Mylapore, one of the earliest settlements of Chennai, abounds in
temples. The most famous being the Kapaleeswara Temple and a
host of others, such as Kesava Perumal Koil, Madhava Perumal
Koil, Luz Anjaneyar, Sai Baba Koil and the Karaneeswarar Koil
all situated within a kilo metre of each other. The latest
addition to this impressive list is the Jain Temple that has
recently come up in Kutchery Road. Its marble façade is so
striking that every passerby, pedestrian or automobile rider
fixes his gaze in partial admiration and part wonderment as to
what this structure, so different from the rest of the
Well, it is the Jain Swetambar Vasu Pujya
temple. The first thing that comes to one’s mind at the mention
of Jainism is Bhagawan Mahavira. This is because as children we
were taught that he was the founder of Jainism just as Gautama
Buddha was the founder of Buddhism. The fact is however much
different. Bhagwan Mahavira was in fact the 24th
Tirthankara and as per Jain Religious Calendar it is his reign
that is presently in progress. About 18,500 years are left of
the reign of Bhagwan Mahavira says the Jain Muni at the temple.
Bhagwan Mahavira was born 2600 years ago in Bihar to Siddhartha
and Trishla. He was married to Yeshoda and had a daughter named
Priya Darshana. At the age of 30, Mahavira became a Jain Monk.
At the age of 42, he attained "Keval Gyan" which roughly
translates to "Omniscience".
Jainism revolves around three important
tenets. They are known as "Teen tatva" and include "Heya" "Gyeya"
and "Upadeya". They mean to "imbibe", "comprehend", and "seek".
The Jains are to devote their lives to imbibe good deeds and
control sin, to comprehend sin, attachment and the lifeless and
finally "seek" salvation or moksha by attaining a state of
Nirjara or freedom from sin and attachment. Going back to the
marble temple - on a Thursday morning there were over 100 Jains,
mainly women, who were singing bhajans, worshipping the Lord
with lamps and offering sweets & fruits to Him.
The huge rangoli made of coloured rice
depicts a tree with many branches and at the root of the tree
are the sliver feet of the Lord. All around the rangoli are
placed glasses, having coloured molten wax acting as lamps. The
occasion is the Bhaktambar Maha Puja performed once or twice a
year to commemorate the great feat of the Jain saint, Man Tung
Man Tung Suri was once challenged by a king
(some say Raja Bhoj) that Jainism did not have a maha mantra
which could wreak miracles. The saint told the king to bind him
in iron manacles and lock it with 48 locks. The king took up the
challenge and the saint was bound. Then the saint started
chanting the Jain mantra or sloka and at the end of each mantra,
a lock would shatter. Within a few hours, all the 48 locks were
accounted for. The Puja is done everyday with great devotion, by
the devotees, chanting all the slokas in a song form.
The temple is being given finishing touches
and one can see the artisans from Rajasthan patiently polishing
the marble tirelessly. A glimpse of what went on at Agra! The
temple has the idols of Vasupujya who was the 12th
Tirthankara. Mr. Jankar Mull, Kataria, Secretary of the temple
says that it is a blessing to the area Mylapore to have a temple
for Vasupujya. There are also shrines for Adhinath, Parsvanath,
Sumatinath and Swirdhinath.
The temple opens at 5 a.m. and closes at
noon. It remains open again between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. The temple
was built purely from donations from the Jains, mainly residents
of Mylapore area. Though Chennai has as many as 40 Jain temples,
the one in Mylapore in bound to draw thousands of devotees for
its aesthetic grandeur. "What is more welcome in that quite a
few people of other religions also come to pray here," says Mr.