September 26, 2017

Juna Jain Mandir of Chennai

Sowcarpet is the locality of Chennai where a large number of North Indian and Gujarati communities are still found. Ananda Ranga Pillai in his famous diaries of 1746 CE mentions about the Gujaratis of Madras.

After the formation of Black Town, a lot of Gujarati families migrated to Sowcarpet. The migration continued till 1950s. The migration happened not to a particular reason and different groups of Gujarati speaking people migrated to Sowcarpet. It included the Gujarati traders from Gujarat, Khedaval Brahmins who had already migrated to Thanjavur, Gujarati Jains, etc. Hence, it is not surprising to find so many Gujarati Jain temples in Sowcarpet.

Two notable Jain temples are located in Mint Street in Sowcarpet. One temple, which was rebuilt with white stone marbles in 1994 CE, was constructed in the site where the original Jain temple stood for about 90 years. There is another temple in Mint street which is much older than this temple. It is referred as Juna Mandir. (In Gujarati language, Juna means old). I could not find any records on the date of construction of the original structure of this temple. However, I believe that the original temple could have been built in the late 1700s or early 1800s. The wealthy community which migrated to Sowcarpet in the middle of the 18th century would have definitely built their temple by then. The current structure of the temple is hardly 100 years old.

If the name boards are not there, anyone might mistake this building for an independent house. The ground floor has administrative office, the first floor is used for religious gathering and the temple is found only in the second floor.

Although the temple is referred as the Juna Mandir, the actual name of the temple is "Shri Chandraprabhu Bhagwan Jain Swetamber Temple".

The sanctum enshrines the white marble idol of Chandraprabhu Bhagavan in the middle. He was the eighth Tirthankara of the Jains. On his either sides, Sambhavnath, the third Tirthankara and Sumatinath, the fifth Tirthankara are found.

The small images of Godi Parshwanath (23rd Tirthankara) with the hood of a serpent above his head as well as Chintamani Parshwanath (24th Tirthankara) are found on the two corners in the sanctum. All the five Tirthankaras are in Padmasana posture.

Bhairav is a guardian deity in Jainism. The bust image of Bhairav is found in a niche in this temple. The small image of Manibhadra with boar head seated on an elephant is found. He has six arms. He is a Yaksha as per Jainism.

Jwalamalini, the Yakshi of Chandraprabhu, as well as Chakreswari Devi, the Yakshini of Rishabha, are also found in this temple.

The community hall, Jain Sthanak is also located near this temple.

Happy travelling.

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