May 4, 2008

Logic behind Building JainTemple Cities on Mountains

By Unknown
Why were Jainas so enthusiastic about building "Temple Cities" on the mountains? For one thing, it would be because of their worship toward mountains. From ancient times, mountain worship has been popular in India, and people liked to design temples in the image of a holy mountain as a residence of Gods. It is represented by Mt. Meru, which is said to be the center of the universe, or Mt. Kailasa ,Astapadh Tirth, which is believed to be the residence of First Tirthankar. Besides these legendary mountains, Jainas made much of going on a pilgrimage to actual holy mountains and regarded it as a pious deed. Thus they had built temples at such holy places or "tirthas" (*2) from ancient times.

For another, it was in order to escape from attacks by heathens. Ever since the attacks by Mahmud of Ghazna in the 11th century, Muslims had destroyed a lot of temples of Jainism. If we regard these attacks as religious persecution, we might be rather wide of the mark. In general, Islam had been tolerant toward other religions. However, it is usual for winners of wars to plunder the land that they have conquered by military force, and in actual terms, Muslims needed to secure places for their religious worship. Therefore they dismantled the stone temples situated in the places they had vanquished and reused the components to build new mosques.

As mosques are basically pillared halls, Jaina temples which had a lot of pillars were quite suitable. The mosques in Ajmer, Delhi, and Ahmadabad are typical examples of it. Since Islam strictly prohibits idolatry, they scraped off only engravings of idols on pillars and beams in these mosques. Nevertheless, as the basic formation and domical ceilings of Indic manner still remain, these pieces of architecture clearly show the features of the Jaina and Hindu temples.

As a result most large Jaina temples in Northern India were destroyed, so old temples no longer exist in major cities. Jainas thus chose places deep in the mountains to construct new temples in expectation that there was a small possibility of destruction. However, invasions by the Kharji Dynasty of Delhi and other Muslims had reached Mt. Shatrunjaya, and the temples had been often demolished.

It was not until the 16th century when Akbar of the Mughal Dynasty implemented a tolerant policy with other religions in India that peacetime was finally realized. The reason why each tuk had been surrounded like a stronghold was to defend itself from those attacks. ------
( from Architectural Magazine " at ", 1993 - 1994, Takeo Kamiya)

Historians believe that the decline of Jainism started about the eighth century during the Aryanization period of Kerala when Vaishnavism and Saivism were active and aggressive. Jainism seems to have completely disappeared from Kerala by the sixteenth century; the foreign visitors from Europe do not mention the Jains at all. One lasting contribution of Jainism to Kerala, according to wi'lliam Logan, is that the architecture of the Hindu temples and the Muslim mosques of North Malabar was influenced by the architecture of the Jain temples. ---Dr. Zacharias Thundy, Northern Michigan University

Jainism as per kerala

Though there is evidence of practice of Jainism in Kerala before the arrival of Aryans. History is silent about it. The Famous Jainmedu temple in Palakkad is the manifestation of Jainism in Kerala. Today few families of Jain community are found around Palakkad in Kerala.

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