Extension of Jainism -Early Period

The Epigraphic Evidence

Eastern India - Bengal

We consider Bengal first, not because it was an important center of Jainism, but because it is easy to trace the growth and extinction of this religion in this part of the country. We have seen that Mahavira himself had gone to Ladha (West Bengal) in his pre-Kevalin days and had met with uncivil behavior from the inhabitants. It is likely that during Mahavira's time the cultural level of the people in that part of the country was not high enough.


The conditions seemed to have changed dramatically only two centuries later. At the time of Chandragupta Maurya, Bhadrabahu was the head of the Jain church in Magadh. One of Ghadrabahu's disciples Godasa had formed the Godasa Gana. This Godasa Gana according to the Kalpa Sutra had been divided into four Shakhas. It is interesting to note that three of these four Shakhas were named after three important cities of ancient Bengal. These Shakhas were Tamraliptika (after Tamralipta in south Bengal), Kotivarisiya (after Kotivarsha in north Bengal). It seems that the center of Jainism must have shifted towards Bengal at that time. Otherwise the Shakhas would not have been named after these Bengal cities.


Some of the Shakhas, Ganas, kulas, etc., mentioned in the Kalpa Sutra have been found to occur in the inscriptions discovered in Mathura. These inscriptions belong to the first a few centuries of the Christian era. This proves that the Shakhas, etc., mentioned in the Kalpa Sutra actually existed. It is likely therefore, that the Shakhas named after the Bengal cities were also actual ones, and not later fictitious additions.


The first epigraphic evidence of the existence of Jainism in Bengal is a copper plate inscription at Paharpur in the Rajshahi district of Bengal. The date of the inscription is Gupta year 159 (AD 479.) It mentions the existence of a Vihara established by the disciples of the Nirgrantha Guhanandi. Hiuen Tsang who stayed in India between AD 629 to 645 also visited Bengal. He wrote that among the non-Buddhists in Pundravardhana the majority were Digambara Nirgranthas.


This strong influence of Jainism appears to have abruptly declined immediately after this time for none of the copperplate inscriptions of the Pala and Sena kings of Bengal mentions Jainism. It is to be noted that practically no stone images of Gods of a date prior to the ninth century have been found in Bengal. By that time Jainism had almost disappeared from Bengal and, therefore, very Jain stone images have been found in this area. Among the Jain stone images found in Bengal the following are note worthy:


(1) An image of Rishabhanatha has been found in the Dinajpur District. The image built perhaps in the early Pala period, is one of the most beautiful images found in Bengal. Rishabhanatha is shown here in the sitting position of dhyanamudra.


(2) Another image of Rishabhanatha was found in the Barabhum village in the Midnapur district. Here the image is in standing, e.g., kayotsarga-posture.


(3) A dhyana- Mudra image of Parahvanatha has been found in the Deulbhir village of the Bankura district.


(4) A kayotsarga image of Parshvanatha has been found in Datta-Benia village of the Twenty-four Parganas district.


(5) A kayotasarga image of Shantinatha has been found in Ujani village of the Bardhamana district.


All these images have been identified definitely as those of Jain Tirthankaras. Kshitit Mohan Sen3 however thought that, there were many other Jain images in West Bengal. These have lost their identification marks. Their Jain connection has been forgotten and, the villagers worship these images to day as Bhairavas .4


Sen also traces some Bengali words to their Jain origin. For instance the upper garment of the Jain monks is called `pachheri'. This in Bengali has become `pachhari'. Similarly the broom used by the Jain monks is called `pichhi'. In East Bengal a broom is a `pichha'.


It must, however, be admitted, that Jainism which was quite strong in Bengal fifteen hundred years ago, has now disappeared from this area leaving few traces among the indigenous population.



From a reading of the Parishishtaparvan of Hemachandra it would appear that Jainism nearly disappeared from Bihar when Smaprati the grandson of Ashoka started ruling from Ujjayini in the 3rd century BC. This is not so. The Jains continued to exist in Bihar, and carried on building their temples and images all over South Bihar for many centuries. Many Jain images have been found in Bihar especially in the Manbhum district. "Among the other old Jain remains in Manbhum district, particular mention need be made about the Jain temples and sculptures at the small village Pakbira, 32 km. North-east of Bara Bazar or 50 km. by Purulia- Ranchi road in Manbhum district. They had attracted the attention of the archaeological department in the last century. Report of the Archaeological Survey of India, Vol. VIII, mentions about the remains at Pakbira as follows: `Here are numerous temples and sculptures, principally Jain; the principal object of attention here is a colossal naked figure, with the lotus as symbol on the pedestal, the figure is 2.25 meters high;...'"


