Jul 1, 2008

Historical and Ethnical Roots of Jainism

Mrs. N. R. Guseva

According to the author's knowledge, the question viz. in which ethnical environments Jainism or the elements of the cult and those philosophic conceptions which lay at the basis of the faith of the Jains arose and developed, has not been elaborated so far.

It is possible only to surmise approximately which elements of spiritual culture of non-Aryan peoples penetrated into the new philosophic systems and religions, shaping themselves in India, in the first half of the first millennium B.C. and to attempt to bring those elements to light by the method of counter-posing them to those elements, which were characteristic of the Vedic (i.e. Aryan) society.

There are at least eight features which distinguish Jainism from Vedic religion and Brahmanism. Those features are so much substantial that they do not afford any possibility of regarding Jainism as a sect of Brahmanism or its some other product. These features can be reduced to the following:


(1) Jainism rejects holiness of Veda.
(2) Stands against the dogma that gods are the main objects of worship.
(3) Rejects bloody sacrifices and a number of other elements of Brahmanic ritual.
(4) Does not recognise Varna-Caste System-of the Brahmanic society.
(5) Prescribes defence of other's life.
(6) Prescribes asceticism.
(7) Prescribes nudity at the time of ritual.
(8) Allows women monkhood, learning of holy books etc.


At the same time, it must not be forgotten that the philosophy of Upanishads which developed within the bounds of Vedic faiths or more probably, on the basis of several Vedic doctrines, accepting non-Brahamanic (and sometimes directly ant-Brahmanic) character rendered significant influence on Jainism (as also on Buddhism and Bhagvatism). In particular, we have in mind the conception that man can directly turn to God (to the Absolute), can achieve salvation by his own deeds and thoughts without the medium of Brahmin-priest without numerous sacrifices or offerings.


The basic philosophic conception, on the basis of which all the anti-Brahmanic teachings developed on the so-called outskirts of the Vedic world lies precisely in this fact.
It is also possible to assume that the Upanishadis, although included in Vedic literature, adopted a number of elements of non-Brahmanic i.e. in the main, non-Aryan cults.


Pannikar's contention that the teachings of Upanishadas demanded 'high development of individual' causes some doubt. This was a teaching rather having its source in that situation where a full-fledged community member-kshatri-occupied the position of performer of a number of communal functions in the kin-tribe commune. Later on in the republic Janapada, this position was occupied by the independent warrior-Kshatriya. Probably, because of this, the teaching of Upanishadas spread widely in the Kshatriya republics.


It is not accidental that the philosophy of Upanishadas is called the philosophy of Kshatriyas by research scholars in the course of many years. And it is probable that precisely as a result of its proximity to the Kshatriya ideology, the Upanishadas had much in common with Jainism.
H. Jacobi, comparing Jainism with Buddhism and Brahmanism, came to the conclusion that there are elements, common to all the three religions and these according to him are precisely: faith in rebirth of spirit, teaching about Karman (retribution according to deeds, performed in the previous birth), belief that it is possible to achieve salvation from further rebirths and belief in the periodical manifestations of prophets (or gods), who strengthen religion and truth on the earth. The first three positions are related to the prescriptions to spare other's life and cannot be agreeable with the Aryan prescriptions of innumerable sacrifices. That is why they are apparently borrowed by the later Brahmanism from non-Vedic faiths and it means that they are hardly brought into Jainism by the Aryans. It is possible that only the last one out of the four positions constituted a contribution by the Aryans to reformative faiths since this position reminds us of the Aryan tradition of succession by word of mouth of geneological birth and tracing of their births to prophets and great grand-parents.


It is possible that the prominent contribution of Aryans to the rise of these faiths consists in that after having moved forward along India and having come in contact with its various peoples, they played the role of collectors of their traditions and carried to the eastern Gangetic regions many cult elements and ethical prescriptions, which came later in Jainism, Budhism and other religions.


According to legends of the Jains, their religion in ancient times had spread over the whole of India, and all of them were Kshatriyas. According to another legend, Devananda, a Brahmin woman should have given birth to Mahavir Jina (founder of Jainism in that form in which this religion has come down to us), but the embryo had been transferred to the bosom of Trisala, a Kshatriya woman, since Mahavir was not to receive life from Brahmins or from the members of the lower castes. (Can there be anything more characteristic in India than showing repulsion towards Brahmins?)


Research scholars of the philosophy of Hinduism emphasise that it was precisely Kshatriyas who introduced in this philosophy the conceptions known by the name of atmavidya and mokshadharma. According to the first incept the place of supreme origin is assigned to the soul (atman) and it is considered higher than the gods. The second prescribes the way of self-perfection, the way of moral maturity for those who aspire for freedom-Moksha. Both these conceptions are not in agreement with the Brahmanic teaching about the way of salvation through performance of ritual actions, directed towards the propitiation of gods. But they agree in full with the principles of Jain (and equally buddhist) philosophy.


