How was Shatrunjay Tirth owned & managed since the past 2000 years?



Shatrunjay Mahatirth, Palitana is considered the most sacred Tirth (pilgrimage place) by the Shwetambar Jain community. With more than 865 temples located on the Shatrunjay hill, it is the highest revered pilgrimage in Jain history. It is believed that countless saints, great souls and ascetics have attained the supreme salvation here.

However, since the last few years, the Tirth has been mired with controversies with respect to the management of the Shrines of the temples and the hill as a whole. Currently too, an ongoing debate is dividing the Jain community with respect to the management of the Tirth.

Therefore, I have attempted to trace the entire available history on how the Tirth was managed since the last 2000 years. This will help the readers have a better understanding of the history of the Tirth and the circumstances under which it was managed. I have also added some of the litigations faced by the Tirth in the span of last two centuries for more clarity on the same.

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52 AD: Shreshti Bhavad Shah and his son Javad Shah of Madhumati (Mahuva, Gujarat) renovated the shrines on the Shatrunjay Tirth (13th renovation). His family managed the temples and shrines atop Shatrunjay till 2nd Century AD. Historical information pertaining to the management of the shrines after the 2nd Century AD till the 11th Century AD is not known.

11th – 12th Century AD: The temples and shrines on Shatrunjay Tirth were managed by a committee of Sheths of the Patan Jain Sangh. In 1155 AD, Bahad (son of Udayan, the minister of Solanki emperor Siddharaj) renovated the shrines and temples on Shatrunjay (14th renovation). The main temple dedicated to Shri Adinath Bhagwan which was earlier made of wood was renovated into a beautiful stone temple.

13th Century AD: The Jain Sangh of Dholka under the leadership of Vastupal Mantri managed the shrines and temples at Shatrunjay Tirth. Shri Vastupal served as the Prime Minister of Vaghela Dynasty under the rule of emperors Virdhawal and Visaldev. In 1299 AD, Allaudin Khilji led his army to Gujarat, raided and destroyed the temples atop Shatrunjay Tirth.

14th Century AD: Due to severe need of repairs post the attack, a Jain Shravak from Patan named Shreshti Deshalshah Oswal and his son Samarsinh (Samara Shah Oswal) obtained firmans (royal mandate) from Alap Khan, the Subedar of Gujarat for renovation of the shrines. The temples were renovated in a short period of time and the installation was conducted in 1315 AD under Acharya Shri Siddhisurishwarji Maharaj (15th renovation). After the renovation, the management of Shrines was taken over by Shreshti Deshalshah of Patan and his descendants.

15th Century AD: Sajanshah, a descendant of Shreshti Deshalshah who managed the temples on Shatrunjay, shifted his business from Patan to Khambhat. Therefore, he requested the Patan Jain Sangh to take up the responsibility of the management of Shatrunjay Tirth. Under the leadership of Acharya Vijay Shri Rajsuri a committee was formed with eminent Jain Shravaks from Patan, Radhanpur and Khambhat to manage the Tirth. Acharya Vijay Shri Rajsuri also sent one of his disciples from Patan to Palitana (on the base of Shatrunjay) to oversee the proper management of the shrines.


 
~16th Century AD: Various attacks from Mughal armies destroyed the temples and shrines on Shatrunjay Tirth. Jaziya tax was imposed on pilgrimage of Shatrujay and pilgrims had to pay tax upto 1 gold coin to pay homage to the shrines destroyed by the Mughals. Later Ahmmad Sikandar, son of Mahmud Begada (Sultan of Gujarat Sultanate) also damaged and destroyed the temple and the idol of Mulnayak Shri Adinath Bhagwan. In 1526 AD, Sultan Bahadur Shah ascended the throne of Gujarat. Tola Shah a wealthy Jain Shravak from Chittor had a desire to renovate the damaged temples and shrines on Shatrunjay. His youngest son, Karma Shah obtained a firman granting permission for renovating the tirth from Sultan Bahadur Shah. In 1531 AD, Karma Shah renovated all the temples and shrines on Shatrunjay Tirth and installed them under the guidance of Acharya Vidyamandansurishwarji Maharaja (16th Renovation).

