Nov 18, 2007

Jainism In South India

By:G. V. Raju. M. A. (Hons)

In South India, Jainism is little more than a name. Even seriousstudents of religion in India paid little attention to it. In apopulation of nearly 60 crores of people, Jainas may constitutenearly some 3 million people1 . But the influence it wields, itscontribution to the development of Indian couture, commerce andindustry is out of proportion to their population. Jainologicalmaterial is so rich and varied and so much extended in time it isimpossible to write about it in few pages. Because of this limitationthe paper will be simply a fringe study and a general survey.

In this brief paper an attempt is made to trace the rise of Jainismas religio-philosophical system, its contribution to IndianPhilosophy, Religion, Metaphysics and Logic, Art and Architecture,languages and literatures, and also a brief summary of its history inAndhra Pradesh.

The Jainas claim hoary antiquity for their religion. Vishnu andBhagavata Puranas also mention this fact. The tradition says thatduring the time of the Mahabharata War Jaina order was led byNeminatha, the 22nd Thirthankara and he belonged to Yadava family.The order gained strength during 8th century B. C., underParsvanatha, the 23rd Thirthankara.

In Parsvanatha we have the first historical beginnings of Jainism.Mahavira was born in the middle of the 6th century B.C. It appears hewas influenced to a great extent by Gosala and the followers ofAjivaka sect also. According to one tradition there were 5 hereticalsects. They are :

Akriyavadins of Purana Kassapa,Anuvadins of Pakuda Kaccayana,Ajivakas of Makkhali Gosala,The materialists of Ajita Kesa Kambalin, andThe sceptics of Sanjaya Belattiputta. (2)All these systems including Buddhism and Jainism were considered asNon-Brahmanic or Sramanic systems. The common feature of thesesystems are :

They challenged the VedasAdmitted all members to their communityObserved a set of ethical principlesPracticed detached life to get liberationAccepted renunciation.These sects indicate there were two trends of thought, Brahmanic andNon-Brahmanic even from earlier times and these two trends influencedIndian Philosophy and Religion equally.

The records of the Buddhists and Jainas about the philosophical ideasof those days are of great importance to the historian of religions.The similarity between some of those heretical doctrines of the oneside, and Jaina or Buddhist ideas on the other, favours theassumption that the Buddha as well as Mahavira owed some of theirconceptions to these very heretics.

Contribution to the development of Languages :The Jainas have played a very important role in the linguisticdevelopment of the country. Sanskrit has all along been the medium ofsacred writings and preachings of the Brahmanas and Pali that of theBuddhists. But the Jainas utilized the prevailing language of thearea for religious purposes. Thus they developed Prakrit and otherregional languages.

Of late rich literature produced by the Jainas came to light. Theliterature in Apabhramsa is worth mentioning. This language is a linkbetween the Sanskrit, Prakrit, the classical languages on the onehand and modern Indian languages on the other. It is surprising tonote that the earliest literature in Kannada and Tamil is also ofJaina authorship.

Jaina Ethics :

Contribution of Jaina ethics to Indian ethical theories is also noteworthy. It is different from the Bhakti Marga of the Bhagvatas, JnanaMarga of the Vedantins and Karma Marga of the Mimamsakas. Jainismholds that all the three must coexist in a person, if he is to walkalong the path of salvation. Taking the analogy of medicine, faith inits efficacy, knowledge of its use, and the actual taking of themedicine. All these three are essential to effect a cure. Similarlythe suffering soul can be cured by Ratnatraya, the three principlesof Right faith, Right knowledge and Right conduct. The doctrine ofAhimsa though found in the epics, was preached on extensive scale, bythe Jainas and Buddhists. Ahimsa must be observed both by the saintsand the laymen according to Jainas and Buddhists, where as inclassical Hindu tradition it was meant only for the Sanyasis.

Metaphysics:The tenets of Jainism are not always easy to grasp mainly due to tworeasons. Firstly on account of our relative unfamiliarity with theancient background and secondly on account of highly complex andperplexing system of innumerable divisions and sub divisions in theJaina order.