The tradition, widely represented in the ancient Indian literature asserts that the conception of atmavidya had spread precisely in eastern Gangetic regions (i.e. where the faith of Jainism was formed) and that even Brahmins used to come to listen to the sermons of Kshatriya rulers of these regions. (For example, to listen to the sermons of the members of the dynasty of Janaka, to which belonged father of Sita, glorified in Ramayana.) Ancient Indian literature contains indications of the deep antiquity of the sources of Jainism and it also indicates that the Kshatriyas and ascetics from Vratyas i.e. non-Aryans played noticeable rule in establishing non-Vedic teachings. Alluding to the fact that monks-Shraman (and more ancient name of Jainism and Jain monks is precisely 'Shraman') are referred to in Rigveda, in Taitiriya-aranyaka and in Bhagvat-puran, and also alluding to the fact the word 'muni' though rarely referred to in the works of Vedic literature meant in antiquity an ascetic-hermit of non-Vedic tradition, several authors contend that during the time when Vedas were taking shape, a number of elements which had entered subsequently in Jain religion were already known. This is confirmed by the fact that monks are called arhanas or arhatas in Rigveda and Atharvaveda i.e. by the word which is invariably applied in Jain tradition for the designation of great teachers and preachers of this religion.


Vratya-khand-part of Atharvaveda-glorifies learned ascetic-vratya i.e. asetic-non-Brahmin, who came superior to Vedic gods, had subdued four countries of the world and by his breath had given birth to the whole world.


Colebrooke indicates that many Greek authors of the third century B.C. divided all the philosophers in two groups-samans (shramans) and brahmans-and emphasised such a great difference between them that they considered them belonging to different races. This testimony is very valuable in as much as it emphasises racial differences between Jains and non-Jains. Whatever the Greeks understood by the word 'race'-whether belonging to different linguistic families or to different anthropological types, the fact that the difference between the bearers of religions-Brahmanism and Jainism-was so much noticeable that it gave ground to ascribe them to different races is important. Only one interpretation can be given to this and that is in those time, followers of Jainism were, in the main, representatives of pre-Aryan population of the country. This means that there is a basis to assert that the chief components of this non-Vedic religion were engendered by non-Aryan ethnical environments.


Many contemporary research scholars have also come to the conclusion that the roots of Jainism are significantly more ancient than the middle of the first millennium B.C.


One of the contemporary leaders of Jain community,sanskritologist Acharya Shri Tulsi finds confirmation in the four Puranas, of his opinion that the Asuras, already referred to in our work were not only non-Vedic i.e. non-Aryan people but they were the priests of Jain religion. He also considers that the pose of Yogasana, in which several human figures are drawn on the seals of Mohenjodaro was worked out by the Jains, was widely known in pre-Aryan India and was borrowed much later by the Hindu ascetics.


The description in one of the sections of the canonical literature of the Jains 'Naiyadhamakahao', of the marriage of the heroine of Mahabharat, Draupadi with five brothers-the Pandavas-as a polyandrical marriage which Draupadi performs fully consciously, serves as an interesting testimony of the deep antiquity of the Jain religion and the cultural-historical tradition of Jainism. In this work it is shown that the girl accepts the five borthers as husbands voluntarily and according to her desire.


Such a description is important for us for two reasons. Firstly, it clearly relates to that epoch, when polyandrical marriages were not prohibited, were not disreputable. It bears more ancient character in comparison to Mahabharat itself and all the subsequent literature, developing and explaining these and other episodes of this epic, since in all these works attempts are invariably made as if to make apologies for the very fact of this marriage, to elucidate, to legalise, or to ascribe external reasons for this form of marriage, which was not acceptable to the Aryan society of the epoch of formation of Mahabharat and was denounced by the social opinion, religious canons and the code of rights. Secondly, it shows that Jains did not denounce polyandrical marriage. This again gives ground to connect Jainism with that ethnical environment, in which such a marriage was the norm of family relations i.e. it was possible with the Dravidian tribes, amongst whom, even at present, strong survivals of polyandry exist.


It is worthwhile turning attention to the Swastik signs, seen on the seals of Cultures of Mohenjodaro and Harappa, and which are common in the symbols of Jainism. Swastik is the symbolic sign of the 7th priest (Tirthankar), Suparshva (the Jains consider that there were 23 Tirthankars before Mahavir) and the middle part forms the sign of the 18th Tirthankar Ara. This sign is always drawn in manuscripts, in miniatures and in the ornaments of the Jain temples etc.


Several scholars consider that the system of counting of periods of time, called yuga, kalpa and manvantara, known to Hinduism (and correspondingly in Indological literature) arose before Vedic culture and that in Hinduism this system penetrated in that epoch, when it had to withstand Buddhism and Jainism.


