Chennai (Tamil Nadu), 4th September 2020: Renowned epigraphist Dr. A. Ekambaranathan breathed his last today at Chennai today. He was about 75 years of age and was suffering from prolonged illness for over six months due to old age.
He retired as a professor & head of the department of Ancient History & Archaeology, University of Mardas, Chennai. He worked in the field of Jain History, Jain Epigraphy and study of its art and architecture in Tamilnadu for over four decades and had authored over 20 books and more than 50 research papers in English & Tamil. Two of his books ‘Kalagumalai and Jainism’ and ‘Development of Jainism under the Cholas (both in Tamil) had received the best publication awards in the years 1993 and 2000 respectively from the Goverment of Tamilnadu. Some of his other popular works include Jaina iconography in Tamil Nadu, Jainism in Tamil Nadu – Art & Archaeology, Jaina inscriptions in Tamil Nadu a topographical List (1987).
His Holiness Jagadguru SwastiSri Dr. Devendrakeerthi Bhattarakha Swamiji of Hombuja Jain Math said “It is a great loss to Jainism, Dr. Ekambaranathan’s contribution to the study of Jain heritage in Tamil Nadu is remarkable. May his soul attain Sadgathi and we pray for the almighty to give enough strength to the bereaved family to bear the irreparable loss”.
Speaking to JHC renowned Tamil Jain scholar Dr. Kanaka Ajithadoss recalled his 35 years of association with Dr. Ekambaranathan and numerous field visits he had undertaken with him across Tamil Nadu. He specifically remembers their work on the book Jaina Iconography in Tamil Nadu, where in it was really very hard to find Jain idols with relevant iconographic features of all 24 Tirthankras. However, the village Nelliyankulam near Vandavasi Prof. Ajithadoss’s native had all the 24 Tirthankar idols and they spent a night at Nelliyankulam studying the idols. “It is a great irreplaceable loss to Tamil Jain heritage”, said Prof. Ajithadoss. his work “Jaina inscriptions in Tamil Nadu a topographical list co-authored with C.K.Sivaprakasam that covers over 530 Jain inscriptions in Tamil Nadu is considered as an important reference for the study of Tamil Jain Heritage” added Prof. Ajithadoss.
“Really very very sorry to know sad death of a great scholar on Jainism and fully dedicated to Tamil Nadu ancient culture. Mahasabha has published his some books also. We pray Jinendra deo for giving peace to his soul and strength to his family to bear this great loss Om Shanti”, said Nirmal Kumar Jain Sethi President Digambar Jain Mahasabha, New Delhi.
Dr. Priyadarshana Jain head of the department of Jainiology, Madras University said, “He had participated is many seminars and conferences and presented may papers on Tamil Jain Heritage. Our University staff members have sent their condolences. It is a loss to the university, department and the Jain Samaj. He has contributed immensely to the study of Jain inscriptions in Tamil Nadu. His works on Jain inscriptions will serve as a reference work for future research. He has led many excavations in Tamil Nadu. Even after his retirement he was serving in the department as professor emeritus and use to guide students for excavations. “
Dr.H A Parshwananth, Jain scholar from Mysore and one of founders of WWW.JAINHERITAGECENTRES.COM (JHC) expressed shock hearing the news. He said “we all started studying about Jainism in Tamil Nadu through Dr. Ekambaranathan’s works. For us Tamil Nadu Jain Heritage is synonymous to Dr. A Ekambaranathan. We cannot imagine the study of Tamil Jain Heritage without Dr. A Ekambaranathan. It’s a great loss to Jainism.”
Speaking to JHC Sri R P Jain of New Delhi expressed his shock hearing the news. He recalled his interaction with Prof. Ekambaranathan when he had come to Delhi along with Mr. Bhuvanendra Kumar of Canada during the early 1990s to his home at Delhi where in Mr. R P Jain had hosted him at his home for few days. He remembered Ekambaranathan saying “if more funding comes in, we can take up lot more activities in the field of Jain epigraphy, research and conversation of Jain heritage sites in Tamil Nadu”.
Mr. P. Rajendra Prasad, Convener, Tamil Nadu Jains Federation, Chennai said “This is an irreparable loss and there is a huge lacuna in the society”. He recalls attempts made by the Ahimsa Walk team recently towards having him for some of the talks on ancient Tamil Jain sites. However, due to his bad health they could not manage to have him.
Nitin H P, a Jain researcher & founder of JHC said “I started my study of Jainism in Tamil Nadu through Dr. Ekambranathan Sir’s work. It was a pleasure to meet him in 2016 at the international conference on Sallekhana held at Chennai. It was such a feast interacting with him and learning about the Tamil Jain Heritage. It is definitely a great loss to Jainism; may his soul attain Sadgathi.”
His last rites were held at the Perungudi Crematorium Kamaraj Nagar Chennai at around 4.30 pm today. The team at JHC has conveyed their condolences. – Inputs from Prof. KanakaAjithadoss, Dr. Priyadarshana Jain, P Rajendra Prasad & Jain Heritage Centres News Service (JHCNS)