In metaphysics there in some general likeness between Sankhya andyoga on the one hand and Jainism on the other. Dualism of matter andSoul is accepted by all these systems. Souls are like substances likeMonads and they are characterized by intelligence. The actualdifference between the souls is caused by their connection with thematter. Jainas and Sankhyas believe matter to be of indefinite natureand it can become anything.

The summarize Jaina philosophy the living and the non-living, bycoming into contact with each other forge certain energies whichbring about birth, death and various experiences of life. Thisprocess could be stopped and energies already forged destroyed by acourse of discipline leading to salvation. a close analysis leads to7 propositions :

There is something called living,Something called non-living,The two come into contact with each other,The contact leads to production,This process of contact could be stopped,The existing energies could be exhausted,The salvation could be achieved.These seven propositions are called seven tattvas or realities by theJainas. "The first two great truths are that there is a jiva or souland that there is an ajiva or non-soul. These two exhaust betweenthem all that exists in the Universe.

Contribution to Literature :The contribution of the Jainas to Sanskrit and other Indian languagesis noteworthy. Dr. Winterniz says that there was a close connectionbetween Jaina nd post Vedic literature. The story of Jajali andTuladhara (M. bh. XXII, 261-64) the fable of the Hunter and thepigeons (M. bh XXII, 143-49) and the legend of Mudgala in Mahabharata(V, 23-40) indicate this close relation3 .

Prof. Hertel has shown that their contribution to narrative and storyliterature is much. He says that the Jainas have preserved much ofIndian tales that otherwise would have been lost to us4 . They havealso compiled great collection of tales. Kathakosa by Subhasilagani,Kathankakosa by Jinesvara, Kathamahodadhi by somachandra (1448 A. D.)Katharatnakara by Hema Vijaya (1600 A. D.) are some of them.

They wrote many charitas and Prabhandas. The charitas are legendarybiographies of the Thirthankaras, Chakravartins and Rishis.Prabhandas contain stories of famous monks and laymen of historicaltimes. Sthaviravalicarita, Prabhandhacintamani of Merutunga andPrabandhakosa of Rajasekhara gives us a glimpse of the social andcultural history of those times.

Some of the novels are Somaraiccakaha of Dhanavala (romantic epic inApabhramsa) and Somadeva Suri's (959 A. D.) Yasastilaka are of thistype. It has also been shown by Prof, Hertel that the popularrecessions of Pancatantra are the works of the Jainas. DhananjayaSrutakirti wrote to prove his mastery in sleshas by writingRaghavapandaviya (1123-1140 A. D.)

The Jainas have some books written in drama styple also. Mohaparajayaof Yasopala narrates the story of Kumarapala's conversion to Jainism.Many of the poetical works are written in the apabhramsa dialect. TheJainas also have lexicographical writings. Their contribution togrammar is also noteworthy. According to some scholars thegrammatical writing Siddha-Hemachandra by Hemachandra is in manyrespects better than that of Panini's Grammar. The oldest Prakritlexicon is the work of a Jaina scholar, Paiyalacchi Namamala ofDhanapala (972 A. D.)

Jaina's philosophical literature is rich. Umasvati whom Prof. Sualiwould place as early as 300 A. D., in his Tattvarthanthigama Sutraexpounds the doctrine of categories and theory of Pramanas.

Siddhasena Divakara in his Nyayavatara wrote for the first time atreatise on the means of proof (pramana) and the methods (Naya) ofcomprehending things from particular stand points. Devasuri (1086-1169 A. D.) wrote Syadvada Ratnakara. Even in 17th century we havegreat logician in Yaso Vijaya Gani who wrote great number of works onLogic.

Another commendable thing is some of these Jaina philosophical worksis their liberal attitude towards other religious beliefs. A study ofShaddarshanasamucchaya reveals this. They dealt about many of thesciences and even on politics Jaina contribution is noteworthy.Somadeva Suri, the author of Niti Vakyamrta can be compared well withthe classical Indian Niti writers like Kautilya and Sukra.