While agreeing that the sources of Jainism arose in non-Aryan environment and that Kshatriyas (Aryans as well as Vratyas) played a significant role in forming new faiths, we cannot all the same, explain to which people these Vratya-Kshatriyas belonged-to Mundas or to Dravids, to Tibetan, Burmese or to Mon-khmerese. The ethnical map of the settlement of these people in ancient India is not yet made.


The ancient Aryans in the process of their marching along India must have undoubtedly had contacts with all these peoples and borrowed from them many elements of materaial and spiritual culture, but it is difficult to ascertain what precisely was borrowed in the west, in the regions of the civilisation of the valley of the Indus and what in the east, on the plains of the Ganga.


Several research scholars assume that the kins of Saudyumna and Satadyumna, referred to in the geneological lists of Puranas originated from the Mundas. The culture of the hidden copper treasure and yellow ceramics, the contemporary civilisation of the valley of Indus, which is widely known at present and referred to in every work on the ancient history of India, was also quite possibly created by the ancestors of the Mundas.


The territory of this agrarian culture was spread along the lower and middle course of the Ganges and precisely the regions from where Jainism started to spread from the 6th-5th centuries B.C. were included in this.


Non-Aryan orgin of many rulers of ancient Indian kingdoms is frequently shown directly in the geneologies, contained in the Puranas. It is also shown therein that the local people could originate from Aryans only by means of some miracle or transformation. The Brahmin-warrior Vishwamitra himself was connected by his birth to the people of Mundhatara (middle Ganges), which is considered non-Aryan. He was the priest of Karna (step-brother of the five Pandavas-the heores of Mahabharat) and this Karna as informed in the poem was the pre-marital son of the mother of Pandavas from the Sun-god and having been reared by the member of much lower caste than Kshatriya did not have the right even to contest with them in the war-games. Later he was accepted in the caste of Kshatriyas and became a ruler but then he ruled in the extreme eastern regions of the Ganges (it is worthwhile turning our attention to this). The whole legend of Karna can be understood as only one more illustration of the history of the rise of Vratya-Kshatriyas from the environments of local population of India and in particular, the Eastern India.


Mahabharat abounds in episodes in which in direct or metaphorical form extremely various contacts between the Aryans and the non-Aryans are described. In many works of Vedic literature and in the ancient codes of rights the people of eastern Indian religions are spoken of as of mixed origin.


The ritual of Brahmanism had prescribed for a person from the countries of Vedic culture to undergo rites of purification, after he visited the eastern Indian regions. Aryans considered as barbarous (Mlenchhas) those regions, of India, where there were not four Varnas i.e. estates, already formed in their own society.


The fact of borrowing the holiday (festival) of temple chariots, by the later Aryans which was not known to the Vedic Aryans, established by the researchers speaks of the penetration of elements of local cultures in Brahmanism in eastern Gangetic land. Amongst all Dravidian peoples in the south of India every temple has its own day, when the chief deity of this temple is carried in a solemn procession in a richly decorated chariot along the streets of the town.


In the north and north-west of India this ceremony bears a rather symbolic character, since its world-famous centre is the town of Puri in Orissa, the age-old centre of worship of God Krishna, in the form of Jagannatha. In Jainism festivals of temple chariots are also known.


The bearers of the 'culture of hidden copper treasure' probably did not have the custom of mass offerings of cattle in sacrifice to the deities and expressed indignation at these bloody killings of hundreds of domesticated animals in the name of Aryan gods. Apparently, this practice was not prevailing amongst the Dravidians, since in the very early works of South Indian literature, coming down to us (in Tamilian epics of the beginning of our era) this practice is not reflected.
The indignation at sacrificial offerings must have been very deep, because the Aryans did not offer in sacrifice only cattle-herds but the representatives of local people-such cases are repeatedly described in Mahabharat, where these people are referred to as Nagas (serpents), Rakshasas (demons) etc. In the ancient texts in Pali language it is indicated precisely that Brahmins practised Purushmedh i.e. sacrificial offerings in the form of human beings.
If it is assumed that the people of 'the culture of hidden copper treasure' in the east had not developed philosophy, then it must be assumed that in the west, amongst the creators of civilisation of the valley of Indus, i.e. in the established class society, it could have reached high degree of development. That is why it is natural to think that clashing with this ancient civilisation and existing side by side with it and it creators in the course of certain period, the first Aryan newcomers adopted from them a number of philosophic conceptions and marching towards the east should carry them with themselves. It is possible that precisely those conceptions formed the component part of the reformatory faiths, which were born there.
Prescription of strict vegetarianism, which is one of the principles of Jain ethics developed in all probability in non-Aryan environment. Vegetarianism could not have been natural to the ancient Aryans, if only due to climatic conditions of those countries from where they came to India (also Vedas do not give us any ground to affirm that vegetarianism was prevalent with cattle-breeders-Aryans). But in the climatic conditions of India, full or partial abstention from meat as food is singularly possible to imagine and that is why it is natural to assume that the first Aryan newcomers living in India, possibly several centuries before the arrival here of basic waves of tribes of their kinsmen adopted from the local population the custom of vegetarianism, which occupied a very important place also in the syncretic faith of Jainism.


