Madurai (Tamil Nadu), August 25, 2013: “Madurai has once been the capital of Jain culture in Tamil Nadu. This was evident during the visits to Jain abodes and literary evidences. The realisation also raised the question on the absence of this information in academic curriculum. There is total absence of local history in school textbooks.” Thus reads the preface of the book released by Green Walk team during the 25th edition on Sunday, which makes the book a significant contribution to learning history of Madurai.
The 88-page book titled Madura Varalaru – Samana periveliyin oodey (History of Madurai – Voyage into Jaina Antiquity) written in Tamil dwells in detail about Jain sites in and around Madurai, elaborating their significance in lucid Tamil.
The authors have also woven information about Jain culture and tradition and the experiences of Green Walk team during the treks to those sites. Writing on the entry of Jainism into Madurai, in the first chapter of the book, retired archaeological officer C Santhalingam says that a group of Jains led by a monk named Vishakachariar has started from Shravana Belagola in Karnataka in 300 BC and travelled to various parts of Tamil Nadu. Since Madurai had places ideal for living in isolation, they chose to stay in the hillocks here. Sangam period rulers and traders had made arrangements for the monks to live peacefully here.
Jain beds could be found in Mangulam, Arittapatti, Thiruvathavur, Keelavalavu, Varichiyur, Karungakaludi, Alagarmalai, Thiruparankunram, Kongarpuliangulam, Vickramangalam, Muthalaikulam, Keelakuyilkudi, Muthupati and Mettupatti. Santhalingam says that there is at least one Jain symbol for every 10km in the erstwhile Pandya Kingdom.
The book throws light on the aspects of Jain traditions like providing medicines to the needy and offering shelter to people and livestock.
The book also carries images of the Tamil Brahmi stone inscriptions found on the Jain sites and their interpretations. Besides highlighting lesser-known facts about the sites, each chapter also provides information on bus services to those sites. – News Courtesy: Times of India