Chauhan religion

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Of religions, the chief ones now represented in Rajasthan are Jainism and various systems of orthodox Hinduism; and this seems to have been the case in our period also.


[Page-249] Buddhism had flourished here in the first few centuries preceding and succeeding the birth of Christ. Eight inscriptions at Sanchi record gifts of certain inhabitants from Pushkar. It had died out almost wholly by the time the Chauhans established their kingdom in Rajasthan.


At the time our period begins, Jainism had gone far enough on the road to decadence; but it was saved from sharing the fate of Buddhism by a number of brilliant teachers of whom Haribhadra Suri of Chitor (700-770 A.D.) was the foremost. The traditional date, V. 585 (528 AD) for Haribhadra Suri's death is in conflict with the internal evidence of his books. We follow the date suggested by Muni jinavijayaji. A learned Brahmana of well-recognised erudition, who had accepted Jainism merely because it appeared to him as more rational than other systems of thought, Haribhadra, followed the teachings of his new creed to the fullest, in letter as well as spirit, without caring in the least about popular prejudices and patronage.

[Page-250] The situation that Haribhadra Suri found was bad enough. As Nirgranthas, the Jaina sadhus were expected to move about almost continuously, without being bound down to any place or people by the ties of kind, kinship and property. Theirs was to be a rational religion, without any mysteries of super abundant ritual and ceremonies, a religion the message of which was to reach everyone without any distinction of caste and class, wealth or poverty. Asceticism, self-abnegation, self-control and chastity were to be the characteristics of a true follower of Jina, for thus alone could one disassociate oneself from the impure karmika material which holds down a soul. Yet Haribhadra Suri found many Jaina sadhus (now known as Chaityavasins) living in chaityas and mathas, building Jina temples, putting to personal use money collected for religious purposes, wearing scented and coloured clothes, singing in the presence of women, paying court to the rich, using tambala, lavanga and flowers, taking rich food, selling images of Jina, practising astrology, reading omens, quarrelling with each other to have disciples, putting off religious discussion by telling people that abstruse matters could not be discussed with them in short doing practically everything which a Jaina sadhu should not do. Haribhadra Suri raised his powerful voice against all these corrupt practices. As a rationalist to the core, he wanted others also to be rationalists, to exercise their own individual judgment and reach their own conclusions, instead of taking anything on mere authority. As a sincerely religious spirit, he wished all to be sincerely religious and not to have mere lip-sympathy with the religion they professed. Though the attribution of 1400 books to his authorship may be an exaggeration, it is certain that both by the word of his mouth and his pen he did more than any other Jaina teacher to meet the arguments of the Buddhists as well as Hindu revivalists and to purify the Jaina, Church of many evils that were steadily dragging it down.

[Page-252] The great work thus begun did not stop with Haribhadra. He succeeded in influencing at least thought, if not the actual practice, of the entire Jaina world. Uddyotana Suri, pupil of the great acharya himself, and Siddharshi Suri, the writer of that supremely beautiful and inimitable allegory, the Upamitibhavaprapancha-katha, tried in their own way to carry his message to the people. But the acharyas who succeeded most in popularising it in Rajasthan were probably of the Gachha known as Kharatara. No passive believers in Haribhadra's teachings, they actually made them into a living force by their continuous preaching, discussions and personal example. Jineshvara Suri, in whose time his followers received the designation of Kharatara on account of their following the strict and true path laid down in the Jaina scriptures, defeated the chaityavasins in a religious discussion at the court of Durlabharaja Chaulukya (c. 1010-22 A.D.) of Gujarat. Abhayadeva Suri wrote his commentaries on the Jaina angas from 1063 to 1071 A.D., and by his teachings as well as personal example won over numerous people to the new path, the most important of them being his great disciple Jinavallabha who, leaving all his proprietary rights in the matha, garden and temple at Asika (Hansi) dedicated his life to the work so dear to his master. Gujarat had perhaps already made some progress towards the right path, the vidhi-marga, as the Kharataras called it; so he chose Rajasthan as the sphere of his missionary activity. In spite of the great Haribhadra and his followers having worked

[Page-252] here for generations, it was still full of chaityavasins and their followers. The task before Jinavallabha was not easy. People preferred to stick to their old dogmas and teachers. They tried to find fault with his life as well as methods. If he succeeded in establishing a vidhichaitya, they tried to capture it, sometimes using the influence of local rulers to achieve their mean ends. Now and then blood even flowed, as Jinavallabha's followers tried to defend their rights.