The Asuras attract much attention from amongst pre-Aryan peoples of India, who have left behind a noticeable trace of complex, syncretic faiths, which had developed in Bihar. there were apparently numerous people or more probably a big group of tribes, settled in the north and east of India and undoubtedly underwent forced assimilation with the Aryans coming on their soil. The resistance of Asuras as also of other local peoples to this assimilation served as the greatest reason for the formation of anti-Brahmanic, reformatory faiths in Bihar.


It is known that Aryans called the Asuras, demons, enemies of their gods and consequently their own enemies. It is difficult to ascertain which of the local peoples were covered by this appellation (as it is difficult to ascertain whether Asuras lived in the valley of Indus). But since ethnography knows about the autochthonous people called Asuras (Asura, Asur) living in Bihar even at present, there is every ground to asume that precisely this ethnonym lies at the basis of the term 'Asura' in Vedic literature. The word Asura or Akhura is found not only in Rigveda but in 'Avesta' also. Does it not speak of the Asuras, having settled sometime much distant towards the west than where they live at present?


Let us turn our attention to the traces of distant past of the Asuras on the territories which are of interest to us in this context.


In Mahabharat, the description of the unjust rule of the ruler of ancient Magadha, Jarasandha, and the manner in which Pandavas, incensed by his wicked acts, killed him with the support of their colleague Krishna, occupies significant place.


This Jarasandha, according to the epic, was born in the form of two halves of a child, from two wives of his father, who abandoned these halves. But a she-demon (rakshasi) found those parts, composed them together and the child came to life. That is why, in the epic, Jarasandha is called the son of rakshasi, which explains his wicked nature (read Anti-Aryan Tendency).
Jarasandha is portrayed as an Asura in many works of Vedic literature.


The other legend (contained in the Puranas) says that at one time an Asura-giant named Gaya lived on this earth, who was a zealous bhagwat. He was an adherent of God Vishnu. Vishnu endowed him with great sanctity. Then the gods turned to Gaya with a request to be allowed to perform sacrificial offerings on his body. Gaya agreed and the gods, placing his head to the north and feet to the south started to perform the sacrificial ceremony. But Gaya's head began to shake and this disturbed them. Then all of them climbed on his head but until Vishnu himself appeared, it continued to shake. After this, Gaya requested that gods should always stay on his head, and since then, that place, where according to the legend, lay his head, and now called Gaya, is considered one of the very holy places in India. It is situated in the southern part of Bihar.


The other Sanskrit names of this place are Gyashiras (head of Gaya) and Munda-prishtha (the hind part of the head, back of the head). It is possible to assume also another interpretation for the last name, that is, 'shaved back of the head' or possibly 'back of the Munda', since the word Munda also means 'head' and 'shaved' and also the Munda people.


From this legend, it is possible to conclude that Asuras, who were related possibly to the Munda people lived in closest contact with the Aryans, who had come before although it is fully possible to assume that these contacts started with the Aryans bringing the Asuras for offerings to their own gods (this is unequivocally reflected in the above legend). It is also apparent that Arya-Kshatri from amongst the first newcomers adopted from Asuras and included in their own religious beliefs a whole number of new cultural notions. It must not also be forgotten that, living in the regions of iron ore deposits and having been able to smelt it, the Asuras apparently stood higher in the sphere of material production than the early Aryans. In the remains of the ancient settlement, which local tradition ascribes to the Asuras, ruins of brick buildings in stone temples, funeral urns, huge flagstones and columns were found. Smelteries for iron ore, copper objects and gold coins were also detected. Borrowing of new production skills by the Aryans from the Asuras must have also promoted this borrowing of the elements of spiritual culture from them.
In Bihar, before the arrival of the Aryans, worship of funeral structures was developed. The Aryans did not adopt this custom but in the ancient Jainism, this custom was one of its essential component parts. This is a clear illustration of how actively new religions, arising in eastern Gangetic regions absorbed local tribal ways of worship (in Buddhism also worship of stupas-structures for worship related to the funeral was prevalent). Gaya since then is a centre of pilgrimage for those who wish to perform shraddha-sacrificial offering for salvation of the souls of ancestors.


In Gaya and nearby, worship of trees which is also an indigenous cult of many local peoples, the Asuras, Birhores, Oraones, Mundas, Gonds and others, is highly developed. This cult is part and parcel of Jainism and Buddhism. It is considered that Mahavir Jina secured 'enlightenment', while sitting under the Ashoka tree, and Buddha under the boor nim tree.


