Explained: Antriksha Parshwanath dispute between two Jain sects
Jainism is considered to be the world’s most peace-loving religion. Violence by any means is considered a sin in Jainism. But when it comes to temples and idols, this religion too descends into violence like any other. On 20 March 2023, the dispute between Shwetambara and Digambara, two sects of Jainism, in the Antriksha Parshwanath temple located in Sirpur, Maharashtra, came down to bloodshed. In the quarrel, the people of both sects attacked each other with rods and bricks.
What is Antriksha Parshwanath Dispute?
Actually, the dispute between the two sects regarding this temple is centuries old. Both sects want rights to worship and full control over the temple.
The doors of Antriksha Parshwanath shrine, located at Sirpur, 37 km from Kolhapur in Maharashtra, were closed for the last 42 years due to a dispute between two sects of Jainism.
Till now devotees were only allowed to see the ancient idol of Lord Parshvanath, the 23rd Tirthankar of Jainism from the window.
Short Timeline of Antriksha Parshwanath dispute
In the year 1905, there was an agreement between the two sects, under which people of both communities could worship here in turn.
On July 17, 1918, Shwetambar Jain Samaj appeals for full rights over this temple to the judicial commissioner. The decision of judicial inquiry comes in favor of the Shwetambara sect.
After this, in 1923, the Digambar Jain community appeals against this decision in the upper court.
In the year 1948, the Nagpur High Court also gives a decision in favor of the Shwetambar sect.
Till the year 1959, people of both communities offer prayers peacefully, but after that, the matter again reaches the court and the battle continues.
Supreme court Interim order on Antriksha Parshwanath
On February 22, 2023, the Supreme Court has given an interim order to resolve the dispute between the two sects, according to which the management of the temple and the idol is owned by the Shwetambar Jain Samaj until a final decision on this case.
Digambar Jain community can worship in the temple according to the agreement between the two sects in 1905. But without changing the form of the idol.
Members of the Shwetambar Jain community have been allowed to apply plaster on the idol so that the idol can be saved from spoilage.
On March 11, 2023, the keys of Antriksha Parshwanath Temple were handed over by the police to 98-year-old Mr. Sakarchand Bhai of Shwetambar Jain Samaj. The doors of the temple were opened after 42 years at 12:39.
The trust and management of the temple have announced to keep the temple closed for the next 50-60 days for plaster on the idol, they have got the authority from the Supreme Court.
People of the Digambar Jain community entered the temple on March 14, 2023, defying the order of the court. Because of this, the process of plastering the idol could not start.
The people of the Digambar Jain community allege that the people of the Shwetambar Jain community want to change the original form of the idol on the pretext of coating. And want to forcefully make it a Shwetambara idol.
The Digambara community has appealed to the Supreme Court for an early verdict on the matter.
Clashes broke out between the two communities on March 18 and 19, in which iron rods and bricks were used.
An agreement was reached between the two communities on March 20, under which plastering will start on March 23. Devotees will be able to have a darshan of the idol during this time.
According to the Places of Worship Act 1991 of India, the same status of religious places will be maintained as it was till 15 August 1947. There will be no right to change the religious character of any religious establishment.
On the basis of this law, people of both communities have the right to worship here. It is expected to be upheld even in the final decision of the Supreme Court.
How do Digambar and Shwetambar identify their idols?
The idols of the Shwetambara religion have Katisutra and Kachota. They make their idols wear fake eyes and crowns, that is, Shwetambara idols are adorned.
The idols of the Digambar Jain community are naked, there is no adornment on them.
Regarding this idol, the Digambar Jain community has been claiming that the idol is naked, and the Shwetambar community has made Kachota and Katisutra on the pretext of coating it to make it their own.
While the Shwetambaras claim that the idol is made of cow dung and sand, it needs to be plastered every 10 years, while the Digambaras say that the idol is made of solid stone.
The next hearing of this matter will be held in the Supreme Court in the first week of April.
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