life of The jaina community in medieval times
Along with the Hindus, the Jainas
are the oldest surviving religious community in India. Their identify is
confirmed by their distinct theology, philosophy, religio-socio-rituals,
literary traditions, etc. Certain other features of the community also deserve
to be remembered.
The basic profession of Jainas in
the historical period has been trade both local and long-distance. As a result
the community has been economically affluent.1 The naxus of the community with
business compelled its members to acquire some elements of literacy. It is not
an exaggeration to say that the community by and large has always been literate.
Literacy enabled them to keep alive the Prï¿½kï¿½ta and Apbhraï¿½ï¿½a, languages which
contain a large number of Jaina theological, literary and philosophical texts.
This is no mean achievement if we remember that over two millenia many languages
appeared in north India and were forgotten.
The strong element of literacy and
economic affluence has enabled the community to contribute to the corpus of
Indian art, painting and sculpture as well as architecture. They all have their
distinctiveness and enrich the diverse strands of Indian culture. It may also be
noted that the history of the Jainas like that of the Hindus can be traced
almost without a break since ancient times.
The social history of the community,
therefore, can be described on the basis of contemporary Jain texts,
theological, literary and philosophical, etc., as well as biographies of
religious teachers, and the leading lights of the community in Samskï¿½ta Prï¿½kï¿½t,
Apbhraï¿½ï¿½a and, a host of regional languages, Gujarï¿½tï¿½, Rï¿½jasthï¿½nï¿½, Hindï¿½
The corpus of literary sources can
be supplemented by a number of inscriptions found on Jaina temples, idols of
Tï¿½rthaï¿½karas, objects of worship in a number of languages. The Jaina presence is
also noted by contemporaries belonging to other faiths.
On the basis of the contemporary
sources, several accounts of the diverse activities of the community have been
published. They do not specifically refer to its social life but important
pieces of information about the life-style of Jainas can be derived from
The available sources for the study
of the social life of Jainas are diverse and plentiful.
In medieval times, among Saï¿½skï¿½ta
texts, mention may be made of Siddhichandra' Bhï¿½nuchandragaï¿½icharita, a
biography of Bhï¿½nuchandra, a ï¿½vetambara Jaina monk who spent considerable time
at the Mughal court under Akbar and Jahangir.2
Paï¿½ï¿½ita Jayasoma wrote a biography
of Karamachandra, a powerful Jaina minister of Akbar with a keen interest in
community affairs entitled "Karamachandra Prabandha" in V.S.
There are other contemporary texts
in Saï¿½skï¿½ta, which will be discussed subsequently. In Saï¿½skï¿½ta, we have a large
number of inscriptions either found on the pedestal of an idol/or foot-prints of
Tï¿½rthaï¿½karas or on the gates of places of worship. Sri P.C. Nahar published 2592
such inscriptions collected froma all over the country from
Besides these works in Saï¿½skï¿½ta we
have number of contemporary writings in Gujarï¿½ti, Rï¿½jasthï¿½nï¿½, Hindï¿½,
The Jainas were prolific writers of
'rï¿½osa' in Gujarï¿½tï¿½. Many of the important events have been covered in poetic
works such as ï¿½ishabhadasa's "Hiravijayasï¿½rirï¿½sa" (V.S. 1685), Dayakushala's
"Lï¿½bhodayarï¿½sa" (V.S. 1649) etc.
In Rï¿½jasthï¿½nï¿½ there are a number of
contemporary accounts of Jaina monks, their journeys, their role in religious
rituals, their relation with the laity and the rulers, their social welfare
activities, etc. These works do not specifically deal with social life but
valuable data regarding Jaina life-style, position of women, education system,
etc. can be gained from them.
In Hindi, the most important work is
by Banï¿½rsidï¿½s, a Jaina poet whose work Ardhakathï¿½naka is the first
autobiography, written in Hindi.
Many contemporary Jaina writings in
Hindï¿½ provide data about Jaina social life. Among these mention may be made of
the following works, all edited by Dr. K.C. Kï¿½slï¿½wala: Mahï¿½kavi Brahma
Rï¿½imall Evaï¿½ Bhaï¿½ï¿½ï¿½raka Tribhuvana Kï¿½rti (Jaipur, 1979), Kavivara
Bï¿½chï¿½raja Evaï¿½ Unke Samkalï¿½na Kavi (Jaipur, 1979), Bhaï¿½ï¿½ï¿½raka Ratnakï¿½rti
Evaï¿½ Kumudachandra Vyaktitva Evaï¿½ Kï¿½titva (Jaipur, 1981). etc. Important
information for the social life of Jainas can be gleaned from these
Several works published in the
present century (technically they an secondary sources), especially biographies
of Jaina preachers are primarily based upon manuscript sources found in
different Jaina Bhaï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ras and private possessions. They carry extensive
quotations from manuscripts. Many of them are no longer easily accessible to
researchers but the "quotes" can be used as primary sources. Among these mention
may be made of Sï¿½rï¿½shwara Aur Samrï¿½ta4 and Yugapradhï¿½na Srï¿½
Vinantipatras6, peculiar to Jaina community, are
valuable sources for their social history. They were basically invitation
letters sent by the community residing at a particular place to Jaina monks to
come to their place, participate in religious ceremonies and deliver public
discourses. From the seventeenth century onwards they were illustrated with
miniature paintings, depicting secular life. Besides naming influencial members
of the community they depict market scenes, forms of entertainment, dresses and
ornaments worne by men and women.
Other sources distinctive to Jainas
which are of help include 'Paï¿½ï¿½ï¿½valï¿½s' 'Guruavï¿½valï¿½s' and 'Vaï¿½ï¿½avalï¿½s'. They are
genealogical trees of ï¿½chï¿½ryï¿½s of different sects and include information on
their origin and their famous disciples. They are generally dated and help us in
establishing the correct chronology of men and events.
Along with the basic data gleaned
from the above-mentioned sources, contemporary Persian language texts and
official documents throw light on relationship between the Mughal rulers and the
Jainas. Both Akbar and Jahangir issued firmans7 in favour of the Jain community and Jahangir mentions
them in his autobiography Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri.
Spread : The Jainas
were basically concentrated in Gujarï¿½ta and Rï¿½jasthï¿½n and in the neighbourhood
of Delhi but as traders they traversed the length and breadth of the country.
Individual Jainas were to be found in most of the trading marts of Western India
and important commercial centres of North India extending from the Punjab and
Sindh in the West to Bengal in the East8. They had a strong presence in
cities of modern Madhya Pradesh such as Raï¿½thaï¿½bhora, Gwalior, Burhanpur,
etc.9 A Jaina trader built a temple in
Chaul10 on the West coast of
Under the Great Mughals, from Akbar
onwards, the Jainas spread all over north India. One sovereign ruler from
Afghanistan to the Bay of Bengal and from Kashmir to Maharashtra, one set of
laws, uniform currency, royal mint houses in every provincial capital,
considerably reduced the discomforts faced by traders, engaged in inter-regional
trade. The Jainas took advantage of the favourable environment to expand their
business and fanned out in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal as well as in Sindh
and the Punjab.
The economic policies pursued by
Akbar helped Jains to intensify their business activities. Akbar announced that
land revenue would be collected in cash. The peasants in the country-side were
motivated to sell a part of their produce in the market and commercialization of
agriculture and monetization of economy gained momentum. There was an overall
increase in trading activities which promoted Jain migration and penetration
into the rural areas.
The entry of Jainas into villages
was facilitated by another factor. In times of crop failure (not infrequent in
preindustrial societies), the peasants were forced to borrow money from the
traders which boosted the business of money-lending, carried on by Jainas along
with trading activities.
