Nov 17, 2007

Jainism in Kolhapur (I)

By Prof. Yashwant Malaiya

At the border of Maharashtra and Karnataka, that is a region that hasbeen an ancient center of Jainism. We can perhaps term the regionKonkan, although the term Konkan is used with different meanings.Such was the influence of jainism here in ancient times that theVaishnava "Bhagavat Purana" mentiones that lord Rishabha had wanderedin the Konka (Konkana), Venka (Vengi) and Kutaka region and a king ofthis region had spreadJainism due to his influence.

There is still a large Jain population in this region. In fact youwill be surprised to know that Belgaum (across the border inKarnataka) , Kolhapur and Sangli (both in Maharashtra) are among thetop 5 districts in India in terms of the Jain population. There weremany kings in this area that followed or supported Jainism. The mostglorious among them were the Rashtrakuta who originated from Laturand had their capital at Mayurkhandi (near Nasik) and later atManyakhet [1] During their reign numerous famous Jain texts werecomposed, including Dhavala, Jayadhavala, Mahapurana, Uttarapuranaand Ganita-sara-samgraha. They ruled from about 752 AD to 972 AD. Thelast Rashtrakuta king, Indra the fourth retired to Shravanbelgola andpassed away in smadhi-marana in 904 [2].

In the first century AD, a king Nahapan (of non-Indian origin) ruledregion near Nasik. According to "Shrutavatar" of Vibudh Shridhar,Nahpan became a Jain monk Bhutabali. Bhuytabali and Pushpadnata laterstudied under Dharasena who live in a cave in Junagarh. They togeterlater wrote the famous "Shat-khandagam".

Here I will briefly mention about Kolhapurand nearby places.

In the first century AD, at Mahimanagari, near Kolhapur a gatheringof monks was held. This assembly decided to send Bhutabali andPushpadnata to Mt. Girnar to study under Dharasena. Some say thatpart of Shat-Khandagam was composed at Kolhapur.

Kolhapur bcame a major Jain center duuring the rule of Shilahar kingsin the 11th century. Kolhapura was also known as Kshullakapur(because of the presence of a large number of Junior Jain monks[3])or Padmalaya, after the deity Padmavati who is now worshipped thereas Mahalakshmi and is the tutelary goddess of Kolhapura.(Continued)


[1]Several Jain institutions in this region are somehow connectedwith the Rashtrakuta dynasty. Both Latura and Manyakhet (Malakheda)have been Bhattaraka seats. Malakheda seat became empty in the earlypart of thiscentury.

[2] But that was not the end of Rashtrakutas. The Rathor Rajputs ofRajsthan/North India are descendants of ancient Rashtrakutas.

[3] Kshullaka means a junior Jain monk.

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