Chapter IX


– Surendra Gopal

Along with the Hindus, the Jainas are the oldest surviving religious community in India. Their identify is confirmed by their distinct theology, philosophy, religio-socio-rituals, literary traditions, etc. Certain other features of the community also deserve to be remembered.

The basic profession of Jainas in the historical period has been trade both local and long-distance. As a result the community has been economically affluent.1 The naxus of the community with business compelled its members to acquire some elements of literacy. It is not an exaggeration to say that the community by and large has always been literate. Literacy enabled them to keep alive the Präkôta and Apbhraãáa, languages which contain a large number of Jaina theological, literary and philosophical texts. This is no mean achievement if we remember that over two millenia many languages appeared in north India and were forgotten.

The strong element of literacy and economic affluence has enabled the community to contribute to the corpus of Indian art, painting and sculpture as well as architecture. They all have their distinctiveness and enrich the diverse strands of Indian culture. It may also be noted that the history of the Jainas like that of the Hindus can be traced almost without a break since ancient times.


The social history of the community, therefore, can be described on the basis of contemporary Jain texts, theological, literary and philosophical, etc., as well as biographies of religious teachers, and the leading lights of the community in Samskôta Präkôt, Apbhraãáa and, a host of regional languages, Gujarätï, Räjasthänï, Hindï etc.

The corpus of literary sources can be supplemented by a number of inscriptions found on Jaina temples, idols of Tïrthaãkaras, objects of worship in a number of languages. The Jaina presence is also noted by contemporaries belonging to other faiths.

On the basis of the contemporary sources, several accounts of the diverse activities of the community have been published. They do not specifically refer to its social life but important pieces of information about the life-style of Jainas can be derived from them.

The available sources for the study of the social life of Jainas are diverse and plentiful.

In medieval times, among Saãskôta texts, mention may be made of Siddhichandra’ Bhänuchandragaîicharita, a biography of Bhänuchandra, a Ávetambara Jaina monk who spent considerable time at the Mughal court under Akbar and Jahangir.2

Paîâita Jayasoma wrote a biography of Karamachandra, a powerful Jaina minister of Akbar with a keen interest in community affairs entitled “Karamachandra Prabandha” in V.S. 1650

There are other contemporary texts in Saãskôta, which will be discussed subsequently. In Saãskôta, we have a large number of inscriptions either found on the pedestal of an idol/or foot-prints of Tïrthaãkaras or on the gates of places of worship. Sri P.C. Nahar published 2592 such inscriptions collected froma all over the country from Calcutta3.

Besides these works in Saãskôta we have number of contemporary writings in Gujaräti, Räjasthänï, Hindï, etc.

The Jainas were prolific writers of ‘räosa’ in Gujarätï. Many of the important events have been covered in poetic works such as Ôishabhadasa’s “Hiravijayasüriräsa” (V.S. 1685), Dayakushala’s “Läbhodayaräsa” (V.S. 1649) etc.

In Räjasthänï there are a number of contemporary accounts of Jaina monks, their journeys, their role in religious rituals, their relation with the laity and the rulers, their social welfare activities, etc. These works do not specifically deal with social life but valuable data regarding Jaina life-style, position of women, education system, etc. can be gained from them.

In Hindi, the most important work is by Banärsidäs, a Jaina poet whose work Ardhakathänaka is the first autobiography, written in Hindi.

Many contemporary Jaina writings in Hindï provide data about Jaina social life. Among these mention may be made of the following works, all edited by Dr. K.C. Käslïwala: Mahäkavi Brahma Räimall Evaã Bhaûûäraka Tribhuvana Kïrti (Jaipur, 1979), Kavivara Büchäraja Evaã Unke Samkalïna Kavi (Jaipur, 1979), Bhaûûäraka Ratnakïrti Evaã Kumudachandra Vyaktitva Evaã Kôtitva (Jaipur, 1981). etc. Important information for the social life of Jainas can be gleaned from these works.

Several works published in the present century (technically they an secondary sources), especially biographies of Jaina preachers are primarily based upon manuscript sources found in different Jaina Bhaõâäras and private possessions. They carry extensive quotations from manuscripts. Many of them are no longer easily accessible to researchers but the “quotes” can be used as primary sources. Among these mention may be made of Sürïshwara Aur Samräta4 and Yugapradhäna Srï Jinachandrasürï5.

Vijnaptipatras or Vinantipatras6, peculiar to Jaina community, are valuable sources for their social history. They were basically invitation letters sent by the community residing at a particular place to Jaina monks to come to their place, participate in religious ceremonies and deliver public discourses. From the seventeenth century onwards they were illustrated with miniature paintings, depicting secular life. Besides naming influencial members of the community they depict market scenes, forms of entertainment, dresses and ornaments worne by men and women.

Other sources distinctive to Jainas which are of help include ‘Paûûävalïs’ ‘Guruavävalïs’ and ‘Vaãáavalïs’. They are genealogical trees of Ächäryäs of different sects and include information on their origin and their famous disciples. They are generally dated and help us in establishing the correct chronology of men and events.

Along with the basic data gleaned from the above-mentioned sources, contemporary Persian language texts and official documents throw light on relationship between the Mughal rulers and the Jainas. Both Akbar and Jahangir issued firmans7 in favour of the  Jain community and Jahangir mentions them in his autobiography Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri.

DEMOGRAPHICAL SPREAD : The Jainas were basically concentrated in Gujaräta and Räjasthän and in the neighbourhood of Delhi but as traders they traversed the length and breadth of the country. Individual Jainas were to be found in most of the trading marts of Western India and important commercial centres of North India extending from the Punjab and Sindh in the West to Bengal in the East8. They had a strong presence in cities of modern Madhya Pradesh such as Raîthaãbhora, Gwalior, Burhanpur, etc.9 A Jaina trader built a temple in Chaul10 on the West coast of India.

Under the Great Mughals, from Akbar onwards, the Jainas spread all over north India. One sovereign ruler from Afghanistan to the Bay of Bengal and from Kashmir to Maharashtra, one set of laws, uniform currency, royal mint houses in every provincial capital, considerably reduced the discomforts faced by traders, engaged in inter-regional trade. The Jainas took advantage of the favourable environment to expand their business and fanned out in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal as well as in Sindh and the Punjab.

The economic policies pursued by Akbar helped Jains to intensify their business activities. Akbar announced that land revenue would be collected in cash. The peasants in the country-side were motivated to sell a part of their produce in the market and commercialization of agriculture and monetization of economy gained momentum. There was an overall increase in trading activities which promoted Jain migration and penetration into the rural areas.

The entry of Jainas into villages was facilitated by another factor. In times of crop failure (not infrequent in preindustrial societies), the peasants were forced to borrow money from the traders which boosted the business of money-lending, carried on by Jainas along with trading activities.

Finally, the policy of religious toleration followed by Akbar11 and largely adhered to by his successors enabled Jainas to activate themselves in different parts of the Empire. They were particularly happy when Padmanandi became the first Jaina monk to be invited to Akbar’s court12. He was followed by Hïravijayasürï and Jinachandrasüri. All of them were warmly welcomed by the Mughal ruler. Jaina traders now flocked to Agra, which was fast developing into the most important tradint mart of north India. A sign of heightened Jaina presence in Agra was the consecration of an idol of the tenth Tïrthaãkara Lord Sïtaanatha here in the seventeenth century13.

Akbar’s policy of establishing politico-marital alliance with the Räjputa chieftains of Rajasthän contributed to Jaina emigration from Räjasthän to other parts of the empire. Many Räjputa rulers were inducted in the Mughal army as commanders and asked to lead military expeditions to annex new territories. The Rajput chief asked Jainas to accompany them as suppliers of provision and keepers of accounts during their campaigns.

