Gwalior is a historical and major city in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is located to 319 kilometres (198 mi) south of Delhi, Gwalior occupies a strategic location in the gird region of India, and the city and its fortress has been ruled under several historic northern Indian kingdoms. From the Tomars - Mughals - Marathas - Scindias.
The Gwalior fort spreads out over an area of 3 square km, surrounded by concrete walls of sandstone. The Gwalior fort encloses three temples, six palaces and numerous water tanks. At a point of time Gwalior fort was regarded as North and Central India's most invincible fortress. The fort was built by Raja Man Singh Tomar in the 15th century. In the course of almost five hundred years, the Gwalior fort went from one ruler to another; from the Tomars it passed to the Mughals, Marathas and the British.
The Teli-ka-Mandir is the most famous of all the temples of the Gwalior fort. This temple was built in the Dravidian style shrine and is notable for its generously sculpted exterior.
The Saas-Bahu Temples (two pillared temples which stand next to each other, one larger than the other) are also fascinating.
The Kamasutra carvings in Sas Bahu temple
Carved between the 7th and 15th centuries, most of the figures are large honey-coloured icons of the 24 Jain teacher-saviours - the tirthankaras, or "Crossing Makers" - depicted in their characteristic poses : standing with their arms held stiffly at their sides, or sitting cross-legged, the palms of their hands upturned, staring serenely into the distance. Many lost their faces and genitalia when Moghul Emperor Babur's iconoclastic army descended on the city in 1527.
The larger of the two main groups lines the southwestern approach to the fort, along the sides of the Urwahi ravine. The largest image, to the side of the road near Urwahi Gate, portrays Adinath, 19 meters tall, with decorative nipples, a head (if tightly curled hair and drooping ears, standing on a lotus bloom beside several smaller statues. Worshippers leave flowers and incense at his colossal feet. The group is well-preserved and the statues, including elephants and heavenly apsaras, are more or less intact. A little further from the fort, on the other side of the road, another company of tirthankaras enjoys a more dramatic situation, looking over a natural gorge. All have lost their faces, save a proud trio sheltered by a delicate canopy.
The third collection stands on the southeast corner of the plateau, overlooking the city from a narrow ledge. To get there, follow Gwalior Road north along the foot of the cliff from Phool Bagh, near the Rani Jhansi memorial, until you see a paved path winding up the hill from behind a row of houses on the left. Once again, the tirthankaras, which are numbered, occupy deep recesses hewn from the rock wall. One of the few not defaced by the Muslim invaders, n°10 is still visited by Gwalior's small Jain community as a shrine. After bathing in the spring in cave 1, devotees leave offerings of flowers and rice at the tirthankara's gigantic feet.
In Jainism, a Tirthankar ("Fordmaker or Propagator" - also Tirthankara or Jina) is a human being who achieves enlightenment (perfect knowledge) through asceticism and who then becomes a role-model teacher for those seeking spiritual guidance. A Tirthankar is a special sort of arihant, who establishes the fourfold religious order consisting of monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen after achieving omniscience. Every thirthankar revitalise the Jain order. A Tirthankar is so called because he is the founder of a "Tirth" (literally, 'ford'), a Jain community which acts as a "ford" across the "river of human misery".
After achieving enlightenment, a Tirthankar shows others the path to enlightenment. The Tirthankar's religious teachings form the Jain canons. The inner knowledge of all Tirthankars is perfect and identical in every respect, for the teachings of one Tirthankar do not contradict those of another. However, the degree of elaboration varies according to the spiritual advancement and purity of humans during that period. The higher the spiritual advancement and purity of mind, the lower the elaboration required.
At the end of his human life-span, a Tirthankar achieves liberation ('moksh' or 'nirvan'), ending the cycle of infinite births and deaths.
Jainism posits that time has no beginning or end. It moves like the wheel of a cart. There have been an infinite number of time cycles before our present era and there will be an infinite number of time cycles after this age. As of 2010, we are exactly 2,537 years into the fifth era of the present half cycle.
Twenty four Tirthankars are born in each half cycle of time (that is forty eight in each full cycle), in this part of the universe. In the current (descending) half cycle of time, the first Tirthankar Rishabh Dev, lived sextillions of years ago and attained liberation ('moksh' or 'nirvan') towards the end of the third era. The 24th and last Tirthankar was Mahavira (599-527 BC), whose existence is a historically accepted fact. Digambaras believe that all twenty four Tirthankars were men but Svetambaras believe that the 19th Tirthankar, Mallinath, was a woman.
The next Tirthankar in our part of the universe will be born at the beginning of the third era of the next (ascending) half cycle of time, in approximately 81,500 years.
As Tirthankars direct us to enlightenment, their statues are worshipped in Jain temples by Jains aspiring to achieve enlightenment. Tirthankars are not God or gods. Jainism does not believe in the existence of God in the sense of a creator, but in gods as beings, superior to humans but, nevertheless, not fully enlightened.
Depictions of the Tirthankaras in various forms, including images and statues, are always represented as seated with their legs crossed in front, the toes of one foot resting close upon the knee of the other, and the right hand lying over the left in the lap. Only two are represented differently: that of Parsvanatha, the twenty-third, who has snake-hoods over him, and Suparsva, the seventh, whom the Digambarashas depict with a smaller group of snake-hoods.
Digambara representations are quite nude, while those of the Svetambaras are clothed and decorated with crowns and ornaments. They are further distinguished from one another in representations by their attendant Yakshas and Yakshinis, as well as by their associated chihnas or Lanchans (cognizances) carved on the cushions of their thrones.
All but two of the Jains are ascribed to the Ikshvaku family (or Kula or Kul, which in Sanskrit means "heart community" or "intentional/chosen community/family"). Munisuvrata, the twentieth, and Neminatha, the twenty-second, were of the Harivamsa race.But as per Jain cannons Rishabha the first Tirthankar was the founder of the so-called Ikshvaku kula.
All but Rishabha received diksha (consecration) and Kevalgynan (complete enlightenment) at their native places. Rishabha became a Kevalin at Purimatala, Nemi at Girnar, and Mahavira at the Rijuvaluka river. Twenty Tirthankaras achieved Nirvaan on Sammet Sikhar. However Rishabha, the first, achieved nirvana on the Kailasa Mountain of the Himalayas as per digambar canons and as per shwetambar canons he achieved nirvana on Ashtapad mount(which is no longer visibe to human eyes). Vasupujya attained nirvana at Champapuri in north Bengal; Neminatha on Mount Girnar in gujrat; and Mahavira, the last, at Pavapuri near patna in Bihar.
Twenty-one of the Tirthakaras are said to have attained Moksha in the Kayotsarga (standing mediation) posture; Rishabha, Nemi; and Mahavira on the padmasana (lotus throne poisture).
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