Nov 15, 2008


Prof. R.Champakalakshmi

One of the major aspects of Tamil culture, wherein Jain influence has been predominant and most permanent is Tamil literature. Jain contribution to Tamil literature has been so significant that it has not only created for the Jains a special niche in the history of Tamil literature, but has also established basic norms in various aspects of the study of the Tamil language and linguistics. Jain scholars have enriched the Tamil language, composed elegant poems, written works on grammar and prosody, compiled lexicons and presented lofty ideals of ethics in pithy verses.
The nature of Jain contribution to literature and its impact on Tamil society can be best studied and understood against the background of the historical processes which transformed Tamil society from a basically tribal, kinship based, anthropocentric and humanistic organisation of the early centuries of the Christian era to a highly complex, hierarchical, caste oriented or stratified one by the medieval times. The broad periods within which these changes can be situated are the early historical period, more popularly known as the Cankam (Sangam) age, followed by a period of transition in which northern, Sanskritic, normative traditions increasingly influenced and mingled with local traditions, ultimately leading to the early medieval period, from 6th to the 12th centuries, when the bilingual and bi­cultural interaction reached its apex and created a new socio-cultural matrix, which came to be recongnised as typically Tamil and which led to the emergence of the Tamil cultural region.

In the early historical period, many of the poems of this heroic age were composed by Jain poet-scholars, the Canror, who by virtue of their ability to master the vernacular, were counted among the great poets of the Tamil Sang am at Madurai, the Tamil city par excellence, under the royal patronage of the Pandyas. Uloccanar, one of the Jain poets, composed several verses, which have been classified under the akam and puram collections, the Kuruntokai and Narrinai.1 Kaniyan Punkunran, another Jain poet and probably also an astrolonger, was the author of a Puram verse(192) and a Narrinai verse (226).2

The Maduraikkanci of Mankuti Marutanar, while describing the city of Madurai, refers to Jain monks of a monastery in the city and the sravakas or Jain laymen who paid homage to them. niese monks are believed to have been great seers, who could look into the past and the future along with the present. 3 The Jain practice of self-immolation by slow starvation i.e. vatakkiruttal (sallekhana) is mentioned in several Puram verses. While such references would indicate the spread of Jainism in the Tamil region by the beginning of the Christian era and to the presence of Jain ascetics and scholars who were respected in early Tamil society, there is certainly no evidence of Tamil society being influenced in any significant way by the Jain beliefs in the impermance of worldly life. The Jains and Buddhists, whose presence is attested to both by literary refereces and more authentically by the Tamil Brahmi inscriptions of the 2nd century B,C. to 2nd century A.D. period, were accepted as two groups of ascetics or renouncers concerned more with the spiritual aspects of existence and who, by their exemplary attitudes, were to be respected as an important section of society and to whom the lay followers extended their material support.

Interestingly, the two major themes of the Cankam classics, Love and War, and the extremely humanistic approach of the early Tamils to religion and worship remained unaffected by the jain or Buddhist ideals of renunciation, meditation and salvation. This period was characterised by folk traditions, tribal basis of social organisation and different eco-cultural zones called the tinai, each with its own tribal deity, representing different sodo-economic milieux. It is only in the region of the plains (marutam), where agricultural operations were intensified and in the neital or coastel zones, where there was a spurt of trade and commercial activity that the Jain and Buddhist religions gained followers, particularly among the traders.

The early Tamil classics were systematically collected and arranged under different anthologies much later in the 7th - 8th centuries A.D. when the name Sang am was given to the Tamil literary Academy patronised by the Madurai Pandyas. The term is often traced to the Jain Dravida Sangha founded by one Vajranandi,a pupil of Pujyapada, in Madurai in the V.E. 525 =468-69 A.D. It is further believed that this Sangha merely revived the Mula Sangha of the Jains presided over by Sri Kundakundacarya around the 1st century B.C. at a place called Patalika identified with Tiruppatirippuliyur .in South Arcot district, where a major Jain monastery existed perhaps from the 1st century B.C. In the period of Jain ascendancy i.e. 4th to 6th centuries, works in Prakrit were rendered in Sanskrit, one of them being the famous Loka Vibhaga rendered in Sanskrit by Muni Sarvanandin in S.380=A.D. 458 in the Patalika monastery,4 The Jain Sangha at Madurai is also believed to have produced several works in the viruttam genre, some of which (Nariviruttam, Eliviruttam and Kiliviruttam) were known to the Tamil Saiva Bhakti saints like Tirunavukkarasar, and Jnanasambandar.5