Mäna Singh of Amber, who conquered eastern India on behalf of the Mughal ruler Akbar was accompanied by several Jainas, including Shäh Nänü, who served him as Dïwän14. After eastern India was annexed, Nänü stayed back in the provincial capital Räjämahalä and built Jaina temples at holy places in Bihar, such as Sammed Shikhara, Champäpura (modern Bhagalpur) and on several occasions went on pilgrimage with a Saãgh.15 He invited Muni Gyänakïrti to Räjamahal (then known as Akbarpur) – the capital of Bengal and Bihar.

In the seventeenth century, when the English, Dutch and other Europeon companies began operating in north India the opportunities in trade and related spheres of money changing, banking and insurance expanded. The Jains, especially of Räjasthän, took full advantage and played and achive role in economy of Eastern India.

Under Diwänä Dhannä Räi, five hundred ‘Shrïmala Vaiáyas’ were employed for the collection of taxes in eastern India in the reign of Akbar. Poet Banärasïdäsa’s father Khaôagasena also served under him16.

The thriving economy of eastern India in the second half of the  seventeenth century continued to attract Jainas The most important person to emigrate was Hïränanda Shäha, the fore-runner of the House of Jagata Seûha. He came to Patna in 1652 in the reign of Shah Jahan17. His successors flourished and became so affluent that the Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar conferred on his grandson, Seûha Fateh Chand, the title of Jagata Seûha18. By then he had mover over to Murshidabad, the capital of Bengal. For the next half century, the House of Jagata Seûha dominated the economy of the region.

The spread of Jainas in eastern India is further confirmed by the fact that the idols of Jaina Tïrthaãkaras were installed in the city of Dacca in 1675, then the capital of the Sübä of Bengal19.

In North-West India, besides Agra and Delhi, the Jainas moved to Lahore and Multan, besides some other places. In Multan, (a great commercial mart and the gateway to Iran, Afghanistan and Central  Asia), mostly oswal Jains were found. Vardhamäna Navalakhä was the leading figure. He was in contact with poet Banärasïdasa20. They were reported to have migrated from Osia in Räjasthän an in pursuit of trade.21

Yugapradhäna Jinächandrasürï visited Multan and was accorded a warm welcome by his followers. He then journeyed to Jaisalmer which was connected by trade route to Multan22.

Jainas were also to be found in Sindh. It is said that when a severe famine visited Gujarat in the thirteenth century, the Jainas of Sindh helped to relieve the distress of the common man23.

It is clear that the Jainas resided in most of the prominent trade centres of northern, central and western India.

It should not however be construed that they were primarily an urban community. At least in Rajasthan and Gujarat, a number of Jainas resided in villages or in small towns, Jainas monks who travelled from Gujarat to Agra or Delhi in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries received warms welcome from followers, residing in villages and small towns situated on the way. However, as traders, their main concentration was always in urban areas.

THE STRUCTURE OF THE COMMUNITY : In spite of professing a common religion and bound by vows to practise non-violence, the Jainas were divided into a number of sects and sub-sects since ancient times. The first sectarian division brought into existence the Ávetämbara and Digambara sects in the time of Bhadrabähü, more than century and a half after the death of Mahävïra24. In course of time, both the sects split up again and again, giving rise to a number of groupings.

For example, the Bhaûûäraka traditions among the Digambaras, are supposeds ‘…to begin from the thirteenth century A.D…25. These sects enjoyed a love-hate relationship, sometimes cordial, sometimes bitter. ‘Srïbhüÿaîa of Nandïgachha had worst relationship with Vadichandra of Balätkärägaîa, but Indrabhuÿana of the same line had good relations with all’.26

The sub-groupings in the saãgha have been continuously going 27 on. For example, Balätkaragana was first mentioned in the IIth century A.D., while Yäpanïya Saãgha developed in the fifteenth century in the South.28 The Sürï tradition has eighty-four gachchhas.29

Among Ávetäãbaras in the fifteenth century Launkä Shäh spoke against idol-worship and excessive ritualism. In the seventeenth century, the Teräpanthïs among the Ávetäãbaras emerged as a force in Rajasthan and they vehemently criticized pomp and show in religious worship. They number as much as the other Ávetäãbaras and hence, are sometimes considered besides the Digaãbaras and Ávetäãbaras, the third largest grouping among the Jainas.32

It seems that the inter-sectarian tensions had increased after the fourteenth century. Earlier as Ächärya Jinaprabhasürï shows in “Vividha Tïrthakalpa” both Ávetämbaras and Digaãbaras visited the same places of pilgrimage, went to the same temples and worshipped the same idols.33 Laity and monks of both the sects often travelled together.34

Along with sectarian divisions, the Jaina society was also charcterised by caste-system, prevalent among the Hindus.

CASTE SYSTEM : The caste system had entered among the Jainas right from the time of Mahävïra.35 It continued to develop and in the fifteenth century the Digaãbars were supposed to be divided into eighty-four castes.36

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the division of Digaãbara Jainas into eighty-four castes is repeatedly stressed37. Brahma Guläla writing in the seventeenth century asserted that Jainas were divided into eighty-four castes.38

In actual practice, the number of castes among Digaãbara Jainas was more than eighty-four39. In the town of Jhunjhunu alone, Jainas belonging to thirty-six castes were to be found.40 In the last quarter of the seventeenth century in Änandpur (Rajasthan) there were thiry-six castes of Jainas41

It appears that the figures eighty-four and thirty-six were purely notional : they simply indicated profusion of castes.

According to Brahma Räimalla, the Khaîâelawäla caste dominated Raîathambhor, Säãbhar and Delhi while the Agrawälas were numerous in Delhi and Jhunjhunu.42 Chäksu was mostly inhabited by Jainas of Khaîâeläwäla caste.43

It is also clear that many castes appeared and disappeared.44

An essential constituent of Hindü caste system is gotra. This was also present among the Jainas. The prevalence of caste system, gotra and idol-worship, made the Jainas almost identical with the Hindus.

JAINA AND HINDUS : The similarity to the Hindus was evident in many social rituals as well. The marriage ceremony was conducted by a Hindü priest before the sacred fire.45 Hiränanda Shäha called his Brähmina priest from Rajasthan for performing the various socio-religous ceremonies.46

The Jainas like the Hindus believed that birth determined the caste and there was a hierarchy in the caste system.47

Once in a while some Jainas would worship Hindü gods and goddesses. Poet Banärasïdäsa worshipped the idol of Áiva in the hope of acquiring riches and protection from future difficulties.48

Like the Hindus, the Jainas also considered the prevention of cow-slaughter as an act of great socio-religious merit. Samayasundara during his visit to Sidhpur in Sindh obtained from the local Muhammadan administrator Shaikh Käzï an order prohibiting killing of cows in Sindh.49

Like the Hindus, the Jainas also cremated their deceased relatives.

