Spread of Jainism and Buddhism (Part 1)

Spread of Jainism and Buddhism (Part 1)

Emergence of heterodox sects:

  • The changing features of social and economic life, such as the growth of towns, expansion of the artisan class, and the rapid development of trade and commerce were closely linked with changes in another sphere; that of religion and philosophical speculation.
  • The intellectual and philosophical re­sponse to these social changes was rich and varied marking a high point in philosophical achieve­ments which remained unsurpassed in later centuries. All the major ideas of Indian philosophy can be seen, at least in rudimentary form in the 6th century B.C.
  • The period was characterised by the parivrajakas or sramanas who renounced their household status. They wandered about from place to place with the object of meeting and having discussions with others like them. It is through this ceaseless movement that they propagated their ideas and built up their following.
  • What united all the sramanas together was their opposition to the established tradition of the Brahmins based on the cult of sacrifice, central to the ideology of the latter. They were also opposed to the claims of the brahmana’s pre-eminence in society and for these reasons they have been described as non-conformist sects or heterodox sects.
  • The ideas themselves spanned an entire range from annihilationism (Ucchedavada) to eternalism (Sashvat-vada) and from the fatalism of the Ajivikas to materialism of the Charavakas.
  • We hear of as many as 62 religious sects which arose in the middle Gangetic plains in the sixth century B.C. Of these sects, Jainism and Buddhism were the most important, and they emerged as the most potent religious reform movements.

Causes for the rise and growth of heterodox sects:

  • The varna-divided society seems to have generated tensions during the sixth century B.C. The Kshatriyas who functioned as rulers, reacted strongly against the ritualistic domination of the brahmanas and seem to have led a kind of protest movement against the importance attached to the birth in the varna system. The kshatriya reaction against the domination of the priestly class called brahmanas, who claimed various privileges, was one of the causes of the origin of new religions. Buddha and Mahavira, both came from Kshatriya origin.
  • The agricultural economy based on the iron ploughshare required the use of bullocks, and it could not flourish without animal husbandry. But the Vedic practice of killing cattle indiscriminately in sacrifices stood in the way of the progress of new agriculture. The newly emerging peasant communities who appear to have become dominant did not approve the killing of cattle in the sacrifice, as cattle wealth was very essential to supplement agricultural operations. The non-killing or Ahimsa preached by the heterodox sects appears to have made these social groups opt for the heterodox sects.
  • The increase in trade and commerce added to the importance of the vaishyas. The vaishyas being ranked third in the brahmanical society, looked for some religion which could improve their position.
  • The patronage extended to trade and commerce in particular by Buddhism and Jainism made the merchants, rich and poor agriculturists and artisans to favour Buddhism and Jainism.
  • The new forms of property created social inequalities, and caused misery and suffering to the masses of the people. So the common people yearned to return to primitive life. They wanted to get back to the ascetic ideal which dispensed with the new forms of property and the new style of life.
  • The complex rituals and sacrifices advocated in the Later Vedic period were not acceptable to the common people. The sacrificial ceremonies were also found to be too expensive. The superstitious beliefs and mantras confused the people. The teachings of Upanishads, an alternative to the system of sacrifices, were highly philosophical in nature and therefore not easily understood by all. Therefore, what was needed in the larger interests of the people was a simple, short and intelligible way to salvation for all people. Such religious teaching should also be in a language known to them. This need was fulfilled by the teachings of Buddha and Mahavira.
  • The code of conduct prescribed for lay people by these new religions appeared to be more practical than performing protracted rites through the Brahmin priest.

(1) Jainism

  • Jainism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Jains traditionally trace their history through a succession of twenty-four propagators of their faith known as tirthankaras with Rishabh as the first and Mahavira as the last.
  • The names of two Jain tirthankaras Rishabha and Arishtanemi, are found in the Rig Veda. The Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavat Purana describe Rishabha as an incarnation of Narayana.
  • The mythology of the tirthankaras most of whom were born in the middle Ganga basin and attained nirvana in Bihar, seems to have been created to give antiquity to Jainism.
  • Not much is known about the first twenty-two tirthankaras except Parsvanatha (twenty-third and the immediate predecessor of Mahavira), who seems to have been a historical figure. He was the son of king Asvasena of Banaras, and enjoined on his disciples the four great vows of non-injury (ahimsa), truthfullness (satya), non-stealing (asateya), and non-possession (aparigraha). To these, Mahavira added the vow of brahmacharya or continence.
  • The tirthankaras are known by their names and symbols such as 1st- Rishabha – bull, 2nd – Ajita – elephant, 22nd – Arishtanemi – Conchshell, 23rd – Parsvanatha – hooded snake and 24th – Mahavira – lion.

