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Bal Patil

Irecently attended the Conference on Religions in Indic Civilisation at New delhi from 18th to 21st Dec.2003, organised by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in collaboration with the International Association for the History of Religions and India International Centre when I presented my Paper on the Rise, Decline and Renewals of Sramanic Religious Traditions within Indic Civilisation with particular Reference to the Evolution of Jain Sramanic Culture and its Impact on Indic Civilisation. 

Here are the details:









Member, Maharashtra State Minorities Commission,

Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai


Conference on

Religions in Indic Civilisation

New Delhi

December 18 -21, 2003

Organised by

Centre for the Study of Developing Societies

in collaboration with

International Association for the History of Religions and

India International Centre,

New Delhi









Member, Maharashtra State Minorities Commission,*

Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai



lmost all the scholars agree that Jainism has Pre-Aryan roots in the

cultural history of India. As Dr. A. N. Upadhye remarked . .The origins of

Jainism go back to the pre-historic times. They are to be sought in the

fertile valley of Ganga, where they flourished in the past, even before the advent

of Aryans with their priestly religion, a society of recluses who laid much stress

on individual exertion, on practice of a code of morality and devotion to

austerities, as means of attaining religious Summum Bonum.. (Jainism by

Colette Caillat, A.N. Upadhye & Bal Patil, Macmillan, 1974)

The late Heinrich Zimmer, who is reputed to have been the greatest German

Indologist of modern times, in his celebrated posthumous work, The

Philosophies of India, conceded that there is truth in the Jain idea that their

religion goes back to a remote antiquity, the antiquity in question being that of the

pre-Aryan, so called Dravidian period, and that Jainism is the oldest of all

Dravidian born philosophies and religions. He also psychologically demonstrated

that Jain Yoga originated in pre-Aryan India, and has nothing to do with orthodox

Brahmanism which simply appropriated it in later centuries.

Noel Retting, another Indologist, writes, "only in Jainism, of all the living religions,

do we see a fusion of the primitive with the profound. It has preserved elements

from the first stage of man�s religious awareness, animism. It affirms the

separateness of spirit from matter, even though our modern philosophers and

religionists regard neither form of dualism as untenable. Despite the opinion of

these men, Jainism is fundamentally scientific. And, it may very well be, contrary

to the opinions of many anthropologists and students of comparative religion, the

oldest living faith." And, Professor L. P. Tessitory is of opinion that "Jainism is of

a very high order. Its important teachings are based upon science. The more

the scientific knowledge advances the more the Jain teachings will be proven".



In fact, the Jain system of thought is so wonderfully consistent with modern

realism and science that one may easily be tempted to question its antiquity,

about which, however, there is now no doubt. As Dr. Walthur Schubring

observes, "He who has a thorough knowledge of the structure of the world

cannot but admire the inward logic and harmony of Jain ideas. Hand in hand

with the refined cosmographical ideas goes a high standard of astronomy and

mathematics." Dr. Hermann Jacobi also believes that "Jainism goes back to a

very early period, and to primitive currents of religious and metaphysical

speculation, which gave rise to the oldest Indian philosophies. They (the Jains)

seem to have worked out their system from the most primitive notions about


In the Buddhist scripture Majjhima Nikaya, Buddha himself tells us about his

ascetic life and its ordinances which are in conformity with the Jain monk.s code

of conduct. He says, "Thus far, SariPutta, did I go in my penance. I went without

clothes. I licked my food from my hands. I took no food that was brought or

meant especially for me. I accepted no invitation to a meal." Mrs. Rhys Davis has

observed that Buddha found his two teachers Alara and Uddaka at Vaisali and

started his religious life as a Jain.

In Dighanikaya.s Samanna Phal Sutta, the four vows of Lord Parshvanath (who

flourished 250 years before Mahavira.s liberation) have been mentioned.

Attakatha of Anguttara Nikaya has reference to Boppa Sakya a resident of

Kapilvastu who was the uncle of Buddha and who followed the religion of the

Nigganathas i.e. Jains.

Critical and comparative study has brought to light several words like .Asrava.,

"Samvara. etc., which have been used by Jains in the original sense but which

have been mentioned in Buddhist Literature in figurative sense. On the basis of

these words Dr. Jacobi has concluded that Jainism is much older than the

religion of Buddha and therefore it is incorrect to imagine Jainism as the offshoot

of Buddhism.


Yet histories and encyclopaedias of world religions with a few exceptions fail to

mention Jainism as a religion. There are pervasive misconceptions about the

origin of Jainism, its relation with the Brahmanic, Vedic so-called- Hinduism,

about Mahavira being the founder of Jainism, about its being an offshoot of

Buddhism or Hinduism or its being a reformist sect of Hinduism. There are

misrepresentations galore. It is overshadowed by Hinduism and Buddhism or if

noticed at all it is mentioned in passing as one of the ancient India religious

movements subsidiary to Buddhism.

Such is the context of the pervasive impact of the misleading Indian

historiography from the deleterious effects of which even the most eminent

historians, both right and left are not immune. As noted pertinently by the Aims

of the Conference .One of the consequences of this failure is the

continuing hold of misleading stereotypes of the nature of Indic religious

thought and practice.. I think this has a vital bearing on the devastatingly

damaging impact of the misconceived Indological and .Oriental. stereotypes on


the Indian ethno-religious historiography so as to necessitate a paradigmatic


This misinterpretation of history is compounded by what the doyen of Indian

Indologists , Dr.R.G. Bhandarkar noted as to how .India has no written history.

Nothing was known till within recent times of the political condition of the country,

the dynasties that ruled over the different provisions which composed it, and the

great religious and social revolutions it went through. The historical curiosity of

the people was satiated by legends. What we find of a historical nature in the

literature of the country before the arrival of the Mahomedans comes to very

little.. P.i-ii (Early History of the Dekkan Down to the Mahomedan Conquest,

2nd Ed. 1983)

The date of the foundation of the Maurya dynasty by Chandragupta has been

determined to be about 322 B.C. on the basis of the known dates of the

corresponding Greek persons or events such as the invasion of Alexander the

Great which brought the Greeks in contact with India or such historical fragments

as are left by Megasthenes.s Ta Indika.

Even Buddha or Buddhism is no exception for such misrepresentations. It is

incredible but true that S. Radhakrishnan in his Foreword to the volume brought

out on the occasion of 2500th Anniversary of the Mahaparinirvana of the

Buddha in 1956: 2500 Years of Buddhism (published by the Ministry of

Information, Government of India, 1956 states:.The Buddha did not feel that he

was announcing a new religion. He was born, grew up, and died a Hindu. He was

re-stating with a new emphasis the ancient ideals of the Indo-Aryan civilization..

Such is the common strategy of the historians, philosophers and academicians

in dealing with the Indic Sramanic religious traditions. Issues are obscured, by

introducing irrelevancies and thus an attitude of cotemptuous prejudice is

provoked by exciting ridicule.


But such distortions are not confined to Orientalist interpreters of ancient Indian

history. I am quoting below an excerpt from The Age of Mauryas by the

eminent historian Romila Thapar:

.Candragupta is said to have accepted Jainism in his later years, and in fact to

have abdicated the throne and become a wandering ascetic dying through slow

starvation in the orthodox Jain manner. Considering the difficulties that he faced

in making himself king and building an empire it is hardly likely that he would

have abdicated at the end of his reign in order to become a wandering ascetic. It

is possible though that he accepted the teachings of Mahavira and became a

Jaina. This interest may be excused as originating in the fact that he was of

low origin, a vaisya, and by accepting Jainism he eluded the contempt of

the higher caste nobility. Since the teachings of Mahavira were at this period,

regarded more as an offshoot of Hinduism, an extreme discipline, and the Jainas

themselves as a sub-sect of the ealier religion, we can discoutenance the above

idea. The interest it would seem was largely intellectual. Accepting Jainism did

not raise one.s social prestige in the eyes of high-caste Hindus whose social

ethics were already being determined by caste rules.. (Italics supplied)


I am aware that this is an earlier historical reading by the eminent, liberal,

progressive historian Romila Thapar. I am also aware that that her readings of

Indian ancient history have progressed from her A History of India (Pelican

1966) to Early India :From the Origins to A.D. 1300 , Allen Lane, 2002)

In her A History of India (Vol.I) Thapar has perceptively noted that .much of

the early history of India was reconstructed almost entirely from Sanskrit

sources i.e. from material preserved in the ancient classical language.. (p.18) In

her latest version .substantial changes in the readings of early Indian history.

are made. Mauryan India is Thapar.s special field of historical study. That is why

one is concerned to question her cavalier and even presumptuous remarks-so

unhistorical in character- regarding Candragupta.

I am quoting once again the particular sentence: .This interest may be

excused as originating in the fact that he was of low origin, a vaisya, and

by accepting Jainism he eluded the contempt of the higher caste nobility.. I

simply fail to understand this judgemental remark on what Candragupta did

making a totally unhistorical presumption on his alleged inferiority complex as a

Vaisya and even more questionable presumption that he did so to elude the

contempt of .higher caste nobility.. One is almost led to wonder whether

Candragupta.s soul materialised by some transmigratory power before Romila

Thapar to make such a guilty confession stating: .Well, Madam, you know how

embarrassing it was to be a Vaisya with such glittering nobility around me!.

I am concerned to make an issue of such .historical. interpretations or rather misinterpetations

to show how personal historiography of the historians, apparently

not affected by any transparent cultural bias can go astray. But since the issue

has been raised it must be dealt with in a rational historical manner. I cannot do

better here than quote Dr.Radha Kumud Mookerji.


Dr.Mookerji has commented at length on the theory of the base birth of

Chandragupta in his Chandragupta Maurya and His Times (1943):

.The theory of the base birth of Chandragupta Maurya was first suggested by the

derivation which a commentator was at pains to find for the epithet Maurya as

applied to Chandragupta by the Puranas.. Further after explaining how the

commentator on Purana was wrong in explaining grammatically Maurya from

Mura and how it is impossible to .to derive by any grammar Maurya as a direct

formation from Mura. Dr.Mookerji states : .The derivative from Mura is Maureya.

The term Maureya can be derived only from masculine Mura which is

mentioned as a name of a gotra in a Ganapatha in Panini.s Sutra (IV. I, 151).

The commentator was more interested in finding a mother than in grammar! The

only redeeming feature of the commentator is that not merely is he innocent of

grammar and history; he is also innocent of any libel against Chandragupta. For

he has not stated that Mura, the supposed mother of Chandragupta was a Sudra

woman or a courtesan of the Nanda king.Thus even the commentator of the

Purana cannot be held responsible for the theory of Chandragupta.s low origin..


Dr Mookerji makes a solemn invocation which should serve as a solace to one in

search of sober history: .Heavens save us from commentators who supplement


texts by facts of their own creation!. Well, this is precisely my watchword for my

humble effort to trace the evolution of the Sramanic religious tradition of Jainism

and Buddhism and its impact on the Indic civilisation.

Further to press home the conclusion from Jain and Buddhist sources

Dr.Mookerji notes that the .Mahavamsa (a Ceylones Buddhist account of about

5th century AD) states that Chandragupta was .born of a family of Kshatriyas

called Moriyas. .(Moriyanam khattiyanam vamse jatam)., and the Buddhist

canonical work Digha Nikaya (II, 167) mentions the Kshatriya clan known as

Moriyas of Pippalivana.

Even more monumental evidence, according to Dr.Mookerji, is derived from the

Buddhist as well Jain tradition connecting the peacock, Mayura, with the Moriya

or Maurya dynasty. Thus the Ashoka pillar at Nandangarh has been found to

bear at its bottom below the surface of the ground the figure of a peacock while

the same figure is repeated in several sculptures on the Great Stupa at Sanchi

associated with Ashoka. Therefore Dr.Mookerji concludes that the .Buddhist and

Jain tradition are at one in declaring for him (Chandragupta) a noble birth..

((Pp.14-15) Ibid.

As noted above .The date of the foundation of the Maurya dynasty by

Chandragupta has been determined to be about 322 B.C. on the basis of the

known dates of the corresponding Greek persons or events such as the invasion

of Alexander the Great which brought the Greeks in contact with India or such

historical fragments as are left by Megasthenes.s Ta Indika. Chandragupta

Maurya.s ascention to the throne and his historicity is an important landmark or

even a high watermark in the vague almost non-existent ancient Indian historical


I am emphasising the siginificance of the Chandragupta Maurya dynasty in

ancient India because Chandragupta.s role was also crucial in the spread of

Jaina religious and cultural traditions in the whole of South India. In a

remarkable monograph Jainism or the Early Faith of Asoka with Illustrations

of the Ancient Religions of the East From the Pantheon of the Indo-

Scythians with A Notice on Bactrian Coins and Indian Dates by Edward

Thomas F.R.S., read at the Meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society, Feb.26, 1877

(published Trubner & Co, London, 1877) E.Thomas states re;Jaina Sramanic

faith of Chandragupta:

.The testimony of Megasthenes would likewise seem to imply that Chandragupta

submitted to the devotional teachings of the sermanas as opposed to the

dotrine of the Brahmans. The passage in Strabo runs as follows: .That

Chandragupta was a member of the Jaina community is taken by their writers as

a matter of course.The documentary evidence to this effect is of comparatively

early date, and apparently absolved from all suspicion.the testimony of

Megasthenes would likewise seem to imply that Chandragupta submitted to the

devotional teachings of the Sramanas..

When Bhadrabahu,, the last of the Sruta Kevali Jain Acharyas met

Chandragupta Maurya in his court at Pataliputra and foretold him of the

impending terrible twelve years famine Chandragupta abdicated his throne and

joined Bhadrabahu who, collecting a body of twelve thousand disciples, started a


grand exodus towards the south. As stated by Ramaswami Ayyangar and

B.Sheshgiri Rao in their Studies in South Indian Jainism (1922):

.That Chandragupta, the Mauryan king, was a Jain and attended on Bhadrabahu

during his last days and died twelve years after, doing penance on Chandragiri

hill may be taken as historical facts. Evidence in favour of such a theory is

overwhelming.To discredit the Sravana Belgola inscriptions discovered by

Lewis Rice is to discredit the whole tradition and the legendary account of the

Jains enshrined in Rajavalikathe, and it is highly hazardous for the historian to

go so far..


So much for the Mauryan Jain mission in the South India. To revert to the

enduring Sramanic and Jain influence in the Chandragupta Maurya dynasty and

especially on Ashoka I would refer once again to Edward Thomas in this quest

for historically credible Jainism. I would begin by taking the case of Ashoka and

Buddhism. Edward Thomas.s primary object in the above-mentioned paper is to

determine the .relative precedence of Jainism and Buddhism, as tried and tested

by the ultimate determination of .the ultimate faith of Asoka.. Thomas too had

misgivings and a certain .crucial difficulty . of his argument that Asoka.s early

faith was Jainism.

But as stated by him .all doubts and obscurities in that direction may now be

dissipated before Asoka.s own words, which he or his advisers took such infinite

pains to perpetuate .under the triple phases of his tardy religious progress-on

rocks and big stones, and more elaborately prepared Indian Lats or monoliths..

Thomas also quotes Abul Fazl, the .accomplished minister of Akbar. known to

have been largely indebted to the Jaina priests and their carefully preserved

chronicles. from his Ain-i-Akbari .three very important entries, exhibited in the

original Persian version quoted below, which establish: (1) that Asoka himself

first introduced .JAINISM. into the kingdom of Kashmir; (2) that .Buddhism. was

dominant there during the reign of Jaloka (the son and successor of Asoka);;

and (3)that Brahmanism superseded Buddhism under Raja Sachinara.. which

evidence he takes .to infer that Asoka.s conversion to Buddhism occurred late in

his life or reign. and that the .annals of Kashmir, on the other hand, more

emphatically imply that either he did not seek to spread, or had not the chance or

opportunity of propagating his new faith..

Thomas also emphasizes that the .leading fact of Asoka.s introduction or

recognition of the Jaina creed in Kashmir, above stated, does not however, rest

upon the sole testimony of the Muhammadan author, but is freely acknowledged

in the Brahmanical pages of the Rajatarangini.


I think in any historical analysis it would be sobering to recall what E.H. Carr said

about historical facts in his classic What Is History? Carr says that .the facts of

history never come to us .pure., since they do not and cannot exist in a pure

form: they are always refracted trhough the mind of the recorder. It follows that

when we take up a work of history, our first concern should be not with the facts it


contains but the historian who wrote it.. And hence Carr supplements his first

principle in the study of history that one should .study the historian. as a

preliminary, by asking .Before you study the historian, study his historical and

social environment.. (p.44) As put by Carr in a subtly ingenuous manner : .No

document can tell us more than what the author of the document thought-what

he thought had happened, what he thought ought to happen or would happen, or

perhaps only what he wanted others to think he thought, or even only what he

himself thought he thought.. (p.16)

Hence Carr notes .two important truths: first that you cannot fully understand or

appreciate the work of the historian unless you have first grasped the standpoint

from which he himself approached it; secondly, that the standpoint is itself rooted

in a social and historical background. do not forget that, as Marx once said, the

educator himself has to be educated; in modern jargon, the brain of the brainwasher

has itself been washed. The historian before he begins to write history, is

the product of history.. (Pp.39-40)

And in this context he points out how how he was shocked to come across which

he puts as .the only remark of Bertrand Russell I have ever seen which seemed

to betray an acute sense of class: .There is on the whole, much less liberty in the

world now than there was a hundred years ago... Commenting wryly on this Carr

says . I have no measuring-rod for liberty, and do not how to balance the lesser

liberty of few against the greater liberty of many..

Another pitfall of historians socalled is noted by Carr and this occurs when he is

rash enough to pass moral opinions on persons and events long past. .The more

serious ambiguity., says Carr, .arises over the question of moral judgments on

public actions. Belief in the duty of the historian to pronounce moral judgments

on his dramatis personae has a long pedigree.. (p.76) This is because as Carr

quotes Prof.Knowles .the historian is not a judge, still less a hanging judge., and

goes on to quote Bernadette Croce that .Those who on the plea of narrating

history, bustle about as judges, condemning here and giving absolution there,

because they think this is the office of history.are generally recognised as

devoid of historical sense... (p.77)

If that is the case with available .historical records. it would be most formidable to

write history if there are no written records, or only myths, puranas and traditions

of geneologies or pure scriptures passed on from generation to generation by

mouth like the Vedic srutis.

It is in this context one can be critical of R.Thapar.s judgmental presumption as

to why Chandragupta was led to embrace Jainism, and also appreciate her

paradigmatic shift in historical interpretation notably in Interpreting Early India

wherein a radically fresh framework of historical assumptions based on Itihasa-

Purana as well as Vamsavalis and geneologies is resorted to albeit not as

rigorously thoroghgoing as one would be led to expect because still there is a

certain leaning towards the quintessentially Brahmanic-Vedic-Buddhistic

assessment of certain crucial aspects of ancient Indian history.