The post-Sangam period was one of transition towards a new socio­economic formation, the earliest evidence of such a change appearing from 'the beginning of the 7th century A.D. The intervening period, i.e. from the 4th to 6th centuries A.D., represents the transition during which both Buddhism and Jainism, particularly, the latter, emerged as the dominant religions. It is significant that a series of works on ethics, morality and social norms were composed during this period, almost all of which have been attributed to Jain and Buddhist authorship. These are known as the Patinenkilkanakku or the eighteen didactic works. Some of them such as the Tirukkural and Naladiyar have been regarded as treasures of Tamil literature and are held in high esteem by the Tamils till today. The eighteen didactic works owe their origins, by and large, to Jain authors. There are, however, quite a few instances in which the Jain claims to authorship have been controversial, as they are not incontrovertibly borne out by either internal or external evidence.

Foremost among these works is the Kural, one of the greatest Tamil classics. Different views have been expressed regarding the religion of its author Tiruvalluvar, every sect claiming the poet to be its own. Attempts have been made to interpret the verses so as to favour the claims of each sect, its religious principles and moral codes. The Kural is of universal importance in its ethical and normative value. Of particular significance is the emphasis that both the Kural and Naladiyar lay on non-killing (kollamai=ahimsa), the greatness of ascetics (nittar perumai), abstinence from meat eating, impermanence of mundane things, the greatness of renunciation, perception of truth, abstinence from alcohol and extirpation of desire.6 The' doctrine of karma would also seem to pervade the various ge n res of Jain literature such as works on ethics, morality and Kavyas and Puranas.

The Jains attribute the authorship of the Kural to a Jain teacher called Elacarya or Kundakunda, who is believed to have lived in the latter half of the first century B.C. and the first half of the first century A.D.7 The chief arguments of the Jains rest on the fact that the'work is a unique code of morals based on the principle of ahimsa. The scrupulous abstinence from the destruction of life is frequently declared to be the chief excellence of the true ascetic. This is said to be borne out by the couplet.

"avisorindayiram vettalin on ranuyir seguttunnamai nanru."
meaning "not killing a single creature for the sake of your food, is far better than a thousand yagas performed according to Vedic rules. "8 It is further claimed that the only Indian darsana that is in conformity both in theory and practice with the ideas contained in the Kural regarding the gospel of ahimsa, is the Jaina darsana.9 Among other internal evidences, said to be afforded by the work itself, is the reference to "Adibhagavan" in the first couplet. According to the Jainas this Adibhagavan refers to the first Tirthankara Rsabhadeva or Adinatha. The terms "engunattan," malarmisaiyeginan', porivavilaindavittan', 'vendudal vendamalilan', and 'aravali andanan' which are found in the Kural, have been taken to describe the several attributes of the Jina Various other terms are also interpreted as referring to the Jaina.10 The fact that the commentator of the Nilakesi, a Jaina work in Tamil, quotes from the Kural and refers to it as "emmottu" or 'our scripture' has also been taken to support their belief that the Kural is a Jaina work.ll Parimelalakar's medieval commentary on the Kural, written in accordance with Jain thought and doctrines, would add suppport to the Jaina claims. G. U. Pope, however, does not accept the Jaina claims, on the basis of a couplet in the chapter on the greatness of ascetics which is, according to him, quite distructive of the idea that Tiruvalluvar was a Jaina.12 The eclecticism of Tiruvalluvar, Pope believes, is nowhere more conspicuous than in this chapter. In fact, the Kural expounds the ideals of ahimsa in all its implications, ethical, social and economic. The author addresses himself, without regard to castes, peoples or beliefs, to the whole of mankind. Thus, whatever may be the views expressed by scholars on the origin of the Kural, there is no doubt that it is first and foremost an ethical work. The principles expounded in it are of universal application.

The Naladiyar, which stands next to the Kural in estimation is also taken to be a Jaina work. It is a work on Ethics, whose composition and compilation are ascribed to a period when the last or the third sangam at Madurai is supposed to have flourished.13 However, the tradition relating to the three Sangams and the attribution of some of the 18 didactic works to the literary Academy is of later origin and hence the Naladiyar might well be a post-Sangam work which, however, followed the literary tradition of the Sangam and was composed under the patronage of the Madurai Pandyas. Of its compiler Padumanar, nothing but his name is known at present. Pope calls it a companion volume to the Kural and says that these two great works, serving as natural commentaries, together throw a flood of light upon the whole ethical and social philosophy of the Tamil peopleY The work is often called the Velalar Vedam, "the Veda of the cultivators of the soil." The work is replete with ideas like the transience of wealth, youth and body and the view that palavinai (past deeds or karma) determine the nature of present life.