Finally, the policy of religious
toleration followed by Akbar11 and largely adhered to by his
successors enabled Jainas to activate themselves in different parts of the
Empire. They were particularly happy when Padmanandi became the first Jaina monk
to be invited to Akbar's court12. He was followed by Hï¿½ravijayasï¿½rï¿½
and Jinachandrasï¿½ri. All of them were warmly welcomed by the Mughal ruler. Jaina
traders now flocked to Agra, which was fast developing into the most important
tradint mart of north India. A sign of heightened Jaina presence in Agra was the
consecration of an idol of the tenth Tï¿½rthaï¿½kara Lord Sï¿½taanatha here in the
Akbar's policy of establishing
politico-marital alliance with the Rï¿½jputa chieftains of Rajasthï¿½n contributed
to Jaina emigration from Rï¿½jasthï¿½n to other parts of the empire. Many Rï¿½jputa
rulers were inducted in the Mughal army as commanders and asked to lead military
expeditions to annex new territories. The Rajput chief asked Jainas to accompany
them as suppliers of provision and keepers of accounts during their
Mï¿½na Singh of Amber, who conquered
eastern India on behalf of the Mughal ruler Akbar was accompanied by several
Jainas, including Shï¿½h Nï¿½nï¿½, who served him as Dï¿½wï¿½n14. After eastern India was annexed,
Nï¿½nï¿½ stayed back in the provincial capital Rï¿½jï¿½mahalï¿½ and built Jaina temples at
holy places in Bihar, such as Sammed Shikhara, Champï¿½pura (modern Bhagalpur) and
on several occasions went on pilgrimage with a Saï¿½gh.15 He invited Muni Gyï¿½nakï¿½rti to
Rï¿½jamahal (then known as Akbarpur) - the capital of Bengal and
In the seventeenth century, when the
English, Dutch and other Europeon companies began operating in north India the
opportunities in trade and related spheres of money changing, banking and
insurance expanded. The Jains, especially of Rï¿½jasthï¿½n, took full advantage and
played and achive role in economy of Eastern India.
Under Diwï¿½nï¿½ Dhannï¿½ Rï¿½i, five
hundred 'Shrï¿½mala Vaiï¿½yas' were employed for the collection of taxes in eastern
India in the reign of Akbar. Poet Banï¿½rasï¿½dï¿½sa's father Khaï¿½agasena also served
The thriving economy of eastern
India in the second half of the
seventeenth century continued to attract Jainas The most important person
to emigrate was Hï¿½rï¿½nanda Shï¿½ha, the fore-runner of the House of Jagata Seï¿½ha.
He came to Patna in 1652 in the reign of Shah Jahan17. His successors flourished and
became so affluent that the Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar conferred on his
grandson, Seï¿½ha Fateh Chand, the title of Jagata Seï¿½ha18. By then he had mover over to
Murshidabad, the capital of Bengal. For the next half century, the House of
Jagata Seï¿½ha dominated the economy of the region.
The spread of Jainas in eastern
India is further confirmed by the fact that the idols of Jaina Tï¿½rthaï¿½karas were
installed in the city of Dacca in 1675, then the capital of the Sï¿½bï¿½ of
In North-West India, besides Agra
and Delhi, the Jainas moved to Lahore and Multan, besides some other places. In
Multan, (a great commercial mart and the gateway to Iran, Afghanistan and
Central Asia), mostly oswal Jains
were found. Vardhamï¿½na Navalakhï¿½ was the leading figure. He was in contact with
poet Banï¿½rasï¿½dasa20. They were reported to have
migrated from Osia in Rï¿½jasthï¿½n an in pursuit of trade.21
Yugapradhï¿½na Jinï¿½chandrasï¿½rï¿½ visited
Multan and was accorded a warm welcome by his followers. He then journeyed to
Jaisalmer which was connected by trade route to Multan22.
Jainas were also to be found in
Sindh. It is said that when a severe famine visited Gujarat in the thirteenth
century, the Jainas of Sindh helped to relieve the distress of the common
It is clear that the Jainas resided
in most of the prominent trade centres of northern, central and western
It should not however be construed
that they were primarily an urban community. At least in Rajasthan and Gujarat,
a number of Jainas resided in villages or in small towns, Jainas monks who
travelled from Gujarat to Agra or Delhi in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries received warms welcome from followers, residing in villages and small
towns situated on the way. However, as traders, their main concentration was
always in urban areas.
Structure of the community : In spite of professing a common
religion and bound by vows to practise non-violence, the Jainas were divided
into a number of sects and sub-sects since ancient times. The first sectarian
division brought into existence the ï¿½vetï¿½mbara and Digambara sects in the time
of Bhadrabï¿½hï¿½, more than century and a half after the death of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra24. In course of time, both the sects
split up again and again, giving rise to a number of
For example, the Bhaï¿½ï¿½ï¿½raka
traditions among the Digambaras, are supposeds '...to begin from the thirteenth
century A.D...25. These sects enjoyed a love-hate
relationship, sometimes cordial, sometimes bitter. 'Srï¿½bhï¿½ï¿½aï¿½a of Nandï¿½gachha
had worst relationship with Vadichandra of Balï¿½tkï¿½rï¿½gaï¿½a, but Indrabhuï¿½ana of
the same line had good relations with all'.26
The sub-groupings in the saï¿½gha have
been continuously going 27 on. For example, Balï¿½tkaragana was
first mentioned in the IIth century A.D., while Yï¿½panï¿½ya Saï¿½gha developed in the
fifteenth century in the South.28 The Sï¿½rï¿½ tradition has eighty-four
Among ï¿½vetï¿½ï¿½baras in the fifteenth
century Launkï¿½ Shï¿½h spoke against idol-worship and excessive ritualism. In the
seventeenth century, the Terï¿½panthï¿½s among the ï¿½vetï¿½ï¿½baras emerged as a force in
Rajasthan and they vehemently criticized pomp and show in religious worship.
They number as much as the other ï¿½vetï¿½ï¿½baras and hence, are sometimes considered
besides the Digaï¿½baras and ï¿½vetï¿½ï¿½baras, the third largest grouping among the
It seems that the inter-sectarian
tensions had increased after the fourteenth century. Earlier as ï¿½chï¿½rya
Jinaprabhasï¿½rï¿½ shows in "Vividha Tï¿½rthakalpa" both ï¿½vetï¿½mbaras and Digaï¿½baras
visited the same places of pilgrimage, went to the same temples and worshipped
the same idols.33 Laity and monks of both the sects
often travelled together.34
Along with sectarian divisions, the
Jaina society was also charcterised by caste-system, prevalent among the
system : The caste
system had entered among the Jainas right from the time of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra.35 It continued to develop and in the
fifteenth century the Digaï¿½bars were supposed to be divided into eighty-four
In the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, the division of Digaï¿½bara Jainas into eighty-four castes is
repeatedly stressed37. Brahma Gulï¿½la writing in the
seventeenth century asserted that Jainas were divided into eighty-four
In actual practice, the number of
castes among Digaï¿½bara Jainas was more than eighty-four39. In the town of Jhunjhunu alone,
Jainas belonging to thirty-six castes were to be found.40 In the last quarter of the
seventeenth century in ï¿½nandpur (Rajasthan) there were thiry-six castes of
It appears that the figures
eighty-four and thirty-six were purely notional : they simply indicated
profusion of castes.
According to Brahma Rï¿½imalla, the
Khaï¿½ï¿½elawï¿½la caste dominated Raï¿½athambhor, Sï¿½ï¿½bhar and Delhi while the Agrawï¿½las
were numerous in Delhi and Jhunjhunu.42 Chï¿½ksu was mostly inhabited by
Jainas of Khaï¿½ï¿½elï¿½wï¿½la caste.43
It is also clear that many castes
appeared and disappeared.44
An essential constituent of Hindï¿½
caste system is gotra. This was also present among the Jainas. The
prevalence of caste system, gotra and idol-worship, made the Jainas
almost identical with the Hindus.
Hindus : The
similarity to the Hindus was evident in many social rituals as well. The
marriage ceremony was conducted by a Hindï¿½ priest before the sacred
fire.45 Hirï¿½nanda Shï¿½ha called his Brï¿½hmina
priest from Rajasthan for performing the various socio-religous
The Jainas like the Hindus believed
that birth determined the caste and there was a hierarchy in the caste
Once in a while some Jainas would
worship Hindï¿½ gods and goddesses. Poet Banï¿½rasï¿½dï¿½sa worshipped the idol of ï¿½iva
in the hope of acquiring riches and protection from future
Like the Hindus, the Jainas also
considered the prevention of cow-slaughter as an act of great socio-religious
merit. Samayasundara during his visit to Sidhpur in Sindh obtained from the
local Muhammadan administrator Shaikh Kï¿½zï¿½ an order prohibiting killing of cows
Like the Hindus, the Jainas also
cremated their deceased relatives.
