Sallekhana – Secret ‘Enlightenment’ Caves found in Ancient Tirumalai Temple?

Hey guys, today I am going to show this ancient site called Tirumalai, there are several structures on top of the hill and we also have some structures at the bottom, let us look at the bottom structures first. There are several temples which look like Hindu temples, but they belong to the religion of Jainism.
This whole place is beaming with energy, it has more than 30 small chambers and caverns. Let us go into this doorway and see what’s inside. As we can see these doorways are remarkably small, it is not easy to enter through them. But what’s inside is just fantastic, there are carvings of several Jain Gods. These are at least 1000 years old. This type of carving is called Bas-relief where they leave the background, the rock face, as it is, and just carve 2 dimensional figures which seem to come out of the rock surface. Jains were the masters of carving Bas-relief. This is a female goddess standing under a tree. But the tree looks totally exotic, what kind of tree is this? And What are these rectangular slots doing here? I have already explained this in another Jain site called Kalugumalai which also has fascinating carvings. Ok, let us go to some of the sacred chambers used by Jain Monks, we are going to see some very strange things inside. Brick walls are constructed alongside natural caverns.
The chambers in almost all Jain temples are very small. These chambers were used for several reasons. One of the purposes is this: The monks needed to meditate in order to attain to achieve eternal bliss. Jain monks would perform long meditation known as Samayika and would be completely conscious of the present time, thereby eliminating the existence of the past and the future. These chambers were used for practicing this type of concentration, this form of meditation is considered a stepping stone to achieve enlightenment.
But there are even darker chambers. These chambers are very different. Inside, we don’t find statues of Gods, but rather a seat or a chair and some simple stone beds. How was it used? Some locals claim it was used for Sallekhana. What is Sallekhana? In jainism, some monks fasted to death, by slowly reducing the intake of foods and liquids. They would slowly become thin and eventually die a voluntary death. Even though some people have criticized this as ritualistic suicide, Jains maintain that this is a means of destroying rebirth and Karma. Now, you may think these are all practices which existed in the distant past, but no, Sallekhana is a practice still followed today. It is estimated that 240 Jains die of Sallekhana every year, even in our times. Today, even talking about suicide or death is considered taboo, but all ancient Indian religions maintain that every person had a right to voluntarily choose death. And this was a chamber where Sallekhana was practiced by Jains, they would predominantly stay in this chamber and slowly starve to death. Ok, now let us take a look at the ceiling. The ceilings are painted with natural vegetable colors, they have some really fascinating paintings here. However, certain paintings have been intentionally destroyed by the British, I have explained this in my previous video about Vimana technology.
I have always wondered why the darkest chambers always have the best paintings. Through the silky spider web, we can see this protrusion on the wall. It was used to fit a door. Imagine putting a solid door on this already dark chamber. It would become pitch black. Stucco structures are quite fascinating. There are Paintings which show monks. The flowerlike patterns on the ceilings are quite amazing. Imagine how bright it must have been when it had been freshly painted. Here we can see banana flowers, sometimes called banana blossoms.
One strange this is that the ceiling is less than 5 feet tall. I am unable to stand upright. Why was the ceiling designed so low? What is the secret behind this? This is a natural overhanging rock. You think it is an artificial ceiling because it is completely covered with paintings. But only the walls are made of bricks and mortar, the ceiling is a natural one. This is much more evident when you look at it from the outside. The cavern becomes shorter and shorter in height making it impossible to go any further. However, there may be more paintings in other areas.
In one of the walls, there is a fascinating painting which shows a monk sitting in the center surrounded by a variety of people and even animals are sitting around him. This is called Samavasarana a divine preaching hall of enlightened Jain monks. These are Jain nuns known as Aryikas. Here are the family women. Now, look how even their jewels are shown with the smallest details. They are painted white, indicating pearls and diamonds. We can even see different skin tones of monks, Black, White and brown people were all here. Remember, today less than 1% of Indians are jains, but once upon a time, it was a flourishing religion and it brought foreigners from various countries to learn about meditation and enlightenment.
Now, let us go down and look at what is at the ground level. We have several small chambers which house various Jain Gods. In my channel I have shown you thousands of Indian Gods and Goddesses, but you have probably never seen this one. This is the fabulous Goddess called Jwalamalini, also known as Jwalamukhi. She sits on a buffalo or a bull with 8 arms.
I have already shown you the temple’s main chamber in my last video, so I am going to skip that. Looking around, you see something strange: Why is the archeological department fencing these rocks? Because they have priceless ancient inscriptions. There are lots of rocks in this hill which are covered with writings about what happened here a thousand years ago. There is so much history here and it is said that inscriptions about ancient technology are found on top of the hill. So, let us go to the top of the hill and see what is up there. There are more than a 100 steps, and it is a steep climb. Once you are at the top, the very first structure, is this brick structure with metal doors.
But if you look Inside, there is a giant carving of a figure carved on the rock face of a hill. Who is he? His name is Neminatha, a very popular god. This is huge, about 52 feet tall, and is standing completely unclad on a lotus shaped pedestal. This is the largest ancient statue of Neminatha in the world. But this is not the top of the hill, this is situated halfway in the middle. Jains usually have something interesting on the very top of the hill. It is very typical of Jain sites to carve footprints of Gods at the very top. As you can see, this is exactly what we find at the hill top. There is not one pair of footprint, but several pairs of footprints carved on rocks. The entire hill needs to be explored, as the monks would have made carvings and inscriptions on many rocks. What made the monks turn an entire hill into a sacred site? Does this site have some kind of mysterious energy? This entire territory followed Jainism once upon a time. How did such a place lose its importance? Why did this whole area, once flourishing with Jainism, completely forget about such an amazing religion?

Praveen Mohan

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