Presiding Deity and Location :
Sri Mahavir Bhagwan seated in a lotusposture, in black color and height 38 Cms (Dig) on a shrine outside the town Vaishali, 1Km away.
ANTIQUITY AND SALIENT FEATURES :
It is believed that the town of Vaishali was founded by king Vaishala, son of Ikshvake and Alambusha. There is also an opinion that many small villages were brought together to give it a form of a huge (Vishal) village and hence the reason it was named Vaishali. Today this area is known by the name Basadh. The history of the antiquity of this place is both glorius and full of interest. In away as the place is connected with the life of Sri Lord Mahavir, it is considered to be a holy place.
According to the traditions of digambers, three Kalnayaks of Lord Sri Mahavir viz conception, birth and initiation occurred here. His mother was Trishala and father, Siddhartha. The king of Vaishali Chetak was a brother (as believed by Swetambers) or father (as believed by Digambers) of Trishala. He was a faithful follower of Jain religion and of Tirthankar Sri Parshvanath. Shwetambers say, king Chetak had seven daughters. The first viz Prabhavati was married to Jai king Udyan of Sauvir, the second viz Pamavati was married to Anga king Dadhivahana and the third viz Shivadevi was married to Chandapradyota, king of Avanti. Jyestha was married to Nandivardhan brother of Mahavir and Chelana was the chief queen of Shrenik., the king of Magadh state. Mragavati was married to king Satnik of Kaushambi.
All these kings were followers of Jainism. King SHrenik was a follower of Buddha but after his marriage with Chelana he switched over to Jainism. Digamber tradition mentions seven daughters and twn sons of king CHetak. Also some of the names of daughters are at variance with these in Swetamber tradition.
It is believed that the last king of Janaka dynasty Kalara was killed by his subjects on account of his being a despot and debauch. People had then decided that in future the state of Videha would be ruled only by people. Kings of eight dynasties were therefore called together (dynasties of Ikshvaku, Gnatru,Bhoga, Kaur, Ugra, Lichchhavi, Videha etc.,) a loose federation under the title of Vaiji Sangha was formed and of administration justice etc. some rules by way of constitution were framed. King Chetak was elected to be the head of this federation. All this appear to have happened before the time of Lord Mahavir and Buddha.
Adjacent to this federation, there were two other federation, the Mallagana and Kashikola. There was friendship between all the three. Vishalabhuti and Rohak were respective heads of the two federations. According to the rules of the constitution framed by Vajji Sangha, there were no taxes whatever payable by the subjects. All previous taxes were abrogated. Vaishali at this time was an extremely affluent town. Lichchhavi dynasty had a great influence on Vaishali. They were full of self respect, modest and were broadminded and generous. They loved beauty and were conscious of fashion. Their special interest was in laying gardens and building temples. They were morally courageous enough to accept their guilt when shown to them. They were always co-operative and kind.
Though these people had intense faith in Lord Mahavir, they showed equal respect to Lord Buddha, Makkaliputrsa, Goshala, Sanjavbelakik and people following other faiths. According to the records found in Buddhist literature, the three federations of Vajji Sangha controlled an area of about 2300 square miles and Vaishali was the capital city of this entire confederation.
History tells us that king Shrenik of Magadh state was badly defeated by this confederation of Vaishali. Times changed and Ajatashatru, son of Shrenik first having succeeded in driving a vedge in this confederation later carried out a fierce invasion on it resulting in the destruction of property on a colossal scale and of men and women in millions. King Chetak the brave was killed and the confederation not only was broken up but was irreparably destroyed. This is the way the glorious Vaishali came to an end.
Vaishali again became independent after king Udayan son of Ajathashatru came to power. The control over Magadh state went over from king Udayan to king Mahapadmanand who too was a follower of Jainism. Thereafter, Chandragupta with the help of Lichchhavi’s took over the state of Magadh. King Chandragupta had married Kumardevi, daughter of Lichchhavi dynasty. After Chandragupta, Samudragupta became the king who defeating many states in various battles assumed the title of an Emperor. He issued gold coins in the name of his father, one side of which contained the imprint of Chandragupta and Kumardevi and the other side contained the imprint of Goddess Laxmi. Even today many such coins of the Gupta period are found during archeological excavations. Samudragupta also destroyed the city of Vaishali and made it a heap of ruin. It has not risen anymore till today while the ruins are still found here.
Present idol of the presiding Tirthankar Sri Lord Mahavir was found in lake Bauna situated at the south of the temple. The idol is believed to be more than two thousand years old.
Digamber traditions consider this place to be birth place of Lord Mahavir. All his childhood was spent here. Brave and illustrious king Chetak lived here. The founding of a confederation and its constitution in this place is a land mark event in the history of India as a whole.
It is only recently that some attention has been paid to this city by Digambers, albeit in the interest of Jain religion and its cooperation with the Government of the state of Bihar. In the vicinity of this city at present, the Bihar government has established an institute for research in Prakrit Jain scriptures and non-violence. Its chief buildings are the result of great financial donations by Shau Sri Shantiprasad Jain. Studies in Prakrit language and the subject of Jainism are available here upto the University Degree of M.A and the students can further carry out the research work leading to the Degree of PhD, and D.Litt. in the same subjects. This institute is a publishing house also. Being affiliated to the Bihar University, students from various states in India and South-East Asia come here for studies and research in Prakrit language and the scriptures of Jainism is the only one of its kind in the whole of the country of India and because of its existence the prestige of Vaishali has been now considerably enhanced.
The icon is unique in the temple here. Besides, there are several structures in ruins, which is not possible to describe. There is here a Museum run by the Archeological Department of the Government of India where ancient icons and relics are preserved with great care. The famous Ashok Pillar is kept here. Behind Jain Vihar, there is a small hill which is known as the fort of King Vishal, impenetrable Forts and places of the capital city of Vaishali and also of the kings of ancient Lichchhavi dynasty.
No other temple exists here. One another large Digamber Jain temple is under construction. At a distance of 5 kms from Jain Vihar is a small village known as Vasukund or Kundpur which is believed to be the actual birth place of Sri Lord Mahavir. Here there existed once upon a time the place of Maharaja Siddhartha, the father of Sri Lord Mahavir where the latter was born. The local Jatharia community believes Mahavir as their ancestor. About 2 acres of land has been left unused from ancient times. No plough has been used there. Neighbouring villagers say that it was the exact spot where Mahavir was born. Every year on Lord Mahavirs birthday the local population performs worship at this spot. At the present time, however, the spot has been handed over to the Government and since several years passed members of the Digamber jain Samaj have been holding their obeisance ceremonies with loud, glamour and great éclat.
APPROACH – ROUTE :
Nearest Railway Station are Muzaffarpur and Hazipur both 35Kms away and Patna which is 55Kms away from where buses and taxis are available. Bus stand is about 1.5Kms from the temple. Buses stop at the spot opposite to Jain Vihar. Buses and cars ply right upto the temple gates.
AMMENITIES FOR JAIN PILGRIMS :
There is a tourist information center of the tourist department of the Government of Bihar where pilgrims can temporarily stay. Besides there is a Jain Vihar dharamshala where water, electricity are available.
Managed By :
Sri Vaishali Kundpur Tirth Kshetra Committee
P.O Vaishali – 844 128
Dist : Vaishali (Bihar state)
Tel : 06225 – 29520