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Ranakpur Temple

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Ranakpur Temple (Jain Temple)
See photographs of this Temple - Photo-1Photo-2Photo-3Photo-4Photo-5Photo-6Photo-7Photo-8Photo-9,   Jain History

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 the day.

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.

Jain Beliefs
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 rituals are:
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 attain Moksh.
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.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 09/30/13