprabha Swami and the parna (breaking of fast) of Prabhu Shri Mahavir’s Chammasi Tap (six month long fast) took place from the hands of Chandanbala. Shri Jaskirti also adds that Shri Anathi Muni also belonged to Kaushambi.

At Kaushambi, the Sanghpati along with the sangh worshipped the footprints of Shri Padmaprabha Swami and visited the “Dhanna-Shalibhadra Tal” (pond of Dhanna & Shalibhadra) which was situated one Kos (1.8 miles) from Kaushambi. From there, the Sangh again came back to Sahijadpur where the second Kadahi (Feast) was offered to the Sangh.

Kaushambi was an important city in ancient India. It was the capital of the Vatsa kingdom, one of the sixteen Mahajanapadas. In Avashyak Sutra, Kaushambi is located on the banks of Yamuna river. Four Kalyanaks of Shri Padmaprabha Swami took place at Kaushambi (although 3 have been mentioned by Shri Jaskirti in the Raas). Apart from his parna from the hands of Chandanbala, Shri Mahavir Swami also visited Kaushambi after his Kevalgyan and his Samavasaran was setup here.

Shri Padmaprabha Swami, Kaushambi


Arya Suhastisuri, Arya Mahagiri and various other learned Acharyas visited Kaushambi. The Vividh Tirth Kalp composed by Acharya Jinaprabh Suri in the 14th century CE has numerous references of this city. Shri Hansasomvijayji visited the Tirth in 1498 AD and mentioned that 64 pratimas were installed in Kaushambi. In 1603 AD and in 1606 AD, Shri Vijaysagarji and Shri Jayvijayji Gani visited this place respectively and mentioned that there were two temples in Kaushambi. However, both Shri Jaskirti in his Raas and Shri Jayvijayji in his Tirthmala do not give any information about the temples at Kaushambi and just mention the footprints of Shri Padmaprabha Swami when the sangh visited this place in 1613 AD. In 1689 AD, Shri Saubhagyavijayji visited Kaushambi and mentioned that there was just one temple, that too in a worn out condition. All this information suggests that the temples of Kaushambi faced various attacks and destruction in the 17th Century.

Shri Padmaprabha Jinalay, Kaushambi after renovations

Excavations at Kaushambi have revealed various artefacts, including an exceptionally ancient Ayagapatta which have been preserved at Allahabad (Prayagraj) Museum. The fort built King Shatanik & Queen Mrugavati now lies in ruins which reminds one of the city’s glorious past when the fort had a circumference of four miles, 32 gates and walls as high as 30-35 feet.

At present 2 Shwetambar Jain temples are present in Kaushambi, both which have been renovated and installed by Acharya Nayvardhansurishwarji Maharaja. As per the Digambar tradition, 2 Kalyanaks (Chyawan & Janma) of Shri Padmaprabha Swami took place at Kaushambi, whereas Diksha & Kevalgyan Kalyanaks took place at Pabhosa which is situated 11 km from Kaushambi. Ancient idols and ruins dating back to 9th CE AD to 17th CE AD are present at Pabhosa. The description of Sanghyatra makes it clear that it did not visit Pabhosha.



The newly installed Mulnayak, Shri Padmaprabha Swami of the new Jinalay at Kaushambi. (Photograph: Paras Shah)

Prayag

From Kaushambi, the Sangh-yatra went back to Sahijadpur and moved ahead towards Fatehpur to reach Prayag where Shri Arnikaputra Acharya attained Nirvan while entering the Ganga river[4]. Shri Jaskirti adds that Shri Adinath Bhagwan also attained Kevalgyan at Prayag, which was known as Purimtal in the scriptures. The sangh worshipped the ancient footprints of Shri Adinath Bhagwan below the holy banyan tree named Akshayvat and did darshan at the 3 Digambar temples of which the main temple was dedicated to Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan. The Sangh then set up its camp on an elevated land near the banks of the Ganga.