Note: It was during this or earlier renovations that the temple of Mahadev was built for the Sompuras and Hindu construction workers near the Suraj Kund which is currently known as Nilkanth Mahadev Temple. The Sompuras are the architects of the Temples who are mostly the followers of Hinduism. Hence on any site for construction, temples of Shiva or their revered deities were constructed so as to enable them to offer their prayers during the entire stretch of construction/ renovation. In ancient times and especially when the construction involved work atop the summit of Hills, work continued for years and as such they requested their patrons to construct a temple of Shiva or their or their revered deities for their regular daily worship. At various ancient Jain sites, including at Shatrunjay, Jains at their own cost constructed such temples for daily worship of their Sompuras, workers and employees and these temples are managed and maintained by them along with their main temple, as pujaries and employees in Jain temples are mostly followers of Hindu religion. The Mahadev temple currently known as Nilkanth Mahadev Temple near the Suraj Kund is also managed, maintained, repaired and renovated regularly by the Jains, since inception as per the Hindu customs and rituals. The Pujaris appointed at Kumarpal Derasar within the fort used to conduct rituals in this temple as per Hindu customs.


1592 AD – On the request of Jagadguru Acharya Shri Hirvijay Surishwarji Maharaja, Mughal Emperor Akbar, issued a firman declaring the land of Shatrunjay (along with Girnar, Taranga, Kesariyaji, Abu, Rajgir and Sammet Shikharji to be handed over to Jains so that no one may kill any animal on these sacred places). The firman goes on to state that the Emperor, finding this request, “just and reasonable” and not contrary to (Islamic) law, issued this order bestowing all these hills and temples on Acharya Shri Hirvijay Suri as the representative of the entire Shwetambar Jain Community. To manage the Tirth, Acharya Shri Hirvijay Suri appointed Yatis (stationary monks who could keep personal property and could travel in vehicles) to manage the Shatrunjay Tirth and an institution was set up named “Tapagacch Karkhana” (Karkhana is a word used to denote a pedhi, i.e. charitable firm in the ancient times) to manage the Tirth.

Akbar's firman to Acharya Shri Hirvijaysurishwarji Maharaja


1594 AD – Tejpal Soni of Khambhat carried out repairs on the temples and shrines of Shatrunjay under the guidance of Acharya Hirvijaysurishwarji Maharaja. It is worth noting that there were only a limited number of temples on Shatrunjay during the period, mainly within the Tunk of Shri Adinath Bhagwan, therefore management was not difficult. Further, only a few pilgrims used to visit the Tirth due to arduous journeys and lack of vehicles.


1607 AD – Mughal emperor Jahangir issued a firman to Shri Vivekharshvijayji and Parmanand Yati stating the removal of taxes for pilgrims at Shatrunjay.

1619 AD – Khartarvasahi also known as “Sava-Soma ni Tunk” was built by Sheth Savchand and Sheth Somchand.

1651 AD – The Gohil Thakors of Gariyadhar were local landlords of Palitana Pargana (a group of villages or a subdivision of a district). At this time, a Suba Thanedar used to work on behalf of the Mughal Empire in Saurashtra and Muslims of Ghori Belam lineage used to harass and rob the Jain pilgrims enroute to Shatrunjay.  For this reason, Nagar Sheth Shantidas Zaveri financially helped the Thakors of Gariadhar who fought off these Ghori Belam muslims and ensured peace for Jain pilgrims. After this incident, Sheth Shantidas thought that these Thakor's should be entrusted with the task of protecting Shatrunjay Tirth and they should be settled in Palitana. Thakor was also keen on such a relationship. Therefore, to protect the pilgrims along with temples and shrines on the Shatrunjay Tirth and offer necessary arrangements for pilgrims, Nagar Sheth Shantidas Jhaveri of Ahmedabad and Sheth Ratansura as representatives of Tapagacch Karkhana entered into an Rakhopa (protection) agreement with the Thakor Kandhaji Gohil in exchange of sweets, clothes and money.

Note: Shantidas Jhaveri was an influential Jain jeweller, bullion trader and moneylender. He was the wealthiest merchant in the Ahmedabad during the 17th century and was a court jeweller to the Mughal empire, and thus had access to the Mughal household. He was addressed as ‘mama’ (maternal uncle) by the Emperor Shah Jahan. Firmans issued by the Mughal emperors Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb show that the Mughal royalty maintained good relations with him and Jahangir had conferred the title of "Nagarsheth" upon him.

