Hemachandra compiled four lexicons: 1 Abhidhanachintamani a lexicon in the
same style as the Amarakosa: 2. Anekarthasangraha, a dictionary of
homonyms: 3. Nighantu, a dictionary of medicinal plants: 4. and
Deshinamamala, and dictionary of (native) words not derivable by the rules
of Sanskrit of Prakrit grammars.
Besides these, Hemachandra also wrote on Poetics Kavyanushasana, Prosody (Chandonushasana)
Naya, (Pramnamimansa). Yogashastra, etc. He also composed some devotional
Jayasinha, the ruler of Gujarata, did not have a son; and therefore, there
was no direct heir to the throne of Gujarat. Until his last days, however,
he hankered for a son. For this purpose he had once gone to the temple of
Somanath on pilgrimage. Hemachandra had accompanied him to this temple.
Hemachandra and the Jain ministers of Jayasinha wanted that in the absence
of a son, Kumarapala who was a descendant of Jayasinha's father's step
brother, should succeed him. All the Jain ministers and rich merchants
were therefore secretly helping Kumarapala whom Jayasinha himself
disliked. When on the death of Jayasinha (AD 1143) Kumarapala actually
succeeded him, he was deeply grateful to the Jains.
Hemachandra became a life long friend and adviser of Kumarapala. All the
Jain historians of the period say that under his advice Kumarapala
prohibited the killing of animals in his Kingdom, and became a Jain
himself. It is quite apparent that he loved Jainism: but as K. M. Munshi
says, "Kumarpala never foreswore his ancestral faith" and "all the
epigraphical evidence describe him as a devotee of Shiv".14
However, the fact remains that in northern India there have been few kings
as friendly to the Jains as Kumarapala.
Kumarapala died in 1173. Hemachandra had died six months before
The Jain influence has, however remained strong in Gujarat all these
centuries. The Jains have produced not only many learned men, but they
have also continued to build magnificent temples all over the state at
such sites where the hand of the idol breakers would not easily reach.
In Abu, Vimala Shaha, the minister of the Chaulukya ruler Bhima had built
the famous temple of Rishavanatha in 1032. Exactly 200 years later, two
brothers Vastupala and Tejapala, built the famous temple of Neminatha here
in 1232 . The old temple of Neminatha at Girnar (3,000 ft) was restored in
1278. The Shatrunjaya hill (about 2000 ft.) at Palitana was covered by
innumerable Jain temples throughout the ages. One of them, the Chaumukah
temple of Adinatha was built in 1618.
The Svetambaras of the neighboring area of Rajasthan also were great
builders. The large and beautiful temple in Ranakpur near Sadri in the
Pali district was built in 1439. It covers an area of over 4000 square
meters. Dharanaka ordered to build it and is dedicated to Adinatha. In
Osia (Jodhpur district) also they continued to build temples for many
centuries. Osia is said to be the original home of the Osavala Shvetambara
A school of miniature paintings flourished among the Jains of Gujarat from
the 11th to the 16th century. It consisted mainly in the illumination of
manuscripts. In the earlier centuries these manuscripts were on palm leaf,
and later on paper. The most popular work for illumination was the Kalpa-Sutra.
(Later the art was taken up by the non- Jains also and Krishnalila scenes
became their favorite subjects. Near about the 16th century secular
subjects, mainly love scenes, were also painted.)
In the earlier period the backgrounds of the paintings were brick-red, but
from the 15th century there was lavish use of blue and gold. The
characteristics of the Jain paintings are: angular faces in 3/4th profile,
pointed nose, eyes protruding beyond the facial line and abundance of
(The Gujarat painters in still later centuries became the fore-runners of
the Rajput school of Paintings.)
Hira Vijay Suri
Among the Jain learned persons of the 17th century the greatest was Hira
Vijay Suri of Gujarat. In Ain 30 of his Ain-i-Akbari, Abul Fazl gives a
list of 140 learned persons of his time. Of these 140, he places 21
persons in the first class: "Such as understand the mysteries of both
worlds." Nine of these 21 were non-muslims. They were15 1. Madhu Sarsuti
2. Madhusudan 3. Narayan Asram 4. Hariji Sur 5. Damudar Bhat 6. Ramtirth
7. Nar Sing 8. Parmindar 9. Adit. Thus Hira Vijaya Suri (name wrongly
transliterated by Blochman as Hariji Sur) was recognized as one of the 21
most learned people in the Mughal empire.
