Jun 10, 2010

Spread of Jainism in India and Abroad

Helmuth Von Glasnapp

As is well known and is accepted by all the historians, Jainism had already been established as an important religion in various provinces of India before Mahavira and the Buddha began their missionary activities. During their period, Magadha, Kausala, Kapilvastu, Vaisali, Pava, Mithila, Varanasi, Simhabhumi, Kausambi, Avanti etc. were prominent Jaina centres. After Mahavira’s parinirwana, Jainism was patronized by the Sisunagas, Nandas, Kharavela, Mauryas, Satavahanas, Guptas, Paramars, Chandelas, Kalakuris, and others who provided all possible facilities to develop its literature and cultural activities. The southern part of India was also a great centre of Jainism. Bhadrabahu and Visakhacharya with their disciples migrated to the south and propagated Jainism there. Andhra, Satvahanas, Pallavas, Pandyas, Cholas, Chalukyas, Rastrakutas, Gangas, and others were main dynasties which rendered sufficient royal patronage and benefits to Jainism and its followers through the spirit of religious toleration which existed in this region. The Jainas were given magnificent grants for their spiritual purpose. Numerous Jaina temples and sculptures throughout the ages were erected by the kings of that time and many facilities were provided for literary services throughout India. As a result, the Jaina achrayas wrote their ample works in Sansakrit, Prakrit, Aprabhramsa, Tamil, Kannada, Telagu, Marathi, and later in Hindi, Gujarati and other modern indian languages.

Jainism crossed India from south India at about eighth century BC., if not earlier, and became one of the most important religions of Ceylon, which was known in those days by the name Lanka, Ratnadvipa or Simhala. The Mahavamsa refers to the existence of Jainism in Ceylon even before the arrival of Buddhism. According to it, Pandukabhaya built a house at Anuradhapur for the Niganth Jotia and Giri and some Niganthas. Jaina tradition takes the history of Jainism in Ceylon even prior to its Aryanization, or the arrival of Aryas. Ravana, a king of Lanka long ago is said to have erected a Jaina temple there at Trikutgiri. Another statue of Parasvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankar found in the caves of Terapur is also said to be from Lanka. Jainism was a living religion of Ceylon up to the 10th century AD.

Kalkacharya, another Jaina monk, is said to have visited Burma or Svarnabhumi (Uttaradhyana Niryukti, 120). Rishabh deva is said to have travelled to Bhali (Bactria), Greece, Svarnabhumi, Panhave (Iran) etc.(Avasyaka Nir.336-37). Tirthankara Parasvanatha also went to Nepal. The existence of Jainism can also be proved in Afghanistan. Tirthankara images in the Karyotsarga pose or meditating pose have been found in Vahakaraj Emir (Afghanistan). Digambara Jaina monks have been in Iran, Siam and Philistia. Greek writers also mention their existence Egypt, Abysiniya and Ethyopia. It had also propagated in Kambuj, Champa, Bulgaria, and some other foreign countries.

Jaina art and architecture
The Jainas have been amongst the foremost in contributing to the field of art and architecture since the early days. The images of Tirthankara Rishabha deva and the figures of standing or seated nude yogins found inscribed on some terracotta seats are ample proof of the same. The relics of the prehistoric Indus valley civilisation, discovered at Mohenjodaro, as well as nude Harrappan red stone statue are almost equally old. The latter is remarkably akin to the polished stone torso of a Jina image from Lohanipur (patna) which is ascribed to the Mauryan times (4th B.C.). King Kharavela of Kalinga, as the Hathigumpa inscriptions speak, reinstalled the Jaina image which had been taken away by Nanda to Magadha in 4th Century B.C. During the Satvahana period (60 B.C. to 225 A.D.) Mathura and Saurastra were the main centres of Jainism. The earliest Mathura scriptures are represented by Kankalitila where from Ayagapatta, Stupa, images and other Jaina cultural material were recovered. Gandhara art and Mathura art belong to Kusana period (1st B.C. to 2nd A.D.) in which Jainism flourished to Mathura and the Ardhaphatika sect, Yapania sangha and Nagara art came into existence.