There is no trustworthy account of the origin of this work. The current tradition is that once 8000 Jaina ascetics, driven by famine, came to the Pandya country where they were supported by the Pandya King (Ugrapperuvaludi). When the famine was over, they wished to return to their own country, but the Pandya king refused to allow the learned ascetics to leave him. So they were constrained to depart secretly by night, each leaving a quatrain under his seat. The next morning the quatrains were examined and found to differ widely from one another, The king out of anger, ordered them to be thrown into the river Vaigai, but it was found that the palm-leaf scrolls containing four hundred quatrains floated and swam against the current and came to the bank. To these the king gave the name Naladiyar, Some other verses are said to have reached the banks at other spots and are said to be found in the two collections called Palamoli and Aranericcaram,15 The latter works never obtained the popularity enjoyed by the Naladiyar.

There is difference of opinion among scholars regarding the date of the work and it is variously assigned to the first century A.D., to the second or third century A.D. (Sangam period) and even as late as the seventh or eighth century A.D.16 It is also held that the composition of the Naladiyar must be referred to the period after the founding of the Dravida Sangha at Madurai in A.D.470 and during the time of Kalabhra occupation of Madurai 17 However, there can be no doubt as to the antiquity and importance of the work, for it belongs to the class of composition known as the Padinenkilkkanakku (eighteen didactic works) and stands first in a stanza, which enumerates the eighteen works. 18

The Naladiyar is mainly an ethical work. There is no particular mention of God in it and no trace of religion. The ruling idea of the work is that of karma, Epigrams from the Naladiyar have become household words throughout the Tamil country. Pope has rightly characterised them as having" a strong sense of moral obligation, an earnest aspiration after righteousness, a fervent and unselfish charity and generally a loftiness of aim that are very impressive.19
The Palamoli and Aranericcaram also belong to the group called Padinenkilkkanakku. The author of the Palamoli is said to be a Jaina by name Munruraiyanar. The author has collected and edited valuable old sayings in the venba metre. These proverbs contain not merely principles of conduct but also a good deal of worldly wisdom, some of which are quoted in the Jivakacintaman. 20 The author of the Aranericcaram or "the essence of the way of virtue" is one Tirumunaippadiyar, The work enunciates the five rules of conduct (Pancavratas, which are ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacarya and parimita-parigraha) in Jainism governing the lives of the householder as well as the ascetic, though these five moral principles are common to other religions also.21 The two works Palamoli and Aranericcaram, are, as mentioned earlier, connected with the legendary account of the origin of the Naladiyar, which, however, seems to be a later creation.

The Eladi, which is one of the eighteen lesser classics (Sangacceyyul), is also said to be a work of Jaina origin. Of its author, Kanimethaiyar, nothing is really known except that he is 'styled as a disciple of Makkayanar, son of Tamil asiriyar, one of the Madurai Academy.22 It deals with five 'fragrant' topics uiz. elam, karpuram, erikarasu, candanam, and ten, the five virtues of life. The Eladi, in fact, deals primarily with morals and emphasises the virtues of ascetic life. V.R.R. Dikshitar, however, did not accept that the author was a Jaina. He believed that the introductory verse, which is said to indicate that the author was a Jaina, admits of different interpretations and that the reference to the Vedas in the work shows that the author's religion was orthodox Hinduism.23 Kanimethaiyar is also believed to be the author of the Tinaimalai nurraimbadu.24 This work deals with the principle of love and war and follows the Sangam tradition and as such is frequently quoted by medieval commentators. The Nanmanikkadigai, which in respect of literary merit ranks second only to Kural and which is another of the eighteen lesser classics is also attributed to Jaina authorship and the author is said to be one Vilambinathar.24a The Aintinai Elupadu, also dealing with akapporul, a major theme of the Sangam works, is attributed to a Jain known as Muradiyar and is dated in the 5th century A.D. 25 The composition of these minor classics is generally assigned to a period before the 7th century A.D. though they appear to be spread over several centuries.

