Spread of Jainism

167. As we have discussed earlier, Jainism had already been established as an important religion in various provinces of India before Mahavira and the Buddha began their missionary activities. During their period, Magadha, Kausala, Kapilavastu, Vaisali, Pava, Mithila, Varanasi, Simhabhumi, Kausambi, Avanti, etc. were prominent Jain Centers. After Mahavira’s Parinirvana, the Sisunagas, Nandas, Kharavela, Mauryas, Satavahanas, Guptas, Paramaras, Candelas, Kalacuris, and others who provided all possible facilities to develop its literature and cultural activities patronized Jainism. The Southern part of India was also a great center of Jainism. Bhadrabahu and Visakhacarya with their disciples migrated to the South and propagated Jainism very much. Andhra, Satavahanas, Pallavas, Pandyas, Colas, Calukyas, Rastrakutas, Gangas, and others were main dynasties, which rendered sufficient royal patronage and benefits to Jainism and its followers through the spirit of religious toleration, which existed in this region. The Jainas were given magnificent grants for their spiritual purpose. Kings erected numerous Jain temples and sculptures throughout the ages and many facilities were provided for literary services throughout India. As a result the Jana Acaryas wrote their ample works in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhramsa, Tamil, Kannada, Telagu, Marathi, Hindi, Gujrati and other modern Indian languages.

168. Jainism crossed India from South India at about eighth century B.C., if not earlier, and become one of the most important religions of Ceylon, which was known in those days by the name of Lanka, Ratnadvipa or Simhala. The Mahavamsa (10.65-70; 33. 43-79) refers to the existence of Jainism in Ceylon even before the arrival of Buddhism. According to it, Pandukabhaya built a house at Anuradhapur for the Nigantha Jotiya and Giri and some more Niganthas, Jain tradition takes the history of Jainism in Ceylon even prior to its Aryanization, or the Arrival of the Aryans. Ravana, a king of Lanka long ago is said to have erected a Jain temple there at Trikutagiri. Another statue of Parsvanatha, the 23rd Jina found in the caves of Terapur is also said to be from Srilanka. Jainism was a living religion of Srilanka up to the 10th A.D.

169. Kalakacarya, another Jain monk, is said to have visited Burma or Svarnabhumi (Uttaradhyayana Niryukti, 120). Rsabhadeva is said to have traveled to Bali (Bacteria), Greece, Svarnabhumi, Panhave (Iran), etc. (Avasyaka Niryukti, 336-37). Tirthankara Parsvnatha also went to Nepal. The existence of Jainism can also be proved in Afghanistan. Tirthankara images in the Kayotsarga, or meditating pose have been found in Vahakaraj Emir (Afghanistan). Digambara Jain monks have been in Iran, Siam, and Philistia31. Greek writers also mention their existence in Egypt, Abyssinia and Ethyopia32. It had also propagated in Kabul, Campa, Bulgaria and some other foreign countries.