Girnar Bhakti
Shwetambar Jain Mahatirth, Girnar
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Temple Reinstallment of Lord Neminath by Jain Merchant Ratnasar
In the present descending cycle of time, approximately 2000 years had passed after the salvation of Lord Neminath- the 22nd Tirthankara of the current era of 24 Tirthankaras. On the fortunate land of Bharatkshetra, in the prosperous city of Kampaliya, located in the blessed land of Saurashtra, lived a wealthy and wise merchant, Ratnasar. Unexpectedly, Saurashtra experienced a twelve year long drought which resulted in the death of many animals as well as human beings. The citizens experienced difficulties in earning a livelihood for themselves and poverty increased day-by-day.
Thus, Ratnasar decided to step out of his hometown in order to earn a living. He travelled from one state to another and finally reached the city of Kashmir. Ratnasar’s destiny changed for the better. The meritorious deeds done by him in his past births bore fruits. Though he became wealthier by the day, his heart was filled with generosity and virtuosity. Thus, he decided against hoarding the wealth he earned and started using it for charitable as well as religious causes with the aim of attaining progressive births in the future and moving closer towards spirituality. With this purpose in mind, Ratnasar organised a religious tour on foot (Pagpala Chharipalit Sangh) covering different religious holy places such as Siddhachal and Girnar. The tour was organised under the guidance and godly presence of Acharya1 Anandasuriji.

During the course of this religious tour, Ratnasar built several temples, served many saints, helped the religious congregation of pilgrims and continued devoting himself in the service of his mentor, Acharya Anandasuriji. But on the other side, Ratnasar also faced many hardships on his tour because of his previously accumulated bad karmas. He prayed to Ambika Devi for strength in order to withstand the trouble caused by demons, devils,monsters and evil spirits and moved ahead on his tour. On reaching his hometown-Kampaliya, Ratnasar affectionately invited the entire society for a grand feast and asked them to join him on his religious tour on foot. By the direction and grace of Acharya Anandasuriji, the entire congregation comfortably reached the eternal holy mountain.

Siddhachal. Experiencing the spiritually uplifting atmosphere there, and devotionally worshiping Siddhachal and its innumerable temples, their joy knew no bounds. Enthusiastically, they proceeded towards the glorious mountain Girnar – the salvation place of Lord Neminath and other infinite Tirthankaras. The congregation of pilgrims, got engrossed in the spiritually charged atmosphere and began their ascent. They reached the holy place where Lord Neminath attained supreme knowledge. Worshiping the idol of Lord Neminath here, they proceeded towards the primary peak of the auspicious mountain of Girnar. While climbimg uphill, the pilgrims observed that the steeple of the temple was vibrating. On noticing this Ratnasar, immediately asked the clairvoyant Acharya Anandasuriji for an explanation behind this vibrating steeple. Acharya Anandasurji politely replied, “Hey Ratnasar! This is a bad omen, which indicates that you will be the cause of destruction as well as reconstruction on this pious mountain”.

On hearing this, a chill ran down Ratnasar’s spine. Every single drop of blood flowing down his veins was replete with reverence for Jainism and how could he even imagine himself to be the cause of destruction here!! He was so shocked and disheartened that he started retracing his steps. On seeing this, Acharyaji stopped him and said, “Ratnasar you will not be the direct cause of any destruction here, but the pilgrims who have accompanied you on your religious tour will be the cause of destruction and hence you will be indirectly related to destruction on this sacred mountain. On the other hand, you will play a major role in the reconstruction of the temple on this eternal mountain. So cheer up! These words lifted Ratnasar’s spirits and he moved ahead towards the main temple. Reaching there, he and all the elated pilgrims first bathed in the pure and sacred waters of the Gajapad Pond. He then dressed himself in royal garments, took along with him a pot-full of water from the Gajapad pond and proceeded towards the main temple which was a wooden construction, and was adorned by a plastered idol of Lord Neminath installed by a devotee, King Vimal.

Using the pure water that they had got along with them, the enthusiastic pilgrims performed the devotional ritual of showering that water (with the aim of purifying and cleansing their soul) on the plastered idol of Lord Neminath. Out of over excitement and extreme devotion, the pilgrims continued this ritual for a relatively long time. Celestial beings as well as temple guardians warned the pilgrims and requested them to use less water but the ignorant pilgrims turned a deaf hear towards them. On the other hand, they increased the amount as well as the intensity of flow of water on the idol. As a result the plaster of the idol dissolved. It lost its original form and eventually landed up being nothing but a heap of clay.