Vardhamana Mahavira:

  • Vardhamana Mahavira was born in 540 B.C(some says in 599 BCE) in a village Kundagrama near Vaishali which is iden­tical with Basarh in the district of Vaishali, in north Bihar  on the thirteenth day of the rising moon of Chaitra
  • His father Siddartha was the head of the Jnatrika clan and his mother Trishala was the sister of the Lichchhavi chief Chetaka, whose daughter Chellana was wedded to Bimbisara. Thus Mahavira’s family was connected with the royal family of Magadha.
  • Mahavira was married to Yashoda, by whom he had a daughter, Annoja. In the beginning, Mahavira led the life of a householder, but in the search for truth he abandoned his family at the age of 30 years and became an ascetic.
  • For twelve long years, he wandered from place to place doing penance. In the 13th year, at the age of 42 he attained omniscience (Kaivalya) under a Sal tree near village Jrimbhikagrama, on the northern bank of the river Rijupalika. He was now a Kevalin (Omni­scient), a Jina (conqueror) and Mahavira (the great hero).
  • Mahavira has many other titles and epithets, including Vira, Sanmati and Nataputta. The ancient texts refer to Mahavira as Nataputta (son of Natas). This referred to his clan of origin, the Natta.
  • He became the head of a sect called Nigranthas (free from fetters), known in later times as Jainas or followers of the Jina (conqueror).
  • For thirty years he wandered about as a religious teacher and died by self starvation (Sallekana) at Pava in South Bihar at the age of seventy-two.

Teachings of Mahavira:

  • Mahavira rejected the authority of the Vedas, the Vedic rituals and the Brahmin supremacy. He advocated an austere and simple life with the ultimate aim to attain Kaivalya (nirvana or moksha).
  • Mahavira recognised the existence of the God but placed them lower than the jina.
  • Mahavira did not condemn the Varna system and according to him, a person is born in a high or in a low Varna in consequence of the sins or the virtues acquired by him in the previous birth.
  • Though Parsvanatha, the predecessor of Mahavira asked his followers to cover their body, Mahavira asked them to discard clothes altogether. This implies that he asked his followers to lead a more austere life.
  • Mahavira regarded all objects, animate or inanimate, as endowed with various degrees of consciousness. They possess life and feel pain on the infliction of injuries.
  • He believed in Karma and transmigration of soul (atma). The attainment of freedom from worldly bonds can be obtained through right knowledge, right faith and right action. These three are considered to be the three jewels or triratna of Jainism.

Three jewels or triratna:

  • The aim of Jain life is to achieve liberation of the soul.This is done by following the Jain ethical code, or to put it simply, living rightly by following the three jewels of Jain ethics.
  • Three jewels or triratna are a metaphor for describing conduct and knowledge:

(1) Right faith / perception (Samyak darshana):

  • This doesn’t mean believing what you’re told, but means seeing (hearing, feeling, etc.) things properly, and avoiding preconceptions and superstitions that get in the way of seeing clearly.
  • Belief in True Prophets (like Jain Tirthankars) True Scriptures (like Jain Shastras) and True Preceptors (like Jain saints).

(2) Right knowledge (Samyak jnana):

  • This means having an accurate and sufficient knowledge of the real universe – this requires a true knowledge of the five substances and nine truths of the universe.
  • If our character is flawed and our conscience is not clear, knowledge alone will not help us achieve composure and happiness.
  • A person who has right knowledge will naturally free themselves from attachment and desire, and so achieve peace of mind.
  • Right Knowledge is broadly divided into five categories:
  1. Sensory knowledge (Mati Gyan): knowledge derived through the sense organs like eyes, ears etc. and the mind. It can be false or right depending on the truth and rightness of the perception
  2. Study Knowledge (Srut Gyan): verbal or scriptural knowledge
  3. Remote Knowledge (Avadhi Gyan or Clairvoyance): determinate knowledge of remote physical objects derived directly without instrumentality of senses or mind.
  4. Mind Reading knowledge (Telepathy or Man Prayaya Gyan): All living beings with mind when engaged in thinking give different shapes to the mind according to objects thought of. The knowledge which can apprehend these shapes of other minds or thoughts of others is telepathy.
  5. Omniscience (Kewalya Gyan):This is unlimited knowledge of the whole of reality which the individual soul acquires directly. Once omniscience appears, the soul is all set for liberation.

