Dr. P. B. Desai, while writing
about the existence of ‘Jainism in South India” has mentioned
that literary tradition in the Andhra Desa testifies to the visit of
Lord Mahavira in the 6th century B. C. to the northern frontiers of
Andhra Pradesha, then known as Kalinga desa for the propagation of
his gospel. Nayasena, a Kannada poet who composed his Dharmamitra in
1112 A. D. had referred to Dhanada, a Jain prince of the Ikshvaku
family, ruling over the Vengi Mandala which is identified with the
territory of the Andhra Pradesha lying between the rivers Godavari
and Krishna. There is evidence to show that Samprati, the grandson
of Ashok had sent Jaina missionaries to preach their religion to
this part of the country. The Satavahanas who ruled over the Andhra
Pradesh were known to be patrons of Jains. There are many legends
and traditions characteristic of Jaina faith attributed to this
period of history.
which is a Buddhistic work expressly refers to the prevalence of
Jainism in Ceylon during the 4th century B C. There is no reason to
doubt the veracity of the references in the book. The inevitable
conclusion to be drawn from these references Is that the followers
of the Jaina faith must have migrated to the South much prior to the
4th century B. C. and also settled in Ceylon.
in Chaturvimsati Kogali, Harpannahalli,
Bellary District. Karnataka. Height 36.3 cm,
Breadth 19.5 cm. Circa 9th Century AD. Source:
Govenment Museum Chennai
the Jainas migrated in large numbers is further strengthened by the
fact that Bhadrabahu migrated to the South along with his royal
disciple Chandragupta Maurya and about 1200 monks and nuns, when he
foresaw with his insight that there was to be a severe famine in the
North. An inscription of the 6th century A. D. found on the
Chandragiri Hill at Sravanabelgola reads as follows : “Success, be
it well. Victory has been achieved by the venerable Vardhamana, the
establisher of the holy faith and the embodiment of the nectar of
happiness resulting from the perfection attained, who has acquired
supreme honor in the world by his inconceivable greatness and has
attained the great position of an Arhat by the abundance of his
religious merit which procured for him the name of Tirthankara.
Now indeed, after the sun of Mahavira... had set, Bhadrabahuswami,
of a lineage rendered illustrious by a succession of greatmen who
came in regular descent from the venerable supreme rishi
Gautamaganadhara, his immediate disciple Loharya, Jambu, Vishnudeva,
Aparajita, Govardhana, Bhadrabahu, Visakha, Proshthila, Krittikarya,
Jayanama, Siddhartha, Dhritishena, Budhila, and other teachers,-who
was acquainted with the true nature of the eight-fold great omens
and a seer of the past, present and future, having learnt from an
omen and foretold in Ujjayani a calamity lasting for a period of
The entire sangha (or Community) set out from the
North to the South and reached by degrees a country counting many
hundreds of villages and filled with happy people, wealth, gold,
grain and herds of cows, buffaloes, goats and sheep... Then
separating himself from the Sangha, an acharya Prabhachandra by
name, perceiving that but little time remained for him to live and
desiring to achieve samadhi, the goal of penance associated with
right conduct, on this high-peaked associated with right conduct, on
this high-peaked mountain-which forms an ornament to the earth and
bears the name Katavpra...bade farewell with the herds of boars, panthers, tigers...dismissed the sangha in its entirety, and in the
company of a single disciple, mortifying his body on the wide
expanse of cold rocks accomplished samadhi...And in course of time
seven hundred rishis similarly accomplished samadhi...Victorious be
the doctrine of Jiana.”
hill acquired the name of Chandragiri on account of association with
Chandragupta Maurya. The oldest temple on the hill is called
Chandragupta basti. here is a cave in which there are foot-prints
carved out and is known as Bhadrabahu cave. There are thirty-one
inscriptions on this hill which refer to Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta.
inscriptions cannot be brushed aside as referring to a fictitious
incident. Vincent Smith, who has written a history of ancient,
India, admits the historicity of this event as having a “solid
foundation in fact.” While subscribing to this view, Prof. S. R.