The first Rakhopa executed in 1651 AD


1654 AD - It was noted that the management of the Tirth was under Tapagacch Karkhana which operated under the guidance of Yatis staying at Palitana namely Panyas Shri Shantivijayji Ganivar, Panyas Devvijay Ganivar and Panyas Shri Meruvijayji Ganivar.


7 November 1656– Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s son Murad Baksh (then Subedar or Governor of Gujarat) bestowed the land of Shatrunjay Hill and Palitana to Nagar Sheth Shantidas Jhaveri of Ahmedabad as a Jagir (award) through a firman. Subsequently due to this the pilgrimage tax was abolished. Shantidas installed a new Parikar behind the principle idol of Shri Adinath Bhagwan and built fortified walls (Gadh) around the temples and shrines on the hill for protection.


21 June 1657 - Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan expanded the scope of the earlier firman granted by Murad Baksh to Shantidas Jhaveri through a new firman wherein, against an offering of 2 Lac rupees the Mughal empire shall ensure that the land of Palitana would be inherited by descendants of Shantidas Jhaveri and that no tax would have to be borne by Shantidas Jhaveri and his heirs on the said Jagir.
 
Nagar Sheth Shantidas Jhaveri


20 June 1658 – After Shah Jahan’s son Murad Baksh proclaimed himself as an emperor for a very short period, he issued a firman on request of Shantidas Jhaveri reasserting that the land of Palitana, also known as Shatrunjay was granted to Shantidas Jhaveri and that no one can issue any prohibitions in any way in this matter.

29 July 1658 – After a few days of accession to the Mughal throne, Aurangzeb on the request of Shantidas Jhaveri issued a firman reaffirming the firman issued earlier by Shah Jahan in 1657 .

Note: The reasons for obtaining multiple firmans was due to the fact that firmans provided by earlier emperor were not given much credence by the courtiers and agents of the new empire. Therefore, to reinforce the decision of earlier firman, a new firman was issued every time a new ruler ascended to the throne.

12 March 1660 –Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb granted the land of Palitana, Girnar and Abu through a firman to Shantidas Jhaveri on his request (against the financial assistance offered by Shantidas to Aurangzeb’s army). The firman states that Palitana and Shatrunjay hill along with its temples was granted to Shantidas Jhaveri of Shravak community. The grass that grew on Shatrunjay could be used for grazing of animals owned by the Shravak community (Jains) and that all the income generated from Shatrunjay Hill including timber shall be used by the Shravak community as the way they desire. The firman goes on to state that the managers of the temple atop Shatrunjay would be solely entitled to the income generated from Palitana. Moreover, the firman granted the hills of Girnar in Junagadh and Abu in Sirohi to Shantidas Jhaveri of Shravak community and that no one else apart from the Shravak community should enter these hills. The firman goes on to command the local governors and rulers to help Shantidas Jhaveri and not to interfere in the matters of these three hills and if anyone else stakes any claim to these hills in the future shall be cursed and considered a sinner in the eyes of almighty.

Aurangzeb's firman to Shantidas Jhaveri in 1660

 
1730 AD - After the grant of Shatrunjay to Nagar Sheth Shantidas Jhaveri, the temples and shrines on Shatrunjay were managed by under the name of “Shri Siddhachalji Karkhana” which included a committee of wealthy and notable Jain Shravaks of Ahmedabad. As per a record dated 1730 AD, the name of Sheth Anandji Kalyanji ni Pedhi first appeared in place of “Shri Siddhachalji Karkhana”. The new name of the pedhi did not represent the name of any individual but denoted bringing ‘Anand’ i.e. pleasure and ‘Kalyan’ i.e. welfare to the Jain Sangh.

Late 18th Century – Early 19th Century – After the downfall of Mughal Empire the powers enshrined under the firmans issued by Mughal emperors for the benefit of Jains were significantly diluted as they did not have legal standing post the end of Mughal Empire barring the management rights of the temples. The Gohil Thakors got powerful during the time and established the Gohil Empire which ruled over the Palitana Pargana while the rights of Jains decreased.