Yet it is a pleasant surprise to find Thapar quoting E.H. Carr as the classic

.summation of the role of historian . that the function of historian is neither to love


the past nor to emancipate himself from the past, but to master and understand it

as the key to understanding the of the present. Great history is written precisely

jwhen the historian.s vision of the past is iluminated by the insight into the

problems of the present.The function of the history is to promote a profounder

understanding of both past and present through the inter-relation between the

two.. (What is History? pp. 20,31,62) Perhaps Carr could be quoted for a fitting

finale to such historiography when he observes:.Good historians I suspect,

whether they think about it or not, have the future in their bones. Besides the

question .Why?. the historian also asks the question.Whither?.. (p.108 ibid.)

Notwithstanding her slip on Chandragupta Maurya Thapar acknowledges in

Interpreting Early India that .the picture which emerges of the indigenous view

of religion from historical sources of the early period is rather different. The

prevalent religious groups referred to are two, Brahmanism and Sramanism with

a clear distinction between them. They are organizationally separate, had

different sets of beliefs and rituals and often disagreed on social norms. That this

distinction was recognized is evident from the edicts of the Mauryan king Asoka,

as well as by those who visited India and left accounts of what they had

observed, as, for example, Megasthenes, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Fa Hsien

and Hsuan Tsang, and Alberuni..

Thapar also notes how Patanjali, the grammarian refers to the .hostility between

Brahmanism and Sramanism as innate as is that between the snake and

mongoose.. But in all the historical analysis of the demarcation of Sramanism

from Brahmanism and how .a reaction to this last group (of the Buddhist and the

Jain sangha) which motivated the increasing interest in an itihasa-purana. Both

the Buddhists and the Jainas had shown a sense of centering their sects in

avowedly historical events which imparted a certain historicity and added to the

intellectual strength of their institutions .(p.63, 161), Thapar always clubs

together in the Sramanic term Jainism and Buddhism-particularly with the term

Buddhism always claiming precedence (!) and there is no suggestion as to how

Sramanic culture or its anti-Brahmanic evolution began in pre-Buddhist ancient

India co-eval with the evolution of Vedic Brahmanism as recorded in the Vedas,

Puranas and the geneologies as well as the vamsavalis etc. which record

Thapar takes to be the .one in which historical consciousness is embedded:

myth, epic and geneology.. (p.138 ibid)

Again the same , perhaps unwitting historicist preference for Buddhist-cum-Jain

interpretation of certain key concepts of the Sramanic culture as distinctly anti-

Brahmanic, or anti-Vedic such as ahimsa is evident in Thapar.s criticism of the

Hindu hegemonic encroachment of the essentially Sramanic values of nonviolence

and tolerance. That .ahimsa as an absolute value is characteristic of

certain Sramanic sects . Yet ahimsa as an absolute value is characteristic of

certain Sramanic sects and less so of Brahmanism. The notion appears in the

Upanishads but it was the Budddhists and the Jains (emphasis supplied) who

first made it foundational to their teaching. That Brahmanism and Sramanism

were recognized as distinct after the period of the Upanishads further underlines

the significance of ahimsa to Sramanic thinking.. (p.72, ibid) As is clear there is

no attempt here to trace the conceptual evolution of ahimsa as a characteristic of

the Sramanic-Jain culture in pre-Buddhist India as noted by eminent Indologists

as will be noted later in this paper


However, Thapar makes a pertinent observation regarding the fundamental

differences between Brahmanic and Sramanic systems and makes a historically

welcome suggestion that .It might in fact be a worthwhile exercise to reconstruct

Brahmanism from the reference to it in Sramanic amd other non-Brahmanical

sources.. (p.63, Ibid) This is a welcome opportunity to me because the basic

theme which I am concerned to develop in my paper is the Religions in the

Indic Civilisation particularly on the topic of historical and contemporary

studies: the Rise, Decline and Renewals of Shramanic Religious Traditions

Within Indic Civilisation with particular reference to the evolution of Jain

Sramanic culture and its impact on the Indic civilization.

Borrowing the historically challenging clue provided by Thapar I would rephrase

her sugestion regarding the reconstruction of Brahmanism with reference to

Sramanic and other non-Brahmanic sources I would propose the theme of my

paper as a reconstruction of Sramanic Jain culture from references to it in

Vedic, Puranic as well as non-Brahmanical sources. But before doing that it

would be necessary to refer and discuss certain academic questions raised by

Michael Witzel in his paper On Indian Historical Writing presented to the

Journal of the Japanese Association for South Asian Studies 2, 1990, 1-57.


Prof.Witzel begins by questioning the generally held view such as by Pargiter

and even .nationalistic. historians like R.C. Majumdar that . India has no sense of

history. and that, .indigenous historical writing has been almost completely

absent until fairly recent times. except in Rajatarangini (History of Kashmir)

and summarily rejects these contentions as .somewhat rash statements..

Witzel is sceptical of the the legendary history .composed by Brahmins. (Purana)

as .mutually contradictory. and contends that such sources have been used of

historians such as R. Thapar representing . a patchwork of data gleaned from

other texts, such as the Vedas and the Epics (Ramayana & Mahabharata).

Nevertheless, they have been used uncritically, e.g. by some historians, suchas

R.Thapar, and by modern archaeologists as materials to establish their

identifications of particular pre-historic cultures.. Then considering the .idea of

geneological history. because the .puranas are based on a framework of

geneological nature. Witzel goes on to question the view held by Pargiter in his

Ancient Indian Historical Tradition maintaining that the superiority of the

"ksatriya tradition" (preserved, according to him, more or less, in the

Mahabharata and Ramayana) above the Vedic evidence and has failed to

recognize that much of the genealogies of the Puranas were extracted from the

Vedas. Consequently, he maintains that the Puranic accounts are proved by

whatever scraps of evidence we can find in the various Vedic texts.. (Italics


In accusing Pargiter summarily Witzel himself appears to be guilty of the

rashness because Pargiter, who was a Judge by profession, is quite careful in

qualifying his dependence on the Puranic and geneological evidence as will be

clear from his following observation in the Chapter on .Arguments from Vedic

Literature. in his Ancient Indian Historical Tradition:

.These considerations show that the geneologies have strong claims to

acceptance. This does not mean that they are complete and altogether accurate,


because no human testimony is free from defects and errors; and it has been

shown in the preceding pages, and more will appear in the following pages, that

there are defects, gaps and errors in them, especially when taken singly, but

many of these blemishes can be corrected by collating the various texts, and

others can be remedied by statements found elsewhere. Nevertheless it is quite

clear that they are genuine accounts and are substantially trustworthy. They give

us history as handed down in tradition by men whose business it was to

preservethe past; and they are far superior to historical statements in the Vedic

literature, composed by brahmans who lacked the historical sense and were little

concerned with mundane affairs.. (p.125)

Witzel, while he makes a summary statement that .virtually no such geneology,

in India or elsewhere, is free from tinkering, interpolation., still he is prepared to

to to give credence to R.Thapar.s opinion that although there are some problems

for the acceptability of lineage history and that the geneologies have been

.improved. or tampered with .the idea of geneology is important..

Yet with all such reservations and his obsessive faith in the Vedic records which

Witzel concedes .that the historical material in the Rigveda does not consist of

clear narrations, but of historical allusions: .there is no .logical. development

describing successive actions or the story of a myth, only disjointed allusions to

facts well known to contemporary listeners. Thus the myths, the ritual and

certainly the contemporary history have to be pieced together from stray

references, and these, too, were addressed to people who knew the events well..


It also needs to be noted that Witzel.s faith in the Rigvedic texts and their oral

transmission through the ages is more Brahmanic than perhaps the Brahmins

themselves. According to him the evidence of the Rigveda is as solid as the

evidence of actual inscriptions. As he puts it: .Right from the beginning, in

Rigvedic times, elaborate steps were taken to insure the exact reproduction of

the words of the ancient poets. As a result, the Rigveda still has the exact same

wording in such distant regions as Kashmir, Kerala and Orissa, and even the

long-extinct musical accents have been preserved. Vedic transmission is thus

superior to that of the Hebrew or Greek Bible, or the Greek, Latin and Chinese

classics. We can actually regard present-day Rgveda-recitation as a tape

recording of what was first composed and recited some 3000 years ago. In

addition, unlike the constantly reformulated Epics and Puranas, the Vedic texts

contain contemporary materials. They can serve as snapshots of the political

and cultural situation of the particular period and area in which they were

composed. As they are contemporary, and faithfully preserved, these texts are

equivalent to inscriptions..

And further. .It is well known that much of historical information in the Vedic texts

is contemporaneous and that these text have been unaltered for more than 2000

years (and have, in fact, transmitted word by word, including the otherwise long

lost tonal accents of early Sanskrit) while bardic tradition, such as finally recorded

in the Mahabharata and the Puranas was prone to constant re-creation by the

reciting poet/bard... (Italics supplied) Clearly Witzel is more loyal than the king



He is so carried away by his enthusiasm that he is not prepared to give any

credence even to the ancient inscriptions which he terms as .another, and indeed

the major source for Indian history used since the mid of the last century, have

been the thousands of inscriptions on rocks and copper plates. They are so well

known that I merely mention the category here. To them, of course, applies the

factor, mentioned above, of hyperbole as well. In the pra�astis, constituting the

first, non-technical parts of inscriptions, the poets tried to praise the local king "to

the heavens".(Italics supplied)

While Witzel has such unshakeable faith in the perpetually pristine quality of the

Rigvedic text he makes an about-turn when responding to an allegation than

.the Indians were not interested in historical changes in their language.. He

states quite confidently that .This again, is a rather limited view, instigated by the

Brahmanical interest in the unchangeability (aksara) of Sanskrit. Sanskrit as the

sacred language, the language of the gods, simply "cannot" change. The gods

speak the same Sanskrit as we indeed should, nowadays, instead of Prakrit or

Hindi. Panini, when using chandas, thus refers to the sacred language, not to the

laukika.. One wonders whether he took a pause to consider whether the same

instigation in the .Brahmanical interest in the unchangeability (aksara) of

Sanskrit. (Italics supplied) could not be operative in his infallibility of the original

Vedic texts. Surely Brahmanic interest given its perennial purity as ordained by

the Vedas cannot be one in Vedas and other in Puranas and the construction of


It must be pointed out that even in Rajatarangini Witzel has misgivings about

the impartiality of the poet because he has devoted a major portion to the ruling

monarch. Nor are the poetic or Buddhist works like Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa

and Gopalarajvamsavali likely to be exceptions on the historical criteria Witzel

is keen to apply to the Itihasa-Purana tradition and thus to disqualify them as

historical sources. It is also not borne out by the historical records that a

continuous historical tradition was disrupted because of Muslim domination .the

possibility for a continuous historical tradition has been disrupted by intervening

Muslim periods of government. The picture of a tradition of historical writing as

found only at the rims of the subcontinent therefore may be misleading. It is

precisely these areas that have (with the exception of Kashmir135) been spared

disruptions by Muslim domination.. (Italics supplied, Ibid.)


Such presumptions clearly not only betray a historically embarrassing lacuna

exhibing pre-conceived neo-Brahmanic Hindutva notions in Witzel.s Vedic

scholarship which is not found even in a so-called .nationalistic. historian like

R.C. Majumdar who did not hesitate to discover in Shankaracharya.s advaitamonotheism

- Islamic influence which was prevalent on the Malabar coast in 8th

century A.D. According to R.C.Majumdar.Sankara.s monism was based upon the

Islmaic creed which he had learnt from the fore-fathers of the Moplahs, Navayats

and Labbes of South India.. ( p.228, Readings in Political History of India,

(B.R. Publishing, Delhi, 1976)

.What we find of a historical nature in the literature of the country before the

arrival of the Mahomedans comes to very little.. R.G. Bhandarkar, P.i-ii (Early

History of the Dekkan Down to the Mahomedan Conquest, 2nd Ed. 1983).


The utter falsity of Witzel.s hypothesis of Muslim disruption of .continuous

historical tradition. in India can be shown by taking the example of Abul Fazl.s

Ain-e-Akbari which narrates how Asoka sent an ambassador to Kashmir to

establish Jainism there. . Coming to mediaeval Muslim rule Dr. Tara Chand notes

not only the salutary Muslim influence on Hindi language as evident in its

vocabulary, grammar, metaphor, prosody and style, but as pointed out by him

.What is true of Hindi is true of Marathi, Bengali and more so of Panjabi and

Sindhi. and that .In Bengal we find that Bengal first developed as an independent

literary medium not under Hindu but under Muslim rule. The Hindu courts of

Bengal gave no encouragement to their native tongue. Critical opinion holds that

if Hindu kings had continued to enjoy independence, Bengali would scarcely

have received royal patronage.. (The Influence of Islam on Indian Culture, I,


With all his abiding reliance on the Rigvedic sources Witzel has misgivings

because historical material in the Rigveda does not consist of clear narrations,

but of historical allusions: .there is no .logical. development describing

successive actions or the story of a myth, only disjointed allusions to facts well

known to contemporary listeners. Thus the myths, the ritual and certainly the

contemporary history have to be pieced together from stray references, and

these, too, were addressed to people who knew the events well.. And further that

.there has been a constant misuse of Vedic sources and some historical and

pseudo-historical materials, not only by nationalist politicians, but also by

archaeologists and historians. Most serious is the acceptance of much later

materials as authoritative sources for the Vedic period.. In this he includes .not

only to the Puranas and Epics, but also to the Vedic literature which constitutes

the .bulk of the post-Rigvedic texts., since .the later Vedic texts contain stanzas

and prose. of a later period..

Yet undeterred by his own Vedic historiographical model Witzel firmly founded on

his basic principle that .Clearly, Rigvedic history will have to be

reconstructed principally from the Rigveda itself.., and as noted in a

detailed criticism of Witzel.s Vedic historical hypothesis by Shrikant G. Talgeri in

his The Rigveda A Historical Analysis Aditya Prakashan, 1997 Delhi) : .But,

after failing miserably in his efforts to produce any direct evidence from the

Rigveda, Witzel goes scouring for evidence in later and later texts and finally

claims to have struck gold in the BaudhAyana Srauta SUtra: .there is the

following direct statement contained in the (admittedly much later) BSS,

18.44:397.9 sqq which has once again been over-looked, not having been

translated yet: .Ayu went eastwards. His (people) are the Kuru-Pa�cAla and the

KASI-Videha. This is the Ayava (migration). (His other people) stayed at home in

the West. His people are the GAndhArI, ParSu and AraTTa. This is the

AmAvasava (group)... (Emphasis supplied)

Therefore Talageri concludes : .This incredible assertion represents the most

blatant violation of the most basic principle laid down by Witzel himself: .there

has been a constant misuse of Vedic sources and some historical and pseudohistorical

materials, not only by nationalist politicians, but also by archaeologists,

and historians. Most serious is the acceptance of much later materials as

authoritative sources for the Vedic period.. because Witzel, on the one hand,

strongly indicts .the acceptance of much later materials as authoritative sources

for the Vedic period., and, on the other, advocates the evidence of an .admittedly


much later. text in overriding that of all the previous texts, including the Rigveda

itself!. (Emphasis supplied)

Talgeri who concedes that .Witzel.s basic approach to the Rigveda closely

parallels our own and that he recognizes the unique importance of the Rigveda:

.apart from archaeology, our principal source for the early period must be the

Rigveda.., is constrained to indict Witzel stating that he .violates every single

norm and basic principle, set up by himself, in the analysis of the Rigveda. And

yet, he manages to get nowhere. The Rigveda, basically, refuses to yield to his


That Witzel.s Rigvedic historiography is fraught with internal contradictions is

clear because he himself cannot follow the logic of his own parameters of

historical research nor his hypothetical reliance on a few writings such as the

Nepalese Gopalarajavamsavali, Kalhana.s Rajatarangini, and Ceylonese

Buddhist chronicles of 4th and 5th century A.D. Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa

(free from Muslim dynastic disruption) is convincing as shown above.


Wetzel has mentioned that H.Bechert.s article on the Beginnings of Indian

Historical Writing was not available to him. However I have come across a

rejoinder by Prof. H. Bechert as Response to Venerable Professor

Dhammavihari�s "Sri Lankan Chronicle Data" published in Vol.10, 2003 of

Journal of Buddhist Studies . Commenting on Mahavamsa Prof.Bechert says

.The later classical chronicle of ancient Sri Lanka, viz, the Mahavamsa, is a

rather elaborated work. It is necessary to analyze its composition in order to

evaluate its contents. It is a combination of (1) a Buddhist work that was written

down for the edification of its readers, (2) a work of artificial poetry (kavya) in the

Indian tradition, and (3) a work of national Sinhala historiography written and

handed down by Buddhist monks, incorporating historical facts as well as

mythological elements..

.Thus the Mahavamsa represents in these chapters - and partly in other

chapters as well - a fourth element, viz, it incorporates the national epic of the

Sinhala people which may be compared with the Iliad of the ancient Greeks, the

Nibelung epic of mediaeval Germany, etc. All these poems combine historical

reflections with mythology in one text.

.We must not understand these chapters of the Mahavamsa as historical records

in the modern sense of the word, particularly because this work was composed

by the end of the 5th century C.E., i.e. more than 600 years after Dutthagamani

who ruled from 161-137 B.C.E (Italics supplied)

Bechert also notes that .Original Buddhism was rightly characterized by Max

Weber in his famous work on the sociology of religion as: "a quite specific,

refined soteriology for intellectuals" "... a specifically unpolitical and antipolitical

class religion, or, more accurately, a religious learned teaching of an itinerant,

intellectually schooled mendicant order of monks."

It is necessary to understand that original Buddhism was not conceived as a

religion of the masses, but early Buddhists were one religious community


amongst a considerable number of religious movements including the followers

of Vedic tradition, Ajivikas, Jains etc. (Italics supplied throughout)

However, Witzel notes that .Fortunately, the Jainas and Buddhists preserved

their texts much better. .The oldest in Indian mss. of the subcontinent, outside of

Nepal, are those of the Jaina Bhandars of Gujarat and Rajasthan. At Jaisalmer,

for example, as my friend A. Wezler told me (1974), the mss. are kept in a cave

under the temple in large steel cases that must have been welded inside the

cave as they are bigger than the small entrance of the room..

Finally Witzel concludes: .In short, the lack of historical writings and the

alleged lack of historical sense is due, in large measure, more to the

accidents of medieval history than to the religious and philosophical tenets

of Indian civilization.. It would be difficult to make any logically intelligible

sense out of this sweeping observation which takes in its purview the entire field

of the .the religious and philosophical tenets of Indian civilization.. It opens a

floodgate of the entire course of Indian history. Nor has he taken the trouble to

either to specify what those .religious and philosophical tenets of Indian

civilization. or .accidents of medieval history. are, except perhaps the

disruptions in large parts of the Indian sub-continent caused by the Muslim

incursions in the smooth course of Indian geneological narrations which

hypothesis, in any case, is simply indefensible as a valid historiographical


One suspects that his failure to sustain his Rigvedic historiographical model with

its built-in contradiction to its logically and historically credible conclusion has

somehow led Witzel to make such flagrantly irrelevant remark which is totally out

of character. In any case Witzel is back to square one of Indian historiography

properly speaking . His own foregoing analysis shows that he is himself in two

minds about it. If Itihasa-Purana have been tampered with by Brahmanical bias

the same charge can be levelled against the Rigvedic sources transmitted in

their pristine glory in three millennia.

