LAHORE: The Punjab Government Youth Affairs, Sports, Archaeology and Tourism Department (YASAT) has declared the Samadhi/Tomb of Jain Peer Guru revered as Atma Ram Ji as special premises under the Punjab Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance 1985 whereas, the monument has a total area of 2 kanal and 11 marlas and is located in Gujranwala city, Pakistan Today has learnt.
According to sources on site, it was learnt that the place was being used by the local police and remained ill-maintained for ages. “There was no proper upkeep of the place and it was being roughly used and neglected which was a distressing situation for the Jain followers. It is good to know that it has now been declared as a protected site and will be conserved,” sources
They said that this place was also mentioned as the Samadhi of Charat Singh by some people and it got viral on social media which had ignited the Jain community. “With the protection of the place we also feel that the true spirit and history of this place should be highlighted and it should be turned into a religious site for Jain followers,” said the sources.
According to references, this monument was a Jain Mandir and the references of this Mandir can be seen in various books on Jain religion and the references tell that the building is a Jain Mandir built in memory of a great Jain scholar Shri Atma Ram Ji.
Many artefacts and decorative items from this building were taken to the Lahore museum and you can still see them in the Jain gallery. It is said according to historical references that Atma Ram Ji had studied Hindi and arithmetic and sometimes he used to visit Sthanakvasi Sadhus of the place and began to study about religion.
In 1853 CE, he was initiated as a Sthanakvasi Sadhu. His intellect was intense and it is said that he used to commit to memory 100 verses every day. Atma Ram Ji began to study Sanskrit grammar and other philosophical and logical works with a pandit. He fearlessly gave up the Sthanakvasi doctrine and came to Ahmadabad in 1875. He was initiated as a Swetamber Sadhu by Buddhivijayji, a Jain Sadhu of the place.
In the 1886 CE, he went to Palitana, Kathiawar, and stayed there for four months during the rainy season. Then he travelled on foot from Gujarat to Punjab. During the travel, he brought to light the hidden Jain literature. The Jain Bhandars of different places of Rajputana were examined by him. He got many old important manuscripts fairly copied out.
For many years he lived in Punjab. His fame spread through different parts of the country. Many people of other sects came and discussed with him on matters of religion. He answered their arguments in a mild, courteous and dispassionate manner. His tone was inspiring, and the hearers were at times astonished at his peculiar tact of answering the questions. His ideas were liberal. He was serene and calm of disposition.
In 1892, he received an invitation from Chicago to attend the World’s Parliament of Religions. On account of religious and personal restrictions, he could not go, but he sent his representative, Virchand Raghav Ji Gandhi BA, to Chicago to represent Jainism at the parliament.
According to details given by the Jain literature, it is said that many Jain temples were built in Punjab by his teachings and almost 15,000 persons were converted to Jainism by his strenuous efforts while many pathshalas and libraries were established by him in the districts of Punjab and in different other parts of the country.
Historic references of Jain religion state that he passed away in 1896 CE in Gujranwala (Punjab, Pakistan) and his remains were preserved by the disciples and they constructed his Samadhi as well.
Punjab Archaeology Director Malik Maqsood said, “We have declared the site as protected monuments. We have requested the concerned authorities at Gujranwala to either conserve it on their own or hand over us the monument so that the Archaeology Department can carry on the conservation. It is a beautiful piece of architecture and should surely be conserved. It has a lot of religious value attached to it.”
“This building is divided into three parts. The main building houses Atma Ram Ji’s funerary urns. One building was used as a temple and the other one was a residential area. The historic books state that the building was constructed beautifully using marble and red tiles,” Maqsood concluded.