Jharkhand:- Sammet Shikhar - Bh. Parshwanath

Shri Sammet Shikhar Teerth
(Parasnath)

Location : 22 Kms from Isari Village ( Parasnath Railway Station on Delhi - Howrah Line). Regular local transport is available from station to Madhuban hills. Official transport services are also available from Digambar Jain Mandir.

History and Description of Sammet Shikhar Teerth : Sammet Shikhar and Shatrunjay are the most prominent among all the Jainpilgrimages of India. Shatrunjay pilgrimage is on a hill-top in western India and Sammet Shikhar is in eastern India. When just one auspicious event of one Tirthankar, can convert a place into a pilgrimage, it will be quite impossible for human intelligence to assess the holiness and power of that pilgrimage where as many as twenty Tirthankars have litup the inextinguishable light of 'nirvana'. Although the first light of 'nirvana' was lit-up in Ashtapad (in the Himalayas), today that pilgrimage is invisible to us. Under such a circumstance, Sammet Shikhar is that pilgrimage which we can hail as the 'Shikhar' (Summit) of the first light of 'nirvana'. The truth is that Sammet Shikhar is the topmost light of 'nirvana'. of the twenty - four Tirthankars of Jainism, twenty Tirthankars namely, Ajitnath, Sambhavnath, Abhinandan - prabhu, Sumatinath, Padmprabhu, Suparshwanath, Chandraprabhu , Suvidhinath, Sheetalnath, Shreyansnath, Vimalnath , Anantnath, Dharmnath , Shantinath, Kunthunath, Arnath, Mallinath, Munisuvrat Swami , Neminath and Parshwanath spent the evening of their lives on this great mountain and attained the supreme status of 'moksha'. Every Tirthankar made efforts to enliven the density of power of this place, and consequently for millenniums this place has been vibrant , awakened and anointed with their halo. Really, Sammet Shikhar is an astonishing , unique and awakened holy pilgrimage. Even today the atmosphere of Sammet Shikhar contains a sort of holiness. This mountain's own special feature is that it always remains redolent with the fragrant trees of a large Sandal forest situated over it. Several rare herbal medicines are found on this mountain. The melodious sound of the cool water-falls flowing on this mountain gladdens our heart.

The most ancient reference of Sammet Shikhar has been made in the Mallijin chapter of the scripture known as Jnatadharm Katha. Describing the 'nirvana' of Tirthankar Mallinath two phrases - 'Sammeya pavvaye' and 'Sammeya sel sihare'-have been used for this mountain.

In the 'Parshwanath Charitra' (biography of parshwanath) of Kalpsutra, describing the 'nirvana' of Tirthankar 'Parshwa', the phrase 'Sammeya Sel Siharanmi' has been used to denote Sammet Shikhar.

In the medieval literature 'Samidigiri' or 'Samadhigiri' is also found to denote Sammet Shikhar. The local People address it as Parasnath Hill. It is also mentionable that this pilgrimage is called 'Sammet Shikhar' in the Shwetambar tradition and 'Sammed Shikhar' in the Digambar tradition. The main reasons of this is not the difference in traditions, but the difference in the ancient languages. In the Shwetambar tradition Ardhamagadhi Prakrit is used. As the linguists know in Saurseni prakrit 't' becomes 'd' in use. That is why in the Digambar tradition 'Sammet' is pronounced as 'Sammed'.

Bhomiaji Maharaj of Shikharji is world famous. In Jainism, two powers are world-famous as the protecting deities - Nakoda Bhairav in Rajasthan, and Shikharji's Bhomiaji in Bihar. On the sprawling mountain of Sammet Shikhar, whether it is midnight or noon, the devotees are found to be travelling. Who else but Bhomiaji protects them all.

Bhomiaji Maharaj not only protects the pilgrimage, but also fulfils the wishes of the devotees. At the foot-hill which is known as Madhuvan, there is a fascinating temple of Baba Bhomia containing his haloed idol. People worship the Baba with oil and vermilion and offer their bountiful homage at the door of the Baba. Every year on the day of Holi festival, a grand fair is held on Shikharji at the door of the Baba.

In the ninth century Acharya Yashodev Suri's disciple Pradyumna Suri had travelled in Magadh for a long time. In course of this travel he also visited Sammet Shikhar pilgrimage seven times. In the early ninth century Sammet Shikhar became a victim of religious bigotry, and the temples of that place were destroyed. At the close of that very century the pilgrimage was renovated.

In 1592 A.D. emperor Akbar had gifted this mountain to Acharya Shree Heervijay Suri on being impressed by his personality. In 1670 A.D., Shree Kumarpal Sonpal Lodha renovated the Jina-temples here.