In view of similarities in several
socio-cultural rituals, outsiders were unable to distinguish between Hindus and
Jainas. Since the Jainas were mostly traders, they were regarded as a part of
the Hindu Vaishya community.50 The Hindus and Jains lived
harmoniously. Very rarely relations between the two soured but it was a
temporary phenomena. During the reign of Madhosingh in Jaipur (1751-1761) Jains
were persecuted. Eventually an order was issued which laid down the payment of
compensation for losses which the Jains had suffered.51
An important feature of the Jain
social structure was that in spite of all conservatism and respect for
tradition, it was not closed to others. Hindus from Rajput and other castes were
always coopted into the fold of the community. There was a long tradition of
Rajput families becoming Jains.52
The Rajputs of the Village Biholi
impressed by the preachings of a Jain Muni accepted Jainism. It was in one such
family that Banarsidas, the famous Hindi poet, was born.53
The forefathers of Muhnot Nainsi,
the famous historian of the seventeenth century, were Rathor Rajputs. One of
them Mohan became Jain and it was in his line that Nainsi was
Bhanuchandra, a reputed Jain monk,
who lived at the court of Akbar and Jahangir and whose biography was written by
his disciple Siddhichandra in Sanskrit was originally a Hindu Vaishya before
being initiated into Jainism.55
Some of the Hindus, who had
converted to Jainism, were accepted into the monastic order. They were trained
in Jain theology and socio-religious practices. Occasionally they rose to high
ranks in the monastic order.
During the severe Gujarat famine of
1650-32, Jain monks converted several orpahn boys to their faith to swell the
ranks of their coreligionists. This practice was condemmed by the famous Jain
Inter-sectarian Tension : The caste
divisions in the community were accepted; sectarian differences however caused
considerable tension. Sometimes they became so intense that royal intervention
was sought by the feuding parties.
In the reign of Jahangir, the
controversy about Dharma Sagar's book 'Sarvajana Shatak', which had been banned
by Hiravijayasuri was brought before the Emperor by Nemisagar Upadhayay. After
hearing both the parties, the Emperor advised them to patch up.57
Members of the Lomka sect complained
to the Emperor that the Jains of Tapi gachchha led by Shantidas, the famous
merchant of Ahmedabad shunned interdining with them. Shahjahan, however, refused
It should be noted that the access
of Jain monks to the highest imperial authority from Akbar onwards was dued to
their high level of learning and scholarship.
The tradition of according high
place to scholarship in the monastic order among the Jains was assiduously
cultivated in the medieval age. Many of the Jain Acharyas or Munis were great
scholars and authors. Their knowledge of Jain and Hindu theology, philosophy,
mathematics, astronomy, astrolgy, etc., was profound. They were multilingual,
well-versed in Sanskrit, Prakrit and local languages. 59 Many of them were authors and poets
in several vernacular languages. They were encouraged to study grammar, poetics,
logic, etc. Some of them became musicologists as well.
The great respect commanded by Jain
monk in the society as much due to their position in the monastric order as well
as due to their great scholarship. Of course their austere and pure life-style brought to
them much praise from different sections of the society.
As among the Hindus so among the
Jains, the scholarship of an individual was judged the degree of proficiency he
had acquired in Sanskrit language and literature since this was the language of
higher learning. Jain scholars would not consider their education complete
unless they had mastered Sanskrit.
The Jain scholars studies Sanskrit
because its knowledge enabled them to study seminal books on subjects like
literature, grammar, poetics, logic, six-schools of Indian
philosophy,35 mathematics, astronomy, astrology
medicine, etc. Also, many of the works on Jain theology as was the case with the
Hindu and Buddhist theology, were written in Sanskrit. Furthermore, thus
equipped, the Jain monks could discuss and debate theological questions with
Hindu Pandits and also with members of rival sects.60 Public disputations were
Mahamahopadhyay Samaysundar in the
seventeenth century was a great scholar of grammar, literature, poetics, logic,
and several vernacular languages. He was a musicologist as
well.61 He wrote a commentary on Mammat's
"Kavyaprakash", considered to be a very difficult text.62
Another Jain monk, Jinarajsuri was
awarded the title of Acharya in VS 1674. He was a reputed scholar of Jain
theology, literature and logic. He wrote 14 books on different
Samaysundar's disciple Harsanandan
was also a reputed scholar of 'Navyanyay'. He authored 12 books, one of which
'Madhyam Vyakhyan Paddhati' was on public-speaking64 an art highly developed by Jain
monks, since they were regularly called upon to preach to their
Jain writings have enriched a number
of branches, such as travel and biography.
writings : It was
customary for Jains to write biographies of their renowned religious teachers
and partons. Undoubtedly, most of these biographies were hagiographical in
nature but they contain a lot of information about the contemporary society. For
example, some of them describe in detail the journeys undertaken by the Munis
and Acharyas. They refer to the tumultuos welcome accorded to them by the
community and also the role of the leading members in organising these
The places covered during the
journeys undertaken by Mahamahopadhyay Samaysundarji included Multan, Maroth,
Sidhpur, Deravar in Sindh, Labore, Sarjpur, Pirojpur, Kasur in the Panjab, Agra,
Akbarpur, Bibipur, Sikandarpur in Uttar Pradesh, Sanganer, Chatsu, Mandova,
Merta, Bikaner, etc. (34 places) in Rajasthan, Nagdah, Navanagar, Sauripur,
Girnar, Satrunjay in Saurastra and Palanpur, Idar, Ahmedabad, Khambhat, etc.
(20) pleaces in Gujarat.66 Obviously, Gujarat and Rajasthan
had the largest Jain population in India.
The high level of scholarship
attained by several Jain monks was the outcome of a deliberately planned policy
on education. Though no formal educational institutions for higher studies
existed, yet the deserving and the meritorious were meticulously given all the
opportunities to learn. Normally education was begun at the age of six or seven
and rich parents distributed money in charity to celebrate the
occasion.67 The students were. put in an
institution known as Chatsala68.
Among the monks Guru-shisya
parampara was followed. A knowledgeable senior monk attached to himself a
young acolyte or a bunch of promising youngsters and chalked out a programmes
for his/their education. It was the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that
the student imbibed the necessary learning. He formulated the curriculm and the
time-frame in which to complete the studies. It was the teacher who certified
that the stuedent had successfully completed the course of study laid down for
him.69 He bestowed upon him the
appropriate designation, Upadhyay, Mahamahopadhyay, Acharya, etc. The occasion
was duly celebrated by the community with pomp and splendour indicating the
community's appreciation of the achievement of the student and his
Samaysunder studied with monks
Mahimraj and Samayraj70. The books he studied included
'Siddhahemasabdanusasan', Anekarthasangrah, Vishvasamphunamala, Kavyaprakash,
Panchmahakavya'. He was also asked to read books on Jain
theology.71 Works on Jain theology such as
'Gommatsara' and 'Astasahasri' were intensively studied.72
Along with classical studies, the
Jain monks also developed expertise in vernacular languages and literatures
because they had to communicate their message to lay followers through regional
languages. Though the majority of the audience was literate, very few were
trained in classical languages. The Jain contribution to the growth of
vernacular languages and literature, in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, etc.
is immense. Other subjects studied were medicine, knowledge of mantras,
examination of precious stones, attributes of good elephants and horses,
In view of the fact that the Jain
Munies, Acharyas, etc., had to function as teachers as well, they all tried to
collect as many books as possible. The Jain Acharyas started depositories of
manuscripts at various places. When Akbar handed over to Hirvijayasuri the books
left by the late Muni Padmasundar (the first Jain monk at the court of Akbar),
he immediately established a 'Grantha Bhandar' (book depository) in Agra and
kept these books there.74
Jain contribution to vernacular
literatures : It should be noted that many of the languages in this area during
XVI-XVII Centuries were in a state of formation. In many ways the Jain scholars
gave shape to them.