Undaunted by these difficulties, Jinavallabha made Chitrakuta his headquarters and, by his complete mastery of the different Indian systems of Indian philosophical thought, astrology, astronomy and poetics, and even more by a life of absolute simplicity, sincerity and complete adherence to the words of the Jina, won over to his way of thinking many followers, lay as well as clerical, who soon made his teachings well known in Rajasthan and Malwa especially in that part of the former of which is known as Bagad. Reformed temples (vidhichaityas) were established at Marukotta, Narwar, Nagor and Chitor and perhaps at other places also, and each one of these bore the same inscription.

[Page-253] And Jinavallabha's influence, already by no means negligible, must have grown still greater when Naravarman of Malwa, at the time the overlord also of Chitor, sent for him to Dhara and in recognition of his poetic talent and selfless life granted him two Paruttha drammas daily from the customs house of Chitor for the maintenance of its two vidhichaityas. Besides, Jinavallabha left behind himself literature enough to serve as a sound basis of anti-chaityavasa propaganda. His style was perhaps a bit polemic, and the language sometimes even vitriolic. Yet this, in his view, was necessary. No reformer can afford to mince matters when dealing with religious, social or moral corruption. A good specimen of his writings is the Sanghapattaka. There was not, he said, a greater enemy of the Jaina religion than these so-called sadhus who donned the monastic garb and yet yearned for pleasures and enjoyments. No Jaina sadhu is permitted by his scriptures to take food specially prepared for him; he is only a recipient of what is superfluous and can easily be spared by the house-holder for others' use. Yet these so-called sadhus took greedily what their disciples prepared for them. They made Jaina temples their homes, in spite of the fact that their religious life in them was bound to be interfered with by the singing of musicians, dancing of courtesans,

[Page-254] sounc1ing of drums, and crowding in of spectators wearing costly garlands. For a real sadhu a layman's house was a far better habitation ; in fact this had been the practice of the great Jaina tirthamkaras and teachers. Jaina canonic law condemns acceptance of money and property, undertaking of worldly projects and the un-Jaina practice of eating many times a day. They do not allow also the use of padded and comfortable seats, such use being indicative of lack of self-control and desire for enjoyment, both of them ridiculous in a bhikshhu. But the chaityavasins taught something different. They told the people to adhere to their own gachchha, saying that a man's gachchha was fixed for ever. When questioned about property, they told their disciples that a yati had the right to possess a temple and that it was a layman's duty to look after all his requirements. Even if a Kharatara taught something -prescribed by the scriptures, a chaityavasin's follower had directions not to accept such a teaching. What could it be, thought Jinavallabha, but the bad influence of the times that the country was passing through which made these so-called sadhus influential and persuaded sometimes sincerely religious people even to follow the lead of brats, picked from the streets and made into acharyas, who defying all religious injunctions and enjoying the best of life courted popularity by organizing religious processions, bathing ceremonies of gods, spectacles and the like, and acted almost as ordinary householders, regarding the gachchha as their household and the temples as their property.

Such sadhus were bound to invite the ridicule of the populace and make them feel that there were not any greater hyprocrites than the Jaina sadhus who were thought to be practising penance even when they had property, comfortable houses to live in, luxurious beds to lie on and almost every vice and weakness of

[Page-255] When Jinavallabha died in V. 1167, the vidhichaitya movement had received a good start and his work was carried on by his distinguished pupil, Jinadatta Suri, popularly known as Dadaji, who perhaps won over more adherents to the Kharatara fold than any acharya that preceded or followed him. He was a powerful preacher and a fearless critic. But no small part of his success probably was due to his adopting Apabhransha, in preference to Sanskrit and Prakrit, as a mode of popularising his ideas. His Charchari Upadesharasayana and Kalasvar upa-kulaka convey in simple yet poetic language the ideas of his masters ; the first two could even be set to music and sung while dancing. Chitrakuta (Mewar), Nagor (Marwar), Narabhata (From here come two very beautiful images of Neminatha and Santinatha (8th-9th century) and Kanyanayana (Northern Bagad), Ajmer, Vikramapura (Kolayat, Bikaner), Tribhuvanagiri (modern Tahangarh, 24 miles north of Karauli), Vyaghrapura (Southern Bagad) Rudrapalli (रुद्रपल्ली), Ujjayini and Dhara (Malwa), an even the distant Uchcha (Sind) were among the various cities visited by this untiring reformer and his disciples. At Ajmer, he met the Chauhan

