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The Road to Redemption

The Road to Redemption
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Shikarji is one of the most prominent pilgrimage among all the Jain pilgrimages located in eastern part of the country. Shikharji means venerable peak. The site is also called Sammed Shikhar or Sammet Shikhar, meaning the peak of concentration because it is a place where twenty of twenty-four Tirthankaras attained a state of moksha through meditative concentration.

The word Parasnath is derived from Parsva, the twenty-third Tirthankara to attain nirvana at the site. There is a strong belief among devotees that if one goes for obeisance of Sammed Shikharji once in his life, he does not go in animal’s lives in hell. Sammed Shikhar is the topmost light of ‘nirvana’.

The pilgrimage to Shikharji is a round trip of 27 kilometres through the Madhuban forest. The section from Gandharva Nala stream to the summit is the most sacred for Jains. The pilgrimage is made on foot or by a doli (palanquin, palkhi or litter) carried by a doli wallah along a concrete paved track. Along the track are shrines to each of the twenty revered Tirthankaras and vendors of tea, coffee, water, fruits and snacks. There is an optionto perform parikrama of whole Parasnath Hill of 54km. The pathway of parikrama is throughout the forest and devotees can only walk.

From twenty-four Tirthankaras of Jainism , twenty Tirthankaras namely, Ajitnath, Sambhavnath, Abhinandanprabhu, Sumatinath, Padmprabhu, Suparshwanath, Chandraprabha , Suvidhinath, Sheetalnath, Shreyansnath, Vimalanath , Anantanath, Dharmanath , Shantinath, Kunthunath, Aranath, Mallinath, Munisuvrat Swami , Neminath and Parsvanath spent the evening of their lives on this great mountain and attained the supreme status of ‘moksha’. Sammed Shikhar is an astonishing, unique and awakened holy pilgrimage.

This is the only efficacy of Sammed Shikharji that from the ancient times so many kings namely Acharyas, Bhuttarakas and Shravakas came here with vast groups of devotees for pilgrimage with the purpose of self welfare and due to the devotion towards Teerthankaras and ascetic saints who attained salvation from here.

The ancient reference of Sammed Shikhar has been made in the scripture Jnatadharm Katha, the ‘Parsvanath Charitra’ (biography of Parsvanath) of Kalpsutra, and in the medieval literature ‘Samidigiri’ or ‘Samadhigiri’. The local people address it as Parasnath hill. It is also mentionable that this pilgrimage is called ‘Sammet Shikhar’ in the Swetambar tradition and ‘Sammed Shikhar’ in the Digambar tradition.

The foot of the Sammed Shikhar mountain is called Madhuvan. All around it there are large clusters of trees sprinkling ‘madhu’ (honey). The journey to this holy pilgrimage rids one of misery, confers piety and destroys sin. All around here ‘Toonks’ of Tirthankaras have been built. The First ‘Toonk’ is that of Ganadhar Gautam Swami. Images of foot prints of twenty-four Tirthankaras and ten Ganadhars have been installed here. A few steps away from here stands the Toonk of Kunthunath, which was consecrated in Samvat 1825. Near Lord Kunthunath’s Toonk is the Toonk of the eternal Jina Shree Rishabhanan. Close by is the Toonk of another eternal Jina Chandranan. Near it is the fifth Toonk, of Tirthankara Neminath. The sixth Toonk belongs to Tirthankara Aranath. The Lord had attained ‘Nirvana’ here on Margsheersh Shukla Dashami.

After it comes the Toonk of Tirthankara Mallinath. Here the holy feet-marks were installed in Samvat 1825. Ahead of this is the eighth Toonk, that of Tirthankara Shreyansnath. Here too the holy feet-marks were installed in Samvat 1825.

A little ahead there is the ninth Toonk. Here Tirthankara Suvidhinath had attained ‘nirvan’. The tenth Toonk is that of Tirthankara Padmaprabha. The eleventh Toonk of Tirthankara Munisuvrat Swami. At a high summit a beautiful Toonk is seen from here. This Toonk is dedicated to Tirthankara Shree Chandraprabha.

Apart from several Toonks of Tirthankaras, the pilgrimage centre has a Jal-Mandir as well as several other places of attraction.

Shwetambar Kothi: There is an attractive temple of Bhomiaji Maharaj, inside the Kothi. There is also a huge Jina temple in the form of a cluster of eleven temples. A 90 cm idol of Baghwan Parshwanath is installed here as the principal deity.

Digambar Jain Terah Panth Kothi: There is a majestic temple of Lord Chandraprabha in the middle of the Kothi. Samvasaran temple has been built on the left side of the third door of this temple.

Kachchhi Bhawan: 52 Jinalayas have been built here. This temple houses the idols of many Jain Tirthankaras.

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