The Jain contribution in the
formation of modern Hindi language and literature deserves our notice. A list of
Jain writers in Hindi during this period is provided by Nemichand
Shastri75 and Kamta Prasad
Jain76. The part played by Bhattarak
Ratnakirti in this respect is praiseworthy.77
A characteristic of Jain writings in
vernacular languages in medieval times may be noted. On many occasions the Jain
writings show a mixture of languages : Rajasthani, Gujarati and
Apbhramsa.78 They also wrote in Brajbhasa or
Brajbhasa mixed with other regional languages. Chhihal's poem 'Panch Saheli
Geet' shows a mixture of Rajasthani and Brajbhasa.79
The Jain penchant for a mixed
language can be explained. The Jains mostly belonged to Gujarat, Rajasthan,
Punjab, Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh, etc. In important commercial marts they
lived together. To convey to them their message, the Jain monks had perforce to
use a mixed language.80 Vadichandra, who lived in
mid-seventeenth century of the Vikram era, wrote Hindi mixed with
the process many of the Jain monks acquired proficiency in several vernacular
One aspect of Jain writings needs to
be stressed; they generally avoided 'Sringar ras', the dominant influence on
literary works in the age.83 Chhihal's poem 'Panch Saheli Geet'
was full of 'Sringar ras' but the poet was never vulgar84.
The Jain writings were basically
devotional, spiritual and didactic. Besides, many writings in vernacular
languages were adaptations From Sanskrit, Prakrit and Apbhramsa texts. Many Jain
writers were simultaneously writing in vernacular languages as well as in
Sanskrit and Prakrit. To a large extent, this put a limit to their
Many of their writings in vernacular
languages were prompted by the demand of the laity. Subhachandra, who was
annointed Bhattarak in V.S. 1573 wrote "Tatvasaar Duha" at the bidding of his
lay disciple Dulha.85
Yashovijayji wrote both in Sanskrit
and Gujarati.86 It is said that there has been no
shcolar of the calibre of Yashovijayji among Jains since then.87
Another distinguished scholar of
Sanskrit and a poet of middle ages was Meghvijayji. He is reported to have
memorised all important Sanskrit Mahakavyas (epic poems). He was well-versed in
Philosophy and write a book on Sanskrit grammar "Hemakaumudi."88 He also wrote a commentary on
"Sidhahemachandrashabdanushasan" in order to make it easily understood by the
beginners.89 His "Saptasandhan Mahakavya"
contains biographies of seven persons and each word has seven
Along with the monks, the Jain laity
also contributed to the development of vernacular literature. They studied
theological literature, with the help of some knowledgeable person. Chaturmal
studied 'Harivamsa Puran and other Jain puranic literature with Dhawal Pandit in
the late seventeenth century of the Vikram era.91 Banarsidas studied with Pandit
Devadas at the age of fourteen astronomy/astrology, literature and Jain
theology. Later on, he read with Pandit Bhanuchandra poetics,92 dictionaries, religious ritual
associated with Jainism, etc.93
The greatest piece of secular
writing in Hindi produced by a Jain during this period was Banarasidas's
authobiography, Ardhakathanak, the first autobiography written in
Hindi94. The book has been widely acclaimed
by scholars and historians as it is a trustworthy mirror of the age in which the
author lived95. He candidly wrote about
contemporary business practices, the tyranny of officials and the hardships
faced by the common man.
Another secular theme touched by
Jains was life in urban centres. Nahar Jatmal of Lahore wrote "Lahor Ghazal" had
described the city and the pattern of life in minute details96. This genre became popular among
Jain authors. Brahm Raimall described around nineteen towns in his
The city of Agra has been depicted
by several Jain scholars. "Yasodharcharit" carries a detailed account of
Agra98. Jain poets in regional languages
have described the affluence of medieval Agra.99 Sanskrit works by Jains have
descriptions of several urban centres.100
Gwalior, a stronghold of Jains in
the early sixteenth century under Mansingh Tomar was compared to 'Swarna Lanka'
or 'Golden Srilanka'.101
The Jains were writers of
dictionaries. Samaysundar while at the court of Akbar was taunted about the Jain
proverb that one formula has 'numberless meanings'. After sometime in V.S. 1649,
Samaysundar presented to the Emperor his self-written book which contained ten
lakhs meanining of eight letters' : ï¿½UÊ¡ï¿½ ï¿½ï¿½ ï¿½ï¿½ÃŠ
Champavati or Chaksu, an important
seat of the Bhattaraks, has been repeatedly described in Jain
Banarsidas compiled one of the first
dictionaries in Hindi 'Banarasi Nam Mala' at the request of his friends
Narotamdas Khabra and Thakur Khabra.103
The Jains took keen interest writing
the biographies of their preceptors and patrons. Samaysundar wrote a poem on the
meeting of his teacher Jinachandrasuri with Akbar.103a "Karmachandra Prabandh" is the
biography of Jain minister of Akbar, who also evinced great interest in the
well-being of the community by arranging receptions to visiting monks, by
organising pilgrim parties to Jain holy places and by winning concessions for
the community members from the political authorities.104
Jain authors also wrote on
scienrific subjects. Bhagwatidas is the author of "Vaidyavinod", a book on the
Hindu system of medicine, Ayurveda in the reign of Shah Jahan.105 The same author during his stay in
Hissar completed "Jyotisara", a treatise on astrology.106 Jayakirti, a disciple of
Harsanandan, was well-versed in astrology and wrote a book on the
subject.107 The proficiency of Jains in
astronomy was such out Sawai Jaisingh, ruler of Jaipur (1699-1743), a great
student of astronomy, used to consult Vidyadhar, a Jain scholar on this
An important feature of Jain social
life was that even women patronised and promoted book writing and/or
transcription. At the bidding of Bai Mathura, Bhagwatidas transcribed
"Navankkevali", a religious text.109
The common man because of regular
interaction with the learned monks developed an inclination to debate and
discuss the finer points of their religion. The inquisitive members formed
saili or a circle of like minded persons.
Such a Saili had come up in
Agra where Banarsidas and his friends under the influence of anti-idolatory,
anti-priestly and anti-ritualistic movements in the Hindu society, questioned
these practices in their own religion. They became founders of Terapanth within
the fold of Digamber Jainism.110
The prominent members of this
saili were Sanghi Jagjivan, Kunwarpal, Pandit Hemraj, Ramchand, Sanghi
Mathuradas, Bhawaldas and Bhagwatidas. After the death of Banarsidas,
Jagjivanram collected all his writings and put them together in a work
'Banarsivilas'.111 The discussions were not confined
to religious and spiritual topics. Banarsidas read 'Madhumalti' and Mrigabati'
to a small group of lovers of literature during evenings at
Agra.112 Banarsidas initiated within the
Jain community a profound revolution which had been earlier convulsed by Lunka
Shah during the 14th-15th centuries. Its impact continued to be felt centuries
after his passing away.113
An indirect result of the emergence
of these sailis was the promotion of study of subjects such as logic,
philosophy, grammar, etc., among common men.114 This point needs to be emphasized
as higher education was supposed to be the preserve of the religious
These sailis had no organised
structure. They became popular in the towns of Rajasthan and Uttar
The Jain society during the
middle-ages was in a state of intellectual ferment. This was partially reflected
in the continuing debates (oftentimes public) between protagonists of different
Jinachandrasuri defeated Dharmasagar
in Patan in V.S. 1617 in an open debate and thirty leading citizens belonging to
various Jain sects signed a declaration announcing his victory.116 In another public disputation he
got an upperhand over a scholar at Rajnagar.117 In V.S. 1642 in Jalor he forcefully
argued in favour of his doctrinal position before the votaries of
In V.S. 1625, Sashikirti was locked
in a public discussion with Buddhisagar, a proponent of Tapagachha in
Agra and was judged to have won. On this occasion scholars like Pandit Aniruddha
Mishra and Pandit Mahadeo Misra were also present.119
These public debates were a
regularly feature of Jain social life as they were divided into several groups
and each sought to justify itself and tried to justify its ideological and
ritual position. Of course, sometimes the followers of rival sects disturbed the
functions of each other.120
Furthermore, India being a
multireligious society, sometimes the Jain monks were called upon to defend
their faith against the exponents of other religions.