[Page-256] ruler Arnoraja, who was pleased to donate a good site for the construction of some new temples, in which worship was to be performed in accordance with Jinavallabha's teachings. At Tribhuvanagiri he preached to its ruler Kumarapala and made the city into a good centre of Jaina worship.

The next acharya, Jinachandra Suri, did not live long. But in the long ministry of Jinapati Suri, the reformist message of the vidhichaitya school made further progress. In fact, by the time of his death the need of reform had become fully recognised, and many other acharyas too, not belonging to the Kharataragachchha, had denounced chaityavisa and rid their gachchhas of later excrescences and corruption. And some among them, notably Hemachandra Suri of the Purnatalla gachchha, wielded religious-and even political influence enough to shape the events of the times and give them a trend that persisted and had the greatest influence on the cultural history of 'Rajasthan.

Largely due to this great influence of the Jaina acharyas of the period, Jainism had either the favour or the active and steady support of a number of Chauhan rulers and their ministers.

  • Prthviraja I had a golden cupola put on the Jaina temple at Ranthambhor.( See above, p. 43. )
  • Ajayaraja presented a golden kalasha to the Parsvanatha temple (See above, p. 47).
  • Arnoraja patronised the Jaina scholar Dharmaghosha Suri,(See p.62) and *Vigraharaja IV not merely built a Jaina viara at his capitat but also prohibited the slaughter of animals on certain days in a month throughout his extensive dominions.

  • Someshvara [Page-257] granted a village to the Jaina temple of Bijolia.(See pp.80-82) and
  • Prithviraja II employed Jainas in his service and granted a Jayapatra to Jinapati Suri in V. 1239.
  • Katukaraja Nadol granted in V. 1172 the sum of drammas for the worship of Shantinatha.
  • Rayapal’s sons, Rudrapala and Amritapala, made with their mother a donation to the Jaina temple at Nadlai; and the number of such donations in the Nadol kingdom increased appreciably with the accession of the Jaina emperor, Kumarapala, the overlord of Nadol. The amari-ghoshanas (proclamations of non-slaughter) issued by Alhana of Nadol and Punapaksha-deva of Ratanpur are also good indications of this growing Jaina influence.
  • Similar proofs of the good position that the Jainas of the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries had built up for themselves can be had from the kingdom of Jalor.
  • Udayasimha Sonigara's chief minister, Yashovira, was as prominent a figure in Rajasthan as Vastupala in Gujarat. (see p. 174)

To the end of our period, Jainism was a proselytising religion, and among its members are to be found members of all castes, though the Vaisya caste perhaps preponderated. The Bhandaris or Bhandagarikas trace their descent to Lakshamana, the founder of the Kingdom of Nadol. Sonis appear to have been Rajputs at one time. Of the Maheshvari Sonis it is stated that their nokh or orignal clan was Sonigara. What is true of Maheshvari Sonis is, in a probability, true of other Sonis also" (Dr. D. R. Dhandarkar's comment on the Jalor inscription of Samantasimhadeva, EI, XI, p. GI). Haribhadra, the great Jaina reformer, was a Brahmana. Many Gurjaras also professed Jainism.

Nor was the influence of Jainism confined to its professors. Many Rajasthani Brahmanas of the twelfth century appear to have been non-vegetarians. Kiradu inscription of Alhana, V. 1200, relaxes the amari order as far as the Purohitas were concerned.

[Page-258] ever, are vegetarians, most probably due to the humanising influence of Jainism. It offset not merely the influence of their meat-eating patrons, the Rajput princes and chiefs, but made them, in due course, the staunchest advocates of ahimsa.

