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Spread of Jainism and Buddhism: Part I

Spread of Jainism and Buddhism: Part I

Emergence of heterodox sects:

  • The sixth century B.C. was an important stage in Indian history as far as the development of new religions is concerned.
    • In this period, we notice a growing opposition to the ritualistic orthodox ideas of the Brahmanas.
    • This ultimately led to the emergence of many heterodox religious movements in the middle Gangetic plains.
    • We hear of as many as 62 religious sects.  Among these Buddhism and Jainism developed into most popular and well organised religions.
  • The new religious ideas during this period emerged out of the prevailing social, economic and religious conditions.
  • 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 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.

Causes for the rise and growth of heterodox sects:

Social condition:
  • In post-Vedic times society was clearly divided into four varnas:  brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras.
  • Each varna was assigned well-defined functions, although it was emphasised that varna was based on birth and the two higher varnas were given some privileges.
    • The brahmanas, who were given the functions of priests and teachers, claimed the highest status in society. They demanded several  privileges,  including those of receiving gifts and exemption from taxation and punishment.
      • In post-Vedic texts we have many instances of such privileges enjoyed by them.
    • The kshatriyas ranked second in the varna hierarchy. They fought and governed, and lived on the taxes collected from the peasants.
    • The vaishyas were engaged in agriculture, cattle-rearing and trade.
      • They appear as principal taxpayers.
      • However along with the two higher varnas they were placed in the category of dvija or the twice-born. A dvija was entitled to wearing the sacred thread and studying the Vedas from shudras were kept out.
    • The shudra were meant for serving the three higher varnas, and along with women were barred from taking to vedic studies. They appear as domes tic slaves, agricultural slaves, crafts-men and hired labourers in post-Vedic times.
      • They were called cruel, greedy and thieving in habits, and some of them were treated as untouchables.
  • The higher the varna the more privileged and purer a person was. The lower the varna of an offender, the more severe was the punishment prescribed for him.
  • Naturally the varna-divided society seems to have generated tensions.
    • We have no means to find out the reactions of the vaishyas and the shudras.
    • But 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 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.
      • Vardhamana Mahavira, who founded Jainism, and Gautama Buddha, who founded Buddhism belonged to the kshatriya clan, and both disputed the authority of the brahmanas.
Economics Condition:
  • The real cause of the rise of these new religions lay in the spread a new agricultural economy in north-eastern India.
    • North-east India, including the regions of eastern Uttar Pradesh and northern and southern Bihar, has about 100 cm of rainfall.
    • Before these areas came to be colonized on a large scale, they were thickly forested. The thick jungles could not easily be cleared without the aid of iron axes.
    • In the middle Gangetic plains, large-scale habitations began in about 600 B.C., when iron came to be used in this area. The use of iron tools made possible forest clearance, agriculture and large settlements.
    • The agricultural economy based on the iron plough-share 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 cattle wealth slowly decimated because the cows and bullocks were killed in numerous Vedic sacrifices.
      • The tribal people living on the southern and eastern fringes of Magadha also killed cattle for food.
      • 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.
    • But if the new agrarian economy had to be stable, this killing had to be stopped.
  • The period saw the rise of a large number of cities in north-eastern India.
    • We may refer, for example, to Kaushambi near Allahabad, Kusinagar (in Deoria district of Uttar Pradesh), Banaras, Vaishali (in the newly created district of the same name in north Bihar), Chirand (in Saran district) and Rajgir (situated at a distance of about 100 km south-east of Patna).
    • Besides others these cities had many artisans and traders, who began to use coins for the first time.
      • The earliest coins belong to the fifth century B.C. and they are called punch-marked coins.
      • They circulated for the first time in eastern Uttar Prådesh and Bihar.
    • The use of coins naturally facilitated trade and commerce, which added to the importance of the vaishyas.
      • In the brahmanical society the vaishyas ranked third, the first two being: brahmanas and kshatriyas.
      • Naturally – they looked for some religion which would improve their position.
      • Besides the kshatriyas, the vaishvas extended generous support to both Mahavira and Gautama Buddha.The merchants, called the setthis made hand- some gifts to Gautama Buddha and his disciples.
    • There were several reasons for it.
      • First, Jainism and Buddhism in the initial stage did not attach any importance to the existing  varna system.
      • Second, they preached the gospel of non-violence, which would put an end to wars between different kingdoms and consequently promote trade and commerce.
      • Third, the brahmanical law books, called the Dharmasutras, decried lending money on interest. A person who lived on Interest was condemned by them.
    • Therefore, the vaishyas, who lent money on account of growing trade and commerce, were not held in esteem and were eager to improve their social status.
  • On the other hand, we also notice a strong reaction against various forms of private property.
    • Old-fashioned people did not like the use and accumulation of coins made certainly of silver and copper and possibly of gold. They detested new dwellings and dresses, new systems of transport which amounted to luxury, and they hated war and violence.
    • 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.
    • Both Jainism and Buddhism preferred simple, puritan ascetic living. The Buddhist and Jaina monks were asked to forego the good things of life. They were not allowed to touch gold and silver. They were to accept only as much from their patrons as was sufficient to keep body and soul together.
    • They, therefore. rebelled against the material advantages stemming from the new life in the Gangetic basin.
      • In other words, we find the same kind of reaction against the changes in material life in the mid- Ganga plain in the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. as we notice against the changes introduced by the Industrial Revolution in modern times.
      • The advent of the Industrial Revolution made many people think of return to the pre- machine age life; similarly people in the past wanted to return to the pre- iron age life.
Religious conditions:
  • Vedic religious practices had become cumbersome, and in the context of the new society of the period had become in many cases meaningless ceremonies. Sacrifices and rituals increased and became more elaborate and expensive.
    • With the breakup of communities, the participation in these practices also became restricted and as such irrelevant to many sections in the society.
    • The Growing importance of sacrifices and rituals established the domination of the Brahmanas in the society. They acted both as priests and teachers and through their monopoly of performing sacred religious rites, they claimed the highest position in the society which was now divided into four varnas.
  • The Vedic ritualistic practices had ceased to be of much relevance to this new social order.
Political conditions:
  • Kshatriyas, whether in the monarchies or in the gana-samghas, came to wield much more political power than before. So, resisted the Brahman’s domination.
  • Constant wars among emerging kingdoms, discontented merchants. So. they look for peaceful, non-violent religions.

