Jan 7, 2009

Conservation of Jain Monuments

BY MR. SUBHASH JAIN


The known history of India is a few thousand years old. During this long time span several religions and their philosophical thoughts have emerged. After having depth realisation of their irrespective philosophy, the ace religious leaders, preachers and philosophers have Provo gated among the masses the best of their principles for their spiritual and general well being.

It is interesting that the main doctrines of all the religions are similar in spirit but their followers have made their own interpretation according to their convenience, which have created gulf in religious though and thereby the aversion.

However, the great persons of all the religions have targeted upon spiritual and moral uplift of man. The religions have become strong medium of common harmony among the followers of the same faith, whereas the different interpretations have carried the followers of one faith distantly from the others.

Whatever may be religious differences in propagation of philosophical thoughts, for transformation into action, the man's desire to create the magnificent and memorable monuments has been alike. Such monuments attract the people of all faiths and that is why, the places of touristic importance having much attractive monuments invite the tourists from world over.

Whereas the affluent nations have the resources to protect and maintain their monuments on national level and increase their touristic importance more and more by publicity, renovation and keep, the poor nations face the misfortune of gradual deterioration of even the national importance monuments in the absence of adequate funds to maintain and protect those.
Jain religion is an oldest living religion. Its antiquity is yet undecided. The Jains believe their religion as eternal whereas the historians feel the absence of the proof. However, the existence of many monuments of pre-Christian era compels them to accept the comparative antiquity of Jain religion.

The Jain monuments, small and large, old and new, have been built in almost all parts of India. Though the Jains are decidedly a richer community of the country, but their apathy towards maintenance of all the monuments of antiquity is agonising.

All the 24 Jain Trithankaras, according to the Jains, were born in the royal, Ksatriya families. Their influence on the common masses, both by heredity and their great renunciation, was immense. Their followers, who mostly belonged to the trading community, effected various types of structures to keep the memory of their 'Istdev' everlasting. That is why the Jain monuments, throughout the length and width of the country abound in number.

All matter has certain life; decay is a natural phenomena. But it is the man's effort which can put the decay to a later period, i.e. increase the life of the monument.

It is pity that the apathy of the Jain community towards their old monuments still exists, though lesser in degree. The last two decades have seen a substantial urge in the Government and the elite people for protecting their monuments within the limits of their resources.

The fact remains that most of the old monuments of the Jains in the country, are still lacking funds through their managing committees, philanthropists and governments. To over come the grim situation and to advance further in the protection of the crumbling monuments. I have certain points to suggest:-

1. There should be a total survey of all the Jains monuments in the country by an expert team of Achaelogists, who should grade the monuments according to their present condition, viz;

(i) Which are in imminent danger of falling because of much antiquity, weather effects or public damage. This type of monuments should receive the highest attention for their renovation and proper maintenance and to save those from further. damage.

(ii) Those monuments, the decay in which is in middle stage, such monuments also need renovation as early as possible.

(iii) Those monuments where the process of deterioration has started.In the case of such monuments even minor renovation can enhance their life and the structural attraction.
Bihar and Karnataka have been the oldest seats of the Jains, according to the historians. The result has been that these two states have the oldest Jain monuments. The characteristic of the monuments of the southern region is that being carved out of comparatively harder stone, they are still in better condition, with the expectation of few, which are directly exposed to wet air and where the deterioration is there by more prominent.

The monuments in other states of India, particularly in Gyaraspur region of Madhya Pradesh and at many sites in Rajasthan are special more degraded, because of direct exposure to vagaries of weather, long neglect and constant public damage.

It is awaful that the massive 'Mahadevi' temple in Gyaraspur which can be rightly said the konark type temple and which will involve a cost of atleast several rores of rupees, if built now, is seeing its worst days, because of absolute neglect, both of the local people and the affluent Jain society. The government too has not shown any inertest in this magnificent temple, which has a fine and delicate latice work.

Several Jain icons in the temple in the standing posture are sixteen feet or above in height. The roofs of the temple are in precarious condition. Similar is the fate of a small but old Jain temple by the name of 'VAJRAMATH' standing on the road side. Several temples made of small bricks have the broken roofs. All these deserve the Jain community's priority concern.

Not only this, but many of the old Jain sites in the country have similar tale to tell.

The largest treasure of Jain icons at 'Deograh'. 'Chanderi', 'Ahar' etc. are in no way being kept well. Even most of the beautiful images which these treasure houses have, are facing neglect and are without proper display to exhibit the fine and delicate art of sculpturing .

Whereas the affluent Jains spend huge amounts on construction of new temples and holding 'panch Kalyanak Partisthas at very high expense, it is their primary duty to first protect, fully renovate and maintain their degraded structures in the country.


Article From 'Sixth World Jain Conference' ( 1995) Souvenir

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