Worship of Yakshas-wicked and kind spirits inflicting diseases and also driving them away, sometimes saving men's lives in the forest and sometimes destroying them-existed in ancient Bihar. Yakshas are described as spirits of trees, springs and mountains. In Vedic literature and in the Epic about them, they are spoken of as people, which apparently reflects the meeting of Aryans with the people who worshipped Yakshas. Such animist representations, characteristic of the cults of all local people occupy an important place in the philosophy of Jainism.


There are many references in literature about enmity and clashes of the Aryans with the Asuras.
It is described in Mahabharat (III, 90, 301) that the Asura by name Vatapi behaved with the Brahmins so scornfully and with such enmity that one of the Aryan sages reduced him to ashes by his curse.


In Arthashastra (XIV, 178-3) Asuras are referred to as indulging in magical conspiracies, from which it is clear that the Aryans in their images connected them with black magic (black magic, witchcraft, sorcery are even today spread amongst the Asuras and other local tribes of Bihar).
'Manavadharmashastra' (Laws of Manu) considers that marriage called 'asura' is a lower form of marriage and does not conform to the religious-ethical prescription of Dharma; marriages of Paishacha and Asura form must never be performed. According to this form of marriage 'Dahej' (bride-price) is given for the bride. This practice is not adopted by the Aryans and to this day is condemned by all 'pure' castes. (a rational father must not take even the smallest insignificant recompensation for the daughter. But with the aboriginal tribes, including Mundas, 'Dahej' (bride-price) is compulsorily paid for the daughter and this custom is widely spread amongst the lower castes which were formed out of the pre-Aryan population of India. From such prohibitions it is seen how Aryan (Brahmin law-givers) tried to protect their society from the influence of the customs and social institutes of local peoples and in particular the Asuras.
It is possible to speak with certainty that the Asuras were the bearers of the ancient forms of Jainism as is done by Acharya Tulsi? Probably it is more correct to say that the cults of Asuras entered into Jainism. The word 'Asura' is used by the Jains themselves in a sense close to the brahmanic sense i.e. as meaning the spirits of the dead wicked people but more frequently Asuras are called retinue of Tirthankaras i.e. an honourable place is given to them.


It is possible that the other autochthonic people-the Bhils-who had also widely settled in ancient Indian practised the cults which were one of the component parts of Jainism.


A viewpoint exists in ethnography that the Bhils at one time spoke one of the Munda languages. It is considered that Nishadas, always referred to in the Epic, Puranas and other works of ancient literature were Bhils. According to the geneological lists contained in the Puranas a ruler by name Nishadha (who must be understood as ethnonym) originated from Vena whom the priests killed because he restricted their power. This Vena in his turn had Anga as his father (Anga-name of an ancient state on the eastern border of modern Bihar) and his sons-in-law were sons of Sudyumna, by names Udlaka, Gaya and Vinateswa (rulers of eastern Gangetic states). Let us remember that the Sudymna people were possibly related to the Munda family, as has been referred to above.


According to geneologists all the abovementioned persons are traced to Manu Chakshusha, who through his ancestor Dhruva (polar star) can be traced back to still distant ancestor Uttanapada. The name 'Uttanapada' can be translated as the 'Northern country'. Thus the line of Sudymna somehow can be traced back somewhere to the north. But since we do not have weighty grounds to assume that the Munda people or other pre-Aryan peoples of India, close to them did not appear from the northern country, we are left to think that this line of kinship, carried in the geneological lists of the Aryans speaks rather about the process of inter-breeding of local eastern Gangetic peoples with the Aryans-descendants of ancient people who had actually come sometime from the northern regions.


Thus, if Bhils-Nishads-Sudymnas can be recognised as Mundas then precisely the faiths of this central and eastern Indian mass of tribes of Mundas must have played a significant role in the formation of Jainism.


Ethnography has not as yet established whether the Dravidians also lived in Bihar in those ancient times. Many scholars assume that precisely Dravidians formed the chief mass of the settlements of the Indus valley in the most ancient period. Judging from the legends of the Jains themselves, their religion had sometime spread beyond the borders of India, towards its west. It is interesting to note in this connection that the elements of Dravidian languages are traced back to the ancient languages of eastern shores of Africa, in several Mediterranean languages and the languages of the countries of Near East.


It is possible that the Aryans ejected Dravidians from the regions lying towards the west of India or out of North India, compelled them to cross forests and mountains of Central India and push out in the south. It is also fully possible that the Dravidians marched along the Gangetic valley in the east, in the region which is of interest to us but when this actually took place is difficult to ascertain.