In view of similarities in several socio-cultural rituals, outsiders were unable to distinguish between Hindus and Jainas. Since the Jainas were mostly traders, they were regarded as a part of the Hindu Vaishya community.50 The Hindus and Jains lived harmoniously. Very rarely relations between the two soured but it was a temporary phenomena. During the reign of Madhosingh in Jaipur (1751-1761) Jains were persecuted. Eventually an order was issued which laid down the payment of compensation for losses which the Jains had suffered.51

An important feature of the Jain social structure was that in spite of all conservatism and respect for tradition, it was not closed to others. Hindus from Rajput and other castes were always coopted into the fold of the community. There was a long tradition of Rajput families becoming Jains.52

The Rajputs of the Village Biholi impressed by the preachings of a Jain Muni accepted Jainism. It was in one such family that Banarsidas, the famous Hindi poet, was born.53

The forefathers of Muhnot Nainsi, the famous historian of the seventeenth century, were Rathor Rajputs. One of them Mohan became Jain and it was in his line that Nainsi was born.54

Bhanuchandra, a reputed Jain monk, who lived at the court of Akbar and Jahangir and whose biography was written by his disciple Siddhichandra in Sanskrit was originally a Hindu Vaishya before being initiated into Jainism.55

Some of the Hindus, who had converted to Jainism, were accepted into the monastic order. They were trained in Jain theology and socio-religious practices. Occasionally they rose to high ranks in the monastic order.

During the severe Gujarat famine of 1650-32, Jain monks converted several orpahn boys to their faith to swell the ranks of their coreligionists. This practice was condemmed by the famous Jain poet Samaysundar.56

Inter-sectarian Tension : The caste divisions in the community were accepted; sectarian differences however caused considerable tension. Sometimes they became so intense that royal intervention was sought by the feuding parties.

In the reign of Jahangir, the controversy about Dharma Sagar’s book ‘Sarvajana Shatak’, which had been banned by Hiravijayasuri was brought before the Emperor by Nemisagar Upadhayay. After hearing both the parties, the Emperor advised them to patch up.57

Members of the Lomka sect complained to the Emperor that the Jains of Tapi gachchha led by Shantidas, the famous merchant of Ahmedabad shunned interdining with them. Shahjahan, however, refused to interfere.58


It should be noted that the access of Jain monks to the highest imperial authority from Akbar onwards was dued to their high level of learning and scholarship.

The tradition of according high place to scholarship in the monastic order among the Jains was assiduously cultivated in the medieval age. Many of the Jain Acharyas or Munis were great scholars and authors. Their knowledge of Jain and Hindu theology, philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, astrolgy, etc., was profound. They were multilingual, well-versed in Sanskrit, Prakrit and local languages. 59 Many of them were authors and poets in several vernacular languages. They were encouraged to study grammar, poetics, logic, etc. Some of them became musicologists as well.

The great respect commanded by Jain monk in the society as much due to their position in the monastric order as well as due to their great scholarship. Of course their  austere and pure life-style brought to them much praise from different sections of the society.

As among the Hindus so among the Jains, the scholarship of an individual was judged the degree of proficiency he had acquired in Sanskrit language and literature since this was the language of higher learning. Jain scholars would not consider their education complete unless they had mastered Sanskrit.

The Jain scholars studies Sanskrit because its knowledge enabled them to study seminal books on subjects like literature, grammar, poetics, logic, six-schools of Indian philosophy,35 mathematics, astronomy, astrology medicine, etc. Also, many of the works on Jain theology as was the case with the Hindu and Buddhist theology, were written in Sanskrit. Furthermore, thus equipped, the Jain monks could discuss and debate theological questions with Hindu Pandits and also with members of rival sects.60 Public disputations were frequent.

Mahamahopadhyay Samaysundar in the seventeenth century was a great scholar of grammar, literature, poetics, logic, and several vernacular languages. He was a musicologist as well.61 He wrote a commentary on Mammat’s “Kavyaprakash”, considered to be a very difficult text.62

Another Jain monk, Jinarajsuri was awarded the title of Acharya in VS 1674. He was a reputed scholar of Jain theology, literature and logic. He wrote 14 books on different subjects.63

Samaysundar’s disciple Harsanandan was also a reputed scholar of ‘Navyanyay’. He authored 12 books, one of which ‘Madhyam Vyakhyan Paddhati’ was on public-speaking64 an art highly developed by Jain monks, since they were regularly called upon to preach to their devotees.

Jain writings have enriched a number of branches, such as travel and biography.

JAIN WRITINGS : It was customary for Jains to write biographies of their renowned religious teachers and partons. Undoubtedly, most of these biographies were hagiographical in nature but they contain a lot of information about the contemporary society. For example, some of them describe in detail the journeys undertaken by the Munis and Acharyas. They refer to the tumultuos welcome accorded to them by the community and also the role of the leading members in organising these functions.65

The places covered during the journeys undertaken by Mahamahopadhyay Samaysundarji included Multan, Maroth, Sidhpur, Deravar in Sindh, Labore, Sarjpur, Pirojpur, Kasur in the Panjab, Agra, Akbarpur, Bibipur, Sikandarpur in Uttar Pradesh, Sanganer, Chatsu, Mandova, Merta, Bikaner, etc. (34 places) in Rajasthan, Nagdah, Navanagar, Sauripur, Girnar, Satrunjay in Saurastra and Palanpur, Idar, Ahmedabad, Khambhat, etc. (20) pleaces in Gujarat.66 Obviously, Gujarat and Rajasthan had the largest Jain population in India.

The high level of scholarship attained by several Jain monks was the outcome of a deliberately planned policy on education. Though no formal educational institutions for higher studies existed, yet the deserving and the meritorious were meticulously given all the opportunities to learn. Normally education was begun at the age of six or seven and rich parents distributed money in charity to celebrate the occasion.67 The students were. put in an institution known as Chatsala68.

Among the monks Guru-shisya parampara was followed. A knowledgeable senior monk attached to himself a young acolyte or a bunch of promising youngsters and chalked out a programmes for his/their education. It was the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that the student imbibed the necessary learning. He formulated the curriculm and the time-frame in which to complete the studies. It was the teacher who certified that the stuedent had successfully completed the course of study laid down for him.69 He bestowed upon him the appropriate designation, Upadhyay, Mahamahopadhyay, Acharya, etc. The occasion was duly celebrated by the community with pomp and splendour indicating the community’s appreciation of the achievement of the student and his teacher.

Samaysunder studied with monks Mahimraj and Samayraj70. The books he studied included ‘Siddhahemasabdanusasan’, Anekarthasangrah, Vishvasamphunamala, Kavyaprakash, Panchmahakavya’. He was also asked to read books on Jain theology.71 Works on Jain theology such as ‘Gommatsara’ and ‘Astasahasri’ were intensively studied.72

Along with classical studies, the Jain monks also developed expertise in vernacular languages and literatures because they had to communicate their message to lay followers through regional languages. Though the majority of the audience was literate, very few were trained in classical languages. The Jain contribution to the growth of vernacular languages and literature, in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, etc. is immense. Other subjects studied were medicine, knowledge of mantras, examination of precious stones, attributes of good elephants and horses, etc.73

In view of the fact that the Jain Munies, Acharyas, etc., had to function as teachers as well, they all tried to collect as many books as possible. The Jain Acharyas started depositories of manuscripts at various places. When Akbar handed over to Hirvijayasuri the books left by the late Muni Padmasundar (the first Jain monk at the court of Akbar), he immediately established a ‘Grantha Bhandar’ (book depository) in Agra and kept these books there.74

Jain contribution to vernacular literatures : It should be noted that many of the languages in this area during XVI-XVII Centuries were in a state of formation. In many ways the Jain scholars gave shape to them.