The eighteen didactic works together represent a stage of intensive literary activity dominated by the anti-Vedic and non-brahmanical sectarian religions like Jainism and Buddhism. They would also suggest that the intensely humanistic attitudes of the Tamils were slowly but surely eroded by the highly metaphysical and spiritual ideas of the non-Vedic religions including Jainism, Buddhism and Ajivikism in the period following the heroic age of the Cankam classics. The increasing influence of Jain religious and metaphysical thought on Tamil literature is either directly seen in works of Jain authorship or in the prevalent moral and ethical ideas in society. The twin epics Silappadikaram and Manimekalai, which would also fall in the same period, attest to the dominance of the Jain and Buddhist religions and the numerical strangth of their followers, perticularly in the urban centres like ports and market centres.

The Silappadikaram is an epic of great literary and historical value and is attributed to a prince of the Cera royal family, Ilanko, who renounced his claims to the throne and became an ascelic-IIanko-atikal. Apart from describing some major cities like Puhar, Madurai and Vanji as centres dominated by Jainism, Buddhism and the trading community, this epic provides useful insights into the nature of the Jain religion, the Jain monasteries and nunneries whose inmates played an influential role in contemporary society. It also lays emphasis on karma as preordained (ulvinai)26 which is explained through the story of the hero Kovalan and his young, chaste wife Kannaki and Madhavi, the courtesan.

The Manimekalai. 27 of Cittalai Cattanar, the Buddhist epic of the same period, contains no favourable references to Jainism as its main purpose is to establish the greatness of Budhism vis-a-vis all other relgions and philosophical systems. Yet, the work undoubtedly indicates the preponderance of Jain influence and the numerical strength of its followers in the Tamil country. It also points to a situation of rivalry between these two non-Vedic sects.

By the 6th century A.D. a strong reaction set in and the Puranic religions of Saivism and Vaisnavism began to vie with the Jain and Buddhist sects for royal patronage and social base. This is reflected in the hymns of the exponents of bhakti, the alvar and nayanar, with their highly emotional appeal and emphasis on the perception of a personal God, either Visnu or Siva, to whom devotion was expressed through the senses, the human body (human existence) becoming a necessary vehicle of this intensely powerful emotional experience or relationship with God. This was in direct opposition to the extreme forms of self-torture arid penance advocated by the Jain religion for salvation. The result was the composition of bhakti hymns which carried the akam literary tradtition to its logical culmination in the personal devotion to a Puranic God and the emergence of its most innovative institution viz. the temple' as the house of Gad.

Due to the change in royal patronage and the expanding social base for the bhakti cult, the Jains lost their influence in major centres like Kancipuram and Madurai and were forced to confine their literary activities to the adaptation of major Kavyas and Puranas in Sanskrit by rendering them in Tamil. However, their contribution to grammar continued to be significant and in addition they also turned their attention to prosody and lexicography, In the early medieval Jain literature, the major concern of the Jains was to impart religious and moral instruction in keeping with the Jain tradition, The Jain works of this period also introduced new themes, concepts and techniques of narration in medieval Tamil literature.

The Jains also adopted certain typical Tamil genres of poetry like the Uia, Nurrantati and malai or garland of verses as a popular style of narration in order to carry to the masses complicated themes of the Sanskrit Kavya and Purana oriented works like the Merumandara Puranam, Perunkatai in the form of Merumandara malai and Udayanakumara kavya as well as the Appandainathar Ula. The Ula form was adopted in imitation of the Ulas of the brahmanical temple deities and temporal sovereigns and describes the deity of a temple being taken out in procession and the street scenes evoking emotional reaction among the worshippers, just as the procession of the king evokes similar reaction among the subjects.