1808 AD – The Walker Settlement executed by the Princely states of Saurashtra & Kathiawar in 1808 effectively established indirect British rule in the areas. The Palitana Pargana ruled by the Gohil Empire became a British Protectorate named as “Palitana State” covering an area of 91 villages in the Kathiawar Agency of the Bombay Presidency under the British Empire. The title adopted by the rulers was “Thakore Saheb”.

Coat of Arms of the Palitana State

30 August 1820 – A letter was issued to the Governor Mount Stuart Elphinstone by two eminent Jain Shravaks of Bombay Motichand Amichand (famously known as Sheth Motishah) and Hemchand Vakhatchand (descendant of Shri Shantidas Jhaveri) on behalf of the entire Jain Sangh, complaining about the mistreatment of Jain pilgrims by the officers of Palitana State at Shatrunjay Tirth. They also complained that the taxes were collected by the Palitana State from pilgrims to offer pilgrimage kept on increasing year after year.

8 December 1821 – To resolve the matter as stated above, a second Rakhopa, (first one being executed in 1651) i.e. protection agreement was executed between Palitana Durbar and Jain shravaks represented by Sheth Anandji Kalyanji ni Pedhi for a period of 10 years under the mediation of British Political Agent of Kathiawar named R. Barnwell. The Rakhopa included an annual payment of Rs. 4,500/- to Palitana Durbar so that individual pilgrims would not have to pay any tax to the Palitana State for protection and pilgrimage arrangements.

The second Rakhopa executed in 1821

 
28 December 1875 Due to construction of various new toonks and temples atop Shatrunjay Hill (Chipa Vasahi in 1735, Prema Vasahi in 1786, Hema Vasahi in 1830, Ujamfai Nandishwar Dweep, Sakar Vasahi, Bala Vasahi & Motishah Sheth Tunk in 1837 and Narshi Keshavji Tunk in 1865), the Palitana State demanded that the Jain Shravak community would be entitled to pay for the land to the Palitana State for construction of any new temple/ structure on the Shatrunjay Hill. Bombay Presidency through its Political agent in Kathiawar entrusted the responsibility to the Acting Judicial Assistant Mr. E.T. Candy to investigate and resolve the same. The Shravak Sangh represented by Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi provided various facts and documents including the first Rakhopa executed in 1651. With the help of Yati Shri Motiji’s statement (belonging to the lineage of Acharya Hirvijaysuri) and the Rakhopa document, the case was heard in favour of Jain community. Mr.Candy after a very lengthy inquiry in an elaborate judgment, recorded his finding thus:-

“(1) I find that the Thakore is not entitled to demand payment of any land that may be required for the site of a new temple on Shatrunjay Hill.

"(2) I find also, as arising from the above issue, that the Shrawuks are entitled to the exclusive possession of all inside the Gudh (Gadh - Fort). The Thakore is not entitled to levy any tax or to station sepoys therein; but of course free ingress and egress should be permitted to the Thakore and his servants.

"(3) That the Thakore is entitled to demand a nazerana, or royalty on all temples, etc. built on the Shatrunjay Hill outside the Gudh."


6 January 1876 - The decision by Mr. Candy in 1875 was forwarded to Government with a letter of suggestions by Mr. Peile, the Political Agent of Kathiawar. Mr.Peile, in forwarding this decision, observed: "If these views of the rights of the parties and the requirements of public expediency are accepted" (alluding to the summary he had given of Mr.Candy's judgment)" some such ruling as the following may serve to end the dispute and regulate future dealings.

“(a) The Shatrunjay Hill in the Palitana Taluka is within the jurisdiction of the Thakore of Palitana.

(b) The ownership of the fortification or Gudh in all land within it and of the sites of all buildings hitherto erected by Jains or Shrawuks on the hill outside the Gudh is vested in the Shrawuk community as a religious trust. All Shrawuks and Jains shall have the right of way on the hill to the said Gudh and buildings: The Shrawuk community is not hereby authorised to alienate any property declared to be vested in them by this ruling, nor to interfere with any religious property or rights belonging to other sects which may now exist on the hill.

(c) The Shrawuks are not to place any armed force in the Gudh or any building on the hill but they may entertain private servants sufficient to watch their property.

(d) The Thakore shall place no guard, post, or thana on the hill or at its foot; but the hill and the Gudh shall be open to the police of the Palitana State when in execution of their ordinary duty.

