07th January 2018.
I was fortunate to join with the Jain community Ahimsa walk scheduled on 7th January 2018. The places visited are on the route from Kanchipuram to Arakonam in Vellore District. The Ahimsa walk was planned to visit the heritage sites related to Jainism, where Theerthangarar statues are un earthed and installed. We know that in and around Kanchipuram Jainisam was flourished once. Many Jain temples were constructed, when it was in peak. After 9th century Jainisam started diminishing due to raise of Saivam.
Started our journey from Chennai Adambakkam around 06.00 hrs through a van. Picked up friends on the way and reached our first stop of Enathur near Kanchipuram. In addition to us Heritage enthusiastic Jains also joined in 4 cars. Though this visit to Enathur Mahaveer temple was not planned, covered on the way to Asa Nellikuppam.
This Mahaveer was unearthed near this place. Originally it was a theerthangarar and reworked on face and mukkudai. The Simha also added at the base of the statue. The Statue was little eroded condition. On the top both side only samaram was carved without samaratharis. After rework the Mahaveer was installed in a newly constructed temple and Kumbhabhishekam was also performed. We are happy to worship on the 48th day ..ie final day of mandala pooja.
It was told that this theerthangarar was found in a thorny bush & knee deep sludge. It was brought to the Vinayagar temple of the village, on the previous day of our visit. After breakfast, Started our Ahimsa Walk up to the temple. Villagers also joined in the walk and Children joined at the temple. The purpose of the walk was explained to the Villagers and a interactive story was told by our Nivedita Louis, the writer and blogger. Note books were also distributed to the students.
The theerthangarar’s mukkudai, legs and hands are found damaged. In this statue samaratharis are also shown on the top of the statue, both are also damaged to some extend. It was told that the statue may be of 1000 years old.
After the visit to Asanellikuppam we headed to wards Arakonam. In the mean time, it was came to know that a Jain sculpture is kept in a Shiva Temple at Arumpakkam. After making confirmation we reached the Arumpakkam Shiva Temple.
The theerthangarar is kept under the Bhodhi tree along with Nagar and Vinayagar. The theerthangarar statue is in a very good condition. The Mukkudai, Thorana, Samaratharis with their ornaments , hair style & dresses are clearly shown. It was learnt that efforts are on to construct a separate sannadhi exclusively for this theerthangarar.
UPPUKUKAM ( ARAKONAM)
This place uppukulam is part of Arakonam Town. The Theerthangarar statue is behind a Perumal temple with a narrow access from the main road. This theerthangarar is under open sky and it was learned that Arakonam Jains worship this theerthangarar. The statue is slightly eroded condition. This statue also has the Mukkudai and samaratharis. 3 Squatting lions are shown on the base of the statue.
In front of Theerthangarar a manthira kal is also installed. This manthira kal is engraved with symbols on both side. Also it has some epigraphic inscriptions, which we could not read. The purpose is not known.
Reached our final stop of our Ahimsa Walk. A Parsuvanathar statue is kept in the Kava Narayana Perumal Temple. This statue was taken from a dilapidated temple, which is in the midst of ground nut field. ( encroached ) The statue is in excellent condition. Parsuvanathar is in standing posture with 5 headed snake hood. The attendants are on both side. Visited the dilapidated temple site also. In a brief meeting at the temple, new participants were introduced and a book on Jain temples in Nadu Nadu was also presented.
It was learnt that this statue was stolen and was waiting in a ship to export. Three days the ship was stranded in the port with a huge sum as demurrage and moved after the Statue was taken out of the ship.
Had our lunch hosted by the owner of the Balaji bus service. After our lunch started out return journey to Chennai. I sincerely extend my thanks to Sasikala devi who organised this wonderful Ahimsa Walk and the participants.
---OM SHIVAYA NAMA---