Presented By – Jinesh Sanjay Jain Papdiwal
Jainism is religion as old as time itself. It has neither a beginning nor an end i.e. it is anadhinidhan. Archaeological findings and study of various manuscripts suggest the presence of Jainism even before the Aryanization or the coming of Aryans. Rishabh Deva in his quest to spread his knowledge traveled across the globe thus spreading the seeds of Jainism.
Jainism again bloomed outside India in about eighth century BC. It reached Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and became one of the major religions there. The existence of Jainism is also seen in various other countries like Nepal, Greece, Afganistan, Panhave(Iran) etc.
Rishabh Deva, the 1st tirthankara is said to have traveled to Bhali (Bactria), Greece, Svarnabhumi, Panhave(Iran), etc. Also historians have come across descriptions proving presence of Digambar Jain monks in Siam, Philistia and Iran.
It is well known and accepted by all historians that Jainism was well established in many Indian provinces before the era of Lord Mahavir. Many evidences of existence of Jainism can be linked back even to the Indus Valley Civilisation.
Before Lord Mahavir’s spread his missionary activities the cities of Magadha, Kausala, Kapilvastu, Kundalpur, Pava, Mithila, Varanasi, Kausambi, etc. were prominent Jain Centres.
Lord Mahavira effectively spread his knowledge around India himself and through his principle disciples. After Lord Mahavira’s nirvana, Jainism spread all across India as well as the world.
Jainism was patronized by many dynasties like the Sisunagas, Nandas, Mauryas, Guptas, Chandelas. Various kings throughout the country built Jain temples and provided various facilities for the development of its literature and cultural activities.
Bhadrabahu and Viaskhacharya with their disciples migrated south and propagated Jainism among the Pallavas, Pandyas, Cholas, Gangas, and many other dynasties. These dynasties rendered royal patronages and magnificent grants to Jaina Disciples for various spiritual purposes.
The statue of Gommateshvara Bahubali at Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa, built almost 1050 years ago, is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Jainism, one that reached a peak in architectural and sculptural activity under the patronage of Western Ganga Dynasty of Talakad. Chandragupta is said to have died here in 298 BC after he became a Jain monk and assumed an ascetic life style.
Today, Jain munis travel around the country propagating the teaching of the Jain or Tirthankaras. They write texts and conduct sermons(pravchans) for augmenting the knowledge of the shravaks on the Jain way of living. ”Pujya Ganini Pramukh Shri Gyanmati Mataji”, a Diagambar Jain monk, has written more than 300 granthas and transalted many more for spreading the knowledge of aagam to the common people.
The main pilgrim spots of Jainism today are ”Sammed Shikarji, Mangi Tungi”( where a 108 ft. idol of Lord Rishabh Deva is being constructed)”, Palitana, Kunthalgiri, Kailash Caves(Ellora)”. Many more historical spots of significance like the Janma Bhumi of Thirthankara, Moksha Bhumi’s are being developed by ”Digambar Jain Trilok Shodh Sansthan, Hastinapur”.
Also New Temples are being founded across the country by various Jain monks for pilgrimage and darshan.
Jain religion was well founded and followed in Sri Lanka even before the advent of Buddhism. It has been studied in various old Buddhist literature. Ancient texts ‘Mahavansh’ and ‘Deepvansh’ clearly mention that Jainism existed during the reign of many early kings of Lanka. It states that Jainism was destroyed to a great extent by King Vattagamini.
Pandukabhaya built a house at Anuradhapur for the Nigantha Jotiya and Giri and some more Niganthas. Traces of Jainism are seen even before Aryanisation. Ravana, a king of Lanka long ago is said to have erected a Jain temple at Trikutgiri. Another statue of Parshvanatha, the 23rd tirthankara, is found in the caves of tripura is also from Sri Lanka.