LEARNATHON
III

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Theory:

Jain Temples:

The religion of Jainism was widespread in Tamilnadu during the period of the Pallavas and to some extent, during the Pandya Period many kings patronized the religion and established many temples at various places, some of them are discussed below.
 
1. Madurai Jain temples:

Madurai is seen as a treasure trove of Jain cultures by historians and Archaeologists. Most of the Jain architecture in Madurai belongs to the \(6^{th} - 8^{th}\) century period.
 
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Madurai Cave Temple
 
The town of Madurai houses \(60\) Inscriptions, \(100\) sculptures, \(200\) stone beds used as the dwelling place of Jain monks and \(26\) caves where they wrote the Inscriptions in and around Madurai.
Bhutapali: He was a Jain monk who was fondly called Acharya Bhutapali wrote a Jain text named Shatkandagama during his stay in Madurai.
Parantaka Veera Narayana Pandiyan who ruled Madurai during the second half of the \(9^{th}\) century created sculptures of various Jain Tirthankaras in Kila Kuyil Kudi which is located in the Western part of Madurai.

2. Tirumalai:

Tirumalai is a Jain cave complex located near Tiruvannamalai. It is believed to be the abode of various Jain monks who belonged to the \(9^{th}\) Century. It also includes \(3\) Jain caves and \(3\) temples.

This small village was inhabited by various Jain monks from the beginning of the \(7^{th}\) century if sources are to be believed. “Vaigavur” was the Old name of this Place Tirumala.
Neminathan: He was the \(22^{nd}\) in the line of Tirthankaras whose statue was established in the Premises of Tirumala. This statue of Neminatha is \(16\)-metre high and is considered to be the largest Jain statue in Tamil Nadu.
The Premise of Tirumala also contains a separate temple for Mahavira in the foothills which was constructed during the period of the Vijayanagar empire. Fresco paintings are also found at the shrine of Mahavira.

3. Vellore:

Jain rock beds (Containing \(14\) beds) have been found in the hill top of Vellore which belongs to the \(5^{th}\) Century. The Beds are found in Vellore District in a place called Bhairava Malai in Latheri.

Three caverns are found here, out of these two Small caverns contain \(4\) rock beds, while the remaining big cavern contains one rock bed. Near the two small caverns, a natural spring has been formed.

These rock caverns are found with the absence of head-rests, which is a unique feature of this place as other Jain monuments in the region had their head-rests.

The Jains contribution to Education:

Jains during their brief stay in Tamil Nadu contributed vastly to the field of education as people of all castes and creeds were allowed to take up education.

The ideals of Jainism are taught and propagated among the people of Tamilnadu through educational centres which formed a strong base for the religion among the people.
Manimegalai: An ancient Tamil epic written in the \(2^{nd}\) century by the Buddhist poet “Seethalai Saththanar” had mentioned Aravor Palli, the living place of Jain monks in Tamil Nadu.
Silapathigaaram, an ancient epic of Tamil literature was written by Jain monk Ilango Adigal who also mention “Gownthi Adigal” (A Female Jain monk) who accompanied the travel of the lead pair Kovalan and Kannagi.

The Bhairavamalai is located in a small village named “Kukkara Palli", and the scholars say that the word “Palli'' denotes “Educational Centres". This term was widely used in many Jain Places in Tamil Nadu.

The Jain monks gave equal importance to the education of women as they were allowed to access Jain texts in educational centres established by them.