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Osian

Osian (Osiyan) is an ancient town located in the Jodhpur District of Rajasthan state in western India. It is an oasis in the Thar Desert, 65 km north of the district headquarters at Jodhpur, on a diversion off the main Jodhpur – Bikaner Highway.

Osian is famous as home to the cluster of ruined Brahmanical and Jain temples dating from the 8th to 11th centuries. The city was a major religious centre of the kingdom of Marwar during the Pratihara dynasty. Of the 18 shrines in the group, the Surya or Sun Temple and the later Kali temple, Sachiya Mata Temple and the main Jain temple dedicated to Lord Mahavira stands out in their grace and architecture.

The nearest airport is at Jodhpur. National Highway 11 passes through Osian. Osian Railway Station is situated on the Jodhpur – Phalodi line of North Western Railway.

History of Osian

Osia is a small village sixty-five kilometers north-east of Jodhpur. It is an important Jain pilgrimage center for Oswal Jain community. The (Mahavira, महावीर) Temple built here in A. D. 783 is an important tirtha for Jain built by Pratihara King Vatsa raja. The Jain Harivamsa Purana refers to Vatsa raja's rule in Saka year 705 (A. D. 783). He must have held sway over Upakesapura, i.e., Osian as an inscriptions of Vikram Samvat 1013 (A. D. 956) found from there refers to this place.

In "Nabhinandana-jirnodhara Prabandha" -:Upakesapura has been described as the 'Svastika' (a mystical mark denoting good luck) of the earth, an ornament of the desert endowed with natural beauty where the groves are full of trees and the noble ascetics are wifeless (adara), but amongst the citizens none are like that; where the beautiful damsels and the peacocks educate each other without formal instructions merely by observing each other's graceful gait; where the tanks are replete with fully blossomed lotuses and the nocturnal darkness is dispelled by the light emanating from the luminous gems and where the rays of moon entering during the night through latticed windows in the houses of fair ladies, separated from their spouses, appear like the silver-arrows hurled by Cupid. Shorn of its usual literary exaggerations, the description does indicate that Osian was an important flourishing town then. The derivation of the cast name Oswal from Osian - the place name also sounds acceptable as it is a common practice in India to derive the family names from place names.

Osian and Jainism

It is conjectured from several evidences that the people of Osian were converted to Jainism by Jain Acharya Ratnaprabhasuriji, who had impressed the populace of the region by his supernatural powers.

A niche in Mahavira Temple contains sculpture of interwined snakes which also is worshipped by Oswal Jain, as adhisthatyaka - devetas. This leads us to believe that a sizeable part of the populace in that period may have belonged to naga extraction. 'Nagabhatta' was a Pratihara ruler of Mandor near Jodhpur. It is said that the 'Nagabhatta' must have defeated the nagas and so he must have been given the name Nagabhatta which means 'master of nagas'. 'Nagabhatta' the son of 'Narbhatta' of Mandor line established his capital at Merta near Nagaur, whose old name as Nagapura. The Pratiharas may have conquered these areas from the nagas. Nagapriyagachha of Jain also indicates in the same direction.

The Nagas of Osian and surrounding region, thus seem to have continued serpent worship even after their conversion to Jainism and for this reason their parallel worship of Sachiya Mata by Oswal Jain community seems relevant. The Sachiya Mata Temple also equally old and important situated on a hill north-east of Mahavira Temple, enable us some clues to understand the social history of that period. This Temple was built by Upaldev who is the brother of Raja Punj the son of King 'Bheemsain' (king of Bhinmal).

This has many decorative features of a Jain temple. However, it is dedicated to Sachiya Mata, though Jains also worship here, which also is a matter of interest to understand the emergence of Jain community in this city.

The Bafna clan of Jain community conduct their 'Mundan-Sanskar' in Sachiya Mata Temple

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