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Heritage of Nalanda : The Jain Perspective
Heritage of Nalanda : The Jain Perspective
Jain culture has always been the indivisible part of the Indian cultural heritage. The principles of Non-violence, Renunciation, Penance, Restraint, Victory over body senses & evil intentions like anger, pride, deception, greed etc. define this religion. In the present age all the Tirthankars from the first Tirthankar Lord Rishabhdev upto the 24th Tirthankar Lord Mahavir Swami followed the principles of Non-violence (Ahimsa), Truth (Satya), Non-stealing (Achaurya), Celibacy (Brahmacharya) and Non-possession (Aparigrah) themselves and also preached the same for all the creatures, thus have done a great benevolence for the whole world.
Jain Religion is mainly based on the principle of Non-violence and it has provided the significant concepts of “Ahimsa Parmodharmah” & “Live & Let Live” to the whole world. This religion teaches compassion not only for the human-race but for all the creatures including minor animate-beings, animals, birds etc. One should never eat the meat either of the dead or after killing some animate-being along with fish, egg etc. A soul decorated with Non-violence and good conduct can become even God by gradually elevating on the steps of penance, this is the great principle of Jain religion.
This holy Land of Nalanda has been an ancient centre of Jain culture, so while describing the ‘Heritage of Nalanda’, the Jain cultural heritage should also be quoted.
According to the Digambar Jain belief all the five auspicious life events i.e. Garbhakalyanak (Incarnation into the womb), Janmakalyanak (Birth), Tapkalyanak (Initiation as Digambar Saint), Kevalgyankalyanak (Enlightenment) and Nirvankalyanak (Salvation) of Lord Mahavir have occurred in the precincts of Nalanda District, so this land is considered to be specifically sacred for the Jain Society.
At about a distance of 1 Km. from the Nalanda University ruins, there is situated ‘Kundalpur’, where Lord Mahavir was born 2604 years before. He was the only son of Maharaja Siddharth and Maharani Trishla. The name of His birth palace was ‘Nandyavarta Mahal’, which was 7 storeyed and was extremely beautiful. At that time, crores of jewels were showered at Kundalpur for 15 months by the deities. According to Jain belief, when Tirthankar Lord is born, an atmosphere of joy prevails through the whole Universe and deities-Indras-humanbeings all celebrate a great Birth-festival. Thus, it is the holy land of Kundalpur situated at Nalanda, from where the world got the unique personality of Lord Mahavir, the apostle of Non-violence. The Jain antiquities, obtained from Nalanda has been displayed at Nalanda Museum and other Museums so that the masses may be introduced with the Jain cultural heritage of Nalanda. Some years before 13 Jain idols were obtained by the excavation at Nalanda. Even today at a distance of 1 Furlong from the Jain Temple of Kundalpur, there is situated a mound named as ‘Simhamukhi Teela’. It is expected that a good number of archaeologically important articles can be obtained from this hillock.
Directory of Bihar Archaeology (By B.P. Sinha) writes-
Kundalpur-Baragaon near Nalanda is the considered belief of Digamber Jainas as Mahavira's birthplace.
In the folder ‘Rajgir’, published by Tourism Department of Bihar Government, it has been written about Kundalpur-
The Digamber sect of the Jains believe that Lord Mahavir was born at Kundalpur, 18 Km. from Rajgir. A Jain temple and two lotus lakes-the Dirga Pushkarni and Pandava Pushkarni mark the spot."
On 29th March 1911 Mr. Herman Jacobi wrote the following letter to Jain Muni Shri Vijaydharma Ji Maharaj regarding Kundalpur-Nalanda, the birthplace of Lord Mahavir-
I had much pleasure in the receiving your letter dated Feb. 27 Which contained good news from you and kind Wishes for me. I also beg to acknowledge receipt of material, which contains useful information of Nalanda and Kundalpur being birthplace of Lord Mahavira. It becomes very useful to me, in many ways. You have urged me to rewrite my article on "Jainism" in the Encyclopedia of religion & ethics. Regarding Kundalpur near Nalanada, there are some references in Tiloipanntti, I agree with them.
I hope, however to induce Prof. W. Sohribring who is without doubt our best Jain Scholar, historian, well groomed in Siddhanta to undertake a similar work. I am sure that he will do important work for Jain world.
Mr. K.P. Modi sent me some photographs of Kundalpur.
Hoping your well.
Although Kundalpur lost its glamour in 2600 years, however an ancient Jain Temple of Lord Mahavir remained established on this land and so the Digambar Jain Society of the whole country continued visiting this place to pay homage to the Lord. When the country was celebrating ‘Lord Mahavir 2600th Birth Anniversary’ in the year 2001, a plan was worked out to construct a grand ‘Nandyavarta Mahal Tirth’ at Kundalpur (Nalanda), the birthplace of the Lord by the inspiration of the Supreme Jain Sadhvi Pujya Ganini Pramukh Shri Gyanmati Mataji. Accordingly in a small period of only about 22 months during the year 2003-2004, this attractive pilgrimage centre was developed as the surprise for all. Lord Mahavir Temple, Lord Rishabhdev Temple, Navgrah Shati Jin Temple, Trikal Chaubeesi Temple and a grand Nandyavarta Palace have been constructed at this Tirth. In this palace, various phases of the life of Lord Mahavir from birth upto His Salvation have been depicted through stone-sketches and divine articles. The beauty of this Tirth attracts everybody. All of you are also cordially invited to visit this sacred pilgrimage centre.