Turning to Kavya literature in Tamil, it is evident that Jaina influence has been most predominant in this sphere also. Of the five major epics in Tamil, two, the Jivakacintamani and the Valaiyapati are contributions of the Jainas. The Jivakacintamani, which is perhaps the most remarkable of Jaina literary works, is also considered to be the greatest existing Tamil literary monument.28 The author of this romantic epic was one Tiruttakkadevar, who is said to have been a native of Myalopore, According to Jaina tradition he belonged to the Cola royal family and was known as Poyyamoli.29 A later tradition cherished by the Tamil Jainas adds that after a full course of study in Tamil and Sanskrit, he turned into an ascetic at a relatively early age.30 It is said that he went to Madurai, with his guru, to live there for sometime in the company of the great poets of the Tamil Sangam. While admitting the distinction earned by Jaina writers in the line of religious' and holy literature, the poets of the Sangam, challenged their capacity in general and that of Tiruttakkadevar in particular, to contribute to the literature of love (Srngara rasa). Tiruttakkadevar is said to have accepted the challenge. On the advice of his teacher, he first composed the Nariviruttam and then with the teacher's permission he wrote the story of Jivaka in eight days.31 The Nariviruttam was composed by him to illustrate the impermanance of the body, the ephemeral nature of wealth and other related ideas. It is further narrated that when he presented his work to the Sangam, the poets were much impressed by it, but raised doubts against the character of the author. It is said that Tiruttakkadevar had to undergo an ordeal to prove his purity as an ascetic, who had renounced all worldly pleasures. Mananul is another name of this epic, on account of Jivaka's adventures each culminating in a happy marriage.
The Jivakacintamani is the story of prince Jivaka, who after many tribulations regains the kingdom lost by his father and later renounces the world and lives the life of a Jaina ascetic and gains bliss at last. The story of Jivaka forms the subject matter of Sanskrit works such as Gadyacintamani and Kstracudamani by Vadibhasimha, the Jivandharacampu and the Jivandharanataka (not extant) by Haricandra, The same story is also related in the Mahapurana (Uttarapurana) of Gunabhadra and in the bilingual Sripurana.32 These several versions of the same story differ from one another in certain details, Thus the Jivakacintamani, which has been assigned to a period between the beginning of the tenth century and the latter half of the eleventh century.33 does not seem to be an original work. It is believed to be based on the Ksatracudamani and also said to bear a close resemblance to the Gadyacintamani. As there is no conclusive evidence to show that these two latter works were anterior to the Jivakacintamani, and as at the time of the commentator Naccinarkkiniyar, Tiruttakkadevar was believed to have based his work on the Jaina puranas, it may be presumed that the Tamil version is based on the original story of Jivaka contained in the Mahapurana, which was written during the time of Rastrakuta king Akalavarsa (Krsna II), in about A.D. 897. 34 In fact, all the Sanskrit works mentioned above and the bilingual Sripurana are probably based on the Mahapurana.The work is divided into thirteen "Ilambakas" (lambas) and consists of 3145 verses, According to Naccinarkkiniyar, only 2700 verses were composed by Tiruttakkadevar as is evidenced from the stanza beginning "Munnir Valampuri".35 Tiruttakkadevar is said to have worked out in wonderful stories too diffusely what the Naladi asserts in terse epigram.36 The Jivakacintamani and other Jaina works show that it was through the Jainas that many Sanskrit and Prakrt words were introduced into the Tamil language. The work has its literary roots both in the Tamil tradition going back to the Sangam works and in the Sanskrit Kavya tradition with which the author is well acquainted. A beautiful tradition associates the famous Kamban, who wrote the Ramayanam in Tamil, with the Cintamani by saying that Kamban admitted his indebtedness to the Jivakacintamani and the inspiration he drew from it.

The Valaiyapati, another major epic, was also composed by a Jaina author. Nothing is known about this non-extant work, except that a few stray stanzas from it have been quoted by commentators.37

All the five minor epics in Tamil, the Yasodharakavya, Culamani, Udayanan Kathai, Nilakesi and Nagakumara Kavya, are said to have been composed by Jaina authors, Practically nothing is known about the author of the Yasodharakavya except that he was a Jaina ascetic. The story of this kavya is intended against the ritualism of sacrifice even with the introduction of a substitute for the animal in the same form made of rice flour.38 The main theme appears to be that the substitution of a mock animal would not relieve an agent of the moral responsibility for animal sacrifice, since the essential harmony and co-operation between thought and word on the one side and deed on the other is lacking. It is said that the work must therefore be placed after the period of the reformation in ritualism associated with the founder of the Madhva philosophy.39 The work also elevates temple worship to a higher level than other forms of rituals.

The author of the Culamani was one Tolamolittevar, evidently a Jaina. He is said to have been patronised by the chief Vijaya, who ruled in Karvetti in the Colanadu. The author probably belonged to the sixth century A.D.40 According to M. Srinivasa Iyengar, however, Tolamolittevar composed the work in memory of Jayantan Maravarman Avani Culamani (A.D.620-650) and therefore must be placed in about A.D.650.41 At any rate, the age of the Culamani cannot be ascribed to a period later than the latter half of the ninth century, but it might well have been same centuries earlier. For Amitasagara, the author of the Yapparungalakkarigai quotes from the Culamani and Adiyarikkunallar's commentary on the Silappadikaram refers to it. 42

The Culamani is based on a Puranic story contained in the Mahapurana.43. The hero of the story is Tivittan one of the nine Vasudevas of the Jaina tradition. In its literary quality, style and poetic excellence, the Culamani may be compared to the Jivakacintamani.