Akbar heard of him from some local Jains of Fathepur Sikri and was anxious
to meet him. He sent orders to Sihabuddin Ahmad Khan, Governor of Gujarat
that Hira Vijaya Suri should be sent to Fatehpur Sikri when it was
possible, and all possible help such as escorts, and elephants and horses
as conveyances should be provided to him.
Hira Vijaya Suri16 was born in an Osavala family in Palanpur in Gujarat in
1527. His parents had died when he was still an infant, and he was brought
up by his two elder sisters. He became the disciple of Vijayadana Suri in
1540 at the age of 13, and a new name Hira Harsh was given to him. He was
taken to Devagiri- a center of Sanskrit learning in those days, for
further education. He successively won the title of Pandit in 1550,
Upadhyaya in 1552 and Suri in 1553. This last title he won at Sirohi.
Hence-forth he was known as Hira Vijaya Suri. In 1556 when his guru died,
the Shvetambara community of Gujarat selected him as their bhattaraka.
There was a great rejoicing among the Jains of Ahmedabad, when the
Emperor's order was received. Many other learned Jain sadhus decided to
accompany the Suri to the capital. The Jain rules for the ascetics provide
that they should live only on that much cooked food that a householder
would give him out of the good cooked ordinarily for his household. But
there would not be that many Jain households all along the way from
Ahmedabad to Fatehpur Sikri to give alms to this large Group of sadhus
(said to have been 67) accompanying Hira Vijaya Suri. Some householders
therefore also traveled with this group. They would leave earlier than the
sadhus in the morning, travel some distance and cook the daily food under
a tree on the roadside, and wait for the party of sadhus to arrive there.
Naturally, Hira Vijaya as a strict Jain ascetic did not avail of the
elephants provided by the Governor of Gujarat but traveled on foot all the
Hira Vijaya Suri entered Fatehpur Sikri on Jyestha Krishna 12, in AD 1582.
"The weary traveler was received with all the pomp of imperial pageantry,
and was made over to the care of Abul Fazl until the sovereign found
leisure to converse with him. After much talk upon the problem of religion
and philosophy, first with Abul Fazl and then with Akbar, the Suri paid a
visit to Agra. At the close of the rainy season he returned to Fatepur
Sikri, and persuaded the emperor to release prisoners and caged birds, and
to prohibit killing of animals on certain days. In the following year
(1583) those orders were extended, and disobedience to them was made a
capital offense. Akbar renounced his much loved hunting and restricted the
practice of fishing. The Suri, who was granted title of Jagad-Guru or
world teacher returned in 1584 to Gujarat by way of Agra and Allahabad.".17
One of the learned persons who had accompanied Hira Vijaya Suri to
Fatehpur Sikri remained at court. His name was Bhanu Chandra. It may be
mentioned, that Bhanu Chandra (as Bhan Chand) and an other Jain Vijayasena
Suri (as Bijai Sen Sur) are included in Abul Fazl's list of "The learned
Men of the Time". He placed them in the fifth class. "The fifth class are
bigoted, and cannot pass beyond the narrow sphere of revealed testimony."
In other words, Bhanu Chandra and Vijya Sena were learned in the Jain
Shvetambara texts, but did not have the width of vision which the learned
men of the first class like Hira Vijaya Suri had.
Abul Fasl has quite a long18 and detailed chapter about the Jain religion
in his Ain-i-Akbari. He might have received much of this knowledge from
Bhanu Chandra. He wrote "The writer has met with no one who had personal
knowledge of both orders and his account of the Digambaras has been
written as it were in the dark, but having some acquaintance with the
learned of the Shvetambara order, who are also known as the Sewra he has
been able to supply a tolerably full notice."19
It is noteworthy that until the beginning of the 17th century we do not
hear of any learned Digambaras in northern India. Learned Jains had been
working in the court of Delhi even before the Mughals also. One Thakkar
Pheru was the assayer of the treasury of Alauddin Khalji (1316) and later
became mint-master during the reign of Qutubuddin Mubarak (1320). He wrote
a treatise on astrolabes, the Yantra Raja. Writing his commentary on this
book Mahendra Suri's disciple Malayendu Suri said, "The book was written
by Mahendra Suri who was Chief Astronomer (Astrologer) of Firuz" (Shah
Both Thakkara Pheru and Mahendra Suri appear to have been Svetambaras.