(3) Right conduct (Samyak charitra):

  • This means living your life according to Jain ethical rules, to avoid doing harm to living things and freeing yourself from attachment and other impure attitudes and thoughts.
  • Jains believe that a person who has right faith and right knowledge will be motivated and able to achieve right conduct.

Five Main Vows:

  • Mahavira added the doctrine of brahmacharya or continence to the four vows viz. ahimsa, satya, asateya and aparigraha prescribed by Parsvanatha.
  • Jainism encourages spiritual development through cultivation of personal wisdom and through reliance on self-control through vows. Jains accept different levels of compliance for strict followers and laymen. Followers of this religion undertake five major vows:
  1. Ahimsa (nonviolence): The first major vow taken by followers is to cause no harm to living beings. It involves minimizing intentional and unintentional harm to other living creatures by actions, speech or thoughts.
  2. Satya (truth): This vow is to always speak the truth. Given that non-violence has priority, in a situation where speaking truth could lead to violence, silence may be observed.
  3. Asteya (not stealing): Jains should not take anything that is not willingly offered. Attempting to extort material wealth from others or to exploit the weak is considered theft.
  4. Brahmacharya (chastity for laymen and celibacy for Jain monks and nuns): This requires the exercise of control over the senses to control indulgence in sexual activity.
  5. Aparigraha (non-possessiveness): This includes non-materialism and non-attachment to objects, places and people. Jain monks and nuns completely renounce property and social relations.

Schisms in Jainism:

  • The cause of the spread of Jainism in South India is said to be the great famine that took place in Magadha 200 years after the death of Mahavira. The famine lasted for twelve years, and in order to protect themselves many Jaina monks went to the south under the leadership of Bhadrabahu (Chandragupta Maurya also accompanied him), but the rest of them stayed back in Magadha under the leadership of Sthulabahu.
  • At the end of the famine they came back to Magadha, where they developed differences with the local Jainas. The changes that took place in the code of conduct of the followers of Sthulabahu led to the division of the Jainas into Digambaras (sky-clad or naked, southerns) and Svetambaras (white-clad, Magadhans).
  • In the later centuries, further splits took place in both Digambaras and Svetambaras. Samaiyas broke away from the former and Terapantis from the latter. Both these new groups renounced idol worship and worshipped only the scriptures.

Jaina councils:

  1. First Jaina council: The first Jaina council was held at Pataliputra under the leadership of Sthulabahu in the beginning of the third century B.C. and resulted in the compilation of 12 Angas (sections) to replace the lost 14 Purvas (old texts). The Digambaras boycotted the council and refused to accept its decisions.
  2. Second Jaina council: The second council was held at Valabhi in Gujarat in the fifth century A.D. by the Svetambaras under the leadership of Devardhi Kshamasramana, and resulted in the final compilation of the 12 Angas and 12 Upangas.

Jaina Church:

  • Mahavira himself founded the Jaina Church. He had eleven ardent disciples called ganadharas (heads of schools), ten of whom died in Mahavira’s life time. Only one of them, Arya Sudharman, survived and became the first thera (pontiff) of the Jaina Church after his death.
  • His successor, Jambu held the office for 44 years. During the reign of the last Nanda of Magadha, the Jaina Church was presided by the fifth thera, Sambhutavijaya and the sixth thera, Bhadrabahu.
  • The fourteen Purvas (the old scriptures) which Mahavira himself had taught to his (ganadharas) were perfected by Sambhutavijaya and Bhadrabahu.
  • For the history of the Jaina Church, from its inception to the fourth or third century B.C. we are indebted to the Jaina Kalpasutra of Bhadrabahu, who was the sixth thera after Mahavira and was a contemporary of Chandragupta Maurya.