Ratnasar was taken aback witnessing this horrid sight. He could not take in the shock and fainted. All the pilgrims expressed sincere regret on realising that their ignorance caused such a disaster. Chaos and disappointment prevailed. Ratnasar, the head of the congregation of pilgrims slowly gained consciousness after water was sprinkled on him. But his heart was filled with deep sorrow and seeing the deformed idol of Lord Neminath, he could not hold back his tears. He was confused and completely broken.

He started cursing himself, “This holy place has been ruined by a sinner like me. Oh God! How I hate myself for doing this! I condemn the disgraceful actions of my ignorant co-pilgrims. I had come here with utmost devotion to worship this eternal mountain, Girnar and Lord Neminath, but look what I have done? Instead of playing a helping hand, I have been a destroyer here. What should I do to be free from the bad karma I have brought upon myself by doing such a sinful act? I should sincerely perform many good religious and charitable deeds to compensate for this horrible deed. How do I go about it? I have no idea. And that is why I surrender not only my worries and thoughts but my entire self to you, Dear Lord Neminath, Help me!! You are my only security and life saving grace”. Determined Ratnasar, then gave up on food and water, sat crossed legged and started meditating in front of the deformed idol of Lord Neminath.

Days after days passed, but Ratnasar stuck by his oath and continued fasting. Every passing day was a test to his willpower and devotion, but he did not give up. Seeing his diligence, Ambika Devi was highly impressed and appeared before him exactly on the 30th day of his penance. Ratnasar was overwhelmed and bowed down to her with respect and gratitude. Ambika Devi said, “Dear one, you are blessed!! Be free from all your worries. You have made your life meaningful by coming along with so many pilgrims to Girnar. The plastered idol gets renewed from time to time, just like old ragged clothes are replaced with new clothes. So, its not a big deal!! You too should apply a new layer of plaster on the idol and re-install it, where it originally was.”

On hearing these words, disheartened Ratnasar said, “Oh Mother! Please suggest a better option. By destroying the idol I have become a great sinner and there are chances that in the future an ignorant worshiper like me can again lead to its deformation. O Divine Mother! If at all my devotion and penance has touched your heart, please reward me with an idol, which cannot be destroyed or deformed by the worshippers in the future and on which the pilgrims can contently perform devotional rituals like showering of water to their hearts’ content.

In a spur of a moment, Ambika Devi disappeared without responding to Ratnasar’s request, leaving him disturbed and confused. Without further grieving about Ambika Devi’s departure, Ratnasar regained stability and started meditating again. Ambika Devi examined Ratnasar’s potential to withstand difficult circumstances, but seeing Ratnasar unaffected by her attempts to disturb his meditation Ambika Devi made a thunderous appearance, mounted on her lion like celestial vehicle which illuminated the entire environment. She said, “My brave child! I am impressed with your conviction and dedication. Ask for anything Ratnasar, your wish shall be my command. Ratnasar promptly replied, “Dear Mother!! Present me with an impermeable and everlasting idol of Lord Neminath which will remain as it is till eternity and be a cause of joy to infinite pilgrims”.

Ambika Devi replied, “Enlightened Lords have forcasted you to be the saviour of this religious place. Hence, without going astray follow me!!” Ratnasar obediently followed Ambika Devi as she led him in the east direction towards the Suvarna Cave, Ambika Devi requested Siddhivinayak Dev (Adhisthayik of the Suvarna Cave), “Oh noble one! The guardian of the Suvarna Cave! I humbly request you to open the gates to this wonderful cave!” Siddhivinayak Dev promptly followed Ambika Devi’s instruction and as the gates opened, a flash of divine light emerged. Ambika Devi entered the enchanting cave followed by Ratnasar. Inside was a Suvarna temple that exhibited a variety of beautiful idols made from precious crystals, stones, gems etc. Briefing Ratnasar about the origin and significance of the various idols, Ambika Devi said, “Hey Ratnasar, this idol is made by Saudharmendra, this one is carved out of the Padmaraj gem by Dharmendra. King Bharat, Adityayashu, Bahubali and others made these from precious gems and stones and worshipped them for years together. This particular idol is similar to any immortal idol and is made from the extracts of ruby and has been devotionally worshipped by Brahmadev in the 5th heaven for infinite years. This one is created by Ram and Krishna