The Jain contribution in the formation of modern Hindi language and literature deserves our notice. A list of Jain writers in Hindi during this period is provided by Nemichand Shastri75 and Kamta Prasad Jain76. The part played by Bhattarak Ratnakirti in this respect is praiseworthy.77

A characteristic of Jain writings in vernacular languages in medieval times may be noted. On many occasions the Jain writings show a mixture of languages : Rajasthani, Gujarati and Apbhramsa.78 They also wrote in Brajbhasa or Brajbhasa mixed with other regional languages. Chhihal’s poem ‘Panch Saheli Geet’ shows a mixture of Rajasthani and Brajbhasa.79

The Jain penchant for a mixed language can be explained. The Jains mostly belonged to Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh, etc. In important commercial marts they lived together. To convey to them their message, the Jain monks had perforce to use a mixed language.80 Vadichandra, who lived in mid-seventeenth century of the Vikram era, wrote Hindi mixed with Gujarati.81 In the process many of the Jain monks acquired proficiency in several vernacular languages.82

One aspect of Jain writings needs to be stressed; they generally avoided ‘Sringar ras’, the dominant influence on literary works in the age.83 Chhihal’s poem ‘Panch Saheli Geet’ was full of ‘Sringar ras’ but the poet was never vulgar84.

The Jain writings were basically devotional, spiritual and didactic. Besides, many writings in vernacular languages were adaptations From Sanskrit, Prakrit and Apbhramsa texts. Many Jain writers were simultaneously writing in vernacular languages as well as in Sanskrit and Prakrit. To a large extent, this put a limit to their themes.

Many of their writings in vernacular languages were prompted by the demand of the laity. Subhachandra, who was annointed Bhattarak in V.S. 1573 wrote “Tatvasaar Duha” at the bidding of his lay disciple Dulha.85

Yashovijayji wrote both in Sanskrit and Gujarati.86 It is said that there has been no shcolar of the calibre of Yashovijayji among Jains since then.87

Another distinguished scholar of Sanskrit and a poet of middle ages was Meghvijayji. He is reported to have memorised all important Sanskrit Mahakavyas (epic poems). He was well-versed in Philosophy and write a book on Sanskrit grammar “Hemakaumudi.”88 He also wrote a commentary on “Sidhahemachandrashabdanushasan” in order to make it easily understood by the beginners.89 His “Saptasandhan Mahakavya” contains biographies of seven persons and each word has seven meanings!90

Along with the monks, the Jain laity also contributed to the development of vernacular literature. They studied theological literature, with the help of some knowledgeable person. Chaturmal studied ‘Harivamsa Puran and other Jain puranic literature with Dhawal Pandit in the late seventeenth century of the Vikram era.91 Banarsidas studied with Pandit Devadas at the age of fourteen astronomy/astrology, literature and Jain theology. Later on, he read with Pandit Bhanuchandra poetics,92 dictionaries, religious ritual associated with Jainism, etc.93

The greatest piece of secular writing in Hindi produced by a Jain during this period was Banarasidas’s authobiography, Ardhakathanak, the first autobiography written in Hindi94. The book has been widely acclaimed by scholars and historians as it is a trustworthy mirror of the age in which the author lived95. He candidly wrote about contemporary business practices, the tyranny of officials and the hardships faced by the common man.

Another secular theme touched by Jains was life in urban centres. Nahar Jatmal of Lahore wrote “Lahor Ghazal” had described the city and the pattern of life in minute details96. This genre became popular among Jain authors. Brahm Raimall described around nineteen towns in his writings.97

The city of Agra has been depicted by several Jain scholars. “Yasodharcharit” carries a detailed account of Agra98. Jain poets in regional languages have described the affluence of medieval Agra.99 Sanskrit works by Jains have descriptions of several urban centres.100

Gwalior, a stronghold of Jains in the early sixteenth century under Mansingh Tomar was compared to ‘Swarna Lanka’ or ‘Golden Srilanka’.101

The Jains were writers of dictionaries. Samaysundar while at the court of Akbar was taunted about the Jain proverb that one formula has ‘numberless meanings’. After sometime in V.S. 1649, Samaysundar presented to the Emperor his self-written book which contained ten lakhs meanining of eight letters’ : ¦UÊ¡Ê ŸÙ ŒŒÃŠ ‚Åÿ!vÆw

Champavati or Chaksu, an important seat of the Bhattaraks, has been repeatedly described in Jain works.102

Banarsidas compiled one of the first dictionaries in Hindi ‘Banarasi Nam Mala’ at the request of his friends Narotamdas Khabra and Thakur Khabra.103

The Jains took keen interest writing the biographies of their preceptors and patrons. Samaysundar wrote a poem on the meeting of his teacher Jinachandrasuri with Akbar.103a “Karmachandra Prabandh” is the biography of Jain minister of Akbar, who also evinced great interest in the well-being of the community by arranging receptions to visiting monks, by organising pilgrim parties to Jain holy places and by winning concessions for the community members from the political authorities.104

Jain authors also wrote on scienrific subjects. Bhagwatidas is the author of “Vaidyavinod”, a book on the Hindu system of medicine, Ayurveda in the reign of Shah Jahan.105 The same author during his stay in Hissar completed “Jyotisara”, a treatise on astrology.106 Jayakirti, a disciple of Harsanandan, was well-versed in astrology and wrote a book on the subject.107 The proficiency of Jains in astronomy was such out Sawai Jaisingh, ruler of Jaipur (1699-1743), a great student of astronomy, used to consult Vidyadhar, a Jain scholar on this subject.108

An important feature of Jain social life was that even women patronised and promoted book writing and/or transcription. At the bidding of Bai Mathura, Bhagwatidas transcribed “Navankkevali”, a religious text.109

The common man because of regular interaction with the learned monks developed an inclination to debate and discuss the finer points of their religion. The inquisitive members formed saili or a circle of like minded persons.

Such a Saili had come up in Agra where Banarsidas and his friends under the influence of anti-idolatory, anti-priestly and anti-ritualistic movements in the Hindu society, questioned these practices in their own religion. They became founders of Terapanth within the fold of Digamber Jainism.110

The prominent members of this saili were Sanghi Jagjivan, Kunwarpal, Pandit Hemraj, Ramchand, Sanghi Mathuradas, Bhawaldas and Bhagwatidas. After the death of Banarsidas, Jagjivanram collected all his writings and put them together in a work ‘Banarsivilas’.111 The discussions were not confined to religious and spiritual topics. Banarsidas read ‘Madhumalti’ and Mrigabati’ to a small group of lovers of literature during evenings at Agra.112 Banarsidas initiated within the Jain community a profound revolution which had been earlier convulsed by Lunka Shah during the 14th-15th centuries. Its impact continued to be felt centuries after his passing away.113

An indirect result of the emergence of these sailis was the promotion of study of subjects such as logic, philosophy, grammar, etc., among common men.114 This point needs to be emphasized as higher education was supposed to be the preserve of the religious order.

These sailis had no organised structure. They became popular in the towns of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.115

The Jain society during the middle-ages was in a state of intellectual ferment. This was partially reflected in the continuing debates (oftentimes public) between protagonists of different sects.

Jinachandrasuri defeated Dharmasagar in Patan in V.S. 1617 in an open debate and thirty leading citizens belonging to various Jain sects signed a declaration announcing his victory.116 In another public disputation he got an upperhand over a scholar at Rajnagar.117 In V.S. 1642 in Jalor he forcefully argued in favour of his doctrinal position before the votaries of Tapagaccha.118

In V.S. 1625, Sashikirti was locked in a public discussion with Buddhisagar, a proponent of Tapagachha in Agra and was judged to have won. On this occasion scholars like Pandit Aniruddha Mishra and Pandit Mahadeo Misra were also present.119

These public debates were a regularly feature of Jain social life as they were divided into several groups and each sought to justify itself and tried to justify its ideological and ritual position. Of course, sometimes the followers of rival sects disturbed the functions of each other.120

Furthermore, India being a multireligious society, sometimes the Jain monks were called upon to defend their faith against the exponents of other religions.