It is surmised that Jainism was quite active in Bihar up to the 12th century. Since most of the images found are nude it is possible to conjecture that the majority of the Jains then in Bihar were Digambaras. Also since they have left behind no literature we may assume that they were ordinary people with no intellectual pretensions. The community must have been financially well off. Otherwise they would have been able to build so many images.



It is difficult to say whether Jainism had ever been a strong force in Orissa. Our evidence from the early period is the two inscriptions found in the Udayagiri caves near Bhubaneswar. One of these is by King Kharavela in the Hathigumpha cave. The other is by his chief Queen (Aghamahisi) in the Manchapuri cave. On paleographic evidence D. C. Sircar had suggested that the inscriptions belong to the first century BC.6


The Queen's inscription is a short one dedicating the cave for the use of the Jain shramnas. Thus it may be concluded that she was respectful towards the Jain religion. The Hathigumpha inscription of King Kharavela has been the subject of many learned comments by eminent historians. Among other reasons for the interest in this inscription is the fact that the inscription is quite a long one, and gives details of a number of occurrences of historical interest. Here, however, only those aspects of this inscription that relate to Jainism need be discussed.


The inscription starts with the benediction Namo arhantam namo sava-sidhanam. This is the Jain formula7 of veneration and therefore, Kharavela was either a Jain by religion or he had great respect for this religion. In the 12th year of his reign Kharavela brought back the (image of) Kalinga Jina8 to Orissa, this had been taken away by Nandaraja of Magadh.


This was either a religious act or a matter of prestige for Kharavela. In the thirteenth year of his reign he mentions the erection of a shrine in the vicinity of the relic depository9 of the Arihanta on the Kumari Parvata.


These exhaust the list of references to Jainism in the Hathigumpha inscriptions.


Except for these inscriptions' one by Kharavela and the other by his queen, we know nothing about Jainism in Orissa in that period. Schubring is not inclined to give much importance to the Kharavela inscription from the Jain point of view. He said: "This much mutilated inscription it is true, begins with a Jinist formula of veneration, but what tangible deeds in favor of the Jains the scholars were inclined to interpret from it have turned out to be untenable or remained inexplicable. We may presuppose that Jain communities flourished within Kharavels's reign.”10 One is inclined to agree with this view of Stubbing, for if Kharavela, an important king of Kalinga according to his own reckoning, was a Jain, he would surely find mention in the old Jain literature. But Jain literature does not contain even a hint that Kharavela existed.


Another significant thing about the Hathigumpha remains is that "except for Kharavela's inscriptions we could not attribute these to the Jains, for nothing of the decoration reveals their Jain character: the deities depicted are early Hindu, e.g. the sun-God Surya and the lotus Goddess Gaja- Laksmi (Padma-Shri); the figural relief in the Rani-Gumpha have been interpreted by some as scenes from the life of Parshvanatha and by others as episodes from the popular stories of Vasavadatta and Shakuntala; and the whole building is even thought to have been a theater......"11


In short, we know that Kharavela's chief queen was a patron of the Jains and Kharavela himself also had a friendly attitude towards them.


There is positive evidence that in the 11th century some caves of the Khandagiri group, specially Cave no. 11, were used as Jain sacred places. "......a few of the old cells were converted into sanctuaries by the carving of relief of Tirthankaras and the Shasanadevis on the walls"12. A large number of nude chlorite images of the different Tirthankaras all belonging to this period have also been found here. "The prolonged Digambara association of the Khandagiri caves during the reign of the Gangas and their successors, the Gajapatis, is proved by the crude relief of the Tirthankaras on the walls of the cave, which are not earlier in date than the 15th century and may be even later. Evidence regarding the cells being tenanted in this period and monastic fraternities is, however, lacking."13


Influence of Jainism seems to have disappeared from Orissa after the sixteenth century.


