June 3, 2017

Poondi Adinath Jain Temple

The beginning of Jainism was a big revolution which brought major changes in the political system, religious practices and social lives in India. Jainism is a minority religion today; especially in South India, the people who practice Jainism is very less.

In Tamil Nadu or other South Indian states, there are many modern day Jain temples built with marble stones, which are constructed by the Gujaratis and Rajasthanis. However, it is very rare to find ancient Jain temple in Tamil Nadu. In this article, I am going to discuss about one such temple.

Poondi is a small village located near Arani town in Tiruvannamali district of Tamil Nadu. In this village, there is a Jain temple named as Veeraveera Jinalayam. It is nowadays called as Arugar Kovil. It was built by King Veerasamban. He was a Sambuvarayar Prince, who was ruling the Tondai Mandalam, accepting the supremacy of the Chola empire. The temple was built in 1305 CE, as per the stone inscriptions found in the temple. The structure was built as per the Chola architectural style.

The east facing temple has a three tiered gopura. The sanctum with a beautiful vimana faces the east direction. It enshrines the big idol of Adinath, who is also called as Ponnezhilnathar. Three stone panels of Tirthankara are also placed in the sanctum. Among them, one stone panel depicts all the 24 Tirthankaras. The tall flag staff and bali peetha are found facing towards the sanctum. The sanctum has moola sthan, ardha mandap, maha mandap and Mukha mandap. In Mukha mandap, there are two idols of Jain Tirthankaras are found.

Adjacent to this sanctum, there is another east facing big shrine. It enshrines Parshvanath, the 23rd Tirthankara. The feet high idol is found in the standing posture with a five hood serpent on the back. A separate flag staff and bali peetha are found for this shrine.

There is a sub-shrine of Dharma Devi found in this temple. The King who built the temple is believed to have built the sanctum and the shrines of Parshvanath and Dharma Devi. The other sub-shrines appear to be later addtion.

The Hindu deities are worshiped as Yakshis by the Jains. Hence, the Hindu deities such as Brahma, Saraswati, Ayyanar and Lakshmi are also found in this temple. Chakreswari, the attendant of Adinath, is found in a shrine. Similarly, Padmavati, the attendant of Parshvanath is also found in a separate sub-shrine.

Hindus call the nine planets as Navagrahas; the Jains call them as Navadevtas. They are also found in this temple.

Happy travelling.








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