Yet the question remains: If the Brahmanic ideology was so meticulous in

maintaining unaffected, unaltered their original heritage how come it that certain

glaring loopholes remained in the .historical allusions. which prove a stumbling

block even to Witzel? Either Witzel is right or wrong:either way I shall have my

ground cleared for the exploration of my theme of reconstructing the evolution of

Sramanic culture right from the inception of the Vedas and even in pre-Vedic

times and through the Itihasa-Purana religious tradition and the geneologies.

This is because of certain uncertainties in the Vedic lore as also in the Puranic

and mythic chronicles: To recall Witzel once again .Rigveda does not consist of

clear narrations, but of historical allusions: .there is no .logical. development

describing successive actions or the story of a myth, only disjointed allusions to

facts well known to contemporary listeners. Thus the myths, the ritual and

certainly the contemporary history have to be pieced together from stray

references, and these, too, were addressed to people who knew the events well..

And if Witzel is wrong, as he certainly proves himself to be, I shall eat my cake

and have it too because then Epic and Puranic sources too can come to my

rescue to prove my Sramanic hypothesis. Whichever way one looks at the Vedic,

Epic and Puranic ancient chronicles, in lieu of the proper history in the Western


sense if the balance of evidence is in favour of the Sramanic evolution as I

hope to present I can have the satisfaction, at least, of having argued my case in

good faith.


What is most significant is that Jainism has succeeded in its history of Three

Thousand Years in preserving down to the present its separate religions identity.

It is a unique religions system having its own philosophy, mythology, ethics, and

rituals. It has its own deities, gurus and scriptures, its own temples, places of

worship and pilgrimage, and its own festivals.

The designation .Jain. is applied to approximately four million members of India.s

most ancient sramana or non-Vedic religion traditions. It is really difficult, nay,

impossible to fix a particular date for the origin of Jainism. To the Jainas,

Jainism has been revealed again and again in the eternity of time by

innumerable Tirthamkars.

Of the present age, the first Tirthamkars was Rishabha and the last two were

Parsvanatha and Mahavira. Mahavira is the twenty fourth Tirthamkar in the

present half of the Avasarpini . descending or regressive-half of the Jain

cosmic time cycle. According to Jain cosmological tradition ther will be twenty

four Jinas or Tirthamkars in each half-cycle.

These cosmic half-cycles of the Jain universe are two, the Avasarpinidescending

.and the Utsarpini- ascending each with six sub-divisions. Together

these two half .cycles constitute a cosmic time unit know as Kalpa. The

Utsarpini half-cycle of time marks a period of gradual evolution and the

Avasarpini that of the gradual devolution or decline in human innocence and

happiness, bodily strength and stature , span of life and the length of the age


Conditions in the First , Second and Third ages in each time circle are known as

those of a Bhogabhumi- happy,enjoyment based,entirely dependent on nature.

Life in the other three ages is described as being that of a Karmabhumi based

on individual and collective effort. The Fourth age of either cycle is supposed to

be the best from the point of view of human civilization and culture. It is this age

that produces a numbers of Tirthamkars and other great personages.

The Jain universe is without a beginning or an end, being everlasting and

eternal. The Utsarpini and Avasarpini follow directly upon one another,

pendulum like, in unbroken sucession. These half-cycles each last for a vast but

finite number of years. The life expectancy of human beings dwelling in the

Karma-bhumis increases with each stage of the Utsarpini, and correspondingly

decreases with each stage of Avasarpini.


The first Tirthamkar of the Avasarpini time cycle was Rishabha. Rishabha is

said to be the harbinger of human civilization. He inaugurated the Karmabhumi

(age of action) founded the social order, family system, institutions of marriage,

of law and order and justice and of state and government; taught to mankind the


cultivation of land, different arts and crafts, reading, writing and arithmetic and

built villages, towns and cities. In short, Rishabha pioneered the framework for

human civilization and culture.

Rishabhadeva or Rishabhanatha is also known as Iksvaku, Swayambhu and

Mahadev. He had two daughters and a hundred sons. After having renounced

worldly possession he took to Sramanic asceticism and did severe penance.

He attained Kaivalya jnana (Supreme enlightenment) and became an Arhat or

Jina at what is a now Prayaga (Allahabad).

Rishabha.s antiquity may be guessed from the historical and archaeological

sources, The yogic, Sramanic and anti-Vedic and Pre-Aryan aspects of the

Jain tradition can be traced to Indus Valley civilization which flourished six to

eight thousand years ago. Nude standing images found in the Indus Valley

ruins bear a striking resemblance to the oldest Jain sculpture. There may be a

link in the bullseals of Indus and the bull .insignia-lancchana congizant .sign,

characteristic of Rishabhanatha.

Prof. Ram Prasad Chanda, who supervised Indus Valley excavations, states in

his article Mohen-jo-Daro (Sindh, Five Thousand years ago) in Modern

Review August, 1932..Not only the seated deities on some of the Indus seals

are in Yoga posture and bear witness to the prevalence of Yoga in the Indus

Valley in that remote age, the standing deities on the seals also show

Kayotsarga (abandonment of the body, a standing or sitting posture of

meditation) of Yoga . The Kayotsarga posture is peculiarly Jain. It is a posture

not of sitting but of standing , In the Adi Purana Book XV III, Kayotsarga

posture is described in connection with the penance of Rishabha or


In his Indus Civilization and Hindu Culture, the eminent scholar,

P.R.Deshmukh says:.The first Jain Tirthamkar belonged to Indus civilization.

The Indus Valley deities were nude. The Jains subtained that culture and

worshipped nude Tirthamkars..

Dr.S.Radhakrishnan affirms that .The Bhagavata Purana endorses the view that

Rishabha was the founder of Jainism. There is evidence to show that so far

back as the first century B.C. there were people who were worshipping

Rishabhadeva, the first Tirthamkar. There is no doubt that Jainism prevailed

even before Vardhamana Mahavira, or Parsvanatha. The Yajurveda mentions

the names of three Tirthamkars-Rishabha. Ajitnatha and Aristanemi. ( Indian

Philosophy, P.287)

Another scholar P.C.Roy Choudhury states in his Jainism in Bihar; .Not much

research is possible in the pre-historical age as to the role Bihar played in the

story of Jainism. But some of the ancient Jain scriptures mention that Jainism

had been preached in Magadha (Bihar) by Lord Rishabha at the end of stone

age and the beginning of the agricultural age. At the remote period Magadha

was separated from the rest of India by Ganga-sagar. The ancient history of

Nepal bears this out..(P.7)

As the Vedas are believed to have been composed in c.1500 B.C., and as the

Rigveda is considered to be the oldest Vedic scripture , one can fairly maintain

that Jainism was prevalent in 1500 B.C. So much so that the Hindu text


Bhagavata Purana included Rishabha as the amsavatara (minor incarnation of



The yogic posture, kayotsarga-sitting or standing, adopted by Jain Tirthamkar

shows the most fundamental feature of Jain path of liberation and its ancient

origin of ascetic practice. As R.D.Ranade and S.K.Belvalkar state; .There is

evidence to suppose that the philosophical speculations of the Upanishadic

period were very largely influenced by a set of wandering ascetics and teachers

following their own quaint and mystic practices.

As already explained the Upanishadic impulse to give up all worldly ties and

take to a life of homeless wanderings can be satisfactorily explained only by

postulating an extraneous influence of this nature..(P.400)

As M. N. Deshpande, a former Director-General of the Archaeological Survey

of India, states,. .This extract helps in satisfactorily understanding the

distinctive nature and origin of Jain asceticism which was distinct from

Brahmanic asceticism. This path of the sramanas inculcates complete

nivratti (turning away completely from worldly life) and pravrajya (renunciation),

enjoining total anagaratva (the state of homelessness) together with the vow of

non-willing, truthfulness, non-stealing and celibacy. The concept of .Trigupti or

the total abstinence by mind (manas), body (kaya)and speech (vacha), further

tends to sharpen the ascetic ideal to a point that casting one.s body by prolonged

fast (sallekhana) is recommended and no other religious order. Among other

distinctive practices of the Jain faith mention may be made of alochana or

confession of sin.s and the daily ceremony of pratikramana or expiation of

sins.(Pp.20-21, The Background and Tradition , Ch-2 in The Jain Art and

Architecture , Bharatiya Jnanapitha, Vol..I, 1974)

M.N.Deshpande also states emphatically that .One thing is quite certain, that

asceticism in India has a great antiquity and Jain ascetic practices as

exemplified by Rishabhadeva were strikingly different from the Brahmanical

tradition .(P.19, ibid)

Jain Acharya Tulsi in his Pre-Vedic Existence of Sramanic Culture find.s

confirmation in the four Puranas of his opinion that the Asuras, were not only

non-Vedic i.e.non-Aryan people, but they were the priests of the Jain religion.

He also considers that the pose of Yogasana, in which several human figures

are drawn on the seals of Indus Valley, was widely known in pre-Aryan India

and was borrowed much later by the Hindu asceties.


As noted by Dr.Natalya Guseva, Russian scholar in her book Jainism

(1971)Translation by Y.S.Redkar, if one juxtaposes the yogic posture on Indus

seals .with the fact that the most ancient philosophical work of the Jains , the

.Book of Wisdom of Arahatas. ascribed to Rishabha himself was also called

.Yogi.(Benjamin Rowland. The Art and Architecture of India, Plate 81a), and

also that this posture is the classical echelon of the posture of Tirthamkar for 25

centuries (and possibly much longer). Then all this brings back to our minds the

thought that there is possibly ancient connection between Jainism and the


Indus civilization. It is possible that the teaching of Yoga and this posture

connected with it penetrated in the faiths of later period and Buddha and many

Hindu gods were portrayed in this posture..(P.91-92)

The French scholar Louis Renou, in his 1953 lectures on the religions of India

observed that .The Jain movement presents evidence that it is of great interest

both for the historical and comparative study of religion in general. Based on

profoundly Indian elements, it is at the same time a highly original creation.

Containing very ancient material, more ancient than that of Buddhism and yet

highly refined and elaborated..


It is interesting to note that the Swastika signs seen in Mohen Jo Daro and

Harappa culture are also common in the symbols of Jainism. Swastika is the

symbolic sign of the seventh Tirthamkar , Suparsva and the middle part forms

the sign of the 18th Tirthamkar Ara. This sign is always drawn in manuscripts,

in miniatures and in the ornaments in Jain temples.

Swastika, basically means and denotes well-being. It forms one of the eight

auspicious emblems found on the Ayagapatas. These eight auspicious signs

are known as ashtamangalas, and Ayagapatas are among the earliest and

most distinctive Jain sculpture.

The universe according to Jainism is uncreated by any divinity and is without a

beginning and an end. The wheel of time incessantly revolves, pendulum like, in

half-circles, one ascending and the other descending-Utsarpini and Avasarpini

as noted above-and the unit of such cosmic time is known as a Kalpa.

A Kalpa, meaning an era, eon or age, is a unique concept in Jain metaphysics

because time is considered to be a real substance along with four other

substances, pudgala, dharma, adharma and akasa, and is known as kala

which are called dravyas. The practical dimensions of time, like the second,

minute,hour, day, month and year are mere deductions of the real substance that

the Kala is .

Thus the concept of time, in an existential and realistic sense, and the system of

counting is believed by many scholars arose before the Vedic culture. And the

Jains are the pioneers also in starting the first modern Samvat (era) beginning

with the Nirvana of Mahavira, known as Vir Nirvana Samvat which is the most

ancient one. It is 605 years previous to Shaka, 479 years to Vikrama and 527

years to the Christian era.



The idea of Rishabha, the first Jain Tirthamkar being an epoch-making man is

deeprooted in the Jain religions tradition. It is well corroborated in Hindu

puranas, Vedas and scriptures.

+���xi�� ��� �S�i{�֮���n�v��%���� n����ɪɴ��xi�� @�.4-3-8


.Just as the sun possesses rays the Arihant possesses the wealth of true


What is even more significant as established from these puranas is that this

country has become well known as Bharata-Varsha after the eldest of the

hundred sons of Rishabha, known as Bharata.

That this country is known as BharataVarsha after Bharata is as much a matter

of pride for Jainism as for the history of India. In the Vedic scriptural tradition

this fact has been accepted unanimously. In Vishnu Purana (2,1,31), Vayu

Purana,(33,52), Linga Purana(1,47,23), Brahmanda Purana(14,5,62), Agni

Purana( 107,11-12), Skanda Purana ,Khanda((37,57) and Markandaya

Purana(50,41) it is clearly stated that this country is known as Bharata Varsha.

E���ɺ�� {ɴ��i�� ������, ��޹ɦ���%��� �V�x�临ɮ�&

S�E�ɮ� ���ɴ�i�ɮ�� ��& �ɴ��Y�& �ɴ��M�& ʶɴ�& ʶɴ� {�֮��h�

.Lord Rishabhdeo, Jineshwar, the omniscient and all-pervasive, incarnated

himself on the magnificent Kailas (Ashtapad) mountain.

x��ʦɺi�� V�xɪ��i� {��j��, �ɯ�n������ ��x���������

@�ɦ�� I��jɪ�� ��乑�� �ɴ��I��jɪɺ�� {�ڴ��Vɨ�� *2*

.Nabhiraja and Marudevi gave birth to a son named Rishbhdeo, the greatest of

Kshatriyas and the first ancestor of all Kshatriyas.

<�� ʽ� <I���E��E��ɴ�ƶ���n���ɴ��x� x��ʦɺ��i��x� �ɯ�n�����

x��n�xɨɽ��n�����x� @�ɦ��h� n���|�E�ɮ��� vɨ��&

��ɪɨ����S��h��& E���.�Y��x� .�ɦ��c�� |ɴ��i�i�& *3*


Mahadeo Rishabhdeo was born to Nabhiraja and Marudevi, in the Ikshvaku

dynasty, assumed the ten kinds of Dharma, and after attaining kevalajnana

(enlightenment) diseminated it..

ʽ��������� i�� ��� �ɹ�� x�ɦ���ɺ��x�ɽ��i��x�&

iɺ�ɹ�Ǧ���%�ɴ�i{��j��� �ɰ�n������� �ɽ��t��i�&

ʴɹh�� {�֮��h�, 2,1,27

.The year known as Hima was known after Nabhi and Rishabha was born as the

son of Nabhi.s queen Marudevi..

�ɯ�n����� S� x��ʦɶS� �ɮ�i�� E��ɺ�kɨ��&

+.����� �ɯ�n������� i�� x��ʦ�V��i� =��G��& *13*

n���Ǫ�x�� ��i��� ��Ү��h��� ��֮�ɺ�֮�xɨɺE��i�&

x���i�jɪ��h��� E�k��� ���� ���M��n��� |�lɨ��� �V�x�& *14* ��x�ֺ����i�

.Marudevi was the sixth founder of the lineage and Nabhi was the seventh.

Rishabha who possessed wide feet was born to Marudevi and Nabhi, the eighth


founder of a lineage. He was a guide to heroic men. He was venerated by gods

and demons. He expounded and taught the three great ethical principles. He

became the Jina in the beginning of the yuga..




As clarified authoritatively by the eminent Jain Scholar, Dr. Hiralal Jain in his

Jainism Through the Ages (Translated from Hindi Yugon Yugon men Jaina

Dharma, by Bal Patil, unpublished) the name Bharata is not that of Dushyant-

Shakuntala.s son .

Dr. Hiralal Jain refutes the theory of some scholars that this country is

known as Bharatvarsha after this Bharata, on the basis of. Agni,Vayu and

Brahma Puranas.

As stated by Dr. Hiralal Jain; .But they have ignored other mentions in the same

Puranas and elsewhere about Rishabha.s son Bharata..For this opinion the

necessary testimonials have not been adduced. Probably these cannot be

anything else than the Slokas quoted above. But the fact that in the same

puranas it is clearly mentioned elsewhere that the name Bharatvarsha was

given by Rishabha.s son Bharat, and that the word . Desha. or . Varsha. does

not occur with Dushyanta.s son Bharata ,does not appear to have been

considered carefully by these scholars before asserting their opinion.

In all the scriptures where the geneology of svayambhuva muni has been

given it is clearly said that this country is known as Bharatavarsha after

Rishabha.s son Bharat. after this first manvantrara there followed the

seventh manvantara known vaivaswat which saw the rise of the puru

dynasty. Dushanta, a king of puru dynasty married Shankuntala who was

the daughter of Vishwamitra rishi and the heavenly nymph Menaka and

Bharata was the name of their son. the propriety of this name is explained

in the scriptures by the fact that when Dushyanta declined to accept

Shankuntala and his son as his own there was a heavenly voice which

proclaimed that what Shankuntala said was right and that he alone was her

husband and the father of the boy and therefore he should maintain them.

on the strength of the words .bhara tvam. his name was determined as

Bharata. (Vishnu purana 4, 19, 12-13) this Bharata, son of Shankuntala has

been mentioned in various scriptures and Mahabharata. Some scholars are

of the opinion that this country is known as bharatvarsha only after this

bharata on the basis of the words .yasya namna tu bharata or .yasya

namna tu bharatam .occurring in the last stanza of the slokas in agni, vayu

and brahma puranas. but they have ignored other mentions in the some

puranas and elsewhere about rishbhaha.s son bharat. for example Dr.

Pusalkar says:- .according to some accounts Bharata gave his name to our

country which was henceforth called Bharatvarsha .. (History and Culture

of the Indian People, Vol i The Vedic Age, p.292).

For this opinion the necessary testimonies have not been adduced.

probably these cannot be anything else than the slokas quoted above. but


the fact that in the same puranas it is clearly mentioned elsewhere (cf:

@�ɦ��� �ɯ�n�����ɸS� @�ɦ��i�� �ɮ�i��� �ɴ��i��

�ɮ�i��n�� ��ɮ�i�� �ɹ��&, �ɮ�i��i�� ��֨��iɺi�ɦ��i��

+�M�� {�֮��h�*10*

That is .Rishabha was born to Marudevi, Bharat was born to Rishabh,

Bharatvarsha (India) arose from Bharat, and Sumati arose from Bharat..


i�iɸS� ��ɮ�i�� �ɹ�Ǩ��i�.���E����M�Ҫ�i��

�ɮ�i�ɪ� ��i�& �{�j�� n�k�� |��i�ʢ�i�� ��xɨ��

ʴɹh�� {�֮��h�, 2,1,32

. This country is known as Bharatavarsha since the times the father

entrusted the kingdom to the son Bharata and he himself went to the forest

for ascetic practices..

