The Jain Tirthas

The Jain Tirthas

The oldest continuous monastic tradition in India is Jainism, the path of the Jinas, or victors. This tradition is traced to Var-dhamana Mahavira (The Great Hero; ca. 599-527 B.C.), the twenty-fourth and last of the Tirthankaras.

Varanasi ia a major Jain tirtha and center of pilgrimage. The twenty-third Jain Fordmaker, Parshva, is said to have born and spent his early life there. It is supposedly the place where four other Fordmakers set off on their way of liberation. Nearby Ayodhya is connected with a variety of Jain saints, and is said to be the ancient capital of Bharata, the first Jain Monarch.

There are five mountains sacred to Jain Shvetambara sect : Abu, Girnar, Shatrunjaya, Samneta and the legendary Mount Ashtapada. Mount Girnar is in the western Gujarat, a short walk from ancient capital, Junagadh. Its sixteen temples form the largest Jain temple complex. The Village od Dilwara on the summit of Mount Abu contains temples constructed of marble in honour of Rishabha and Neminatha.

Mount Shatrunjaya, the hill which " conquers enemies", is two hours climb from Palitana in Gujarat. The largest Shvetambara temple city in India, it has over 1000 thousand jain shrines and 800 temples.

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