Sharma states that it was “a period of vigorous prosperity.” B.
L. Rice R. Narasmihacharya and Dr. S. A. Saletore have accepted the
trustworthiness of the historical events as recorded in the
inscriptions at Sravanabelgola. It would be most reasonable to infer
that there must have been good population of Jains in South India to
welcome Bhadrabahu, his twelve hundred disciples as also his royal
devotee. Bhadrabahu would not have thought of the South in case he
wanted to save the Sangha from starvation and hardship. There must
have been sufficient number of religious-minded and rich Sravakas
and Sravakis who could look after the munisangha.
is expressly stated in the inscription at Sravanabelgola that many
of the saints in the Sangha went further to the South. Like Asoka,
his grandson Samprati spread the Jaina religion by construction of
temples and stupas. We find inscriptions in the Brahmi script in the
caves of Ramanad and Tinnavalli situated within state of Tamilnadu.
Even the Tamil literature establishes the existence of Jainism in
this part. since ancient times. The last lamented Prof. Chakravarti
held the view that the most famous book Tirukkurul was composed by
Kundakundacharya. Tolkappiyam another old book in Tamil literature
bears the most striking impress of Jaina concepts of religion and
the universe. Dr. P. B. Desai has observed that another Tamil work
Naludiar is couched in Jaina associations. According to tradition,
this work is a composite composition of eight thousand Jaina monks
departing from the Pandyan kingdom against the wishes of its ruler
who was attached to their faith, as stated by Prof. Chakravarti in
his book on Jaina Literature in Tamil.
to this day, we find numerous reminiscences of Jainism speaking of
its glory in the Tamilnadu. King Pandukabhaya who ruled this part in
the fourth century B. C. constructed in and round about his capital
Anuradhapura many caves and rest houses for the Nirgrantha munis, as
borne out by the Prakrit inscriptions. He also erected a temple in
the city. This is an important landmark in the history of Jainism.
Rajawalikathe, a Kannada composition of Devachandra, contains a
number of collections of legends and traditional accounts of the
Chola and Pandyan rulers of ancient Tamilnadu. There is epigraphic
evidence to show that Visakhacharya visited this part of the country
along with his disciples, as directed by Bhdarabahu and preached the
tenets of Jainism to the inhabitants who were already familiar with
the doctrines of that religion. This shows that even in the third
century B. C. there were people who were followers of the Jaina
religion. The research scholars of the Ephigraphist’s office at
Madras have discovered many caves on various hills; those caves
contain beds carved out in rocks. Such caves are to be found in the
hilly regions of Pudukottai, Madura and Tinnevelly districts of the
state. Such caves are to be found in the hilly regions of Pudukottai,
Madura and Tinnevelly districts of the state. Such caves are to be
found in the hilly regions of Pudukottai, Madura and Tinnevelly
districts of the state. There are water facilities near the caves,
thus implying that ascetics must have lived in seclusion in these
caves. Near the caves found on the hills like Annamalai,
Marugaltalai and Sittannavasal, there are inscriptions carved in the
Brahmi script but the language Paisachi Prakrit.
P. B. Desai has noted that near the caves at Tirupparankuram, there
are naked figures with cobra hoods indication that they must be of
Parsvanath Tirthankara. In the caves of Muttupatti, there are
sculptures of Jaina deities on the boulders sheltering the beds.
Many Jain idols have been sculptured in the rocks on the Poygaimalai
Hill. Three are many other hills which abound in Jaina relics of
early age. There are many such relics on hills in the districts of
Arcot, Madura and other districts.