Hirvijayasuri was called to Agra by Akbar to explain the tenets of Jainism because the Emperor was restless to know what religion was all about and for the purpose summoned leading theologians of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism to Ibadatkhana.

Shantichandraji, who accompanied Hiravijayasuri to Agra, was a scholar of repute and a great debater. He was known to have scored over several scholars in public disputations. At the court of Idar, he matched his debating skill with a Digambar Jain Bhattarak, Vadibhusan and was judged to have been the winner. On another occasion, in the presence of the Jodhpur ruler, he was declared successful against a Digambar Jain Acharya Gunachandra.121

Shantichandra’s scholarship greatly impressed his teacher Hiravijayasuri, who left him at the court of Akbar, when he proceeded to Gujarat at the end of his visit to Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar also respected him.

The public as well as the Mughal emperors Akbar and Jahangir held the Jain monks in great respect for their erudition, debating skills and persuasive public discourses. Muni Jinachandrasuri of Khartargaccha also won the favour of both the emperors. The latter honoured him and conferred upon him the title of ‘Yugapradhan’.122 To celebrate this announcement Minister Karmachandra Bachchawat spent ‘hundred million rupees’.123

Muni Jinchandrasuri’s successor, Srijinarajsuri was respectfully received by Emperor Shah Jahan in V.S. 1686 in Agra. Sundardas, a Jain poet lived at the court of Shah Jahan. The emperor honoured him first by bestowing upon him the title ‘Kavirai’ and then ”Mahakavirai’.124

Honours publically conferred upon Jain monks considerably raised the prestige of community in the society as well as in the eyes of Mughal officials. Both would respect the beliefs and sensibilities of the community. Hasankuli Khan, the chief of Nagor, respectfully received Srijinachandrasuri when he entered into the town.125

Whenever a monk would receive a public honour, the community would celebrate it with pomp and ceremony. The affluent members would spend lavishly. This would increase the social prestige of such persons. Spending on such and other religious and social occasions was a socially acceptable and laudatory practice. When Srijinarajsuri was annointed Acharya, one of his disciples Srimaldeo held a Nandi Mahotsav with great fan-fare.126

Whenever the Acharyas performed any important religious ritual, the rich disciples would spend vast sums. In V.S. 1614, Sangram Singh met the expenses of Kriyoddhar function performed by Srijinachandrasuri.127

As traders, brokers and bankers, most of the Jains were always in close touch with the producing sections in the society, especially the craftsmen. In Burhanpur, the main commercial centre in Khandesh, Jain temples, Upasrayas, Pratisrayas (resting places for Jain monks) were constructed in Kansar-Patakas (Kansarpada—the locality of copper-smiths).128

The strong element of literacy enabled some members of the Jain community to serve in the various rumps of administration under the Mughals and local chieftains. They were small, middle level and high functionaries. Karmachandra served Akbar as a minister.

When Mansingh went to conquer eastern India on behalf of Akbar he was accompanied by a large number of Jains, who served the administration as accountants, tax-collectors, etc.129

In Rajasthan, Mewar was always served by the family members of the house of Bhamashah in top capacities. Muhmot Nainsi rose to be the prime-minister of Jodhpur. He was the writer of ‘Muhmot Nainsi Ri Khyat’ and Marwar Ka Pargana Ki Vigat’ two important sources for writing the medieval history of Jodhpur and Rajasthan. These top officials in the state also led the armies in war and the cult of non-violence did not come in their way in the discharge of their duties.130

Since the Jains use educated, some of men earned fame as writers and poets. A number of these works were written at the request of friends. For example, Thakursi in early sixtenth century wrote poems “Parsvanath Shakun Sattavisi’ in Registhani and ‘Meghmalakaha’ in Apbhramsa at the bidding of his friend Mallinath in V.S. 1578 and V.S. 1580 respectively.130a

Those who were associated with bureaucracy acquired proficiency in Persian. Muldas, the grandrather of Banarsidas and employee of a Muslim administrator in Malwa kenw Persian.130b

BOOK DEPOSITORIES : The spread of literacy and the cause of scholarship in the community was promoted by another social value extensively practised by the members of the community.

Both men and women devotees, not part of the monastic order, if they could afford, ordered transcription of important texts and these were then distributed as gifts among the members of the community. The monks, as a part of their education were assigned the work of transcription of books.131 This was considered to be an act of religious merit. Apart from preserving the Jain texts, this practice created a wider circle of readership, promoted intellectual inquiry and emphasized the impotance of literacy as an important social value, not only for the monks but also for the laity. As the end the transcribed manuscript not only the name of the person who had ordered the transcription was recorded but also his deeds were praised132 Shah Karma got a transcription of Jindas’s Holirenuka Charitra’ prepared in Ranthambhor and be offered the copy to Achary Lalitkirti.136 The practice of transcription of books was fairly widespread. Hundreds of books transcribed beween V.S. 1601 and V.S. 1640 in Rajasthan are available in various Jain Granth Bhandars.137

As a result wherever there was a significant Jain community, ”Grantha Bhandars’ or depository of books emerged. All important Jain Upasrayas, Chaityalayas were also book depositories. These ‘Grantha Bhandras’ succeced in preserving Jain writings over the centuries.

It was a great incentivr towards the spreadd of literacy133 propagation of works by Jain authors and pureswatin of books written in the past.135

STATUS OF WOMEN : Literacy and the exposure to the wider world made the community’s outlook on the position of women much more liberal than other contemporary communities.

The women enjoyed an honoured place. They were accepted in the monastic order138 and shown as much reverence as the male monks. The pains they took and the efforts they made for the propagation of the religion was socially appreciated.

They accompanied the ‘Sangha’ or the collectives, which were organised to visit Jain holy places. Once in a while they also organised such Journeys. Lalli a female Jain devotee led a congregation of Jain devotees to the holy mountain of Satrunjay.139 In V.S. 1646, when Bhattarak Ratna Chandra led a Sangh to Babanganj Sidhakshetra (Chulagiri), several women formed part of the contingent.140

The women also constructed temples, Upsrayas and Pratisray.141

After the ceremonies connected with the installation of temples idols/religious symbols concluded, the Acharya annointed the forehead of these who had convened this function with sandal paste. The women were not excluded from such ceremonies. When Acharya Ratnakirti led Sangha for pilgrimage to Girnar where Neminath attained Kaivalya and Satrunjay mountains, he was accompanied by all the four categories of devotees, monks, aryikas (women members of the monastic order), sravak (male devotees) and sravikas (female devotees). Tejabai ( a woman) was the organiser of the Sangh. She had been initiated into the order by Ratnakirti.143 Acharya Ratnakirti honoured Gopal and his wife Bejalde by annointing their foreheads with sandal paste.144 In V.S. 1647, Yugaapradhan Srijinchandrasuri initiated a women devotee Kodam into the order.145 In V.S. 1697, Dhaunade, wife of Shah Natha and mother of Shah Karmasi was admitted into the monastic order and administered twelve vratas by Mahamahopadhyay Samaysundar.146

The women also commissioned transcription of religious books for distribution among devotees and monks in order to earn religious merit and social prestige. Thakursi and his wife Lakhan had a copy Bhattarak Sakalkirtis “Yasodhar Charit” transcribed. They presented it to Brahm Raimall in V.S. 1630.147

There were even women transcribers of books. A copy of ‘Parsavanathras’ was prepared by a woman disciple Parvati Gangawal at the bidding of her teacher Bai Ratnai in V.S. 1722.148 This instance shows that Jain women, especially those who joined the monastic order were, sby and large, literate. This raised their status within the society.

