An example of determination: Pisanhari ki Marhiya (Jabalpur)

“A woman’s heart is just like a lithographer’s stone, what is once written upon it cannot be rubbed out.”

The above quotation was written by Mr. William Makepeace Thackeray, an English satirist in 19th Century England. During those days, lithography was very much used as printing technology. The artists and calligraphers used to draw their art or words on the smooth slab of stone using a special ink. Once the ink dried, it left an indelible mark on the stone even though lots of water was used for printing.

Since the water did not affect the art or the words, those surfaces easily could make the contact with the printing ink, which got transferred onto the papers as print impressions. That technology was so easy to operate that the cinema posters were printed on the lithographs up to the 1980s. I do not know how women would come to be associated with lithographs. But the fixity of purposes guided by their strong sense of determination might be the very reason Mr. William wrote the above quotation.

So, I threw a simple challenge, “How can you prove that you have a strong sense of determination?”

Wiping the perspiration from the forehead, the housewives would proclaim that carrying out the household duties for the entire day for many years is so strenuous that it can put everybody else into a state of mental breakdown. They are somehow coping up with that stress because of their strongest sense of determination.

Returning from a hectic day at their offices, the office-goers would often comment that they resent the very decision taken in the past about pursuing their respective careers that leaves them with no time for themselves. Only they know how they are balancing their lives between career and family. It was all because of their strongest sense of determination that they are coping with the strenuous situation.

Throwing the school-bag onto the sofa, the school girl sobbed about the stresses about the school-life. The examination system and the dress-code both are giving her many sleepless nights. Only with a very strong sense of determination they are coping with the stresses of youthful existence of present times when the competition is so tough.

Similarly, those dealing with some high level of stress of inter-personal relationships are citing their level of determination that helps them to survive the unsavory experiences of quarrels between Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law, wives and husbands and so on.

The competition gradually became tougher and louder till there was a total din. Amidst the chaos, looking at the prospects of not being able to find a clear-cut winner, the challenge-competition was halted in the middle. In that interlude it was the perfect time for telling the story of an old woman, who lived alone in a hut at Jabalpur about 650 years ago.

That old woman was very poor and was earning her livelihood by grinding the wheat on the only stone-grinder that she had with her. At that time, electric motorized grinders were unheard of. People used to get the wheat or any other grains ground only with the help of stone-grinders, which could only be operated manually.

One can easily guess about the quantity of grains that a person, especially an old woman, can grind in a day. But the old woman was very meticulous and proud of her work. Even if the earnings were little, she tried to live within that and had no qualms about it. One day, the old woman went to hear the preachings of a Jain monk, who had visited the city. She was so influenced by the monk that she decided to build a temple near her home.

The temple she built was known as “Pisanhari ki Marhiya” and is situated on the Jabalpur-Nagpur road at a distance of about 8 kilometers from the Railway station. The Pisanhari ki Marhiya temple complex is in two parts. The first part is situated at the top of the hillock and the second part is situated on the ground at the base of that hillock. There were about 37 temples in that complex. Each of the 37 temples has been numbered by the management committee.

Column of dignity at Pisanhari ki Marhiya

Column of dignity at Pisanhari ki Marhiya

The Maan Stambh (Column of dignity) is situated in front of the temple dedicated to Lord Mahavira at the base of the hillock. On the top of the column, there is a statue of a Jain Thirtankar, who happens to be the guardian deity of the place. The column of dignity tells the visitors and the devotees to shed their pride while entering the shrine.

With respectful thoughts, I entered the temple of Shree Shree 1008 Bhagwan Mahavira, which was situated in front of the column of dignity. Inside the Mahavira Temple, an idol of Lord Mahavira in white stone was consecrated. Devotees in their traditional Orange attire were worshipping the deity. There were few women devotees sitting outside the hall. They were offering prasads and anointing the devotees with Tilak on their foreheads. The entire atmosphere was serene and full of religious fervor.

Mahavira Temple

Mahavira Temple

The Mahavira temple was the first temple that one visits at the complex, which is managed by Pishanhari Marhiya Trust Committee, Jabalpur. The trust also manages a Jain Gurukul and a hostel for Jain students within that complex. As per the belief of Digambar sect of Jainism, it is an Atishaya Kshetra, i.e., the place of Miracles. Behind the temple of Lord Mahavira, a newly-constructed Shri Nandeeshwar Dweep Jinalaya was situated. My colleague, who was accompanying me, informed that the entire ceiling of that Jinalaya was standing without the support of any column in the middle.

Shri Nandeeshwar Dweep Jinalaya

Shri Nandeeshwar Dweep Jinalaya

Inside the Nandeeshwar Dweep Jinalaya, various Dweeps and Hills mentioned in the Jain Scriptures had been constructed. Symbolic representations of the sea of salt, sea of curd/milk etc. attributing some spiritual meaning were depicted. The ‘Panch meru parvat” stood at the center. On various other parvats, more than 108 idols of Jain monks were placed. An absolute calm prevailed in that place. As we were sitting outside the Jinalaya in complete silence, one of the sevaks informed us that the actual “Pisanhari ki Marhiya” was situated on the top of the hill.

The temple complex on the top of the hill

The temple complex on the top of the hill

So, we decided to climb that hill. On the signboard at the gate there was a prohibitory order. It was clearly mentioned that any visit to the upper complex with the girlfriend is prohibited. That amused us a lot. But it was a clear attempt by the temple administration to ward off casual visitors who choose to spend time at the serene atmosphere of that place for other than religious purposes. The entrance gate was otherwise quite impressive.