We thus know that Jainism existed in Orissa for a Period of about seventeen hundred years from the first century BC to the 16th century. For a large part of this period the Khandagiri caves were used as a religious center by them, as resting places of the monks and perhaps also as temples, but we do not know whether the occupation of these caves by the Jains was continuous or intermittent. The Existence of the nude images of the Tirthankaras in the eleventh century proves that at least in the later days the Jains who occupied the caves belonged to the Digambara sect.


Spread of Jainism in South India-Early period

We do not know when and how Jainism entered South India. Traditionally Shravana Belgola in South West Karnataka is said to be the earliest Jain center in South India. Unfortunately, however, there is no epigraphic evidence to support this theory. The Earliest Jain inscription found at this place is believed to be about AD 600,14 though some Jain inscriptions older than this have been found in areas near about this place. One of them, a copper plate inscription found in Mercara (Coorg) and dated AD 466- 67 mentions the gift of the village Badaneguppe to the Shrivijaya Jain-temple at Talvananagara.15 This proves that Jains were established in this area in the 5th century, but Shravana Belgola itself might not have been their first center in South India.


The inscription of AD 600 found at Shravana Belgola, is one of the most important records in the history of Jainism. A summary of this inscription is as below:


"After Mahavira the succession of pupils was Gautama, Lohacharya, Jambu, Vishnudeva, Aparajita, Govardhana, Bhadrabahu, Vishakha, Prothila, Kritikarya (?), Jaya, Siddhartha, Dhrtisena, etc. Bhadrabahu who belonged to this list, with his knowledge of the past, present and future, came to know that a twelve-year famine (vaisamya) was about to occur in Ujjayini. The whole Sangha then moved towards the South (Daksinapatha). They reached a prosperous area. Acharya Prabhachandra knowing his end was near stayed on the Katavapra hill with one disciple, and asked the rest of the Sangha to proceed further. Prabhachandra then started his samadhi aradhana....16


Thus it would appear that it was Prabhachandra who had led the first (?) Jain Sangha to South India and the Sangha, which went there, started from Ujjayini. In later Digambara works the story was modified. "The Bhadrabahu- Katha (about AD 800) and the Brihatkatkosha (AD 931) report that towards the end of his life Bhadrabahu ordered his followers to move away to Punnata (South-Karnataka), whereas Bhadrabahu- Charitra (2nd half of the century) says that he himself took the lead and died on the way".17 Since the Digambaras believe that there were two Bhadrabahus, the first of whom died 162 years after Mahavira's Nirvana (i.e. in 365 BC), and the second 515 years after the Nirvana (i.e. in 12 BC),18 it is not clear which Bhadrabahu these later authors were talking about.


The Shvetambara tradition as recorded in Hemachandra's Parishishtaparvan was, as we have seen, quite different. There the Sangha was said to have moved to the seacoast when a dreadful dearth prevailed in the Magadh area, and came back to Magadh when the famine ended. Bhadrabahu himself did not go to the seacoast with the Sangha but had actually gone to Nepal where he undertook the Mahaprana vow. He came back and joined the Sangha in Magadh after performing the austerities.


Also it was Samprati, the successor of Ashoka, who according to Hemchandra prepared the ground for the spread of Jainism in South India (Andras and Dramilas). Ujjayini was at that time the capital of Samprati. Hemchandra's version appears to be more plausible than the later Digambara traditions.


Epigraphic evidence available so far would tend to show that Jainism entered the Deccan through the West. Halsi, known in ancient times as Palasika in the Belgaum district was the most important Jain center in the Deccan in the fifth century. The Kadamba kings of Palasika were patrons of Jainism at that time. They themselves were Brahmans, but some of them made grants of land to Jains, and erected Jain temples.19 This also supports the view that Jainism entered South India through the west and perhaps from Ujjayini itself.