At the age of 30 years, Lord Mahavir accepted Jaineshwari Deeksha i.e. He became a naked Digambar saint below the Sal tree in the nearby Manohar forest. He performed hard penance for 12 years and consequently He got Kevalgyan (Enlightenment) at the age of 42 years. Kevalgyan means the complete Knowledge, in which the past, present & future phases of each & everything in the Universe are known simultaneously.
The Sermon of the Lord could not be available even upto 66 days of His Enlightenment. When the Samavsaran i.e. the divine preaching assembly of the Lord was going on the Vipulachal Mountain of Rajgrahi of Nalanda District, the great scholar Indrabhuti Brahman of Gautam Gotra came there along with his 500 disciples. As soon as Indrabhuti saw the Manstambh of the Samavsaran, being much influenced he became the disciple of the Lord. He accepted Jaineshwari Deeksha and at once he became His first Gandhar i.e. Chief Disciple. The Divya Dhwani i.e. the Sermons of the Lord were delivered for the first time at that moment and innumerable creatures received His divine preachings. Thus, Rajgrahi had been the land of the first Sermon of Lord Mahavir.
Rajgrahi has also been the birthplace of the 20th Tirthankar of the present age i.e. Lord Munisuvratnath, who was born at Rajgrahi and took Jaineshwari Deeksha & got Kevalgyan at Ratnagiri mountain situated there. The Jain temples at Rajgrahi and on this hill are still reviving this history. Ancient Jain Temples and Jain idols are consecrated on the Panchpahari (5 hills) of Rajgrahi. Ancient Jain idols are clearly observed in the ruins on the 5th hill etc. These ruins are of ancient Jain Temples. Thus Jain Temples on the 5 hills of Rajgrahi and inscribed images in various caves there, make important contribution to the Jain cultural heritage of Nalanda district. On the walls of the Jain cave, famous by the name of ‘Shrenik Ka Khajana’, various Jain images are inscribed proving the fact that Jain Religion was very well flourishing in this area 2600 years before.
After attaining Kevalgyan, Lord Mahavir preached innumerable beings for 30 years and then from the Jal Mandir of Pawapuri of Nalanda district, He got Salvation on Kartik Krishna Amavasya, since then Deepawali Festival is celebrated. The President of the country Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was deeply attracted by the beauty of this pond crowded with lotus flowers on 30th May 2003. Every year lacs of devotees come from the country & abroad to pay their homage to Pawapuri, full of various Jain Temples. During 1974, when 2500th Nirvankalyanak Mahotsava of Lord Mahavir was celebrated on the National level by the Indian Government, Rajgrahi & Pawapuri became fomous specifically.
It we talk about the first Gandhar of Lord Mahavir i.e. Gautam Gandhar, we find that he was born at the Brahman village of Nalanda, he took Jaineshwari Deeksha at Rajgrahi, obtained Kevalgyan at Pawapuri and later got salvation from Gunavaji of Nalanda District only.
To summarize, we can say that Jain culture has been a prominent part of Nalanda since ancient times and archaeological remnants, present temples & other monuments are introducing this historicity to all of us, so while we describe the cultural heritage of Nalanda, we have to pay attention to the Jain culture also because only then the Nalanda culture can be understood fully.
Lord Mahavir and Mahatma Buddha have been contemporary and both of them have preached the principles of Non-Violence & Compassion. Only the 5 principles preached by these greatmen can pacify the present burning world. These are Non-Violence i.e. not to kill any animate-being intentionally, Truth i.e. not to tell false-bitter-harsh words, Non-Stealing i.e. not to steal, Celibacy i.e. to control own passions or to be satisfied with own spouse only and Non-possession i.e. not to assemble beyond own necessities. As a matter of fact, by following these 5 Anuvratas, mutual understanding, peace, harmony and social equlibrium can be established in the world. When a person understands his justified limits and honours the rights of others also, then automatically no discord sets in between and this is the need of the present world.
For mutual conduct also, 4 qualities have been quoted to be essential as-
Klishteshu Jeeveshu Kripaparatvam.
Sada Mamatma Viddhatu Dev.”
It means, may I have the feelings of friendship towards all the creatures, may I become enthusiastic seeing a virtuous person, may I have compassion for sorrowful beings and may I remain reactionless towards opposite natured persons. All of us should always remain effortful for having such feelings because by following these attributes only, there may by friendship and fraternity among the world. So let us take oath to follow the principles of Lord Mahavir & Buddha in our own lives and to disperse these principles to the whole world to make this International seminar really successful. Thank You very Much!