An indication of high status enjoyed by women is the fact that a Jain lady Larkibai was a part of the three member delegation sent from the port of Diu to invite Hirvijayasuri.149

Many images of Jain Tirthankars or their symbols installed for worship carried inscriptions to the effect that they had been erected to earn religious merit for wife or mother or for both the parents of the devotee.150

An idol of Hiravijayasuri was erected by his lay devotees of Cambay, Pauma and his wife Panchi, and year after he passed away. An inscription at the pedestal attests to this fact.151

Since the women played an active role in the socio-religious life of the community, they were not segregated or put behind veil as was the case with upper-caste Hindu women. When Acharyas were welcomed by their devotees, women formed part of the congregations. They sang devotional songs in his praise. the Jain society escapped the purdah system which prevailed among high caste Hindus in medieval times.

But many other disabilities which afflicted Hindu women can be traced in the Jain society as well. For example men could have a number of wives and could remarry after death of their wives. Abhayraj, the father of Jagjivan, a close of friend of Banarsidas, had a number of wives. Jagjivan was born from the youngest wife Mohande.152

The poet Banarsidas married thrice.153 Child marriage was in vouge. Banarsidas was betrothed at the age of nine and was married when he was eleven years old.154 After the death of his first wife, he married her sister.155

Fasting, as laid down by Jain religious practices, was generally undertaken by women. ‘Meghamala’, a fast undertaken by women during the rainy season was continued for five seasons consecutively and thereafter it was given up in a ceremony called ‘udyapan‘. In case this could not be done, women had to continey the fast for the next five years.156

The high status enjoyed by Jain women appears, at first glance, to be paradoxical since Jainism laid great stress on Brahmacharya or abstention from sexuality. They considered women as an obstacle in the path of realisation of the self. Nevertheless, in actual practice, women enjoyed high respect, as mother, as wife or a member of the community.

By and large, it could be said that Jain social life largely veered round their religious festivals, rituals as prescribed by the monastic order to which they belonged. As a result certain social norms had evolved to which people tried their best to conform.

Whenever a person was inducted into the monastic order, the members of the community belonging to the particular sect organised a public function (Diksha Samaroh) and lavishly spent money on the festivities. Ratnakirti was annointed as his chief disciple by Bhattarak Abhayanandi in V.S. 1630. The expenses concerning the ceremony were met by Sanghapati pakshik, his wife and sons.157

Whenever a higher rank, Upadhyaya, Mahamahopadhyay or Acharya was conferred upon any member of the monastic order, his disciples organised public functions ot honour him. The devotees went round the city in processions with musical instruments playing, multi-coloured banners, elephants, horses, chariots etc.

The visit of an Acharya to a particular area for participating in a religious ceremony for installing idols in temples, or for inducting someone into the monastic order or for taking rest during long journeys or for spending the Chaturmas (the four months of rainy season) were special occasions for the disciples. Apart from listening to their discourses, they celebrated it with gaiety. Members of the community, residing in mearby places participated in these functions and listened to the preachings of the monks.

When Hiravijayasuri was on way to Fatehpur Sikri at the invitation of Akbar, he halted at Merta. Groups of his devotees from Nagor and Bikaner came and worshipped him.158

At the orders of Akbar, Thansingh, Amipal, Bhanushah and other affluent Jains came down to Sanganer to ceremoniously receive Hiravijayasuri. They organized a procession with horses, elephants, chariots, etc., and escorted him to the town with great fanfare.159

While Hiravijaysuri stayed at Akbar’s court, Shah Sadarang of Merta celebrated the occasion by distributing thousands of rupees among the poor and needy in charity. He also donated horses and elephants.160 One of these elephants was purchased by a Mughal for 100 gold mohurs.161

Tejpal Soni, a resident of the port town of Cambay and a devotee of Hiravijayasuri, spent twenty-five hundred rupees in a day when the saint visited the place in V.S. 1646.162 Organising lavish functions during visits of saints and during the performance of religious rituals and meeting expenses had beome a part of the life-style of affluent Jains. This won them the esteem of their co-religionists and raised their status.

Santi Das, the great merchant of Ahmedabad in the reign of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, constructed a grand temple and spent lavishly on religious functions.163

Durjansal had constructed a temple at Lahore and another at Burhanpur.164

Sanghvi Sangram Singh, a minister at the court of Bikaner and a devotee of Srijinachandrasuri dedicated several Jain images and erected temples in Jain holy places in Bihar in V.S. 1666, 1688, 1702 and 1707.165 He had invited the Acharya to spend the Chaturmas in V.S. 1621 in Bikaner.166

Certain social functions, such as celebration of marriages or birth of a son were also marked by lavish spending of money.

The display of wealth was very prominent especially when marriages took place. The bridegroom donned ornaments and the members of his party were well-dressed. They out on mascara in their eyes, had betel-leaves in their mouth and their foreheads were annointed with saffron and sandal paste.167

Musical instruments were played when the bridegroom and his party proceeded to the bride’s residence168. The bridegroom usually mounted a horse and a lavish feast was arranged in honour of the guests by bride’s parents.169

The custom of presenting dowry to the bridegroom by the bride’s party was common. Of course, the type of dowry depended upon the economic status of the bride’s family. Besides ornaments and dresses, elephants, horses. male and female servants were also given as part of the dowry 170

A lavish feast was arranged on the occasion of marriage and a variety of food including several types of sweets was served.171

It was a part of Jain religious and social ethos to accompany their revered Gurus whenever they started on a pilgrimage. Of course, the rich followers met all the expenses of the party and arranged for the safety and creature comforts of the travellers. After the return of the Sangh from pilgrimage, the organiser usually hosted a feast for the community members.172

In V.S. 1649, Hiravijayasuri decided to visit the holy places on Satrunjay hills. He was accompanied by thousands of devotees, both men and women from the neighbouring towns of Patan, Radhanpur, Palanpur, Ahmedabad, Cambay, etc. As the news of his pilgrimage spread, more and more devotees from Malwa, Mewar, Marwar, South India, Bengal, Cutch and Sindh came to pay their respects to the Muni and to join the party.173

It seems that with the passage of time musical and dancing performances were organised as a part of celebration of important events.

When in V.S. 1721 Subhachandra assumed the chiefship of the monostic order, festivities took place in which music and dance performances regaled the audience.174 On such festive occasions community feasts were held. We have reference to one such feast in Surat in VS 1734.175

In the Vijnapatipatras of the next century, we have paintings depicting scenes of musical and dancing performances.

The Jain community had accepted music to such an extent the many songs and poems written during this period indicate the ‘raga’ in which they should be sung.176

In V.S. 1644, when a pilgrimage party started for Siddhachal from Bikaner, it was joined by another from Ahmedabad which included Yugapradhan and Sanghpati Yoginath and Somji. As the party continued its journey, more and more pilgrims hailing from Mandover, Sindh, Jaisalmer, Sirohi, Jalor, Saurashtra and Champaner,176a attached themselves.

Hiranand Mukin organised a Sangh for visiting the holy place of ‘Sammed Shikar’. The event has been mentioned by Banarsidas. Kharagsen, Banarsidas’s father went on a pilgrimage with a Sangh in V.S. 1661. Since the early middle ages, under the influence of Tantricism,177 the Jains did believe in astrology, auspicious moments and miracles. All their religious functions and important life-cycle  rituals were held on days and time considered auspicious. Important activities were stated at ‘auspicious times’.178 For fixing auspicious time and date they consulted the monks. Hence, many monks studied astrology as well.

The Jains also believed in miracles and the chanting of Mantras to ward off evil, to acquire wealth and for fulfilment of desires. The tradition was rooted in the past.