Orthodox sects

Of the other religious sects, now generally grouped under the head Hinduism, there were many. They had their own rituals and systems of thought, the only marked characteristic indicating their unity and differentiation from Buddhism and Jainism being their professed belief in the Vedas, a belief however which allowed them the widest latitude of thought and let them differ from each other almost as much as from the heterodox systems.

Worship of Brahma

We have no idea of the philosophical tenets of Brahmaism. But Brahma, though no longer a popular god elsewhere, had his temples in Rajasthan. Pushkar, which is believed to represent the site of Brahma's sacrifice, had then an as even now a great temple dedicated to Brahma. There is an old temple of Brahma at Khed and another of Savitri and Brahma at Bithoo. The Brahma temple of Vasantagarh (Sirohi) had a two-armed and three-faced figure of the god. His other images have been found at Sevadi ( Jodhpur) , Basad (Pratapgarh), Sirod (Kota), Kiradu (Jodhpur), Bijolia (Mewar), and Osia (Jodhpur). At Ranapur (Jodhpur) is an Image of which the upper part represents Brahma, Vishnu and Siva and the lower one, the Sun. A similar image was found at Ramgarh (Kotah), Osia and Kiradu have images representing this chaturdeva conception, though a conception far more popular was that of the Tripurusha. Brahma as one of the Hindu Trinity Brahma, Vshnu and Siva. Rayapala's inscription of V. 1198 mentions the temple of Tripurushadeva, and so do the Ojha Grants and the Prithvirajavijaya. From the Kanhadadeprabandha we learn of the existence of the temple of Brahma at Jalor.


Vishnu perhaps had a greater number of worshippers than Brahma, a fact evidenced by a fairly large number of old Vishnu images that now grace Rajasthani museums. Lakshmana of Nadol and Chamundaraja of Sakambhari built temples

[Page-259] dedicated to this deity. Prithviraja II and Prthviraja III took pride in being regarded as incarnations of Rama. Arnoraja and Ajayaraja patronised the Vaishnava teacher Devabodhi, whose invariable mention as a Bhagavata probably indicates the prevalence of the Bhagavata form of worship in Rajasthan.


Purana Mahadeva Temple at Harshagiri (c.961-973 AD)

But the sect that found the greatest acceptance throughout the Chauhan dominions was Shaivism in some form or other. The Hansot Plates of Bhartirvaddha II of Broach (V. 813) show that he was a Paramamaheshvara, i.e. one intensely devoted to Siva. (See above p.15) Harshanatha was the family deity of the Chauhans of Sakambhari (See verse 27 of the Harsha inscription V. 1030). Vakpati and Simharaja built temples of Siva on the Pushkara lake and Vakpati's mother, Rudrani, lit daily a thousand lamps before the lingas installed there. (See above p.30) Prthviraja I established a continuous annasatra for the pilgrims proceeding to Somanatha. (See p.51). Ajayaraja was a Saiva;. So also was his son Arnoraja who built a temple named after his father on the lake Anasagara. The Harakeli drama was probably written to give the world a concrete proof of Vigraharaja IV's devotion to Siva, with whose help, like Arjuna of old, he had succeeded in beating his enemies. Prthviraja II's queen, Sudhava built the Sudhaveshvara temple at Menal in Mewar. Someshvara bore the unusual title of Pratapalankeshvara, probably on account of being not only as powerful but also as devoted to Siva as the Lankeshvara, Ravana. On his death he is said to have gone to Kailasa and become merged in Isvara. (See above p.220 note 8).

That like their brethren of Sakambhari, the Nadol Chauhans were Saivas can be seen from the names of their deities,

[Page- 260] Anahileshvara, Anupameshvara, Prithvipaleshvara, Asaleshvara, Padmaleshvara, Sahanapaleshvara and the like mentioned in their inscriptions and obviosuly named after the kings and queens of Nadol. Alhana and Kirtipala first pay obeisance to Siva, even while making grants to Jaina temples. Kelhana erected a torana "like a diadem for the holy Somesha" (See verse 34 of the Sundha inscription, V. 1319)

Of the Jalor line, Kirtipala's daughter, Rudaladevi, and Udayasimha built temples of Siva at Jalor. Kanhadadeva is said to have rescued the fragments of the Somanatha idol from Alauddin's army, even at the risk of his life and independence. Their brethern, the Chauhans of Chandravati (and later on of Sirohi) still have Siva as their tutelary deity, the only exception being the late ruler of Sirohi who developed Muslim leaning towards the latter part of his life.

