Mahavira Jain temple, Osian
The Mahavira Jain temple is built in Osian of Jodhpur District, Rajasthan. The temple is an important pilgrimage of the Oswal Jain community. This temple is the oldest surviving Jain temple in Western India and was built during the reign of Mahārāja Śrī Vatsarāja of Imperial Pratihāras. The temple is visited by both Jain and Hindu.
The Mahavira Temple is an important tirtha for Jains. According to an inscription found at Sachiya Mata Temple dating back to 956 A.D., it was built during the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty by King Vatsaraja in 783 AD, making it the oldest surviving Jain temple in Western India. According Jain legends, Acharya Ratnaprabhasuri in (c. 457 BCE) restored the life of son of a prominant brahman following this even the villagers converted to Jainism and this place for origination of Oswal community. Witnessing the power of Ratnaprabhasuri Goddess Chamunda was compelled to become a Jain vegetarian deity and became the protector deity of the temple, protecting devotees who worship image of Mahavira in the temple. Ratnaprabhasuri then named her Sachiya Mata as she truthfully advised Ratnaprabhasuri to stay in Osian during Chaturmas. The idol of Mahavira was discovered from buried at temple site.
An inscription dating 953 CE found in the temple states that Osian was rich with decorated temples of every caste. The temple had its first renovation in 956 AD. George Michell describes the existing main temple as “mostly 11th century”, with parts from the 8th century. The torana (ornate gateway) is from 1015 CE. The temple was plundered by Muslim rulers, and none of the original idols survived. In 1016 CE, the temple was restored, and a manastambha was constructed. The temple was later renovated in the 12th century.
Pictures of Temple
The Mahavira Jain Temple in Osian (or Osiyan, Rajasthan) is dedicated to Lord Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankara. It is a major pilgrimage site for Jains in this region of Rajasthan.
Located in the western outskirts of the village, the temple was constructed by Gurjara Pratihara King Vatsaraja in 783 A.D.
The temple complex has one main temple and seven other temples, of which four temples are located on the eastern side and three on western side.
Close to the temple there is a dharmashala and a school of theology, both run by the temple trust. Apart from being a holy place, the temple of Mahavira if of course famous for its architecture.
The walls and pillars of the temple display carved images of countless Gods and Goddesses, in addition to depictions of the different stages of the life of Lord Neminath (22nd Jain Tirthankara). A 32 inch high statue of Lord Mahavira in the padmasana posture is placed on a high platform made of sandstone (not photographed).
The main doorway of the temple, constructed in 1015 A.D. is superbly carved with impressions of young maidens.
Note however that much of this temple has been restored, a process that was clearly on-going. Even whilst I was there stone masons were hard at work chiseling away new pieces, many of which are likely to be direct copies of ancient carvings that have almost eroded away.
Osian was a major trading center at least as early as the 4th century A.D. It maintained this status, while also being a major center of Brahmanism and Jainism, for hundreds of years.
This came to an abrupt end when the town was attacked by the armies of Muhammed of Ghor in 1195. It is said that at its peak, Osian had over one hundred Jain temples.
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