There is evidence that the ancestors of the strongest contemporary Dravidian people-Andhras-lived in antiquity from the shores of Jamuna to eastern Bihar and that only from the sixth century B.C. they started to move forward towards the south.


A whole number of peoples lived on the territory of Bihar and near it. The monuments of ancient Indian literature unite them under the name of Eastern Anavas, tracing them to the universal ancestor Anu from the Lunar dynasty. It is interesting to turn our attention to the name of this Anu and to the assumption that many Anavas had settled in the eastern Gangetic regions, which are of interest to us in this context.


In the opinion of Pargiter, the work 'Anu' in Rigveda means non-Aryan. He indicates that the god of heaven Anu from Uruk was worshiped in Babylon (the god of heaven was named An in Shumer and Anu in Akkad). If we remember the Elamo-Baby-lonic Mediterranean connections (or ways) of the proto-Dravidians and also that the word 'ur' in Dravidian languages means 'place', settlement', then the suggestion is thrust on us that 'Anu' Rigvedas 'and people of Anava' can be ascribed to the Dravidians and that the very ruler Anu was included by the Aryans in the lists of Lunar dynasty with the sole intention of Aryanising individual heroes and rulers. And apparently, this was done by post-Vedic Aryans, who in the persons of their Brahman-sages and lawgivers started to manifest strong alarm in connection with the penetration of elements of spiritual culture of non-Aryan environment in the culture of first Aryan newcomers, and in their own culture.


If it is recognised that the Dravidians lived in North India, then undoubtedly their cults also must have served as sources of Jain cult-notions and rites.


While describing the ethnical map of ancient India, it is worthwhile dwelling on the Naga people (who are called people of serpents) referred to in the Vedic and Epic literature.


Judging from the assumption that these people lived also in the region of Mathura, and along the Ganges, this was probably a big group of tribes in whose cult serpents occupied a prominent place. It is also known that in the middle of the first century B.C. Rajagriha or Rajgir (in modern Bihar there is a town with this name), the capital of Magadha, was the centre of worship of serpents of the cult of Naga people (or more probably Naga peoples).


The Aryans fought and also tried to assimilate the Nagas as also other autochthons of India. Instances of marriages of Aryan rulers with Naga women are quite well-known. For example, the marriage of Arjun, one of the Pandavas with Ulupi, the daughter of the ruler of Nagas is described in Mahabharat. At the same time there are also description in the works of ancient Indian literature of how the Aryans offered Nagas as sacrifices, burning them alive and how they fought with them with all the means at their disposal. And although the Nagas are called partly snakes and partly half-human beings i.e. semi-mythical beings in the much later editions of these works, the fact that the Aryans had fought mercilessly against the local people, whose main cult was the cult of serpents is perfectly apparent.


In view of the fact that this cult stands hitherto highly developed amongst the Dravidians, and also amongst Bhils and Mundas, it is possible to assume that the Aryans called all the local population with which or with a significant part of which they came into collision in India, as Nagas. It is therefore not accidental that the symbol of the serpent (cobra) became one of the chief symbols in all reformative religions and in particular in Jainism. In the Jain iconology Jeena is often portrayed sitting under the inflated hood of many-headed cobra (as also Buddha in buddhist iconology and Balaram, Krishna's brother, in Krishna iconology).


One must not glass over the existence of the Pani tribe. But again it is not quite certain where this tribe had settled. It is referred to in Rigveda and in other Vedic literature but to which group it belonged-whether to the Dravidian or Aryan-it is as yet not possible to say definitely.
This literature tells us about the riches of Pani. A Pani is called 'ayajnic' i.e. not a sacrificer (they think of him in this way, called the Pani Dasas, as they call all non-Aryans). The Aryans fought against Pani tribe, subjugated and plundered them and turned them into slaves.


These people are described as liers, evil-doers and demons, robbers of treasures and cows.
D. D. Kosambi considers that these people carried on trade with Aryans and that the words 'Baniya' and 'Vanik'-merchant, are of non-Sanskrit origin and can be traced back to the ethnonym Pani.


Several Indian scholars express the opinion that Pani were the bearers of the 'culture of Shramana' i.e. the Jainic religion.


We may fully agree with the opinion that the doctrine of ahimsa i.e. prohibition of killing of living beings, which is one of the basic prohibitions imposed by Jainism was adopted by the founders of Jainism from these Pani people as the term 'ayajnik' characterizes the cult of Pani people as a cult which is first of all, not connected with the bloody sacrifices.


The process of coming in contact with the local peoples and correspondingly the assimilating processes were especially intensive, owing to the fact that several ancient Indian states united ethnical territories of various peoples within their borders. After the republic-Janapadas (in a number of regions of India) and simultaneously with them, appeared monarchic states, ruled by Raja-Aryans, but the subjects of these rajas were mainly represented by the local peoples.
Sh. B. Chaudhuri, basing himself on Vedic, Epic, Jain and Buddhist literature, writes for example, that considerable part of the territory of modern states of Bihar and Orissa formed part of the Mahakoshal state after the reign of Rama. The other name of this country was Dakshini-Koshala-Southern Koshala.