That the name bharatvarsha was given by Rishabha.s son Bharata, and that

the word .desha. or .varsha. does not occur with Dushyanta.s son Bharata

does not appear to have been considered carefully by these scholars

before asserting their opinion. and for this the Mahabharata mention is

especially useful. it is clearly said therein that the dynasty of Bharata was

named as .Bharata. because of this fame and his descendents and

anscestors of the puru dynasty also came to be known as .Bharat.. it is

clear from this that wherever in the above contexts the word .bharatam.

occurs it signifies puru dynasty and where it is .Bharatavarsh. it should

confirmed by several mentions in Maharabharata, Gita and Puranas,

because here the word .Bharat. has been used for the kings of puru

dynasty such as Kaurav-Pandav, but it is never used for the kings of

Ikshavaku,yadu dynasties.


The eminent philosopher and statesman, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan is led to make

the observation; .The first impulse of progress came when the Vedic Aryans

came into contact with native tribes.. (The Hindu View of Life P.18). And this

gives a definite clue to the existence of a religion resembling in its peculiar tenets

to Jainism.

In the words of the eminent Prakrit Scholar and former General Editor with Dr.

Hiralal Jain of the Moortidevi Granthmala of Bharatiya Jnanapitha, Dr. A.N.

Upadhye .a great Magadham religion, indigenous in its essential traits , that

must have flourished on the banks of Ganges in Eastern India long before the

advent of the Aryan into Central India.. (quoted in Jainism and Buddhism by

Dr. Jyoti Prasad Jain)

This observation is a clear indication of the pre-historic origins of Jainism. But as

the genesis of the historical Jain tradition as it is practised today can be traced


fairly clearly from the advent of Bhagwan Mahavir, the 24th Tirthamkar, it is not

surprising that he is assumed to be the founder of Jainism which of course is

not true.

It would be a mistake to suppose that Jainism originated in sixth centry B.C. with

Mahavira. That the genesis of Jainism can be traced to deepest antiquity, and

that it was a wholly indigenous and characteristically ethical and ethnical

outcome of Indian environment and soil is now recognized by scholars both

Indian and foreign.


A fairly convincing testimony of Jain antiquity comes from the most ancient

literature of Vedas, and particularly Rigveda. The geneology, life and ascetic

practices of Rishabhadeva, the first Jain Tirthamkar, are described in details in

the first six adhyayas of the fifth skandha of Bhagvat Purana, Rishabhadeva is

described as the incarnation of Vishnu for the establishment of the religion of

Vatarashana Munis.. Who were these Vatarashana Munis? As the following

sukta in Rigveda says; .These Munis appeared pisanga (Pingalavarna)

because they were indifferent to bathing , even though they were Maladhari,

that is unclean, due to sweat etc. They used to remain silent and looked wild

owing to their meditative practices. By controlling breathing (by means of

pranayama) they used to attain to godhood. The mortal world could only see

their external bodies, not their inner soul.:

���xɪ��� ���iɮ���x�� �{ɶ��M�� �ɺ�i�� �ɱ��

���iɺ���x�� m����V� ����i� ��q��j�ɺ��� +ʴ�I�i�

=x���i�n�� ����x����x� ���i��� V�� i�ɺl���� �ɪɨ��

�ɮ�Ү�� n�����E�� ��ڪ�� ��i��ƺ��� +ʦ� {ɶ��l� @�M���n�, 10,136, 2

As explained by Dr. Hiralal Jain in Jainism Through the Ages (English

Translation of Yugon Yugon men Jain Dharma by Bal Patil unpublished) .

They are Munis and their ways of renunciation, silence and non- attachment

distinguish them from the Rishi tradition. But a new word Vatarashana is

connected with them. Vata means air and rashana means girdle or waistband.

Therefore the meaning is air-cloth or one whose clothing is air, that is, naked.

This is not a new term for the Jain tradition, and it occurs in Jina sahasranama

. Thousand names for Jina- Thus:-

.According to this Vatarashana, Digvasa, Nirgrantha and Nirambara, all these

are synonymous terms and indicate a naked or nude state, So it can be

concluded that at the time of the Rigvedic composition such munis were in

existence who used to go about naked and who were revered as gods in the

Rishi tradition and were eulogised and worshipped by Rishis who were like

Indra,etc gods-


In Atharva Veda 15th chapter there is a description of Vratyas who are said to

be unversed in Vedic tradition and ritual and belonging to Licchavi, Natha and

Malla clans. As they were anti-Vedic they incurred the wrath of Vedic adherents.


The etymological meaning of the word Vratya appears to have been derived

from the laying down of the five vratas (vows) such as ahimsa etc. in

Jainism.Those who do not ceremonially adopt vratas and yet observe them in

religious faith may have been called Vratyas.

This is corroborated by Dr. Guseva, the Russian scholar in her ethnological

monograph Jainism; . Ancient Indian literature contains indications of the deep

antiquity of the sources of Jainism and it also indicates that the Ksatriyas and

ascetics from Vratyas i.e. non-Aryans played noticeable role in establishing nonvedic

teachings.several authors contend that during the time when Vedas

were taking shape, a number of elements which had subsequently entered in

Jain religion were already known. This is confirmed by the fact that monks are

called arahans or arahatas in Rigveda and Atharva Veda. i.e. by the word

which is invariably applied in Jain tradition for the designation of great teachers

and preachers of this religion.. (P.23)

The non-Aryan origins of Jain culture are also confirmed by H.T. Colebrooke.

He observes in his Observation on the Sect of Jains that the Greek Authors of

the third Century B.C. divided all philosophers into two groups sramanas and

brahmans so greatly differentiated that they considered them as belonging to

different races. From this Dr.Guseva concludes: .Only one interpretation can be

given to this, and that is, in those times followers of Jainism were, in the main,

representatives of pre-Aryan population of the country. This means that there is

basis to assert that the chief components of this non-Vedic religion were

engendered by non- Aryan ethnical environment.. (P.24)


That the concept of ahimsa in the Jain religious and ethical teaching was foreign

to Vedic culture is shown by the eminent indologist Prof. W. Norman Brown in

his Tagore Memorial Lectures, 1964-65 published in the book Man in the

Universe. His observations deserve to be quoted in full;

.Though the Upanishadas contain the first literary references to the idea of

rebirth and to the notion that one.s action (karma) determines the conditions of

one.s future existences, and though they arrive at the point of recognizing that

rebirth may occure not only in animal form but also in animal bodies, they tell us

nothing about the precept of ahimsa. Yet that precept is later associated with the

belief that a soul in its wandering may inhabit both kinds of forms. Ancient

Brahmanical literature is conspicuously silent about ahimsa. The early Vedic

texts do not even record the noun ahimsa-.non injury., nor know the ethical

meaning which the noun later designates. The first occurance of the word in

Sanskrit literature is in the Upanishads, but there it occures only once (CU

3.17.4) and in a context that has nothing to do with transmigation. It is merely

mentioned in a list of five virtues without any indication of its character. These

virtues are austerity (tapas), almsgiving (dana), rectitude (arjava), ahimsa (noninjury)

and truthfulness(satya vachana) It is evident that these are prized

Virtues. but ahimsa stands here isolated and unexplained. Nor is an

explanation of ahimsa deducible from other parts of Vedic literature. The ethical

concept it embodies was entirely foreign to the thinking of the early Vedic

Aryans, who recognized no kinship between human and animal creation, but

rather ate meat and offered animals in the sacrifice to gods.. (Pp.53-54)


Therefore Prof. Brown concludes; .The double doctrine of ahimsa and

vegetarianism has never had full and unchallenged acceptance and practice

among Hindus, and should not be considered to have arisen in Brahmanical

order. It seems more probable that it originated in a non-Brahmanical

environment , was promoted in historic India by the Jains and the Buddhists,

and was adopted by Brahmanic Hinduism after it began to win its way in North

India where Brahmanic Hinduism was developed.. (P.56)


It is also interesting to note in this context that there is a vital connection between

the concept of ahimsa and the concept of rebirth. A belief in the doctrine of

rebirth led to the idea of the unity of all life and, consequently, to the ethical

concept of non violence in ancient India. Once the doctrine of migration of

souls came to include rebirth on earth in animal as well as human form

depending upon one.s karma, it created a humanitarian sentiment of kinship

among all life.

To have developed this ethical principle is therefore a great pioneering step in

human history. The great contribution of Jain culture to this evolution in human

ethics is handsomely recognized by Dr. Albert Schweitzer when he says. The

laying down of the commandment not to kill and not to damage is one of the

greatest events in the spirtual history of mankind starting from its principle,

founded on world and life denial , of abstention from action, ancient Indian

thought- and this is a period when in other respects ethics have not progressed

very far reaches the tremendous discovery that ethics know no bounds ! So far

as we know, this is for the first time clearly expressed by Jainism..(Indian

Thought and Its Development).

The uniqueness of this ethical contribution is also recognized by the German

scholar, Dr. Walther Schubring, when he in his celebrated classic on Jainology

The Doctrine of the Jainas states that .The reverence towards life. (as Albert

Schweitzer put it) by which the realm of life was so immesurably extended,

permeates the discipline of Mahavira.s order in a way no other ethical

prescription does.. (P.301)

From the foregoing analysis it is also noteworthy that the main pillars of the

Indian metaphysical thought constituted by the concepts of rebirth, karma and

salvation through a way of life governed by non-violence are the characteristic

contributions of Jain faith because logically and spiritually they are so intimately


In this context one can appreciate the conclusion arrived at by the German

Indologist, Prof. Hermann Jacobi when comparing Jainism with Buddhism and

Brahmanism. Jacobi observed in Jaina Sutras, Part I,(Introduction) that there

are four elements common to all the three religions and these are according to

him: (i) faith in rebirth of spirit, ii) Karma theory, (iii) salvation from rebirth and (iv)

belief in periodic manifestations of prophets to resurrect religious spirit on earth.

Jacobi concedes that the first three are a logical outcome of a faith in nonviolence

and hence they could not arise in the Aryan culture consistent with its

sacrificial cult and that is why they are apparently borrowed from non-Aryan

faiths, that is, Jainism and Buddhism.



It must be noted, however, that Buddhism has not been as thoroughgoing as

Jainism in its observance of ahimsa. Buddhism justifies meat-eating so long as

one does not kill the animal for his food but purchases meat from the butcher.

Buddha advised against meat when (1) it is seen (dittha), (2) heard (suta) or (3)

suspected (parisankita) that an animal was killed on purpose for a monk. But

meat may be taken when (1) it is not seen,(2) heard or (3)not suspected that an

animal has been killed on purpose for monk.

But in Jainism holding the principle of ahimsa paramo dharmah- non violence

is the greatest religion- vegetarianism is strictly observed. The Jains have been

the primary exponents of vegetarianism in India. The Jains have taken

vegetarianism to its logical conclusion .No other religions community in India has

gone so far to avoid killing of any kind of organic life for the purpose of




Since Gautam Buddha, founder of Buddhism, belonged to the same region of

Magadha as Mahavira, the 24th Tirthamkar of Jainism and both were

contemporaries it was assumed erroneously that Jainism is an offshoot of

Buddhism. It is now accepted that Jainism is not only older than Buddhism but

as shown earlier in this essay it has got its roots going deep into the antiquity in

pre-Aryan and pre-Vedic times.

Mahavira was an elder contemporary of Buddha. As a matter of a fact,

Buddhist literature and history establish that after he had renounced the world

Buddha was for some time an ascetic following the Jain cult of Parsvanatha,

the 23rd Tirthamkar whose death took place 250 Years before Mahavira.

In the Buddhist scripture Majjhimnikaya Mahasihanada Sutta 12 Buddha

himself tells his disciples of his severe ascetic experiences when he first took to

asceticism at the hands of Muni Pihitasrava who was a follower of

Parsvanatha. Buddha has narrated how he went naked, took food in his own

palms and followed various other rigorous restrictions expected of a Sramana

ascetic. Buddha followed this practice for some time when he felt it was too

rigorous, and therefore gave up Jain ascetic practice, wore saffron-coloured

cloth and founded his own middle-path which became known as Buddhism.

Modern Buddhist scholar and Buddhist Bhikshu Dharmananda Kosambi has

said; . In Tripitakas , there is a mention in several places about Nirgrantha-

Jainas. From this it is clear that the Nirgrantha tradition was in existence many

years before Buddha. It is mentioned in the Anguttara Nikaya that one .

Bappa. named Shakya (belonging to the clan of Shakyas in which Buddha

was born) was a lay follower (Sravaka) of the Nirgranthas (Jain). In the same

Sutta.s Atthahatha it is also said that this .Bappa. was an uncle of Buddha.

It may be mentioned here that Nirgrantha means unattached, without

possessions, an ancient name for the Jain community. It should be noted that


both Siddhartha and Trishala, parents of Mahavira, are described in the

Acharanga-Sutra,- Jain scripture

as followers of Parsva.

As noted by Padmanabh S. Jaini, Professor of Buddhist Studies at the

University of California, in his book The Jain Path of Purification :.Buddhist

texts refer to the existence of large numbers of Niganthas (unattached ones)

who followed the Catuyama Samvara, the fourfold restraint that Jacobi and

others have convincingly identified with the teaching of Parsva. Such references,

moreover, suggest a Jain community older than that of the Buddhists, hence

predating Mahavira himself.. (P.10)

As Prof. Jacobi notes; . The Nirgranthas are frequently mentioned by the

Buddhists, even in the oldest part of the Pitakas. But I have not yet met with a

distinct mention of the Buddha in any of the old Jain Sutras. As it is

inconsistent with our assumption of a contemporaneous origin of both creeds, we

are driven to the conclusion that the Nirgranthas were not a newly founded sect

of Buddha.s time. This seems to have been the opinion of the Pitakas too, for

we find no indication to the contrary in them.. (.On Mahavira and His

Predecessors. in The Indian Antiquary , IX,1880 158-163)

Again as Herman Jacobi, states in his article on Jainism in Encyclopaedia of

Religion and Ethics (Vol II, pp465-74).. .Notwithstanding the radical difference

in their philosophical notions, Jainism and Buddhism being outside the place of

Brahmanism, present resemblances in outward appearance, so that even Indian

writers occasionally have confounded them. It is therefore not to be wondered

that some European scholars who became acquainted with Jainism through

inadequate samples of Jain literature easily persuaded themselves that it was an

offshoot of Buddhism. But it has since been proved that their theory is wrong..


Already in the foregoing discussion of the antiquity of Jainism about the distinctly

separate identity of Jainism from Vedic Brahmanic-Hinduism. However, it will

be useful here to state once again the prominent features of the difference as

noted by Dr. Guseva in her scholarly study Jainism.

Dr. Guseva categorically states that there are at least eight features which

distinguish Jainism from Vedic religion and Brahmanism which are so

substantial that they do not afford any possibility of regarding Jainism as a sect

of Brahmanism or its some other products. These features are:

1. Jainism rejects holiness of Vedas,

2. Stands against the dogma that gods are the main objects of worship.

3. Rejects bloody sacrifices and a number of other Brahminic rituals,

4. Does not recognize caste systems of the Brahmanic society.

5. Prescribe defence of others. life.

6. Prescribes asceticism.

7. Allows women monkhood, learning of holy books etc.

I would add one most important additional feature and that is Jainism does not

believe in any divinity as the creator of this universe because according to Jain

cosmology and metaphysics the world is beginningless and endless, and each


human being, by the dint of his own ethical discipline as laid down in Jainism,

that is, Ratnatraya Dharma-Samyak Darshana, Samyag Jnana, Samyak

Charitra .Right perception, Right knowledge and Right conduct- can attain

liberation without the intervention of any deity.

Thus, one may sum up, the originality of Jainism in the words of Hermann

Jacobi; .In conclusion let me assert my conviction that Jainism is an original

system, quite distinct, and independent from all others ; and that , therefore, it is

of great importance for the study of philosophical thought and religious life in

ancient India..


The etymological basis of a Tirtha as a holy place of worship can be properly

traced to the term Tirthamkar which signifies a liberated soul according to Jain

religions tradition. A Tirthamkar is one who has eliminated the last vestiges of

Karmic pollution attaching to the soul through a rigorous ascetic regimen

prescribed in Jain religious canon, known as agamas and has attained


He thus becomes a creator of a Tirtha or a Tirthamkar, a fordmaker. It is by

means of this Tirtha , or ford , a worldly being can cross this life and attain

moksa. It is in this context of the unique Jain connection of the term Tirtha a

historic genesis of the temple tradition and idol or icon worship can be traced in

Jain religious practices since prehistoric times.

As Ghosh, a former Director-General of Archaeological Survey of India and

editor of the monumental survey of Jain Art and Architechture published by

Bharatiya Jnana Pitha, on the occasion of the 2500th Nirvana aniversary of

Mahavira(1974) observes:

.Leaving the standing figures on a mohenjo-daro seal out of consideration, the

Lohanipura Tirthamkar images of the Mauryan age show that in all probability

Jainism had the lead in carving of images for veneration over Buddhism and

Brahmanism. No images of Buddha or any Brahmanic deity of that antiquity

have been found, though there are contemporary Yaksa statutes after the

stylistic models of which the Lohanipur images are carved.

The iconograpy of the Jinas, without the paraphernalia of the later period, are

standardized though distinguishing lancchanas are yet to be evolved with the

result that unless the names of Tirthamkars are mentioned in dedicatory

inscriptions, it is not possible to differentiate the individual Tirthamkar, except

Parsvanatha who is marked by a canopy of snakehood and Rishabhanatha

who has some locks falling on his shoulders. The images, normally robeless,

with the Sri-vatsa mark on the chest and with circular haloes, scalloped in some

cases, are either seated cross-legged with hands in dhyana-mudra or standing

in kayotsarga- pose.

The analysis of the origin of the Indian temple worship would be fruitful if it is

carried from the angle of the concept of worship as revealed in scriptural and

archaeological sources. To begin with the very concept of worship is alien to the


Vedas. The Vedas do not have the word Puja. It is originally not a word of Aryan

or European languages. The Vedic ritual of the propitiation of the natural

elements is known as Yajna in which the gods were offered ghee, honey,

purodasa (a sacrificial offering made of ground rice) soma- (wine)-and meat of

animals. That is why it was called balikriya (oblation- offering) or pashukarma.

As a matter of fact , the word Puja belongs to the Dravidian linguistic group.

.Pu. means flower (Puspa) and .Ja . means Karma (act). In Tamil and Telugu

the verb meaning to do is . ce. , and in Kannada it is .ge. and thus .Puce.

Puge . , Puje. and .Puja. means puspa-karma (floral act) just as sacrificial fire

and offering (homa, yajna) used to be called pashu-karma.

Thus idol worship and particularly non-violent floral worship is a characteristic

prototype of temple culture which was inspired by the ethnico-religious Jain

traditions weaving a matrix of karma rebirth and liberation.

It is noteworthy that there is uniformity in the ritual of worship among the Jains

and the Shaivas. Water, incense, rice, flowers, lamp, perfume, offering of

eatables and fruit, these eight substances form the material of the ritual of

worship of both the religions. From the available historical and archaeological

evidence it becomes clear that Jainism initiated idol worship in India. Hardly

there exists any Jain holy book or an epic which does not exalt idol- worshiping.

In fact, the roots of idolatry have gone so deep into the metaphysical and ethical

structure of Jainism to such an extent that it is impossible to separate this

aspect of worship from Jainism at all.