Arts and Architecture :The Jaina have a due share in the development of Arts in the country.In honor of their saints they erected Stupas as the Buddhists withtheir accessories of stone railings, umbrellas, decorated gatewaysand pillars and statues. The Gomateswara statue at Sravana Belagola(10th Century), the collosal reliefs carved on the rock face nearGwalior (15th Century A. D.), the Hathi Gumpha caves in Orissa, PavaPuri, Rajagiri in Bihar, Girinar and Palitana in Kathiawar, possesstemples and architectural monuments of different ages. The Jainamarble temples at Mount Abu in Rajasthan belonging to the eleventhcentury and later. carry to its highest perfection the Indian geniusfor the invention of graceful patterns and their application to thedecoration of Masonry.

Andhra's Contribution to Jainism :For the spread of Jainism the south played a vital role. We findevidence for it in Jaina literature. During the reign of ChandraguptaMaurya (4th Century B. C.) Magadha was ravaged by a 12 year longfamine. Some Jainas under the leadership of Bhadrabahu came to theSouth and by that time Jainism was a flourishing religion in theSouth.

In "Hari Bhadriya Vritti" it is written that the King of Kalinga whoruled during the time of Vardhamana Mahavira was a friend ofVardhamana's father and Mahavira came to Kalinga and preached hisreligion.

Dharmamrita, a classic of 12th century A. D., mentions that evenduring the times of 12th Thirthankara, Vasupujya Jainism wasprevalent in the Andhra country. Tradition also says an Anga kingcome with his three sons to Vengi who later became Jainas and built acity known as Pratipalapura which is some where near modernBhattiprolu.

The Jaina tradition also mentions that Asoka's grandson Sampratibecame a Svetambra Jaina and spread the religion in Kalinga. TheAndhra and the Kalinga countries might have been strongholds of non-vedic religions for long, for Bodhayana says that whoever goes toKinga must perform Prayschitta5 .

During the regime of Kharavela (2nd century B. C.), Jainism spreadinto many regions of Northern Andhra and Orissa. The rock caves atKhandagiri and Udayagiri bear testimony to the same6 . The Satavahanarulers of Pre-Christian era who ruled a vast territory which nowcomprises of Andhra, Maharashtra and Karnataka states were alsoinfluenced by Jainism. `Kalakasuri prabandha' writes that one of theSatavahana rulers of Pratistanapura used to attend a Jaina monk'sdiscourse.

JAINISM IN KARNATAKAEven before the reign of Chalukya king Pulakesi the (17th Century A.D.) Jainism was a dominant religion in the Karnataka. All the laterkings like Vinayaditya, Vijayaditya helped Jaina saints in spreadingtheir religion. During Vatapi Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas in whosekingdoms much of Andhra (mainly Rayalasemsa and Telangana regions)was a territory influenced by Jainism as these kings were greatpatrons of this religion.

During the Rashtrakuta king Nitya Varsha Indra Vallabha (915-927 A.D.) Bodhan was his capital and even now it is considered by thejainas as one of their Adima Thirthas. The famous Jaina AcharyaSomadevasuri of that time wrote many books and spread the faith theTelangana region.

From 2nd century B. C. upto 800-900 A. D., there were no inscriptionsbearing the dates of that period. It might be the period of Jainadecline in Kalinga and it was only during that period of Jainadecline in Kalinga and it was only during that period the Vedic andthe Buddhistic religions began to flourish in Kalinga.

Tradition says that in a village known as Gangaperulu in Rayalasema,a Jaina monk known as Simhanandi Acharya lived. The princes who fledfrom a town known as Vijayapura in northern India, sought hisprotection and later founded the famous Ganga dynasty with isblessings. Excavations conducted at Danavulapadu in Cuddapah districtrevealed the extent of spread of Jainism in that area.

The founder of Eastern Chalukya dynasty Kubjavishnuvardhana (624-641A. D.) was brother of Pulakesi II. During his period Vijayawada was agreat Jaina centre. His Danasasana (762 A. D.) indicates that he wasa great portion of Jaina religion.

