Globalisation Of Jainism (2)

Posted: 16.07.2007
Updated on: 15.02.2008

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The home country of Jainism is Bharat (India) which derives its name from paramount king Chakravarti Bharat, the eldest son of Rishabhadeva the first Tirthankara in the present cycle of 24 Tirthankaras, of the present Avasarpini era. According to Jaina tradition, the universe and its creations are eternal and infinite. It can be divided into two eras (Kalpas) - (1) Avasarpini or descending era with happiness point of view, sub-divided into six ages, (i) Susama - Susamal (happy-happy), (ii) Susama (happy), (iii) Susma-Dusma (happy-unhappy), (iv) Dusama - Susma (unhappy-happy), Dusma (unhappy), and (vi) Dusma-Dusma (unhappy-unhappy), (2)Utsarpini or ascending era, sub-divided into six ages having same names in reverse order.

Rishabhadeva was the first king who gave an organised Agriculture (Krishi), Military science for Defense (Asi-art of sward), Script (Masi), Architecture (Shilp), Trade (Vanijya) and Learning (Vidya) Brahmi script and the numericals. He had laid down the norms for good and honest citizens and organised 'Varna' system on functional basis. Having highly developed spiritualism and understanding of the reality of soul and matter, he as an ascetic attained for him liberation from bondage of Karma (Salvation) from the continuing cycle of birth and death (Nirvana). He was the torchbearer for others for attaining Nirvana. Among the 24 Tirthankaras, of the present era, he was the first Tirthankara who originated Jainism.

The ancient civilization process is divided into three periods viz. Paleolithic Age (Old Stone Age) (1,00,00,000-6,00,000 B.C.), Neolithic Age (New Stone Age) (15,000 - 8,000 B.C.) Copper - Iron Age (Metallic Age) from 8,000 B.C.

The antiquity of Jainism is established through various sources. According to Jaina tradition, it is very very ancient beyond counting in number of years (most most prehistoric).

In this context, a question arises when did man begin to live in India?

The answer is suggested by a large number of primitive stone tools found in the Soan Valley (now in Pakistan) and in and around Chennai (Madras-Tamil Nadu State) in South India. The antiquity of these tools and their makers goes back to the second interglacial period probably lasting from 400,000 to 200,000 B. C. Some information is available about the primitive man who lived in the Old Stone (Paleolithic) Age in very small and nomadic communities. He used tools and implements of rough stone, which came his way. In course of time he learnt to control fire and tame the wild dog. He protected his body from the weather with animal skin, bark or leaves. In India, as else where in the world, man, thus, lived precariously for many millennia.

Great changes took place in man's way of life (the present Homosapien Man) between 15000 B.C. and 8000 B.C. when he learnt to grow foods crops, domesticate animals, make pots, weave cloth and manufacture well polished stone implements in contrast to the crude ones of he Paleolithic Age. In this Neolithic Age (New Stone Age) marked by the use of efficient and polished stone tools and incipient agriculture, were laid the foundations of civilised human existence. With the introduction of cultivation, it was possible to plant more seed, till more land and breed more animals to feed the increasing population. Many families began to live together and practice communal production of food and defend themselves against enemies. All these gave Neolithic man some measure of security and allowed leisure for the art and civilisation. In the process of migration to different regions particularly to the valley and riverside where land and water both were available for agriculture and animal grazing, the settled population became an important feature.

The purpose of the above reference is to establish the antiquity of the earliest civilisation of India, the originators of which according to Jaina tradition were the 'Kulakaras' i.e. the ancestors of Rishabhadeva. Among the 14 Kulakaras, Nabhirai, father of Rishabhadeva was the last Kulakara.

After the 14 Kulanakaras, the Jaina tradition recognises 63 Great Personalities or "men of mark" - Trisasti-Salakapurusa, who preached to the humanity religion and ethics. They include 24 Tirthankaras, 12 Chakravartis, 9 Balbhadras, 9 Vasudevas, and 9 Prati - vasudevas.

24 Tirthankaras
(1) Rishabha (2) Ajit (3) Sambhava (4) Abhinandan (5) Sumati (6) Padamprabha (7) Suparsva (8) Chandrprabha (9) Pushpadanta (10) Shital (11) Shreyans (12) Vasupujya (13) Vimal (14) Anant (15) Dharma (16) Shanti (17) Kunthu (18) Araha (19) Malli (20) Munisuvrata (21) Nami (22) Nemi (23) Parsvanatha (24) Vardhmana or Mahavira.

12 Chakravartis
(1) Bharata (2) Saghara (3) Maghva (4) Sanatkumara (5)Shani (6) Kunthu (7) Araha (8) Subhaum (9) Padama (10) Harisena (11) Jayasena, and (12) Bhrahmadutta.