In Samvat 1809, Delhi's emperor Ahmed Shah, being impressed by the acts of Murshidabad's Seth Mahtab Ray gifted to him Madhuvan Kothi, Jaypar Nala, Jalhari Kund and 301 bighas land in the valley of Parasnath Hill. In Samvat 1812, emperor Abu Alikhan Bahadur had declared this hill tax-free. The ardent desire of Seth Mahtab Rai was that this holy pilgrimage should be renovated. As luck would have it, Seth Shree Mahtab Rai died even before the repair-work began. The renovation work of Sammet Shikhar pilgrimage began under the guidance of his son Seth Khushal Chand, and as per the divine signals spots for twenty 'Toonks' were selected and the Toonks were built there. These were consecrated in Samvat 1825 on Magh Shukla Tritiya by the auspicious hands of Acharya Shri Dharm Suri. Under this very renovation plan on the mountain, the Jal-Mandir, seven temples in Madhuvan, Dharmshala and the temple of Shree Bhomiaji the protecting deity of the hill, were completed and consecrated.

The renovation work of this pilgrimage was done again from Samvat 1925 to 1933. In course of this renovation new 'dehris' (small temples with prominent thresholds) of Lord Aadinath, Lord Vasupoojya, Neminath, Mahavir and the eternal Jineshwar Shree Rishabhanan, Chandranan, Varishen, Vardhmaan et al were constructed too.

In the following current of time one more crisis befell the mountain. King Palganj made a public announcement for sale of the mountain. On getting the information Rai Bahadur Shree Badridas Jauhari of CalCutta and Shree Bahadur Singh Doogar of Murshidabad signaled the India level Shwetambar organisation Anandjee Kalyanji's Pedhi to purchase this mountain. With the active co-operation of those two virtuous persons the Pedhi (Trust) purchased this mountain on 9.3.1918 for Rs. 2,42,200 and the development of the pilgrimage began in a systematic manner.

Owing to the untiring efforts of Sadhwi Shree Suprabha Shree the renovation of this pilgrimage was undertaken again in Samvat 2012 which was completed in Samvat 2017. It was the twenty-third renovation of this pilgrimage. Whatever we see today at this pilgrimage is the final form of that very renovation.

The journey to this holy pilgrimage rids misery, confers piety and destroys sin. The journey begins after bowing the head in Bhomia Baba's temple. On ascending nearly 3kms. of the upward slope comes Gandharvnala. Here the pilgrims take rest for some time. At this very place there is 'Bhataghar' where people take breakfast on returning. From here, after ascending 2 kms. and 500 steps of the staircase, comes a vast span of level land. All around here 'Toonks' of Tirthankars have been built.

The First 'Toonk' is that of Ganadhar Gautam Swami. Images of foot prints of twenty-four Tirthankars and ten Ganadhars have been installed here. Among these the dusky -greenish coloured feet are those of Gautam Swami. These were installed in Samvat 1825. A few steps away from here stands the Toonk of Shree Kunthunath, which was consecrated in Samvat 1825.

Near Lord Shree Kunthunath's Toonk is the Toonk of the eternal Jina Shree Rishabhanan. Close by is the Toonk of another eternal Jina Chandranan. Near it is the fifth Toonk, of Tirthankar Shree Neminath.

The sixth Toonk belongs to Tirthankar Arnath. The Lord had attained 'Nirvana' here on Margsheersh Shukla Dashami. The foot-prints were installed here in Samvat 1825 on Magh Shukla 3.

After the Toonk of Tirthankar Arnath, comes the Toonk of Tirthankar Shree Mallinath. Here the holy feet-marks were installed in Samvat 1825. Ahead of this is the eighth Toonk, that of Tirthankar Shree Shreyansnath. Here too the holy feet-marks were installed in Samvat 1825.

On walking a little ahead there is the ninth Toonk. Here the ninth Tirthankar Shree Suvidhinath had attained 'nirvan'. The tenth Toonk is that of Tirthankar Padmaprabhu. At a little distance away stands the eleventh Toonk of Tirthankar Shree Munisuvrat Swami. At a high summit a beautiful Toonk is seen from here. This Toonk is dedicated to Tirthankar Shree Chandraprabhu. Really, on reaching here, the heart becomes so very indescribably glad! Here are installed the dusky-greenish coloured feet-marks of the Lord. A huge cave is also here which is deeper than the other caves of the mountain and negotiable.

The Jal-Mandir is 2 kms. away from here. On the way we get a glimpse of Lord Shree Aadinath's Toonk. At a little distance away from here is the fourteenth Toonk. The feet-marks of the fourteenth Tirthankar Shree Anantnath are installed here. The fifteenth Toonk is that of Tirthankar Shree Sheetalnath. The sixteenth Toonk belongs to Shree Sambhavnath.

The seventeenth Toonk is that of Lord Shree vasupoojya. The feet were installed in Samvat 1825. The eighteenth Toonk is that of Tirthankar Shree Abhinandan Swami. Here too the feet were installed in Samvat 1825.

The Jal Mandir stands at a little distance away from here. In the lap of holy mountains, built amidst the lush green tall trees this Jina temple is really a unique gift of the devotees to nature. This is the only temple on the entire Sammet Shikhar where the idols of the Tirthankars are auspiciously present. On the three sides of the temple there are natural 'Jalkunds' (ponds) . Therefore, it is called 'Jal Mandir'. The dignified solemn idol of Lord Shamaliya Parshwanath majestically installed in the temple as the principal deity spontaneously soaks the heart with a sense of devotion.

