Jains of Khajuraho
in the state of Madhya Pradesh, North India

The following sequence tells a story.  The photos were
taken at a Jain temple complex located about one kilometer
from the more famous (and more impressive) Hindu temple
complex of Khajuraho.  While Dr. Laughlin and his wife Randy
were there, they encountered a group of five sisters, who
were more than happy to be photographed with Randy.
(Our guide was perplexed why Randy found this infinitely
more engaging than the temples, much less
his rehearsed description of them.)

As it turned out, the girls were waiting for the appearance of
a Dighambara Jain monk.  The monks of that conservative
school of Jainism emulate their ascetic founder, Mahavira
(pictured), by renouncing clothes.  This monk appeared
suddenly, moved quickly from one temple building to
another, then joined the girls in a circle for a lesson.

The whole incident, while quite natural and normal for
them, was a serendipitous gift for the Western visitors!

(Advisory: Because Dighabara monks are nudists -- on
religious grounds -- the following sequence contains
male frontal nudity.  If you find that offensive, do not
scroll down past the first five images.)



TThis is Mahavira (Nataputta Vardhamana),
the 6th century BCE founder of Jainism.


As a strict ascetic, which is one who not only does not
make concessions to the flesh, but actually may punish
it through any number of physical disciplines, Mahavira
eschewed clothing.  His strictest followers, the Dighambaras,
require their monks to "follow the leader" in this regard.
(Notice the devotion being paid to him by the little girl.)
The one frame is blurred because he was moving very
quickly indeed.


The result is a seemingly incongruous gathering like this:



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