Which is the Real Birthplace of Lord Mahavir? – Part 1

December, 2022 by Arpit Shah

Background:

Religions across the world have always revered the birthplaces of their divine figures with great respect. These places were soon transformed into pilgrimages, in view of the holy aura preserved in the respective birthplaces. Similarly, Jains have also revered the places where the five divine events, i.e. the Panchkalyanaks of Tirthankars (Chyavan, Janma, Diksha, Kevalgyan and Nirvan) had taken place. The last Tirthankar of this cosmic cycle, Shri Vardhaman Mahavir, on whose teachings Jainism has survived, flourished and thrived till date, was born in 599 BC, i.e. nearly 2,618 years ago.

Being the last Tirthankar, it would be obvious to assume that all the original locations of Lord Mahavir’s Panchkalyanaks would have been well preserved by Jains; However, the case is not so. Although, it might be surprising, the locations of all the five Kalyanaks of Lord Mahavir are disputed – either between the Shwetambar-Digambar sects or by history scholars. The only Kalyanak location agreed by both the Shwetambar and Digambar sects, i.e. Pawapuri (in Bihar) is disputed by history scholars, who place the location of the Nirvan Kalyanak at Pava-Padrauna in Fazilnagar, Uttar Pradesh.

Unlike Buddhists, who have well preserved the sites, relics, stupas and other archaeological remains related to Gautam Buddha, Jains did not preserve the same with respect to Lord Mahavir, predominantly due to large-scale migration and differing sectarian views. While all the Kalyanak locations of Lord Mahavir are disputed, the objective of this post is to study only the evidence available with respect to the birthplace of Lord Mahavir, above any sectarian bias.

The Birthplace of Lord Mahavira:

Generically, the Jain texts state that Lord Mahavir was born to King Siddharth and Kshatriyani Trishala in the kingdom known as Kundpur, which was situated in the northern part of Bharat Kshetra, which was situated in the middle of the vast Jambudwip. This kingdom was ruled by Siddharth and was divided into two parts – Brahmankundgram on the east (where the Brahmins used to reside) and Kshatriyakundgram, on the west (which was the capital of the kingdom). In the centre of Kshatriyakund stood a magnificent royal palace, nestled in a bed of splendid temples, gardens and lakes. The massive palace overlooked the Gnat-khand-van gardens on the east and Bahushal-van gardens on the west. On the thirteenth day of the bright half of Chaitra (month) in the year of 599 BC, Lord Mahavir was born to Trishala in this very palace situated in Kshatriyakund.

The major question arises on the current location of the erstwhile kingdom of ‘Kundpur’ along with its capital – Kshatriyakund. Currently, three locations within the Indian state of Bihar (which are at a significant distance from each other) are considered to be the birthplaces of Lord Mahavir by respective sects –

Grand temples and dharamshalas were constructed by respective sects in all these three places with a view to establishing them as the rightful birthplace of Lord Mahavir. While the temple at Kundghat was constructed in the10th century AD, the temple at Kundalpur was constructed after the16th century and the temple at Basukund was constructed post-Independence.

After surveying the above-mentioned three places, with a view to understanding the facts, I have collected various evidence and classified into the following broad sections:

(1) Literary and Cultural Evidence – Evidence collected from ancient Shwetambar, Digambar and contemporary Buddhist Scriptures along with cultural evidence; and

(2) Archaeological Evidence- Consisting of artefacts, architecture and unearthed historical evidence from the three locations. The evidence has been discussed in length below. Further, I have reserved my opinion so that the readers can make their own judgement based on the evidences available.

Before we move ahead further, let us first understand the family tree of Lord Mahavir, which would help us to understand the evidence better.

To be continued in next month………….

About Author

Arpit Shah

www.storiesbyarpit.com

Arpit Shah is an avid history researcher, devotional singer, and a Jain “vidhikarak” based out of Kolkata. He is a CS and MBA by qualification and works full time at a MNC.  He has authored 3 critically acclaimed books (“Dharma Saarthi”, “Prabhu Tamara Pagle Pagle” and Jin Puja – Itihas ke Panno se”) along with 50+ articles on Jain Heritage.

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binance Konto er"offnen
binance Konto er"offnen
1 month ago

I don’t think the title of your article matches the content lol. Just kidding, mainly because I had some doubts after reading the article.