This temple was built by Jagat Seth Shree Khushal Chandji. Those were the days when there were no means of transport. As such, all the building-materials were collected at the Madhuvan, and thereafter brought here on elephants.

On the way from Jal Mandir to Parasnath Toonk, the first Toonk, the first Toonk that comes by is the twentieth Toonk of Shree Shubh Gandhar Swami. Ahead of it, the twenty-first Toonk is that of Tirthankar Shree Dharmnath. The holy foot-prints installed in this Toonk were consecrated in 1825 A.D. On the way ahead of this is the Toonk of the eternal Jina, Shree Varishen. At some distance is the twenty fourth Toonk of Tirthankar Shree Sumatinath. Here the Lord had attained 'nirvana' on Chaitra Shukla Navami. The twenty-fifth Toonk is that of Tirthankar Shree Shantinath.

The twenty-sixth Toonk is that of Tirthankar Mahavir Swami. The twenty-seventh Toonk belongs to Lord Shree Suparshwanath. Ahead of this is the twenty-eighth Toonk, of Tirthankar Shree Vimalnath. The twenty-ninth Toonk is that of Tirthankar Ajitnath. The thirtieth Toonk has been dedicated to Tirthankar Neminath. Here in Samvat 1934 the holy foot prints of the Lord were installed.

The last and the highest Toonk of the great Sammet Shikhar pilgrimage is that of Lord Parshwanath. In the whole world there is no Jain Temple situated on any summit higher than this. That is why this 'Shikhar' (summit) is the Summit not only that of Lord Parshwanath but that of entire Jainism. Its height is so much that sometimes the entire temple becomes covered clouds. Therefore, it is called Meghadambar Toonk (temple covered by clouds). The Summit of the temple is visible even from a distance of 30 kms. Here the dusky-green holy foot prints of Lord Parshwanath have been installed. This Toonk is at a height of 4479 feet from the sea level. This is the last Toonk of Sammet Shikhar.

The foot of the Sammet Shikhar mountain is called Madhuvan. All around it there are large clusters of trees sprinkling 'madhu' (honey). That is why it is called Madhuvan (Honey-forest). There are several other spots worth viewing:

Shwetambar Kothi and Temple : Just on entering the Kothi (bungalow) we find the temple of Shree Bhomiaji Maharaj, the protector-diety of this pilgrimage. The temple is amply attractive. Inside the Kothi itself there is the huge Jina temple in the form of a cluster of eleven temples. This may also be the Talhati Mandir(Foot -hill temple). A 90 cm. idol of Lord Shamalia Parshwanath is installed here as the principal deity. At the rear of the 'dharmshala' stands the Dadawadi which is worth viewing.

Digambar Jain Terah Panth Kothi : In the middle of it is the majestic temple of Lord Shree Chandraprabhu. Samvasaran temple has been built on the left side of the third door of this temple.

Twenty-Four 'Toonks' : On entering here first of all we come across the magnificent 25 feet high idol of Bahubali. Twenty-four Tirthankars have been built here. Samvasaran temple is built in this very temple-campus.

Kachchhi Bhawan : Fifty-two Jinalayas have been built here. This temple houses the idols of many Jain Tirthankars. The spire of the temple is very beautiful.

Jain Museum : Among the spots worth viewing in the Shikharji pilgrimage, this is the most important. The Museum has been built by Shree Jityasha Foundation, Calcutta under the inspiration of Ganivar Shree Mahimaprabh Sagar Ji Maharaj. On the first floor of the museum various things concerning Jainism have been collected. Just in front of the sprawling hall the most majestic 6 fet high idol of Lord Parshwanath in the meditational posture is auspiciously seated. All around on the walls there is an exhibition of pictures depicting Jain architecture. In the whole of India, this is the only museum which contains a collection of all the postage stamps issued on Jainism. On the first floor itself there is a collection of ancient art-pieces made of ivory and sandal-wood. On the second floor of the museum, 50 scenes depicting special sequence of events of Jainism have been shown. The depictions are so lively that you will be enchanted.

Shri Digambar Jain Madhyalok Research Centre : This Research Centre, which has been recently built depicts the 'Madhyalok' or Central world as described in the Jain scriptures. The main building houses a massive statue of Bhagwan Shri Parshwa Nath in a huge hall suitable for prayers, congregations and large gatherings. A library is being developed along-with research facilities for Jain scholars. The president of the Centre is Shri Chand Mal Ji Saraogi from Kishanganj, Bihar.

Shri Parshwa Kalyan Kendra : This Centre, run by Shri Paras Jain Chikitsalaya Seva Sadan at Madhuban is being run under the guidance of Shri Navin Muni Ji Maharaj of Swetambar sect. It offers excellent facilities for treatment of serious diseases, like asthma, Jaundice, Rheumatism, Leucorrhoea, Diabetes and heart diseases, using herbal medicines, acupressure and other traditional methods of treatment.

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From - World Renowned Jain Pilgrimages Reverence and Art, By - Mahopadhyaya Lalitprabh Sagar

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