Hirvijayasuri was called to Agra by
Akbar to explain the tenets of Jainism because the Emperor was restless to know
what religion was all about and for the purpose summoned leading theologians of
Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism to
Shantichandraji, who accompanied
Hiravijayasuri to Agra, was a scholar of repute and a great debater. He was
known to have scored over several scholars in public disputations. At the court
of Idar, he matched his debating skill with a Digambar Jain Bhattarak,
Vadibhusan and was judged to have been the winner. On another occasion, in the
presence of the Jodhpur ruler, he was declared successful against a Digambar
Jain Acharya Gunachandra.121
Shantichandra's scholarship greatly
impressed his teacher Hiravijayasuri, who left him at the court of Akbar, when
he proceeded to Gujarat at the end of his visit to Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar also
The public as well as the Mughal
emperors Akbar and Jahangir held the Jain monks in great respect for their
erudition, debating skills and persuasive public discourses. Muni
Jinachandrasuri of Khartargaccha also won the favour of both the
emperors. The latter honoured him and conferred upon him the title of
'Yugapradhan'.122 To celebrate this announcement
Minister Karmachandra Bachchawat spent 'hundred million
Muni Jinchandrasuri's successor,
Srijinarajsuri was respectfully received by Emperor Shah Jahan in V.S. 1686 in
Agra. Sundardas, a Jain poet lived at the court of Shah Jahan. The emperor
honoured him first by bestowing upon him the title 'Kavirai' and then
Honours publically conferred upon
Jain monks considerably raised the prestige of community in the society as well
as in the eyes of Mughal officials. Both would respect the beliefs and
sensibilities of the community. Hasankuli Khan, the chief of Nagor, respectfully
received Srijinachandrasuri when he entered into the town.125
Whenever a monk would receive a
public honour, the community would celebrate it with pomp and ceremony. The
affluent members would spend lavishly. This would increase the social prestige
of such persons. Spending on such and other religious and social occasions was a
socially acceptable and laudatory practice. When Srijinarajsuri was annointed
Acharya, one of his disciples Srimaldeo held a Nandi Mahotsav with great
Whenever the Acharyas performed any
important religious ritual, the rich disciples would spend vast sums. In V.S.
1614, Sangram Singh met the expenses of Kriyoddhar function performed by
As traders, brokers and bankers,
most of the Jains were always in close touch with the producing sections in the
society, especially the craftsmen. In Burhanpur, the main commercial centre in
Khandesh, Jain temples, Upasrayas, Pratisrayas (resting places for Jain monks)
were constructed in Kansar-Patakas (Kansarpadaï¿½the locality of
The strong element of literacy
enabled some members of the Jain community to serve in the various rumps of
administration under the Mughals and local chieftains. They were small, middle
level and high functionaries. Karmachandra served Akbar as a
When Mansingh went to conquer
eastern India on behalf of Akbar he was accompanied by a large number of Jains,
who served the administration as accountants, tax-collectors,
In Rajasthan, Mewar was always
served by the family members of the house of Bhamashah in top capacities. Muhmot
Nainsi rose to be the prime-minister of Jodhpur. He was the writer of 'Muhmot
Nainsi Ri Khyat' and Marwar Ka Pargana Ki Vigat' two important sources for
writing the medieval history of Jodhpur and Rajasthan. These top officials in
the state also led the armies in war and the cult of non-violence did not come
in their way in the discharge of their duties.130
Since the Jains use educated, some
of men earned fame as writers and poets. A number of these works were written at
the request of friends. For example, Thakursi in early sixtenth century wrote
poems "Parsvanath Shakun Sattavisi' in Registhani and 'Meghmalakaha' in
Apbhramsa at the bidding of his friend Mallinath in V.S. 1578 and V.S. 1580
Those who were associated with
bureaucracy acquired proficiency in Persian. Muldas, the grandrather of
Banarsidas and employee of a Muslim administrator in Malwa kenw
Depositories : The
spread of literacy and the cause of scholarship in the community was promoted by
another social value extensively practised by the members of the
Both men and women devotees, not
part of the monastic order, if they could afford, ordered transcription of
important texts and these were then distributed as gifts among the members of
the community. The monks, as a part of their education were assigned the work of
transcription of books.131 This was considered to be an act of
religious merit. Apart from preserving the Jain texts, this practice created a
wider circle of readership, promoted intellectual inquiry and emphasized the
impotance of literacy as an important social value, not only for the monks but
also for the laity. As the end the transcribed manuscript not only the name of
the person who had ordered the transcription was recorded but also his deeds
were praised132 Shah Karma got a transcription of
Jindas's Holirenuka Charitra' prepared in Ranthambhor and be offered the copy to
Achary Lalitkirti.136 The practice of transcription of
books was fairly widespread. Hundreds of books transcribed beween V.S. 1601 and
V.S. 1640 in Rajasthan are available in various Jain Granth
As a result wherever there was a
significant Jain community, ''Grantha Bhandars' or depository of books emerged.
All important Jain Upasrayas, Chaityalayas were also book depositories. These
'Grantha Bhandras' succeced in preserving Jain writings over the
It was a great incentivr towards the
spreadd of literacy133 propagation of works by Jain
authors and pureswatin of books written in the past.135
women : Literacy
and the exposure to the wider world made the community's outlook on the position
of women much more liberal than other contemporary
The women enjoyed an honoured place.
They were accepted in the monastic order138 and shown as much reverence as the
male monks. The pains they took and the efforts they made for the propagation of
the religion was socially appreciated.
They accompanied the 'Sangha' or the
collectives, which were organised to visit Jain holy places. Once in a while
they also organised such Journeys. Lalli a female Jain devotee led a
congregation of Jain devotees to the holy mountain of
Satrunjay.139 In V.S. 1646, when Bhattarak Ratna
Chandra led a Sangh to Babanganj Sidhakshetra (Chulagiri), several women formed
part of the contingent.140
The women also constructed temples,
Upsrayas and Pratisray.141
After the ceremonies connected with
the installation of temples idols/religious symbols concluded, the Acharya
annointed the forehead of these who had convened this function with sandal
paste. The women were not excluded from such ceremonies. When Acharya Ratnakirti
led Sangha for pilgrimage to Girnar where Neminath attained Kaivalya and
Satrunjay mountains, he was accompanied by all the four categories of devotees,
monks, aryikas (women members of the monastic order), sravak (male
devotees) and sravikas (female devotees). Tejabai ( a woman) was the
organiser of the Sangh. She had been initiated into the order by
Ratnakirti.143 Acharya Ratnakirti honoured Gopal
and his wife Bejalde by annointing their foreheads with sandal
paste.144 In V.S. 1647, Yugaapradhan
Srijinchandrasuri initiated a women devotee Kodam into the
order.145 In V.S. 1697, Dhaunade, wife of
Shah Natha and mother of Shah Karmasi was admitted into the monastic order and
administered twelve vratas by Mahamahopadhyay
The women also commissioned
transcription of religious books for distribution among devotees and monks in
order to earn religious merit and social prestige. Thakursi and his wife Lakhan
had a copy Bhattarak Sakalkirtis "Yasodhar Charit" transcribed. They presented
it to Brahm Raimall in V.S. 1630.147
There were even women transcribers
of books. A copy of 'Parsavanathras' was prepared by a woman disciple Parvati
Gangawal at the bidding of her teacher Bai Ratnai in V.S. 1722.148 This instance shows that Jain
women, especially those who joined the monastic order were, sby and large,
literate. This raised their status within the society.
An indication of high status enjoyed
by women is the fact that a Jain lady Larkibai was a part of the three member
delegation sent from the port of Diu to invite Hirvijayasuri.149
Many images of Jain Tirthankars or
their symbols installed for worship carried inscriptions to the effect that they
had been erected to earn religious merit for wife or mother or for both the
parents of the devotee.150
An idol of Hiravijayasuri was
erected by his lay devotees of Cambay, Pauma and his wife Panchi, and year after
he passed away. An inscription at the pedestal attests to this
Since the women played an active
role in the socio-religious life of the community, they were not segregated or
put behind veil as was the case with upper-caste Hindu women. When Acharyas were
welcomed by their devotees, women formed part of the congregations. They sang
devotional songs in his praise. the Jain society escapped the purdah
system which prevailed among high caste Hindus in medieval
But many other disabilities which
afflicted Hindu women can be traced in the Jain society as well. For example men
could have a number of wives and could remarry after death of their wives.
Abhayraj, the father of Jagjivan, a close of friend of Banarsidas, had a number
of wives. Jagjivan was born from the youngest wife Mohande.152
The poet Banarsidas married
thrice.153 Child marriage was in vouge.
