India is a land of color, culture, tradition, mysticism and miracles. There are several religious and holy places in this country of 1.2 billion people. One such spot is the much revered town of Nakoda Ji in the state of Rajasthan.
Known in history by other names such as Nagara, Viramapura and Maheva, Nakoda Ji (or spelled together as “Nakodaji”) is popular for several miraculous events that locals attribute to an important black idol in their midst. The 58-cm black-colored statue in lotus position is that of Parshva, a holy man in Jainism. Who is Parshva and what is Jainism?
Jainism religion was born in India and it has a strong presence in the state of Rajasthan where Nakodaji is located. The main dogma of Jainism is that all living beings should lead peaceable lives, avoiding conflicts and any forms of violence. Devotees live peaceful lives in the attempt to be liberated from “karma” or the negative forces of this world and be able to achieve an enlightened state.
Not many followers achieve this state, but eventually they do if they stay at it. The road to enlightenment, liberation or divine consciousness is tough since one has to conquer his own demons. The journey becomes easier as devotees are assisted by Tirthankaras.
Tirthankaras are people or souls who have reached divine consciousness or nirvana. They are said to have crossed the river and have decided to cross back in order to help others get across and achieve nirvana as well. Tirthankaras are Jainism’s supreme spiritual leaders.
Throughout the religion’s history, there have been only 24 Tirthankaras. Of the 24, there are only two Tirthankaras with actual historical records to prove that they were real people. These two were Mahavira (the last Tirthankara) and Parshva (the 23th).
Records suggest that Parshva lived to be 100 years old from 877 to 777 BC. It is his statue that is highly revered as a miraculous idol in Nakodaji. He lived for 30 years as a nobleman before he renounced everything, including his marriage, to become a monk.
He left a life of abundance since he was the son of royalty in order to live a life of spirituality, solitude and service. He was loved by Jainism devotees and was referred in history as “beloved of men”. After his enlightenment and transformation into a Tirthankara, it took 250 long years before the next spiritual leader (the last Tirthankara) appeared.
Parshva’s idol was installed in the temple in Nakodaji by a certain Jain religious leader called Sthulibhadrasuri. The temple underwent several innovations and was in fact controlled by invading forces sometime in the 13th century. The idol was hidden during those times and resurfaced after 200 years.
Tourists, nature lovers, backpackers and pilgrims come to Nakoda Ji for several reasons but the most popular reason is to see the miraculous idol. This far-flung sacred town is 110 kilometers away from the city of Jodhpur. The nearest airport is in Jodhpur, and from there travelers may take the bus, rail or rental car to Nakoda Ji.