Ratnasar was flabbergasted and joyous on seeing the wonderful cave and adorned idols of different Tirthankars. Each was extraordinarily enchanting and choosing one idol was a tough call. After a lot of contemplation, Ratnasar decided to choose an idol studded with rubies and other precious stones. But Ambika Devi decided saying, “Hey son! People in the near future will be malicious and greedy. Attracted to the precious gems, the shameless and undisciplined people will disrespect and cause harm to the idol. If you happen to choose this idol, you will repent in the future. Instead, choose this idol made from the extracts of ruby by Brahmadev. It is very sturdy and is extremely powerful and miraculous”. That idol of Lord Neminath brightly illuminated an area of 12 yojans around it. Saying this Ambika Devi, with her divine power, subsided the illumination effect of the idol and made it look like a normal idol made of stone. She then guided Ratnasar saying, “Immediately tie this idol with a raw cotton thread and without looking anywhere or without turning around and looking behind, take this idol with you. It will be automatically installed at the place where you leave it”. Ambika Devi left.

Ratnasar diligently followed her instructions and due to the grace of Ambika Devi, the idol seemed as light as cotton. He speedily brought it to the main gate of the temple. Ratnasar then realised that he would first have to move the de-moulded, plastered idol of Lord Neminath to another place, carefully clean the original section and then replace it with the new idol of Lord Neminath. Thus, he placed the idol he was holding on one side. After moving the plastered idol of Lord Neminath and cleaning that area, he reached out to bring the new idol which he had attained from the Suvarna cave. Ratnasar tried his level best using all his strength, but failed to move the idol even by half an inch. It was fixed to the ground and was as still and immovable as a mountain. Ratnasar was worried and did not know what to do. He again started fasting and meditating to invoke Ambika Devi and ask for help to deal with the situation. After he fasted for seven consecutive days, Ambika Devi appeared before him and said, “Dear child! I had previously warned you that this idol will be automatically installed at the place where you leave it. There is no point in wasting any more time, in the hope of moving the idol. Let the idol remain the way it is and rebuild the temple accordingly with the door facing westwards. Without further ado, start working on the requirements of the temple. Ambika Devi disappeared Ratnasar followed her guidance and began the construction of a west facing temple. Ratnasar, along with the entire sangh2 was bubbling with joy and enthusiasm for the installation ceremony3 of Lord Neminath’s idol in the newly built temple. The Suri Mantra, chanted by devout Acharyas during the installation ceremony attracted heavenly deities to become Adhishtayaks (guardians/protectors) of the newly built temple. Ratnasar performed the eight different forms of worship, to destroy the eight types of karmas by which the soul is bonded. With his heart overflowing with happiness and respect, he hoisted up the flag on the temple’s steeple that soared high in the skies and kissed the clouds, thus depicting the glory of Jainism.

On completion of the ceremony, he humbly approached the idol of Lord Neminath, bowed down and said, “Oh Lord! You are the ruler of three world’s, you are immortal, infinite, eternal and flawless. You are the one going to liberate me from this material world. You are imperishable, indestructible, unrivalled and free from all diseases. You are unaffected by celestial beings, worshipped by angles, demons and human beings. You are compassionate and the conqueror of not only external enemies but also the internal enemies such as ego, worldly, attachments and aversions. You are adorned with the eight divine accompaniments and yet completely detached by it. Dear Lord! I surrender my entire existence in your feet.

Ratnasar paid homage with utmost reverence as if virtually Lord Neminath was in front of him. Pleased by Ratnasar’s devotion, Ambika Devi, the Kshetrapal and other celestial beings appeared before him and honoured him with a garland of parijat flowers. Ratnasar was humbled and gratified to see Ambika Devi’s kind gesture. Ratnasar, a true shravak (Jain householder) ornamented the land of Saurashtra with numerous Jain temples and sowed the seeds of his wealth in the seven main fields of donation which will eventually pave his path to salvation

An Acharya is the highest leader of Jain order, final authority in the monastic order and has the authority to ordain new monks and nuns. He also has the authority to consecrate new idols.
The fourfold religious order is the Chaturvidh Sangh and comprises of Jain monks, nuns, male & female householders.

The installation ceremony, known as the Pratishtha Ceremony is a traditional ceremony performed by an Acharya consecrating the idol of a Tirthankara. After the ceremony, the idol transforms from a stone statue to the enlightened Lord himself, worthy to be worshipped. Go to Top

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