Buddha and Mahavira, were by no means, the first to criticise the existing religious beliefs. Many religious preachers before them, like Kapila, Makkali Gosala, Ajita Kesakambalin and Pakuda Kachchayana had already highlighted the evils of the Vedic religions. They also developed new ideas on life and God. New philosophies were also being preached. However, it was Buddha and Mahavira, who provided an alternative religious order.

(1) Jainism

  • Jainism is an ancient religion from India that teaches that the way to liberation and bliss is to live lives of harmlessness and renunciation. The essence of Jainism is concern for the welfare of every being in the universe and for the health of the universe itself.
  • According to the Jainas, the origin of Jainism goes back to very ancient times. They believe in 24 tirthankaras or great teachers or leaders of their religion.
    • The first tirthankara is believed to be Rishabhadev who was born in Ayodhya.
    • The twenty-third tirthankara was Parshvanath who was born in Varanasi. He gave up royal life and became an ascetic.
    • Mahavira was the twenty-fourth and last tirthankara.
    • 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

  • Vardhaman Mahavira, is regarded as the founder of Jainism. He was twenty-fourth and the last tirthankara of Jainism.
  • Vardhamana Mahavira was born in 540 B.C 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 (a Kshatriya 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 or the ‘supreme knowledge’ (Kaivalya) under a Sal tree near village Jrimbhikagrama, on the northern bank of the river Rijupalika in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar. He was now
    • Kevalin (Omni­scient),
    • Jina (conqueror) and
    • Mahavira (the great hero).
  • Through kaivalya he conquered misery and happiness.
  • His followers were known as Jainas.
  • 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 the next 30 years he moved from place to place and preached his doctrines in Kosala, Magadha, Mithila, Champa etc.
    • He wandered for eight months in a year and spent the four months of the rainy season in some famous town of eastern India.
    • He often visited the courts of Bimbisara and Ajatasatru.
    • He died by self starvation (Sallekana) at Pava (near Rajagriha) at the age of seventy-two (468 B.C.).