Jaina Philosophy:

  • Jainism is a philosophy based on the teaching of Mahavira. It takes Reality to be a multiple comprising two main kinds of objects; Jivas (souls) and the Ajivas (non-souls). The Jivas are infinite in number, varying in their capacity for knowledge, power and joy. The essence of Jiva is consciousness, power and bliss.
  • Potentially, every Jiva has these qualities in infinite magnitude but actually it displays them in varying degrees, being over-powered by the material particles of karma-pudgala with which the souls are intermixed.
  • Under the category of Ajiva come matter, space, motion, (dharma), rest (adharma) and time (kala). Both the Jivas and Ajivas have been existing eternally.
  • The world was never created. It is eternal. Its existence is divided into an infinite number of cycles, each consisting of a period of improvement (utsarpini), and one of decline (avasarpini). We are now in the phase of decline, which is divided into six periods. Jainas do not, therefore, believe in the existence of a Creator.
  • Instead of believing in God, they believe in the existence of perfected souls abiding in the highest region of the world with fully developed consciousness, power and bliss. The reality has an infinite number of as­pects and attributes (ananta dharmatrnakameva tattvam). This doctrine of Jaina philosophy is called Anekantavada.
  • The Jaina doctrine of Syadvada asserts that statements must be made with caution, keeping in view that they cannot be absolute and that opposite statements are possible and seven modes of prediction (Saptabhangi) are possible. The doctrine of Syadvada shows a close affinity with Samkhya system of philosophy.
  • Closely related to the Syadvada is Nayavada (the doctrine of view points), which shows the seven ways of approaching an object of knowledge. Jainism recognizes five sources and kinds of knowledge: Mati, knowledge obtained through sense-perception and inference; sruti, knowl­edge conveyed by others through intelligible symbols; Avadhi, acquired by some supernormal means, Manahpryaya, gained by means of telepathy; and Kevala Jnaria, knowledge of perfected souls who have acquired omniscience.
  • The Jainas lay great emphasis on Ahimsa (non-violence), both in theory and practice.
  • To attain Nirvana, a man must abandon all trammels, including his clothes. Only by a long course of fasting, self-mortification, study and meditation, can he rid himself of Karma. Hence a monastic life is essential for salvation.

Spread of Jainism:

  • Since Jainism did not very clearly mark itself out from the brahmanical religion, it failed to attract the masses. Despite this, Jainism gradually spread into south and west India. The early Jainas dis­carded Sanskrit language mainly oatronized by the brahmanas. They adopted Prakrit language of the common people to preach their doctrines.
  • Their religious literature was written in Ardha-magadhi. Udayin, the successor of Ajatashatru of Magadha, was a devout Jaina and so were the Nanda rulers. Chandragupta Maurya became a Jaina, gave up his throne and spent the last years of his life in Karnataka as a Jaina ascetic.
  • Jainism spread to Kalinga in Orissa in the fourth century B.C. and in the first century B.C. it enjoyed the patronage of the Kalinga king Kharavela.
  • In the Kushana period, it flourished well at Mathura and was dominant in eastern India in the time of Harsha.
  • During the early centuries of the Christian era, Mathura in the north and Sravana-Belgola in the south were great centres of Jaina activities. From the fifth century A.D. onwards many royal dynasties of South India, such as the Gangas, the Kadambas, the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas patronised Jainism. Jinasena and Gunabhadra composed their Mahapurana at the time of King Amoghavarsha, whose great Jaina work Ratnamalika became very popular.
  • In later centuries Jainism penetrated Malwa, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The Chalukyan king of Solanki, Siddharaja (1094-1143), also known as Jayasimha pro­fessed Jainism and his successor Kumarapala were great patrons of Jainism.

Jaina Literature:

  • Jaina literature was written in Ardhamagadhi form of Prakrit, and the texts were finally compiled in the sixth century A.D. in Gujarat at a place called Valabhi, a great centre of education. The adoption of Prakrit by the Jainas helped the growth of this language and its literature.
  • Many regional languages developed out of Prakrit languages, particularly Shauraseni, out of which grew the Marathi language. The Jainas composed the earliest important works in Apabhramsha and prepared its first grammar.

Jaina Canonical Texts:

  • The sacred literature of the Svetambaras written in the Ardha-Magadhi form of Prakrit, may be classified into twelve Angas twelve Upangas, ten Prakirna, six Chhedasutras, four Mulasutras.
  • Of the 12 Angas, the Ayaramga-sutta (Acharanga sutra) deals with the rules of conduct which a Jaina monk was to follow; Sutrakritanga is mainly devoted to a refutation of the heretic doctrines; the Bhagavatiis one of the most important Jaina canonical texts and it contains a comprehensive exposi­tion of the Jaina doctrine.
  • The 12 Upangas are mostly dogmatic and mythological in character. The 10 Prakrinas deal with various doctrinal matters and are written in verse.
  • The six Chhedasutras deal with disciplinary rules for monks and nuns. The best known work is Kalpasutra, attributed to Bhadrabahu.
  • The Kalpasutra forms a part of the fourth Chhedasutra and consists of three sections, the first called the Jainacharita contains the biographies of the twenty-three tirthankaras who preceded Mahavira; the second section consists of the Theravali, a list of ganas and their ganadharas (heads); the third section contains the Samachari or the rules for the Jaina monks.

