Ayodhya, renowned as Lord Ram’s birthplace, holds a lesser-known significance as a major pilgrimage site for Jains. It witnessed the occurrence of 18 ‘Kalyanak’ events for various ‘Tirthankars,’ with five Tirthankars being born and preaching their religious teachings in this sacred city, including Adinath, Ajitnath, Abhinandannath, Sumatinath, and Ananthnath.
Certainly, in Jainism, there are 24 Tirthankaras, regarded as enlightened beings or Arihants. These spiritual leaders attain Kevalgyan (supreme knowledge) through rigorous penance, symbolizing the conquest of inner enemies, and they play a crucial role in Jain philosophy.
Rishabhdev, born in Ayodhya to Nabhiraj and Marudevi, was a significant figure in the Kulkar tradition. His birth occurred on the Ashtami-Navmi of Chaitra Krishna. Rishabhdev had two sons, Bharat-Bahubali, and two daughters, Brahmi and Sundari. After taking initiation, he attained Kaivalya on the Ashtami day of Phalgun Krishna Paksha. Eventually, he achieved Nirvana on Magh Krishna Chaturdashi in the Ashtapada region of Kailash mountain.
Ajitnath, the Second Tirthankar, was born in Ayodhya to Vijaya and Jitshatru. Initiated on Navami of Magh Shukla Paksha, he attained Kaivalya knowledge on Ekadashi of Paush Shukla Paksha. Subsequently, on the fifth day of Chaitra Shukla, Ajitnath attained Nirvana at Sammed Peak.
Abhinandan Nath, the Fourth Tirthankar, was born in Ayodhya to Siddhartha Devi and Sanwar. He took initiation on Dwadashi of Magh Shukla and achieved Kaivalya knowledge through intense penance on Chaturdashi of Paush Shukla Paksha. Abhinandan Nath then attained Nirvana at Sammed peak on the Shashthi or Saptami day of Baishakh Shukla.
Indeed, Jain texts identify Ayodhya as the birthplace of five Tirthankaras: Rishabhanatha, Ajitanatha, Abhinandananatha, Sumatinath, and Anantnath. Additionally, Ayodhya is linked with the legendary Bharata Chakravarti. Starting from the Gupta period, various sources mention Ayodhya and Saketa interchangeably, suggesting their association with the same city.
Jain temples in Ayodhya
Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh holds significance as the birthplace of Lord Rishabh Dev (Sri Adinath), the first Tirthankara and teacher of Jainism. His teachings, preserved in Jain and Hindu scriptures, including the Srimad Bhagwat by Ved Vyas, continue to inspire. Predating Sri Ram of Hindu tradition, Rishabha Dev left a timeless legacy.
The River Saryu, flowing through Ayodhya, silently witnessed the presence of these great personalities. The tradition of pilgrimage, stemming from a deep love for the divine, reflects a universal longing to connect with the sacred.
Indeed, the name Ayodhya originates from Sanskrit, combining ‘A,’ meaning absence, and ‘Yudha,’ meaning conflict or war. Similarly, the local name, Awadh, reflects the same essence, signifying a place where there is no killing. The name Ayodhya encapsulates the ideals of non-violence and peace.
During the Mughal period (some 500 years ago) from Akbar’s time Ayodhya was a mint city. The state currency was minted here. It became the capital city for the province of Awadh before the capital was shifted to Lucknow. Islamic culture was thus introduced to Ayodhya.
The temple of Sri Rishabh Dev, also known as Sri Adinatha, Prurudev, and Adi Brahma, situated in the Swargadwar locality of Ayodhya, offers a relatively new but immersive experience. It instantly transports visitors to the time when Lord Rishabh Dev lived and taught in Ayodhya. The temple is accessible throughout the day, from 7 am to 8 pm, allowing devotees to connect with the spiritual essence of this revered figure.
The Ajitnath ki Tok Temple in Begumpura, Ayodhya, serves as a commemoration to the life of the 2nd Tirthankara, Sri Ajitnath. This sacred space is dedicated to honouring the teachings and legacy of this revered spiritual figure in Jainism.
In Ramkot Mohalla, Ayodhya, there stands a temple dedicated to Sri Abhinandannath, the 4th Tirthankara. This temple serves as a place of reverence and worship for followers of Jainism, commemorating the life and teachings of Sri Abhinandannath.
Mohalla Mondhiana Rajghat
The birthplaces of Sri Sumatinath, the 5th Tirthankara, and Sri Anantnath, the 14th Tirthankara, are honoured with a temple located at Mohalla Mondhiana Rajghat in Ayodhya. These temples stand as significant landmarks, commemorating the birth and teachings of these revered figures in Jainism.
The Digambar temple at Raiganj is famous for its 21ft high idol of Sri Rishabh Dev.
Ratnapuri, the birthplace of Sri Dharmanath, the 15th Tirthankara lies 24 km before Ayodhya, on the Lucknow-Ayodhya National Highway near Ronahi.