STATUS OF JAINISM IN INDIA
(vi) The Hoyasala Rulers
The Hoyasala rulers during their reign from 1006 to 1345 A D over their
kingdom of Halebid in Karnataka did strongly extend their support to Jaina
religion. In fact like the earlier Gariga kingdom, the Hoyasala kingdom in
the I lth century also owed its creation to a Jaina saint by name Acharya
Sudatta. Further it has been specifically reported that many of the
Hoyasala kings and their Generals extended their patronage to Jainism and
that they very carefully looked after the interests of the Jainas.
(vii) Kalachun of Kalyan
In addition to these major dynasties and their rulers it has been
emphasised that the Kalachuri rulers (from 1156 to 1183 A.D.) of Kalyan
were Jainas and naturally in their time Jainism was the state religion.
(viii) Minor Rulers
On the same lines the Alupa kings of Tuluva (i.e. modern South Kanara
district of Karnataka) showed leanings towards Jainism and the
inscriptions reveal that Jainism was patronised by these Alupa kings.
Further, Jainism was the state religion of the minor states of Punnata, of
the Santaras, the early Charigalvas, and the Korigalvas. as testified by
their inscriptions. Similarly, the Rattas of Saundatti and Belgaum and the
Silaharas of Kolhapur were Jainas by religion.
Thus from early ages various royal families came forward as champions of
Jainism and it is no wonder if their example was followed by their
(B) In Andhra and Tamilnadu
In the far South, Tamilnadu discloses traces of Jaina domi�nation almost
everywhere and on many a roadside. a stone image of
Tirthankara may be seen either standing or sitting cross-legged. From the
ancient and important sarigama literature and other archeological and
epigraphic sources it is evident that Jainism flourished in the Tamil
country from the earlier times intelligible with our present means. Jaina
epigraphs have been discovered in Anantapur, Bellary, Cuddapah, Guntur,
Krishna, Kurnool. Nellore, North Arcot, South Kanara, and Vizagapattam
districts of former Madras Province. These Jaina epigraphs and other Jaina
relics clearly indicate the larger vogue that Jainism once had in that
part of the country.
Thus the whole of south India comprising the Deccan, Karnataka, Andhra and
Tamilnadu was a great stronghold of Jainas, especially Diagambara Jainas,
for more than one thousand years. Apart from the provincial capitals,
Shravana-belagola in Karnataka was the centre of their activities and it
occupies the same position even upto the present day.
Jainism, however, began to decline in south India from the 12th century
due to the growing importante of Srivaisnavism and Virasaivism.
3. JAINISM IN WEST INDIA
Jainism had very close relations with western India, that is, Gujarat and
Kathiawar, where we find the largest concentration of the Jainas at
present. Here on the Mount Girnar in Junagarh district, Lord Neminath, the
22nd Tirthankara of the Jainas, attained salvation. Here in the Council of
Jaina ascetics held at Valabhi in the year 993 after Lord Mahavira, that
is, in 466 A.D., the Jaina canon was, for the first time, reduced to
writing. Just as south India is the stronghold of Digambara Jainas,
similarly, west India is the centre of activities of Svetambara Jainas.
Regarding the migration of Jainas to these parts of India, it is thought
that the migrations must have taken place by 300 B:C. from Eastern India.
In this connection the Cambridge History of India has given the following
�From the facts that the Jainas tell us something about the reigns of
Chandragupta Maurya and his son Bindusara but at the same time they have
practically nothing to tell about the reigns: of Asoka and his :
successors in East India and that the division of the Jaina Church into
two great sects of the Digambaras and Svetambaras had probably begun after
the regin of Chandragupta Maurya. It is concluded that the Jainas were
probably already at this time, i.e., 300 B.C., gradually losing their
position in the kingdom of Magadha, and that they had begun their
migration towards the western part of India, where they settled and where
they have retained their settlements to the present day.
(A) In Gujarat
Jainism flourished in Gujarat during the days of Rastrakuta monarchs, many
of whom were devout Jainas, and it received a further fillip at the hands
of that veteran Jaina ruler Vanaraja of Chavada family. About 1100 A.D.,
Jainism gained a great ascendancy when the Cha-lukya king Siddharaja and
his successor Kumarapala openly professed Jainism and encouraged the
literary and temple building activities of the Jainas.
During the days of Baghelas in the 13th century A.D. Jainism received
patronage through the hands of Vastupala and Tejapala, the two famous
Jaina ministers of the time. They were responsible fc%r constructing the
beautiful temple-cities at gatruiijaya, Girnar and Abu.
Afterwards_even though Jainism did not receive the royal patronage as
before, still it continued to hold its position and the numerical and
financial strength of Jainas gave their religion a place of honour which
is acknowledged even to this day.
(B) In Maharashtra
As in Gujarat, in the region of Maharashtra also the Jaina religion had
settled and flourished from ancient times. In Jaina religion the
siddha-ksetras, that is, the places from where Jaina saints and great
souls had attained salvation, are considered sacred and ancient places of
veneration and such siddha-ksetras are found at as many as four places in
Maharashtra. that is, at Gajapantha (Dist. Nasik), Mangi-tungi (Dist.
Khandesh), Kunthalagiri (Dist. Oosmanabad) and Muktagiri (Dist. Amraoti).