(e) The Thakore of Palitana shall not interfere with the Shrawak community in its possession of the Gudh and buildings within it, or of the other Jain buildings on the hill, or the right of way to the said Gudh or buildings nor shall he levy any payment from the Shrawak community on account of new buildings or land taken up for building within the Gudh.

(f)If the Shrawuk community or any member of it desires to take new land on the hill without the Gudh for buildings for religious uses, the land shall be given, but the Thakore shall be entitled to receive from the applicant for such land a moderate nazerana in recognition of his rights as lord.

(g) The entire area of the hill lying within the limits of the Taluka of Palitana to be considered land reserved for religions uses, and to be put to no purpose reasonably objected to as repugnant to the Hindu religion or incompatible with its reservation for religious uses.

(h) Any disputes arising under the preceding five rules to be decided by the Political Agent."

16 March 1877- The British Government resolved that Mr. Candy’s decision together with Mr. Peile's proposals, should be printed and copies furnished to both sides, who should be permitted to frame such objections to the decision as they might think fit, and that then the matter would come before Government in appeal in a manner in which it was hoped the question might be satisfactorily settled. The objections were received from both Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi representing the Jain Shravaks and of the Thakore after which the following rights of the Jains were defined vide Resolution No. 1641

"Upon a consideration of the whole case therefore His Excellency in Council directs that the dispute between the Thakore of Palitana and the Shrawuks be settled on the following terms;-

1. Within the Gudh the control of the Thakore shall be recognised only for purposes of Police. No money payment shall be claimed by him on account of the erection of a new temple in a Tunk within the Gudh.

2. Without prejudice to the rights of those interested in any existing building, the use of any part of the hill in a manner opposed to the tenets of the Shrawuk community is prohibited.

3. No money payment shall be claimed on account of any temple already in existence, either outside or within the Gudh.

4. In the event of the Shrawuk community desiring to erect a new temple outside of the Gudh, permission shall be given by the Thakore on receipt of one rupee per square yard for the land.

5. No maintenance shall be offered to the members of the Strawuk community resorting to the hill; nor shall any permanent Police post be established at the Gudh or within 500 yards of the road leading up the hill to the Gudh."



19 June 1880 – The constitution of the Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi was formalised in the presence of 32 representatives of 23 villages and a total of 103 dignitaries. Nagarsheth Rai Bahadur Premabhai Hemabhai of Ahmedabad was appointed as the Adhyaksh (Head) of the pedhi.

5 December 1883 – The third Rakhopa was executed between the Thakore of Palitana and and Jain shravaks represented by Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi for a period of 10 years under the mediation of Political Agent of Kathiawar Major Keatinge. As the number of pilgrims had substantially increased, the Rakhopa amount was increased to an annual payment of Rs. 10,000 to Palitana Durbar so that individual pilgrims would not have to pay any tax to the Palitana State for protection and arrangements.

1 April 1886 – Due to various disputes, a fourth Rakhopa was executed between the Thakore of Palitana and and Jain shravaks represented by Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi for a period of 40 years under the mediation of Political Agent of Kathiawar Col J. W. Watson. The Rakhopa amount was increased to an annual payment of Rs. 15,000 to Palitana Durbar as protection money.

The fourth Rakhopa executed in 1886


1887 – 1928 – Following Nagarsheths of Ahmedabad were appointed to head Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi- Mayabhai Premabhai (1887), Lalbhai Dalpatbhai (1903), Nagarsheth Chimanlal Lalbhai (1912), Kasturbhai Manibhai (1913) and Kasturbhai Lalbhai (1928)

1925-1926– The fourth Rakhopa executed in 1886 was valid for a period of 40 years which ended on 1st April 1926. The Palitana State was keen on reintroducing individual tax for pilgrims (amounting to Rs. 2/- per pilgrim residing out of Palitana and Rs. 5/- as an annual fee for pilgrims residing within Palitana) on expiration of the Rakhopa instead of a lump sum amount paid historically. This move was criticized by the Jain Sangh represented by Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi but the Palitana Durbar made various arguments to introduce individual pilgrim tax as the number of pilgrims had substantially increased over the years. Therefore the matter was heard by Political Agent Mr. C.C. Watson on 12th June 1926 and he pronounced a verdict that the Jain Sangh should pay a sum of Rs. 1 lac per annum lump sum (from Rs. 15000 as agreed in 1886) to the Palitana State as Rakhopa for the next 10 years and thereafter the amount would be increased as per requirements.