Banarsidas was betrothed at the age of nine and was married when he was eleven
years old.154 After the death of his first wife,
he married her sister.155
Fasting, as laid down by Jain
religious practices, was generally undertaken by women. 'Meghamala', a fast
undertaken by women during the rainy season was continued for five seasons
consecutively and thereafter it was given up in a ceremony called
'udyapan'. In case this could not be done, women had to continey the fast
for the next five years.156
The high status enjoyed by Jain
women appears, at first glance, to be paradoxical since Jainism laid great
stress on Brahmacharya or abstention from sexuality. They considered women as an
obstacle in the path of realisation of the self. Nevertheless, in actual
practice, women enjoyed high respect, as mother, as wife or a member of the
By and large, it could be said that
Jain social life largely veered round their religious festivals, rituals as
prescribed by the monastic order to which they belonged. As a result certain
social norms had evolved to which people tried their best to
Whenever a person was inducted into
the monastic order, the members of the community belonging to the particular
sect organised a public function (Diksha Samaroh) and lavishly spent money on
the festivities. Ratnakirti was annointed as his chief disciple by Bhattarak
Abhayanandi in V.S. 1630. The expenses concerning the ceremony were met by
Sanghapati pakshik, his wife and sons.157
Whenever a higher rank, Upadhyaya,
Mahamahopadhyay or Acharya was conferred upon any member of the monastic order,
his disciples organised public functions ot honour him. The devotees went round
the city in processions with musical instruments playing, multi-coloured
banners, elephants, horses, chariots etc.
The visit of an Acharya to a
particular area for participating in a religious ceremony for installing idols
in temples, or for inducting someone into the monastic order or for taking rest
during long journeys or for spending the Chaturmas (the four months of rainy
season) were special occasions for the disciples. Apart from listening to their
discourses, they celebrated it with gaiety. Members of the community, residing
in mearby places participated in these functions and listened to the preachings
of the monks.
When Hiravijayasuri was on way to
Fatehpur Sikri at the invitation of Akbar, he halted at Merta. Groups of his
devotees from Nagor and Bikaner came and worshipped him.158
At the orders of Akbar, Thansingh,
Amipal, Bhanushah and other affluent Jains came down to Sanganer to
ceremoniously receive Hiravijayasuri. They organized a procession with horses,
elephants, chariots, etc., and escorted him to the town with great
While Hiravijaysuri stayed at
Akbar's court, Shah Sadarang of Merta celebrated the occasion by distributing
thousands of rupees among the poor and needy in charity. He also donated horses
and elephants.160 One of these elephants was
purchased by a Mughal for 100 gold mohurs.161
Tejpal Soni, a resident of the port
town of Cambay and a devotee of Hiravijayasuri, spent twenty-five hundred rupees
in a day when the saint visited the place in V.S. 1646.162 Organising lavish functions during
visits of saints and during the performance of religious rituals and meeting
expenses had beome a part of the life-style of affluent Jains. This won them the
esteem of their co-religionists and raised their status.
Santi Das, the great merchant of
Ahmedabad in the reign of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, constructed a grand temple
and spent lavishly on religious functions.163
Durjansal had constructed a temple
at Lahore and another at Burhanpur.164
Sanghvi Sangram Singh, a minister at
the court of Bikaner and a devotee of Srijinachandrasuri dedicated several Jain
images and erected temples in Jain holy places in Bihar in V.S. 1666, 1688, 1702
and 1707.165 He had invited the Acharya to spend
the Chaturmas in V.S. 1621 in Bikaner.166
Certain social functions, such as
celebration of marriages or birth of a son were also marked by lavish spending
The display of wealth was very
prominent especially when marriages took place. The bridegroom donned ornaments
and the members of his party were well-dressed. They out on mascara in their
eyes, had betel-leaves in their mouth and their foreheads were annointed with
saffron and sandal paste.167
Musical instruments were played when
the bridegroom and his party proceeded to the bride's residence168. The bridegroom usually mounted a
horse and a lavish feast was arranged in honour of the guests by bride's
The custom of presenting dowry to
the bridegroom by the bride's party was common. Of course, the type of dowry
depended upon the economic status of the bride's family. Besides ornaments and
dresses, elephants, horses. male and female servants were also given as part of
the dowry 170
A lavish feast was arranged on the
occasion of marriage and a variety of food including several types of sweets was
It was a part of Jain religious and
social ethos to accompany their revered Gurus whenever they started on a
pilgrimage. Of course, the rich followers met all the expenses of the party and
arranged for the safety and creature comforts of the travellers. After the
return of the Sangh from pilgrimage, the organiser usually hosted a feast for
the community members.172
In V.S. 1649, Hiravijayasuri decided
to visit the holy places on Satrunjay hills. He was accompanied by thousands of
devotees, both men and women from the neighbouring towns of Patan, Radhanpur,
Palanpur, Ahmedabad, Cambay, etc. As the news of his pilgrimage spread, more and
more devotees from Malwa, Mewar, Marwar, South India, Bengal, Cutch and Sindh
came to pay their respects to the Muni and to join the party.173
It seems that with the passage of
time musical and dancing performances were organised as a part of celebration of
When in V.S. 1721 Subhachandra
assumed the chiefship of the monostic order, festivities took place in which
music and dance performances regaled the audience.174 On such festive occasions community
feasts were held. We have reference to one such feast in Surat in VS
In the Vijnapatipatras of the next
century, we have paintings depicting scenes of musical and dancing
The Jain community had accepted
music to such an extent the many songs and poems written during this period
indicate the 'raga' in which they should be sung.176
In V.S. 1644, when a pilgrimage
party started for Siddhachal from Bikaner, it was joined by another from
Ahmedabad which included Yugapradhan and Sanghpati Yoginath and Somji. As the
party continued its journey, more and more pilgrims hailing from Mandover,
Sindh, Jaisalmer, Sirohi, Jalor, Saurashtra and Champaner,176a attached
Hiranand Mukin organised a Sangh for
visiting the holy place of 'Sammed Shikar'. The event has been mentioned by
Banarsidas. Kharagsen, Banarsidas's father went on a pilgrimage with a Sangh in
V.S. 1661. Since the early middle ages, under the influence of
Tantricism,177 the Jains did believe in astrology,
auspicious moments and miracles. All their religious functions and important
life-cycle rituals were held on
days and time considered auspicious. Important activities were stated at
'auspicious times'.178 For fixing auspicious time and date
they consulted the monks. Hence, many monks studied astrology as
The Jains also believed in miracles
and the chanting of Mantras to ward off evil, to acquire wealth and for
fulfilment of desires. The tradition was rooted in the
Acharya Jinaprabhasuri had deeply
impressed Muhammad bin Tughluq by showing him miracles.179 Yugapradhan Srijinachandrasuri by
chanting Mantras ensured that the Mughal army would not attack the town of
Nadloi, because it was made to lose its way.180 In the town of Falaudi as the
Yugapradhan reached before, the ancient temples of Parsvanath, its locked doors
locks had been put on by the members of the rival
It was held that when the town of
Chaksu by Ibrahim Lodi, it was saved from pillage by the grace of the idol of
Parsvanath, which was held in high esteem.182
impressed Akbar by his miraculous powers.183
The Jain monks conducted special
religious functions to ward off evil influences of heavenly bodies for the
welfare of their devotees. While at Lahore, at the request of Akbar, Mahimraj in
V.S. 1648 performed the 'Ashotari Shantsnatr' for the health of the newly born
daughter of Prince Salim. The king spent one lakh of rupees and when 'Arti'
signifying the end of the Puja was performed, Prince Salim offered ten thousand
Banarsidas chanted a mantra acquired
acquired from a holyman daily for one-year in the hope that after this was over,
he would find 'one dinar daily at his door steps'.185 Of course, nothing of the kind
for the fulfilment of wishes,
pilgrimages were undertaken Kharagsen, the father of Banarsidas twice visted
Rohtakpur ki Sah as a pilgrim praying for the birth of a son and Banarsidas was
In their everyday life, the Jains
tried to practise the cult of non-violence. They refrained from meat eating and
killing of all living beings. Vegetarianism was a part of their religious social
ethos, which they actively preached and propagated and held to be an integral
part of their existence.187 They extened their respect of life
to even insects, birds and animals.
