Ashtapad Tirth is one of the five major Tirths in the Jain Religion, which is thought to be lost. It is supposed to be situated in the tranquil heights of snow clad Himalayas and is open to the skies. Jain Center of America, New York, has been gifted with a replica of this Tirth carved out of crystal & gemstones. For thousands of years the mysterious disappearance of Ashtapad Tirth has puzzled the Jain community. Now JCA is actively involved in trying to re-discover this lost Tirth.
For the Jains Nirvana-bhoomi, or the places where the Tirthankars attain the ultimate goal of breaking away from the cycle of life, have turned into key pilgrimage places (5 Maha Tirth). As per Jain scriptures, the first Tirthankar Bhagwan Rishabhdev had attained nirvana on the Ashtapad Mountain. His son Chakravarti King Bharat built a palace (Sinh Nishadhiya Prasad) with crystal and gemstones at this place as a memorial to commemorate the nirvana of Bhagwan. The name “Ashtapad” is derived from the fact that there are eight (Ashta) steps (Pad) leading to the palace.
The JCA, NY has constructed a new building for its temples and other religious activities. As a tribute to 24 Tirthankars, it is customary to make idols and place them around Gabhara but one could not do so due to space constraint. Then we thought of making 24 idols out of gemstones which would need a much smaller space. At this stage a preliminary design of the “Ratna Mandir” was drawn. While the idea of the Ratna Mandir was taking shape, one visited a temple in Jaipur (India) and saw an Ashtapad PAT; this was the turning point from “Ratna Mandir” concept into “Ashtapad”.
The original design of Ashapad was four sided, also called as Sarvatomukhi – Omni-directional. Space constraint forced us to make a unidirectional unit viewable only from the front. Now an architectural blueprint was developed to a scale based on the available space. Mountain is made from crystal stones; it is 13’1” in height, 14’7” in width and 5’1” in depth. It has 8 steps at the bottom and 5 Shikhars with Kalash at the top, and a Dhwaja. It has 24 Gokhalas to house the 24 idols carved out of gemstones. Each Gokhala is carved with Asht Pratiharya design.
Rough crystal stones weighing 30 tons were imported. After processing and carving the final weight of the mountain is 7.5 tons. This is supported on a one ton steel frame. Various colored gemstones were imported from all over the world to carve idols of different sizes. Each idol is carved as per religious rules and measurements, from a single piece of rough stone.Rough CrystalCrystal BlocksRhodocrositeSodalite
There are many stories related to Ashtapad. Most of these stories have been carved out of gemstones. Some are installed on the mountain and others are displayed separately.Janma KalyanakVarsi Tap ParnaSamavsaranKing Bharat Areesa MahalGautam SwamiTapas Kheer ParnaNag Kumar & Sagar's Sons
We have collected a lot of literature on Ashtapad from the scriptures and compiled it in 20 volumes. This includes original literature on Ashtapad, history, related stories, pooja, stavan, exhibits, seminars, & research related topics. Summary of these volumes are printed as Ashtapad Granth I and II which were well received.
The Ashtapad Model, all three Chovisi (72 idols of past, present and future Tirthankars), and other idols were exhibited in many cities. This was organized to raise awareness so that people around the world could pay their respects to all the three Chovisi and Ashtapad Tirth.
Adhar Abhishek was performed at Mumbai on April 25, 2009 under the guidance of Pujya Ganivarya Naypadmasagarji M.S. 11 Jain Sangh of Mumbai took part in Abhishek. An exhibit of Ashtapad Mountain with three Chovisi was held followed by a seminar on Ashtapad research. Ashtapad pooja was performed on April 26. 603 Varsi Tap Tapasvi took part in Ishru Ras Prakshal (Sugar cane juice) of Shri Adinath pratimaji prior to Parna.
Installation of the crystal mountain was done in June 2009 and Pratishtha ceremonies (Adhar Abhishek & Installation of 24 idols) were performed in June 2010.
Mother of one Sadharmik brother offered 24 diamond Tilaks for Shri Chovisi which were installed on the forehead of all 24 idols during two days ceremony. This reminds us about the story of Rani Veermati.
Lately color lighting has been added. When one views it at night the whole crystal mountain glows beautifully with colors. One is mesmerized with the play of colors.
We have already undertaken three field trips funded by JCA, NY, to Kailash Mansarovar region to do preliminary research work, which included many scholars and scientists. Satellite studies with high resolution imaging have helped us a lot in trying to locate the buried structure.
Shri Adinath era was the dawning of world civilization and once Ashtapad is located, it will tell us about early growth of human civilization. This will open a new chapter on world history and will become a potential source of information about religion and culture of that period.