Another important Jain center in the Deccan was Altem in the Kolhapur district. We have there an epigraph of Shaka 411 (AD 489) which records the erection of a Jain temple by a feudatory of the Calukyas. He is styled as Samiyar.20


Tamil Nadu

No definite evidence of the existence of Jainism in the early period has been found in Tamil Nadu. "A large number of caverns have been discovered in the hills and mountainous regions in the Pudukkottai area and Madura and Tinnevelly districts. The two last named areas are particularly rich in these antiquities and the Madura district is known to possess numerous monuments of this kind. These caverns are found generally containing inscriptions. These epigraphs are in the Brahmi characters of the 3rd century BC. These antiquities and records are attributed to the Jains."21


This point that the caves perhaps belonged to the Jains, was made by K. V. Subramnia Iyer,22 a few decades ago. At that time the inscriptions had not been deciphered. In 1966 I. Mahadevan 23 was able to read most of these inscriptions (which number about 75). The inscriptions mention the dedication of the caves by the rulers or their servants to religious people. What exactly was the religion of these people to whom the caves were dedicated is not clear. Some of the terms used in the inscriptions are `Asiriyan' (archarya), `Upasakam', `Palli' (non-Hindu temples), etc. In one place viz., Pukalur, the word `Ammanam' (naked one) is also found. It will not perhaps be correct to attribute the dedication of the caves to the Jain monks on the basis of these few words only. Clearly the Donees were religious people, but they could have belonged to any of the non-orthodox sects such as the Buddhists, Ajivakas or the Jains. The `naked one' could in fact be an Ajivika monk, for we know that according to their rules the monks had to remain naked. Thus this cave could have been dedicated to the Ajivikas.


Jainism, however, in later centuries became an important religion of the Tamil Land, and left its mark on the Tamil literature.




Andhra is virtually devoid of all traces of Jainism in the first few centuries AD 24


Northern and Western India

The earliest epigraphic evidence of the existence of the Nigantha sect in northern India comes from a solitary inscription of Ashoka (3rd century BC). This is the Seventh Pillar Edict Ashoka and it is recorded on the pillar Firoze Shah Kotla in Delhi. This pillar was originally in Topra in the Ambala district of Haryana, and was brought to Delhi by Firoze Shah Tughlak. Ashoka mentioned in this edict that he had appointed senior officers to look after the affairs of the religious people of the various sects. These officers had been directed to occupy themselves with matters concerning the (Buddhist) Sangha the Brahmans, the Ajivikas, and the Niganthas. (There are other edicts of Ashoka that mention the Sangha, the Brahmans and the Ajivikas, but Niganthas have not been mentioned in any other Ashokan inscription.) Since the officers were directed to look after the Niganthas, clearly this sect existed in this area in sufficient number. Otherwise the specific mention of this community was not necessary. However, we have no Jain literary records to show the existence of this community in Haryana at that time, and Mahavira himself, perhaps never traveled west of Shravasti that is in eastern Utter Pradesh. But the epigraphic evidence is clear. The Jain religion had by the time of Ashoka spread in northern India at least as far as Haryana.


It appears from the genealogy of the pontiffs given in the Kalpa Sutra that within a hundred years of Ashoka, Jainism had spread as Far West as Pathankot. The Jain pontiff at the time of Samprati, the grandson of Ashoka, was Suhastin. Suhastin's disciple Rohana who became the next pontiff had founded the Uddeha gana that was divided into four Shakhas. One of these shakhas was Udumbarika. Now the country of Audumbara is the present district of Gurudaspur, and its capital was Pratisthana (Pathankot). Thus we know that a substantially large group of Jains was settled in the Pathankot area by the 2nd century BC



The next two centuries appear to be quite dark so far as any information about the Jains is concerned. There are no contemporary epigraphs or literary records. The later Jain historians say that Jainism had spread to Ujjayini at the time of Ashoka's grandson Samprati. Hemachandra (12th century) wrote that Suhastin the head of the Jain Church at that time was living in Ujjayini 25 when ruled from his capital there, and Samprati was a patron of the Jains. This might have been actually so but there is no epigraphic or other independent proof of Samprati's affinity to Jainism.


Ujjayini, however, was the scene of an important event which is said to have occurred in the first century BC This legend is connected with the Shaka conquest of Ujjayini and the origin of the Vikram era.