Teachings of Mahavira

  • Mahavira rejected the authority of the Vedas, the Vedic rituals and the Brahmin supremacy.
    • Jainism mainly aims at the attainment of freedom from worldly bonds. It is not necessary to use any ritual for acquiring such liberation.
    • It can be obtained through right knowledge, right faith and right conduct.
    • Jainism does not accept the authority of veda. So, it is a atheistic philosophy.
  • Advocated an austere and simple life.
    • He advocated an austere and simple life with the ultimate aim to attain Kaivalya (nirvana or moksha).
    • Parshva had asked his followers to cover the upper and lower portions of their body, Mahavira asked them to discard clothes completely. This implies that Mahavira asked his followers to lead a more austere life.
    • On account of this in later times Jainism was divided into two sects: shvetambaras or those who put on white dress, and digambaras or those who keep themselves naked.
  • Did not condemn the varna system, as Buddhism did.
    • According to Mahavira, a person is born in a high or in a lower varna in consequence of the sins or the virtues acquired by him in the previous birth.
    • However, Mahavira looks for human values even in a chandala. In his opinion through pure and meritorious life members of the lower castes can attain liberation.
  • Mahavira recognised the existence of the God but placed them lower than the jina.
    • World not created, maintained and destroyed by a personal God but by a universal law.
  • 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.
  • Believed in karma and the transmigration of soul.
    • The influx of Karma (Asrav) bonds soul by creating layers and overshadow it. It leads to cycle of birth and death
    • ‘Karma’ is result of evil thoughts and actions. Due to influx of karma the soul losses pure character.
    • By following five great vows, the flow of asrav on the soul can be stopped. This process is known as ‘Samvara’ (ending Asrav)
    • And to destroy the accumulated Asrav self-torment and self-mortification was to be practiced (i.e giving pain to your body).
      • i.e following five great vows to stop the flow of karma and practicing penance to destroy the accumulated Karma.
    • And when the layers of Karma over soul is totally destroyed, the soul is liberated and free. And the Kaivalya is achieved.
  • Jainism believed that the main goal of human life is the purification of soul and attainment of nirvana (moksha), which means freedom from birth and death. This can be achieved not through rituals and sacrifices but by pursuance of triratna and panchamahavrata.
    • Triratna or three jewels are right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct, which can lead to liberation.
    • Right conduct means observance of panchamahavrata (five great vows):
      • ahimsa (do not commit violence),
      • satya vachana (do not speak a lie),
      • asteya (do not steal),
      • brahmacharya (do not indulge in sexual act) and
      • aprigraha (do not acquire property).
  • 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.
  • Householders were expected to observe milder form of the practice of these virtues called anuvrata (small vows) in comparison to the monks.
  • So, one can notice that while the Brahmanism was a ritual oriented religion this new faith was conduct-oriented.

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.

(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:
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

Four main forms of existence:

  • Jaina doctrine recognizes four main forms of existence—
    • gods (deva),
    • humans (manushya),
    • hell beings (naraki), and
    • animals and plants (tiryancha).
  • The animal and plant category is further sub-divided into smaller sub-categories on the basis of their sense faculties.
    • The lowest category comprises the single-sense bodies (ekendriya).
      • The lowest of these are the nigodas, tiny organisms that only have one sense, that of touch.
      • Their life lasts a fraction of a second.
      • The nigodas are supposed to be all over the place, and they also inhabit the bodies of plants, animals, and people.
    • Above the nigodas, slightly higher in the scale, are single-sense organisms that inhabit the various elements (sthavara).
      • They are known as the earth bodies, water bodies, fire bodies, and air bodies.
    • Plant beings are higher in the scale—although they only have one sense, that of touch, they have a more complex structure and a longer life.
    • Animals are still higher, as they have two to five senses.
    • Those that have all five senses are classified into ones that are totally dependent on instinct and ones that have powers of reasoning.

