Varanasi Parshvanath Digambara Jain Temple is located in Bhelupur, Varanasi. It is unique temple and has great importance as it is the only famous temple in the vicinity of the Varanasi City. Digambara and Shwetambara are the two sects of Jainism. Where Digambara believes in extreme non-violenece to the extent of living naked to avoid killing of even smallest germs; Shwetambara believes that extreme non-violence is not possible practically and is only a fantasy. Though there remains differences in ideology the temple having two smaller temples of both Digmabara and Shwetambara sects tell a different story of religious co-habitance.
Opening and Closing time of Digambara and Shwetambara Jain Temples of Varanasi :
The temple opens after 12 pm while closes at 9 pm in night. The main reason behind it is the staunch principle of Jainism of non- violence.
Location of Temple :
Shri Parshvanath Digambar Jain Tirtha Kshetra, Bhelupur, is located approximately 3 kilometres away from the Banaras Hindu University, and 4 Kilometres from Banaras Cantonment. There are two Jain temples dedicated to Parshvanath, the 23rdTirthankara of Jain Tradition, located adjacent to each other (Digambar and Shwetambar). The only difference being that, Digambar Temple has a 75 centimetres tall black idol, whereas the Shwetambar Temple has a 60 centimetres tall white idol.
History of the Temple :
The temple is dedicated to Lord Parshvanath, the 23rd Tirthankaras or Prophet of the Jainism. He was said to be born here, circa 800 BC. Parshwanath was a prince of Benaras who abandoned the throne and led the life of a hermit. He died at Sammet Shikar at Parshwanath (Parasnath Hill), in Jharkhand. He gave four teachings i.e. Non-stealing, Non-lying, Non- violence and Non-possesion, in that Mahavira added one more. There are only two Tirthankara 23rdParshvanath and the Mahavira who are evidently proved to have existed in History. The Tirtha in which these temples are located finds mention in 14th century texts. Temple precinct is extremely peaceful. Though there is difference between ideological principles of both sects of Jainism i.e. Digambara and Shwetambara the coexistence of two Digambara and Shwetambara Temples is a beautiful example of religious harmony. The temple is in waning yellow colour and offers a beautiful sculptural acumen of sculptures. It has idol of TirthankaraParshvanath and many of his representations in form of Serpaent as Serpent is the Symbol of Parshvanath. With many legendary stories on its walls and premises the temple stands tall in buildings of Varanasi.
What to see in the temple :
Besides beautiful architecture and sculpture of the temple people can see the Jain religious practices, white clad as well as naked Jain Munis and take a lesson of non-violence from Spiritual teachers of Jain Temple.
Temple Precincts :
Temple caters to large number of people from all religions Jain as well as non- Jain and has very peaceful environment.
Jain Festivals :
Mahavira Jayanti or Birth Anniversary of Mahavira Jain is celebrated in April. Paryushana is another festival when monks stay at one place. Initially it was primarily a monastic practice. This festival consists of 8 days of intensive fasting and repentance. Kartik Purnima is another sacred festival when Jain Monks gather and take bath in Ganges. Hindu Festival Diwali has a great significance as this day Mahavira attained salvation.
Eateries around Temple :
There are a number of restaurants and hotels that offer a variety of food from pure vegetarian to non- vegetarian and cheap lodging facilities. You can also look for roadside eateries that can offer you more delicacy than any big brand name. Enjoy a great Indian cuisine!