For the well-being of birds and
animals the Jains established Pinjrapoles, where the sick and the diseased
animals were treated.187a One such hospital for animals and
birds was started in the late eighteenth century in Chandni Chowk in Delhi and
is still functioning.
The Jain Eversion to the public
killing of birds and animals was sometimes exploited by unscrupulous persons to
earn some quick money. European travellers to Gujarat in medieval times report
that some mischievous persons would take a bird and threaten to kill it before a
Jain unless the person concerned paid him to desist from this 'act' Jains
usually paid moeny to 'avert' this mischief.
Despite their unique lifestyle, the
Jains did not avoid socialising with members of other communities. They, of
course refrained from dining with others. But apart from this restriction, they
socially mixed with the Muslim nobility and royalty188. European christian traders and
others. Such close contacts were necessary for furthering their business
interest as also for winning the esteem of their coreligionists and other
sections of the society. This interaction brought them closer to the higher
echelons of the ruling circles and also enabled them to secure concessions for
In Jahangir's time, Hiranand Mukim
was one fo the richest persons in Agra. He once invited the ruler to his
Chand Sanghvi, a rich trader
presented to Jahangir, a valuable diamond ring and requested him to confer upon
him ten bighas of land as Madad-in Maash grant in the pargana of Khambhat, so
that he could construct a monument in honour of his guru, the late Vijasensuri.
His request was accepted.190
Some Jains also served as personal
officers of Muslim nobles, Abhayraj was a Diwan of Jafar Khan in Agra. The
latter held the rank of 5000 under Shah Jahan.191
The Jains had close relations with
European christians. Father Monserrate, the Jesuit priest at the court of Akbar
recounts an incident in which two christians were sentenced to death on the
charge of spying. Two local Jain traders intervened. They secured the release of
the accused persons after paying a ransom of one thousand pieces of
The Portuguese highly valued the
Jains for their business acumen. Linschoten, a Dutch visitor to Goa at the end
of the sixteenth century, found a street inhabited by the Gujaratis. It is quite
possible that among these Gujaratis, there were Jains as
The Portuguese had granted religious
toleration to the Jains in their Indian possessions.193 Virji Vora allowed Khwaja Minaz, an
Armemian Christian to purchase broad cloth on his behalf.193a
The Jains consciously refrained from
wine-drinking, gambling and prostitution. The three evils were repeatedly
denounced and individuals were exhorted to shun them.194 In fact, Jain social code of
conduct laid down that they would refrain from seven habits or 'Sapt Vyasan'
viz. gambling, meat eating, wine drinking, prostitution, hunting, thieving and
extra-mariatal relations. Poet Thakkursi denouched them in his poem 'Sapt Vyasan
Shatpada195. His other work 'Vyasan Prabandh'
incorporating the teachings of Muni Dharmachandra reitenerates the prohibition
on the above seven habits.
The evils of prostitution and
extramarital relations were emphasized since they ruined individuals and were
not uncommon. Even Banarsidas admits having indulged in these activitie, which
made him bankrupt.196
The rich Jains didi not shirk their social responsibility when disasters like
famine or external aggression hit the society.
The concern for social
responsibility was reflected in the conduct of Virji Vora, based in Surat,
reportedly the greatest merchant in India in the seventeenth century. When there
was a famine in Surat, he gave away large sums of money in charity and also
distributed gram to the hungry. In his old age, he gave up worldly pursuits and
retired to a monastery.197
The Jains, despite their distinctive
life-style were well integrated into the local society. Their dominant role in
the economy was accepted by all groups of traders and the ruling authorities.
Hence, some of the great Jain traders of the times were chosen to protect and
promotet he business interests of the local business community. Such an
organisation was named 'mahajan' and its chief was called 'Nagar Seth'. Shanti
Das, the great merchant of Ahmedabad enjoyed this status.198. He would negotiate on behalf of
the merchants with the ruling authorities and take necessary steps to protect
In medieval times the Jain community
continued to uphold their socio-religious norms but this did not come in their
way in conducting their business with other groups belonging to different
religions in the country. However, like other groups in the society, they too
failed to perceive the usefulness of getting acquainted with European knowledge, science and technology. In
spite of interacting so closely with the Europeans, they did not show any
curiosity to understand the socio-economic and cultural milieu of the Europeans.
They could not get out of the shell of conservatism and backwardness which had
enveloped the Indian society.
1. Dr. Jyotriprasad
Jain Pramukh Aitihasik Jain Purush Aur Mahilayaen (hereafter cited as
Pramukh New Delhi, 1975
2. M.D. Desai (Ed),
Bhanuchandraganicharit, Ahmedabad, 1941.
3. P.C. Nahar,
Jain inscriptions (Jain Lekha Sangrah) Vols. I, II, III, Calcutta, 1918,
4. Muniraj Sri Vidya
Vijayji, Surishwar Aur Samrat Akbar Krishnalal Varma (tr. into Hindi),
Agra, Virsamvat 2450.
5. Agarchand Nahta
and Bhanwarlal Nahta, Yugapradhan Sri Jinachandrasuri (in Hindi)
(hereafter cited as Yugapradhan) Calcutta, Vikram Samvat
6. B.L. Nahta,
"Vijnaptipatra of Udaipur", Jain Journal, (henceforth cited as JJ)
July 1972, pp. 10-18; Surendra Gopal, "Social life in Gujarat and Rajasthan in
the 19th centuryï¿½as revealed in a scroll of invitation", JJ, January
1972, pp. 105-109; Idem, "Vijnaptipatra, A source for the Social History of
Jains In The 19th Century", Proceedings, Indian Historical Records
Commission, Madras, XL Session, pp.1-3.
7. Some of the
firmans have been published in Appendix to Surishwar Aur Samrat, pp.
Kasliwal, Kavivar Buchraj Evam Unke Samkalin Kavi (in Hindi) (hereafter
cited as Buchraj), Jaipur, 1979, P.11. Buchraj, though a Rajasthani,
spent most of his time in the Punjab. He completed his work "Santosh Jai Tilaku'
in V.S. 1591 in Hissar.
Kasliwal, Mahakavi Brahma Raimall Evam Bhattarak Tribhuvankirti (in
Hindi) (hereafter cited as Raimall,) Jaipur, 1978, p.13; Buchraj,
10. Surishwar Aur
Samrat, p. 263.
Yugapradhan, p. 56
12. Surishwar Aur
Samrat, p. 92; Yugapradhan, p. 66.
13. Rama Kant Jain,
"The Builder of the Garden Temple", JJ April 1976, p.
15. Ibid, pp.
17. J.H. Little,
The House of Jagatseth, calcutta, 1967, p. 6.
18. Ibid, p. VII. The
title was conferred upon him in A.D. 1722
19. D.C. Sarkar,
"Jaina Temples in East Bengal in the Seventeenth Century", JJ, January 1975, pp.
21. K.C. Kasliwal,
Khandelwal Jain Samaj Ka Brihad Itihas, Jaipur 1989, pp. 55-56 (hereafter
cited as Khandelwal Jain Samaj...)
Yugapradhan, pp. 111, 115.
23. Muni Jinvijayaji,
Jain Itihasnsi Jhalak (in Gujarati), (hereafter cited as Jain
Itihasni..., Bombay, 1966, p. 49.
24. Dr. Ravindra
Kumar Jain, Kavivar Banarsidas (in Hindi), Varanasi, 1966, pp.
25. V.P. Johrapurkar,
Bhattaraka Sampradaya, Sholapur, 1958, p. II.
26. Ibid, pp. 10,
Jain Samaj..., Ch 2 entitled "Sangha Bhed or Sectarian
28. Ibid, pp. 26,
Yugapradhan, p. 8.
30. Ravindra Kumar
Jain, p. 43.
31. Ibid, p.
32. Ibid, p.
Tirth-Kalp, Agarchand Nahta and Bhanwarlal Nahta (trans), Varanasi, 1978, p.
Jain Samaj..., pp. 28-29
36. Ibid., p.
37. Ibid, pp. 30,
38. K.C. Kasliwal,
Bhattarak Ratnakirti evam Kumudchandra (hereafter cited as
Ratnakirti), Jaipur, 1981, p. II.
Jain Samaj..., p. 45.
Raimalla, p. 21.
Ratnakirti, p. 20; Buchraj, p. 124.