The legend mentions Gardabhilla, a king of Ujjayini. He had abducted the sister of Kalakacharya, a celebrated Jain teacher (Kalaka was a king's son and had later become Jain. His sister whose name was Saravati was herself a Jain nun). Kalakacharya approached one of the Scythian kings, the Shahis, in Shakasthana for help. But that king was afraid of attacking Gardabhilla, a powerful ruler enjoying the protection of the goddess Rasabhi, who by the spell of her voice made it impossible for an enemy to approach within 24 kilometers of the king. On his part Kalaka had magic powers and could produce wealth at will. He persuaded the Shaka king to raise an army and march against Ujjayini. When he encamped at a distance of 24 kilometers from Ujjayini, the goddess began to raise her voice for the protection of Gardbhilla, but the shaka army stopped her mouth with their arrows, and she became unable to utter a sound. The Gardabhilla was easily made captive and Kalaka's sister was recovered. When he was later forgiven and released, Gardabhilla retired to a forest where he was devoured by a tiger. Some years afterwards, the son of Gardabhilla, according to some accounts the glorious Vikramditya, came up from Pratisthana with an army, expelled the invaders from Ujjayini, and ruled there for many years in great splendor and established the era that goes by his name (58-57 BC).


Though the exact historical foundation for this legend cannot easily be ascertained, its setting fits the first century BC very well, as it was clearly a period of Shaka inroads into India and of the attempts of Indian rulers, particularly the Satavahanas to resists them. The Hindu Puranas which describe the Satavahanas as Andhras, count Gardabhilla among the feudatories (bhrityas) of the Andhras.26 Thus the Jain story is partly corroborated. There might thus be some historical truth in this legend of Kalakacharya.


It is possible that the legend existed in some form since the first century but its first recorded form is found in Kalakacharya Kathanaka, a work by Mahesara Suri 27 who probably existed at the time of Hemachandra Suri (12th century). Thus the legend or history of Kalakacharya was put down in writing about 1200 years after the alleged event.




The inroads of the Shakas into northern India was followed by those of other foreigners such as the Greeks, and the Kusanas, and these inroads continued for a few centuries from the beginning of the Christian era. The political center of northern India moved to Mathura. It was in Mathura that we find the existence of a large prosperous Jain community at this time.


A large number if Jain relics have been dug up from a mound called Kankali-tila in this town. The relics include one Jain stupa, two temples, and many inscriptions recording the dedication of images of Tirthankaras, and other religious things by pious Jains. Some of these inscriptions bear dates, which mention the years in Kusana era. These dates lie between year 5 and year 98 of this era. Since we do not know the year in which this era started, it is possible only to assign an approximate period of these Mathura relics.


Scholars hold different opinions about the beginning of the Kusana era. Some hold the opinion that it is the same as the Shaka era and started in AD 78. Other dates given for the beginning of the Kusana era are AD 102, AD 128, AD 144, etc., R. C. Majumdar has, however, suggested 29 the date AD 244 and this suggestion appears to be getting more and more support. If this is correct then the years in which a flourishing Jain community lived in Mathura lie between AD 250 and AD 350.


Mathura during the rule of the Kusanas was the most important city of northern India. There were in Mathura rich people of many communities, Buddhist, Jain and Brahman. The inscriptions dug out in many localities in Mathura show that religious monuments were built and grants were given by all these communities. So far as Kankali-tila was concerned, it seems to have been at this period the exclusive preserve of the Jains. Some centuries before that period, the Buddhists, who had built a stupa here, perhaps occupied the tila. One Jain inscription (59) 30 clearly mentions that the Jain image was established on a Vodve (Buddhist?) stupa, which had been built by the gods. It has been conjectured that the stupa at that time was already so old, that people had forgotten who its builders were. They, therefore, thought that the Gods built it. 31 In the Kusana period, the Buddhists seem to have moved on to the Jamalpura mound in Mathura.


We may now consider the Jain inscriptions of Mathura belonging to the Kusana period. (Altogether 78 inscriptions have been given in the Jain Shila-Lekha Sangraha, Vol. II. It appears that the compiler of this volume might have missed a few more inscriptions. For instance, the Lucknow Museum Jain Image Inscriptions 32 of Havisha ---year 48 appears to have been missed. In any case, the total number of Jain inscriptions discovered here should not be many more than 90).


The Rulers named in the Inscriptions

Mathura before it came under the Kusanas was a part of the Shaka-Pahlava empire. The provincial governors under these emperors were called Mahakshatrapas. We have only one Jain inscription (5) of a Mahakshatrapa, the one belonging to Mahakshatrapa Sodasa in Mathura. It is dated year 72 33 but we do not know the era. It appears that Mathura came under the Kusanas after Sodasa. These are three inscriptions (19, 24 and 25) of Kaniska, six of Huviska (37, 39, 43, 45, 50 and 56) who succeeded Kaniska's immediate successor Vasika who had a very short reign, and three of Huviska's successor Vasudeva (62, 65 and 69) in the Kankali-tila group. The names of the rulers in the other inscriptions at this place were either not recorded or are unreadable.