Siva figures mostly in the form of the lingam. Sometimes it would be a Mukhalingam. Its upper part being indicative of Brahmanda would be round;. the eastern side bore the figure of the Sun, the northern that of Brahma, the western of Vishnu and the southern that of Rudra. Thus the whole image was a result of the highly philosophic Saiva conception that Rudra, Surya, Vishnu and Brahma were only manifestations of one and the same deity, the great Siva, who ultimately was without any form and any attributes and could therefore be represented best in the almost shapeless form of lingam, which, whatever its original significance might have been, had come to mean the Supreme Being in which everything recedes in the end. In the form of Trimurti, of which we have a good example at Chitor, Siva's image had practically the same meaning; it is, however, less indicative of his nirguna character.

Of the four well-known Saiva schools, Saiva, Maheshvara, Kapalika and Pasupata, we find references only to the latter two in Chauhan inscriptions. The temple of Nityapramodita at Dhod gave shelter to Kapalikas. The Siddheshvara temple at Lohari, the monastery at Menalgarh and the temple of Harshnatha were Pasupata institutions.

[Page-261] The details of Kapalika worship and ways of life can be gathered from Hieun Tsang's Records of the Western World, Mahendravarman's Mattavilasa, Bhavabhuti's Malatimadhava, Soddhala’s Udayasundarikatha and the Mohaparajaya of Yashapala. If its express teachings have not been deliberately covered up with foul verbiage, it must have been a horrid sect, worthy of nothing but the speediest extermination.

Far better, much more philosophic and hence also naturally more popular was the Pancharthamnaya or Pasupata school, professed by great teachers like Visvarupa, the head of Harsha monastery. Its final objective being Mahaishvarya, mere cessation of pain was not deemed enough; the Pasupata devotee concentrated more on the attainment of omniscience, freedom from samsara, and control over souls in bondage these being the attributes of Maheshvara with whom they tried to be at one by means of yoga. This positive ideal must appealed to many, though the discipline prescribed for Pasupata ascetic was far from easy. One required know the strictest adherence to the prescribed ritual, and guidance of an expert guru to reach the destination the layman the conditions were easier. He earned merit enough to push him forward on the path, if he served the Pasupata church and had full faith in the grace of Maheshvara.

Early Pasupata monks appear to have been free from attachment to worldly things. Allata of Harshanath instance, went without any clothes, was a brahmacharin from his birth, and devoted all his time to the worship of Siva. His pupil Bhavadyota's worldly belongings are similarly summed up as "matted locks, bhasma, the earth as a bed, the quarters as his garments, begging as a means of livelihood, and a bowl to bring it. (See the Harsha inscription of Vigraharaja II, V. 1030). But it is doubtful whether austere way of life was followed consistently to the end of our

[Page-262] period. From the ridicule poured on them in some Jaina books it would rather appear that they were here and there falling away from their pristine standards of morality and sincere religious piety.

The Kapalikas used human skul1s as their bowls and bones as ornaments. They went about naked. As against this, the Pasupata ascetics general1y covered their private parts with pieces of thick cloth. They bore staves, smeared their bodies with ashes, ate insipid food, and carried Sivalinga either in their hands or in their matted hair. Instead of Kapalas, they used gourds like many other religious sects of India. The Pasupatas, further, were believers in eighteen incarnations of Siva, of whom the chief was Lakulisa, the founder of the sect who according to Dr. D.R. Bhandarkar's calculations flourished about 150 A.D. (For Dr. D. R. Bhandarkar's views see El. XXI, p. 8, f.)

Eighteen incarnations of Siva - The 18 incarnations were Nakulisa, Kausika, Gargya, Maitreya, Kurusha, Ishana, Paragargya, Kushmanda, Manusyaka, Aparakushika, Atri, Pingalaka, Pushpaka, Brihadacharya, Agasti, Sanatana, Rasikara and Vidyaguru. A good many images of Lakulisa have been found in Rajasthan, and of these most can be referred to our period. In these he is represented as a two-armed, urdhvamedhra deity (Indicative of his absolute continence according to Dr. G. H. Ojha:Madhyaktilina Bharatiya Sanskriti) with matted hair, carrying a citron in one hand and a lakula or staff in the other.