Afterwards the word puja was admitted into Sanskrit and the root word Puja was

adopted . Another scholar Charles Charpentier traces the etymology of Puja to

the Dravidian root word . Pusu. which means to anoint. Its propriety is in the

tradition of anointing the image of siva with sandal paste etc. when

worshipping the image looks reddish because of anointment with red sandal, and

therefore, siva became known as Lohita whose synonyms rudhira and rudra

finally merged in the form of rudra.

The difference between the rituals of sacrificial fire ( yajna) and worship with

flowers (puja) and direction to synthesize them is clearly mentioned in Bhagvat

Gita wherein Krishna says (9,24-26) that even though the doer of Yajna, Rishi,

and worshipper of siva by non violent means are friends there is difference in


This attempt at synthesis is illustrated by the story of the creation of two-formed

Rudra, one ferocious and another tranquil in Vishnu Purana. According to Dr.

Suniti Kumar Chatterjee there was a god by the name . civan. and . campu. in

Tamil Language different from the ferocious god in the Vedas, who was the

presiding deity in the Dravidian society before the advent of the Aryans. The

same was pronounced as .siva. and .sambhu. by the Aryans.

The tradition as the Siva being a originally related to the Dravidian culture is

very much strengthened by archaeological explorations. In the Indus Valley

excavations one image form of a male is sitting in a meditative pose

Padmasana. The hands are on the knee cups and there are horns on the head .


It is the definite opinion of Sir John Marshall that the Vedic Aryans adopted

Siva worship (siva pasupati-Rudra) from this Indus Valley culture. It is

significant as various scholars have suggested that the nude standing images in

the Indus Valley in a typical Jain ascetic Yogic pose Kayotsarga bear a striking

resemblance to the oldest Jaina sculptures, and further that there is a link

between the Indus bull-seals and the bull insignia (lancchan) of Rishabha.


The point to be noted is that there is a consistent tradition found in the Jain

religious literature and also in Hindu puranas from earliest times of eulogizing

the arch-Tirthankara Rishbhadeva as Rudra or Siva as Dr. Hiralal Jain, an

eminent Jain scholar, notes in his carefully adduced evidence from Jain and

Hindu scriptures (Jainism through the Ages, translated from Hindi by Bal

Patil, Unpublished )

Generally ancient Saiva and Jain temples are found in the vicinity of each other.

The cave temples of Ellora are a good example. So much so that a big cave

temple is called great Kailasa, and the Jain cave temple is called small Kailasa.

The following stanza in Shiv Purana bring out this association clearly.

Rishabhadeva, Jineshwara, the omniscient and the all pervasive incarnated

himself on the magnificent Kailas, (Ashtapad Mountain)

The idea of Rishabha Tirthamkara being an epoch-making man is deep-rooted

in the Jaina scriptures. He was the son of the fourteenth Kulakara or Manu

known as Nabhi. He is also known as Adinatha. Rishbha inaugurated the

karmabhumi and pioneered human civilisation and culture.

Rishabha was the first preacher of of the ahimsa dharma, the first Tirthamkara

or ford-maker to the path of libertion according to Jain Sramanic path of

purification and liberation. He attained nirvana on the summit of Mount Kailasa in

Tibet. The point to be noted is that there is a consistent tradition found in the

Jaina religious literature and also in the Itihasa-Purana Brahmanic lore from

earliest time of invoking Rishbhadeo as Rudra or shiva.The above stanza in the

Shiva Purana brings out clearly this association.

It is in this context it is important to consider the the definite opinion of Sir John

Marshall that the Vedic aryans adopted shiva worship (Shiva, Pashupati, Rudra)

from Indus valley civilisation. It is significantly sugested by the various scholars

that the nude standing images in the Indus Valley in a typicaly Jain Sramanic

yogic pose-Kayotsarga- abandonment of the body in meditation- bears a striking

resemblance to the oldest Jain sculpture and further that there is a link between

the Indus bull seals and the bull insignia (lancchana) of Rishabha.

From Vedic times to the present Rudra or shiva and Rishabha have been

considered usually as alternative names or designations which are :Digambara,

Digvasa, Tapomaya, Charukesha, Shanta, Akshobhya, , Ahimsa, Jnani,

Kapardi, Jati. These are such attributes as become perfectly applicable in their

meaning to Rishabha Tirthamkara. The characteristic mark of Shankara as

found in Jaina creations and images known as Triratna which is found clearly

marked in the cave of Sarata Kharavela at Udaigiri in Orissa. It is found marked

in the ancient images of Rishabha and other Tirthamkaras.


The arch-form of this symbol is found in the sign of tri-horn on the Indus Valley

seal images. It should not be surprising if the same mark evolved later as a

phase of moon, Om, svastika and the cross of Christianity as well as the mood

and the star of Islam as noted by Dr.Hiralal Jain (op.cit.)

The disciples of Shiva are collectively called Gana, whose leader is called

Ganapati and Ganesh . The group of munis or disciples established by Rishbha

is also called Gana and its leader , the chief disciple, is called Ganadhara. The

tradition of Gana and Ganadhara is found unbroken till the last Tirthamkara,

Mahavira. Such parallels and spiritual affinities since pre-historic times between

Rishabha and Shiva show unmistakeably that Jainism and its first propounder

have been the precursor of the later shaiva doctrine.

The most notable example of the fusion and synthesis of not only the Jaina,

Shaiva, but also the Brahmanic, Vedic, Budddhist and other Indian philosophies

is found in the great Himalayan centre of pilgrimage, Badrinatha or Badri

Vishala. In the Badri Vishala temple the following stotra is recited in the daily


��� ����� �ɨ��{�ɺ�i�� ʶɴ� <�i� �ɨ����i� ���n���xi�x�&

����r�� ���r� <�i� |ɨ��h�{�]���& E�j���i� x����ʪ�E��

+����z�i��l� V��xɶ�ɺ�xɮ�i��& E����i� ��Ҩ��ƺ�E��&

����%��� ���� ʴ�n�v��i�� �����U�iɡ�.�� j��.���C��x��l��� |ɦ��& - ��x�֨�z��]�E�

Meaning: .One who is revered as Shiva by the Shaivas, as Brahma by the

Vedantins,as Buddha by the Buddhists, as the Cause by the Naiyayikas,

Arahan by the Jains, Karma by the Mimamsakas, such god of the three worlds

may grant us our longed for fruits.. This illustrates how the Badrinath embodies

the true secular synthesis of India.


It is a mistake to term the Jainas as Nasitkas. The word nasitka has been

differently interpreted. According to the grammarian Panini Sutra it is explained

as one who does not accept paraloka or life after death. According to

Nyayakosha, a nastika is a person who does not accept the existence of

Isvara. Manu has said that he who derides the authority of the Vedas is a

Nasitka-nastika Vedanindakah.

But acceptance of the authority of Vedas which are essentially Brahminic

scriptures, does not enter into the concept of atheism. Atheism as

Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics Vol-II Editor, James Hastings, explains,

. both by etymology and usage, is essentially a negative conception and exists

only as an expression of dissent from the positive theistic beliefs. .

Further, . Theism is the belief that all entities in the cosmos, which are known to

us through our senses or inferred by our imagination and reason, are dependent

for their origination and for their continuance in existence upon the creative and

causal action of an infinite and eternal self- consciousness and will...


But Jainism does not recognize that the universe was created by any God or

gods. The universe is beginningless and endless. The universe is constituted of

six substances viz. soul, matter, time, space, principle of motion and, and the

principle of stationariness. The soul , matter, time, space, principle of motion

and, the principle of stationariness. Soul is characterized by consciousness

while the matter is not. This is consistent with scientific theories.

The Jains do not regard God as necessary to explain the universe. The number

of souls in the universe is infinite. Each individual soul is divine in nature and can

attain perfection by cultivation of right faith , right knowledge and right conduct.

Thus Jainism places a great responsibility on the frail human shoulders and

gives each human being a passport to Godhood only warning him that the may

do evil at his own peril because each one will reap as he sown.

The essence of Jaina teaching is that a man or a woman is truly the architect of

one.s own destiny and that the liberation of soul from the last vestige of karmic

particle is synonymous with supreme bliss or salvation or moksa commensurate

with divinity.


Why do the Jainas worship the Tirthamkars? Umaswami, a great Jaina

Acharya has expressed the object of Jain worship of Tirthamkar in precise

terms in the opening verse of his renowned exposition of the principles of reality

according to Jainism in Tattvartha sutra;

.I bow to Lord, the promulgator of the path liberation , the destroyer of mountains

of Karmas and the knower of the whole of reality, so that I may realise these

qualities.. The object of Jain worship is therefore not to seek favours but to

cultivate a frame of mind to seek guidance, to meditate on the path of Liberation

as taught by the Tirthamkars.

As noted by Dr. A.N. Upadhye, a great Prakrit scholar of Jainism, . By God

Jainism understands a liberated soul as well as a Tirthamkar, who is the

highest spiritual ideal after which every soul can aspire; the God is an example to

inspire and guide. Thus the basis of the Jain conception is different from

Hinduism . Though the God is not a creator, the Jain religion neither lacks

devotional fervour nor ceremonial rituals. Jains offer prayers to him, worship him

both in concept and in concrete , and meditate on him. Respectful prayers are

offered to the Tirthamkaras, liberated soul, preceptor, preacher and monk

because these represent various stages of the souls spiritual progress. Such a

routine keeps one vigilant about one.s ideal warning every time that one is to

depend on oneself to destroy the Karmas. Jainism is thus a religion of self help

and can be practised by the self reliant, strong and brave.. (Jainism by Colette

Caillat, Dr. A.N. Upadhye, Bal Patil , Macmillan, 1974)


The Sanskrit words mandira and alaya , both denoting something like a

shelter, specify a temple particularly in Jain references. The terms ayatana- a

resting place or a sanctuary- is more ancient dating back to the time of

Mahavira who often used to stay in Yaksayatana in the course of his Vihara.


Later it coined the word Jinayatana and still later was replaced by the words

mandira, alaya, geha, griha etc.

But the most important term denoting the genesis of the temple appears to be

Chaitya from very ancient times. From the Uvasaga-Dasao Upasaka Dasa, a

Jain scripture, we come to know that the Jnatrikas, being the clan of Jnatri

Putras to which Mahavira belonged, possessed a Jain temple outside their

settlement at kollaga which bore the name Duipalasa.

The term ceiya used here has been interpreted by Dr. Hoernle to mean .

properly the name of a Jain temple or sacred shrine, but commonly applied to

the whole sacred enclosure containing a garden, grove or park (Ujjana, Vana-

Sanda or Vana-Khanda, a shrine and attendants houses,. ( Uvasaga .

Dasao,P.2) After Mahavira.s assuming the vocation of a monk he used this

ceiya for his accommodation whenever he visted the place of his birth.


It is significant to note as stated by Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy that the word

chaitya is derived from a root Chi meaning to build or heap up, but as used in

the Epic and early Buddhist and Jain literature, it means any holystead, altar

shrine, grove, temple etc. And therefore he asks ; . May it not be derived from

Chit, with the sense therefore of an object to be meditated upon or attended to? .

This interpretation is definitely a pointer to the Jain concept of ritual meditation

of perfected beings. Chaityas have been from very ancient times the legendary

abodes of the Yaksas, Shasan Devatas or tutelary deities. Every Jain

Tirthamkar has a pair of tutelary deities of Yaksa and Yakshini.

It is pertinent to note that a Chaitya is often termed as Chaityavriksha or

Chaitya-tree. The earliest reference to the chaitya-tree of Mahavira. Mahavira

was sitting under shala tree when he attained enlightenment .

The Kalpa Sutra, which speaks of the lives of the twenty four Tirthamkars only

mentions the Chaitya-trees of Rishabha, Nemi,Parsva and Mahavira. It does

not mention the chaitya-tree of the remaining twenty Jinas.

The Samavayanga .sutra gives a list of the Chaitya-vriksha of all twenty four

Tirthamkars of the present age. This last list, being common to both the

Digambara and the Svetambara sects was evolved before the Digambara-

Swetambara division in the fifth century.


The Jainas have assigned the spirits connected with the tree-worship to the

Vyantara gods. The Vyantaras are sub-divided into eight groups, Pishachas,

Bhutas, Yakshas, Rakshasas, , Kinnaras, Kimpurushas, Mahoragas (Nagas)

and Gandharvas, Each group has on its crest the symbol of a tree in the

following order the Kadamba, sulasa, vata, khatvanga, ashoka, champaka,

naga and tumbara, according to Swetambara tradition. In the Digambara list

the badri-tree is substituted for the Khatvanga.


The chaitya-tree worship, with which Yakshas are associated and the cultdeities

goes for back in ancient times and onces agains signifies the great

antiquity and pre-Vedic existence of Jaina iconic and worshipping tradition. The

gradual and late assimilation of the ideas of samsara- cycle of birth and death,

Karma, religious asceticism and Yoga by the Brahmanas ,the Upanishads and

later in the Epics shows the unmistakeable influence of the ancient and

indigenous Sramanic current as exemplified in Jainism.

It is in this context that Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy finds substance in

Fergusson.s view in Tree and Serpant Worship (p.244) that the worship of

Yakshas and Nagas, powers of fertility and rainfall .was the primitive faith of the

aboriginal casteless Dasyus who inhabited northern India before the advent of

the Aryans..

And therefore he is led to conclude definitely that . it is at least certain that

religious traditions which must be spoken of as Agamic in contradistinction to

Vedic, are abundant and must reach far back into the past. This past, moreover,

has been proved by recent archaeological discoveries to have been much more

ancient and to have been characterized by a much higher culture than had been

formerly recognized. . (p.3) Yakshas, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1973)


In the Jain Bhagavati Sutra Punnabhadda and Manibhadda are called

powerful Devas, and they appear together to those who practise certain

austerities. Yakkhas or Yakshas are often called Devas in Jain literature where

as Shasan Devatas they are usually guardian angels.

As pertinently suggested by Dr. Coomaraswamy,. the doctrine of reincarnation

is not Vedic, and in view of the suggestions of indigenous origins that have been

plausibly made, it is of interest to note how constantly the idea of rebirth is

connected with the Yaksha mythology in which a Yaksha may have been and

may again become a human being.

Hodson T.C. in his The Primitive Culture of India shows that a belief in

reincarnation is widely spread amongst the primitive tribes of India, Khonds,

Bhuias, Garos etc. The Lushai desire to escape from the mortal coil of

reincarnation. Santals say that .Good men enter into fruit .trees. This reveals

again the very ancient origin of the Jain concept of Ahimsa and related causal

doctrines of vegetarianism and rebirth.

In the Jain Uttaradhyayana Sutra Ch. III, 14-18 it is stated as a general rule that

Yakshas are reborn as men when their stock of merit (acquired, of course, in a

previous life on earth) is exhausted. Not only human beings , but even animals

may be reborn as tutelarly Yakshas. The following story of the Jain saint Jivaka

is related in the Tamil Classic, the Jivaka-chintamani; Jivaka rescues a

drowning dog, or to be more exact, recites to it the mantras of five Namaskaras-

Namsakar Mantra- whereby it is reborn as deity, a chief of the Yakshas.


The haunt or abode (Bhavanam) of a Yaksha, often referred to as chaitya

(Pali,cetiya, Prakrit,Cheiya) or ayatana (Prakrit ayayana) may be outside a


city , in a grove, on a mountain or at a ghat. Such Yaksa shrines are constantly

spoken of in Jain and Buddhist literature as ancient, magnificent, famous or


The essential element of a Yaksha holy-stead is a stone table or after (Veyaddi,

mancho) placed beneath the tree sacred to the Yaksha. Veyaddi is an earthen

or stone slab altar for the reception of offerings which is an essential part of a

shrine. Sometimes a symbol is placed on it. Later when images came into

general use, it becomes a asana, (seat or throne) or pitha (pedestal) of the


It was just such an altar beneath a sacred tree that served as the

Bodhisathva.s seat on the night of the enlightenment. It is very evident, as Dr.

Coomaraswamy, states that the sacred tree and altar represent a combination

taken over by Buddhism from older cults, and in the case of the Bodhi-tree we

see the transference actually in process.

The existence of images (and Yaksha images are the oldest known images in

India) implies the existence of temples. One of the detailed descriptions of a

Yaksa holystead is about the famous shrine of the Yaksha Purnabhadra

(Punnabhadda) of which a long account is given in the Aupapatika sutra the

first Upanga of the Jainas.

. Near Champa there was sanctuary (cheiya) named Punnabhadde. It was of

ancient origin told of by men of former days, old, renowned, rich and well-known,

it had umbrellas, banners and bells; it had flags, and flags upon flags to adorn it,

and was provided with brushes..

According to Aupapatika Sutra 2-5, the Purnabhadra- chaitya in the

Amrasala-vana situated to the north-east of the city of Champa was very old in

age (chirarita) recognized by people of old as ancient (porana) and famous. On

all sides of it was a big forest grove having a central big ashoka-tree with a

prithvi-shila-patta under it, slightly reclining against the stem and placed on a


Once again it is important to note in the above context as stated by Dr.

Commaraswamy .Certainly the Yaksha concept has played an important part in

the development of Indian mythology, and even more certainly, the early Yaksha

iconography has formed the foundation of later Hindu and Buddhist

iconography. It is by no means without significance that the conception of

Yakshattva is so closely bound up with the idea of reincarnation.. (Yakshas,


And even more importantly he continues: .Thus the history of the Yakshas, like

that of the other aspects of non-Aryan Indian animism is of sigificance not only in

itself and for its own sake, but as throwing light upon the origins of cult and

iconography, as well as dogma, in fully evolved sectarian Hinduism and

Buddhism. And beyond India, it, as is believed by many, characteristic elements

of the Christian cult, such as the use of rosaries, incense, bell and

lights,together with many phases of monastic organizaton are ultimately of

Buddhist origin, we can here too, push back their history to more ultimate

sources in non and pre-Aryan Indian Pujas. (P.37) Yakshas. (Italics added)


In view of the fact that Sramanic Jainism and its pre-Vedic ancient origins , and

definitely pre-Buddhistic in 6th Century B.C. one can appreciate that the . nonand

pre-Aryan Indian Pujas . Dr. Coomaraswamy speaks about cannot be

anything but Jain in inspiration as evolved in Chaitya-Tree and Yaksha


As noted by Coomaraswamy (n.1 p.14, Yakshas).The doctrine of reincarnation

is not Vedic, and in view of the suggestions of indigenous origin that have been

plausibly made, it is of interest to note how constantly the idea of rebirth is

connected with the Yaksa mythology, in which a Yaksa may have been , or may

again become a human being..

It is interesting to note also in the same context Dr.Coomaraswamy states:

.Sankara is one of the well-known names of siva, whose close connection with

Yaksas is shown in manyways, inter alia, by the existence of numerous temples

dedicated to him under the names which are those of Yaksas, e.g. Virupaksa

temple at Pattadakal..


