Didem Doğan

Introduction to Jainism, Ranakpur

We are travelling from Jodhpur to Udaipur in the Rajasthan area of India which is rich in wonders left behind by the Babur Empire. We are stopping in Ranakpur by the lake between the two cities. This is the city named after Raja Rana Kumbha and considered one of the five holy places of Jainism

We are welcomed by a gigantic temple in hundreds of hues of white surrounded by the forest, with its multiple-storey marble entrance, and towers that look like pine trees. This the Chaturmukha Jain temple built in the 15th century, comprising 29 halls that sit on 1500 columns that support the whole edifice; rather than majestic and pompous, the temple, radiating with elegance, only arouses a desire to lose one’s bearing inside.

Both Jainism and Buddhism originated as religions that reform, if not renounce, Brahmanism in the 16th century. Brahmanism then was already considered to be the creed only appealing to ascetic priests and a chosen group. Buddha left his palace, achieved enlightenment, then instead of retiring in a cave, he went down to the town and communicated with people. Jainism teaches the belief that one can commune with God through the heart, not mind. Both religions are antitheists. Jain holds a belief of non-violence to the point of forbidding uprooting vegetables. The only way out of Samsara, i.e., the suffering associated with the cycle of reincarnations in this world is to die before death. 

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