Earlier last year, in the month of April I decided to explore Amer beyond Amer Fort. On a hiatus from trekking in the hills near Jaipur, I was looking for doing explorations in Jaipur. Someone tipped me about an old Digambar Jain temple in Jaipur. I was told that this Jain temple in Jaipur was built around the time the city was founded. It turned out to be a Digambar Jain Nasiyan Mandir. As I approached this Jaipur Digamber Jain Mandir, the surroundings reminded me of the era in which it was built.
Digamber Jain Temple in Jaipur | One of the Oldest?
This Digambar Jain Nasiyan Mandir in Jaipur is historic and one of the oldest in this region. It was built between V.S. 1678-91/ 1621-1634 AD. The Temple is dedicated to 13th Jain Tirthankar Swami Vimalnath and his idol, dates back to 1585 AD or Samvat 1642.
Although the main idol in this temple is Swami Vimalnath there are idols of other Tirthankars as well. These idols are from 1469 AD or Samvat 1526 to 1599 AD or Samvat 1656. The year mentioned in this temple like all other ancient temples is Vikram Samvat (V.S.) commonly referred to as Samvat. Jump to the bottom if you want to learn more about Vikram Samvat.
What makes this Digamber Jain Temple in Jaipur so special?
The highlight of this Digamber Jain temple is the beautiful Kirti Stambh made from the white marble of Makrana, Rajasthan.
Makrana white marble is one of the best white marble available in the world. It continues to be the most popular choice among sculptors to date. The Taj Mahal, a UNESCO world heritage site is constructed from Makrana white marble. This Kirti Stambh is unlike others as it is housed in a covered canopy. Usually, Kirti Stambh is established in an open area. The purpose of this Stambh is to mark an achievement & allow everyone to witness and register. Quite likely this enclosure must have been built in later years to save it from weathering by natural elements.
This Kirti Stambh has a dimension of 12′ 6″ by 4′ 7″ and has 10 vertical sections. Each of these sections has 12 units having an idol of Bhattarak.
There is a pattern followed in this Stambh. The Bhattaraks are depicted in either Padmasana or Khadasana. Bhattaraks in the Khadasana position are holding Kamandalu.
Kirti Stambh depicts Bhattraks from V.S. 4/ 53 BC to V.S. 1883/ 1826 AD. This Kirti Stambh has 101 Bhattaraks starting from 1st Bhattark Bhadrabahu to Devedrakirti. A few units are vacant. This Kirti Stambh charts and documents Digambara Jain Bhattraks in a single stone, it has immense importance from a religious perspective.
Digamber Jain Monks or Bhattarak
Temple premise house four Chhatri with Charan Paduka of Bhattaraks or Digamber Jain monks.
List of Digamber Jain Muni or Monks
First, such Chhatri of Bhattarak Devendrakirti was established during the reign of Maharajah Jai Singh I of Amer. The second Chhatri having Charan Paduka of Bhattarak Narendra Kirti was built in V.S. 1722/ 1665 AD; the third Chhatri of Bhattarak Surendra Kirti in V.S. 1733/ 1676 AD and the fourth Chhatri of Bhattarak Jagat Kirti in V.S. 1770/ 1713 AD.
Digamber Jain Dharamshala in Jaipur
Digambar Jain Nasiyan was renovated a few years ago. Ministry of Culture, Government of India provided a financial contribution for enhancing the facilities on the occasion of the 26th birth century of Lord Mahavira. This temple has a Jain Dharamshala in Jaipur to facilitate devotees. The rooms are basic and there are other Jain Dharamshala in Jaipur with better facilities. Here is a picture from the Dharamshala section of the temple.
I had no idea that an old Digambar Jain temple with a history of 400 years exists in Jaipur. Digambar Jain community was one the most prominent community in Jaipur. Some of them were very influential and could alter decisions in the Court of Amer. Digambar Jain Temple Sanwalaji in Amer is considered one of the oldest Jain Temples in Jaipur. It has a large following. Jain temples are well known for being ornate and rich in carvings and detailing.