The earliest known Jina image, preserved in the Patna Museum comes from

Lohanipur (Patna) and is dateable to about third century B.C. The nudity and the

Kayotsarga-mudra, suggesting rigorous austerity, of the image were confined

only to the Jinas. Thus the Jina images from Lohanipur and Ayodhya and also

the evidence of Hathigumpha inscription of second century B.C. in Khandagiri-

Udaygiri in Kalinga , (Orissa) attributed to Kharvela distinctly suggest that the

antiquity of Jina images may be pushed back at least to fourth, third century


Mathura was a stronghold of Jainism from second century B.C. to 1177 A.D. It

is certain on the basis of the archaeological data that Jainism got a firm footing

at Mathura by the second century B.C. The existence of a Jain shrine (pasada)

as early as the middle of the second century B.C. is proved by an inscription

recording the dedication of a pasadatorana by a Sravaka named Uttaradasaka.

The Jinas or Tirthamkars occupy the most exalted position in Jain pantheon.

As a consequence the Jina images outnumber the images of all other Jain

deities. The Jinas are always represented in the seated or standing attitude of

meditation. While Buddha was represented with such different gestures such as

abhaya-mudra, varada mudra which shows his concern about the world.

Moreover, none of the Jinas were credited with the performance of miracles

while the case was opposite with the Buddha.

The Jains have strictly adhered to the dhyana (seated cross- legged) and the

Kayotsarga (standing erect) mudras , in a vitaraga passionless and free from

all bondage pose, showing unceasing respect for yogic postures of

transcendental meditation and bodily abandonment.

This brings out the most important difference between the Jaina pantheon on

the one hand and the Buddhist and the Hindu on the other. As noted by

Pratapaditya Pal, the Jaina pantheon is simplest among the three Indian

religions. The difference lies in the fact that while in the Buddhist and Hindu

.blood and gore are the rule rather than the exception, in the Jaina pantheon


only peaceful forms prevail. In both Hindu and Vajrayan Buddiest art, deities

often manifest their ferocious side, which from the artistic point of view leads to

dramatic and animated images.. (Introduction The Peaceful Liberators Jain Art

from India, Thames & Hudson 1997


Mathura was particularly sacred to the Jainas from earliest times, where stupas

appear to have been the focal point of the Jain religious establishment. At

Kankali Tila, a site near Mathura, a large number of Jain sculptures,

ayagapatas capitals, umbrellas was an archaeological discovery between 1888

and 1896.

From the available evidence it appears that the Jaina establishment at Kankali

Tila grew around a Stupa which formed an object of supreme veneration. Also a

large number of ayaga patas were found in Mathura. Ayaga patas are the

votive slabs dedicated to Jain Tirthamkars. Ayaga patas are among the earliest

and most distinctive Jain sculpture. Covered in shallow relief in a square or

rectangular format they are typically decorated with auspicious symbols, images

of the Jains , and stupas (the early Jain and Buddhist reliquaries conceptually

originating from burial mounds.

Such ayaga pata slabs were the artistic and religious precursors of the

Samavasarana scene, cosmological paintings and mandalas later found in Jain

art, and which influenced the development of the latter two subjects in Buddhist

and Hindu Art as well.

The representation of Jinas and stupas on the ayagapatas tend to prove that

these slabs perched on the vedis or pithas did not serve merely as ayagapatas

or bali pattas where flowers and other offerings were deposited for worshipping

Jinas and stupas, as in the case of purely ornamental slabs.

On the contrary, these representations would suggest that these ayagapatas

were themselves like the image of Arhat at the deva nirmita stupa of

Nadiavarta-Munisuvrata, 20th Tirthamkar were objects of worship, a

presumption supported by the manner in which the sprinkling of flowers is

depicted on two of the ayaga patas in front of the stupa represented by the

tympanum in question.


The religious character of these ayagapatas (-ayaga means yajaniya devata, a

deity to be worshipped) is clear not only by the available in scriptions (referring

to the setting up of thses ayagapatas for the worship of the Arhats) but by the

depiction of the stupas, figures of Tirthamkars, chaitya vriksha, dharmachakra

and auspicious symbols, including Ashta-mangalas particularly sacred

to the Jains. The Ashta mangalas are eight auspicious emblems; Svastika,

Srivasta, nandyavarta.a symbol with nine points representing nine nidhis or

treasures-, a pair of fish, the mirror, the throne of fortune, banner and chauries.

A large number of such ayaga-patas are found in Mathura of the Kushana

period (first to third centuries) have been donated by women. A typical inscription



.Adoration to the Arahats (Jinas) ! A tablet of homage was set up by

Achala,daughter-in.law of Bhadrayasas and wife of Bhadranadi for the

worship of the Arahats..

As noted by Pratapaditya Pal, Senior Curator, Indian and Southeast Asian

Art, Los Angeles, County Museum of Art in The Peaceful Liberators Jain Art

from India, Thames and Hudson, 1997, .what becomes apparent from the Jain

donations is the strong sense of community that has been a contributing factory

in their (Jainas ) survival. The Jaina mode of worship without the intermediury of

a priest, makes it more of a community affair, than that of the Hindus. This

becomes particularly clear if one visits a Hindu and a Jaina temple and

compares their rituals..


As noted by Dr. Jyoti Prasad Jain, . In the field of architecture, the stupa (a

burial relic) seems to have been the earliest form favoured by the Jainas. The

Jaina stupa unearthed at the Kankali Tila site of Mathura was regarded by

archaeologists like Vincent Smith as not only the oldest known structure of that

type, but also as, the earliest extant building in India, apart, of course, from the

pre-historic Indus Valley civilization which was discovered later..

Smith thought that .600 B.C. is not too early a date for its erection.. Dr. Fuhrer

who superintended the excavation of the stupa said on the basis of inscription

bearing words to mean. Deva stupa, built by the gods, . discovered at the site,

the stupa was so ancient at the time when the inscription was incised that its

origin had been forgotten.

.On the evidence of the characters the date of the inscription may be referred

with certainty to the Indo-Scythian era equivalent to AD 156. The stupa must,

therefore have been built several centuries before the beginning of the Christian

era, for the name of its builders would assuredly have been known if it had been

erected during the period when the Jains of the Mathura carefully kept record of

their donations..


Since Mauryan art was known as the yaksha art and the pre-Mauryan art as the

Deva art, Dr. V.S. Agrawala surmised that this stupa must have belonged to

times prior to these of the Buddha and Mahavira. The stupa is said to have

been golden originally, but was perhaps made of mud. Sometimes during the

interval between Parsva.s nirvana, and the birth of Mahavira in 599 B.C. it was

incased in brick and in the time of the Mauryas in the 4th or 3rd century B.C. it

was repaired and renovated when stone was used freely for the first time.

With the rise of Buddhism and the growing popularity of the stupa form of

architecture with the Buddhists it began to lose ground with the Jains, and a

time came when all such structures were unhesitatingly attributed to the


Fleet rightly observed; . The prejudice that all stupas and stone railings must

necessarily be Buddhist has probably prevented the recognition of Jain


structures as such.. Smith also says, . In some cases, monuments which are

really Jaina have been erroneously described as Buddhist..


The authors in Studies in South Indian Jainism attribute the Jain influence in

idol worship and temple buidling on a grand scale. .The essence of Brahminism

was not idol worship. How came it then that the Dravidians built large temples in

honour of their gods? The answer is simple. The Jains erected statues to their

Tirthankaras and other spiritual leaders and worshipped them in large temples.

As this method of worship was highly impressive and attractive, it was at once

imitated. Especially after the advent of Appar and Sambandar, a period of

miracles and piety was inaugurated and it was at this time that the whole country

was studded with temples. (n.Tamilian Antiquery, No.2, p.23) It is further

curious to note that, in the temples so constructed, a niche was given to each of

the saints who in any way contributed to the revival of Saivism. In the great

temple of Madura, as many as sixty-three Nayanars or Saiva devotees have

been given a niche, each of them. One wonders if the saivaites had not borrowed

this custom from the Jains who worshipped their saints in the way described ,

long before these Nayanars flourished. By far the most important of the Jain

influnces that led either to the intellectual or moral uplift of the Dravidians was the

establishment throughout South India of Matams and Patasalas to counteract

the effect of Jain centres of learning and propagandism.. (Ibid. Pp.77-78)

The authors also note that the period immediately following the age of Kural is

characterised by the growth of classical literature, mainly under the Jain

auspices. This age is generally called the Augustan age of Tamil literature, the

period of the predomancne of the Jain in intellect and learning though not in

political power. It was during this period second century A.D. that the famous

Tamil epic Silappadikarm is supposed to have been written.. (p.46)

The great Tamil classic Kural by Saint Tiruvalluvar, as noted by the authors:

.Almost every religionist has claimed the author as belonging to his faith. Tamil

literary tradition attributes the authorship of Kural to to Valluvar; but there are

strong reasons for believing that the author was a Jain.One other evidence in

favour of the Jain origin of Kural might be adduced. The commentator of Nilkesi,

a Jain work, calls Kural , Emmottu our own Bible. That shows that the Jains

generally believed that Valluvar was a member of their community..

Prof. A. Chakravarti , an eminent Jain scholar and commentator on Kural has

identified the author of Kural as no other than the great Jain Muni Elacharya Sri

Kund Kunda, well-versed in Sanskrit and Prakrit who propagated Jainism in the

in about first century A.D. Tamil land . From the Pattavalis edited by Hoernle

and Klatt (Indian Antiquery,Vols. XX and XXI) the date of Kunda Kunda can

ber ascertained as Ist century A. D.

As regards the far-reaching influence exercised by the Jain scholars on ancient

Tamil literature the authors note : .The Jains had been great students and

copyists of books. They loved literature and art for their own sake. The Jain

contribution to Tamil literature forms the most precious possesion of the Tamils.

The largest portion of the Sanskrit derivatives found in the Tamil language was

introduced by the Jains. They altered the Sanskrit words which they borrowed in

order to bring it in accordance with Tamil euphonic rules. One great pecularity of


of Jain Tamil literature is that in some of the works which have become classical ,

Kural and Naladiyar, for example there is no mention of any God or religion. Not

only Tamil literature but Canarese literature also owes a great deal to Jains. In

fact they were its originators. .Until the middle of the the twelfth century it is

exclusively Jain and Jain literature continues to be prominent for long after. It

includes all the more ancient and many of the most eminent of Canarese

writings. Thus Rev.f. Kittel.. (p.76 Ibid)

Not only in literature but also in vegetarian way life, idol worship and temple

buidling the Jains influence in South India is evident. As noted by the authors .

How far this Jain respect for the life of living beings, a respect shown in daily

practice, has influenced the Vedic rites and ceremonies can be seen from the

fact that animal sacrifice in certain religious functions were completely stopped,

and images of beasts made of flour were substituted for the real and veritable

ones required in conducting Yajnams. Tamil poets have received inspiration in

this matter from the Jains and passages might be cited from Tamil literature to

indicate the extreme abhorrence with which Dravidians, a large section of them

at any rate, regard eating of flesh.. (Ibid.p.77)


Even more significant is the assimilation of the Jaina motives by the

Shankaracharya mathas as shown by the eminent historian K.A. Nilkanta

Shastry and V. Ramasubramaniyam �Aundy� in their article The Ascendancy

and Eclipse of Bhagwan Mahavira�s Cult in the Tamil Land published in the

Mahavira and His Teachings (under the Chief Editorship of Dr.A.N. Upadhye,

former General Editor of Moortidevi Granthamala of Bharatiya

Jnanpith (assisted by Bal Patil) on the occasion of 2500th Mahavira Nirvana

Anniversary, 1974).

The authors state: "It is necessary at this stage to state briefly what a Sankara

mutt was and how it copied the Jaina church in its technique of organization. It

was a legally constituted body, Pitha, headed by a bachelor hermit (Brahmachari

sanyasin) exercising absolute control over all the Hindu hermits of the entire

quarter. This pontif and his local representatives, practising asceticism

themselves,were to tour their respective regions supervising the religious rites

(Samskaras) and daily practices (Dinacharyas) of the four varnas...But the

most important and epoch-making innovation was their advice to all performers

of Vedic sacrifices to substitute vegetable offerings for live animal victims. The

�Manimekhalai� one of the five great Tamil epics, tells us that some orthodox

Brahmins of that age were performing sacrifices, involving the killing of many

animals, including the cow. One Brahmin boy, it is said, successfuly set free a

cow,an intended victim, and he was , therefore, hounded out of the locality as

well as the community by other Brahmins. Where actual blood had been spilt in

certain atharvanic rituals, the Sankara-mutt recommended coloured mineral

water (aarati) and breaking of cocoanuts and ash-gourds. Where intoxicants

such as soma juice, had been used, they substituted �panchagavya� and

�madhuparka� . In food habits too, vegetarianism and prohibition were strictly

enforced , with penalties of ex-communication for other transgressions. Ahimsa,

satya, triple baths every day and free teaching of Sanskrit were rewarded with

ecclesiastical honours and grants. Except for the doctrinaire difference, the

pattern of the mundane aspects of the mutt was but a replica of the Jaina

church." (pp.329-30)


It is pertinent to quote Edward Thomas to show the arch-influence of the Jain

Mathas since pre-historic times. The deeper impact of Jainism right from the

term "matha" which has a peculiar Jaina connotation is explained in his unique

scholarly paper entitled JAINISM or THE EARLY FAITH OF ASOKA (Ibid.

op.cit.)in which describing the etymology of the term Mathura as an ancient seat

of Jainism. Edward Thomas explains" The modern version of the name of the

city on the Jumna is Mathura. Babu Rajendralal has pointed out that the old

Sanskrit form was Madhura (J.A.S. Bengal, 1874, p.259) ,but both

transcriptions seem to have missed the true derivative meaning of Matha ("a

monastery, a convent or college, a temple," etc. from the root matha "to dwell,"

as a hermit might abide in his cave. The southern revenue terms have preserved

many of the subordinate forms, in the shape of taxes for "Maths". Rajputana and

the N.W. Provinces exhibit extant examples in abundance of the still conventional

term, while the distant Himalayan retain the word in Joshi-Math, Bhairav-Math


Further Thomas states: "This said Mathura on the Jumna constituted, from the

earliest period a "high place" of the Jainas and its memory is preserved in the

southern capital of the same name -Madura- of Ptolemy, whence the sect, in

aftertimes, disseminated their treasured knowledge, under the peaceful shelter of

their Matams (colleges), in aid of local learning and the reviving literature of the

Peninsula." (pp.3-4)

In a Note on the above E.Thomas mentions quoting Caldwell from his

Grammar of the Dravidian Languages: "The period of predominance of the

Jainas (a predominance of intellect and learning -rarely a predominance in

political power) was the Augustan age of Tamil literature, the period when the

Madura college, a celebrated literary association, appears to have flourished and

when the Kural the Chintamani and the classical vocabularies and grammar

were written."

With such glorious heritage all that remains of Jainism in South India at present

in the words of the authors:

.The vast Jain remains in south India of mutilated statues, deserted caves and

ruined temples at once recall to our mind the greatness of the religion in days

gone by and the theological rancour of the Brahmins who wiped it out of all active

existence. The Jains had been forgotten; their traditions have been ignored; but,

the memory of that bitter struggle between Jainism and Hinduism, characterised

by bloddy episodes in the south is constantly kept alive in the series of frescoes

on the wall of the Mantapam of the Golden Lily Tank of the famous Minakshi

Temple at Madura. These paintings illustrate the persecution and impaling of the

Jains at the instance of the arch-enemy of Jainism, Tirujnanasambandar. As

though this were not sufficient to humiliate the unfortunate race, the whole

tragedy is gone through at five of the twelve festivals at the Madura

temple..(Studies in South Indian Jainism by Ramaswami Ayyangar &

B.Sheshgiri Rao.p.79)


It would be pertinent here to mention how a new exercise in historical

interpretation is being purveyed on the website www.kamakoti.org , the official

website of Kanchi Kamakoti Shankaracharya. The introductory message on


this site pertaining to Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham states .More than two

thousand years ago, an avalanche of heretic and non-Vedic sects, with horrible

religious practices threatened to wipe away the ancient veda-Djarma. In the

Bhagvad Geeta, Lord Krishna has told Arjuna that, whenever there arises danger

to Dharma, He (Krishna) will incarnate in this world to eradicate adharma and reestablish

Dharma. In consonance with his words, the Lord has made partial

incarnations during the course of the present Kali Age. And such an incarnation

is the partial incarnation of siva as Sankara Bhagavatpada, which happened

some twenty-five centuries ago, on the prayer of celestials to Lord Siva to

redeem bharat-Desa from the clutches of non-Vedic heretic sects. Several

sources of authentic information lead to the conclusion that Sri Adi Sankara was

born at Kaladi on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the vaisaka month of the

cyclic year Nandana in cyclic year Nandana-Kali 2593 corresponding to 509

B.C.. (Italics supplied)

This extrapolation of Adi Shankarcharya.s chronology, a full thirteen centuries

before the actual historic date, has been a matter of scholarly debate for over a

century and .Although the views of historians have tended to narrow down the

extent of controversy to within two centuries now, it cannot be said that the

dispute has been finally settled.. as noted by Dr.Govind Chandra Pande in his

The Date of Shankara (Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1994). The Sringeri Matha,

however, repudiates the claims of the chronology more or less accepted by the

other mathas.

After examining the available historical sources Dr.Pande states that .This

monastic chronology which places Shankara in the 6th and 5th centuries BC,

hardly needs detailed refutation because it contradicts the entire chronology of

ancient India as determined by scientific history. It tends to make Shankara a

contemporary of Buddha whereas Shankara, Kumarila and Sureshvara are

clearly posterior to Dignaga and at least Sureshvara is clearly posterior to

Dharmakirti also. The chronology errs by antedating Shankara by more than a

millennium. The protagonists of this chronology argue that the title of

Shankaracharya was adopted by all the successive heads of the monasteries

established by the founder and that there were a number of pontiffs who not only

bore the general title of Shankaracharya but who had also a remarkably similar

career. In particular there was a �recent� or Abhinava Shankara who lived from

AD 788 to AD 812. The Kanchi tradition thus records five Shankaras - Adi, Kripa,

Ujjwala, Muka and Abhinava: it is this last Shankara who is said to be confused

by modern historians with the original or Adi Shankara..

But notwithstanding the valid historical chronology the Kanchi Kamakoti

chronology of the .historic. partial Siva incarnation of Adi Shankara will culminate

in 2020 when the 2500th anniversary is mooted to be celebrated officially. and

there does not seem to be any dificulty for its official approval given the present

unabated wave of Hindutva renaissance in India .



Eminent scholar Dr.A.S. Altekar states in his Hindi book Pracheen Bharatiya

Shikshan Paddhati Ancient Indian Educational System) 1955, that It is

established from the Jain literature that in ancient India education was

considered as a source of insight, enlightenment and peace, which by


contributing to a co-ordinated development of physical, mental, intellectual and

economic potential endeavoured to reach perfection. Thus education makes one

a humble and useful citizen in the society. .

The impact of the Jain influence on the educational process since earliest times

is evident from the fact that the preliminary invocation in the historic

Hathigumpha inscription was Om namah Siddhebhyah as noted by

Pt.Sumeruchandra Diwakara in his book Samrat Kharvela. It was considered to

begin any writing, document or inscription with the auspicious invocation Om

Namah Siddhebhyah.