Gupta period (4th to 7th C A.D.) is said to be the golden period of ancient indian culture. Harigupta, Siddhasana, Harisena, Ravikirti, Pujyapada, Patrakesari, Udyotanasuri and other famous Jain acharyas existed in this period and they actively helped in spreading the message of Mahavira all over India and abroad. Karnataka, Mathura, Hastinapur, Saurastra, Avanti, Ahichhatra, Bhinnamala, Kausambi, Devagumpha, Vidisa, Sravasti, Varanasi, Vaisali, Patliputra, Rajagraha (now Rajgiri), Champa, and others were the main centres of Jain art and architecture and these places have been mentioned in Jaina literature at various places. After the Gupta period, Kakkula, Vatsaraja and Mahendrapala were the Jaina kings in the Pratihara dynasty. King Munja, Navasaahasanka and Bhoja were ardent followers of Jainism. Dhanapala, Amitagati, Manikyanandi, Prabhachandra, Asadhara, Dhanjaya etc. had contributed profusely to the literary field during the same period. Chittore was the capital of Paramaras, during the early period, where Kalakacharya and Haribhadra devoted their entire lives for the development of Jaina art and architecture.

During the Chandela dynasty, Khajuraho, Devagarh, Mahoba, Madanapur, Chanderi, Ahar, Papora and Gwalior became famous for their Jaina art. Some of the important inscriptions, Toranas, images and other sculptural material were found in Tripuri. As mentioned earlier, Bihar has been a prominent state since very early days with regard to Jaina culture. It is said to be the ‘Parinirvana bhumi’ of so many Tirthankaras and is heavily enriched through Jaina statues, relics and sculpture at Rajgarh, Nalanda, Parsvanath hill, Simhabhumi, Barabar hill, Patna, Pavapuri etc. The earliest Jaina images were recovered in Bengal from Surohar and Mandoil, which are of Mathura style. The images of Jaina Tirthankaras, found in Orrissa at Udaigiri-Khandagiri and other places such as Keonjhar, Mayurabhanja, Jaipur, Cuttack are very beautiful from artistic point of view.

Gujarat and Rajasthan have been strongholds of Jainism since an early time. Shatrunjaya are Girnar are the siddhakshetras of Jainas. Rastrakutas and Chalukyas, Pratiharas, Paramaras, Chauhan and other dynasties patronised Jainism and its art and architecture. Hemchandracharya was a court poet of Jaisimha and Kumarapala.Vastupala and Tejapala, who were ministers of Baghelas of Solanki branch built a large number of Jaina temples at Abu, Girnar, Satrunjaya, Ranakpur etc. Famous temples of that period were also built at Jaisalmer, Sirohi, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Nakoda, Jaipur, Alwar and so many other places. The existence of Jainism in Punjab and Sindh can be traced out long before the Christian era, from the sites of Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Takshashila, Simhapur, Sindhudesh and Lahore.

The inscriptional history of Jainism in Maharashtra starts with the Parle inscription of 1st C A>D>, which commences with “Namo Arihantanam”. Kejhar, Pavanar, Nagpur, Bhandara, Ramtek, Akola, Karanja, Achalpur, Latur, Bhadrawati etc. are the min ancient Jain sites with archaeological remains. Sirpur is famous for its artistic decoration. Malakhed was found inhabited when Padaliptacharya visited in around 1st C A.D. Jaina caves are found at Ellora, Nasik, Dharasiva, etc. Besides, Pratishthanpur, Belgaon, Kolhapur, Ehol, Alaktakanagara, Kunthalgiri, Ardhapur, Kandhar, Karad, Mahimagiri, Vatapi and Meghuni have been main centres of jainism where huge and magnificent Jaina idols and inscriptions are found in temples. Mrgesavarvarman’s inscription (45 0-478 A.D.) states that a huge donation was made to Digambaras, shwetambaras, Kurchakas and Yapanias. Belgaon and Kolhapur were found ruled over by Silaharas of Konkana who built huge Jaina temples, like Adataraditya, Satyavakya, Chandraprabha, Ratta etc. Vatapi, Ehol, Meghuli were also Jaina centres of this period when Pulakesi First, Kirtivarman and Ravikirti constructed Jaina temples.

Andhrapradesha has been a stronghold centre of Jainism. Acharya Kundakunda (1st C A.D.), the spiritual leader of the time hailed from village Kondakunda, situated on the border of Andhra Pradesh. King Vishnuvardhana of Chalukyas, Akalavarsa, Amoghavarsa and Krashnaraja of Rashtrakutas, Bhima, Ganga Vijayaditya, Durgaraj etc. of Vengis, Tailapa, Vikramaditya of Badami Chalukyas, some kings of Velanatichoda period patronised Jainism by way of constructing temples, Vasadis and Vidyapeethas. Some of them, afterwards, were occupied by Virasaivaitas and Lingayatas, who have been great destroyers of Jaina monuments and the community as well.