Neither the Kapalikas nor the Pasupatas appear to have cared for the caste system in admitting people to their ascetic orders. For the latter every soul in bondage was a pasu; it mattered little whether he was a Brahmana, Ksatriya, Vaisya or Sudra.


Shakambarimata at Sakrai

Only a little, if at al1, less wide-spread than the worship of Siva, was the worship of Sakti in the Chauhan dominions. The porch of the famous temple of Sakarai or Sankara Mata, now a place of pilgrimage for thousands of people from Rajasthan and elsewhere, was built by the local

[Page-263] gosthikas, in V.749 .(See Varada, II, p. 64) Goddess Ashapuri was the tutelary goddess of the Sakambhari line; Vigraharaja II had her temple built even in the distant Broach. (See above p.35) The coins of Someshvara, Prthvlraja III, Picchhimbadeva, Pipalarajadeva and Chahadedeva bear the legend, "Asavari Sri Samantadeva", wherein the word Asavari obviously stands for Ashapuri. Sakambhari was the chief goddess of Sambhar. The Sundha Inscription of V. 1319 records the construction of a mandapa of Aghateshvari by Chachigadeva. (See above p. 178. ) The Kinsariya Inscription of Dadhichaka Chachcha mentions the building of Shakta temple in the reign of Durlabharaja II of Sakambhari. ( EI, XII, pp. 59 ff. ) For Jinamata at Revasa we have an inscription of V. 1162; for Bahughrina at Bali an inscription of V. 1200, and for Arbudeshvari an old reference showing that her temple was regarded, of old, as a pitha of the Kaula sect. We know also of the shrine of Sri Mata being regarded as almost the proprietor

Minor Saiva and Shakti sects

Kartikeya at Harsh

Closely connected with the worship of Siva and Shakti was that of Ganapati, the elephanttheaded god, who is believed to remove all obstacles and give success. Of the numerous Ganesha images of our period, we might specially mention those found at Ghatiyala, Buchkala, Mandor and Bithu, all of them in the present Jodhpur division of Rajasthan. We have the images of dikpalas at Kekind and Khed, of Bhairava at Kiradu, of Kubera at Bhinmal and Bithu, and Karttikeya at Harsha and Buchkala. Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, naturally received the homage of all sects, orthodox as well as heterodox. The image of Jaina Sarasvati from Pallu, an old town in the Chauhan dominions, is hard to beat for its beauty.

The Saura (Sun) sect

The worship of the Sun-god has come down to us from the Vedic period; but the way we find him worshipped in Rajasthan during the Chauhan period shows unmistakable

[Page-265] signs of foreign influence (Spread in Rajasthan most probably by Shakadvipi Brahmanas) Bhinmal was a great centre of Sun-worship, with its famous Sun-icon called Jagatsvamin. At Osia we have an image of the Sun dressed in a tight-fitting long coat reaching up to the ankles, with his waists tied with a scarf and the legs covered in long boot. We find there also the images of his two sons, Revanta and Saturn. The seated figure of the god at Mandor is believed to have been carved in the eighth century or so. Other well-known images of the Sun-god are those of Beda, Pokaran, Kiradu, Bithu and Pali. In fact, the whole of Rajasthan was studded with Sun-temples of great splendour the remains of which serve to remind us of the great vogue that Saura worship once had in western India.

That the Sun-god sometimes combined with Vishnu, Siva, Brahma etc. to form a Trideva or Chaturdeva has been pointed out already; and the increased popularity of Sun-worship that resulted consequently was probably increased still further by his worship by even non-Brahmanical sects like the Jainas. (See Prabandhachintamati. p. 82) It may interest us to remember that Akbar was taught Sun-worship by Jainas, a fact indicating the continuity of this worship upto the 16th century.