1 April 1926 & 12 June 1926: The Jain Sangh was very furious with the judgement and the members of Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi unanimously passed a resolution at its meeting that no Jains would undertake a pilgrimage to Shatrunjay until this discriminatory order was removed. This move was supported by all the Jain Acharyas of the time and under the leadership of Acharya Nemisurishwarji Maharaj, all Jains supported this cause and no one undertook a pilgrimage of Shatrunjay Tirth for a period of more than two years. All the shrines and temples atop the hill remained without any worship and offerings during the period.

1927 AD – To resolve the issue, members of Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi appealed to the Governor General & Viceroy Lord Reading. He reconsidered the issue and after his retirement on 31-3-1927, Governor General Lord Irwin took up the matter. Both the Governor Generals investigated the matter basis the evidences produced by the Pedhi.

26 May 1928After a 3 day Tripartite meeting between Lord Irwin, the Thakore of Palitana and members of Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi a settlement was executed as below-

"Agreement arrived at between His Highness the Thakore Saheb of Palitana as representing the Palitana Durbar, and Sheth Anandji Kalianji as representing the Swetamber Murti Pujak Jain Community of India.

1. The Shatrunjaya hill is situate within & forms a portion of the Palitana State, subject to the limitation laid down and the rights of the Jains defined in Resolution No. 1641, dated the 16th March 1877.

2. The Jains are entitled to use, for religious purposes and purposes incidental thereto, all lands, trees, buildings and structures within the Gudh walls, and manage the said religious properties without any control or interference on the part of the Durbar, except for Police purposes.

3. The Jains shall be at liberty, without any permission, to rebuild (when necessary) repair and maintain the Gadh walls, provided that in so doing they do not alter the present dimensions or situation thereof. They will however, be at liberty to raise such portion of the Gadh wall as forms part of any of the existing temples while raising the height of any such temple to the extent necessary to make the same, one of the walls of the said temple. They will further be at liberty to raise other portion of the said Gadh wall up to a maximum height of 25 feet.

4. The Jains shall manage the temples on the hill and outside the Gudh walls without any interference on the part of the Durbar.

5. The Paglas, Dehris and Chhatris on the hill outside the said Gudh walls belong to the Jains as well as the Kunds. and the Visamas, subject as to the last two to the user thereof by the public and the Jains can repair them without permission.

6. The Palitana Durbar will also maintain and repair the channels (natural courses) feeding the said Kunds.

7. The Jains shall be at liberty without any permission to maintain and repair at their cost the road with the parapet walls called to the ‘Mota Rasta’ leading to the said Gadh from the foot of the hill, subject to the user of the said road by the public.

8. The Palitana Durbar will maintain and repair at their cost the paths mentioned below :-

(a.)Mota Rasta stretching to Sripuja Tunk (b.);Gheti Payag (c.) Rohishala Kedi; (d.) Chahha Gau Rasta; (e.) Shetrunji river kedi; (f.) Dodh gau rasta; (g.) Branch Roads joining the Chahha Gau Rasta and other commencing from Rohishala road and meeting the Chahha gau Road and the Jains will have free access thereto and thereon,

9. The Jains will have control and management of the Non-Jain shrines mentioned in Mr.Candy’s report including the shrine of Ingarshah Pir and excluding the temple of Mahadev. The said temple of Mahadev shall be enclosed by a wall separating it from the Gadh Wall and an independent access from outside the Gadh wall will be provided thereto. In so doing, the Bhim and Suraj Kunds will be left outside the Mahadev limits*.

*Note: Only the management part of the Mahadev Temple was not vested with the Jain Community and it was to be managed by the State who will appoint the Pujari of such Mahadev Temple with the concurrence of Jain Trust and whose salary will be paid by the Jain Trust only, to maintain the compliance with the Jain Tenets on the entire Hill and the Jain Community will have the overarching right to prescribe all reasonable Rules and Regulations of conduct of visitors to the Gadh, the Temples and the Tunks therein as well as the other shrines on the Hill but such Rules and Regulations as regard the non-Jain shrines shall not interfere their due and proper worship there at.