The Nilakesi is a work on Jaina philosophy. It was apparently intended by its author, as a refutation of the Buddhist work, Kundalakesi, one of the five major epics which is, however, lost to the world. Nothing is known about the author or his date. Regarding the exact title of the work, there appears to be some controversy among the Tamil scholars. It is held that the title must have been 'Nilakesi Tirattu' as the word 'Tirattu' meaning summary or compendium, occurs at the close of every chapter. However, the work does not seem to be a summary of a larger work now lost, as some scholars believe, for it possesses completeness and unity.44 It is also suggested by some others that as the word 'Teruttu' occurs in many places, and as the word means 'enlightenment' or 'dispelling ignorance', the title may be "Nilakesi Teruttu". In the work itself Nilakesi's ignorance was dispelled when she met the Jaina yogi Municandra and when she was instructed by the master to go about the land propounding Jina dharma and dispelling erronious knowledge.45 However, the work is always referred to in Tamil literature, by the single word Nilakesi.

The author of the Nilakesi has adopted the famous method of philosophical dialogue which adapts itself eminently for philosophical discussion. The work itself is in the nature of a discussion between the Jaina and other religious sects, prominent among which are the Buddhist and the Ajivika and ends with the final acceptance of Jainism as the 'true religion.' The intention of the author seems to be to uphold the doctrine of ahimsa. The idea, that ahimsa is paramo dharma, is throughout kept in view by the author in his examination of other darsanas.46 The Nilakesi is referred to by the Yapparungalavirutti, of Amitasagara. Jnanaprakasa, a commentator of the Sivajnana Siddhiyar quotes copious extracts from it and also from its commentary.47 The author also prescribes the ratna-traya­Samyag-jnana, darsana and caritra for the attainment of liberation from good and bad deeds.

The date of the Nilakesi is unsettled. From a reference in the work to one 'Tevar' from whom the author had the benefit of learning the doctrines, A.Chakravarti assigns the work to as early a period as the first century A.D. At any rate, the work, according to Chakravarti, cannot be dated later than the fifth century A.D., as the author does not appear to be acquainted with later Vedanta schools of Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva and as he elaborately treats of the system of the Ajivikas, who were not known to later times.48 Some scholars, however, believe that the work was probably composed sometime between the fifth and the ninth century A.D.49
The work has an excellent commentary called Samaya Divakara Virutti, written by Vamana muni in the manipravala style. Vamana muni has been identified with Mallisena Vamana, the famous Jaina teacher who flourished at Jina­Kanci in the fourteenth century A.D. The commentator has worked out in elaborate detail, the modern and scientific ideas which are found scattered throughout the work Nilakesi and which have been merely indicated or implied by the author.50 He also quotes Tirukkural as a scriptural work and uses verses from the Arunkalacceppu, a Tamil version of the Ratnakaranda Sravakacara of Samantabhadra as a code of conduct for householders.

The Tamil classic Perunkathai, dealing with the story of Udayana, is probably an independent work, not included in any of the traditional lists. The author of this work was a Jaina by name Kongu Velir, the Vel (Chief) of Kongu. Though very little is known of his life, a verse, in a recent work, the Kongumandalasatakam, states that he was a native of Mangai, which has been identified with Vijaymangalam in the Coimbatore district.51 The work is also known as Konguvenmakkadai, after the author and Udayanankathai, after the hero.52

The story of Udayana king. of Kausambi, capital of the Vatsa kingdom, is dealt with in several works. The main focus of these works is the story of his adventures, conquests and final renunciation. The Brhatkatha of Gunadhy.a, written in about the first or second century A.D., and in the Paisaci language, contains the story of Naravanadatta, the son of Udayana, besides a lot of other stories. Of these the story of Udayana alone is treated in the Brahatkatha written in Sanskrit by the Ganga king Durvinita. In the opinion of Swaminatha Iyer, The Perunkathai is indebted to this Sanskrit version of the Brhatkatha.53 Two other works, in which the story of Udayana is treated, are the Uditodaya Kavyam in Sanskrit and the Udayanakumara Kavyam, two minor Kavyas of the Jainas, held in equal esteem with the story of Jivaka.54 The story of Udayana is also referred to in the Manimekhalai and other Tamil works. The Udayanankathai, one of the minor epics, is apparently another version of the same story.55 In the days of Adiyarkkunpllar, the celebrated annotator of the Silappadikaram, the belief was current that the Udayanankathai is based on a study of several works of the age of the second Sangam.56 This has led to the conclusion that this work may date from the third century or even earlier.57 But it is probable that this Udayanankathai referred to by Adiyarkkunallar is the minor epic and not the Perunkathai. Since the Perunkathai is admittedly a work based on the Brhatkatha of Durvinita, it must be dated after the sixth century A.D. or about the close of the Pandya-Pallava period i.e. 9th century A.D.