Of Chauhan rulers, Chandamahasena was a Sun-worshiper. Indraraja of Pratabgarh built the splendid temple of Indradityadeva. (See the account of the Chauhans of Pratapgarh above, pp. 20-21) Alhana and Kirtipala were worshippers of the Sun as well as Siva. (See above, p. 154, and EI, IX,65, 69. ) The Sonigara Chauhans of Jalor made several benefactions to the temple of the god Jagatsvamin, whose shrine at Bhinmal was visited by numerous devotees from various parts of India.

Two Common Elements

We close the chapter with a few remarks regarding the elements common to most people in India, whatever their religion, namely, superstition, which found a place even in the best educated minds of the period, and toleration, born not of indifference but true appreciation of the great principles underlying all Indian thought. This spirit of toleration goes as far back as the Vedic Period when various gods were regarded as manifestations of one Supreme Spirit. Ashoka saw truth in every religion. In the period we deal with, we find this spirit of toleration expressing itself in various ways, in theory as well as practice.

[Page-266] Joseph Hall writes,

"Superstition is devout impiety. The superstitious man dares not stir forth, till his breast be crossed and face sprinkled. If but a hare crosses his way, he returns, or if his journey began unawares on the dismal day ... In the morning he listens whether the crow crieth even or odd ... There is no dream without an interpretation. This man is strangely credulous and calls impossible things miraculous."

This description can almost literally be applied to the people in the Chauhan dominions. Sarngadhara, the grandson of Raghavadeva, a renowned scholar of Hammira's court, speaks highly of omens, declaring that through them one could know of the past and future, tell the period of men's lives, and predict profit and loss, victory and defeat, success and failure. His kshetraja, agantuka, and janghika omens, dealt with in about five hundred verses of the Sarngadharapaddhati include all the types of superstition mentioned above. Nor was superstition confined to Rajasthan. Its all-India character is shown by books on omens composed in most parts of India during the period, 800-1400 A.D. (Perhaps the most comprehensive treatment of the subject is to be found in the Adbhutasagara of Ballalasena.) Excessive belief in astrology, predictions and alchemy may also be ascribed to the credulous nature of the common man, and characterised equally the people everywhere in India.

Not merely toleration but genuine respect for the beliefs of others was another equally common characteristic. Brahmanas regarded Rishabha as an avatara of Vishu, Vasudeva Krishna and Rama were salakapurushas of the Jainas. An epigraph of V. 1218 goes even so far as to mention Brahma, Vishnu and Siva' as Jinas. (EI., IX, pp. 67-8.) They were worshipped also as Tripurusha, i.e. as three different aspects of one and the same Divinity which

[Page-267] combined at times with Surya to form Chaturmurti or Chaturdeva. The Pratiharas of Jalor and Kanauj paid equal respect to Mahesvara, Bhagavati and Aditya and changed their ishtadevata from almost reign to reign. Their feudatories, the Chauhans of Sakambhari, though not so quick in changing their tutelary gods and goddesses, were not behind them in their liberal attitude towards the different sects of their kingdom. From the evidence already recorded, it is clear that their relations with the Jainas were extremely cordial. They honoured Jaina teachers, granted lands to Jaina temples, and took part in their religious ceremonies. And we can say this not only of the Chauhans of Sakambhari and Ajmer, but also of the Chauhans of Nadol, Jalor, Ranthambhor and Rayabaddiya. Hammira worshipped the Images of Jama tirtharikaras at Mount Abu. The fact that he is enthusiastically praised by a Jaina writer and selected as the hero of his historical poem is also indicative of his excellent relations with the Jaina community. The followers of the various darshanas entered into discussions with each other, but this led to no ugly incidents. Each had liberty to follow the way he thought best, without any compulsion on the part of the ruler. With moksha as their goal, self-control as the chief sadhana, and their belief in karma, it was not difficult for Indian sects to find a common platform. Outsiders generally wondered at the absence of religious acrimony in India. The case of Islam was different. But even that they were ready to tolerate and leave to itself. The Rashtrakutas permitted the Muslims to build mosques within their dominions; Siddharaja Jayasirmha of Gujarat punished the Hindus who damaged Muslim property at Cambay. While we read often of the desecration by Muslims of Hindu temples in the Chauhan dominions, we read not even once of the desecration of mosques though this could have been no difficult task on part of people like Hammira and Kanhadadeva.