Non-canonical works:

  • It consists of commentaries, stories, historical works, semi-historical works, romantic works and religious lyrics. Commentaries to the canonical texts form the most significant part of non-canonical literature. The oldest of these, called Niryuktis may be traced as far back as the time of Bhadrabahu.
  • These were later developed into elaborate Bhasyas and Churnis written in Prakrit, and Tikas and Vrittis written in Sanskrit.
  • The important Jaina commentators were Haribhadra (9th A.D.), Santisuri, Devendragani and Abhayadeva who lived in 11th century A. D.
  • The Kathakosa is a rich mine of stories. It contains the Jaina version of the Nala-Damayanti episode of the Mahabharata.
  • The Jainas further possess an extensive poetic literature called Prabandhas and Charitras. The former give an account of historical Jaina monks and laymen while the latter narrates the stories of tirthankaras and mythical sages. One of the most famous works is Trisastisalaka Purushacharita (lives of 63 best men) by Hemachandra, which ranks as a Mahakavya among the Jainas. The book is divided into ten Parvas of which the last parva, Mahaviracharita deals with the life of Mahavira. From the point of view of literary history, the appendix to this book, Parisistaparvan or Sthaviravalicharita, the biography of the earliest teachers of Jainism, is more valuable.
  • Semi-historical works like Prabandhachitamani of Merutunga (1306 A.D.) and the Prabandhakosa of Rajasekhara (1349 A.D.) are important.
  • The Digambaras styled the Charitras as Puranas, for in­stance Padmacharita or Padmapurana by Vimalasuri. Jinasena wrote Harivamsapurana which was completed in 783 A.D.
  • The Jainas possess many prose romances like the Samaraichchakaha of Haribhadra and Upamitibha-Vaprapanchakatha of Siddharshi (906 A.D.).

Jaina Architecture:

  • The innumerable specimens of Jaina sculpture found in practically all parts of India show that the Jainas enlisted the services of sculptors from very ancient times. Their most common form of sculpture up to this day is modeling of images or statues of their Tirthankaras. But in giving shape to these figures no scope at all was given for the free play of imagination of individual sculptors as regular rules regarding the form and pose of statues of Tirthankara had been prescribed by the Jaina religion from the very beginning. Consequently, practically all Jaina images pertain to one class and therefore Jaina images from any part of the country cannot be distinguished from their style even though they belong to different ages altogether.
  • It must be remembered that Jainism did not create a special architecture of its own, for wherever the Jainas went they adopted the local building traditions For example, while in Northern India the Jainas followed the Vaisnava cult in building in southern India they adhered to the Dravidian type. The stupas of the Jainas are indistinguishable in form from those of the Buddhists, and a Jaina curvilinear steeple is identical in outline with that of a Brahmanical temple.
  • Jainas also like the Buddhists, built several cave-temples cut in rocks from the early times. But in dimensions, the Jaina cave temples were smaller than the Buddhist ones because the Jaina religion gave prominence to individualistic and not to congregational ritual.
  • The Hathigumpha caves of Kharavela (2nd century B.C.) and the Khandagiri and Udaigiri cave of Orissa contain early relics.
  • Ellora in Maharashtra with Jaina relief works and statues repre­sents the examples of excellent architecture and sculpture of this period.
  • The gigantic statues of Bahubali (called Gomatesvara) at Sravana Belgola and Karkal in Mysore are among the wonders of the world. The former statue, 56.5 feet high, carved out of a granite mass, standing at the top of a hill was erected in 982 A.D. by Chamundaraya, the minister of a Ganga ruler, Rachamalla.
  • The image of a tirthankara from Lohanipura (Patna) dating back to the Maurya period is one of the earliest Jaina figures.
  • Like the Buddhists, Jainas also erected stupas in honor of their saints, with their accessories of stone railings, decorated gateways, stone umbrellas, elaborate carved pillars and abundant statues. Early examples of these have been discovered in the Kankali mound near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, and they are supposed to belong to the first century B.C.
  • During the Kushana period, Mathura was a great centre of Jaina art.
  • The Jaina temples at Ranakpur, and the Dilwara temples at Mount Abu, both in Rajasthan are the products of superb Jaina craftsmanship.

