Introduction to Lal Mandir:
If you ask someone about the biggest and the most popular Jain temple in Delhi, the answer you would get is Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir. Also known as ‘Lal Mandir’, the temple is dedicated to the 23rd Jain Tirthankar, Lord Parashvanath. It is called ‘Lal Mandir’ since red sandstone has been used in its construction.
Location: Opposite Lal Quila, Delhi
Also known as: Lal Mandir
Location of Lal Mandir Temple:
The temple is located at the junction of Chandni Chowk and Netaji Subhash Marg, just opposite Red Fort. It can easily be seen from the road junction.
History of Digambar Jain Lal Mandir:
The city of old Delhi, commonly known as the ‘walled city’ was founded by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan. The city was planned in such a way that around his Imperial residence, the Lal Quila, there was the main street, called Chandni Chowk. Shah Jahan invited many Agrawal and Jain merchants to settle in this city and establish their businesses. He even granted them some land, south of the Chandni Chowk, around Dariba Gali. The Lal Mandir was constructed during his reign only.
According to a famous Jain scholar Balbhadra Jain’s compendium of Digambar, there was a Jain officer in the Mughal army, who kept an idol of ‘Tirthankara’ in his tent for personal worship. With time, this tent started attracting other Jain army officers as well.
Subsequently, a Jain temple was constructed at the site in the year 1656. At that time, the temple was also known as “Urdu temple” (because it was located in an area called “Urdu Bazar”) and “Lashkari Mandir” (Lashkar in the Urdu language means an army camp). Three marble idols installed by Jivaraj Papriwal under the supervision of Bhattaraka Jinachandra in Samvat 1548 (1491 AD) were acquired by the Agrawal Jain community for the temple.
The present-day Digambar Jain Lal Mandir buildings were constructed after the fall of the Mughal Empire, during the second half of the 19th century, around 1878. Initially, the Mughals did not permit the construction of shikhar for the temple. The temple shikhar was only built in the year 1947 after India gained independence.
Legend Associated With the Lal Mandir:
Balbhadra Jain also narrates several legends about the Digambar Jain Lal Mandir. One such legend relates to Emperor Aurangzeb, who was Shah Jahan’s successor. Aurangzeb did not like any kind of music, so he ordered a ban on all musical instruments in the temple. However, miraculously, sounds of nagaadas (drums) would be heard emanating from the temple. Mughal officers were sent to inspect the temple, but they did not find anything. Aurangzeb himself visited the temple to see the miracle, and finally, lifted the ban.
While the temple has a highly resourceful library on Jainism, it is known for its charity hospital for birds, called Jain Birds Hospital. The avian veterinary hospital is in another building behind the main temple and is the only institute of its kind in the world. This hospital was started in 1930 and it treats about 15,000 birds a year. It provides shelter to a variety of birds especially the herbivores and squirrels rescued from accidents and bird hawkers. To ensure the safety of herbivore birds, vultures and other flesh-eating birds are treated as outpatients.
Digambar Jain Lal Mandir Complex:
The pilgrims coming to the temple are welcomed by the Manastambha column at the temple entrance. On the first floor of the temple, after crossing a small courtyard, there is a primary hall of worship. There are 3 main shrines and several other sub-shrines in the temple.
In 1931, Acharya Shantisagar, the famous Digambar Jain Monk had visited the temple. Over a history of eight centuries, he was the first Digambara Jain Monk to have visited Delhi. To commemorate this historical visit, a memorial was built inside the temple.
The peaceful ambience attracts pilgrims in large numbers. The shining gilded paintwork under the lights of butter lamps and candles provides a soothing atmosphere for the devotees.
Who are the three main shrines dedicated to?
According to Jain cosmology, there is no temporal beginning or end of the universe. Furthermore, the wheel of time is divided into two halves- ascending time cycle, Utsarpini and the descending time cycle, Avasarpini (said to be the current cycle). Twenty Four Tirthankars grace each half of the cosmic time cycle and Jainism is found by the first Tirthankar each time. Inside the Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, three main shrines are there and are dedicated to:
- Lord Rishabhanatha: In this current time cycle, Lord Rishabhanatha is the first Tirthankar, saviour and spiritual teacher of the dharma (righteous path) because his teachings helped one across the sea of interminable rebirths and deaths. Hence he was also known as Adinath-“First (Adi) Lord (nātha)”. He is the spiritual successor of the last Tirthankar of the previous time cycle, Sampratti Bhagwan and is said to be the founder of Jainism of the present time cycle.