Ancient idol of Shri Adinath Bhagwan at Prayag (Photograph: Mihir Vakharia)

Known as Purimtal and Prayag in ancient times, the city is currently known as Prayagraj/ Allahabad. The Tirth was home to many grand Jain temples apart from the Kevalgyan bhumi as per Vividh Tirth Kalp by Acharya Shri Jinprabh Surishwarji Maharaja in 14th century AD. The tree beneath which Lord Adinath attained Kevalgyan is known as ‘Akshayvat’ (Indestructibe/ immortal tree) and is revered by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains alike. Under this tree, sandalwood footprints of Lord Adinath were installed but were stolen later and were replaced by stone footprints. Further, according to Trishashtishalakapurush Charitra, several Tirthankars after Lord Adinath have also visited this holy land. Lord Mahavir had practiced meditation in the Shakatmukh Udyan and his Samavasaran also was erected here by the celestials. Further, Acharya Arnikaputra also attained Kevalgyan and Moksh near the banks of Triveni Sangam (confluence of Ganga – Yamuna & Saraswati).

Akshayvat - Where Shri Adinath Bhagwan attained Kevalgyan (Source: Devlok Jinalay Palitana)

In the 15th century Emperor Akbar renamed this city as Allahabad and constructed a massive fort on the banks of confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati enclosing the famous Akshayvat tree. Currently, the tree located within the Patalpuri Temple at the Allahabad Fort is worshiped as the Akshayvat. However, a popular opinion is that the Patalpuri Temple tree is not the authentic Akshayvat and the real Akshayavat is in another underground temple inside the Fort. When the British gained control of the Allahabad Fort after the Treaty of Allahabad in 1765, they did not want general public to access the sensitive parts of the fort. So, the shrine was moved to fringes of the fort compound, that is, the present-day Patalpuri Temple where the local Brahmins set up the stump of the original tree. An 18th century map of the Fort from the British Library confirms this: the location of the original temple is shown in the center of the fort; while the present-day Patalpuri Temple is on the outskirts of the Fort.

Footprints of Shri Adinath Bhagwan beneath the Akshayvat (Photograph: Nipa Jogani)


Apart from the Akshayvat, there are 4 Digambar Jain temples and a Shwetambar Jain Temple. Also the Allahabad museum houses many beautiful Jain idols which were excavated from nearby areas. The Shwetambar Jain temple, houses a very beautiful, ever-smiling, ancient idol of Lord Adinath dating back to ~11th CE AD. Apart from Mulnayak Shri Adinath Bhagwan, idols of Shri Vimalnath, Shri Parshwanath, Shri Mahavir Swami, Lord Shantinath and footprints of revered Acharya Bhagwant’s have also been installed in this temple.


Triveni Sangam at Prayag (Photograph: Mihir Vakharia)


Banaras – Bhadaini – Sinhapuri - Chandrapuri

From Prayag, the Sangh reached the Kalyanak Bhumis of Shri Parshwanath & Shri Suparshwanath - Banaras via Khandia Sarai, Jagdish Sarai and Kanak Sarai. The sangh worshipped 5 idols of Shri Rushabhdev, Shri Neminath and Shri Parshwanath near the (Kashi) Vishwanath Temple. Near the Annapurna Temple, the Sangh offered Kusumanjali[5], Keshar and Chandan on the ancient footprints of Shri Parshwanath and red coloured Chaturmukhi[6] idols of Shri Rushabhdev, Shri Parshwanath, Shri Chandraprabha and Shri Vardhaman Mahavir. From there, the Sangh went to Bhadaini Ghat and offered Puja on the idol of Shri Suparshwanath Bhagwan where 4 Kalyanaks of the Lord took place. From there, the Sangh crossed the Ganga on boats where the camp was set up for the day. Thereafter the Sanghpati’s brothers made announcements and donated bags and bags of money to the Brahmans and the needy.