Jainism in Karnakata goes back to at least Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta Maurya, who migrated to south via Ujjain with twelve thousand disciples due to severe calamity and famine in the north. Gangavadi dynasty was established by Simhanandin, one of the Jaina acharyas. Jainism was its state religion for about seven hundred years during which hundreds of Jaina monuments were erected by the kings. Pujyapada, Prabhachandra, Jinasena, Gunanandi, Patrakesari, Puspadanta, Vidyananda, Anantvirya, etc, got full patronage of the dynasty. Of the kings, the name of Rachamalia Satyavakya may be specially mentioned under whose reign, Chamundaraya, his great minister erected the colossal statue of Gomateswara Bahubali, the unparalleled statue in the world. After the reign of Rashtrakutas, Jainism got a set back and Vasavas who came to power perished Jain religion and prosecuted Jains. From Jaina architectural stand-point, the main sites in Karnataka are Mangal, Nandidurga, Panditarahalli, Chandrasala, Vasadi, Amarapur, Arkettar, Sarangipattam, Halebid, Kelasaur, Aihole, Marol, Honwad, Honnur, Kalholi, Kalhoti, Mulgana, Lakkundi, Nagire and Biligi. At these places, Jaina monuments are richly available.

Jainism entered Tamilnadu most probably from Kalinga in around 4th C B.C. Visakhacharya proceeded to Chola and Pandya countries with the entire Munisangha. It can be supported by the caverns containing beds carved out in the rock found in hills and mountains around the Pudukottai, Madura and Tinnevelly and rock-out sculptures and inscriptions in the hills of the north Arcot district which indicate the existence of Jainism in Tamilnadu in the 3rd C B.C. Kanchi was one of the important seats of learning in south India. It was the capital of Pallavas, who were mostly Jains in early centuries. The inscriptions of Jinakanchi refer to some prominent. Jainacharyas of the city, like Kundakunda, Samantabhadra, Jinachandra, Pujyapada, Akalanka, Anantavirya, Bhavanand, Mallisena etc. The north and south Arcot regions are very rich from the standpoint of Jaina architecture. Sittanavasal, Narttamalai, Tenimalai, Bommanmalai, Malamala and Samanar Kudagu had been the Jaina centre since last two thousand years. Most of these places have rich paintings and sculptures of Sittanvasala tradition which may be compared with Ajanta and Sigirya. Some of the rock-out temples like Samanar Kudagu were converted into Vishnu temples.

Madura was the capital of Pandyas who showed very favourable attitude towards Jainism. Its neighbouring hills, like Annaimalai, Nagamalai, Muttupatti, Eruvadi, etc. are very rich from Jaina sculptural and painting stand-point. Various Jaina epics were written in this period by prominent Jainacharyas like Pujyapada, Vajranandi, Aryanand and Patrakesari. Afterwards, jainism was patronised by Kadamba kings . Thus, the survey of Jainism in south India gives an apparent picture of its position that it was popular during the period of Tirthankara Mahavira or even earlier to him. The popularity got augmented gradually and Digambara sect became prominent there. During 11th C A.D., Vaisnavism, Alawara and Lingayatas came into existence and stood against Jainism causing a serious blow to its propagation.

Their devotees committed heavy atrocities on Jaina society, temples, sculptures and vasadis.The massacres went on and Jaina centres were converted into Saiva or Vaisanava temples. Jaina images and stupas have been found from many excavations in that region and these are preserved in museums at Lucknow and Patna. The crystallised forms of iconography were transferred to rocks on hills like Vaibhara hill, Udaigiri hills and Kalagumalai. The Jaina iconography was developed during the Gupta period in the 4th century A.D. Thus, it is abundantly clear that Jainism, one of the most ancient, animistic and indigenous religions has been constantly and unforgettably to the field of history and culture. Its philosophy, ethics, dogmas, spiritual disciplines and practices are based on truth and non-violence with the nature of humanistic approach, inter-religious
dialogue and understanding which can be easily perceived through the extensive and perennial literature.

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