This is corroborated by Dr.Altekar who notes that at the beginning of education of

a child he was asked to say Om Namah Siddham. According to the Indologist

Buhler.s Indische Paleography mentions how ancient Brahmi script came to be

designated as .Siddhamatrika. or .Siddhakshara samamnaya. because of the

auspicious preliminary invocation Om Namah Siddham and that it was in

practice since 7th or 8th century A.D. The Indian language scripts in South and

North India evolved out this Siddhamatrika.

C.V. Vaidya, an eminent Apabhrimsha scholar has noted in his Rashtrakutas

and Their Times that .mass-education was controled by the Jains. Their Om

Namah Siddham was followed by all as the beginning of the alphabetical writing.

This remained prevalent even in the decline of the Jain influence which proves

the importance of Jain education.. (p.309)

Mahapandit Rahul Samkrityayan: .It is a fact that Om Namah Siddham is not

Brahmanic expression. The brahmanic Trinity is not called as Siddha. Buddhists

and Jains call their prophets as Siddha. Hence such a widespread use of .O Na

Ma Si Dha M. shows the far-reaching impact of the Srmanaic religion.

Dr.Jyoti Prasad Jain, archaeological expert and Jain scholar, noted in his Hindi

book .Pracheen aur Madhyakalina Bharat men Jain Shiksha. .In the oldfashioned

pathashalas, of South or North India-whether they are of Mundi, Hindi

or Mahajani, or Sanskrit or Hindi, or Gujarati, Marathi or Kannada- the child.s

education begins by Om Namah Siddhebhyah .O Na Ma Si Dha M. is its

distorted version. This is wholly a Jain auspicious invocation, not connected with

any other religion. The prevalence of this invocation for a long time in a large part

of India the people.s education was controlled by the Jains..


With all such aforementioned historical context of the Sramanic Jain religion

histories and encyclopaedias of world religions with a few exceptions fail to

mention Jainism as a religion. There are pervasive misconceptions about the

origin of Jainism, its relation with the Brahmanic, Vedic so-called- Hinduism,

about Mahavira being the founder of Jainism, about its being an offshoot of

Buddhism or Hinduism or its being a reformist sect of Hinduism. There are

misrepresentations galore. It is overshadowed by Hinduism and Buddhism or if

noticed at all it is mentioned in passing as one of the ancient India religious

movements or a sect subsidiary to Buddhism.

Simultaneously there is the pervasive impact of the modern myth of Hinduism .It

had its origin in the Orientalism created by the colonial Sanskrit scholars in the


19th century. The political consequences of the construction of such a common

Hindu identity are extensive and have given rise to the Hindutva concept as

formulated by Savarkar and now being canvassed as the official ideology of the

Sangha Parivar.

So insidious and pervading is its influence that it has perverted the entire

administrative apparatus. This was also apparent in the innocent nationalistic

Hindu ideology of the Constituent Assembly debates which found its expression

in the Explanation to the definition of Hindu in Article 25.Clause (b) of Article

25 and its specious Explanation II is truly a religious Pandora�s box. There is no

reason why the religious institutions of Sikh, Buddhist and Jain faiths should be

treated on par with the Hindu religious ones to push forward Hindu social welfare

and reform.

It could be nothing but a surreptious attempt-or rather a clumsy one to dilute and

make nonsense of the essence of religious freedom guaranteed by that very

Article under a pretensious Hindu pretext. It confirms the suspicion that the

particular Clause was not discussed threadbare, nor does it appear from the

Constituent Assembly Debates that the protagonists of Jains, Buddhists and

Sikhs were given a fair opportunity to discuss its implications. Thus the construct

of the Hindu colonial nationalist ethos has found its way in the very heart of the

Indian Constitution laying down the Fundamental Right to religious freedom and

has made nonsense of its secular basic structure, thus coming back full circle to

Savarkar�s vision of India in his book Hindutva written in 1923. It is pertinent to

recall that articulating the concepts of Hindutva and Hinduness as political

concepts has also received the judicial stamp of approval in the Manohar Joshi

case of 1995.

As B.Shiva Rao�s classic exposition The Framing of India�s Constitution :A

Study shows that Article 25 relating to religious freedom and particularly its

Explanation II including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs in the definition of Hindus

was finalized by the Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee comprising of

stalwarts like Dr.Ambedkar and Dr.Munshi without proper discussion.

It is indeed a constitutional conundrum why the Founding Fathers should have

resorted to this devious means of social welfare and reform of Hindu religious

institutions by a blatant invasion of the admittedly distinct Sikh, Buddhist and Jain

religious identities. This CAD context has a crucial relevance to the obnoxious

manner in which the Hindutva ideology is being exploited as a sanction for the

Hindu Rashtra concept. The recent NCERT history textbooks controversy and

the wholesale rewriting of the Indian histories is the last straw to break the

overburdened back of the Indian history with systematic classic Hindutva

ideology. Even otherwise the coverage of Jainism and Buddhism in Indian history

textbooks has been superficial, misleading and downright distorted.


As a glaring instance of such standard distortion one can do no better than quote

the Concise Oxford Dictionary (1999 edition) which gives the definition of

Digambara as follows .a member of one of two principal sects of Jainism, who

reject property ownerships and usually do not weal clothes.. I sent an e-mail to

the editor, Concise Oxford Dictionary pointing out how the definition carries the

fallacious impression that all the adherents of the Digambara sect of the Jains


.usually do not wear clothes. which must be corrected so as not to cause offence

to the religious susceptibilities of this ancient world religion of India.

I am glad to note that Mr.Jonathan Blaney, Senior Assistant Editor, Core

Dictionaries Group immediately responded stating :. I agree that the definition

is misleading, and I will leave a note in our files for this entry to be investigated

at the earliest opportunity..


On a more careful study of the impact of the Hindu Rashtra-cum-Indianisation

concept of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideology and its genesis right

from its inception in 1925 and the enunciation of its ultimate goal by Guru

Golwalkar in his definitive We or Our Nationhood Defined it dawned upon me

that I should rather change the title of my paper as .Indian Constitution Under

the Siege of Hindutva. because that is precisely the diabolical aim.

This task of the subversion of the secular constitutional objective has been

partially facilitated by the Preamble itself as amended by the Forty Second

Amendment in 1977-inserting the word .Secular.. I am concerned here to draw

the attention of all the secular citizens who value the sanctity of the Constitution

to an outrageous assault in the bilingual (English & Hindi) edition of the

Constitution of India (Bharat ka Samvidhan) by the Government of India, 1999

published by the Government of India, Ministry of Law, Justice and Company

Affairs.It is pertinent to note that in the Preface dt.1st July, 1999 Raghbir Singh,

Secretary to the Government of India mentions:

.This is the first diglot pocket edition of the Constitution of India. In this edition,

the text of the Constitution of India has been brought up to date by incorporating

therein all the amendments up to and including the Constitution (Seventy-eighth

amendment) Act, 1995..

In this edition the Preamble is printed as follows:

.We the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a

Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens :

Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith

and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them

all Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of

the Nation; in our constituent assembly this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949,

do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution."

The Preambulary words .Socialist Secular. are translated as .Samajvadi

Panthnirapeksha. I think, that in all constitutional conscience, to translate the

word .Secular. as .Panthnirapeksha. rather than .Dharmanirapeksha. is a

clever tampering with the basic Preambulary and structural sanctity of the

Constitution. A Panth means in a straight dictionary meaning a sect or

denomination of a religion. By no stretch of imagination a religion can be termed

as a sect:a genus cannot become a species.

That this Hindi translation has been current since 1977 after the Forty-Second

Amendment throws a curious light on the religious ideological cross currents

dominant in the then Parliament influenced by the majority religion. The


rationalization which possibly prompted this translation is available in the

Rajendra Prasad Lecture of 1992 (I could not find the Speaker.s name on the

net stating:

.It seems that there are three main reasons. In principle, it was accepted that the

Indian concept of secularism would draw its inspiration from the Sarva Dharma

Samabhava - equal respect for all religions. It would not be anti-religion. Still the

Government followed such policies and implemented them in such a manner that

gave rise to the apprehension that the State wanted to keep away from the

religion and treated it as a hurdle in the way progress. The equality of all religions

and also of their followers as implied in the Sarva Dharma Samabhava was not

put into practice. Right or wrong, both the majority and minority communities

started feeling that the scales were tilted one side

or the other in view of political expediency and for the quest of power. The

scheme of providing incentives and disincentives to tackle the problem of

population explosion was not implemented on the ground that it would hurt the

religious feelings of some groups. Such as interpretation makes the very concept

of secularism ludicrous.

I feel that had we translated the word "secular" as "Sampradaya- nirpeksha" or

"Pantha-nirpeksha" instead of "Dharma-nirpeksha", in the very beginning, many

apprehensions would not have arisen. Whatever might have been the differences

of opinion on the interpretation of the word "secular", all, however, agreed that

the State should be non-communal. Even today there is unanimity on this

question. The new Hindi edition of the Constitution has translated the word

"secular" as "Panth-nirpeksha" and thusried to make amends for the past

mistake. What is needed now is that we all should adopt correct translation and

popularise it........ (emphasis supplied).

But this linguistic quibble cannot explain the explicit distortion in the Hindi

translation which is simply not compatible with the definition of the word .secular.

as .not religious, sacred or spiritual. (Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1999) This

cannot be ignored as a mere slip of the pen of the translator, nor can the

essential constitutional intent be distorted in an unwarranted manner by the

translator because we must remember it is nothing less than the Constitution of

India. One suspects that it is nothing less than a strategic misnomer planted

deliberately in the very heart and soul of the Constitution to lead Hindi readers on

a decidedly wrong scent because according to the notorious shibboleth of the

BJP and the Sangh Parivar there is only one Dharma in India and the rest are all



As Sudarshan said at Chandigardh on April 29, 2000 : .At the appropriate time,

we will form Akhand Bharat (United India). We have to regain the areas which

we lost in 1947. We have to regain Lahore- the capital of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.s

Khalsa Raj. We have to reclaim Nankana Sahib and several other religious

places, as also Sindhu (Indus) and Kasoor. The feeling for .Akhand Bharat. has

to survive because it is akin to the feeling that led to the unification of Germany,

Vietnam and Poland {sic}. Partition of India was wrong. (The Statesman, April

30, 2000)


The report continued: .Asserting that India was a Hindu .Rashtra.,

Mr.Sudarshan said Hindu in this context referred to the nationality and added that

there were many religions in India and the correct translation for the term in Hindi

was not .dharma. but .panth. or .sampradaya. . (Quoted in The RSS and the

BJP: A Division of Labour by A.G. Noorani.

Sudarshan was addressing the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat. Over a dozen Sikh

organizations led a protest demonstration march demanding a ban on the RSS

and the Shiromani Akali Dal attacked the RSS for trying to .infiltrate into Sikh


There has been a long a strong suspicion right from the assassination of

Mahatma Gandhi that the RSS cadres had infiltrated in various administrative

departments. As Pyarelal notes in Mahatma Gandhi: the Last Phase (1958)

describing the antecedents of the conspiracy to murder the Mahatma over the

lack of security despite the bomb incident on 20th January 1948:

.What , however surprises one, is that in spite of the definite and concrete

information of which the authorities were in possession, they should have

failed to trace and arrest the conspirators and frustrate their plan. The

failure was an index of the extent of the rot that had permeated many

branches of the services , not excluding the police. In fact later it was

brought to light that the RSS organization had ramifications even in the

Government departments, and many police officials, not to mention the

rank and file, gave their sympathy and even active help to those engaged in

RSS activities.A letter which Sardar Patel received after the assassination

of Gandhiji from a young man, who according to his own statement had

been gulled into joining the RSS organization but was later disillusioned ,

described how members of the RSS at some places had been instructed

beforehand to tune in their radio sets on the fateful Friday for the .good

news. After the news sweets were distributed in RSS circles in several

places.The rot was so insidious that only the supreme sacirifice could

arrest or remove it.. P.756

If the poisonous rot of the RSS ideology was so deep at the dawn of freedom one

cannot simply imagine its hydra-headed extent and its cancerous damage to the

body politic. I, for one, remember distinctly as a lad of sixteen, the pyromania that

prevailed in the RSS stronghold at Pune and Sangli by the enraged mobs against

the Brahmin community on learning about the identity of Nathuram Godse. At

Jaysingpur near Sangli (Maharashtra State) a mob set on fire a stationery shop

of one Jain RSS Shakha Chalak who after garlanding a photo of Dr.Hedgewar

and breaking the photo of the Mahatma distributed sweets. When the furious

mob attacked him he sought refuge before my father who happened to be a Civil

Judge & Magistrate. A Gandhian by temperament he pacified the violent mob

and refrained from firing. Such was my earliest brush with the quintessential

RSS ideology and its demonic manifestations.

That the Constitution is under attack not externally, but from within is precisely

what I am concerned to stress and this distortion of the Preambulary meaning is

palpable enough. That genesis of the Hindi translation goes back to 1977 bring

out the fact as to how saffronising elements were active in the administration, as

well as the then ruling party, the Congress.


This is not surprising because as Prof.Mushirul Hasan notes in his article Selfappointed

Sardar (The Indian Express, dt.11-12-2002): .Comunalism has been

rampant in the Congress, indeed many a Congressman is a communalist under

his national cloak. and goes on to quote Jawaharlal Nehru stating: .all of us

seem to be getting infected with the RSS mentality. This is a curious finale to our


Books are written to show the work of Hegdewar and Ambedkar was same, and

Shankaracharyas garland the photo of Dr. Ambedkar, Brahmanic dignitaries pay

a visit to Nagpur Diksha-bhoomi to pay tributes. And even RSS supremo

Sudarshan garlands the statue of Ambedkar - the maker of the Indian

Constitution - on Deekshabhoomi at Nagpur, (and the Ambedkarites have

washed and "purified" the statue "polluted" by touch of someone who condemns

the Constitution.)


A pertinent pointer to this is available in the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.s

letter dt.July 17, 2000, commenting on the Islamic scholar, Dr.Rafiq Zakaria.s

book Discovery of God displayed on the back cover page of his latest book

Communal Rage in Secular India. Mr.Vajpayee.s appreciation states:

.Yet you have succeeded in presenting it in a fresh, simple and highly persuasive

manner, with the power of your central thought that GOD IS ONE. This

monotheistic thought is the defining principle of India.s age-old civilization. Our

ancient sages articulated it in these words: Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vadanti

(The truth is one, wise men describe it differently). They also taught us the

secular canon, which is the basis of our nationhood: Sarva Panth Samabhava

(Equal respect for all faiths)..

It is worth noting that Mr.Vajpayee knows what he means as a true

Swayamsevaka , remember Sangh is his soul. Yet he makes a glaring linguistic

slip by translating Panth as faith. In 1995 Mr.Vajpayee declared that Hindutva

and Indianness are one and the same when he was honoured with Rashtriya

Ekatmata (National Unity) award by the R.G. Joshi Foundation in Mumbai at the

hands of the late Mr.Nani Palkhivala The Prime Minister.s well-known expertise

in doublespeak notwithstanding is there any dictionary .excepting the unique

RSS glossary of the Savarkarian Hindutva which has also been lucky enough to

gain the judicial stamp of approval in the Manohar Joshi case- which translates

.Panth. as .faith. ? Can this be anything else than a systematic linguistic

sabotage of the basic structure of the Constitution?

By comparing two statements of Shri Atal Behari Bajpayee, one in 1980 and the

others in 1995. In 1980 Shri Vajpayee said: .I still feel that instead of the phrase

.Hindu rashtra. we should have used .bharatiya. The basis ideological

ambivalence in the terms .Bharatiya, and .Hindu. can best be appreciated use

.Bharatiya rashtra .contrast it with his statement in Dec. 1995 : .There is no

difference between Hindutva and Bharatiyatva, in Hindutva alone are the roots

of Bharat..

Mr. Vajpayee.s ideological evolution during a decade and half towards

.Hindutva. indistinguishable from .Bharatiyatva. unmistakeable shows the


inexorable march of the Bharatiya Janata Party towards a .Hindu. India, thus

coming back full circle to Savarkar.s vision of India in his book Hindutva:

This constitutional ambiguity in the meaning of secularism as interpreted by the

stalwarts of the Sangh Parivar is a deliberate ploy to subvert the Constitution

towards the triumphal pilgrimage to the ultimate destination of Akhand Bharat

or Hindu Rashtra . The point is the RSS will not suffer any opposition to its

Hindutva and Hinduisation by hook or by crook. The linguistic sleight of hand

reminds one of the classic interaction between Alice and the Humpty Dumpty in

Through the Looking Glass. .The question is., said Alice, .whether you can

make words mean so many different things.. .The question is ,. said Humpty

Dumpty, .which is to be the master- that.s all..

In the above context of the Sikh protest it would be interesting to note that

recently the Sikh community made a strong representation to the Constitution

Review Commission that clubbing Sikhs with Hindus in Article 25 of the

Constitution had impinged on its status as a separate religion and dileted their

religious identity. The Constitution Review Commission has recommended

that the Article should be suitably amended.


To revert to the sectarian or .Panthic. interpretation of the Constitution I shall

now refer to how it has affected the Jains also because the Jain religion and

community also has been victimized by this Hindutva religious hegemonic

operation. And again the Article 25 which lays down the freedom of conscience

and religion is source of constitutional mischief. I have been pursuing the

question of Jain minority recognition on par with the other minority religious

communities such as Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Zoroastrians (Parsis).

But as far as the constitutional position is concerned Sikhs Buddhists and Jains

are sailing in the same boat and there is glaring discrimination because while

Buddhists and Sikhs are recognized as minority religious communities under the

National Minority Commission Act the Jains have been left out even when the

National Minority Commission has recommended twice that the Jains are not

Hindus and as such should be recognized as a minority community.

To quote Article 25 of the Constitution: Right to Freedom of Religion:

25. Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of

religion-(1) subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions

of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the

right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.

(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent

the State from making any law-

(a) regulating or restricting any economic any economic, financial, political or

other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice:

(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu

religious institutions of a public character to all classes and section of Hindus.


Explanation I,- The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be

included in the profession of the Sikh religion.

Explanation II,- In sub-clause (b) of clause (2), the reference to Hindus shall be

construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or

Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be

construed accordingly.

This Article professedly laying down the Fundamental Right of conscience and

religious faith is an intrinsic proof as to how the Founding Fathers, at least the

drafting committee members - it is pertinent to remember an earlier draft of the

Constitution did not contain such distinguishing Explanations- entertain a

basically Hinduized notion of India, that is Bharat.

As noted by Gautam Navlakha in his article Invoking Union and Official

Nationalism of Bharat in the book Region, Religion, Caste, Gender and

Culture in Contemporary India Edited by T.V. Sathyamurthy : .In view of the

self-appointed role of the Indian state as the reformer of Hindu society, the tilt in

favour of the religion of the majority became more and more pronounced, and its

use of symbols and concepts has become heavily overlaid with an emphasis on

its Hindu character.. (p.86).

