Being a prominent religious city and located on the main highway it has always been on the hit list of the invading armies.
Its dauntless spirit always made it to rise up after every fall. Krishna told Arjun in Gita that whenever there is darkness and loss of Dharma he would take incarnation to uplift and reestablish the Dharma order and rule of law , ominously Mathura recovered miraculously after its devastation at the hands of Huns.
After Sikander Lodhi's destruction it saw the revival through Chaitanya Mahaprabhu 's disciples, Vallabhacharya , music maestro Haridas , Mirabai , Surdas , and innumerable devotee poets and saints. Again when Aurangzeb let loose hell over this sacred city, Jats and Marathas proved saviours of its cultural vestiges. People mostly regarded it only as a Vaishnava religious city and termed Krishna, its presiding deity, as a mythological figure. It was rediscovered by the civilized world in when Colonel L.
Stacy chanced upon a mound and got unearthed an antiquarian masterpiece popularly known as Silenus and a Cage-bearing Yakshi. It turned out to be a groundbreaking momentous discovery. The renowned archaeologist Alexander Cunningham became quite fascinated with Mathura. Between and he made several trips to the city and its outskirts and carried out excavation work in different mounds.
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These mounds proved to be a goldmine of classic sculptures. He and an archaeologist administrator, F. Growse Collector of Mathura made herculean efforts in bringing out innumerable sculptures and art pieces and in the process unveiled the historical, social, economic and political life of Mathura in last about 2, years. Recovery of huge haul of sculptures, inscribed stone-pieces, coins and architraves proved beyond doubt that Mathura in ancient times was a great centre where not only Hinduism, but Buddhism and Jainism also flourished.
This book is a humble attempt to piece together these scattered historical facts. It is rather a spiritual journey into Mathura's colourful history.
There is some magnetism in Mathura, popularly known as Brajbhoomi, because once in Mathura's lands, one feels immersed in the devotional feelings. This magical land erstwhile was a melting pot of a diverse cultural heritage—rich, diverse and colourful. Hence we hope that tourists, pilgrims and the followers of Krishna, Buddha and Mahavira will find in this book some food for their thoughts.
Mathura is such an ancient and sacred city that it should have a huge number of visitors to it.
But in comparison to Varanasi or Rome other cities older than it , the number of its pilgrims, tourists and visitors are far less. Reason being its historical, religious and cultural importance has not yet been publicized properly and aggressively. Hence, feeling a spiritual urge to fulfill this vacuum and promote the glory of ancient Mathura this treatise is being brought out.
As per mythological belief Mathura is eternally enjoying the protection of Krishna's fabled wheel Sudarshana Chakra. For a visitor, the walled city of Mathura is the place for chaste Brajbhasha , peda, dahi curd , milk, and of course its divine posterboy— Krishna. Howsoever incongruous it may seem, the congested walled city with its century-old buildings, ahatas, bagichis, akharas and galis—has gelled well with modern antiseptic Mathura.
Though the ancient tin lok se nyari Mathura is gone, yet the modern small town continues brimming with enthusiasm and life.
A century or more back, the ancient mounds gave way to the mansions, havelis and kothis and now these crumbling mansions are being marred or demolished to make way for residential colonies, commercial establishments and multi-storeyed apartments. The historically oldest structures of the city chronologically are—Satiburj 17th century , Manoharpura's mosque Ahmad Shah's period , Jama Masjid of Chowk Aurangzeb's times , Idgah Masjid Aurangzeb 's period , Dwarkadhish Mandir 19th century , old Museum 19th century , Lala Babu's cenotaph 19th century , Collectorate , and Sacred Heart Catholic Church 19th century.
It is difficult to come across an original walled city house today. Old era is gone and so has its architecture and lifestyle. Today's generation does not realize what a treat it is to live in huge, spacious, airy mansions, hence only a few dozen houses have got old dalans, sahans and small gardens in their courtyards. Multicultural flair still exists in the city hence adherents of every creed and religion have got their place of worship here. While the Jama Masjid of Chowk dominates the landscape of the old walled city, the spires of Krishna Janmabhumi temple have got an aura of highest religiosity.