The eastern sea-coast of modern Orissa and a part of the regions to the south of the river Mahanadi were a part of the Tosala state. Its population consisted, in the main, of the Kalinga people, whose antiquity and independence is referred to by Ashoka in his edicts and who figure as 'Impure' people (and this means non-Aryan) in the writings of Brahmin authors of the earlier period.


The borders of the Kalinga state embraced at several times the territory from southern Bihar in the north to the Godavari in the south.


To this day, the population of Bihar is anthropologically classified as exceedingly mixed. Various scholars describe it in various ways. Risley called it Aryan-Dravidian, Guha observes negro features in the members of the low castes and calls the population of Bihar Paleomediterranean. Von Eickstedt relegates them to Melanids etc.


The present author heard several times in India, the opinion that the Biharis are Dravidians. It is impossible to agree with this but it speaks of the traditional attitude towards the population of Bihar as basically non-Aryan.


On a level with the already enumerated peoples, the peoples of north Bihar, speaking the languages of the Himalayan group contributed to the formation of Jainism. The connection between the population of the Himalayas and the Gangetic plains disappears with its roots in such antiquity that it is not possible to trace it.


Several historians state that the Mongoloid racial type is reflected in the sculptures of Buddhist monuments in the stupas in Bharhut and Sanchi-and from this conclude that the people of this type had spread in India more widely in the second-first century B.C. than in the much later epoch. They believe that the peoples living here were possibly Mongoloids adopting the language of the peoples of the plains in the process of communication with them, although the Brahmin literature calls them Aryans.


Most interesting testimony of the Indo-Himalayan ties in which at the same time, the affirmation of the deep antiquity of the sources of Jainism can also be detected is available. An ethnic group called Thakur lives in western Nepal, whose sect is called Pen-po. Members of this sect believe in God, whom they call 'leading to the heaven' (towards the heaven)-compare the designation. 'Tirthankar-leading or carrying the being across the ocean or the 'joined conqueror' (compare 'jeena' the conqueror). They portray this god fully naked, as the Jains their Tirthankars. The difference consists in that this god has five faces and ten hands (that is why he is called 'joined') but these faces are painted in those colours, in which Jains paint the statues of their Tirthankar-blue, red, white, green and yellow. The symbol of this god is a bird, which also is the symbol of Tirthankars. The Pen-po sect also portrays their godly ancestors naked, painting their figures white or blue.


It is considered that the Pen-po religion can be called 'original Buddhism' but all the same, it is rather closer to Jainism. There are portrayals of Buddha, sitting on the throne, but on these thrones (as also on the pedestals of statues of Tirthankars) symbolic signs portrayals of birds and animals are marked.


Although the Pen-po religion is nearly not studied at all, it is certain that there is no idea of the creator of the world in it, as also in Jainism. Pen-po is also similar to Jainism in that vegetarianism is strictly observed. In the patterns of ornaments which they plot on the house and on the utensils and on cloth etc. Swastikas, a motif is widespread. It is also often met with on ornaments and on various things from the Indus valley and on the things belonging to Jains and on the sculptures. the Thakurs consider that the saints of their faith are 'full ascetics' who, similar to Tirthankars, lead on to the path of salvation.


It is not clear to whom this group of Nepalese populaion ethnically belongs. They are described as little Mongolianised Indians, but they consider that their rulers come from Pandavas i.e. they trace themselves back to Indian and that too very ancient and probably pre-Aryan origin. Apparently they are actually emigrants from India and preserve to this day the most ancient forms of religious faiths which in India became the component parts of Jainism.


Probably quite a large range of Indo-Himalayan peoples was, in antiquity, the bearer of close religious ideas. It is certain that in the middle of the 1st millennium B.C., caravan routes existed from Bihar to Nepal and Tibet, along which trade was carried on and the elements of the faiths of various peoples spread out along with it. The Greek, Ktesy, the late witness of the war of Artakserks II with Kir the Junior in 401 B.C. describing the inhabitants of the lower Himalayas from Bhutan to Indus, said that they maintain contacts with the population of the plains.
The English scholar F. Wilford observes that the rajas of near-Himalayan regions were probably of Nepalese origin. From all this data, the picture of long and constant contacts between the populations of ancient Bihar and the Himalayas can be drawn.


From the near-Himalayan regions also comes the tribe of Chero, which was at some time strong in North-Western Bihar-the representatives of which ruled there in the course of seven generations. This tribe is sometime relegated to proto-Australoids. It is possible that Ktesy wrote precisely about them.