Mahavira Kogali, Harpannahalli, Bellary
District. Karnataka. Height 29 cm, Breadth 10 cm. Circa
13th Centrury AD. Source
: Government Museum Chennai
and the area round about seem to have been the resort of Jainas
under the Pallava kings. Near Kanchi, there was the monastery of a
Jaina monk by name Dharmasena; there are two temples dedicated to
the Tirthankaras Vrshabhadeva Vardhamana, which are supposed to have
been installed by Mahendravarman I, the Pallava King at the instance
of his teachers Mallishena and Vamana. At a distance of two miles
from Conjeevaram, we have a place called the Jaina Kanchi where
there is the big idol of Bhagavan Vardhamana popularly called
Trailokyanathswami. There is a large number of Jaina icons preserved
in this place. One strange feature is that in this area there are
many figures of Yaksha and Yakshinis carved out in many temples,
leading to he inference that the worship of these guarding dieties
was current in 800 A. D. or so.
hill hear Polur is a famous centre of Jaina antiquities. The village
has a number of Jaina families. They are in possession of a number
of Jaina families. They are in possession of a number of Jaina
scriptures on palm leaves in original Samskrit or Prakrit with Tamil
commentary; Trailokya Chudamani, Tattvarthasutram,
Jeevandharacharitamu, Gunabhadra’s Mahapurana etc. There are
epigraphs which relate to the period of Krishna III of the
Rashtrakuta period (957 A. D.). Ponnur appears to have been an
important centre where there is big idol of Adinatha Tirthankara;
there are many icons of which the notable icon is that of Jwalamlini.
A Dravida monk by name Helacharya is reputed to be the originator of
the cult of Yaksha and Yakshini worship which is more popular in the
South than in the North. There are many places in the North Arcot,
South and Chingelput Districts where Jains are found in good
9-10 CAD. Vallimalai, Distt. chittoor, Andhra Pradesh
all the States in the South, the Karnataka State is undoubtedly the
richest from the points of Jaina Art, Architecture and literature.
Sravanabelgola which was hallowed by the visit of Bhadrabahu in
third century B. C later became the centre of pilgrimage when
Chamundaraya erected the monolithic statue of 57.5 ft. in height on
the Vindhyagiri Hill in about 981 A. D. It is unique from the point
of its magnificence, grandeur and divine expression of smile on its
face. A similar statue of Bahubali measuring 41.5 ft. is to be found
at Karkala installed in 1432 A. D. while a third one measuring 35
ft. in height at Venur was erected in 1604.
is worthy of notice that each of the three has been carved out of a
single rock and “commands respectful attention by their enormous
mass and expression dignified serenity.” They are all colossal
statues of unrivalled dignity, as if preaching the Jaina message of
Ahimsa and truth from the hilltops to the entire world. Kannada
poets, ancient and modern, have sung the glory and grandeur of their
monolithic calm and perfect harmony. The facial expression of each
of these statues is one of deep contemplation. They however differ
in the degree of perfection attained by the artist, the one at
Sravanabelgola being superb in every respect.
The Jaina temples erected all over the South India are another
contribution of Jainism to the architecture of India, if not, of the
world. The manasthambhas or the tall standing pillars in front of
most of the temples are wonderful conception. “In the whole range
of Indian art”, observes Smith, “there is nothing, perhaps,
equal to these Kanara pillars for good taste”, and decorative
sculpture. The temples at Mudabirdi have left a permanent impress on
Indian architecture. Fergusson who is an authority on Indian
architecture has observed that “nothing can excel the richness or
the variety with which they are carved. No two pillars are alike,
and many are ornamented to an extent that may almost see fantastic.
Their massiveness and richness of carving bear evidence to their
being copies of wooden models. The Tribhuvanatilaka Jinalaya temple
is a marvel of Jaina architecture”. There are temples of exquisite
beauty at Coorg. The temples at Sravanabelgola, Jananathpura,
Hansoge and Halebeedu are spacious with individuality of their own.