The entire walled city of Mathura always bustles with activity as there is one festivity or other through out the year. Since then little has changed in Chaubes. They are a peculiar race and must not be passed over so summarily. Till middle of 20th century they were very celebrated as wrestlers. Their Bhuteshwar Akhara arena was popular far and wide in whole of North India. One of their most noticeable peculiarities is that they are very reluctant to make a match with an outsider, and if by any possibility it can be managed, will always find bridegrooms for their daughters among the residents of the town.
Hence the popular saying:. In the later half of 19th century a considerable migration of Chaube populace was made to Mainpuri, where the Mathuria Chaubes now form a large and wealthy section of the community and are in every way of life better than the parent stock. On important festive occasions bhang-rolling groups of Chaubes are a sight worth enjoying.
They complete the masti revelry of Braj. Neminath was the 22nd Tirthankara of Jain religion. He was the cousin brother of Lord Krishna. King of Shauripur Andhak Vrishni had ten sons. Eldest son was Samudravijai, while the youngest one was Vasudeo. Neminath took birth in the house of Samudravijai, while Sri Krishna was born in the house of Vasudeo.
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Out of fear from Jarasandh Yadavas left Shauripur lock, stock and barrel and got settled at Dwarkapuri. There Neminath became an ascetic. He left behind his would-be-bride and after scaling the Girnar hilltop started his penance there. Following the footsteps of Lord Rishabhdeo, he renounced his cloths and turned a digambara bare bodied. Vasudeo married the sister of Mathura's king Kansa and moved to stay there. I thank colleagues at the University of Rajasthan, especially in the Department of History and Indian Culture, for their generous assistance during my stay in Jaipur.
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I gained more than I can easily say from the intellectual stimulation of conversations with these colleagues, especially Dr. Mukund Lath. I also thank Arvind Agrawal for his generous assistance in getting me settled and started in Jaipur. I am indebted to too many members of Jaipur's Jain community to mention all of them here.
I owe special thanks, however, to Mr. Rajendra Srimal and Mr. Milap Chand Jain for their extremely generous reponses to my inquiries.
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I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to my good friend and colleague Surendra Bothara for his companionship and guidance. There were. In response to both oral and written versions of this manuscript or parts thereof many colleagues have given me helpful criticism and comment.
John Cort, in particular, has been an unfailing source of encouragement, an absolutely reliable critic, and a true and good mentor in all things Jain. My thanks indeed. But to all these thanks I must add that any errors of fact and interpretation are mine alone.
My wife Nancy has shared my life in India through good times and bad and has helped me in my work in ways too numerous to mention. To say that I am grateful hardly expresses what I feel, but grateful I am. Some portions of this book consist of revised and recast material drawn from earlier articles of mine. I have employed standard conventions for the romanization of words from Indian languages. Words from Indian languages have been pluralized by adding an unitalicized "s.
The Hindi retroflex flap and the Sanskrit vocalic " r " are both reproduced as " r. In keeping with the vernacular milieu of the study, I have privileged the Hindi forms throughout most of the book Mahavira therefore appearing as Mahavir.
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In some cases, however, I have bowed to conventions employed by secondary sources on which I rely heavily and have given the more familiar Sanskrit versions for example, Saiva and Vaisnava. Occasionally, moreover, context or common practice has made it seem desirable to give the word in question in its Sanskrit form even though it has been given in its Hindi form elsewhere in the book. When this has been done, both forms are included in the glossary. Recurrent and important terms, but not all Indic terms, are included in the glossary; Hindi glosses given in the text are not given in the glossary.
What does it mean to worship beings that one believes are completely indifferent to, and entirely beyond the reach of, any form of worship whatsoever? What are the implications of such a relationship with sacred beings for the religious life of a community? These turn out to be questions that can be investigated and answered, for a very close approximation of such a state of affairs can be found in the South Asian religious traditions known collectively in English as Jainism.