The orphan Parshwanath idol is Nirvani for locals

Nitin H P writes about the orphan Parshwanath idol at Chandavara and the sorry state of Jain ruins.

A person visiting Chandavara with out any knowledge about it will certainly feel this to be just another Indian village. But, on further exploring its history one will be surprised to hear that it served as the capital of Kadambas during the 10th century. Though this sounds unusual it is a hard reality, once the capital of a kingdom has now transformed into a small village. Situated at a distance of around 11 Kms from its taluk center Kumta in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka it is well connected by road from Kumta & Honavara. Like its historicty has gone to oblivion over a period of time there are many other things that have vanished over a period of time.

How to Reach – By road and later by walk from the road side to the middle of the fields. 11 Kms from Kumta the nearest taluk centre.

Orphan Parshwanath Idol – While I happend to explore the Jain heritage along the Uttara Kannada district by chance I happen to hear from the priest of one other Jain temple about the existance of Jain ruins at Chandavara. It took almost more than 30 minutes on reaching Chandavara to spot the location of Jain ruins. By then three of my co-travelers and our car driver had almost given up on this and I guess were cursing me for showing such a keen interest about the Jain ruins. Not many in the village were even aware that there exists a Jain idol in their village. I should say I was lucky enough to come across a shop keeper who atleast knew that there was a Jain idol. On further asking him to show us the location of Jain idol he directed one of the local farmer to take me to Nirvani. I was puzzled a bit to hear the word Nirvani from him. On probing further the shop keeper mentioned that the Jain idol was called as Nirvani by the localites. That is when I guessed may be the word ‘Nirvana’ used to indicate the attainment of Moksha of the Tirthankaras has been used for this Tirthankara idol. Then I continued my journey with the farmer and reached the spot. He showed me a tree with shrubs around at a distance of about 300 meters in the middle of open fields and indicated that it was the location of Jain idol.

On approaching the exact location I was aghast to see a Jain idol lying in the open air. It is totally orphan without any shelter nor any one to take care of. On approaching closer to the idol I was able to realise that it was the idol of Lord Parshwanath in Kayotsarga/Kadgasana (standing posture). The idol measures about 3 feet and is carved on a pedestal flanked by Dharanendra yaksha and Padmavati Yakshi. Further, behind & surrounding the upper portion of the idol we can find carvings to form an arch. The idol is covered on its head by the seven hoods of a serpant. One interesting aspect to be noted about this idol is that there isn’t even a single scratch on the idol nor has it been ruined in any of its portions. So, this idol is still good to be installed in any of the temples and nithya pooja can be conduted.
To the left of the idol are found two memorial stones. In both the stones the upper portion consists of the carving of a Tirthankara in padmasana flanked by chowri bearers, the lower portion of the stone consists of a lady sitting on a pedestal and is flanked by two of her assistants. One interesting aspect of all the three idols is that we cannot find any inscription carved on any portion of the idol or the stones. We can also find a few other stones with the Naga shiplas.

Period of the Idol – Since there isn’t any inscriptional reference or any other sources confirming about the idol it is hard to predict the period of this idol. However given the fact that Chandavara was once the capital of the Kadambas of Chandavara, it might have belonged to this period i.e.10th century A.D.

Ruins of the temple – Along with the above mentioned idols we can find a few stones used for a temple lying hapazardly around the idol. This indicates the existence of a temple around this spot. We can also find a well very close to the Parshwanath idol.

Worship as Per Hindu Tradition – I was shocked to see the idol being worshiped with marks of vibuthi (used to worship a hindu deity). This clearly indicates that the idol is worshiped according to the Hindu rituals. On further enquiring with the person accompanying me about the offerings and poojas performed to the idol, he informed that the villagers worship this idol by calling it as Nirvani. They offer poojas regular once a week on every sunday, every amavasya and paurnima,  before sowing the seeds and before harvesting. While we were about to close ou conversation there arrived a priest by name Sambashiva. He said he is a Brahmin, a priest in a near by Ganesha temple and he is paid by the villagers to conduct regular offering in the Ganesha temple and the offerings to Nirvani on the above mentioned dates. He mentioned that he and localites worship the idol as per Hindu tradition. When enquired about any Jains worshiping the idol they say that once in a while, may be once in a month or two Jains come here and worship it as per their tradition and go back.

I feel the day is not very far of when this idol will be completely worshiped as a Hindu deity if the Jain community does not take any corrective measures.

Shifting or Renovation – On checking with them on their willingness to let the Jain community take the idol and shift it to a different place, they say that the local populace have a unique attachment with the idol and are not prepared to let it go. However, they are pepared to give all the cooperation for any kind of construction work that would be taken up in and around this spot.

It is high time the Jain community unite & work to gether towards restoring these ruins, else a time might come where in we will have to see the Jain idols and antiques only in museums, photos and books.

Link to YouTube Video

Post Author: Nitin H P