9 Balbhadras
(1) Achala (2) Vijaya (3) Bhadra (4) Suprabha (5) Sudarshana (6) Ananda (7) Nandana (8) Padama (9) Rama

9 Vasudevas
(1) Triprastha (2) Dviprastha (3) Swayambhu (4) Purushottama (5) Purushsingha (6) Pursaha Pundarika (7) Datta (8) Narayana, and (9) Krishna

9 Prati - Vasudevas
(1) Asvagreeva (2) Taraka (3) Meraka (4) Madhu (5) Nishumbha (6) Bali (7) Prahalada (8) Ravana (9) Jarasandha.

References about Rishabhadeva have been made in Vedic literature. The Rigveda (4.58.3, 10.136.1) clearly refers to Rishabhadeva. Kesi and Rishabhadeva mentioned in the Rigveda (10.9.102 - 6.136) are one and the same personalities. The twenty second Tirthankara Neminatha (Aristanemi) has reference in the Rigveda (7.32.20) and the Yajurveda (25.28). Twentythird Tirthankara Parsvanatha (circa 9th - 8th century B. C.) son of Asvasena, ruler of Ayodhya, is a historic personage. His doctrines were widely practiced before Tirthankara Mahavira. Parsvanatha laid stress on non-violence (Ahmisa), truth (Satya), non-stealing (Acaurya) and non-possessiveness (Aparigraha). Mahavira added to it celibacy (Brahmacarya) making 5 great vows of the Jains.

Parsvanatha became a Jain saint at the age of 30 and preached his philosophy as an ascetic for 70 years. He got salvation (Nirvana) at the age of 100 years at mount Parsvanatha (Sammet Shikharji in Bihar). He was about 250 years earlier than Mahavira. The twenty-fourth tirthankara Vardhamana or Mahavira was born in 599 B. C. at Kundagrama in the Republic of Vaishali. His father Siddharth was a chief in the Republic and mother Trisal was the daughter of King Chetak, who was the head of the Republic. Mahavira attained salvation in 527 B.C. from Pavapuri in Bihar State. He was the contemporary elder spiritual teacher to Lord Buddha, as the later was born in 563 B. C.


Indus Valley civilization is related to pre-Aryan, pre-Vedic culture. The people were there polytheistic. The duration of the Harappan culture has been variously estimated by scholars. Sir John Marshall suggested in 1931 that it flourished from 3250 B.C. to 2750 B.C. According to the most persistent opinion in archaeological circles the Harappan civilisation lasted for about 1000 years from 2500 B.C. to 1500 B.C. But in recent years the new methods of dating adopted by archaeologists have led to the revision of the earlier opinion. The total time span of the Harappan civilization is now fixed between 2300 B.C. and 1750 B.C.

Around 1750 B.C. the culture of the Harappans broke up although the decline seems to have set in earlier. The adherents of the Indus civilisation culture can be said to be the ancestors of the Dravidas. But their religious and spiritual guides were those original Aryas of central India who had faith in Sramanic traditions and the religion of soul of the Tirthankaras.

Mohenjo-daro (Mond of City of dead) in Larkana district of Sindh, and Harappa in Montgomery district of Western Punjab, both in Pakistan are the two important and best known sites of the Indus valley civilisation on account of their size and diversity of finds. The other important sites of the Indus Valley civilization are Amri, Chanhu Daro (80 miles south of Mohenjo-daro), Kalibangan (Ganganagar Distt. in Rajsthan) and Lothal (Gujrat).

The nude figures in standing posture (Kayotsarga) found at the Harappan excavation may be identified as the Jaina statue of Tirthanakar, possibly of Rishabhadeva, though, authentically no established so far.


First Tirhtanakra Rishabhadeva is said to have travelled to Bhali (Bacteria), Greece, Svarnabhumi, Panhave (Iran) etc. (Awasyaka Nir-336-37). 23rd Tirthankara Parsvantha went to Nepal. Existence of Jainism is also traced in Afghanistan. Tirthankara images in the Kayotsarga i.e. standing meditating pose have been found in Vahakaraj Emir (Afghanistan).

Jainism crossed India from south India in about 8th century B.C., if not earlier, and became one of the most important, religions of Ceylon (earlier a part of India), which was known in those days by the name of Lanka, Ratnadvipa or Simhala. The Mahavamsa refers to the existence of Jainism in Ceylon even before the arrival of Buddhism. It was a living religion of Ceylon up to 10th century A.D.

Kalkacharya, a Jain monk, is said to have visited Burma (Svarnabhumi) (Uttaradhayna Niryukti, 120). The Digambara Jaina monks have been in Iran, Siam and Philistia. Greek writers mention their existence in Egypt, Abyssinia and Ethiopia. It had also propagated in Kamboj, Campa, Bulgaria and some other foreign countries.