Jaina Painting:

  • Along with architecture and sculpture, the, Jainas have contributed in a large measure to the development of art of painting in India. The tradition of Jaina painting is as old as Buddhist painting and innumerable Jaina paintings of exquisite quality could be found on walls. palm-leaves, paper, cloth, wood, etc. It is significant to note that the Jainas possess a very extensive treasure of manuscript paintings drawn in the early Western Indian Style, sometimes called the ‘Gujarat Style’ or specifically the ‘Jaina Style’.

Causes for decline of Jainism:

1. Lack of Royal Patronage:

  • Firstly, the initial tempo of royal patronage of Jainism by Bimbisara, Ajatasatru, Udayin and Kharavela was not kept up by kings and princes of later times. Rather the zeal and determination of Asoka, Kanishka and Harsha to spread Buddhism came to eclipse Jainism. As such, lack of sincere and determined royal patronage came to relegate Jainism.

2. Lack of Efforts:

  • There was also a decline in the missionary zeal and sincerity of the Jaina mendicants. They were no more particular in undertaking the strain of spreading Jainism in villages and towns. The traders and businessmen still remained loyal to Jainism. But they had no time to do anything for the spread of Jainism.

3. Severity of Jainism:

  • The severity of Jainism boomeranged against it to bring about its decline. Unlike the ‘middle path’ of Buddhism, Jainism stood for severe penance, meditation, fasting and restraint etc. All these were too severe to endure. People soon became disillusioned with it. In course of time, Jainism, once adored, became alienated from the people.

4. Unintelligible Philosophy:

  • Most of the Jaina philosophy was unintelligible for the masses. The concepts of Jeeva, Ajeeva, Pudgala, Syadbada etc. could not be understood properly by the people. Many could not accept the view that stone, water, tree or earth had a soul of their own. There was, thus, a gradual decline in popular faith for Jainism. This paved the way for its decline.

5. Factionalism in Jainism:

  • Factionalism among the Jainas after the death of Mahavira was also cause of the decline of Jainism. Some now advocated to literally follow the teachings of Mahavira, while others wanted to tone down the severity of Jainism. As such, the rift led to a division in Jain ranks. They were now divided into ‘Digamvara’ and ‘Swetamvara’ groups.
  • The former, led by Bhadrabahu, gave up dress, adopted severe penance for self-purification and became indifferent to worldly life. The ‘Swetamvara’ group, led by Sitalabahu, wore white dress. The division weakened Jainism and as such, its spread came to be curtailed.

6. Spread of Buddhism:

  • Buddhism came as formidable obstacle in the path of the spread of Jainism. Buddhist was simple and intelligible. There was no severity in it. Even a householder could follow it.

7. Role of Hindu Preachers:

  • Hinduism posed threats to Jainism. Nimbarka, Ramanuja, Sankaracharya etc. came to make the foundation of Hinduism more solid and stronger. Rise of Vaisnavism, Saivism and Saktism paled Jainism into comparative insignificance. Decline of Jainism, thus, became inevitable and unavoidable. The Hindu preachers put constant problem on the path of the spread of Jainism. So, it declined

Contribution of Jainism:

1. Growth of Language and Literature:

  • Jainism influenced Indian language and literature. Vardhaman Mahavir preached in ‘Ardha-Magadhi’ language, the language of the common man. The people knowing ‘Magadhi’ and ‘Soruaseni’ could easily follow the preaching’s of Mahavir. In due course of time the Jaina Canonical texts were written in Prakrit language.
  • Thus, the vernacular and regional languages were enriched by Jainism. Further, the Jaina texts like ‘Anga’, ‘Upanga’, ‘Kalpasutra’, ‘Archarangasutra’, ‘Uttaradhyayanasutra’ etc. were also written in Sanskrit. Thus, the literature also grew due to the rise of Jainism.

2. Principle of Non-Violence:

  • Mahavira Jaina was the embodiment of peace. He was the preacher of non-violence. He rejected the Vedic rituals and taught to be kind and humane to the animals. Further, he emphasized that both living and non-living beings have life and they get pain. His concept of non-violence largely influenced the course of Indian history.