10. The Jains will have the right to prescribe all reasonable rules and regulations for the conduct of visitors to the Gadh, the temples and tunks therein as well as the other shrines on the hill; but such rules and regulations as regards the non-Jain shrines shall not interfere with their due and proper worship thereat.

11. The line of the said Mota Rasta and the situation of the said temples, paglas, dehris, chhatris, visamas and the kunds on the hill and outside the Gadh will be marked on a map which will form part of this Agreement. The said map shall be duly identified.

12. The Palitana Durbar will not levy any duties or taxes on ornaments and jewels brought by Sheth Annndji Kalianji for the decoration of the images in the Jain temples, and this exemption will be granted on a declaration made by the Munim of Sheth Anandji Kalianji.

13. That in the case of any dispute arising out of or relating to the rights of the Jains in this Agreement mentioned and in carrying out the terms of this Agreement the ruling Prince of Palitana State would in his executive capacity on the application of the Jains in that behalf decide the matter and if the Jains feel aggrieved by any such decision, they will be entitled to approach the Agent to the Governor General who after hearing the parties will give his decision and either party will have the right to appeal therefrom to the higher authorities in due course.

14. The Palitana Durbar agrees to receive and the Jains agree to pay a fixed annual sum of Rs.sixty thousand for 35 years. This obligation will have effect from 1st of June 1928 and the first payment will be made on the 1st of June 1929 and on corresponding dates in subsequent years during the said period of 35 years. In consideration of the above payment and the subsequent annual payments the Durbar agrees not to levy any further dues of any kind from the Jains on account of pilgrimage taxes.

15. At the expiration of the said period of 35 years, either party shall be at liberty to ask for a modification of said fixed annual sum and it will rest with the British Government after hearing the parties to grant or withhold such modification. The amount of the fixed annual sum and the period during which the same shall remain in force shall be determined by the British Government at the expiration of each such period."

Signatories of the agreement with Palitana Durbar in 1928


4 May 1950 – After the Independence of India from British Rule, an agreement was executed between State of Saurashtra and Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Trust representing the Jain Shwetambar Murtipujak community as below-

"Whereas there has been an agreement made between the then His Highness of Palitana representing the Palitana Darbar and Sheth Anandji Kalyanji representing the Shwetamber Murtipujak Jain Community of India with respect to the Shatrunjaya Hills at Palitana on the 26th May, 1928 and ratified by the Government of India on the same day.

And whereas seven different path as mentioned in the 8th clause of the said agreement of 1928 to be maintained and repaired by the then Palitana Darbar and represented by Government.

And whereas the first of those seven paths stretching to "Shripujya Tunk” by this time formed part of the deviation of the said Mota Rasta sanctioned by the Government so as to transform it into a part of the said Mota Rasta in the 7th clause of the said agreement of 26.5.1928.

And whereas these paths are mostly used by Jain Pilgrims and therefore, it is desired to be maintained and repaired by the Jains.

Now, therefore, it is hereby declared and agreed by the parties that:-

(1) The following paths on the Shatrunjaya Hill shall be maintained and repaired by Jains but the ownership of the said paths shall remain with the Government as hereto (1) Gheti Paag, (2) Rohishala Kedi, (3) Chhagau Rasta, (4) Shatranjuya River Kedi, (5) Dodhgau Rasta, (6) Branch Roads joining Chhagau Rasta and meeting the Chhagau Rasta.

(2) The agreement shall continue for such time as the Government desire.

(3) When the Government wish to end this agreement, they shall inform the Jains of their intention to do so twelve months in advance.

(4) The Government shall give the Jains any land on either side of or within 25 yards of the said paths free of charge if they require it for the bonafide purpose of constructing Visamas or Kunds for the use of the general public. The management and the control of the said Visamas and Kunda shall rest with the Jains and continue to rest with them in the event of the Government’s decision to take upon themselves the task of maintaining and repairing those roads in future as suggested above.

The same agreement was also ratified further upon formation of the State of Gujarat carved out of Presidency of Bombay upon reorganisation of States.