The ancient history of Chero is not completely studied but it is in no way possible to exclude the probability of their resistance to the settlement of the Aryans and to the forcible introduction of Aryan culture. This means that probably their cultural and ethical concepts also formed a part of the reformatory anti-Aryan ideology.


The Lichhavi tribe played a significant role in the history of Jainism, about which 'Manusmriti' says that Lichhavi is born out of 'Vratya-Kshatriyas'. The linguistic and racial affiliation of this tribe is not determined by ethnography. In the ancient Indian literature, it is referred to as an independent and proud tribe.


Lichhavi, along with the not less known tribes of the first half of the first millennium B.C., such as the Malla, Vrijji (vajji), Shakya, Koliya and Bhagga created so-called republican states. Lichhavi constituted a part of the confederation of eight tribes-Atthakul (eight kinships) and the confederation if the Vajji, which existed in the course of several centruies.


The territory of the last-mentioned embraced approximately the contemporary North Bihar and part of Nepal but its borders went on changing. There is a mention of the Brahmins being peasants in the villages belonging to the Kshatriyas in north Bihar and this means that they did not play there a noticeable role.


Here in the republics in Bihar, the original population of which consisted of tribes mentioned above, anti-Brahmanic reaction was at its highest. All land, property, slaves-belonged to the Kshatriyas. This confirms our suggestion that the conception Kshatriyas, as mentioned in Chapter I covered all the males, related by blood of the family-kin group. If the Kshatriyas had represented the narrow privileged caste, then commanding top of the army could be made up out of them only and the ordinary warriors would be simple people.


If one agrees with the idea that the doctrine of reformatory faiths was formed in Bihar, absorbing many elements of the cults and faiths of the local, pre-Aryan tribes of north-India, then it is worth while acknowledging that these elements went on accumulating gradually before adopting the form of new religious-philosophic-ethical system. This gradual assimilation, this fusion of religious and cult-ideas of quite a number of abovementioned tribes must have started in all probability in north west India, i.e. where Aryans first appeared, as an expression of their protest against the forcible introduction of religious codes and laws of Brahmanism, foreign to them.


The extent of ideological and cult-ideas, which the local tribes advanced against this influence, which to them signified a forcible assimilation grew in proportion to the extent of settlement of Aryans in the valley of the Ganges and the Jamuna and the growth of resistance of the local peoples to their penetration and ideological influence.


Many elements of the customary rights of local peoples and their traditions formed a part of these ideas. Thus, affirmation of anti-Vedic Krishnaism was evident in the region of Mathura, which was connected with the existence of institutes of matrilineal succession. Here, amongst tribes, who had developed institutes of matriarchy, a protest arose against the humiliating position, leading women to the patriarchal society of the Aryans. And this was later accepted by Jainism.


It is evident that the gradual rise of separate elements of Jainism was reflected in the teaching of Jains about the existence of the 23 Tirthankars, who created and preached that religion even before Mahavir Jina.


It is interesting to make an attempt to trace the geography of the spread of the initial form of Jainism according to the given Jain legends.


It is considered that the first of these 24 Tirthankars Rishabha, who lived immeasurably long, long ago, performed the ascetic feat in Prayag (Allahabad); the 16th, 17th and 18th Tirthankars (Shanti, Kunthi and Ara) reached 'enlightenment' in Hastinapur (near the modern city of Meerut); 23rd Tirthankar (Parshvanath or Parshva) was born, lived and preached in Kashi (Benaras) and finally the 24th Tirthankar (Mahavir) was born in the East, in Vaishali.
Of course all these beliefs are not historically exact but all the same, they afford the possibility of carrying the line from the Jamuna-Gangetic delta from Kashi and farther to the East.
Kashi was historically closely connected with east Gangetic states and since long was the cultural centre, widely known in these states. Probably their intercourse with the western regions took place mainly by waterways, along with the Ganges, and Kashi, lying on the bank developed first of all, as trade centre. The waterway also went into the border of ancient Koshal (the inhabitants of which, as the inhabitants of Kashi, are called non-Aryans in the Puranas).


Possibly the initial forms of Jainism marched forward from west to east, through Kashi and by the time of Mahavir's birth, new religious faith reached the confederation of Vajji, and it developed and completed its development there.


In the Puranas, it is said that the first Tirthankar, Rishabha performed acts of Yoga, which were incomprehensible to the people (possibly it should be read, to the Aryans) and he was subjected to persecution. He left for the south, and preached there. After his death, Arhan (the word means a Jain ascetic), one of the southern rulers, founded the sect but the people who adopted this new teaching started for the underworld.


At the same time, Rishabha was included in the Brahmanic pantheon in the form of one of the incarnations of the God Vishnu. This circumstance, and also the name Tirthankar, which bears Sanskrit character, confirms the idea that the Aryans had also participated in the development of early forms of Jainism.

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