They are one of the most beautiful temples around. Dilwara and Ranakpur are famous the world over for their beauty. This Digambar Jain temple is not impressive from an architectural point of view probably because many changes have been made in recent years. This will interest people from the Digamber Jain community or those who have an interest in history or religion. Please note that it is not a tourist attraction and therefore temple management reserves the right of admission.
What is Jainism?
Jainism was founded in India. Jainism follows the system of 24 Tirthankaras with the first one called Rishabnath and the last one, Vardhman Mahavir, or Mahavir as he is usually called, a prince from the 6th century BC. Many people consider Mahavir as the founder of Jainism which in a way is misleading because there were 23 Tithankaras before Mahavira. In a true sense, Rishabnath is the founder of Jainism. The crux of Jainism is that everything has Jiva or life. People following Jainism are called Jain and form a minority. The essence of Jainism is non-violence, non-possession of materialistic things, and vegetarianism. Mahavira & Buddha, the founder of Buddhism are considered contemporaries. From that reference, Jainism is older than Buddhism. There is historical evidence of the existence of Parshvnath, the 23rd Tirthankara.
Who is a Digambar Jain?
Digambar Jain is one of two sects of Jainism – Shwetambar, and Digambar. There are differences in thoughts on Jainism between both sects even though they agree on the basic tenets. The Digambar sect is named after one particular practice of its monks who follow nudity & do not wear clothes as they feel that elements of nature are their clothes. Literal pronunciation from Sanskrit of the word Digambar is “skyclad”. Another point of difference between both sects is that as per Digambar ideology, women do not attain Moksha or liberation until they are reborn as males.
What is Nasia?
Nasia is a religious place in the Digambar Jain community. It has a temple among other facilities. Nasia or Nasiyan is built away from town so people can channel their energies on religion as it offers peace and silence.
What is the meaning of Bhattarak?
Bhattaraks are erudite religious heads of Jain centers engaged in promoting the Jain religion. They also ensure the safekeeping of Jain religious text. Bhattaraks continue to hold & maintain important Jain literature & religious works. Many Bhattaraks composed Jain religious treatises. Bhattaraks are credited with protecting Jainism during the years of Muslim rule. They were strong advocators of the Jain principle and way of life – nonviolence & vegetarianism. This system of Bhattaraks evolved as a special institution during the period of Muslim rule who did not allow Digambar monks to move freely across the country as they shunned nudity practiced by monks. Unlike other Digambar monks, Bhattarak does not practice nudity and lives in a Math/ monastery. The evolution of Bhattarak is assumed to have developed around the 8th to 13th centuries. Earlier, the Bhattaraka system was prevalent in Buddhism & Hinduism also but over the years it gave way. Bhattaraks still hold immense importance in South India especially Shravanbelgola in Karnataka. Some centers exist in North India as well. The Bhattarak Ji Ki Nasiyan in Jaipur was one such center. It is believed that the Adhyatama movement in the 17th century initiated by Terapanth Digambar Jain in Jaipur rejected the Bhattarak system which gradually led to the extinction of the Bhattarak system from North India.
What is Tirthankara?
Tirthankara is the founder of Tirtha. A Tirthankar is not an incarnation of God. He is an ordinary soul, born as a human who attains the state of a Tirthankara because of intense practices of meditation, penance & self-control. Therefore Tirthankar is not an Avatar or reincarnation of God. It is the ultimate pure developed state of the soul which may be termed as God in human form.
What is Vikram Samvat?
Indian Calendar System/ Vedic Time System/ Hindu Calendar System is named after the famous Indian ruler Vikramaditya of Ujjain who started Vikram Samvat 57 years before the birth of Christ. You can calculate it easily by adding 57 to any Gregorian year. It is referred to as V.S. or simply Samvat.
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68 thoughts on “The Bhattaraks & The Ancient Digambar Jain Temple of Amer”
Nice article and Great Pictures,
You can explore Jain Sculptures in 3D.