The author Kongu Velir, being a Jaina, discusses the Jaina doctrines in some detail. He has adopted a simple but beautiful style and the poem rightly takes a high rank among the literary classics of the Tamil world. The work embodies the essential characteristics of the mythology and cosmography of the Jains and in particular deals with the Vidyadharas.

The Jainas have made remarkable contributions in the field of grammar, prosody and lexicography. The Yapparungalam and the Yapparungalakkarigai of Amitasagara were composed sometime towards the close of the tenth century A.D.58 The author calls himself a disciple of Gunasagara. The Karigai is an abridgment of the Yapparungalam, which is an important treatise on prosody. The latter is unique in its range and it contains an exhaustive treatment of the different metres in Tamil. It has given rise to a fine commentary, in which a large number of literary specimens, otherwise unknown, are preserved. Gunasagar, a disciple of Amitasagara, wrote a commentary to the Karigai, which also is said to' be an important contribution. The Yappilakkanam which consists of ninetyfive sutras is attributed to Gunasagara.59

The Agapporulilakkanam is an important work on grammar, based on the poruladikaram of the Tolkappiyam and deals with love and allied experiences. The author was one Narkavirajanambi who is believed to have lived at Puliyangudi, on the banks of the Porunai river during the time of Kulasekhara Pandya.60

The Neminatham, another important work on grammar, was composed by one Gunavira pandita, evidently a Jaina. It is a short treatise comprising ninetyseven venbas and treats of the orthographs and parts of speech (eluttu, sol, porul, yappu and ani) of the Tamil language. This work also is based on the Tolkappiyam.61 The work is named after the Tirthankara Neminatha of south Mayilappur- Ten Mayilapuri.62 The author was a disciple of one Vaccanandi (Vajranandi) and a native of Kalandai. He is believed to have lived during the time of Kulottunga III (late 12th century A.D.). Two other works of the same author are the Venbappattiyal and the Vaccanandimalai, the latter apparently named after his teacher.63

Perhaps the most remarkable contribution of the Jainas to Tamil grammar in the Nannul. The author of this popular work on grammar was Bavanandi, who is said to have lived in late twelfth century during the reign of Kulottunga III. According to the Kongumandalasatakam, the author was patronised by Amarbharanan Siyagangan, a ruler of Kongu. The work also says that Bavanandi was a native of Sanakapuram in Kurumbunad, which has been identified as a place near Vijayamangalam in the Coimbatore District.64 Bavanandi is also said to have composed it on the request of his patron ("Ganga kurusiluvakka Nannulai kanindu pugal tungappulamai Bavanandi").65 This work also is based on the Tolkappiyam, and it has, by its simplicity and terseness, practically displaced all other works as the beginner's handbook of Tamil grammar. The work stands next to the Tolkappiyam in estimation, but unlike the latter, it makes Tamil grammar simpler and easier to follow.

The three Important works on lexicography, the Divakaranigandu by the Divakaramuni Pingalanigandu by Pingalamuni and the Cudamaninigandu by Mandalapurus are said to be Jaina works. The first mentioned is the earliest Tamil nigandu known and is said to heve been composed by Divakaramuni on the request of one Senan. If the Pingalandai was, as its payiram states, composed by the son of Divakaramuni, the two works must be assigned to a period anterior to the riseof the vayalaya line of Colas.66 The Pingalanigandu is considered to be the most important of the three and is believed to form the basis of later works on lexicography.67
The Cudamaninigandu is however the most popular of the three nigandus, while the other two lexicons mark progressive stages in the advancement of lexicography in Tamil. Mandalapurusa, the author of the Cudamaninigandu, was a native of Virapuram or Virai (Perumandur in the South Arcot District). The Karigai of Amitasagara is mentioned in the Cudamaninigandu and hence the author could not have lived before the composition of the Karigai, i.e., the tenth century A.D. He also could not have been the disciple of the Gunabhadra who compiled the Mahapurana during the reign of the Rastrakuta king Krsna II, in about A.D.896, as is believed by some scholars.68 The author himself gives a clue to his identity in the couplet:
"Tiruntiya kamalavurti Tiruppugal puranam ceidonParandasirk-kunabadranral paninda Mandalavanrane."