Acharya Jinaprabhasuri had deeply impressed Muhammad bin Tughluq by showing him miracles.179 Yugapradhan Srijinachandrasuri by chanting Mantras ensured that the Mughal army would not attack the town of Nadloi, because it was made to lose its way.180 In the town of Falaudi as the Yugapradhan reached before, the ancient temples of Parsvanath, its locked doors automatically opened.181 The locks had been put on by the members of the rival Terapanth.

It was held that when the town of Chaksu by Ibrahim Lodi, it was saved from pillage by the grace of the idol of Parsvanath, which was held in high esteem.182

Yugapradhan Jinachandrasuri impressed Akbar by his miraculous powers.183

The Jain monks conducted special religious functions to ward off evil influences of heavenly bodies for the welfare of their devotees. While at Lahore, at the request of Akbar, Mahimraj in V.S. 1648 performed the ‘Ashotari Shantsnatr’ for the health of the newly born daughter of Prince Salim. The king spent one lakh of rupees and when ‘Arti’ signifying the end of the Puja was performed, Prince Salim offered ten thousand rupees.184

Banarsidas chanted a mantra acquired acquired from a holyman daily for one-year in the hope that after this was over, he would find ‘one dinar daily at his door steps’.185 Of course, nothing of the kind happened.

for the fulfilment of wishes, pilgrimages were undertaken Kharagsen, the father of Banarsidas twice visted Rohtakpur ki Sah as a pilgrim praying for the birth of a son and Banarsidas was born.186

In their everyday life, the Jains tried to practise the cult of non-violence. They refrained from meat eating and killing of all living beings. Vegetarianism was a part of their religious social ethos, which they actively preached and propagated and held to be an integral part of their existence.187 They extened their respect of life to even insects, birds and animals.

For the well-being of birds and animals the Jains established Pinjrapoles, where the sick and the diseased animals were treated.187a One such hospital for animals and birds was started in the late eighteenth century in Chandni Chowk in Delhi and is still functioning.

The Jain Eversion to the public killing of birds and animals was sometimes exploited by unscrupulous persons to earn some quick money. European travellers to Gujarat in medieval times report that some mischievous persons would take a bird and threaten to kill it before a Jain unless the person concerned paid him to desist from this ‘act’ Jains usually paid moeny to ‘avert’ this mischief.

Despite their unique lifestyle, the Jains did not avoid socialising with members of other communities. They, of course refrained from dining with others. But apart from this restriction, they socially mixed with the Muslim nobility and royalty188. European christian traders and others. Such close contacts were necessary for furthering their business interest as also for winning the esteem of their coreligionists and other sections of the society. This interaction brought them closer to the higher echelons of the ruling circles and also enabled them to secure concessions for their community.

In Jahangir’s time, Hiranand Mukim was one fo the richest persons in Agra. He once invited the ruler to his house.189

Chand Sanghvi, a rich trader presented to Jahangir, a valuable diamond ring and requested him to confer upon him ten bighas of land as Madad-in Maash grant in the pargana of Khambhat, so that he could construct a monument in honour of his guru, the late Vijasensuri. His request was accepted.190

Some Jains also served as personal officers of Muslim nobles, Abhayraj was a Diwan of Jafar Khan in Agra. The latter held the rank of 5000 under Shah Jahan.191

The Jains had close relations with European christians. Father Monserrate, the Jesuit priest at the court of Akbar recounts an incident in which two christians were sentenced to death on the charge of spying. Two local Jain traders intervened. They secured the release of the accused persons after paying a ransom of one thousand pieces of gold.192

The Portuguese highly valued the Jains for their business acumen. Linschoten, a Dutch visitor to Goa at the end of the sixteenth century, found a street inhabited by the Gujaratis. It is quite possible that among these Gujaratis, there were Jains as well.

The Portuguese had granted religious toleration to the Jains in their Indian possessions.193 Virji Vora allowed Khwaja Minaz, an Armemian Christian to purchase broad cloth on his behalf.193a

The Jains consciously refrained from wine-drinking, gambling and prostitution. The three evils were repeatedly denounced and individuals were exhorted to shun them.194 In fact, Jain social code of conduct laid down that they would refrain from seven habits or ‘Sapt Vyasan’ viz. gambling, meat eating, wine drinking, prostitution, hunting, thieving and extra-mariatal relations. Poet Thakkursi denouched them in his poem ‘Sapt Vyasan Shatpada195. His other work ‘Vyasan Prabandh’ incorporating the teachings of Muni Dharmachandra reitenerates the prohibition on the above seven habits.

The evils of prostitution and extramarital relations were emphasized since they ruined individuals and were not uncommon. Even Banarsidas admits having indulged in these activitie, which made him bankrupt.196

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY : The rich Jains didi not shirk their social responsibility when disasters like famine or external aggression hit the society.

The concern for social responsibility was reflected in the conduct of Virji Vora, based in Surat, reportedly the greatest merchant in India in the seventeenth century. When there was a famine in Surat, he gave away large sums of money in charity and also distributed gram to the hungry. In his old age, he gave up worldly pursuits and retired to a monastery.197

The Jains, despite their distinctive life-style were well integrated into the local society. Their dominant role in the economy was accepted by all groups of traders and the ruling authorities. Hence, some of the great Jain traders of the times were chosen to protect and promotet he business interests of the local business community. Such an organisation was named ‘mahajan’ and its chief was called ‘Nagar Seth’. Shanti Das, the great merchant of Ahmedabad enjoyed this status.198. He would negotiate on behalf of the merchants with the ruling authorities and take necessary steps to protect their interest.199

In medieval times the Jain community continued to uphold their socio-religious norms but this did not come in their way in conducting their business with other groups belonging to different religions in the country. However, like other groups in the society, they too failed to perceive the usefulness of getting acquainted with European  knowledge, science and technology. In spite of interacting so closely with the Europeans, they did not show any curiosity to understand the socio-economic and cultural milieu of the Europeans. They could not get out of the shell of conservatism and backwardness which had enveloped the Indian society.