In this connection it is worthwhile to note that such a siddhaksetra is
not there in �the entire area of south India. Further, it is evident from
ancient Prakrit Jaina literature that Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara,
had visited the Marathavada region of Maharashtra during his religious
propagation tour of different parts of India. Moreover, in Jaina religion
the mountain-caves and cave�temples are considered more ancient and sacred
and in northern India such Jaina caves are found only in Udayagiri and
Khandagiri hills in Orissa But in Maharashtra such ancient cave-temples.
in developed forms. are found at Ellora (Dist. Aurangabad), Ter (Dist.
Oosmana�bad) Anjaneri (Dist. Nashik) and at many other places in the
interior areas. In this respect it is asserted from recent archaeological
researches that out of total number of Jaina caves and cave-temples in
India. Maharashtra has got the largest number, that is more than 75
percent. Again, it is pertinent to note that from ancient times the seats
of respected Bhattarakas, that is, religious heads. and their mathas. that
is. monasteries were located at different places in Maharashtra like
Kolhapur and Nandani in western region, hatur in Marathavada region and
Karanja and Nagpur in Vidarhha region in Maharashtra. Similarly it is
quite clear from literary evidences that from ancient times most renowned
and influential Jaina saints like Acharya Samantabhadra. Virasena.
Jinasena and Somadeva were intimately connected with Maharashtra also and
had composed their sacred works and literary masterpieces in this region.
Furthermore, it is remarkable to find that before the advent of Muslim
rule in Maharashtra, continuously from the 3rd century A.D. the powerful
ruling dynasties like the Satavahanas of Paithan, Cha~ukyas of Kalyan,
Rastrakutas of Malakhed, Yadavas of Devagiri and gilaharas of Kolhapur and
Konkan had extended their royal patronage, in a large measure to Jaina
As a result we find that the Jainas and the Jaina religion had a
prestigeous position in Maharashtra during the ancient and medieval
periods The same position is continued to the present day and in this
regard it is pertinent to note that the largest proportion of Jaina
population in India today is found in Maharashtra. According to 1981
Census of India, out of the total Jaina population of 32,06,038 in India,
the largest number of Jainas, viz. 9,39,392 are in Maharashtra and next to
Maharashtra the population of Jainas in other states is, Rajasthan
(6,24,317), Gujarat (4,67,768), Madhya Pradesh (4,44,960), Karnatak
(2,97,974), Uttar Pradesh (1,41,549) and Delhi (73,917). It means that out
of total Jaina population in India the largest,that is, 29.3 percent
Jainas are in Maharashtra followed by 19.5 percent in Rajasthan, 14.6
percent in Gujarat and 13.9 percent in Madhya Pradesh. In other words, as
many as 43.9 percent of the total Jainas in India are concentrated in
western India comprising the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. It is thus
evident that western India is the stronghold of Jaina religion.
4. JAINISM IN NORTH INDIA
When by 300 B C the migration of Jainas began from eastern India to
different parts of the country, one of their branches was firmly
established in north India from the middle of the second century B.C. and
was settled in the Mathura region. What gravana�belagola was to the Jainas
of South, Mathura, in the old kingdom of 9urasenas. was to the Jainas of
North. The numerous inscriptions excavated in this city tell us about a
wide-spread and firmlv estab�lished Jaina religion. stronglv supported hv
pious lay devotees and very zealous in the consecration and worship of
images and shrines dedicated to Lord Mahavira and his predecessors. As
these inscrip�tions range from the 2nd century B.C. to the 5th century
A.D., it is clear that Mathura was a stronghold of Jainas for nearly a
Another centre of Jaina activities in the North was Ujjayini. It was the
capital of Maurya Emperor Samprati who was the Jaina Asoka Since we find
several references to Ujjayini in the Jaina literature, it seems that the
city might have played an important role in the history of Jaina religion.
The archaeological and other evidences brought to light from different
parts of north and central India establish close relations of various
rulers with Jainism During the Mohammedan period Jainism could not get the
royal and popular support as it used to receive before but it succeeded in
holding its own without much trouble. Jainas even could secure some
concessions for their holy places and practices from the liberal minded
Vlughal emperors like Akbar the Great and Jahangir.
It is recorded that emperor Akbar was very favourably inclined towards the
Jaina religion. In the year 1583 A.D. he made animal 3laughter during the
Paryusana days a capital offence throughout his vast empire. This tolerant
policy of the Great Mohgal was revoked by his successor Jahangm. A
deputation of the Jainas which visited Jahangir in 1610 A.D. was able to
secure a new imperial fcrman or rescript under which the slaughter of
animals was again prohibited during the days of the Paryusana.
During the Mohammedan period, however. the Jainac particularly increased
in the native States of Rajputana, where they came to occupy many
important offices under the state as generals and ministers. In this
connection Col. Tod remarks that:
�The officers of the state and revenue are chiefly of the Jaina laity. The
Chief Magistrate and assessors of Justice in Udaipur and most of the towns
of Rajasthan, are of this sect. Many of the ancient cities where this
religion was fostered, have inscriptions which evince their prosperity in
these countries, wherewith their own history is inter�woven. In fine, the
necrological records of the Jainas bear witness to their having occupied a
distinguished place in Rajput society; and the privileges they still
enjoy, prove that they are not overlooked.� (Vide Col. Tod, J.: Annals and
Antiquities of Rajasthan, Vol. II, pp. 603-605).