Two elephants with their trunks were inviting visitors by offering the staircase. Two doormen were swinging the fly-whisk to provide cool air to the visitors. The first remarkable view was the “Veer Shashan Chakra”. Since the Lord Mahavira was fearless, he is also named as “Veer”, “Ativeer”, “Vardhhaman” and “Mahaveer”. The veer Shahshan Chakra is often graphically represented on the basis of the first divine message of the Lord Mahavira.

Impressive Entrance gate

Impressive Entrance gate

From the gate, the hill top was connected through cemented steps of a very comfortable height on which one could climb up the hill with much ease. There was a good arrangement of lighting also for enabling the visitors to climb up those steps in the evening hours also. From the height, the complete view of the complex including the temple of Lord Mahavira, the nandeeshwar dweep and the hostel complex down was visible. By looking at the vastness of that complex, one can imagine the earnest and genuine efforts done by that old woman, who existed about six centuries ago.

The view from the top

The view from the top

After reaching to the top, one is greeted by a large tiled courtyard. Many temples are built around that courtyard. The entire complex was kept very clean and the atmosphere of tranquility prevailed. One or two sevaks were supervising the complex. But, we were interested in the temple built by the old woman, who had started working hard and spending more time with her grinder with a steadfast objective of building a temple. Upon our asking, the gentle sevak, who was standing at the middle of the courtyard, directed us towards the told temple lying in a corner.

The courtyard on the hill-top

The story of old woman on the walls of the complex

Standing before the pink coloured temple, I was again reminded of the story of the old woman. Whenever she could find time, she used to clean a nearby area with her miniscule equipments that she might be having. After working at the grinder for the whole day, she used to save the maximum of her earning in an earthen pot so as to enable her to construct a temple one day. To save that earthen pot from thieves, she used to bury it under the ground at night.

One day, the king of the thieves got to know of the earthen pot. While the old woman was sleeping, he came along with other members of his team and stole the earthen pot. Next day, when the old woman came to know about the theft, she felt disheartened. All the money that she was saving out of her penury was gone. Any normal human beings in her state would have left the idea of building a temple. But her grit was uncommon. Showing utmost calm, she did not put blame on anybody.

On the other hand, she started working again harder and with more dedication. Her resolve became more strong and her acts became more louder. In the meanwhile, the king of the thieves saw a dream in which, he saw that the money that he had stolen was for the construction of the temple. His heart filled with grief and remorse. Next day, he came along with his men and returned the money to the old woman and also offered his services for the construction.

The story of old woman on the walls of the complex

The stone-grinder and earthen pot on the top of the dome

The old woman not only got all the money but also got the required manpower support. The work of constructing the temple was immediately started. Gradually, people from all walks of life got associated with the project. First, the area was cleaned and surface was smoothened for enabling the construction. The money saved by the old woman, contributed by other benevolent people including the king of thieves, the walls and structure of the temple were completed.

However, there was no money left to construct the dome, for which usage of Gold was the norm. Then, the old lady sacrificed her only stone-grinder as well as the earthen pot for using them as the dome. Those were her source of livelihood. But she was so determined to get the temple completed that she did not care for her future and old age. That stone-grinder and the earthen pot are still visible on the top of the original temple.

The stone-grinder and earthen pot on the top of the dome

The courtyard on the hill-top

The view of those simple equipments on the top of the dome really generates appreciation towards the efforts of a poor old woman. I am a little old-fashioned in the matters of spirituality. In my opinion, even Gods do not accept anything unless it is offered with the spiritual fervor. It is the ultimate favour of the spiritual masters, to accept her humble stone-grinder and the earthen pot on the top of the temple dome. What best reward could be offered to such determined soul, except assimilating her entire self into the divine fold.

Deeply impressed with her efforts, I sat down inside the temple for a long time. In my broodings, I found that the golden heart of that old woman to be like a lithographer’s stone. Once she had taken onto herself for building a temple, there was no going back. Be it chilly winter, rainy season or hot summer days, she continued with her efforts. In my opinion, that was the example of determination at its best.

Statue of Bahubali

Statue of Bahubali

As it happens, the good things always end quickly. So, when time came for our return, we started descending from the hill-top. At one place downhill, we saw a replica of Bhangwan Bahubali. But my mind was fixed at the challenge that was going on when I started the story. Ladies and Gentlemen! That competition is still on. Those, who carry doubt on the efforts of the old woman of Jabalpur, may still enter the challenge. But remember, one has to be an old woman and earning her livelihood through grinding with a stone-grinder, to be considered as eligible for the ultimate challenge. For others, the rat race is already on!

For those, who are having the bouts of self-doubt after going through this article, must also read the famous couplet of Allama Iqbal:
“खुदी को कर बुलंद इतना के हर तक़दीर से पहले
ख़ुदा बंदे से खुद पूछे बता तेरी रज़ा क्या है.”

6 Comments

  • Arun says:

    Nice post sir..thanx for sharing.

  • Excellent informative post with wonderful pictures of a new place . Thanks for sharing.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    It seems you are on a big discovery trip, with almost every other story talking about a destination which has not been covered so far. We call these stories as FOG or First On Ghumakkar and not so long back we were mentioning these stories in our end of month Ghumakkar Digest. We paused the digest publication a few months back but it looks like that it the right time to resume it. Your stories would be the inspiration behind that.

    The story indeed is one of grit and determination. And the temple is still standing tall, even after 650 years talks a lot about the build-quality.

    Thank you Uday for sharing this.

    • Uday Baxi says:

      Dear Sir

      Thanks a lot for your nice comments and for considering it as a FOG.

      Earlier I had gone through many of the digests published in the past. That is a very good concept and must be revived again. Periodicity may be chosen appropriately by the editorial team. The originator of this concept of Ghumakkar and its digest has inspired many to travel, write and share. If through my stories, I am able to add it that momentum, I would consider myself a lucky man on earth.

      Regards

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