Nov 23, 2007

history of the beespanth in digamber jainism


Let me discuss with you all about the worship of the devis(female goddesses) in India.
In the times of Harrappan civilization, there are evidences of the worship of some female deities.Some says that these were the godess mother earth-though nothing can be confirmly said.


In the vedas, almost no female goddess has been worshiped.

But, the puranas of hindus, jains $ the buddhist describes female deities in some or the other way- the hindus has devi Laxmi, Saraswati,Kali etc while the jains have the Shasan devis, Yakshnis etc, $ the buddhists have Tara devi.

Historians regard that the time of the initiation of the importance of the female godesses in the above 3 religion was nearly the same i.e. the gupta periad.

In south, the worship of the Shasan devis amongst the jains is very popular.In fact, the whole procedure of worship in the south India ( in jains) is nearly the same as the hindus has anywhere in india.Jains offer flowers, fresh fruits, sweets , panchamrit to Jinendra dev, moreover the worship of the devis is very much importaant $ we can say that it is a part $ parcel of their religiou life.

It must be analysed in a scientific way as to why this kind of hinduoid ( i.e. like hindus) worship is seen in south indian jains.

Firstly I would like to clealy say that both graheet & agraheet mithyaatva is very popular amongst the north indian jains too.

Now, let us do the analysis of what happened in south:-
- the time which historians call as'the golden period in the indian history' was in reality a dark period for the jainism & buddhism.

-this was the time somewhere around 800 A.D. At this time the ever-important Aadishankaraacharya was born.

- the atrocities on the shramans were at their peak in his time.
- Jainism was getting the royal patronage in south , so it was taken as the major rival in the south by the addvitvaadis .

While buddhism was enjoying the royal patronage at most of the other places, so it was treated as the major rival.

- Atrocities on jains in south included the killing of munis& shravaks, destruction of temples , coversion of the temples into that of the other religion, forced conversion of the jains into other religion.

- Somehow , the theory of 'the survival of the fittest' of Darwin played its role & there occured many favourable adaptations according to the then prevelent circumstances- & the result was that the whole of the rituals & practices or rather what we see in a religion from outside were such that it was difficult to differentiate between the jainism & the hinduism.

- Devis with many hands & weapons etc were started worshipped by the jains.
- Navraatra was started celebrated by the jains for these devis
- Javaareys ( the plants of wheat grown for devis in navraatras) were started to be offered to the devis by the jains.
- And, the 'Samaysaar' was non-formally banned as it clearely contradicted the then prevelent practices.

Gradually, the devis became an essential part of the jain temples- no temple would have been thought of without the pratishtha of the devi & the devtas

- Then in front of the veetraag idol itself peole worshipped the devis.
- A time came when these devis got more importance than even the tirthankaras.
Nothing was significant & distinct in jainism which could attract the masses , so the number of the followers declined but still the rulr of Darwin worked & the fittest survived - still lakhs of jains live in south but their number can't be even compared with what it used to be in the pre-shankaraacharya era

Only thing which could be taken as merit when we talk of that time is that - these fittest jains were able to preserve the religious scriptures & many of the ancient jain temples.

- Again, it would be worthwhile to mention that the devi-devataa's worship was also popular in the north India in the medieval period.

The medieval period saw the famous'Bhaktimovement' in hinduism & the 'sufi movement' in Islam.Really, there was something which was common in all these devlopments in the religious field & this was that the people were away from reading the holy books which could give them the real knowlege & that the age-old ignorance had created a lot of superstitions & irrational practices in the society( i.e. in all religions)

It was thus very rightly regarded as the'dark period' of the history.- At this time it was quiet easy & rather a forward step for the people to accept the new practices & to again go-back to read & understand the original texts.
Thus, this time saw many great developments in jainism too , like for eg. Pt. Todarmalji, Pt.Banaarsidasjee & so on.-These persons were highly devoted in the study of the original jain texts & they braught many refoms in jainism -
BUT ,as it always happens that the age-old practices are not easily given-up & this leads to a clash between the old & the new.- This happened in jain socviety too, & we saw a division of what is called as tera & bees panths of digamber jainism

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