The following Tirthankaras are mentioned by name:


1. Vardhamana --- eleven inscriptions (5, 8, 9, 19, 30, 34, 36, 37, 75, 79 and 84);

     Mahavira -- one (16); Mahavira and Vardhamana--- One (67).


2. Sambhava --- One (in the Lucknow Museum Jain image inscription of Huviska -- year 48).


3. Rishava --- One (56); Usabha -- One (82).


4. Arishtanemi --- One (28).


5. Shantinatha -- One (29).


Apart from these there are donative inscriptions, one to Nemesa (13), who may be Negamesa, 34 and one to Nand (ya) varta (59) which is said to be meant for the 18th Tirthankara Arantha, Nandyavarta being his symbol. There are four donations (22, 26, 27, and 41) to the sarvatobhadra images. These are four-sided sculptures with images of one Tirthankara on each side.


It is quite clear from the above that Mahavira was the most popular Tirthankara among the Jains in Mathura at that time. Absence of Parshva's name is noticeable.


Many of the donors have mentioned their professions. In the case of the women donors, the professions of their husbands are sometimes mentioned. We know from these that most of the donors belonged to the trader class, though some of them were artisans such as goldsmiths or (iron) smiths. The list of professions or occupations and the inscription numbers where they occur are these:


Profession or Occupation Number in the Jain

                           Shila-lekha Sangraha

 1. Shresthi (Merchant)      19, 26

 2. Vanika (Trader)            71

 3. Manikara (Jeweller) 31

 4. Lohavaniya (Iron trader) 31

 5. Hairanyaka (Gold smith) 67

 6. Sarthavaha (Caravan guide) 33

 7. Gandhika (Perfume seller) 41, 42, 62, 69

 8. Lohikakaraka (Smith) 54, 55

 9. Ganika (Courtesan)      08

10. Na(r)taka (Dancer) 15

11. Vacaka (Reciter, Priest?) 22

12. Gramika (Village headman) 44

13. Cotton dealer (35)      56


We thus get an idea as to how people of all such occupations as were common in a large provincial capital were living in Mathura in those days. At least one courtesan was not ashamed to disclose her profession as a stone tablet. Not much can be gleaned about social customs from these inscriptions. Inscriptions' number 14 is interesting. Here a woman named (Ba) Lahastini declares that she along with her parents and parents-in-law, had put up a religious arch. According to the present Indian custom, a woman for all religious purposes belongs to her husband's family and she has nothing to do in religious matters with her parents. Performance of a religious act of a married woman with her own parents in Mathura at that time perhaps shows that these people were foreigners (Shakas or Kusanas) newly converted to Jainism and were still maintaining some of their old customs.


The names of a few of the donors also show foreign influence. Some of these names are Mosini (22), Bubu (52), Vadhara (31), Huggu (31), Jabhaka (35), Nada (08), etc.


Another Shaka influence is shown in the mutilated Sarasvati image found at Kankali-tila. Two small figures of attendants are shown on each side of the Goddess. One of these attendants is in Shaka.36


The present Jain custom of women keeping long fasts was known in Mathura of Huviska's days also. We have in inscription number 52, the statement that one Vijayasiri who was the wife of Rajyavasu had kept a fast for a month.


One Jain iconography practice had already been standardized in Mathura. The images of Tirthankaras all bear the shrivatsa 37 symbol on the chest as an auspicious mark (and perhaps also to distinguish them from the Buddha images that do not bear such marks on the chest).