चौहानों का धर्म - चौहान शैवोपसक थे. पूर्व मध्यकालीन समाज में चार शैव धर्म सम्प्रदायों का जोर था. ये थे कालानन व कारूक, पाशुपत, लकुलीश और कापालिक. वाक्पति प्रथम और उसके पुत्र सिंहराज द्वारा पुष्कर झील के किनारे शिव मंदिर बनाये थे. यह बात पृथ्वीराज विजय से ज्ञात होती है. वाक्पति की महारानी शिवलिंग पर प्रतिदिन एक हजार दीपक विशिष्ठ अवसरों पर जलाती थी. हर्ष शिलालेख से चौहानों की धार्मिक प्रवृति की काफी जानकारी मिलती है. सुन्दर और विस्तीर्ण हर्ष पर्वत पर उन्होंने हर्षदेव का विशाल मंदिर बनाया था. राजा गूवक की किर्ती का वर्णन इस शिलालेख में किया गया है. वाक्पति राजा की प्रशंसा करते हुए उसके उज्जवल यश का वर्णन किया गया है. उसके पुत्र सिंहराज ने शिवभवन पर सोने के कलस चढ़ाए थे.[1]

मंदिर की धूप दीप और अन्य धार्मिक कामों के लिए अनेकों चौहान नरेशो ने अपने अधिकार क्षेत्र के गाँव मंदिर को अर्पित किये थे. दुर्लभ राज ने छत्रधारा एवं शंकराणक गाँव दिए थे. अन्य राजाओं और सरदारों द्वारा ग्राम लगाने की बात की जानकारी हर्ष शिलालेख से होती है. हर्ष शिलालेख में वर्णित विश्वरूप का शिष्य प्रशस्त पाशुपत मतानुयायी था. उसका शिष्य भावारक्त था जिसका दूसरा नाम अल्लट था. यह रणपल्लिका (राणोली) का ब्राह्मण था. उसका शिष्य भावद्योत हुआ जिसने अधूरे मंदिर के कार्य को पूर्ण करवाया. अल्लट की मृत्यु 1027 में हुई जब सूर्य सिंह राशि में था. (8 अगस्त , 970).[2]

शाकम्भरी देवी के मंदिर में स्थित 1055 वि. (1155 वि.) के शिला लेख से ज्ञात होता है कि देवी का मंदिर जो ईंटों से बना था कालांतर में टूट फूट गया था. देयिनी ने इसका जीर्णोद्धार करवाया और द्रोणक नमक गाँव अर्पित किया. खंडेला के संवत 201 (हर्ष संवत) के शिलालेख से ज्ञात होता है कि बौद्द का पुत्र आदित्यानाग धूसर था. उसने शिव-पार्वती का मंदिर बनवाया था. शाकम्भरी देवी के स्थान पर लगे संवत 879 के एक दूसरे शिलालेख से ज्ञात होता है की 11 वणिकों ने एक संघ बनाकर एक अतीव सुन्दर मंडप शंकरादेवी के मंदिर के आगे बनाया था. इन लोगों के नाम मदन (धूसर वंश), गर्ग, गनादित्य (धर्कट वंश) देवल, शंकर, आदित्यनाग आदि थे.

जीणमाता के स्थान पर 1382 संवत का एक स्तम्भ लेख है जिसमें लोहाटन वंशी ठाकुर देपति के पुत्र द्वारा जीणमाता के मंदिर के जीर्णोद्धार की बात ज्ञात होती है. विक्रम 1230 , अषाढ़ सुदी 9 के एक अन्य शिलालेख द्वारा उदयराज के पुत्र अल्हण द्वारा देवी के मंदिर के मंडप के जीर्णोद्धार की बात की जानकारी मिलती है. [3]

Foot notes

Thia is mainly based on book by Dasharatha Sharma : Early Chauhan Dynasties, pp. 249-267


  1. रतन लाल मिश्र:शेखावाटी का नवीन इतिहास, मंडावा, 1998, पृ.264
  2. रतन लाल मिश्र:शेखावाटी का नवीन इतिहास, मंडावा, 1998, पृ.265
  3. रतन लाल मिश्र:शेखावाटी का नवीन इतिहास, मंडावा, 1998, पृ.265

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