The pillars in the Shantinath Temple at Halebeedu have been so
polished that the reflections of the individuals looking at them
convey different figures both in size and posture. Similarly, the
pillars of the temple at Belgaum are highly polished and strongly
magnetic. The Chaturmukha-bastis at Mudabirdi Laxmeshwar and
Gersoppa are the best models of four-faced temples.
are numerous temples at Aihole, but today there are Jaina images
only in three temples, the Meguti temple being the most famous. The
temple at the darga area of Bijapur has the idol of Bhagavan
Parsvanath with a thousand-hooded Cobra. Banavasi and Bhatkal which
were ones ruled by Jaina Kings have exquisite temples. At a distance
of ten miles from Bhatkal, which were ones ruled by Jaina kings have
exquisite temples. At a distance of ten miles, from Bhatkal, there
is a place called Haduhalli deep in the midst of hills surrounding
the area, there are three temples; one of them has beautiful images
of twenty-four Tirthankaras with the most beautiful carved images of
Dharnendra and Padmavati. Perhaps, the images seem to have been
carved by the same sculpture who made identical images at
Sriranagpatna situated at a distance of ten miles from Mysore.
a short article like this, it would be impossible to give details of
the numerous temples to be found in Karnataka and Tamilnadu. The
temple adjoining the Math at Sravanabelgola and the cave temple at
Badami bear witness to the wall-paintings which are clearly visible
on the walls inspite of the lapse of hundreds of years. In the
former, we have a picture of a Samvasarana with Bhagavan Parsvanath
preaching the eternal doctrines of Jainism. The others illustrate
the Jaina concept of lesyas of samsara and other puranic stories.
There are some wall paintings at Kanchipuram and Tirumalai in the
State of Tamilnadu. Aparat from these wall-paintings, we have
manuscripts of Kalpasutra and of Bhaktamarastotra which illustrate
the subject by means of paintings on the palm-leaves.
the unique art and architecture would not have flourished in the
South or the dakshinapatha if it had not been the stronghold of
Jainism “since a hoary antiquity.” Nandas, Mauryas and
Satavahanas were rulers of the Deccan who patronized Jainism and
promoted its spread. The Kadambas and Gangas were Jaina Kings. The
Kadambas of Banavasi and the Chalukyas who succeeded Pallavas, were
undoubtedly Jains. It is noteworthy that Simhanandi who was a famous
Jaina Acharya was the Guru of the Ganga Kings, Madhava and Dadiga.
Their capital was Kuvalalapura which is identifies with modern Kolar
in Karnataka. They ruled in about 250 A. D. Harivarma, the grandson
of Kongunivarma (or Madhava) shifted his capital to Talakadu.
Avinita, who hailed from this dynasty, was a great ruler of learning
and earned a name for his just administration. Vijayakeerti who was
wellversed in the Jaina scriptures was his Guru and adviser.
Avinita’s son Durvinita ruled in 482 A. D. under the guidance of
the famous Jaina Acharya Pujyapada. Gangas were also a famous Jaina
dynasty of Kings who ruled over Karnataka for about 300 years and
had extended their kingdom as far as Nepal.
Marasinha-II was a
famous ruler whose prowess finds description in the inscriptions at
Sravanabelgola in 866 A. D. (No. 38). He
was a brave king and defeated the Chera, Chola and Pandya
kings. He was not only learned in the Jaina scriptures but
also became a monk by being initiated into sanyasa by Guru
Ajitasena who resided in the temple at Bankapura which is
still standing as a monument in memory of the great Acharya
and of the death by Sallekhana by Marashima II in 975 A. D. as
testified to by an inscription.
was the Prime Minister of Marashimha and served the latter’s son
Rachamalla in that capacity of a general. Anybody who has read the
Ephigraphia Caranatica Vol. II will know how much Chamundaraya has
been extolled for his valour, generosity and statesmanship. It is he
who got the image of Bahubali at Sravanabelgola carved out. His Guru
Nemichandra who is famous as a Siddhant-Chakravarti wrote a book on
a Jaina philosophy which he named as Gommatasara. Chamundaraya was
himself a learned scholar and the purana that he wrote is known as
Chamundaraya Purana. He also wrote a book in Samskrit known as
Charitrasara. His contribution to Jaina art, culture, religion and
philosophy is unique, not equalled by any other political figure in
Chalukyas who ruled from 419 to 1156 A. D. were great patrons of
Jainism in Karnataka. Among them Pulakesi I is very famous in
history. He is also called Satyasraya and was the patron of
Ravikirti whose famous inscription in Samskrit found at Aihole is
noted for its diction, poetic grandeur and linguistic excellence,
comparable only with that of Kalidasa. Vikramaditya II of this
family is also famous in history. His queen Jakaladevi was a Jaina
and built a temple at Ingalagi. It is this dynasty that patronized
Pampa, the great poet and author of Adipurana.