It is perhaps not possible to state definitely whether the people who donated the images and the other religious objects at Mathura were Svetambaras or Digambaras. The donors have mentioned their ganas, kulas, etc., in the accompanying inscriptions. Some of these ganas, kulas, are similar to those found in the Kalpa Sutra. 38 Now the Kalpa Sutra is a Shvetambara work and is not recognized by Digambaras. Similarly, it is the Svetambaras only who believe that the God Harinegamesi transferred the embryo of Mahavira to the womb of Trishala. The Digambaras completely reject this story. If, therefore, the name Nemesa read in one of the Mathura inscriptions, is the short form of "Harinegamesi", the Jains of Mathura would definitely have to be called Svetambaras. On the other hand, all the images of the Tirthankaras found at Kankali-tila are nude. All the Jain images of these centuries, for instance, those found at Kahaum (AD 460) in the Gorakhpur district, depict the Tirthankaras as nude. Added to this is the fact, that most of the Jains of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar today are Digambaras. Thus it is difficult to be sure about the sect of the Jains of Mathura in the Kusana period. It is likely, however, that the Shvetambara-Digambara split had not become clear-cut by that time. In any case the Svetambaras even if they existed, as a separate sect had not started worshipping non-nude images of the Tirthankaras, for no non-nude image of a Tirthankara prior to the fifth century has been found so far.


Mathura continued to be a center of the Jains for a long time. Many Jain sculptures belonging to the Gupta and the early medieval period have been discovered there.




1. Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XXII, p. 288.


2. Select Inscriptions, p. 360.


3. Pravasi (Bengali), Vaishakha B. S 1327 (AD 1934), pp. 63, 72.


4. At Pakbira in the Manbhum district, a colossal naked figure of Vira under the name of Bhiram is still worshipped by the people. (Distt. Gasetteer of Manbhum, p. 51).


5. P.C. Roy Choudhary, Jainism in Bihar, Patna, 1956, P. 46. A photograph of the 2.25 meters high image has been reproduced in a plate facing P. 56 of this book. The caption there says that it is the image of Bahubali. This does not appear to be correct. Bahubali has creepers entwining his legs. There are no creepers in this image. The lotus symbol on the pedestal shows that the image is either of the Tirthankara Padmaprabhanatha whose symbol is Red Lotus or of the Tirthankara Naminatha whose symbol is blue Lotus. So far as is known Bahubali is not worshipped in North India.


6. P.C. Roy Choudhary, Jainism in Bihar, Patna, 1956, p. 46. A Photograph of the 2.25 meters high image has been reproduced in a plate facing p. 56 of this book. The caption there says that it is the image of Bahubali. This does not appear to be correct. Bahubali has creepers entwining his legs. There are no creepers in this image. The Lotus symbol on the pedestal shows that the image is either of the Tirthankara Padmaprabhanatha whose symbol is Red Lotus or of the Tirthankara Naminatha whose symbol is Blue Lotus. So far as is known, Bahubali is not worshipped in North India.


7. Select Inscriptions, p. 213.


8. `Arhant' is the term for saints both in Jainism and Buddhism. The reference here is clearly to the Jain saints, for the Jain formula of Namokkara or nokara is:

Namo arihantam

namo sidhanam

Namo ayariyanam

namo uvajhayanam

Namo lo-e savva sahunam.


The Buddhist formula of vandana in the Petakoppadesa is:


Namo Sammasambuddhanam Paramthadassinam



9. This line in the inscription has been read by Jayaswas as "Nandaraja-nitam ca kalinga-Jinam sannivesa..., B.M. Barua, on the other hand reads here Nandaraja-jitan ca Kalingajanasan (n)i(ve)sam...... (Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. XIV, p.468.) He translates the relevant passage as "...and compelled Brihaspatimitra, the king of the Magadh people, to bow down at his feet, (did something in connection with) the settlements of the Kalinga people subjugated by the king Nanda,...... carried the wealth......" Barua's reading would thus demolish the theory of the Kalinga-Jina' completely.


10. Barua thinks that Jayaswal's translation here of "relic depository" is wrong. Barua reads here, "the Arhat resting place," for fulfilling the rainy season vow.


11. Schubring, the Doctrine of the Jains, p. 48.


12. H. Goetz, in the Encyclopedia of World Art, Vol. VIII, p 788.


13. Debala Mitra, Udayagiri and Khandagiri, 1960, p. 6.


14. Ibid., pp. 6-7.


15. This date has been suggested on paleographic evidence.


16. Though the year Shaka 388 (AD 466-67) is clearly mentioned in this inscription, the writing is of the 8th or 9th century. From this it has been conjectured that it is a forged document. It is likely, however, that it is the copy of a 5th century document. (A. K. Chatterjee, A Comprehensive History of Jainism, pp. 137- 38 and 324).