- Lord Parshavanatha: The twenty-third Tirthankaras or propagator of dharma was Lord Parshav Nath. The earliest advocator of Karma philosophy, Lord Parashvanatha was popularly seen as a propagator and reviver of Jainism. He attained moksha on Mount Sammeta (Madhuban, Jharkhand) in the Ganges basin, an important Jain pilgrimage site. The serpent hood over his head makes his iconography prominent and moreover, his worship often includes Dharanendra and Padmavati (Jainism’s serpent Devta and Devi). As per Jain Śvetambar texts, Parshavanatha propounded that every household must adhere to four restraints to attain nirvana.
- Lord Mahavira: The 24th and the last Tirthankar of the present Avasarpani era, the descending time cycle, Lord Mahavira was born in 599 BC as a prince in the ancient republic of Vaishali (Bihar). However, having renounced all worldly pleasures and comforts, he went in search of ‘Moksha’ (salvation). He preached about the eternal truth of life and ways to attain Moksha after attaining enlightenment. He reformed the existing faith and by adding the fifth monastic vow of celibacy, expanded the scope of Parshvanatha’s first four restraints to the practice of asceticism
Five Monastic Vows:
Two major schools of thoughts under Jainism are Digambara and Svetambara. While Digambara’s follow Mahavira’s five vows teachings, Svetambaras trace their practices and dress code to the teachings of Parshavanatha, who expounded four restraints for attaining Nirvana.
Five vows (Lord Mahavira added the fifth vrat to four vows advocated by Lord Parshavanatha) which ascetics and householders must observe:
- Ahimsa (Non-violence or non-injury): It is Jainism’s first & the most important vow and it applies to not only actions and speech but to thought as well. One should respect the sanctity and dignity of every living being the same way as one expects one’s own sanctity and dignity.
- Satya (truthfulness): Applies to not only oneself but to others also.
- Asteya (non-stealing): Not “taking anything that doesn’t belong to you or has not been given to you.
- Brahmacharya (chastity): For households it means faithfulness to one’s partner. For monks it means abstinence from sex and sensual pleasures.
- Aparigraha (non-attachment): Non-attachment to property or worldly possessions for laypeople. An attitude of not owning anything for mendicants.
Adhering to the above vows provides spiritual peace, a better rebirth, or Nirvana (ultimate liberation), which are the ultimate human goals.
Important things About the Digambar Jain Lal Mandir:
- The temple complex remains open for a longer time during the 10 days of Daslakshan Parv or Paryushan Mahaparv.
- There is no entry fee to enter the temple.
- Cameras are not allowed inside the temple.
- Entering the temple carrying leather goods is not allowed. Hence devotees are expected to take off their footwear.
- The footwear and all other leather goods have to be handed over to the concerned person before entering the temple complex.
Best Time to Visit the Temple:
Summer timings are from Holi to Diwali: 5:30 am to 11:30 am & 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Winter timings are from Diwali to Holi: 6:00 am to 12:00 pm & 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm
In terms of months, the best time to visit Delhi is during winters, when the temperature is comfortable. Though December and January are quite cold months. During the festivals, Paryushana, Samvatsari, Deepawali and Jnaan Panchami, the temple is beautifully decorated and it is advisable to visit during the same.
How to reach Lal Mandir?
- By Train: The nearest station is Old Delhi Railway Station. Though there are several other railway stations like New Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin, and Sarai Rohilla. All these stations are well connected to all the major cities through a rail network.
- By Air: The nearest airport is Delhi Airport. There are regular flights from all major cities to Delhi.
- By Road: Delhi is well-connected to all major cities through a road network. There are bus services available that connect Delhi to major cities.
- Within City: The nearest metro stations are Lal Quila and Jama Masjid, located on the Violet line of Delhi Metro. Government-owned DTC and private buses are available
Q, 1: What is the Shri Digambar Jan Mandir at Delhi commonly known as?
Ans: Lal Mandir
Q. 2: When was the Lal Mandir constructed?
Ans: The Lal Mandir was constructed in the year 1656, during the rule of Shah Jahan
Q. 3: Why was the shikhar of the ‘Digambar Jain Lal Mandir’ temple built after 1947?
Ans: When the temple was built, the Mughal Emperors did not permit the construction of the temple-shikhar. It was built after 1947 after India gained Independence.
Q. 4: Who is the first Tirthankar of Jainism?
Ans: Rishabh Dev Ji, also known as Adinath
Q. 5: Which Jain monk had visited the Lal Mandir in 1931?
Ans: Acharya Shantisagar, the famous Digambar Jain Monk had visited the temple in 1931. . Over a history of eight centuries, he was the first Digambara Jain Monk to have visited Delhi.
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