A Jain temple is the place of worship for Jains, the followers of Jainism, Derasar is a word used for a Jain temple in Gujarat and southern Rajasthan. Basadi is a Jain shrine or temple in Karnataka The word is generally used in South India, as well as in Maharashtra. Its historical use in North India is preserved in the names of the Vimala Vasahi and Luna Vasahi temples of Mount Abu. The Sanskrit word is vasati, it implies an institution including residences of scholars attached to the shrine.
According to the beliefs of Jainism, the existence of temples in which he worshiped images of Tirthankara does not have an origin but has always existed in Nandisvaradvipa , a continent inaccessible to humans. In this continent there would be 52 eternal temples where the devas render worship. In regard to our world, the mythical origin of the temple would be in a temple built to worship Rishabha. 4 Jain temples are mentioned in the early texts of the cannon svetambara , but not in the narrations of the life of Mahavira. The inscriptions allow to establish that the construction of temples began between the III and II centuries a. C. Previously there were devakulas or devakulikas , places where the figure of someone considered worthy of arjat veneration was located and who also exist within Buddhism.
The appearance of the Jainas temple that have lasted the longest goes back to the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. C. Given the nature of the Jaina monasticism , which prescribes a mendicant and nomadic life, the first monasteries were places destined for the rest and retirement of the ascetics. The emergence of the temples is usually related to the city of Mathura.
Despite the small number of followers of Jain there are, in proportion, numerous temples dedicated to this religion, it is special in the northern zone of India. This is largely due to the fact that, following the principle of non-violence or ahimsa, many Jainas successfully dedicated themselves to trade and other lucrative activities and, later, donated part of their wealth in order to build temples or retreats for ascetics.
Jain communities outside India have also built temples in the places they have settled. The first temple built outside Indian territory is located in Nairobi , Kenya and was built in 1926 by merchants displaced from the s. XIX There is also a modern temple in the city of Antwerp (in Belgium).
Jain temples do not usually pursue greatness in their constructions as other religions do because there is no central divinity but rather an amalgam of understandings and the Jainas themselves have lacked a central power. Despite this, colossal sculptures of Gommata, often located at the top of the mountains, can be found, created mainly by the digambaras of South India. However, in the northern part of India temples can be found from the same period as the colossal sculptures in which the exquisite interior decoration is of the utmost importance.
The basis of the Jaina iconography usually consists of the figure of a naked sage, whether seated cross-legged or erect. This figure usually seems to be surrounded by four layers that refer to the basic concepts of Jainism around the main idea. The fact that the figure appears nude today is related specifically to the digambara sect whose faithful practice nudism as a sign of detachment although in its origins it was not exclusive to this sect.
From a historical moment they begin to proliferate the quadrangular temples with doors in each one of the sides like the one of Chaumukh or the one of Ranakpur considered like most outstanding of this type. It is at this point, around the fifteenth century when the Jainas temples become configured as complex buildings, almost like temples, in part because of the multiplicity of families that promoted the construction of devakulikas (small sanctuaries with images) or mandapas.
Frequently, these temple complexes were located in the mountains, as is the case with Mount Abu or Shatrunjaya , partly to avoid the Muslim attacks that in the XI century had ended with a large number of large temples and partly due to an inclination to contact with the nature.
Mandapas and devakulas
In the configuarción of the jainas temples is frequent that the central structure is surrounded by others as they are the mandapas and the devakulas. The Jain temples, often built with the help of lay families, grew as a function of the additions made to them. In many of them, such as the Temple of Hutheesinh, there is a main sanctuary or Garbhagriha and, around it, smaller sanctuaries containing figures of Tirthankaras or other venerable entities were built.
Among the constructions that constitute the Jain temples are usually Mana-stambhas (‘ columns of honor’). These constructions are usually found on the way to the temples and be richly carved. In the upper part of these columns appear references to the Tirthankara gathered after having obtained the Kevala Jnana , state of omniscience. The construction of these columns dates back to the time of the Kushán Empire , between I and III AD, although there are previous examples.
The Jainas have always valued the preservation of a written tradition of sacred texts against the Hindus , who maintained an important oral tradition. For this reason, it was customary in the Jainas temples to build libraries as an integral part of the temples and that they contain a good number of manuscripts that contain the sacred texts. Many of these libraries are considered to be the oldest in India.
In Jainism a Bhonyra is a room or underground chamber that can be found in some temples and that was used in the past to safeguard the sacred images in convulsive moments. Currently, these rooms have been adapted to become meditation places for monks.
Several temples in Bundelkhand have one of these chambers. In Sanganer (in the Indian state of Rajasthan ) one of these chambers was found that housed a good number of Jain representations.
In 2001, a complete Jain temple was found buried in Umta (in the Indian state of Gujarat), apparently buried to protect it from destruction about 800 years ago.
Jain temples are built with various architectural designs. Jain temples in North India are completely different from the Jain temples in South India, which in turn are quite different from Jain temples in West India. There are two type of Jain temples:
All shikar-bandhi Jain temples have many marble pillars which are carved beautifully with Demi god posture. There is always a main deity also known as mulnayak in each derasar. The main part of Jain temple is called “Gambhara” (Garbha Graha) in which there is the stone carved God idol. One is not supposed to enter the Gambhara without taking a bath and without wearing puja (worship) clothes.
A Jain temple which is older than 100 years and is known as a pilgrimage center is often termed a Tirtha.
The main deity of a Jain temple is known as a mula nayak.
A Manastambha (column of honor) is a pillar that is often constructed in front of Jain temples. It has four ‘Moortis’ i.e. stone figures of the main god of that temple. One facing each direction: North, East, South and West.
Cave in Ellora.
The temples or complexes that are excavated in the rock forming caves are of special importance and one of their maximum exponents is the Cuevas de Ellora. it is necessary to distinguish between those caves that constitute a temple and those that served as residence for the ascetics and that are usually found nearby. The choice of caves as a place of worship and residence is based on several factors. On the one hand, asceticism meant not residing in cities but away from them. In addition, the construction of caves was relatively simple. The first caves that functioned as temples can be dated to the 1st century BC.
There are some guidelines to follow when one is visiting a Jain temple:
Before entering the temple, one should bathe and wear fresh washed clothes or some special puja (worship) clothes – while wearing these one must neither have eaten anything nor visited the washroom. However, drinking of water is permitted.
One should not take any footwear(including socks) inside the temple. Leather items like a belt, purse etc. are not allowed inside the temple premises.
One should not be chewing any edibles (food, gum, mints, etc.), and no edibles should be stuck in the mouth.
One should try to keep as silent as possible inside temple.
Mobile phones should not be used in the temple. One should keep them switched off.
Prevailing traditional customs should be followed regarding worshipping at the temple and touching an idol. They can vary depending on the region and the specific sect.
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