Sunday, October 02, 2016

Weekly photo challenge - Serenity

My husband walks alone between pillars decorated with exquisite carvings, headphones streaming information into his ears about one masterpiece after the other; each pillar is unique. He was over-whelmed. It's claimed that there are 1444 such intricately carved pillars.

After hours of traveling on Indian roads alternating between death-defying speeds on the decent roads and teeth rattling bounces on the mucky pot-holed roadways, we stopped at this magnificent Ranakpur Jain Temple. Low season, the temperature was hovering around 100 degrees and in the sun, it was searing hot. Inside the shade of the temple, at 85 degrees, it was perfectly tolerable for us Southern Californians. Few people were there, unlike in high season when the place is jammed with tourists, selfie sticks poking every which way—the peace of the place, destroyed. If you get caught in a group of tourists, especially the "bus variety" where they have 20 or 30 minutes in a place that requires hours of time to really see, you can feel the adrenaline in the air. People get near panic and run all over the place trying to get photos before their guide rounds them up and back into the bus.  

On our visit, it was serene in the temple, save one shyster monk with a small group of Americans who were hanging on his every word. We had been forewarned about these people, who don a robe and pass themselves off as Jains or Jain experts. They dole out half-truths and expect big tips. Real Jain monks and nuns eschew owning and attachment of any kind. Like all Indian religions, Jain is terribly complex. Their five main tenets are: non-violence, not lying, not stealing, chastity and non-attachment. The nuns and priests do not stay in any one spot for longer than three days. They carry a small broom with them to sweep the walkway, lest they step on an insect. Many of them wear a mask to prevent accidental aspiration of insects. 

Mahatma Ghandi was greatly influenced by Jainism. Don't miss this architectural masterpiece if you are anywhere near. 

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