Contributed by Julia A. B. Hegewald
Jain temple-cities are groupings of temple compounds, which contain large numbers of individual and interconnected temples and smaller shrines. They are walled and entered through gateways.
Most temple-cities are located on hills and have developed out of clusters of temples and walled compounds, which have been expanded over time. Donors give money to help build shrines and temples, which eventually form sizeable groups of temple compounds.
There are numerous examples of temple-cities throughout India. The best known include:
Temple-cities are depicted on pilgrimage banners and in relief carvings at other Jain sites. Imitations of well-known temple-cities have also been built at smaller sites.
The creation of temple-cities in the form outlined here is unique to the Jain faith. Representations of temple-cities in Jain art and at other important Jain sites throughout India, and abroad, indicate the great importance of these holy sites for the Jain community.
A temple-city is a term for a large number of temples built very closely together. Jain temple compounds tend to contain a multitude of major temple buildings and minor shrine structures. Dense accumulations of such compounds are then referred to as temple-cities. Usually found in sites of religious importance, these are not conventional cities, because human beings do not live in them. Instead, Jains make pilgrimages to these temple-cities, which are devoted to spiritual matters.
There is a clear tendency in Jain temple architecture towards creating numerous shrines. This leads to the construction of temple buildings with many shrines and storeys, which are often surrounded by further free-standing and interconnected shrines. These collections of religious buildings frequently combine temples of different forms.
The religious buildings are regularly grouped into compounds and surrounded by high protective walls – prākāras. The enclosing walls can consist of uninterrupted lines of small shrines – deva-kulikās – which form a solid wall on the outside. The walled complexes – tunks – are strongly fortified. They have massive gateway structures and can be securely locked.
By building several such walled compounds in one place, the Jains create so-called temple-cities at particularly important sites of pilgrimage. These sacred cities can contain several hundred temples and smaller shrines.
Many temple-cities are on raised ground or high mountain peaks. This is frequently indicated in their names, which bear the suffix ‘-giri’ – hill. Examples include Drona-giri and Naina-giri in Central India.
The principle of non-violence that is one of the five chief vows of Jainism.
One of the hundred sons of the first Jina Ṛṣabha, Bāhubali is one of the most revered Jain saints. After fighting with his half-brother Bharata, he renounced the world and finally conquered his pride to reach enlightenment. He is always shown in the kāyotsarga pose in art and immense freestanding statues of him are a feature of southern India.
Not feeling attached to any things, people or emotions in the world, whether positive or negative. Jains believe that detachment from the world is necessary to progress spiritually towards the ultimate aim of freeing the soul from the cycle of rebirth.
An enthusiastic follower of a religion. Can also describe a keen enthusiast of an individual, concept or activity.
Sanskrit for 'meditation', one of the six internal austerities or tapas that help purify the soul of karma. Meditation is deep thought about religious doctrine or mental focus on spiritual matters over a period of time. An important part of many religions, meditation is especially important in Jain belief because it forms key elements of religious practice and spiritual development.
From the Greek term meaning 'scattering or dispersal', the word 'diaspora' describes large groups of people with shared roots who live away from their ancestral homes. They have usually moved because they were forced to by other groups, because they have fled war, famine or persecution, or to improve economic opportunies. They usually have strong emotional, religious, linguistic, social and economic ties to their original homeland.
A donor gives freely. He or she may give alms to a mendicant or money to an institution. This donation may be for specific items or purposes, such as the creation of art. A donor, sponsor or patron may be named or pictured in the artwork.
The westernmost state in India, which is a stronghold of Śvetāmbara Jainism.
An image of a deity or concept that is worshipped either as a god or as a representation of the deity.
Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.
A city in the northwestern state of Rajasthan in India.
A 'victor' in Sanskrit, a Jina is an enlightened human being who has triumphed over karma and teaches the way to achieve liberation. A synonym for Tīrthaṃkara, which means 'ford-maker' or one who has founded a community after reaching omniscience through asceticism. The most famous 24 – Ṛṣabha to Mahāvīra – were born in the Bharata-kṣetra of the middle world, but more are found in other continents. There have been Jinas in the past and there will be some in the future.
State in south-west India.
Omniscience, enlightenment or perfect knowledge – the highest of the five types of knowledge, where one knows everything wherever and whenever it is. It is extremely difficult to attain, equivalent to the 13th stage of spiritual purity in the guṇa-sthāna. Digambaras believe only men can achieve it whereas Śvetāmbaras believe that both men and women can become enlightened.
Bordering on the Arabian Sea, Māhārāṣṭra in central India is the third-largest and the richest state in India. Its capital is Mumbai and the official language is Marathi.
Decorative map of a holy site. A paṭa is used for 'mental pilgrimage' – bhāva-yātrā – during which devotees contemplate the paṭa and complete a pilgrimage by moving around the temples in their minds.
A journey to a place of religious significance. Some religions encourage pilgrimage as ways to advance spiritual progress and deepen the faith of those who make the trip – pilgrims.
Sanskrit for a 'right or good action'. Similar to a merit in Buddhism, it helps to reduce karma.
The largest state in India, in the north-western part of the country.
Sanskrit term meaning 'with a home’ – that is, a ‘householder’ or lay Jain. A synonym for a lay person, emphasising that he or she is a member of a household, with responsibilities to the family, community and society that a Jain mendicant does not have.
Someone who is declared by a religious organisation or by popular acclaim to be of outstanding goodness and spiritual purity, usually some time after his or her death. The person's holiness is often believed to have been demonstrated in the performance of miracles. Saints are frequently held up as examples for followers of a religious faith.
A small structure holding an image or relics, which may be within a temple or building designed for worship. A shrine may be a portable object. Worshippers pray and make offerings at a shrine, which is often considered sacred because of associations with a deity or event in the life of a holy person.
The Indian or South Asian subcontinent is a term for the geographical area roughly covering modern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
'White-clad’ in Sanskrit, the title of one of the two main divisions of Jainism, in which both male and female mendicants wear white robes. There are some differences of doctrine or belief between these two sects and to some extent their followers consider themselves as belonging to distinct branches. Divisions can be fierce in practical matters, for example, over the ownership of pilgrimage places, but all sects see themselves as Jains.
A building reserved for public worship or prayer, usually dedicated to one religion and run by members of that religion's clergy.
A Gujarati word meaning ‘enclosure’, which is used for a temple compound. Bounded by the compound wall – prākāra – this is a sacred area inside which is the main temple and subsidiary shrines.