Shri Raj Krishen Jain Memorial Lectures, graciously held every
year under the benign auspices of the University of Delhi and ably
organised by its prestigious Department of Buddhist Studies, have earned,
since their inception in 1975, a place of honour both among the
academicians in general and among the Jainologists in particular by
providing active encouragement to them to present before the scholars and
interested persons the outcome of their advanced research work in.
different aspects of Jainological Studies. As a result in these Lecture
Series eminent authorities like Dr. D.S. Kothari (New Delhi), Justice T.K.
Tukol (Bangalore), Dr. Nath Mal Tatia (Ladnu), Dr. T.G. Kalghatagi and Dr.
$.K. Khadabadi (Dharwad) and Dr. Kailash (�hand Shastri and Dr. Darbarilal
Kothia (Varanasi) did expound before enlightened audiences their
considered views and issues about their particular specialised fields of
Jaina Studies. Again it is quite noteworthy that these lectures have been
published in book forms for the benefit of students and general public by
the �Shri Raj Krishen Jain Charitable Trust, New Delhi� through whose
munificent donations the scheme of �Raj Krishen Jain Memorial Lectures�
was instituted in the University of Delhi.
Obviously I was very happy indeed to deliver on the 27th
September, 1991 in the Department of Buddhist Studies of the University of
Delhi a series of two lectures on �Jaina Society Through The Ages� under
the chairmanship of Prof. Dr. A.M. Shah, Head of the Department of
sociology, University of Delhi, since I did some pioneering work in the
field of studies of Jaina Society during the last forty five years as a
result of which studies on `Jaina People� now form an important part of
In the initial stages, the Jainological Studies were mainly
concerned with the studies in Jaina Religion and Philosophy� as they
formed the very basis of Jaina Culture. As a result it was earlier thought
that the Jainology was the study of Jaina Religion and Philosophy. But
soon the studies in �Jaina Literature� in different languages got
prominence as it had enshrined and preserved the knowledge about the
tenets, doctrines and practices relating to �Jaina Religion and
Philosophy�. In this way studies in Jaina Languages and Literature�
constituted another branch of Jainology along with that of studies in `Jaina
Religion and Philosophy�. Later it was realised that the studies in Jaina
Culture would be complete only with the studies of several forms of Jaina
Arts and Architecture as they had contributed to a great extent in
enriching and developing the different aspects of Indian Culture.
Consequently the studies in �Jaina Arts and Architecture� soon assumed the
status of a distinctive branch of Jainology.
Later it was keenly felt by scholars in Jainology that the
studies of �Jaina People� from Sociological point of view should be
undertaken in a scientific way as the Jain it Society had been mainly
responsible not only for the preservation but also for the development of
Jaina Culture and Indian Culture through all these centuries in an
uninterrupted manner and inspite of the fact that the Jainas constitute a
small minority in India. As a step in this direction work of a pioneering
nature was done by Dr. Vilas Sangave by submitting in 1950 his thesis
entitled �Jaina Community : A Social Survey� to the University of Bombay
for Ph. D. in Sociology. As a result of publication of this thesis in 1959
scholars in Social Sciences from India and countries of the West were
attracted to the study of various aspects of Jaina Society. 1 n fact,
there were two major considerations in selecting Jaina Society as a
separate subject of study by Social Scientists. In the first place, the
Jaina Society was the only society in the world which actually practiced
nonviolence in all its aspects and in all its activities. As such, the
Jainas were the only persons who represented the non-violent way of life
in this world of violence and destruction. Secondly, the Jaina Society had
preserved its separate identify and culture through all these centuries
inspite of the fact that the small minority community of Jainas had to
live amidst the other major communities of India.
In view of these pressing and important academic considerations
Social Scientists and especially Social Anthropologists, Sociologists and
Social Historians from different parts of the world began to devote their
serious attention to the study of Jaina Society from their particular
points of view. These specialised studies got impetus in 1974 due to the
world wide observance of 2500th Nirvana Mahotsava of Lord Mahavira and
then in 1980 due to the publication of the second edition of Dr. Bilas
Sangave�s pioneering book in the field, viz., �Jaina Community : A Social
Survey�. As a consequence, these studies in Jaina Society assumed the form
of inter-disciplinary studies-with actual field work attached to it in
some cases-and were carried out with devotion by the Universities and
Advanced Research Institutes not only in India but also in Western
Countries like England, France, Germany and U.S.A.
In this connection it is very gratifying to note that the old,
prestigious and well-developed Department of Social Anthropology of the
ancient and world-reputed University of Cambridge in England took the lead
in the matter, carried out extensive field works for studying different
aspects of social conditions actually prevailing in the Jaina Society at
present in different parts of India and England and even organised in June
1985 at Cambridge the �First International Seminar On Jainas As A
Community�. I had the pleasure of taking part in this seminar as a
resource person. This International Seminar of an inter-disciplinary
character was the first attempt to bring together for discussion the
leading Social Scientists, Orientalists and Jainalogists from different
parts of the world. In this fruitful seminar a number of useful research
papers were discussed and it is heartening to find that a large volume
based on these papers and discussions has been recently published by the
University of Cambridge (vide �The Assembly of Listeners: Jains in
Society�, edited by Michail Carrithers and Carolone Humphrey, Cambridge
University Press, 1991.).
In view of this position that the subject of studies in `Jaina
Society� has now got an international recognition and as I have been
continuously involved in different capacities in carrying out these
studies during the last five decades, I selected the subject of �Jaina
Society Through The Ages� for my lectures. During these lectures 1 dealt
with the significant features of Jainas as a minority, brought out the
social demographic position of Jainas in India, delineated the process of
division going on in the religious and social fields among Jainas, pointed
out the contributions made by Jainas to Indian Culture, explained the
causes of survival and decline of position of Jainas, and at the end
discussed the fundamental problems of vital importance with which the
Jaina Society is confronted at present.
I am indeed grateful to the constructive social leader, the
propagator of studies in Jainology, and the worthy Chairman of `Shri Raj
Krishen Jain Charitable Trust� Shri Prem Chandra Jain for giving me this
rare opportunity to deliver lectures on a new subject like `Jaina
Society�. My thanks are also due to him and to the members of his family
for providing kind hospitality to me during my stay in Delhi. It is again
really good of him to bring out these lectures in a book form in such a
record time and in a nice manner.
I also wish to express my feelings of gratitude to Prof Dr. K.K.
Mittal, Head of the Department of Buddhist Studies, University of Delhi
for sponsoring and organising these lectures in a fruitful way, to Prof.
Dr. A.M. Shah, Head of the Department of Sociology, University of Delhi
for presiding over the lectures and for presenting a critical appreciation
of those lectures, and to my friend and eminent scholar Dr. B.K. Khadabadi,
Retired Professor of Prakrit, Karnataka University, Dharwad for extending
every co-operation to me during these lectures as in the past.
My thanks are also due to the stuff of Rajaram College and
Shivaji University Libraries in Kolhapur for their ready help in all
respects and to Shri Mohan Patil for preparing a neat typescript of my
15th April, 1992.