Ancient idol of Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan at Bhelupur

Situated in the confluence of two tributaries of Ganga, Varuna and Assi, Banaras was known as Kashi in the past and Varanasi in the present times. Home to many Jain temples, the temple town of Varanasi holds a very sacred significance for the Hindus apart from Jains. In addition to 4 Kalyanaks (Chyawan, Janma, Diksha and Kevalgyan) of Shri Parshwanath in the Bhelupur area of Varanasi, the town also holds significance for the same 4 Kalyanaks of Lord Suparshwanath in Bhadaini area.

 

Shri Shwetambar Jain temple at Bhelupur


Located in south of Varanasi, the birthplace of Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan, Shri Bhelupur Jain Tirth is situated 2.5 kilometers west of Kedar ghat. Ancient Charan paduka (footprints) of the lord which were found beneath a banyan tree, were installed at the same location to mark the sacred spot. This tirth is mentioned in Vividh Tirth Kalp by Acharya Shri Jinprabh Surishwarji Maharaja in 14th century AD. During the last renovation of the tirth by Acharya Shree Rajyash Surishwaji, the present Mulnayak of Lord Parshwanath was installed and the ancient mulnayak (which dates back to ~5th CE) was re-installed in the Rangmandap. The ancient and miraculous idol of Lord Parshwanath is one of the 108 revered idols of Lord Parshwanath known as Varanasi Parshwanath Bhagwan.


Ancient footprints of Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan marking the place of birth of the Lord

However, the Sangh made its offerings on the idols located near Kashi Vishwanath temple, which is ~3km from Shri Bhelupur tirth. Although, Bhelupur Tirth finds no mention in the Sametshikhar Raas, it is probable that the ancient idols were relocated to Bhelupur from various parts of the city, including the ancient idol of Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan.

Ancient idols recovered from Banaras (Source: Vishwa Jain Sangathan)

In 2018, NDTV's report on Kashi Corridor brought into notice ancient Jain idols on the wall near the Sankat Mochan temple (installed by Tulsidas) in a lane near Lalita Ghat. Ancient Jain idols are also found in Shri Nandan Vir Baba Mandir in Bhadaini Ghat. Further, ancient Jain statues have been found at Rajghat and other places in Varanasi, some of which are on display at the Lucknow Museum, Banaras Hindu Vishwavidyalay and Bharat Kala Bhavan, Varanasi[7].

Shri Bhadaini Jain Tirth (Photograph: Samkit Group/ Paras Shah)

Of the 80 ghats dotting the banks of Ganga, Shri Bhadaini Tirth is situated on the Bhadaini Ghat (also known as Jain Ghat) of Varanasi. This is the very place where 4 Kalyanaks of Lord Suparshwanath Bhagwan took place. An inscription below the footprints of Shri Suparshwanath Bhagwan states that they were consecrated in 1768 by the monks of the Tapagacch, and the Mulnayak idol of Shri Suparshwanath Bhagwan was installed by Acharya Kulchandrasuri of Khartargacch in ~1800 AD.

Shri Suparshwanath Bhagwan and ancient footprints at Bhadaini


The Digambar Jain Temple, situated adjacent to the Shwetambar Jain temple was built in 1855 AD. Therefore, based on the description in the Raas, it suggests that a shrine of Shri Suparshwanath Bhagwan existed at Bhadaini before the new Shwetambar and Digambar Jain temples were erected (the remains of which are still preserved in the Shwetambar Jain temple.

 

Remains of the ancient Jain temple at Bhadaini

The Ramghat area of Varanasi is also home to many Jain temples, most of them now closed due to lack of management. One of the largest functional temple in Ramghat is the Chintamani Parshwanath Jinalay which stands on the place where it is believed that Lord Parshwanath had given a sermon to Kamath tapas and rescued Dharnendra’s soul. The temple was installed by Acharya Kulchandrasuri of Khartargacch in 1814.

From Banaras, the Sangh went to Sinhapuri and Chandrapuri where Kalyanaks of Shri Shreyanshnath Bhagwan and Shri Chandraprabha Swami Bhagwan took place. At Sinhapuri the sangh worshipped the idol and the footprints of Shri Shreyanshnath Bhagwan and at Chandrapuri, the sangh worshipped the footprints of Shri Chandraprabha Swami. From Chandrapuri, the Sangh returned back to Banaras where the Sanghpati offered the third Kadahi (Feast).

