Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – India chapter Spiritual India has to say about Jainism:
“Jainism arose in the 6th century BC as a reaction against the caste restraints and rituals of Hinduism. It was founded by Mahavira, a contemporary of the Buddha.
Jains believe that liberation can be attained by achieving complete purity of the soul. Purity means shedding all karman, matter generated by one’s actions that binds itself to the soul. By following various austerities (e.g. fasting and meditation), one can shed karman and purify the soul. Right conduct is essential, and fundamental to this is ahimsa (nonviolence) in thought and deed towards any living thing.
The religious disciplines of followers are less severe than for monks (some Jain monks go naked). The slightly less ascetic maintain a bare minimum of possessions, which include a broom to sweep the path before them to avoid stepping on any living creature, and a piece of cloth tied over their mouth to prevent the accidental inhalation of insects.
Today, around 0.4% of India’s population is Jain, with the majority living in Gujarat and Mumbai. Some notable Jain holy sites include Sravanabelagola, Palitana, Ranakpur and the temples of Mt Abu.
Jainism’s central tenet is strict vegetarianism, and rigid restrictions are in place to avoid injury to any living creature. Vegetables that grow underground are considered ananthkay – one body containing many lives – and most Jains will avoid eating them because of the potential harm caused to insects during cultivation and harvesting.
Jains also avoid foods such as garlic and onions, which, apart from harming insects in the ground when extracted, are thought to heat the blood and arouse sexual desire. You may come across vegetarian restaurants that make it a point to advertise the absence of onion and garlic in their dishes for this reason. Devout Hindus may also avoid garlic and onions. These items are also banned from many ashrams.
Some foods, such as dairy products, are considered innately pure and are eaten to cleanse the body, mind and spirit. Ayurveda, the ancient science of life, health and longevity, also influences food customs.”
I found this information about the Jain temple just outside of Mandvi, on the dreamtrails.in website:
“Jain temples in the region of Gujarat and Rajasthan are known for their immaculate beauty. These temples are mostly built with white marble which gives a very elegant look even from a distance. The intricacy of the work on the walls and pillars, spectacular work on the inner side of the central domes, and several other characteristics are the highlights of these temples.
The 72 Jinalaya is no exception. It has a temple for 72 shrines deris of Lord Mahavir.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We drove past the Jain temple as we approached the outskirts of Mandvi. Mr. Singh, our driver pointed out that it has seventy-two individual shrines circling the central temple. I only got a glimpse of it as we passed, but I knew I wanted to visit it before leaving the area. Fortunately, we would be taking the same road out of Mandvi after our three-night sojourn, so we would be sure not to miss it.
As it turned out, we decided to pay a visit to the temple the next morning after breakfast. We weren’t really as tired as we thought we might be, and we didn’t plan on spending the day on the beach either. We decided to take in the Jain temple and then go down to the shipbuilding area by the mouth of the river. We knew the location of both sights as we’d glimpsed them on our misadventure coming into Mandvi the previous day.
Fortunately, it wasn’t a Tuesday when most local people feel compelled to visit the temples instead of performing their daily prayers at home. All was quiet, in fact for most of the time we were there, we had the place to ourselves.
The temple in the centre was lovely, but I wanted to spend my time checking out the 72 shrines around the outside wall. I was both surprised and pleased that each little shrine celebrated a Jain temple located elsewhere in India. In addition to the statues of Lord Mahavir, each shrine had plaque with a photo, the name of its location in India, and some general information about the significance of the temple.
Donna and I ended up walking around the perimeter together, and I pointed out which ones Anil and I had visited in our travels. I should have counted them; we’d seen a significant number.
You may wonder why I included photos of public bathrooms along with this entry. It’s something I’ve been doing for years, taking photos of the wide variety of signs that I’ve encountered while travelling around the world. I don’t always share them, but these two were located in the area where the temple complex provided rooms for worshippers to stay if they are travelling from a far-off place.