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January 30th 2008
Published: February 5th 2008
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Kim had enough of the car so she decided to seek entertainment locally while Kathleen, Jennifer and I headed out to see Ranakpur.

In a trip that included one stunner after another, this had to be the single biggest stunner encountered while traveling with my sisters.

"The renowned Jain temple at Ranakpur is dedicated to Adinatha. Light colored marble has been used for the construction of this grand temple which occupies an area of approximately 60 x 62 meters. The temple, with its distinctive domes, shikhara, turrets and cupolas rises majestically from the slope of a hill. Over 1444 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail, support the temple.The pillars are all differently carved and no two pillars are the same. ... The dating of this temple is controversial but it is largely considered to be anywhere between the late 14th to mid-15th centuries." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranakpur

"Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma, is one of the oldest religions in the world. It is a religion and philosophy originating in ancient India. The Jains follow the teachings of the 24 Jinas (conquerors) who are also known as Tirthankars. The 24th and final Tirthankar, Lord Mahavira lived in ca. 6th century BC. Jains carry compassion for all life, human and non-human, is central to Jainism. Human life is valued as a unique, rare opportunity to reach enlightenment. To kill any person, no matter what crime they committed, is considered unimaginably abhorrent. It is the only religion that requires monks and laity, from all its sects and traditions, to be vegetarian. Some Indian regions have been strongly influenced by Jains and often the majority of the local non-Jain population has also become vegetarian. Jainism's stance on nonviolence goes far beyond vegetarianism. Jains refuse food obtained with unnecessary cruelty. Many practice a lifestyle similar to Veganism due to the violence of modern dairy farms, and others exclude root vegetables from their diets in order to preserve the lives of the plants from which they eat. Jains are usually very welcoming and friendly toward other faiths and often help with interfaith functions. Several non-Jain temples in India are administered by Jains. A palpable presence in Indian culture, Jains have contributed to Indian philosophy, art, architecture, science, and to Mohandas Gandhi's politics, which led to the mainly non-violent movement for Indian independence." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism

The oldest texts from India include references to naked saints. Many of these naked saints belonged to the Jain religion. The Agamas describe naked saints as practicing the highest level of renunciation of the material world. Nakedness was a way of life, but there was nothing to prevent them from protecting themselves from extreme cold. Buddha may also have remained naked during his life. Banaras is a city in India where naked saints are still said to be walking about. See e.g., http://www.religiousworlds.com/mandalam/naked.htm

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