Shri Sinhapuri Tirth


Situated ~10km north west from Banaras and 2 kilometres from Sarnath Dhamekh Stupa, Sinhapuri Tirth marks the location of 4 Kalyanaks of Shri Shreyanshnath Bhagwan in a suburb of Sarnath known as Hiramanpur village. It is believed that the name “Sarnath” was derived from the name of Shri Shreyanshnath Bhagwan as a degeneration of local dialect.


Shri Shreyanshnath Bhagwan, Sinhapuri


Queen Kumardevi, wife of King Govindchandra of Kanauj (Gahadavala dynasty) restored a temple named “Dharmachakra Jin-Vihar” in early 11th century which was destroyed by the armies of Qutb-Ud-Din, the commander of the army of Shahbuddin Ghori in 1138 AD. In 1800 AD, Acharya Kulchandrasuri renovated the Jain temple and installed idols and footprints of Shri Shreyanshnath Bhagwan.

Ancient footprints of Shri Shreyanshnath Bhagwan at Sinhapuri


Apart from the Jain temple, The, Dhamekh Stupa is one of the most prominent and massive religious structures in Sarnath. The 103 feet high stupa having a diameter of 28 meters has eight sides. While it is believed that it was built by Emperor Ashok of the Maurya dynasty to mark the spot where Gautam Buddha gave the first sermon after attaining enlightenment, the same is disputed by various historians. An inscription dated 1026 AD from the stupa states that it was known as “Dharma Chakra” Stupa, a term, which is widely used in Jainism. Various Jain scholars believe that it was built by Ashok’s grandson Samprati (who was also known as Devanampriya & Priyadarshi alike Ashok) in commemoration of Shri Shreyanshnath Bhagwan’s four Kalnayaks at this place. Bhattarak Lalitkirtiji also installed a Digambar Jain temple next to the Dhamekh Stupa in 1824 AD.

Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath


The Sangh Yatra does not mention about the Dhamekh Stupa, nor about the Digambar Jain temple. Therefore, based on the description in the Raas, the Sangh worshipped at the temple of Shri Shreyanshnath Bhagwan before it was renovated by Acharya Kulchandrasuri in 1800 AD.

 

Shri Chandrapuri Tirth (Photograph: Samkit Group/ Paras Shah)

Situated 17 kilometres from Sinhapuri and 28 kms from Banaras, Chandrapuri is known as Chandravati today. The Kalyanak bhumi dedicated to Shree Chandraprabha Swami is situated right on the banks of River Ganga. This Tirth is also mentioned in Vividh Tirth Kalp by Acharya Shri Jinprabh Surishwarji Maharaja in 14th century AD. The temple was renovated and the new idols were installed under the guidance of Acharya Kulchandrasuri in 1835 AD. The Digambar Jain temple adjacent to the Shwetambar temple was established in 1913 AD.

Shri Chandraprabha Swami, Chandrapuri Tirth

To be continued...


Part 3: The journey of Sangh-yatra to Patna, Bihar Sharif, Pawapuri, Nawada to Sammet Shikharji etc along with past and present analysis..

Part 4: The return journey of Sangh-yatra to Agra, via Rajgiri, Ayodhya, Ratnapuri and various other tirths along with past and present analysis..



References

[1] Sarai’s were ancient halting places with wayside inns built for the comfort of travelers

[2] As informed by Shri Aditya Jain

[3] As informed by Shri Aditya Jain

[4] Shri Arnikaputra Acharya was crossing the Ganga River on a boat. When the boat became disbalanced due to overcrowding, the crowd threw Acharyashri into the river. However, Acharyashri remained in equanimity thereby attaining Kevalgyan & Moksh immediately.

[5] Offering of fragrant flowers

[6] Four-sided

[7] Antiquity of Jainism - https://www.facebook.com/AntiquityOfJainism/videos/2143986488976619/


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