Hoysala Kings were also Jainas. The first king Poysala studied under
a Jain monk by name Sudatta. Vinayaditya II was the most powerful
king of this dynasty and Shantideva Muni was his Guru. Ballala was
another king of this line. Bittideva who was a famous king was
converted to vaishnavism by Ramanuja but his famous queen
Shantaladevi who continued to remain a Jaina was the patron of art
and literature. She built temples at Sravanabelgola and Halebeedu
with the blessings of her Guru Prabhachandra. She adopted the vow of
Sallekhana and died at Shivaganga as is borne out by an inscription
at Sravanabelgola, though Shri K. V. lyer has wrongly stated in his
novel entitled Shantala that the committed suicide. Bittideva’s
general and prime minister Gangaraja was a Jaina who under the
guidance of his Guru Subhachandra did many acts of piety and
religion to advance the cause of Jainism. One of his generals was a
Jaina lady by name Jakkiyabbe who was compared to Sita and Rukhmini.
The treasures was Hulla who built the famous temple Bhadrachudamani
at Sravanabelgola, having installed idols of 24 Tirthankaras. He
granted many lands in charity to the temples at Sravanabelgola,
Koppal and Bankapur.
period of Rashtrakutas (757 A. D. to 973 A. D.) was a glorious
period in the history of Karnataka Jainism. Amoghavarsha was a Jaina.
He was also called Nrpatunga. His book Kavirajamarga which is the
first work in Kannada, mentioning the earlier writers. The
Jayadhavala-tika was written by Virasenacharya under his patronage.
Jinasena, the author of Parsvabhyudaya, was his Guru and has blessed
his royal pupil at the commencement of his book. Amoghavarsha is
credited with authorship or Ratnamalika and has been praised by his
co-pupil Gunabhadra for his wisdom and learning. Dr. R. G.
Bhandarkar has stated that “of all the Rashtrakuta kings,
Amoghavarsha was the greatest patron of Jainism...”There are many
other kings of this dynasty who ruled in different parts of
the Kalachuri kings that ruled (1156-83 A. D.) over Karnataka,
mention must be made of Bijjala. He was a king of great religious
tolerance and had Basaveshwar of the Veerssaiva faith as his
minister. In a contest between Jainas and Lingayats at Ablur,
Bijjala is credited to have given a decision in favour of the
latter. He ruled at Kalyana which is today named as Basava-Kalyana.
It is most unfortunate that Bijjala was murdered and a large number
of Jainas were converted into Virasaivas. The Ratta kings were
another dynasty of Jaina rulers who have left their mark at
Suandatti, Huli and Belgaum where they constructed some temples. The
inscriptions traced from this area speak of their faith. Under the
Vijayanagar Kings, there were many Jaina ministers and generals.
During the periods of Ramanuja in Karnataka and of Saivas in the
Tamilnadu, there were many persecutions of Jains who were converted
to Vaishnavism or Saivism.
Dr. Maurice Winternitz has observed, “It would take a fairly big
volume to give a history of all that the Jainas contributed to the
treasures of Indian literature. “The most noted writer in South
India is Kundakunda whose numerous works on various aspects of Jaina
philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology and logic number more than 84.
Umaswati’s Tattvarthasutra is known as the Jaina Bible. Pujyapada,
Akalanka, Vidyananda, Prabhachandra and Srutasagara are some of the
Jaina commentators from the South on Tattvarthasutra.