42. Ibid, p.
Jain Samaj.., p. 47.
Raimall, p. 100.
46. Little, p.
47. Dr. Hukamchand
Bharill, Pandit Todarmal Vyaktitva Aur Krititava, Jaipur, 1973, p.
48. Ravindra Kumar
Jain, pp. 12, 96, 97.
Kriti-Kusumanjali (hereafter cited as Samaysunder) Agarchand Nahta
and Bhanwarlal Nahta (eds) Calcutta, V.S. 2013, p. 21.
Todarmal, p. 16.
51. Ibid, pp.
Itihasni..., p. 56.
53. Ravindra Kumar
Jain, P. 86.
54. Ram Narain Dugad,
Muhnot Nainsi Ki Khyat, Vol. II, Allahabad. V.S. 1991,
Bhauuchandraganicharit, p. 59.
Samysundar, p. 27.
Bhanuchandraganicharit, p. 21.
Mughal Firmans, M.S. Commissariat (Compiled),
59. K.C. Kasliwal
(ed), Mahakavi Brahma Raimall Evam Bhattarak Tribhuvankirti, Jaipur,
1978, pp. 8, 36-37.
60. Veer Shasan Ke
Prabhavak Acharya, p. 212.
63. Ibid., pp.
64. Ibid., pp.
Bhanuchadraganicharit and Ambalal Premchand Saha (ed), Digvijay
Mahakavya, Bombay, 1945.
66. Samaysundar, p.
67. Brahma Raimall,
pp. 52, 101.
p. 191, Ravindra Kumar Jain, p. 89.
69. Ravindra Kumar,
Samaysundar, pp. 13-14.
71. Ibid., p.
Ratnikirti, p. 75.
Raimalla, p. 275, Bhattarak Ratnakirti studied Ayurveda). Ratnakirti,
pp. 43, 80.
Itihasni..., p. 173.
Shastri, Hindi-Jain-Sahitya Parishilan, Banaras,
76. Kamta Prasad
Jain, Hindi Jain Sahitya Ka Sankshipt Itihas, Kasi,
Shasan..., pp. 194-95.
78. Kamta Prasad
Jain, pp. 82, 100, 101, 109, 126.
Ratnakirti, p. 33.
82. Ibid., p. 84;
Poet Raimall wrote in Hindi and Rajasthani. Brahm Raimall, p.
Todarmal, p. 36-38.
84. Ibid, p.
86. Kamta Prasad
Jain, p. 152.
Itihasni..., p. 196.
88. Ibid., p.
89. Ibid., p.
92. Ravindra Kumar,
Ardhkathanak, Nathuram Premi (ed), Bombay 1970.
95. Ravindra Kumar
Jain, Kavivar Banarsidas, Varanasi, 1966.
96. Dhirendra Varma
and Brajeshwar Varma, p. 484.
Raimall, pp. 115-136.
98. Kamta Prasad
Jain, p. 127
Ratnakirti, p. 31.
Meghavijaygani Digvijaymahakavya, Bombay, 1945, pp. 117-25; Idem,
Devananadmahakavya, Bombay, 1937.
101. Buchraj, p.
102. Ibid, p.
Samaysundar, p. 69.
103. Ravindra Kumar
Jain, pp. 124, 131.
Yugapradhan, p. 81
"Karmchandra-Mantri-Vans Prabandh" quoted in Yugapradhan, p.
Sampraday, p. 231.
Samaysundar, pp. 45, 78-79. The name of the book is "Diksha-
Pratistha Suddhi". It was approved by Samaysundar.
Todarmal, p. 33.
Sampraday, p. 232.
Bharilla, Pandit Todar Mal : Vyaktitva Evam Krititava, Jaipur, 1973, pp.
21, 22, 58.
Ratnakirti, pp. 26-27.
112. Ravindra Kumar
Jain, p. 103.
Todarmal, p. 19.
Todarmal, p. 59.
Ardha-kathanak, pp. 27-28.
Yugapradhan, p. 26; Samaysundar, pp.
117. Ibid., p.
118. Ibid., p.
119. Ibid. pp.
Todarmal, pp. 24-25.
Itihasni..., p. 179.
Yugapradhan, p. 11.
Samaysundar, p. 10.
Tribhuvankirti, p. 29.
Yugapradhan, p. 46.
126. Ibid, p.
127. Ibid, p.
Bhanuchandraganicharit, p. 45.
129. Ramnarayan Dugad,
Muhnot Nainsi Ki Khyat, Vol. II, Allahabad V.S. 1991, pp. 1-2,
Budhraj pp. 253, 255; 130b. Ravindra Kumar Jain, p.
Raimall, P. 11. Raimall during his stay in Delhi concentrated on
132. Ibid., p.
134. Ibid., p.
136. Ibid., p.
137. Ibid., p.
Yugapradhan, p. 50.
Bhanuchandraganicharita, p. 49.
Ratnakirti, p. 87.
Bhanuchandraganicharita, p. 45.
Ratnakirti, pp. 45-46. In V.S. 1643 the Acharya annointed Tejbai,
Jaimal, Meghai, Manbai, etc. in the town of Bardoli.
Ratnakirti, p. 100.
144. Ibid., p.
Yugapradhan, p. 54.
Samaysundar, pp. 28-29.
Raimall, p. 102
Ratnakirti, p. 20.
149. Surishwar Aur
Samrat, p. 277.
150. P.C. Nahar,
Jain Inscriptions, II, No. 1677.
151. Surishwar Aur
Samrat, p. 6.
Ratnakirti, pp. 26-27.
154. Ibid., p.
155. Ibid., p.
156. Ravindra Kumar
Jain, p. 85.
Ratnakirti, p. 43.
Itihasni..., p. 170.
160. Ibid., p.
161. Surishwar Aur
Samrat, p. 258.
162. Surishwar Aur
Samrat, p. 260.
163. A History of
Gujarat, Vo. II, pp. 140-141.
164. Surishwar Aur
Samrat, p. 256; Bhanuchandraganicharit, p. 45.
165. P.C. Nahar (ed)
Jain Inscriptions, Vol. I, nos. 176, 196,
Yugapradhan, p. 45.
Raimall, p. 100.
168. Ibid., p.
170. Ibid., p.
Ratnakirti, p. 79. A list of popular food is given in Bhattarak
pp. 181, 251.
Itihasni..., p. 176.
Ratnakirti, p. 92.
175. Ibid., p.
176. Ibid, pp. 114,
116, 181-190. The ragas mentioned are Maruni, Sarang, Mallar, Nat Narayan,
Bhairav, Kalyan, Kalyan Charchari, Desakh, Dhanyasi, Sri, Ashavari, Godi,
Parjiu, etc., The songs written by Buchraj in seventeenth century of the Vikram
era were set to different ragas. Buchraj, p. 39.
Yugapradhan, pp. 53-54
Todarmal, p. 14.
Raimall, p. 53.
Tirth-Kalp, pp. 18, 23, 32, 33.
Yugapradhan, p. 47.
181. Ibid, pp.
pp. 240, 253.
Yugapradhan, pp. 95-97.
Samayasundar, pp. 13-14.
185. Ravindra Kumar
Jain, pp. 11, 94.
186. Ibid., p.
Makrand Mehta, Indian Merchants and Entrepreneurs In Historical
Perspective, New Delhi, 1991, p. 98.
188. In fact Jain
respect for Islam had a history. In the 13th century a Jain merchant Jagdu had
built a mosque for Muslims in the port town of Combay. V.K. Jain, Trade and
Traders in Western India, Delhi, 1990, p. 79.
Ardhakathanak, vv. 224, 241, 142, Hiranand Mukhim was also a poet
of Hindi. Ratnakirti, p. 40.
190. Surishwar Aur
Samrat, p. 395.
Ratnakiriti, p. 27.
The Commentary of Father Monserrate, New Delhi, 1992, pp.
193. Surishwar aur
Samrat, p. 262.
Makrand Mehta, p. 44.
195. Ibid, p.
196. Ravindra Kumar
Jain, pp. 92, 93, 94.
197. K.H. Kamdar
"Sadavrat" (in Gujarati), Vinela Moti, Vol. V, No. 1, Baroda, 1968, pp.
198. Makrand Mehta, p.
199. Ibid., pp.