1961 -1968 - The state government of Gujarat issued a notification to declare 7000 acres of land (approximately 28.3 sq.km.) out of 8400 acres (approximately 34 sq.km) of Shatrunjay mountain as a reserved forest on 21st October 1961. During the process, the Jain shrines, Gadh, Dehris, etc. within the reserved forest extension were measured by the Forest Department, in which all the religious places of Jains etc. were outlined. The lands of the Jains included in the above forest area were reduced (removed) from the forest area by the Forest Settlement Officer in the years 1966 and 1969. In the Forest Settlement Award of 1969, the rights of management of Jains etc. as mentioned in the agreement of 1928 were specifically mentioned, as well as the ownership of 88 places on the hill by the the Jain community. Further, Jains were given the right of 33 feet on all of the 7 pathways (yatra routes). On the Shatrunjay hill, 23 acres of 25 gunthas (1 guntha = 1089 sqft) of 88 places of Jains and 20 gunthas of other 5 religious places were reduced from forest expansion.

9 January 1969 – The Government of Gujarat allotted land on Shatrunjay Hill for a restaurant but on protest made by Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi with the support of Jains, the allotment was cancelled to preserve the sacred character of Shatrunjay Hill.

8 March 1976 – Sheth Shrenikbhai Kasturbhai of Ahmedabad was appointed as the head of Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi

7 June 1979 – The Government of Gujarat vide its order reconfirmed the sacred character of the Shatrunjay Hill and ordered that nothing should be carried on Shatrunjay Hill which hurts the religious sentiments of Jains and the sacred character of Shatrunjay Hill.

6 November 2005- Sheth Samvegbhai Lalbhai of Ahmedabad was appointed as the head of Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi

29 September 2017 -  District Magistrate, Bhavnagar banned entry and stay at night on Shatrunjay hill for the safety of religious places, pilgrims, saints and laborers and to avoid dangers.

2019 - Making a significant change to its Constitution, Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi appointed Shri Kalpeshbhai V Shah, an eminent philanthropist and businessman from Ahmedabad as its Trustee. Earlier only the descendants of Nagar Sheths of Ahmedabad were eligible to be appointed as Trustees of Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi.

17 March 2020 - The Forest and Environment Department started constructing DCF and RFO office on the taleti (foothill) behind "Babu nu Derasar". However, due to timely intervention the said construction was stopped. 
    
19 August 2021 - Vishwa Hindu Parishad through its District Vice President Bharatbhai Rathod, Palitana filed a Public Interest Litigation under Article 226 of the Constitution of India in the High Court of Gujarat regarding the Management of Nilkanth Mahadev Temple in 2017. The PIL demanded rights for –

a. The petitioners to make appointment of Mahant belonging to the Brahmin community and

b. Allow the Pujari and others to stay overnight at the Nilkanth Mahadev temple for offering pujas


In response, detailed documents were placed by Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi pertaining to the Mughal rule and resolutions passed in 1877 during the British rule. The agreement of 1928 was also shown which provided for overarching and supervening impact of the regulations framed for maintaining the dignity and pious character of the hill that the management of the Mahadev temple within the fort on the hilltop was left to the state government, which can only appoint a pujari with concurrence of the Jain trust, which would pay the salary of the pujari in order to maintain the sanctity of Jain tenets on the hill.

Based on the detailed evidences provided by Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi, the Court did not find any merit in the PIL and dismissed the same.


9 September 2022Aggrieved by the ruling of the Gujarat High Court, Bharatbhai Rathod filed an appeal for mahant's appointment in Mahadev temple and related matters before the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court observed that it cannot allow prayer of changing tradition prevailed since last 200 years at the temple. The Apex Court upheld the Gujarat High Court ruling and asked the petitioner to peruse the agreement of 1928.


~~~
Sources:
  1. Jain Parampara no Itihas, Muni Shri Darshanvijayji, Muni Shri Gyanvijayji, Muni Shri Nyayvijayji
  2. Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhino Itihas, Ratilal Dipchand Desai
  3. Imperial Mughal Farmans in Gujarat, The Journal of University of Bombay
  4. Nagarsheth Shantidas Jhaveri, Malti Shah
  5. Vishwa Hindu Parishad versus Collector Palitana & Ors. (Writ Petition PIL No. 180 of 2017)
  6. Case No. 11 of 1966-67, the Court of Forest Settlement Officer, Junagadh 

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