This is an ancient tirth with its history going all the way back to the period of Rām (when Lord Munisuvratswami was on earth). The earliest epigraph from this place is dated around 1000AD.
Who can imagine that behind these doors is an exquisite temple with an adorable murti (idol) of Aajharā Parśvanāth, 46 cms in height, saffron coloured in padmāsana posture and with a 7 hooded snake over its head. The illustrious history of this tirth is depcited around the periphery of the temple.
Myriads of heavenly celestial beings have revered this idol. It was found from the sea at the port of Diu. This idol is during the time of Lord Munisuvratswami when King Ajaypal was reigning (Rām’s father was Dashrath and his grandfather was called Ajaypāl). He was a very just and compassionate ruler with high moral standards and principles. With the passage of time, how fate changes – he became seriously ill inflicted with 107 different types of ailments. Unable to bear the mental, physical and emotional pain, he decided to commit suicide.
However, having religious inclination , he decided that before commiting suicide he should go on a pilgrimage which will not only give him an opportunity to visit a sacred place but also a recreation with change of atomosphere. On his way to the holy Shatrunjay Tirth, he along with his retinue decided to halt at Diu port after a long and arduous journey.
Diu was an important international trading port. Ratnasar was a prominent merhchant in this town and had embarked by sea on a business trip and was on his way back. Suddenly, a tumultuous storm appeared with the dhow tossing and turning in the rough seas. He got an intuition than 32 noble gentlemen need to sacrifice themselves to appease the “sea god” and was preparing to jump into the sea. Just then he heard the divine voice of Padmavati Mata in the skies. He became calm and heard “beneath your dhow is a crate in which there is an idol of Parsvanath Bhagwan which has been revered by many celestial being including myself. Retrieve it and give it to in Ayodhya’s King Ajaypal who is camped in your city of Diu”.
Immediately after the divine sound from the heavens, the sea became calm. Ratnasar was overjoyed after hearing the Goddess’s message. He managed to get the crate with the idol in it and was glad that he would become instrumental in getting rid of King Ajaypal’s diseases. With the winds blowing in a favourable direction, he managed to get to Diu after three days and present it to King Ajaypal. The illustration below shows the dhow arriving at Diu and Ratnasar informing the King.
Very carefully, King Ajaypal opened the crate and was astounded to find an incomparable and indescribable murti of Parsvanath Bhagwan with three canopies and seven fanged snake over its head, in padmasan posture and instantly bowed down.
He became so enthralled with the murti and was engrossed with utmost devotion as though this was the only day he had the opportunity to be with the murti. It was as though he lifelong thirst had been satiated. At night, after deep sleep he had a prodigious dream as illustrated below.
He felt that his diseases and mental ailments spoke to him with folded hands “Oh King, we were slaves of your karma. In your past life you had harassed Jain ascetics, and this is the painful fruit you reaped. After performing snatra puja on the idol, and with the holy water you will be totally cured and we will run away”.
The next day after getting all the materials required for the snatra puja, with great fanfare and with immense devotion he performed the snatra puja. He placed the holy water over his entire body and miraculously he was cured of all his diseases. Everyone rejoiced as the King was now free from all his problems as depicted in the illustration below.
Ajaypal consecrated the murti (idol) in a temple and called the town Ajaypuri. The illustration below shows skilled artisans creating a temple and the murti installed with all devotees praying.
In order to ensure that this tirth will be well looked after he established ten other towns, nominated Thakurs (guardians) and pujari (priests) before leaving to Girnar for pilgrimage.
After his Girnar Yatra, he returned to Ajaypur and once again prayed with great devotion.
He saw some Jain ascetics nearby and asked them the importance of this murti (idol).
They explained to him that simply by doing darshan of the murti (looking at the idol), faithful devotee’s diseases disappear. All any natural or supernatural evil spells also subside. Any wishes of the devotees are fulfilled. The fruits of reverance to this murti are manifold. He was overjoyed at hearing this, went to Shatrunjay Tirth and returned to his capital at Ayodhya.
Another interesting tale is during the reign of King Akbar.
There was a procession with Champa Shravika in a palanquin. King Akbar was looking out of his palance and was quite curious what was the reason for the festivity. He found out that the Jain community was celebrating successful complete of Champa Sravika’s six months fast (no food).
King Akbar could not believe this and went to ask Champa Sravika herself. She told him that whatever she has done is purely due to the blessings of her Guru Acharya Hirvijayji Maharaj Saheb. King Akbar wanted to meet the Acharya who could inspire such great feats. After meeting Acharya Hirvijayji Maharaj, he was well impressed and decreed that there should be no violence against animals for six months. The last two chaturmas (rainy season sojourn for Jain ascetics) of Acharya Hirvijayji Maharaj were in Una which is a town very close to this tirth.
A ghant (bell) found here bears the carvings of the year 1034 of the Vikram era attesting to the historicity of this tirth .
Many stone inscriptions of 14th century are found which prove the antiquity of this temple. Many idols in Kausagga Mudra were found here which were installed in the temple in V.S. 1323 by Acharya Shri Mahendrasurishvarji. The 14th renovation of this temple was done in V.S.1667 by Shrimali Kunwarji Jivraj Doshi of Una in the holy presence of Tappagaccha Acharya Shri Vijaydevsuriji.
On 17 September 1978, a cobra positioned itself infront of the magnificent idol and stayed there for many hours. It is believed to be the divine appearance of Dharendra Deva who is the guardian deity of Bhagwān Ajaharā Parśvanāth.
Even to this day, the naman (holy water) is considered to be auspicious and miraculous.
2. Some photos from in.worldorgs.com
Please forgive if there are any inadvertent errors or mistakes in the information provided or translation of the illustrations