Recently I visited Udaygiri-Khandgiri caves near Bhuvaneshwar in Orissa. While other devotee Jains were putting their heads on the feet of Lord Adinath and others at the Jain temple on the hill, I took a chance to visit a so called Hindu temple in the mid of the hill.
This Hindu temple is nothing but two Jain caves with beautiful ancient Jain idols. Jain pilgrims rarely visit these caves and miss many things that they must know.
photo: Parshwanath converted to Vishnu
Photo: A Panda in front of Jain idols
When I visited the cave, a hindu Pandya in saffron and yellow cloths was standing in front of an idol of a Godess at the right side wall of the cave. I entered the cave and
saluted him. Then I saluted the Godess and asked, 'who is she?' 'She is Maa Parvati' he replied.
Then I went to the front wall and found that there were a row of 24 black idols of Jain Teerthankars followed by 24 Goddesses, which are called as Shasan Devis by Jains. However, to know wahat the Pandya says, I asked him, 'Which Godd and Godesses these are?'
'In upper row, they are 24 avatars of Lord Vishnu, and the Goddesses here are avatars of Maa Parvati' he said.
'Can I take some photographs?' I asked the pandya. He allowed me to do it.
I found that the idol of Lord Parshwanath was converted to Lord Vishnu by wearing him cloths. The same thing was done with the idol of Padmavati to convert her in Durgadevi.
I took some photographs on my digital camera.
When I was leaving the cave, the Pandya told me that there is another cave at left and suggested me to go there. So I went there and saw a young and dirty pandya with a saffron dhoti and a thread on his chest had seated in front of the beautifully carved Jain idols on the front wall. I took a photograph of the front wall along with him. Then I requested him to move from there to take photographs of just the wall. He went out. There were more Jain idols on the left and right side wall of the cave.I took a lot of photographs in that cave also.
Later I discussed the issue with the manager of the Jain dharmshala. He was surprised that how could I got entrance there as the Pandyas do not allow Jains to come there. I said immediately 'because I didn't go there as a Jain'.
He told, 'The Pandyas are making thousands of Rupees per day from Hindu pilgrims'
I think this is one more case of converting Jain idols to Hindu one.