The history of Shankheshwar Parshwanath
Jain History had recorded that the 23rd Tirthankara, Bhagwan Parshwanath was to be born in the present Chauvishi. Bhagwan Damodarswami, the 8th Tirthankara of last Uttasarpini forecasted the story of Parshwanath before Ashadhi Shravak. Ashadhi Shravak was one of the staunch disciple and polite Shravak of Bhagwan Damodarswami.
Once upon a time he had been to the assembly of Damodarswami and after listening to his sermons he was worried about his emancipation and salvation. He stood up and politely requested the Tirthankara to foretell about his Salvation time. Tirthankara replied “O! Good and fortunate Shravak! You will achieve the Salvation in the time of 23rd Tirthankara Parshwanath in the forth coming Avasarpini in Bharatkshetra. You will become his Gandhara, named Aryaghosha.”
Listening and learning from very honourable Tirthanakar Shri Damodarswami, he felt ease and became very happy that he would be the Gandhar of 23rd Tirthankar Parshwanath in the nxt Avasarpini. However, he did not forget that Bhagwan Parshwanath would be his GURU and in his time he would achieve salvation, he asked further to Damodarswami the structure and form of Parshwanath. The compassionate Bhagwan described the structure as under and also told brief history of Parshwanath.
Parshwanath would be 10 Haath in height and would have Azure colour of the body. Ashadhi Shravak fully engrossed with the structure of his benevolent Tirthankara, started to create the images of Parshwanath. He created three images of Bhagwan Parshwanath. They are called now as CHARUP PARSHWANATH at village Charup near Mehsana in Gujarat, ANTARIKSHJI near Nasik in Maharashtra and SHANKHESHWAR PARSHWANATHJI at Shankheshwar in Gujarat. Charup Parshwanath was originally known as Shamla Parshwanath. It is said that this Charup Parshwanath too was miraculous image. In the past it showed four types of forms everyday. Ashadhi shravak was worshipping his Bhagwan beyond our imaginations after constructing the images. He worshipped them with four categories; such as Naam, Sthapna, Dravya and Bhav. Always one finds him worshipping the images and remains in continuous touch with them. He was so connected with these idols that he remained disconnected with the worldly happenings. His end came near and his light of soul was to extinguish. He died but he was in the meditation of Parshwanath. He went to heaven. He used his divine knowledge to know from where he had come to this heaven. He knew it was the affect of his worshipping the image of Parshwanath. He brought one image to the heaven and worshipped it everyday until his end. He finished his heavenly life span.
The Parshwanath image, which he took to heaven, is now taken over by Dharnedra and Padmavati. They took it to their palatial residence at Patal-Loka. They worshipped there for millions of year with utmost devotion as they knew that their up-gradation from the worldly life would be due to Parshwanath. The time is passing like flow of water and as dew drops fall from lotus leaf.
In the present Avasarpini, that is also called current Chauvishi, the first Tirthankara Rishbhadev born to Marudeva and Nabhi and his lineage was termed as ISHWAKU. Several Tirthankaras were born in the same “ISHWAKU”. Then came the turn of YADAV lineage in which child celibate, 22nd Tirthankara Bhagwan Neminath was born to queen Shivadevi of king Samudravijay. Neminath and Narayan Krishna were cousin brothers. Approximately 100,000 years were left to finish the 4th wheel of time cycle in the present Avasarpini. In this fourth wheel of time cycle there were twelve Cakrins, nine Narayanas, nine prati-Narayanas and nine Baldev along with twenty three Tirthankaras. Bhagwan Rishbhadev happened to be in the third wheel of time cycle. The image of Parshwanath continued to be worshipped by Dharnedra and Padmavati during this entire period in the Patal-loka.
When Krishna was narayan, at the same time there was prati-narayan, named Jarasangha. He was elder than Krishna. There was a war between Narayan and prati narayan to establish supremacy of power. This is the natural phenomena. The army of Krishna was defeated by Jarasangha when Jarasangha called his divine power named as “JARA.” This divine power when used entire army of Krishna went in to Coma. Narayan Krishna was worried because Jara could not affect only Neminath and Krishna and his step brother Baldev. He consulted Neminath for the remedies.
Neminath advised him to bring the miraculous idol of Parshwanath from Patal-loka after pleasing Dharnedra and Padmavati. He also showed the path to bring it. He asked Krishna to sit in the meditation for three consecutive days without food and water and please the god and goddess. He also informed him that he would protect his army for three days without any assistance and alone from the onslaught of Jarasangha and his army. Narayan Krishna went for meditation and pleased Dharanedra and Padmavati. They appeared before him and asked for the favour. Krishna saluted them and politely requested them to provide him with that miraculous image of Parshwanath. Although they were reluctant to provide it but due to the involvement of Neminath, bind through the worship of Krishna and most important thing was that the time had ripened for the appearance of that image of Parshwanath on this earth, they gave that image to Krishna. They then disappeared. Krishna was delighted and as advised by Neminath he carried out Snatra and Puja of that image. He collected the Snatra-Jal and returned to the war-front. He sprinkled this Sntra—jal over the unconscious bodies of his soldiers. They woke up with the sprinkling and ready for fighting.
Then Krishna entered in to the war field. He too was defeated and to kill him Jarasangha called his ultimate powerful armory tool Cakra. He left the Cakra after revolving it on his finger towards Krishna. It was so luminous and gorgeous that except Neminath, Krishna and Baldev others could not see it. It came rushing towards Krishna. It hit him and he fell down unconsciously. After some time he regained his conciousness and hold the same Cakra on his first finger of the right hand. He then forcefully threw it towards Jarasangha. Cakra this time showed its charismatic act. It killed Jarasangha and Krishna was proclaimed and established last Narayan of this Chauvishi.
