Ranakpur Temple (Jain Temple)
See photographs of this Temple -
Ranakpur Temples are acclaimed world-wide for their intricate and superb
architectural style. These temples form one of the five major pilgrimages
of the Jains. Located in village of Ranakpur near Sadri town in the Pali
district of Raajasthaan, Ranakpur Temple lies at a distance of 95 kms in the
north of Udayapur city. The temple is easily accessible from the city of
Udayapur as regular buses are easily available. Built in the 15th century,
Ranakpur temples are known for being the largest and most important temples
of the Jain cult.
The temple is said to have been built by Seth Dharna Shaah (a Jain businessman)
with the aid of Raanaa Kumbhaa, who ruled Mevaad in the 15th century. Ranakpur
got its name after the name of the Raajpoot Monarch and likewise the temples.
The temple complex is positioned in an isolated valley on the western side of
the Araavalee Range. The Jain Temples of Ranakpur are certainly creditable for
their splendid architecture. This temple is wholly constructed in light colored
marble and comprises a basement covering an area of 48,000 sq feet. The main Jain
temple has 1,444 intricately carved columns that support the temple - 24 pillars
in each hall. Every tourist who travels between Udayapur and Jodhpur should spend
half a day at this site.
The temple is a masterpiece of architecture and boasts of not less than four
additional shrines. It has 24 pillared-halls with 8 domes that are supported
by 400 columns. The upper and lower parts of the domes are linked by brackets
that have deities' sculptures. Above all, you would be amazed to see at a height
of 45 feet engraved nymphs playing the flute in various dance postures. Each
column is intricately carved and it is surprising to know that no two columns have
the similar design. Apart from this, another stunning act about these columns is
that they change their color from golden to pale blue after every four hours during
In the Mandap (prayer hall), the two big bells of 108 kg each produce a
harmonious sound on the movement. Chaumukhaa Temple is formed like a Nalinee
Gulm Vimaan (heavenly aircraft) and provides this whole structure a celestial
appearance. Conceivably, it is due to the intricacy of the structure that the
temple took approximately 65 years to complete.
The Temple complex is
considered a masterpiece of art and sculptures. In the complex, there are four
additional major shrines in the complex includes Chaumukhaa Temple or four faced
idol temple pointed at north, south, west and east directions - Chaumukhaa Temple,
Paarshwanaath Temple, Ambaa Maataa Temple and Soorya Temple. Amongst all of them,
Chaumukhaa Temple is the most important and as the term Chaumukhaa suggests, this
temple is four-faced. Chaumukhaa temple is dedicated to Lord Aadi Naath, who is
the first Teerthankar
of the Jains. Chaumukhaa Temple is formed like Nalin Gulm Vimaan or heavenly craft
or plane. The whole structure is attributed to the look of celestial existence.
The Temple structure is highly compound having four different doorways to get into
the chambers. These chambers ultimately take you to the main hall where the image
of Aadi Naath is positioned. The four faced image also symbolizes the Teerthankar's
quest for the four directions and ultimately the cosmos. The image is surrounded by
many small shrines and domes. One more range of cells with separate roofs encircles
these shrines and domes all over again. The five spires elevate above the walls and
around 20 cupolas rise from roof of the pillared hall. Each spire houses a shrine and
the largest shrine is the important one that addresses the central altar. The temple
ceilings are festooned with foliate scrollwork and geometric patterns.
The Temple of Paarshwa Naath is another attraction that is worth visiting.
Built in the mid 15th century, the temple is renowned for its engraved windows
embellished with Jain figures. Paarshwa Naath Temple is also known as Patriyon
Kaa Mandir. In close proximity to this temple, you can trace two other temples
dedicated to Nemi Naath (22nd saint) and Soorya Naaraayan (the Sun God) respectively.