As Romila Thapar suggests this new Hinduism, furnished with a Brahmanical

base, was merged with elements of .upper caste belief and ritual with one eye on

the Christian and Islamic models. and thoroughly infused with political and

nationalistic emphasis. Thapar notes it as .syndicated Hinduism. which is .being

pushed forward as the sole claimant of the inheritance of indigenous Indian

religion.. (Syndicated Moksha, in Seminar 313, Sept.1985, p.21)


How did this modern myth of Hinduism begin? It had its origin in the Orientalism

created by the colonial Sanskrit scholars in the 19th century. As Richard King

has discussed in his book Orientalism and Religion :Postcolonial theory,

India and The Mystic East. He notes that .William Jones in his role as

Supreme Court Judge in India, initiated a project to translate the Dharmasastras

in the misguided belief that this represented the law of the Hindus, in order to

circumvent what he saw as the .culpable bias. of the native pundits. In taking the

Dharmasastras as a binding law-book, Jones manifests the Judeeo-Christian

paradigm within which he conceived of religion, and the attempt to apply such a

book universally reflects Jones. .textual imperialism.. The problem with taking the

Dharmasastras as pan-Indian in application is that the texts themselves were

representative of a priestly elite (the Brahmin castes), and not of Hindus in toto.

Thus even within these texts, there was no notion of a unified Hindu community,

but rather an acknowledgment of a plurality of local, occupational and caste

contexts in which different customs and or rules applied..

As he notes succinctly further:. It was thus in this manner that .society was

made to conform to ancient dharmasastras texts , in spite of those texts.

insistence that they were overridden by local and group custom. It eventually

allowed Anglicist administrators to manipulate the porous boundary between

religion as defined by texts and customs they wished to ban.. (author.s italics

quoting from Rocher.s British Orientalism in the Eighteenth Century p.242


This colonial construction of .Hinduism. contributed according to Richard King to

the merging of the Brahmanical forms of religion with Hinduism which is notable

in the .tendency to emphasize Vedic and brahmanical texts and beliefs as central

and foundational to the .essence of Hinduism and in the modern association of

.Hindu doctrine. with the various brahmanical schools of the Vedanta..p.102

The political consequences of the construction of such a common Hindu identity

are explained by Romila Thapar as : .since it was easy to recognize other

communities on the basis of religion, such as Muslims and Christians, an effort

was made to consolidate a parallel Hindu community.In Gramsci.s terms, the

class which wishes to become hegemonic has to nationalize itself and the

.nationalist. Hinduism comes from the middle class.. (Imagined Religious

Communities, pp.220-21)

In the context of his Oriental and Western construct of Hinduism Richard King

concludes that the the classification of Buddhist, Jain and Sikhs as .Hindus, is

.unacceptable for a number of reasons. First, it rides roughshod over religious

diversity and established group affiliation. Second, such an approach ignores the

non-brahmanical and non-Vedic elements of these traditions. Fundamentally,

such assimilation effectively subverts the authority of members of these traditions

to speak for themselves. In the last analysis, neo-Vedantic inclusivism remains

inappropriate for the simple reason that Buddhists and Jains do not generally see

themselves as followers of sectarian denominations of .Hinduism... (my italics)



A careful reading of the Article 25 as a whole makes it crystal clear that there is

no reference to Hindu religion except with reference to the Hindu religious

institutions of a public character in Sub-clause (b) of clause (2) . It is also clear

that the provision for social welfare and reform or throwing open of Hindu

religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus is

also specifically refers to the Hindu religion . It is impossible therefore to know

what Constitutional purpose the founding Fathers were contemplating to serve by

construing the reference to Hindus as including a reference to persons

professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion. Why was it necessary to drag

these three Sikh, Buddhist and Jaina religions and club them together with the

reference to Hindus? Granted, the Founding Fathers were keen to provide social

welfare and reform or throw open the Hindu religious institutions or temples to all

classes and sections of Hindus, or they were concerned to end untouchability by

law, or they contemplated to carry out any other unspecified social or religious

reform vis-�-vis the Hindu religion.

Still that does not explain the rationale of including the other three religions of

Indian origin under the specious umbrella of the Hindu religion. Jainism and

Buddhism do not have casteism. As a matter of fact Mahavira who was the

reformer of the ancient religion of Jainism specifically gave the message of a

casteless society and and gave a call against slaughter of animals in sacrificial

Vedic Yajnas. Buddha did the same. Sikhism too does not have untouchability.

Therefore the question remains what constitutional purpose was sought to be

fulfilled by including Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists among the Hindus. As B.Shiva


Rau.s classic exposition The Framing of India.s Constitution: A Study shows

that Article relating to religious freedom and particularly its Explanation II

including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs in the definition of Hindus was finalized by

the Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee comprising of stalwarts like Sardar

Patel, Dr.Ambedkar and Dr.Munshi without proper discussion. It is indeed a

constitutional conundrum why the Founding Fathers should have resorted to this

devious means of social welfare and reform of Hindu religious institutions by a

blatant invasion of the admittedly distinct sikh, Buddhist and Jain religious


Clause (b) of Article 25 and its specious Explanation II is truly a religious

Pandora.s box. There is no reason why the religious institutions of Sikh, Buddhist

and Jain faiths should be treated on par with the Hindu religious ones to push

forward Hindu social welfare and reform. It could be a nothing but a surreptious

attempt-and rather a clumsy one- to take away the religious freedom guaranteed

by that very Article under a pretentious Hindu pretext .

A very unconvincing and clearly untenable attempt which cannot be sustained by

constitutional rationalization. It confirms the suspicion that the particular clause

was not discussed threadbare, nor does it appear from the Constituent Assembly

Debates that the protagonists of Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs were given a fair

opportunity to discuss its implications .


Thus the construct of the Hindu colonial nationalist ethos as detailed above has

found its way in the very heart of the Indian Constitution laying down the

Fundamental Right for religious freedom and has made nonsense of its secular

basic structure., thus coming back full circle to Savarkar.s vision of of India in his

book Hindutva written in 1923. It is pertinent to recall that articulating the

concepts of Hindutva and Hinduness as political concepts Savarkar said:

.Asindhu Sindhu Paryanta yasya Bharatbhumika pitrubhu punyabhu

sarvaih hindu iti smritah. that is .One who considers the country or nation

spread between singhu river to the sea coast as his Fatherland and Holyland is

verily a Hindu.. Pertinently one must note that instead of .Motherland. Savarkar

calls it .Fatherland., a peculiarly definitive partrilineal concept characteristic of

Vedic and this .Hindu. Brahminism which later developed into the racist and

Fascist Nazi concept of pure Aryan Vaterland thus making the fascist geneology

of Hindutva clearly evident.

According to this convenient portmanteau definition of .Hindu. most of the

Indians, except of course Muslims and Christians, comprising those believe in

Vedas, as also, those not believing in Vedas such as Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs,

are lumped together as .Hindus.. As explained by the Hindu-ideologue J.S.

Karandikar in his Marathi book Hindutvavada .Although Jains, Buddhists, Vedic,

Burmese, Arya, Sikh , Manbhava, belong to differenct religions sects Hindusim is

alone the spring source of all these sects and these have grown into separate

branches at various times for various reasons . .This leads to the pan-hinduistic

position of Viveknanda stating that any religion in the world has its ultimate origin

in Hinduism, but we do not want to connect Christian and Islamic religions by

such far fetched relationship..


Such being the Vedic pedigree and genesis of the term Hindutva one can well

realize Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee.s somewhat tortuous journey towards accepting

the .synonymousness. of Hindutva and Bharatiyatva. But does it mean that the

Bharatiya Janata Party will change its name as .Hindu. Janata Party. It is

inconceivable that the BJP will take this ultimate nomenclatural ideological leap

because the term .Hindutva. for all its rigmarole of all inclusive Hinduishness

cannot connote the comprehensiveness, breadth and a certain secular cultural

synthesis peculiar to the confluence of a medley of religions, Eastern and

Western, that have grown together through centuries, in the term .Bharatiya. .

And the moment BJP re-christians itself in a rash Hindu brainwave it will be

immediately branded as .fundamentalist . and .communal. like Muslim League or

Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Hence one can make out why with all its ideological

compulsions to paint the Indian map with saffron colour the BJP has prudently

continued with the term .Bharatiya., and still has innermost reservations that

.Hindutva. and .Bharatiyatva. cannot be one and the same.


And with all such irreconciliable inconsistencies and reservations on the meaning

of the term .Hindu. in practical terms the majority of those residing in India,

having faith in Vedas, and those not believing in Vedas such as Jains, Sikhs and

Buddhists are bundled together as Hindus on the specious consideration that

these are all following a Hindu way of life and hence are taken to be followers of

Hinduism. This is precisely where the crux of the Minority problem, its

communalization lies; just because Jains,Buddhists, Sikhs have grown together

through centuries with the rest of the Brahminic Hindus and inevitably other

religious and ethnic minorities and there is an intermingling of oustom, tradition

and culture it cannot simply mean that the non-Hindu or non-Vedics have

forsaken their individual religious and ethnic identities. Likewise is the case of

Christians and Muslims in India that although they are forbidden from the

mainstream of the Pan-Hinduistic culture, yet the fact remains that as much as

the Hindu, Jains and Buddhists have influenced each other equally these so

called alien faiths have not remained aloof nor have not remained uninfluenced

and certainly played an important role in the synthesis of Indian or Bharatiya ,

and not Hindu culture.

The whole terminological muddle and the fundamentalist division in the Indian

context can be traced to the desperate and impossible quest of the fanatic

elements in the original Vedic Brahmanic, that is, the so called .committed to

Hindutva philosophy to fraudulently gobble minorities like Jains, Buddhists and

Sikhs in their grand design to create a .Hindu Rastra. as a theological

counterpoint to the major minority of the Muslims in India. By a clever stoke of

constitutional drafting this was accomplished by such eminent draftsman of the

Fundamantal Rights Sub Committee comprising of stalwarts like Dr. Ambedkar

and Dr. Munshi when Article 25 relating to religious freedom and particularly its

Explanation 2 including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs in the definition of Hindus

was finalized without proper discussion. And if constitutional stalwarts including

its very architech Dr. Ambedkar who had publicly burnt Manu Smriti could be

such unwitting victims of the so-called Hindutva tradition so as to obliterate the

separate religious identities of well defined religious minorities albeit under the

constitutional cover of certain limited objective one can well understand the logic

of the Frankensteinian spread of Hindutva today intent on eliminating the

smaller religious denominations like Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. While Sikhs


and Buddhists cannot be easily dealt with what with the militant and

uncompromising character of the one and the universal impact of the other Jains

alone are left to fend for themselves with their non-violent creed.


This constitutional subterfuge,or almost a terminological sleight of hand , was

very much in evidence in the then Law minister, Dr. Ambedkar.s comments in the

Clause by Clause discussion of his Hindu Code Bill in Parliament from 5th Feb.

1951 to 25th Sept. 1951 when various eminent Hindu and Muslim members, and

particularly Sikh members took serious objection of the terms .Hindu. comprising

Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains. They objected to its communal, discriminatory

character and were strongly critical of its circumlocutory, round about and

circuitous way of defining who is Hindu. Some members very clearly stated that

the Bill in whatever form it was passed should not be forced on any section of the

Hindu community or the Sikhs or Jains.

Dr. Ambedkar tried to brush aside these objections in a magisterial manner by

saying that the .peculiarity about the Hindu religion, as I understand it, that it is

one religion which has got a legal framework integrally associated with it. it

would not be difficult to understand why Sikhs are brought under the Hindu

religion, why Buddhists are brought under the Hindu religion and Jains are

brought under the Hindu religion.In this country although religions have

changed the Law has remained one. The Jains come and ask: .What are you

going to do to us? Are you going to make us Hindus? The Sikhs say the same

thing. The Buddhists say the same thing. My answer to that is this: I cannot help

it. You have been following a single law system and it is too late now for anyone

to say that he shall reject this legal system whole sale. That cannot be done.

Therefore, the application of the Hindu Law and the Hindu Code to Buddhists,

Jains and Sikhs is a historical development to which you and I cannot give any

answer.. (Dr. Ambedkar and the Hindu Code Bill, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

Writings and Speeches, Vol.14, Part Two,1995 , Pp.886-888)

Dr. Ambedkar.s contention of a historical and hegemonic operation of Hindu Law

in India was categorically rebutted by Sardar Hukam Singh and Sardar

B.S.Mann. Sardar B.S. Mann quoted Mayne.s Hindu Law which says: .As

regards the village communities the Punjab and the adjoining districts are the

region in which alone they flourish in their primitive rigour. This is the tract which

the Aryans must have first traversed on entering India. Yet it seems to have been

there that Brahminism most completely failed to take root and the religious

element has never entered into their secular law.. Commenting on this Sardar

Mann said: .If I have enjoyed emancipation from Manu for so long a time, will it

not be tyranny of the times if I have to submit now to a modern Manu. Let me

give credit to Manu that at least he was original in many respects, but my modern

Manu .Oh, what a fall has he had!.

In this context I would like to refer to a searching analysis of the Hindu Law by

Madhu Kishwar in her article Codified Hindu Law : Myth and Reality

published in the Economic and Political Weekly August 3, 1994. Madhu

Kishwar has rightly argued in this paper that .There is almost no principle

introduced by the Hindu personal code which did not already exist somewhere in

the India as accepted law. On the other hand, there were several existing, much

more liberal principles which were decimated by the Hindu code. In their


determination to put an end to the growth of custom, the reformers were putting

an end to the essence of Hindu law. But they persisted in calling their codification


Even more pertinently she has put her finger precisely on the crux of the issue in

Hindu Law when she notes: "There was no single or uniform body of canon law

or Hindu pope to legitimise a uniform code for all the diverse communities of

India, no Shankaracharya whose writ ran all over the country."


But while the BJP is willing to stike but afraid to wound the .Bharatiyatva.

concept frontally despite Mr Vajpayee.s categorical assertion that Hindutva is

synonymous with Bharatiyatva because it is still Bharatiya Janata Paty and not

.Hindu . Janata party its Hindutva ideology has received judicial imprimature

from the Supreme Court of India in its judgment in the Election Petition case.

The Supreme Court judgment in cases against the Shiv Sena BJP elected

representatives upholding the concept of Hindutva as the .way of life of the

people in the sub-continent. shows how even the highest judicial forum cannot

remain immune to the deceptive spell of the Vedic Hindu metaphysical concepts

and so-called Hindu tradition.

The Supreme Court judgment is at once a high watermark of the Hindutva

impact in the highest judicial echelons of the country and also a crucial challenge

to the Preambulary secular constitutional character of the Indian Nation. The

Supreme Court in its judgment has attempted to do something which was not

dictated by its jurisdiction nor called for, that is, arriving at a definition of

.Hindutva. and .Hinduism. something from which even the foremost scholars

have shied away. The apex court has rushed in where the angles fear to tread

and veritably opened a Pandora.s box. It did not pause to consider that if

Hinduism and Hindutva per se is a way of life it could be similarly the case with

Islam, Christanity or any other religion. In ancient times India was known as

Jambu-Dvipa or Bharatvarsha. As Mahamahopadhyaya P.V. Kane says in his

monumental History of Dharma Shastra the correct word to describe our country

must be Bharatvarsha.

It is simply incredible therefore to find such colossal ignorance of our ancient

Indian heritage and culture. Perhaps it is not ignorance but simply the judges

were unable to dissociate from their minds the very deep impact of their Hindu

upbringing and look dispassionately at the fundamentalist manifestation of the

.Hindu. spectre of the BJP brand. Such .faithful. aberrations even at the highest

judicial level are enough disquieting indication of the irreparable damage being

done to the secular constitutional fabric.

In a strong rebuttal of the Supreme Court judgments in an article Brenda

Cossman and Ratna Kapur (Economic and Political Weekly, Sept 21,1996)

have argued that .Hindutva continues to be a political category that at its core is

an attack on the legitimacy of minority rights. and that the .Supreme Court has

failed to understand the assault on religious minorities that is a constituent

element of the concept of Hindutva. From its roots in the writing of Savarkar to

its contemporary deployment by the likes of Bal Thackeray, Manohar Joshi,

Sadhvi Ritambara and L.K. Advani, Hindutva has been based on the idea of

Indian society fractured by the conflict between Hindus and Muslims, wherein the


majority of Hindus have been and continue to be oppressed at the hands of the

Muslim minority, Hindutva is a call to unite against these religious minorities; at

best it is call to assimilate these minorities into the ostensibly more tolerant fabric

of Hindusm, and at its more modest assimillationist mode and in its more

extreme and violent mode, Hindutva is an attack on the rights, indeed, on the

very legitimacy of religious minorities. As a call to assimilate or otherwise

undermine the very identity and integrity of minority communities, it is based on a

total disregard and lack of respect for other religious group.. (Emphasis supplied)

This is precisely the dilemma and danger the Jain community is contending with

in its fight for recognition as a minority community. In a powerful theoretical

exploration of Hindutva and fascism and the RSS. ability to capitalise on such

anti secular traditions Aijaz Ahmad says in his recent book Lineages of the

Present: Political Essays that we in India need to be especially careful in our

understanding of the relationship between fascism and the oppression of

minorities. As put by him, .Racism, in our case, communalism, can arise as the

centerpiece of fascist demagogy and fascists can then fashion a comprehensive

programme for organizing the heretofore unorganized mass morbidity; countless

members of the minority can undoubtedly suffer in the process, and there may

be even a fully fledged holocaust; but the real object of the fascists is not the

elimination of the minority but the construction of a fascist state, hence the

subjugation of the whole society...

The hegemonic operation of the Hindutva fascist ideology spawned by the

Sangha parivar combine of BJP VHP Ram Sewak Samity Hindu Sangam et al

has penetrated the constitutionally forbidden precincts of the Supreme Court;

and its march is unabating as it aspires even to encroach upon the ideologically

impregnable fortress of Marxism as is evident in the extravagant claim made in a

book entitled The Experience of Hinduism by Sadashiv Bhave, State University

of New York Press, 1988 :.Christians, nay even the Marxists, of today.s India

cannot help partaking of it they are all Hindu Bharatiya at heart.. What is it to be

Hindu Bharatiya? What does it involve? Chiefly, the accepting of the other world

as well as this World, the attempt to reconcile the two. But between the two the

other world comes first. Brahman and Maya are both real, but Brahmhan is the

ultimate reality. This ultimate/provisional duality has been resolved into a unity in

the Vedanta of non duality.. (quoted in Gail Omvedt.s Dalit Visions p.8) Gail

Omvedt pertinently notes:.This assertion leads to the political line of the Vishwa

Hindu Parishad that there may be various versions of what is defined as the

.Hindu tradition (Sikhism , Buddhism, Jainism, Arya Samaj and Sanatan dharma

re the ones usually mentioned), but there is no question that the core is

.traditional Hindusim- sanatan dharma..

Such being the signs of the Hindutva times in India the writing on the wall is

extremely disquieting for the minorities.


*Representative of Jain community in Maharashtra State,

Address for correspondence: [email protected] or [email protected]