17. Jain Shilalekha Sangraha, Vol. I, pp. 1-2.


18. W. Schubring, op. cit., p 52.


19. M. Winternitz, A History of Indian literature, P. 476.


20. J. P. Singh, op. Cit., p. 101.


21. Ibid.


22. Ibid. p. 98.


23. K. A. Nilakanta Sastri & V. Ramsub Ramniam, "Aundy," in Mahavira and his Teachings, Bombay, 1977, p. 302.


24. I. Mahadevan, Corpus of the Tamil Brahmin Inscriptions, madras, 1966.


25. P. B. Desai, Jainism in South India, Sholapur, 1957, p. 24.


26. Hemchandra mentions nothing about Dasharath, another grandson of Ashoka. That Dasharath was a historical person is proved from his three inscriptions bestowing on the Ajivika sect some caves in the Nagarjuni hills (Gaya district). Dasharath perhaps ruled over the eastern part of the Empire.


27. Different Puranas give different versions of the lists of kings. Thus Vishnu Purana says that after the reign of Andhra-Bhrityas, there would be seven Abhira and ten Gardhabhila kings who would be followed by sixteen Shaka kings (Vishnu-Purana, Part IV, Ch. 24, SL. 51-52).


28. Winternitz, op. Cit., p. 589.


29. Papers on the Date of Kuniska, Leiden, 1968, pp. ix, 150-154.


30. This number in the bracket is the inscription number in the Jain-Shila-lekha Sangraha, Vol. II.


31. Hiven Tsang, when he passed through Mathura in the seventh century mentioned, that there were good numbers of Buddhist stupas in Mathura. "One of them built by the venerable Upagupta was on a hill, the sides of which have been excavated to allow the construction of cells. The approach is by a ravine." Hiuen Tsang's description has been doubted on the basis that there are no hills near about Mathura, Growse has suggested. "Upagupta's stupa may well have formed the raised center of the Kankali-tilla." (F. S. Growse, Mathura, a District Memoir, 2nd Ed. Allahabad, 1880, p. 110). Cunningham (1871) gave a description of the Kankali-tila `hill' the higher portion of which at that time "had been repeatedly burrowed for bricks:” The "mound (was) 400 feet in length from west to east, and nearly 300 feet in breadth, with a mean height of 10 or 12 feet above the field. At the eastern end it (rose) to a height of 25 feet with a breadth of 60 feet at top, and about 150 feet at base. Kankali-tila contains without exception pure Jain Monuments” Archaeological Survey of India, report 3, 1983, P. 19). It appears, therefore, that either Growse's conjecture that Kankali- tila was formally in Buddhist possession is wrong, and thus it was not this place which Hiuen-Tsang had visited; or if Growse is correct then the Jains had in later days i.e. after the visit of Hiuen Tsang removed all Buddhist remains from Kankali-tila.


32. Sircar, Select Inscriptions, pp. 156-157.


33. Not `42' as mentioned in the Jain Shila Lekha Sangraha, Vol. II, p. 12. See D. C. Sircar, Select Inscriptions, P. 120.


34. Negamesa or Harinegamesi was the God who under the orders of Shakra removed the embryo of Mahavira from the womb of Devandanda to that of Trishala: (Kalpa Sutra, in S. B. E., Vol. XXII, p. 229).


35. In Jain Shilalekha Saringraha, Vol. II, this profession is not mentioned. Luders, however, reads the word as "Ka (r) ppas (i) kasya", as the profession of the donor's husband. (Luders, Mathura Inscriptions, pp. 46- 47).


36. J. Prasad, Jain Sources of the History of India, p. 101.


37. Shrivatsa in the earlier images is generally a vertical line with an S- shaped mark on its left, and its mirror image on the right. Later the symbol changed into a lozenge shaped four-petalled flower. In Hinduism it represents "Shri" the Goddess of fortune. It is the special mark of Vishnu. In Jainism Shrivatsa is found on the chests of Tirthankaras all over Northern India but not in South India. The symbol appears sometimes on the images of the Buddha also, but not on the chest. (C. Siva Ram Murti in Ancient India, No. 6, pp. 44-46).


38. See Appendix IV.


39. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol. III, No. 15.