Our host decided to dress me up for my birthday. I got an Indian outfit, pearl jewelry, and my hair done with flowers and a braid. We drove to the hills where we were going to see a Jain cave temple.
At the bottom of the hill, a pond is filled with lotus flowers and gigantic fish. Our host explained that it is part of the tradition of visiting holy sites to feed the fish. I have seen this at many temples, and it certainly explains why the fish were so fat. Of course, I admire anything that has to do with appreciating nature’s creatures.
Our host led us up a tall staircase built into the side of the mountain. The hill was so steep I took off my flip-flops ‘cause it felt like I was sliding out of them. We stopped halfway up, where the staircase ended. Some goats were down on bended knees eating grass growing out of the hillside. Several carvings of stout gods are in the rock just over a small hole filled with water.
The spot is a Jain temple. The Jain carved their figures in rock near a water source. Jainism and Buddhism were both attempts to purify the corrupt Hindu system, Jainism being an offshoot of Hinduism. It was rejection of the Vedic Scripture. Renunciation of materialism was part of their message. They wore no clothing, which was quite unusual at the time and slept on stone beds. They led very simple lives. Eventually they were taken over by the Hindus.
I imagine the Jains living naked on the rocks, engaged in a holy experiment to find god. Over the years there has been so many different avenues, so many lifestyles people have chosen in earnest belief that it will bring them closer to the divine. And although giving up all aspects of materialism is certainly not for me: I admire the conviction it must have taken for those Jains to live out their principles.