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1500-year-old Jain rock bed with symbols unearthed

    Chengalpet (Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu), February 11, 2013:  A rare Jain rock bed with rockcarvings of ‘yantras’ was excavated on top of Mottamalai in Narapakkam village near Chengalpet recently. A yantra is an abstract diagram of symbolic geometric forms which is used as a meditation aid or as part of rituals.

    While searching for ancient monuments, S Jeeva Kumar, a priest in the Jain temple in Thirukazhukundram, found this 1500-year-old bed surrounded by shrubs in the hill. He immediately informed some Jain scholars, who after studying the yantras, said the place was once a centre of Jains. “The bed here is a primitive one. When I first saw this, I was not very sure if it was a rock bed and the symbols were not clear. So, I searched for some vital clues and found two ‘yantras’, a square-shaped one and a triangle-shaped one,” said K Saravana Kumar, a Jain scholar and epigraphist.

    A huge part of the hill has been lost to quarrying. “Quarrying has killed the hill and its monuments. The marks that it left are still visible on the edges of many rocks. If we explore, we may find more such monuments here,” said Jeeva Kumar. The yantras found in Narapakkam are similar to those seen in many Jain hillocks of Tamil Nadu, particularly in Kurathimalai near Onampakkam and Thiruppanmalai near Arcot. “The symbols look similar to the ‘Vardamana Vidya’ yantra which is used in Jain rituals. Generally, Jain yantras are found in cloth, paper, wooden boards, metal plates. The two ‘yantras’ found denote two different purposes, according to Saravana Kumar. “The square yantra is very important to Jains. It has four channels and the centre is considered the energy releasing part. Ascetics sit on the central portion of it andmeditate,” he said.

    The rock-carvings of yantras are found only in Tamil Nadu, according to K Ajitha Doss, a scholar. Both Jeeva Kumar and Saravana Kumar are planning to write to the state archaeology department about the new discovery. “We have informed them, but there is no response. We will send a letter to the department soon,” said Jeeva Kumar. – News Courtesy: Times of India

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