Here, Soorya Naaraayan Temple has innumerable wall projections with circular
structure. The sight of Lord Soorya driven in his chariot of seven horses is truly
pleasing. The dating of this temple is controversial but it is largely considered to
be anywhere between the late 14th to mid-15th centuries. Inspired by a dream of a
celestial vehicle, Dhannaa Shah, a Porwad, is said to have commissioned it, under
the patronage of Raanaa Kumbhaa, then ruler of Mevaad. The architect who oversaw the
project is said to have been named Deepak. There is an inscription on a pillar near
the main shrine stating that in 1439, Deepak, an architect, constructed the temple at
the direction of Dharanka, a devoted Jain. The origins of Jainism can be traced back
to the Indus River valley civilization of 3000 BC. Jains believe that there were 24
great teachers the last of whom was Lord Mahaaveer who lived during the 6th century
BC. These twenty-four teachers are called Teerthankar - people who had attained all
knowledge while living (Moksh) and preached it to the people. Thus, there is not one
all-powerful supreme being that controls all.
Jains believe in reincarnation. Their souls, which are believed to be a unique
substance in the universe, take different living forms in the cycle of birth,
death, and rebirth. This cycle has been going on forever, the universe has no
beginning or end, it has always been and always will be. The ultimate goal
is to get rid of one's Karm on their soul so that they may end this cycle. Once
this goal is reached their soul has attained all knowledge and it rests in the
heavens forever (Nirvaan). Karm theory is about actions and the results they
bring to the soul's path. It is simply the law of cause and effect with respect
to the soul, e.g. one's actions for today will effect what will happen to them
in this or their future lives. The way to get rid of one's Karm is to follow
certain rules of doing good somewhat similar to the ten commandments. These
include the principles of:
1. Ahinsaa - To protect all life (non-violence)
2. Satya - To speak truth
3. Asteya - To not steal
4. Brahmacharya - To not commit adultery
5. Aparigraha - To limit one's possessions Jains uphold these principles
by practicing vegetarianism, non-violence in thought, deed, and action.
Jains perform their sacred rituals at the temple or Derasar. Some of these
Poojaa - Concentrating on one's soul through intense prayer sometimes in
the presence of sculptures of the teachers to serve as an example of how to
Saamayik - Forty-eight minute ritual that asks for forgiveness for one's sins
Namokar Mantra - A short prayer that can be said at any time that shows
obeisance to the perfect souls that have achieved Nirvasn. The biggest event
in the Jain calendar is the holy week (8-10 days) of Paryushan where Jains
reflect upon their actions throughout the past year. The week takes place in
August or September and is concluded by a three hour prayer called Pratikraman.
Namokasr Mantra: Elixir Itself
Namo Arihantanam - I bow in reverence to Arihants Namo Siddhanam I bow in
reverence to Siddhas Namo Ayariyanam I bow in reverence to Aachaarya Namo
Uvajjhayanam I bow in reverence to Upaadhyaaya Namo Loye Savva Sahunam I bow
in reverence to all Saadhu
Eso Panch Namoyaro - his five-fold salutation Savva Pavappanasano Destroys all
sins Mangalanam Cha Savvesim And amongst all auspicious things Padhamam Havai
Mangalam is the most auspicious one.
The ultimate power of a Mantra uttered in words and meter depends on the
one who recites it, his feelings at the time and the place where it is
recites. However, the Namokaar Mantra while it controls our behavior pattern
and destroys our sins (Karm Naashak), upon being recited increases our inner
spiritual strength. It releases us from crisis, and it generates our well-being.
Jain scriptures tell of its endless magical manifestation: A dog who was about
to die, heard the Mantra recited by Jeevandhar and became a handsome Yaksh. A
pair of serpents heard the Mantra recited by Paarshwa Kumaar and metamorphosed
into Darnendra and Padmaavatee. A bull while in physical agony, heard the Mantra
recited by Seth Padmaruchi and in his next life became Prince Vrishabhdhwaj -
the same prince was known as Sugreev later on. The nobleman Dhananjaya's son
dying from snakebite heard the Mantra and regained life. Anjan the thief running
from sure death learnt this Mantra and became a learned man. Aj while dying
patiently heard the Mantra recited by Chaarudutt and reached heaven. There are
endless legends about the power of this Mantra. The one who recites this sure
Mantra with real faith, scales the heights of the everlasting pits of hell.
In this context it would be well to recall Suhom Chakravarti's fate.
May we all learn from the teachings and beliefs of Jainism and make our souls
pure and sacred so that it is ready to become one with God.