Article: Mount Śatruñjaya

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Legal disputes

View of the temple-city of Mount Shatrunjaya in Gujarat, which is one of the most popular pilgrimage centres for Śvetāmbara Jains. Some of the temples were damaged in 1313 by soldiers in the pay of the Khalji sultan but were later repaired.

Shatrunjaya temples
Image by Audrey Truschke © Audrey Truschke

The 19th century was both an intense and a troubled period for the site of Shatrunjaya, as ‘it went through an extraordinary series of legal cases’ (Hawon Ku 2007: 171ff. for an in-depth investigation of the topic).

These cases set the Jain community in opposition to the local Indian rulers with authority over Palitana. This resulted in the Jains’ presentation of numerous petitions to the British Government in Bombay, which gained high levels of publicity.

The main issues were:

  • who should get the revenues from the site
  • ownership of the hill and its immediate surroundings.

During the Mughal period, the question of revenues had been resolved to the advantage of the Jain community. Agreements between the individual emperors and influential monks and lay followers had been negotiated so that the Jains benefited financially from the pilgrimage centre. But the local Indian rulers in the 19th century claimed authority to tax the land and the pilgrims. The confrontations lasted for many years, yielding a result that the Jains felt unsatisfactory. It even led to the discontinuation of pilgrimages from 1926 to 1928.

British authorities started detailed investigations into the history of ownership at the request of the Jains and the local ruler, and proclaimed that the Jains’ right to the site were based on the ‘religious purpose’ of Shatrunjaya

Hawon Ku 2007: 203

In 1928, it was finally ruled that the Jains would manage the site, through the Ānandjī Kalyāṇjī nī Peḍhī, but that they would have to pay a fixed annual sum for 35 years. After the 35-year period the Ānandjī Kalyāṇjī nī Peḍhī took undisputed control.

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