Nov 18, 2007

Jainism in Andhra Pradesh

by G. V. Raju

Dharmamrita, a classic of 12th century A. D., mentionsthat even during the times of 12th TirthankaraVasupujya, Jainism was prevalent in the Andhra country.Tradition also says an Anga king come with his threesons to Vengi who later became Jainas and built a cityknown as Pratipalapura which is some where near modernBhattiprolu.

The Jaina tradition also mentions that Asoka's grandsonSamprati became a Jaina and spread the religion inKalinga. The Andhra and the Kalinga countries mighthave been strongholds of non-vedic religions for long,for Bodhayana says that whoever goes to Kinga mustperform Prayschitta .

During the regime of Kharavela (2nd century B. C.),Jainism spread into many regions of Northern Andhra andOrissa. The rock caves at Khandagiri and Udayagiri beartestimony to the same6 . The Satavahana rulers of Pre-Christian era who ruled a vast territory which nowcomprises of Andhra, Maharashtra and Karnataka stateswere also influenced by Jainism. "Kalakasuri prabandha"writes that one of the Satavahana rulers ofPratistanapura used to attend a Jaina monk's discourse.

Even before the reign of Chalukya king Pulakesi the(17th Century A. D.) Jainism was a dominant religionin the Karnataka. All the later kings like Vinayaditya,Vijayaditya helped Jaina saints in spreading theirreligion. During Vatapi Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas inwhose kingdoms much of Andhra (mainly Rayalasemsa andTelangana regions) was a territory influenced byJainism as these kings were great patrons of thisreligion.

During the Rashtrakuta king Nitya Varsha Indra Vallabha(915-927 A. D.) Bodhan was his capital and even now itis considered by the jainas as one of their AdimaThirthas. The famous Jaina Acharya Somadevasuri of thattime wrote many books and spread the faith theTelangana region.

From 2nd century B. C. upto 800-900 A. D., there wereno inscriptions bearing the dates of that period. Itmight be the period of Jaina decline in Kalinga and itwas only during that period of Jaina decline inKalinga and it was only during that period the Vedicand the Buddhistic religions began to flourish in Kalinga.

Tradition says that in a village known as Gangaperuluin Rayalasema, a Jaina monk known as Simhanandi Acharyalived. The princes who fled from a town known asVijayapura in northern India, sought his protection andlater founded the famous Ganga dynasty with isblessings. Excavations conducted at Danavulapadu inCuddapah district revealed the extent of spread ofJainism in that area.

The founder of Eastern Chalukya dynastyKubjavishnuvardhana (624-641 A. D.) was brother ofPulakesi II. During his period Vijayawada was a greatJaina centre. His Danasasana (762 A. D.) indicates thathe was a great portion of Jaina religion.

Ramatirtham in Visakhapatnam district was both aBuddhist and Jaina Kshetra and now it is a famous HinduKshetra. Excavations at Penugonda in East Godavaridistrict revealed that it was once a Jaina religiouscentre. At the time of Kullotunga Chola son of RajaRajanarendra, Munugodu in Sattenapalli taluq was aJaina kshetra. Another inscription of 1178 A.D.,reveals that Bhogapuram in Visakhapatnam Dt. was havingJaina temples. In Nellore district upto 13th Centurythere were Jaina temples.

Spread of Saivism and Vaishnavism and decline ofJainism :

During the 12th and 13th centuries Saivism began tospread in Andhra and there used to be religious debatesover these religious faiths. There were many clashesbetween the followers of these faiths and of the JainaBastis (centres) were destroyed by the Saivites.Panditaradhyacarita and Palkuriki Somanatha andSivaratrimahatmya of Srinatha gives evidence to thisfact.

It is a wonder that though Jainism was prevalent formore than 1500 years in Andhra only one book written aby a saint of this area is available now. It isJinendra Kalyanabhyudaya by Appayacharya (1241 Sakaera).

While Saivism became popular during Kaltiya kings,Vaishnavism became popular during Vijayanagara kings.Spread of these religions led to the decline of theJaina faith. Bur Jainas have their piligrim even now.Kollipaka in Nalgonda district is Jaina kshetra andPenugonda in Anantapur district is one of the JainaChaturdasa Mahavidya Sthnams.

For an Archaeologist and epigraphist who wishes tostudy Jaina history Andhra provides a rich source .

"Padu" were all Jaina villages. In many places inAndhra we find wells known as Jainabavulu. They are ofa particular type of construction. They are covered bylids so that animals in the streets may not fall in thenights. Similarly in many villages we find idols calledas "Sanyasi Demullu". All such villages were once Jainavillages. Many such villages are found in CoastalAndhra.

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