Other teachings of Jainism:

  • Jaina philosophy is that of dualism.
    • It believes that human personality is formed of two elements:
      • Jiva (soul)
        • The Jivas are infinite in number, varying in their capacity for knowledge, power and joy. The essence of Jiva is consciousness, power and bliss.
      • Ajiva (matter).
        • Under the category of Ajiva come matter, space, motion, (dharma), rest (adharma) and time (kala).
    • While Ajiva is destructible, Jiva is indestructible and the salvation of an individual is possible through progress of Jiva.
    • Both the Jivas and Ajivas have been existing eternally.
    • In short, the living and non-living (soul and matter) by coming into contact with each other create energies which cause birth, death and various experiences of life.
    • These energies already created could be destroyed by a course of discipline leading to salvation or nirvana. This means seven things:
      • There is something called the living.
      • There is something called the non-living.
      • The two come in contact with each other.
      • The contact leads to production of energies.
      • The process of contact could be stopped.
      • The existing energies could be exhausted.
      • Salvation could be achieved.
    • These seven propositions are called the seven tattvas or truths or realities by Jainas.
    • On the basis of these propositions, Jaina philosophy states that if one desires to attain Nirvana, it is important for him to destroy Karma.
    • One can gradually do it by avoiding evil Karma first and later other Karma. The observance of panchamahavrata, helps to achieve this. Thus, Annihilation of karma through practicing extreme asceticism and prevention of influx and fixation of karma by disciplined conduct is essential for salvation.
  • Soul thus liberated rises to the top of the universe and stays in bliss.
  • Focus on extreme non-violence.
    • The Jainas lay great emphasis on Ahimsa (non-violence), both in theory and practice.
    • Jainisn prohibited the practice of war and even agriculture for its followers because both involve the killing of living beings.
    • Eventually the Jainas mainly confined themselves to trade and mercantile activities.
  • Injuring living beings is seen as detrimental from two points of view—it causes the victim to suffer and it harms the person who causes the injury.
    • It is not only actions but the emotions and intentions behind actions that count.
    • As injuring others draws on negative emotions and passions, it is detrimental to the achievement of salvation.
    • Strict vegetarianism is thus the most important dietary rule for Jainas. Because it is believed that nigodas are especially found in sweet and fermented substances, figs, honey, and alcohol are also forbidden.
    • Even if an animal has not been killed for food but has died a natural death, its meat is not to be eaten, because dead flesh is considered a breeding ground for the nigodas. The Shvetambaras made some exceptions—for instance, meat could be eaten if there was a famine or to cure an illness.
    • The renunciant is supposed to take the observation of ahimsa to a higher level in his daily living. Laypersons are supposed to avoid harming beings with two or more senses, but the renunciant is supposed to refrain from harming even single-sense beings (ekendriya) and element bodies (sthavara):
      • Monks and nuns must not dig the earth, lest they kill earth bodies.
      • They must avoid bathing, swimming, or walking in the rain, lest they kill water bodies.
      • They must not light or extinguish flames, to avoid harming fire bodies.
      • They must not fan themselves, to avoid harming air bodies.
      • They must try not to walk on greenery nor touch living plants, to avoid harming vegetable bodies.
  • Jainism believed that the monastic life was essential to attain salvation and a householder could not attain it.
  • One of the most distinguishing feature of Jainism was the concept of anekantavada or syadavada.
    • It means that the truth can be viewed from aneka or various angels. The reality has an infinite number of as­pects and attributes.
    • 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.
  • The idea of creation in Jainism is that 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.
    • In each period of utsarpini and avasarpini there are 63 salak purush (great being/soul)
      • And in phase of each salak purush there are 24 Tirthankaras and 12 chakravarti (great king)

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 said to be 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.
  • Of the differences in daily practices between Digambara and Shvetambara monks, the most important relates to clothing:
    • Both traditions agree that Mahavira and his early disciples had moved around naked.
    • The Digambaras follow that tradition strictly.
      • According to them, a monk must renounce all possessions, including clothes.
      • The only things a monk can carry are a small broom (rajoharana) for brushing insects away before sitting down and a water gourd (kamandalu) for toilet hygiene.
    • The Shvetambaras, on the other hand, wear white robes; they view nudity as a practice that had fallen into abeyance and was now unnecessary.