The words " Tiruppugal purananceidon" refers to Mandalava and not to Gunabhadra. Furthermore Gunabhadra who was the guru of Mandalapurusa, was a native of Tirunarungondai and is said to be well versed in Sanskrit. There appears to have existed a Gunabhadra in the time of Krsnadevaraya and he finds mention in a work called Yatidharma Sravakadharma dealing with the traditions and history of the Jaina community in the southern country.69 In the Nigandu itself there is a reference to the Karigai of Amitasagra and words found scattered in the work are so modern that it would be impossible to assign it to a date as early as the ninth century A.D. The Cudamaninigandu therefore seems to be the latest and most modern of the three lexicons. Further evidence in support of the age of Mandalapurusa is supplied by two inscriptions of the time of Krsnadevaraya, one from Padavedu and the other from Tiruvur.70 The former mentions Mandalapurusa as one of the tanattars of the Ramacandradeva temple, while the latter refers to a devadana village called Mandalapurusanpattu. So Mandalapurusa must have lived in the sixteenth century. The Tiruppugalpuranam which is credited to the authorship of Mandalapurusa is probably a reference to the Sripuranam.71

The Merumandarapuranam by Vamanacarya is another important Tamil classic which is based on a Puranic" story relating to Meru and Mandara, the ganadharas of the thirteenth Tirthankara, Vimala. The subject is their attainment of moksa and as in other Jaina works, the story is used as a framework for expounding important philosphical doctrines of the Jaina religion. The author Vamanacarya is identified with the famous Jaina teacher Mallisena Vamana, who flourished in the fourteenth century at Jina Kanci i.e. the period of the Vijayanagara ruler Bukka Raya. He was well versed in Tamil and Sanskrit and bore the title Ubhaya bhasa Kavicakravarti.72 He wrote commentaris to a number of Sanskrit works such as Pancastikaya, Pravacanasara, Samayasara and Syadvadamanjari. The commentary to the Nilakesi, known as Samaya Divakaram, is also attributed to his authorship.

The Sripuranam is another notable work held in great reverence by the Tamil Jainas. The work gives an account of the lives of the sixty-three salakapurusas, who are the twentyfour Tirthankaras, the twelve Cakravartins, the nine Vasudevas, the nine Baladevas and the nine Prativasudevas. In the course of the narration, the several tenets of Jainism are dealt with in some detail. According to Jaina tradition, the author of the Sripuranam went to Sravanabelgola, from his native place Perumandur, to learn the Samaya Sastra. 73 We hear of a number of such instances of Tamil Jainas visiting Sravana Belgola, the most important Jaina centre in South India. It is believed that the author, following the example of the Kannada Camundarayapurana (A.D.997) based his work on the Mahapurana of Jinasena and Gunabhadra. So the work may be placed after the tenth century A.D. Since the Manipravala style was prevalent from about the 13th century to the 17th century A.D., it is also held that the work was probably composed in about the 14th or 15th century A.D.74 Venkatarajulu, however, does not accept the identification of the author of the Sripuranam with Mandalapurusa, the author of the Cudamaninigandu.75 According to him, if Mandalpurusa had been the author, it is surprising that in the Nigandu he has written verses in praise of his guru, Gunabhadra, at whose instance he is said to have composed it, while there is no mention in the Puranam either of the teacher or his achievements and that it would be natural for an author to give a clue to his identity in a Puranam of this magnitude.

Works like the Sripuranam enriched the Tamil vocabulary and literary style through manipravalam (gem and coral), wherein whole sentences in Sanskrit were interspersed with Tamil. The style afforded considerable freedom in blending the two literary traditions so as to create new works of formal and thematic excellence.



Very nice Sir,
I need da list of Manipravaala
works of Jains.
Can u help ?


sss said...

Please let me know whether the epic, "Manikekalai" gives us a view of Jainism besides Budhism. I need to know about this,because I absent mindedly came out with a statement arguing for the influence of Jainism on this great epic. Of course, the principles of Budhism could be noticed in this epic. I need an urgent reply to this query of mine. I will be grateful if somebody well versed in this literature could support me of course with objective evidence.

Popular Posts

Mahavir Sanglikar's Articles

शोध आणि बोध: Marathi Articles on General Subjects