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Crawling Under Elephants for Good Luck

The drive from Jodhpur to Udaipur is long, so to break things up we stopped at Ranakpur for some sightseeing and a night  at Mountbatten Lodge. The following is quick post for a quick stop.

In a previous post I wrote about visiting a Jain temple but I knew little of the religion then and the temple we saw in Jaisalmer is nothing compared to Ranakpur Jain Temple. It is incredible from both the outside (nestled in an idyllic valley) and inside (1444 pillars carved of marble).

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After renting our audio tour guides and taking off our shoes, we made our way to the entrance. Instructed by the audio guide to “Look up”, I learned that the carving above me was the face of a demon with five bodies that represent the five aspects of evil according to Jainism. These evils are 1) attachment 2) anger 3) greed 4) intoxication 5) sensual craving. Those who practice Jainism believe that if you can rid yourself of those evils you will reach nirvana (enlightenment and supreme happiness).

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Inside the temple we learned about its architect, stories on the origins of the religion, the various prophets, and so on. But I won’t spoil it for those who feel about temples the way some feel about TV shows. You’ll just have to go there and hear about it yourself. Sneak peak: it is considered good luck to crawl under the statue of an elephant carrying the mother of the first Tirthankar of Jainism, Lord Adinath.

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In terms of general trivia, there are 12 million followers in India today but its influence isn’t limited to that number. I was surprised to learn that Gandhi’s mother was a Jain and in his younger years, Gandhi met a Jain devotee who shared her ways with him and whom he saw as his spiritual guru.

Leaving the temple, we watched with amusement as langurs jumped from trees, wrestled and pampered each other. These two were particularly cute.

Langurs

Until next time.

Xx, Sabrine

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