Ramatirtham in Visakhapatnam district was both a Buddhist and JainaKshetra and now it is a famous Hindu Kshetra. Excavations atPenugonda in East Godavari districtrevealed that it was once a Jainareligious centre. At the time of Kullotunga Chola son of RajaRajanarendra, Munugodu in Sattenapalli taluq was a Jaina kshetra.Another inscription of 1178 A.D., reveals that Bhogapuram inVisakhapatnam Dt. was having Jaina temples. In Nellore district upto13th Century there were Jaina temples.

Spread of Saivism and Vaishnavism and decline of Jainism :During the 12th and 13th centuries Saivism began to spread in Andhraand there used to be religious debates over these religious faiths.There were many clashes between the followers of these faiths and ofthe Jaina Bastis (centres)7 were destroyed by the Saivites.Panditaradhyacarita and Palkuriki Somanatha and Sivaratrimahatmya ofSrinatha gives evidence to this fact.

It is a wonder that though Jainism was prevalent for more than 1500years in Andhra only one book written a by a saint of this area isavailable now. It is Jinendra Kalyanabhyudaya by Appayacharya (1241Saka era).

While Saivism became popular during Kaltiya kings, Vaishnavism becamepopular during Vijayanagara kings. Spread of these religions led tothe decline of the Jaina faith. Bur Jainas have their piligrim evennow. Kollipaka in Nalgonda district is jaina kshetra and Penugonda inAnantapur district is one of the Jaina Chaturdasa mahavidya sthnams.

For an Archaeologist and epigraphist who wishes to study Jainahistory Andhra provides a rich source8 .

`Padu' were all Jaina villages. In many places in Andhra we findwells known as Jainabavulu. They are of a particular type ofconstruction. They are covered by lids so that animals in the streetsmay not fall in the nights. Similarly in many villages we find idolscalled as `Sanyasi Demullu. All such villages were once Jainavillages. Many such villages are found in Coastal Andhra.

Its relevance :To understand Indian Philosophy and culture in broader perspectivestudy of Jainism in essential. As Prof. Hopkins puts it,Jainism "represents a theological mean between Brahmanism andBuddhism9 . Then assuredly a serious study of Jainism becomesincumbent on all who may seek to understand aright either the early.Brahamnic ritual or the trenchant and for long effective Buddhistprotest which that elaborate ritual evoked"10 .

The interest of Jainism to the student of religion lies in the factthat it goes back to a very early period and to primitive currents ofreligious and metaphysical speculations, which also gave rise to theoldest Indian philosophies like Sankhya, Yoga and Buddhism. It alsoshares their theoretical passimism and the pratical ideal ofliberation11 .

Jaina approach to truth saying that it has many facts leads torelativism though not to pluralism. Their acceptance of theuniqueness of each soul and stress on individual effort to reachkaivalya makes it a humanistic religion. The ills of the 20th centuryare absolutism and ideological dogmatism. These attitudes will leadthe world to catastrophy and more so in a nuclear age.

The Jainas say our affirmative predication is dependent on Svadravya,Svakshetra, Svakala and Svabhava. If it is paradravya, parakshetra,parakala and parabhava it can be negatively predicated. This approachto understand alien religions, cultures, political and social systemswill lessen the tensions in the world and improve our quality of lifeand make this planet a better place to live. As Ratnasekhara inSambodhasattari says "No matter whether he is a Svetambara or adigambara, A Buddhist or a follower of any other creed, one who hasrealized the self sameness of the soul, I. e., looks on all creaturesas his own self, attains salavation"12 .


Avadhu, live in the realization of soul never say anything to anyoneOne
who realizes the self, known all beliefs fighting
In the heats does not keep one-sidedness, sees tow-coloured wings
All sorrows and sickness end, becomes immortal and unchanging
Does not believe in muum and tuum breaks the worldly bondage
He keeps in his mind and soul the form which is invisible,incomparable, ultimate
He forsakes the pleasures of physical sight, with determinationfollows intuition
One thief is very active and militant he is found all over the worldin sly
One has to keep vigilent and not permit him to enter the housesecretly
One who leaves one and takes up the other only fans the fires ofpassion
Suri Rajendra's saying you ponder keep yourself on vigil, well-equipped.

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