Sammet Sikhar Jatra 2020
An Akram and Alaukik Anubhav!
At exactly 1:07 pm on January 15h, 2020, our Jatra Special train left LT Terminus, Kurla, Mumbai and began hustling out of the station. At last our long awaited Jatra for Sammet Shikhar had finally begun. The anticipation was palpable, and the excitement, high. Mainly, due to the places we’d cover but also for the opportunity to be close to the gyaani. Although, the train ride was practically two days long, the sheer hospitality of the catering staff, the frequent visits by the aptaputra, the prabhat-feri of mahatmas right before breakfast time, and the sheer company of other ‘samyak’ mahatmas, made the journey feel very enjoyable.
After getting down at Gaya station, we had a two hour ride to Veerayatan, our first halt in Rajgir, Bihar. Veerayatan is a great Jain organization, doing great humanitarian work, along with spreading the teachings of the Lord Mahavir. Veerayatan was the place where we had all our meals, and began all our excursions,
On the first day, our group had gone to hike the 5th hill of Rajgir, to do the darshan of ‘Parshwanath’ bhagwan, Gautam Swami and Munisuvrat Swami. This was the janma kalyanak, keval gyan kalyanak and nirvaan bhoomi of Munisvrat Swami. In the evening, we took a ropeway to visit ‘Buddha Stupa’, where we were all pleasantly surprised by ‘Pujyashri’s darshan and impromptu gappa satsang. The following day, we got to see the excavated ruins of Nalanda University. The tour guide did an excellent job of explaining how the University was in its heydays from the 5th Century through the 12th Century CE. Mahatmas took a lot of pictures with the ruins, and also visited the Nalanda Museum where they got to see a lot of the artifacts during those times, that were discovered and retrieved from the ruins. In the afternoon, we visited Pawapuri to see Jal Mandir – Lord Mahavir’s place of Nirvaan. Alongside we also got to see the spectacular Samvosaran mandir.
On the third day, Mahatmas got the opportunity to visit Lachhawad, which is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Mahavir. We got to witness the construction of a brand new Jain temple. It was amazing to see all the skilled artisans chiseling through the marble stones to bring the various jain idols to life. Mahatmas did a lot of bhakti, and vidhi at the temple site. We headed back to Veerayatan after lunch.
Veerayatan also has a beautiful Parshwanath Temple, on its campus, that we were fortunate to see, along with a great Jain Museum where all the exhibits vividly described the various Jain agam and scriptural stories. The evenings were indeed blissful with Pujyashri’s insightful satsangs. For one such satsang at Veerayatan, Sadhvi Shri Chandanaji herself addressed the mahatmas and gave her special blessings to all the pilgrim mahatmas.
After our stay at Rajgir, we all left for Sammet Shikhar, the most coveted destination of the Jatra. It is a 4-5 hour journey from Rajgir, Bihar to Sammet Shikharji in Jharkhand. En route, Mahatmas got to visit Rujuvalika, where Lord Mahavir, it is said, famously attained ‘Keval Gyaan’. They got to do the darshan of Mahavir swami in the ‘Gaudohika aasan’ (cow milking posture) under a Sal tree. It is said that, Lord Mahavir was in a village of Jrumbhika Gram, on the banks of the river ‘Rujuvalika’, where he finally attained enlightenment or Absolute Knowledge (keval gyan). So, this posture or idol of Mahavir Swami is also called ‘Keval Kalyanak’. After lunch, Pujyashri did vidhi with all the mahatmas, and we all proceeded toward Shikharji, the final destination of our Jatra.
Mahatmas were all assigned to their respective dharamshalas, where they rested for the afternoon. After dinner, mahatmas were all treated to a satsang of Dimplebhai. Next day, Mahatmas visited all the nearby Jain temples of Shikharji. The detailed carvings of the temples was exquisite and beautiful, while the idols were serene and ‘vitraag’. Our minds became peaceful, by their mere darshan.
The 2nd day aka the ‘D-day’ arrived, when we all started hiking up at 4 am. Everyone necessarily did darshan at Bhomiya Ji Temple. Legend has it, that every pilgrim, who climbs up Shikharji, does pray at this temple, to get his blessings for success of this strenuous hike of Shikharji.
First, we climbed straight up a distance of approx. 10 km, to Parasnath Hill, and did the darshan of ‘Parshwanath’ bhagwan tonk. (A tonk is actually a peak of a temple essentially where the siddha attained moksha, or where a devotee (gandhar) established a spot in meditation in homage to a siddha. (In essence, all the tonks have engraved foot-prints of the tirthankar or gandhar inside them for darshan.) It was almost 8:30 am by the time we reached there. At a height of 4,500 ft Parshwanath Bhagwan’s tonk is the highest peak at Shikharji. After that, we headed straight to Gautam Swami tonk to attend Pujyashri’s satsang. On the way, we did darshan of a lot of tonks of other tirthankars like Shantinath Prabhu, Suparshvanath Prabhu, Mahavir Prabhu and Vimalnath Prabhu. It was a lively and a spiritual atmosphere at Gautam Swami tonk. WIth all the dolis and pedestrian pilgrims, all bowing to the gyani-purush, it was a literal traffic jam at the top of Shikharji. From there, we headed straight for Shri Chandra Prabhu’s tonk. SItuated at a height of 4,100 ft approx, it’s the 2nd highest tonk at Shikharji.
After doing darshan there, we went on to cover the tonks of other tirthankars like Vasupujya Prabhu, Abhinandan Prabhu, and others before reaching Jal Mandir. We then rested there for a while, had some light refreshments, and did darshan. We then headed back to Gautam Swami tonk, to then finally hiking down to Talheti (base of the hill). We finally reached down at 5 pm. We hiked/walked for a total distance of 29 km, covering all the 33 peaks, in about 13 hours. We were thoroughly satisfied with our effort, and were blessed to do the darshan of the holiest pilgrimage site, where 20 of the 24 tirthankaras attained nirvana.
The next day, thoroughly satisfied with the experience, and blessed with the saanidhya of Pujyashri, every mahatma, felt very grateful of all the nimmits who were involved in making this spectacular jatra a great success.