He blew up his crouch loudly for the celebration of his victory over Jarasangha. He then set out for the establishment of the image of Parshwanath at the place near war front. He constructed a town and named it as “SHANKHPUR.” as he blew the crouch there. He named the image as “Shankheshwar.” This was the second renovation of image of Parshwanath. Since Krishna carried out fasting for three days, we are also observing fast for three days and worship Parshwanath. He then worshipped this image until he died.
The historical evidences of renovations of Shankheshwar Parshwanath tirth are available at present and they are preserved well. The time never waits for any one. It passes beyond imaginations. Several thousands of years elapsed after the establishment of Shankhpur town and Image of SHANKHESHWAR PARSHWANATH by Narayan Krishna. There was a rule of Solanki dynasty in Gujarat in the 11th and 12th century of Vikram era. King Siddharaj was the ruler. He had wise and brave chief minister, named Sajjan. Once upon a time while he was returning from the pilgrimage tour of Girnar, he came near Shankhpur. He saw the temple of Bhagwan Parshwanath in ruined conditions. He decided to renovate it on the advice of Hemcandracarya, who also narrated history in brief to him. He constructed the new temple from carved wood blocks and established the image originally created by Ashadhi Shravak. This was third renovation of Shankheshwar Parshwanath Tirth. This was in the Vikram era 1155.
The time cycle goes on moving and moving tirelessly. There were two most famous brothers, called Vastupal and Tejpal happened to be in the thirteenth century of Vikram era. Their learned preceptor was Acarya Vardhmansuri. He was pious and well charismatic. They all were returning from the Sangha yatra of Mount Shatrunjaya reached Shankheshwar. They worshipped there. Vardhmansuri told both the brothers the history of Shankheshwar Parshwanath and advised them to renovate it from the scratch. Both the brothers very much attached with Jainism readily agreed. They made wonderful temple of Shankheshwar Parshwanath from stones and marbles. They established again the image of Parshwanath renovated with pearls’ slurries. They not only made new temple but it had added beauty of another 52 small Deris with 52 Tirthankaras images in it surrounding the principal temple of Shankheshwar Parshwanath. This was fourth renovation of Shankheshwar Parshwanath tirth. It was in the Vikram era 1286.
The time is passing. The rulers in India too were changed. Muslim attackers started roaming in the northern part of India. Jains of that time were very clever and foresighted. They understood the need of the time and to protect such miraculous image and decided to remove the Image of Shankheshwar Parshwanath from the temple and safely placed under ground. There was a town named Zanzupur, which is now called Zinzuvadia, near Shankheshwar. There was a king named Durjanshalya. He was suffering severely from Leprosy diseases. It is unfortunate to have a king with such disease to rule. Therefore, he decided to please his KULDEVTA, the luminous god the Sun. There was The Sun temple near Zunzpur which is now called Modhera. He went there and sat to please his god. After sometime the Sun god appeared before him and asked why he was called. The king told his problem. The Sun god clarified that he was unable to remove his disease but suggested to bring out the image of Shankheshwar Parshwanath from underground. He showed him the place from where it could be found. The king was happy, brought out carefully the image and started worshipping with daily Snatrapuja. He was sprinkling Snatra—Jal everyday over his body with the intention to remove his disease. After some day his disease was completely disappeared and he turned out to be fresh and young. He knew that it was only due to the blessing in disguise of that image. He became now staunch Jain and started following Jain dharma and continued worship of that image daily without interruptions. One day he thought to reestablish and renovate the old temple of Shankheshwar Parshwanath. He ordered for that and renovated the same. This was the fifth renovation of Shankheshwar Parshwanath Temple in the fourteenth century of Vikram era and carried out by King DurjanShaly.
Now the India was in the grip of Muslim kings and rulers. They had started demolishing Hindu and Jain temples at various places. They invaded Gujarat also and demolished Somnath Hindu temple. They were turning their march towards other parts of Gujarat. The Jains again rose to an occasion. They thought that a miraculous image of Shankheshwar Parshwanath should be protected from the onslaught of Muslim invaders as this image was prepared by Ashadhi Shravak through the inspiration from Tirthankara Damodarswami billions of years ago. They precisely did what their ancestors had done in the past. They placed it safely underground.
The time moved on and the rule of Moghuls established in India. Akabar the Great was ruling when Acaray Hirsuri was holding the command over Jain Sangha. Hirsuri converted violent Akabar into Non-violent form. Acarya Vijay Sensuri was next on the throne of Jain Sangha after Acarya Vijay Hirsuri. During the time of Vijay Sen Suri the last and sixth renovation of Shankheshwar Parshwanath Temple took place.
There was a cow in the cowherd of shepherd. A shepherd was grazing the cow herd everyday in the farm land outside the village near Shankheshwar. His particular cow always milking at one significant spot and did not yield milk at home. This shepherd had observed this phenomenon for certain periods. He learnt that this particular spot has something very special in it. He then tried to dig it out very carefully. A miraculous image of Parshwanath appeared with fresh flower worship and divine fragrances. He knew nothing about this but understood that this could be Jain Image. He contacted some Jain leaders and brought them to the spot. They realized that it was their Parshwanath. They contacted present Acarya Vijaysensuri and he rushed to the spot. He told the Shravakas that this was the miraculous image of Shankheshwar Parshwanath and informed them about its history. He advised them to reestablish it in the new temple. This is the sixth and final renovation of Shankheshwar Parshwanath Temple under the guidance of Acaray Vijaysen suri in the sixteenth century.
The present temple we find today has undergone various changes during the period of time. This is the only temple in the world where the Image of Shankheshwar Parshhwanth is worshipped vigorously and with perfect affections. In other temple one can find that various gods and goddesses are being worshipped. It is said that this idol is presently protected and covered by Gods.