3. Influence on Politics:

  • Jainism influenced the Indians politics too. It cast its influence over many rulers. The great Chandragupta Maurya became the famous Chadramuni coming under the spell of Jainism. The mighty emperor Mahameghavahana Kharavela became an ardent devotee of Mahavira Jaina.
  • By following the principle of non-violence the kings became kind hearted and tolerant. This was a lasting impact of Jainism on Indian politics.
  • The Jainas also distinguished themselves in giving their unstinted support for the improvement of political and economic life in the country. The Jainas, especially in southern and western India, produced a large number of eminent and efficient monarchs, ministers, and generals and thereby contributed to maintain and improve the political importance of the people. Not only the ordinary Jainas but their acharyas, i.e., saints. also aided materially to create the proper political environment based on ahimsa culture necessary for the resuscitation of the life in the country.
  • It is considered that due to the keen interest taken by the Jaina Acharyas, i.e.. saints. in political affairs of the country, Jainism occupies an important place in the history of India. The Jaina ascetics were never indifferent towards the secular affairs in general. We know from the account of Megasthenes that, in the 4th century B.C., the Sramanas of Jaina ascetics who lived in the woods were frequently consulted by the kings through their messengers, regarding the cause of things.
  • So far as Karnataka is concerned Jainism, throughout its course of more than one thousand years, was an example of a religion which showed that religious tenets were practiced without sacrificing the political exigencies when the question of rejuvenating life in the country was at stake. That is why in Karnataka we find that the Jaina acharyas ceased to be merely exponents of dogmas and turned themselves into creators of kingdoms. It has already been noted that the Jaina saints were virtually responsible for the founding of the Ganga kingdom in the 2nd century A.D. and the Hoyasala kingdom in the 11th century A.D.

4. Growth of Trading Community:

  • Jainism contributed a lot for the growth of trading community. At first, Jainism became popular among the traders and merchants. It fostered brotherhood among them which gave rise to guild system in future. The merchants became rich and got a special position in the society. Owing to their wealth and fame they came closer to ruling class. The cooperation between them brought stability in the society.

5. Creation of Healthy Society:

  • Jainism went a long way in creating a healthy society. Mahavir preached against the caste system. With the end of caste system in society the grip of the higher caste over the lower cast became less. This gave rise to a healthy society which influenced the course of Indian history.

6. Growth of Charitable Institutions:

  • Jainism helped a lot in the growth of charitable institutions. Its influenced on the kings and other people was abiding. The kings created many caves for the dwelling of the sages of different castes. They also distributed foods and clothes to the people. With the gradual march of time other rich people followed this practice. They created charitable institutions to serve the people. Thus, social welfare was largely attained due to the growth of charitable institutions.

7. Growth of Art and Architecture:

  • Jainism helped a lot in the growth of Art and Architecture. The kings patronized Jainism. So many Jaina unages and the images of Jaina Tirthankara were found in many parts of India. The image of Bahuvalin in Shravanavelgola in Karnataka (known as Gomateswara) is the highest Jaina image ever craved in India.
  • The Jaina images found in Mathura, Bundelkhand, Northem Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Benares are important Jaina Art remains in India. The cave art of Udayagiri in Bhubaneswar, Madhya Pradesh, Ellora and Maharashtra are unique examples of Jaina art. The Dilwara Jaina temple at Mount Abu of Rajasthan is a dream in marble.
  • Nearly 90 percent of Jaina temples are the gifts of single wealthy individuals and as such the Jaina temples are distinguished for elaborate details and exquisite finish.
  • The Jain Tower in the fort of Chittor is another specimen of architectural en­gineering. Innumerable manuscripts in palm leaves were written down and some of them were painted with gold dust. These have given rise to a new school of painting known as the “Western Indian School”.
  • Thus, Jainism helped in the growth of art and architecture in India.

8. New Touch of Life:

  • Jainism gave a new touch to life. It criticized the Vedic religion and the pre-dominance of Brahmanism. Thus, the people turned away their attention from the unnecessary ritualistic practices. They led a very simple and normal life. This influences the society a lot and moulded its character in future.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Vengatesh says:

    Thank u very much Sir/Mam.
    U r making history as a piece of cake.


  2. thank you for making it easy for the aspirants who are not taking any coaching but preparing themselves.


  3. shaan says:

    from my point of view..you have added all the aspect of Jainism….thank you..


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