Samantabhadra’s Ratnakardanda-Sravakachara is a popular work on
Jaina ethics. He has written many other books. Prabhachandra and
Vidyananda are the other writers in Samskrit whose name must
mentioned with respect. Jinasen’s Adipurana is quite popular.
Saletore has stated that “the Jaina teaches, as the intellectual
custodians of the Anhdradesa, the Tamil land, and Karnataka most
assiduously cultivated the vernaculars of the people, in wrote in
them great works of abiding value to the country. Almost all the
early Jaina writers were profound scholars in Samskrit and the
Renowned classics in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada were produced by
them. “So far as Kannada literature is concerned, R.
Narshimhacharya who has written three volumes of Kannada literature,
has called the period of Jaina writers “as the Augustan Age of
Kannada literature”. I have already referred to the earliest work
: Kaviraja-marga which is the only work that mentions the boundaries
of Karnataka as having spread from Godavari to Kaveri. The author
has mentioned the names of earlier writers who were also Jainas.
Pampa, Ponna and Ranna are called the Ratna-trayas of kannada
literature. Each of them composed a secular work as also a religious
purana to serve the cause of the public as also of their own
religion. Pampa’s Vikamrarjuna-Vijay and Adipurana, Ponna’s
Bhuvanaikaramabhyudaya and Shantipurana and Ranna’s Gadaddhya and
Ajitapurana occupy a special place of pride in Kannada literature on
account of their poetic excellence and grandeur of conception. All
the three poets flourished in the tenth century. Then came
Nagachandra or Abhinava Pampa whose Ramayana and Mallinathapurana
are unique for their descriptive power and facility of expression.
E. P. Rice considers the Ramayana as unique since it preserves the
Jaina version of that epic. Waddaradhane of Shivakotyacharya and
Chamundaraya Purana of Chamundaraya are the only two earliest works
in prose. Kabbigarakava of Andayya and Dharmamrita of Nayasena are
two works which were written in pure Kannada without the use of Sanskrit
words. Nemichandra’s Lilavati is a beautiful poem.
contribution of Jaina writers and poets to Kannada literature has
been so rich and varied that it forms a glorious chapter in the
history of Kannada literature. Kesiraja’s Sabdamanidarpana is a
standard work on grammar and linguistics and stands unequalled to
this day. Bhattakalanka Deva has written another valuable work on
grammar, prosody and linguistics. Sridharacharya wrote a book on
astrology while jagaddala Somanath has written a book entitled :
Kalyana-Karaka on medicine. Rajaditya has written a book on
mathematics. Brahma Kavi has written a book called Samaya Pariksha
on Jaina ethics. Bharatesha Vaibhava of Ratnakar Varni is a
marvelous poem on the life of Bharat.
Yasodhara Kavya, Chudamani, Udayanan Kathai, Nagakumara
kavyam and Neelakeshi are some of the Kavyas written by Jaina
authors. Sripurana is a popular poem among the Jaina.
are some Jaina writers and poets in Telugu but many of their works
have not been available. As Dr. S. Krishnaswami Iyengar says :
‘There must be a Jaina period in Andhya Literature before the 11th
century as in Kannada Literature, the absence of which is a mystery
to be solved by historians. “Adharvanacharya was a poet
well-versed in Samskrit and Telugu. He is said to have written a
book on prosody and grammar at the beginning of the 13th century.
Gokarna is another poet who wrote a book entitled
“Kavijanasraya” Padma Kavi has written Jinendra Purana while
Sarvadevayya has written Adipurana.
is a unique feature of Jaina writers that they have contributed
works of literary merit in all Indian languages. As Dr. Maurice
Winternitz has said : “It would take a fairly big volume to give a
history of all that the Jainas have contributed to the treasures on
Indian literature.” There is no Indian language in which the
Jainas have not contributed to the secular or religious literature
of different languages in our country. They were men of broad
outlook, identified themselves with the people of the region where
they settled and tried their best to enrich the spiritual, social
and literary thoughts of that region. This speaks of their
catholicity and mastery of languages.