Jain Asceticism in Vedic literature

24. Jainism stayed with Vedic religion since inception. It also co- existed with Buddhism and shared history in India. Its interaction between them finds ample reference to in the early literature like Rigveda, Atharvaveda, Samhitas, Upanisadas, Puranas and Pali literature. 24. Indus civilization is related with pre-Aryan and pre-Vedic culture. The people were there polytheistic. The nude figures excavated in Indus Valley and Lohanipur may be identified as the Jain statues of Tirthankaras, most possibly of Rsabhadeva, the first Tirthankara of Jainas. Most of them are in yogic postures. The Vratyas were the followers of Vratas or vows. They used to stay in the group form 7 and were against the Brahamanas. The Vratyakanda of the Atrharvaveda describes the characteristics of Vratyas, the Non- Vedic Aryans who used to practice austerities. Acarya Sayana has appreciated the Vratyas by calling them the Vidvattama, Mahadhikara, Punyasila, Visvasammanya and Brahmanavisista in the Sayanabhasya. The Rigveda refers to them as Vratasaha (5.53.ll), which is interpreted as Utsedhajivi. 8. They were initiated by using the Bratyastoma for making them Aryans .9 they are also called Anaryas and Magadhas.The subject of the Vratyakanda may be compared with the life of Rsabhadeva, the first Tirthankara who have been honored by the Vedic Rsis in several verses. The Vratyass were definitely against the Vedic idealogy.10 According to the Pancavimsa Brahmana, they were divided into two classes, i.e. the Arhatas and Yaudhas, As we know, the Arhathood is very popular in the Sramana culture in the sense of Vitaragatva. The Buddhist monks were also called Arhatas and Ascetics. The word “Arhat” is used in the Rgveda in the sense of the leader of Sramanas.11

25. The Munis of the Rigveda were the followers of Tirthankara Rsabhadeva. The famous Kesisukta of the Rgveda (X.136) describes the Munis who bear long hair, clad in dirty, tawny colored garments, and walks in the air of flies. He is delirious with the state of being a Muni. He enjoys friendship with Vayu and drinks poison with Rudra and follow the moving wind and attain the status of God. Mortal men could only see his body and no more. He treats the path of sylvan beasts, Gandharvas and Apasaras.12 Corresponding to these references, the references to Vatarasana Sramana Rsis and their leader Rsabhadeva occurred in the Bhagawat Purana 13 may be compared and said that Rsabhadeva, the first Tirthankara of Jainism is well recognized by the Vedic sages. He was accepted as the incarnation of God Visnu even earlier to the incarnation of Rama and Krsna.14
26. Like Munis, Yatis were also prevalent in the Vedic period. They were mediators belonged to Non-Aryan Group called Asuras. According to the Sayanabhasya, Indra killed Asuras. The war between Devas and Danavas or Devodasa and Purukutsa was the war held between Vedic Aryas and pre-Vedic Anaryas (Sramanas). Asuras were not defeated at once. The Vedic Aryans could conquer them only after the moment they become stack in following the right conduct as revealed by the dialogue held between Laxmi and Indra. Then the leadership went to the hands of Indra who ruled over the Northern India and the Asuras centered in Southern India. 15 The Santiparva of the Mahabharata speaks of the spiritualism of the Asuras who were the followers of Sramana ideology. 16

27. Likewise, the Panis were also the followers of Sramana tradition. They are called Devas (7.6.2), Krpanas-misers (l.124.10; 4.51.3) who do not donate any thing to the Purohitas or Devas (l.33.3; 1.83.2; 6.13.3 etc.) in the Rgveda. Naga clans may also have been somehow connected with the Sramanism. The Asuras, Vratyas, Yatis, and Munis were also called Brahmacaris who used to control over sexual passions and followed Sramanology (Atharvaveda, ll.5). They were also worshiper of nude figures, which were not recognized by the Vedic Rises, who clearly prayed, “Let not Sisnadevah enter our sacrificial Pandala.17

28. The words “Barhat” and “Arahat” are found used in the Rgveda. The followers of Barhat tradition accept the authority of the Vedas and were used to the practice of performing sacrifices (Yajnas) whereas those of the “Arhata” community, the upholder of the cult of non-violence (Ahimsa) and kindness (Karuna) did not accept the authority of the Vedas and were against performance of sacrifices since they involved in the killing of innocent animals (Visnupurana, 3.l8.l2; Padmapurana, l3.350).

29. These references compel us to be of view that the Sramana Jain system of Aryans was prevalent even before the Vedic age in India. These Aryans are called afterwards Anaryas. The Vedic Aryas were their opponent having eternal antagonism (Nakula-sarpavat sasvat- virodha) and therefore their antiquity goes definitely back to Indus civilization and even earlier to that it was in existence. The cult of Rudra or Siva may be closely associated with the Sramana culture led by Jainism. The Buddhists joined this Sramana tradition afterwards in the 6th century B.C. The findings of excavations at Mohan-jo-daro, Harappa and other sites also support this fact.