HereNow4U - Living Jainism Tour 2006 - 07.03 Jaipur (3) Puja At Chulgiri Jain Temple On The Hill

Posted: 09.05.2007
Updated on: 02.07.2015

27th November, 11:00 - 14:30

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After one and half hour ride to extended outskirts of Jaipur town, we stopped at an unspectacular location, dominated by a factory-like building on the other side of the road. When we turned to the building in our back, we saw an obviously old Jain temple leaning against a hill.

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We went inside, and learned that this temple on the foot of the hill is connected with the one on its top. From there, one can start walking upstairs all 752 steps; we nevertheless went by car. To concentrate on the spiritual destination on top, a big column hall for prayers is available. When we visited it, the Pujari who would perform the Puja we were invited to participate was sitting in front of a small sanctuary and prepared himself for it by studying some holy scriptures.

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Meanwhile, Balwantji Mehta arrived with grandma Bothra and Premji, his wife. We joked on how to go upstairs, and Balwantji said in a very gentleman-like way while bowing down that it would be an honour for him to take us there in his car. Karuna responded by also bowing down that it would be an honour for her to be taken there in his car. It was a festival-like atmosphere of cheeriness among us, which continued for the rest of our stay in their house.

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The road to the temple was under construction, obviously too many people prefer to go upstairs by car. When we reached the top, we wondered where the temple is; we did not perceive any trace of a building. We saw it only after the next turn left, when the road slightly descended. It until then was hidden by the hill, as we came from its opposite side.

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Members of non-sectarian Jain women’s organisation were there already. Their organisation hosted the Puja at the occasion of Mrs. Sneh Gadhaiyaji’s birthday and to welcome us. We were very touched when we learned this. Mrs. Sneh Gadhaiya gave a warm welcome to us, and we felicitated her for her anniversary, marking the completion of her fifty years. Shivani Bothra gave a speech at this occasion, and Mrs. Gadhaiya distributed homemade birthday sweets. After tea and sweets, we went to the temple.

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In front of the entry stairs, an old man offered water to all visitors, more than a gesture of kindness for those who had walked the 752 stairs up! We entered the old temple, which was about to be restored. A project in which all Jain sects participated, avoiding deterioration of the wonderfully situated holy building. The funds for reconstruction were collected from various Jaipur Jain organisations aiming at rendering it into a famous spiritual destination again. The non-sectarian Jain women’s organisation was deeply concerned with it. We were more than happy for the opportunity to participate in a Puja at such a wonderful location. It was the first Jain Puja we experienced in India and were looking ahead with joy to the spiritual upliftment to come.

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Before Puja started, we admired the statues of Lord Parshvanath and Lord Mahavira. The Digambara Jain sect that had founded it dedicated the temple to Lord Parshvanath. The picture of the saint to whom the foundation of the temple went back was shown in the big prayer hall in the temple at the foot of the hill. Now people want to share their dedication to the teachings of the Tirthankaras without regarding the Jain sect they are originating from. The statues in the temple were donated from Digambara (in standing meditation posture) and Svetambara (in sitting meditation posture) Jains.

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It was an atmosphere filled with devotion and connected all of us with the Self, as can be seen in the video and heard by the songs and prayers:

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Like these ladies, all participants were fully concentrated and followed the Puja with great attention and affection.

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Dancing was one part of the Puja. Karuna enjoyed dancing in front of the Tirthankara staues and felt like being watched from higher reality, as did the other ladies.

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Aparigraha busily was taking photos and videos, documented by Sanjeev Bothra's snapshot!

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One bird sat down at the feet of the Tirthankara statues, drank water, and took some rice grains. After Puja, we admired the reliefs showing Jain symbols. The feet in the lotus are symbols of final Samadhi, when we leave our mundane existence.

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Mrs. Gadhaiya went to the subterranean marble hall for prayer; she was very happy on her birthday, it really was very special. The wonderfully decorated marble statue of Lord Mahavira was the centre of the subterranean marble hallway.

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Outside, we took our time for a short meditation. What an auspicious celebration!

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