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   Jaina caves at Ellora. 

  The Ellora caves, near Aurangabad in Maharashtra in 6th to 10th century A.D. witnessed the culmination of more than a thousand years of the rock-cutting tradition. The Buddhist, Brahmanical and Jaina caves of Ellora were made on the trade route from nearby Paithan to Ujjain in central India. 
The rock-cut caves of India are one of the most magnificent traditions in art. In ancient times, palaces of kings and buildings made in the service of ephemeral personalities were made of perishable materials such as wood. That which was made for the Eternal within us, to aid us on our journey towards self-realization, was carved out of the heart of the mountain.

Jaina caves at Elora
JAINA CAVE 32 has representations of the Jaina tirthankaras

  In the 3rd century B.C., Emperor Asoka and his grandson Dasratha made caves near Barabar in Bihar for the Ajivikas, a deeply ascetic sect. Thus began a great tradition that lasted up to the 10th century A.D. Hundreds of magnificent rock-cut caves were chiseled out of the hills of the Western Ghats, the Krishna Valley, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and other places. 
  The site of Ellora, on the outskirts of the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, witnessed the grand culmination of more than a thousand years of the rock-cutting tradition. From the 6th century A.D. up to the 10th century A.D., the last caves to be made for the Buddhist, Hindu and Jaina faiths were created here. Thirty-five caves were cut out of the western face of an outcrop of the Sahyadari hills. 
  The caves of the three faiths were made in overlapping periods, and as everywhere in ancient India, this demonstrates the generous attitude of rulers towards the worship of all divinities. As with other sites, the caves at Ellora were created on a trade route, in this case one heading from nearby Paithan to Ujjain in central India. 

     CAVE 32, 9TH century. Ambika, with the mango tree in fruit above her, continues the earliest traditions of Indic sacred sites. The entire temple was originally plastered and painted on the inside and the outside. Today, only a few paintings survive on the ceiling of the mandapa to display traditions that continued from earlier western Indian caves. Fragments of plaster and colour on the outer surfaces show that there were at least three layers of paint over the centuries. The record goes on to say that the gods who passed above the temple in their celestial chariots could not believe it was the work of mere mortals. 
  The 9th century saw the making of Jaina caves at Ellora. Cave 32 is called Chota Kailasa as it is a much smaller version of the grand Kailasanatha temple. The profusely decorated pillars are among the finest seen anywhere. Purnaghatas, or the vases of plenty, out of which the pillars rise, are a continuing motif in Indian art from the 1st century A.D. caves of Bedsa onwards. The veranda has the figures of Matanga, who represents prosperity, and Siddhaika, who represents abundance and generosity. 
  JAINA CAVE 32. The Jaina faith places great emphasis on the renunciation of all the pleasures and comforts of the material world on the path towards the realisation of that which is true. Here, one can see the vines that grew around the still limbs of Gomateswara as he meditated over a long period of time in a standing posture. 
  The cave has representations of the Jaina tirthankaras: Mahavira, Parsvanatha and Gomatesvara. Gomatesvara is believed to have stood still in penance and meditation for so long that creepers grew around his legs and body. In the 10th century, a colossal statue of Gomatesvara was made out of a large rock at Shravanabelagola in present-day Karnataka.  Surviving murals on the ceiling of the Caves 32 and 33 are very valuable as they mark the beginnings of the stylised medieval idiom in Indian paintings. Cave 33, known as the Jagannatha  Sabha, is similar in style to Cave 32. These caves mark the end of the great tradition of rock-cut temples in India. For 1,200 years, sanctuaries were hewn out of the rock.
Source: Frontline
By Benoy K. Behl 


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