Jaina councils:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Spread of Jainism:

  • In order to spread the teachings of Jainism, Mahavira organized an order of his followers which admitted both men and women.
  • Teachings of Mahavira became very popular among the masses and different sections of the society were attracted to it
  • Since Jainism did not very clearly mark itself out from the brahmanical religion, it failed to attract the masses and failed to get huge success in Gangetic plain.
    • Despite this, Jainism gradually spread into south and west India where the brahmanical religion was weak.
    • The second 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 a Jaina went to the south under the leadership of Bhadrabahu, but the rest of them stayed back in Magadha under the leadership of Sthalabahu.
      • The emigrant Jainas spread Jainism in south India.
  • The early Jainas dis­carded Sanskrit language mainly patronized by the brahmanas. They adopted Prakrit language of the common people to preach their doctrines.
  • Mahavira had eleven disciples known as Ganadharas or heads of schools. Arya Sudharma was the only Ganadhara who survived Mahavira and became the first ‘Thera‘ (chief preceptor) of the Jaina order.
  • Udayin, the successor of Ajatashatru of Magadha, was a Jaina and so were the Nanda rulers.
  • According to a tradition, the spread of Jainism in Karnataka is attributed to Chandragupta Maurya (322-298 B.C.). The emperor became a Jaina, gave up his throne and spent the last years of his life in Karnataka as a Jaina ascetic.
    • But this tradition is not corroborated by any other source.
    • Epigraphic evidence for the spread of Jainism in Karnataka is not earlier than the third century A.D.
    • After the fifth century, numerous Jaina_monastic establishments called (basadis sprang up in Karnataka and were granted land by the king for their support.
  • 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 second and first centurles B.C. it also seems to have reached the southern districts of Tamil Nadu.
  • 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.
  • Although Jainism did not win as much state patronage as Buddhism did and did not spread very fast in early times, it still retains its hold in the areas where it spread. On the other hand, Buddhism practically a disappeared from the Indian subcontinent.

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.
  • According to tradition the original doctrines taught by Mahavira were contained in 14 old texts known as ‘purvas‘.

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.
    • In the first Council at Pataliputra, Sthulabhadra divided the Jaina canon into 12 ‘angas’ or sections.
      • This was accepted by Svetambaras. However, the Digambaras refused to accept this claiming that all the old scriptures were lost.
  • Of the 12 Angas,
    • the Ayaramga-sutta (Acharanga sutra) deals with the code of conduct which a Jaina monk was to follow;
    • Sutrakritanga is mainly devoted to a refutation of the heretic doctrines;
    • the Bhagavati sutta one of the most important Jaina canonical texts and it contains a comprehensive exposi­tion of the Jaina doctrine.
  • At the second Council held at Vallabhi new additions were made in the form of ‘Upangas’ or minor sections.
    • 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.
  • 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’.

The social composition of the Jain Sangha and laity:

  • Jaina texts reflect the idea of the superiority of the Kshatriya varna over all others.
    • The early medieval Adi Purana attributes the creation of the Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra varnas to the first tirthankara Rishabha, who assumed the powers of a king before he attained jina-hood.
    • The Brahmana varna is described as having been instituted by Rishabha’s son Bharata, the first chakravarti ruler.
  • Like the Buddhist texts, Jaina texts criticize the Brahmanas, their sacrifices, way of life, and arrogance.
    • But they also talk of the ‘true’ or ideal Brahmana, giving the word new content, shifting the emphasis from birth to conduct.
    • Thus re-defined, only a Jaina monk was worthy of being called a Brahmana.
  • People of all varnas and social backgrounds could enter the Jaina sangha.
    • Notwithstanding the theoretical position, all the chief disciples (ganadharas) of Mahavira were Brahmanas belonging to Magadha area, described as having entered the sangha with hundreds of their disciples.
    • There was also a strong Brahmana representation among the Jaina acharyas (Bhadrabahu, Siddhasena Divakara, Pujyapada, Haribhadra, and Jinasena).
  • Among the laity, Jainism especially enjoyed the allegiance and patronage of the affluent urban merchant class.
  • Women:
    • Like Buddhist texts, Jaina texts too present women as a danger to the celibacy of monks. Warning monks of women’s wiles, they urge them to avoid their friendship and company.
    • At the same time, Jainism did establish a monastic order for women.
      • The traditional Jaina account of the growth of the sangha during the lifetime of Mahavira in fact gives greater prominence to women.
      • According to the Kalpa Sutra, when Mahavira died, there were 14,000 monks and 36,000 nuns, 159,000 laymen, and 318,000 laywomen. A total of 1,400 women as opposed to 700 men are described as having attained salvation during his lifetime.
    • Nuns must have played an important role in spreading the Jaina teaching among laywomen.
    • The issue of clothing was central to the Jaina debate on gender and salvation.
      • Digambaras emphasized the necessity of nudity for members of the order.
        • For them, clothes counted as possessions and were associated with passion, sexual desire, and shame.
        • However, they seem to have shared the social disapproval of women moving around naked in public.
        • A woman’s body was thus the obstacle to her attaining salvation.
        • Women mendicants associated with their order, respectfully addressed as aryika or sadhvi (noble or venerable women), were regarded more like celibate laywomen who had achieved a significant amount of spiritual progress.
      • According to the Shvetambaras, on the other hand, wearing or not wearing clothes was optional.
        • Women could attain moksha in their lifetime.
        • Monks and nuns of this order took the same vows and in theory were considered on par with each other.
        • In practice, however, there was an element of inequality, similar to that which existed within the Buddhist sangha.
        • No matter how senior a nun and howsoever junior a monk, the nun had to offer respectful salutation first.
        • Nuns could confess their misdemeanors to monks and be censured by them, but the reverse did not happen.
    • Was it possible for a woman to become a tirthankara?
      • Digambara tradition holds that a woman has to be reborn as a man before she can attain salvation.
        • The Shvetambaras, however, acknowledge the possibility of women attaining jina-hood. Malli, their 19th tirthankara, was a woman.
      • Both traditions hold that women are not capable of experiencing the worst forms of undesirable volitions, so they can never be born in the seventh and lowest hell.
      • But they also consider misdeeds and negative propensities such as cheating, greed, unpredictability, and cunning to be responsible for rebirth as a woman.
        • Even the Shvetambara tradition about Malli ascribes her birth as a woman to cheating in a previous birth.
        • And Malli never became a popular focus of worship; only one 9th century image, with breasts and a long braid of hair, has so far been found.
      • The denial of the possibility of salvation seems to have been a factor inhibiting women’s association with a particular order, as is suggested by the declining number of Digambara nuns.
      • However, the offer of salvation was not in itself an assurance of the long-term survival of a women’s monastic order, as is clear from the virtual disappearance of the Buddhist bhikkhuni sangha among Theravada communities of Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.

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 Ashoka, 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.
  • The early Jainas discarded Sanskrit language mainly patronized by the brahmanas.
    • They adopted Prakrit language of the common people to preach their doctrines.
  • Their religious literature was written in Ardhamagadhi, 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.
  • The Jaina literature contains epics, Puranas, novels and drama.
  • A large portion of the Jaina writing is still in the form of manuscripts, which have not been published and which are found in the Jaina shrines of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
  • In early medieval times the Jainas also made good use of Sanskrit and wrote many texts in it.
  • They contributed to the growth of Kannada in which they wrote extensively.
  • 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.
  • Most 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.

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