Alexander, son of Philips, ruler of Macedonia, then a province of Greece, attacked North India in 327 B.C. with a large trained army. He retreated from Northern India in 325 B.C. and died in Babylone in in 323 B.C. He soughs to see a famous Jain saint Mandan near Taxila, who refused to go to him. There upon Alexander himself went to the saint who advised Alexander to practice renunciation by heart and body both like him and to devote himself to the religion of soul upliftment. Another Jain saint named Kalyan Muni accomplished Alexander to Babylone where the Jain saint resorted to Samadhi-maran.


There is a long tradition of Jain Acharyas after Bhagwan Mahavira like Gautam Gandhara, Sudharma Gandhara, Jamboo Swami (all the three Arhata - Kevalis; Vishnukumar, Nandimitra, Aparajita, Govardhana, Bhadrabhanu (all the five Sruta-kevalis); Sthulabhadra, Mahagiri, Suhasti, Kalka, Arhadbhali, Dharasena, Pushpadanta, Bhutabli, Kunda - kunda, Umaswami, Skandila, Nagarjuna, Deverdhigani Kasma-Sramana, Sidhasena, Samantabhadra, Mantunga, Bhatta Akalanka, Haribhadra, Virsena, Jinasena, Gunabhadra, Vidyananda, Amritchandra, Somdeva Vadriraja, Hemchandra, Shubhachandra, Jinchandra Suri Manidhari and many others who have propagated the great real knowledge of the Tirthankaras.

Thus, after first Tirthankara Rishabhadeva, the later 23 Tirthankaras continued the process of soul purification. From Tirthankara Rishabhadeva to Mahavira, saint, savantas and seers make a distinctive impact on the evolution and refinement of fundamental values of life.

The great knowledge, exemplary worldly renunciation, highly restrained life of austerities full of compassion of the Jain Tirthankaras, Acharyas and saints tremendously influenced many Indian emperors, rulers and chiefs and the masses. Jainism flourished very well in Bihar, South, Central India, Gujarat, Rajasthan and several other parts of India and many Jain rulers were either themselves adherents of Jainism or patronised it.


Continuous history up to 60 B.C. is not available. The dynasty wise continuous history of the Indian territories is available from 600 B.C. King Karakandu, powerful ruler of Kaling (present Orissa), was contemporary of Tirthankara Parsvanatha. He became a Jain saint practicing the doctrines of Parsvanatha. Srenika - Bimbasara, ruler of Magadha, was a regular visitor to the religious assemblies of Mahavira. He ascended the throne of Magadha circa 587 B.C. and had his capital Rajgriha (present Rajgir). His wife queen Chelna was the Chief of the Jain Sravika Sangha in the organisation of Bhagwan Mahavira.

Ajatsatru Kunika, Prasenjita, Udayina, Nandivardhana, Kakavarana Kalashoka were the powerful Jain rulers of the Magadha empire. Kalashoka ruled over Magadha during 449-407 B.C. He conquered Kalinga in 424 B.C. and took with him the Kalinga-Jina (icon of Rishbhadeva) and established it in his capital at Patliputra. His son Mahanandina (Mahapadamananda of Nanda dynasty), who ruled over Magadha during 363-329 B.C. was a Jain ruler. Chandragupta Maurya, who dies as Jain saint circa 290 B.C. at Sravanbelgola (Karnataka), Bindusara, Amitraghata, Samprati, Shalishuka were the historically known Jain rulers of Magadha of the Mauryan dynasty.

King Kharvela, who ruled Kalinga during 166-152 B.C. (for 13 years) was a historical Jain ruler. He built famous Jain caves a Udaigiri hill near Bhubaneshwar, (Orissa), and brought back the Kalinga - Jina to his capital, which is mentioned in his famous inscription of Hathigumpha (cave) at Udaigiri Hill.

The Ganga kingdom in Karnataka (South India) in the 2nd century A.D. was a virtual creation of the famous Jain saint Simhanandi and naturally practically all Ganga monarchs championed the cause of Jainism. The Hoyasaal Kingdom in Karnataka in the 11th century A.D. also owed its creation to a Jaina saint Sudata and as such many of the Hoysala monarchs and general extended their patronage to Jainism and carefully looked after the interests of the Jains.

Several rulers of the Pandya, Chola, Chera, Ganga, Pallava, Kadamba, Chaulukya, Rastrakoota, Hoyasal, Vijaynagar and Vodyar dynasties in the south were either Jain or patronised Jainism.

Later several of the Gujrar - Pratihara, Solanki, Parmara, Chandela and Rajput rulers had respect for Jain religion and its saints and helped in construction of large, artistic and famous Jain temples and monuments.

From the ancient period today a large number of important Jain centers have been established in various parts of the country, which have been seats of Jaina learning, and have famous Jain temples, caves and other installations. Many of the magnificent Jain temples and caves particularly in Rajsthan, Gujrat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh attract the world tourist, as those are the fine specimen of art and architecture.

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