  1.       Dr. Jyotriprasad Jain Pramukh Aitihasik Jain Purush Aur Mahilayaen (hereafter cited as Pramukh New Delhi, 1975
  2.       M.D. Desai (Ed), Bhanuchandraganicharit, Ahmedabad, 1941.
  3.       P.C. Nahar, Jain inscriptions (Jain Lekha Sangrah) Vols. I, II, III, Calcutta, 1918, 1957, 1929.
  4.       Muniraj Sri Vidya Vijayji, Surishwar Aur Samrat Akbar Krishnalal Varma (tr. into Hindi), Agra, Virsamvat 2450.
  5.       Agarchand Nahta and Bhanwarlal Nahta, Yugapradhan Sri Jinachandrasuri (in Hindi) (hereafter cited as Yugapradhan) Calcutta, Vikram Samvat 2029.
  6.       B.L. Nahta, “Vijnaptipatra of Udaipur”, Jain Journal, (henceforth cited as JJ) July 1972, pp. 10-18; Surendra Gopal, “Social life in Gujarat and Rajasthan in the 19th century—as revealed in a scroll of invitation”, JJ, January 1972, pp. 105-109; Idem, “Vijnaptipatra, A source for the Social History of Jains In The 19th Century”, Proceedings, Indian Historical Records Commission, Madras, XL Session, pp.1-3.
  7.       Some of the firmans have been published in Appendix to Surishwar Aur Samrat, pp. 373-397.
  8.       Kasturchand Kasliwal, Kavivar Buchraj Evam Unke Samkalin Kavi (in Hindi) (hereafter cited as Buchraj), Jaipur, 1979, P.11. Buchraj, though a Rajasthani, spent most of his time in the Punjab. He completed his work “Santosh Jai Tilaku’ in V.S. 1591 in Hissar.
  9.       Kasturchand Kasliwal, Mahakavi Brahma Raimall Evam Bhattarak Tribhuvankirti (in Hindi) (hereafter cited as Raimall,) Jaipur, 1978, p.13; Buchraj, p.x.
  10.       Surishwar Aur Samrat, p. 263.
  11.       Yugapradhan, p. 56
  12.       Surishwar Aur Samrat, p. 92; Yugapradhan, p. 66.
  13.       Rama Kant Jain, “The Builder of the Garden Temple”, JJ April 1976, p. 158.
  14.       Pramukh, p. 287.
  15.       Ibid, pp. 288.
  16.       Pramukh, p. 291
  17.       J.H. Little, The House of Jagatseth, calcutta, 1967, p. 6.
  18.       Ibid, p. VII. The title was conferred upon him in A.D. 1722
  19.       D.C. Sarkar, “Jaina Temples in East Bengal in the Seventeenth Century”, JJ, January 1975, pp. 82-85.
  20.       Pramukh, p. 296;
  21.       K.C. Kasliwal, Khandelwal Jain Samaj Ka Brihad Itihas, Jaipur 1989, pp. 55-56 (hereafter cited as Khandelwal Jain Samaj…)
  22.       Yugapradhan, pp. 111, 115.
  23.       Muni Jinvijayaji, Jain Itihasnsi Jhalak (in Gujarati), (hereafter cited as Jain Itihasni…, Bombay, 1966, p. 49.
  24.       Dr. Ravindra Kumar Jain, Kavivar Banarsidas (in Hindi), Varanasi, 1966, pp. 37-38.
  25.       V.P. Johrapurkar, Bhattaraka Sampradaya, Sholapur, 1958, p. II.
  26.       Ibid, pp. 10, 12.
  27.       Khandelwal Jain Samaj…, Ch 2 entitled “Sangha Bhed or Sectarian Divisions”.
  28.       Ibid, pp. 26, 27.
  29.       Yugapradhan, p. 8.
  30.       Ravindra Kumar Jain, p. 43.
  31.       Ibid, p. 45.
  32.       Ibid, p. 46
  33.       Vividh Tirth-Kalp, Agarchand Nahta and Bhanwarlal Nahta (trans), Varanasi, 1978, p. 17.
  34.       Ibid.
  35.       Khandelwal Jain Samaj…, pp. 28-29
  36.       Ibid., p. 30.
  37.       Ibid, pp. 30, 31.
  38.       K.C. Kasliwal, Bhattarak Ratnakirti evam Kumudchandra (hereafter cited as Ratnakirti), Jaipur, 1981, p. II.
  39.       Khandelwal Jain Samaj…, p. 45.
  40.       Brahma Raimalla, p. 21.
  41.       Ratnakirti, p. 20; Buchraj, p. 124.
  42.       Ibid, p. 103
  43.       Buchraj, p. 240.
  44.       Khandelwal Jain Samaj.., p. 47.
  45.       Brahm Raimall, p. 100.
  46.       Little, p. 7
  47.       Dr. Hukamchand Bharill, Pandit Todarmal Vyaktitva Aur Krititava, Jaipur, 1973, p. 16.
  48.       Ravindra Kumar Jain, pp. 12, 96, 97.
  49.       Samaysundar, Kriti-Kusumanjali (hereafter cited as Samaysunder) Agarchand Nahta and Bhanwarlal Nahta (eds) Calcutta, V.S. 2013, p. 21.
  50.       Pandit Todarmal, p. 16.
  51.       Ibid, pp. 34-35.
  52.       Jain Itihasni…, p. 56.
  53.       Ravindra Kumar Jain, P. 86.
  54.       Ram Narain Dugad, Muhnot Nainsi Ki Khyat, Vol. II, Allahabad. V.S. 1991, p.1
  55.       Bhauuchandraganicharit, p. 59.
  56.       Samysundar, p. 27.
  57.       Bhanuchandraganicharit, p. 21.
  58.       Imperial Mughal Firmans, M.S. Commissariat (Compiled), pp. 36-37.
  59.       K.C. Kasliwal (ed), Mahakavi Brahma Raimall Evam Bhattarak Tribhuvankirti, Jaipur, 1978, pp. 8, 36-37.
  60.       Veer Shasan Ke Prabhavak Acharya, p. 212.
  61.       Samaysundar, p.
  62.       Ibid., p.3.
  63.       Ibid., pp. 32-33.
  64.       Ibid., pp. 34-44.
  65.       Bhanuchadraganicharit and Ambalal Premchand Saha (ed), Digvijay Mahakavya, Bombay, 1945.
  66.       Samaysundar, p. 19.
  67.       Brahma Raimall, pp. 52, 101.
  68.       Buchraj, p. 191, Ravindra Kumar Jain, p. 89.
  69.       Ravindra Kumar, p. 90.
  70.       Samaysundar, pp. 13-14.
  71.       Ibid., p. 15.
  72.       Ratnikirti, p. 75.
  73.       Brahma Raimalla, p. 275, Bhattarak Ratnakirti studied Ayurveda). Ratnakirti, pp. 43, 80.
  74.       Jain Itihasni…, p. 173.
  75.       Nemichandra Shastri, Hindi-Jain-Sahitya Parishilan, Banaras, 1956.
  76.       Kamta Prasad Jain, Hindi Jain Sahitya Ka Sankshipt Itihas, Kasi, n.d.
  77.       Veer Shasan…, pp. 194-95.
  78.       Kamta Prasad Jain, pp. 82, 100, 101, 109, 126.
  79.       Buchraj, p. 128.
  80.       Samaysundar…, pp. 84-88.
  81.       Ratnakirti, p. 33.
  82.       Ibid., p. 84; Poet Raimall wrote in Hindi and Rajasthani. Brahm Raimall, p. 59.
  83.       Pandit Todarmal, p. 36-38.
  84.       Ibid, p. 38.
  85.       Buchraj, p. 7.
  86.       Kamta Prasad Jain, p. 152.
  87.       Jain Itihasni…, p. 196.
  88.       Ibid., p. 195.
  89.       Ibid., p. 196.
  90.       Ibid.
  91.       Buchraj, p. 159.
  92.       Ravindra Kumar, p. 90.
  93.       Ibid.
  94.       Banarsidas, Ardhkathanak, Nathuram Premi (ed), Bombay 1970.
  95.       Ravindra Kumar Jain, Kavivar Banarsidas, Varanasi, 1966.
  96.       Dhirendra Varma and Brajeshwar Varma, p. 484.
  97.       Brahm Raimall, pp. 115-136.
  98.       Kamta Prasad Jain, p. 127
  99.       Ratnakirti, p. 31.
  100. Mahamahopadhyay Meghavijaygani Digvijaymahakavya, Bombay, 1945, pp. 117-25; Idem, Devananadmahakavya, Bombay, 1937.
  101. Buchraj, p. 160.
  102. Ibid, p. 239

102a.   Samaysundar, p. 69.

  1. Ravindra Kumar Jain, pp. 124, 131.

103a.   Yugapradhan, p. 81

  1. Jaisom, “Karmchandra-Mantri-Vans Prabandh” quoted in Yugapradhan, p. 81.
  2. Bhattarak Sampraday, p. 231.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Samaysundar, pp. 45, 78-79. The name of the book is “Diksha- Pratistha Suddhi”. It was approved by Samaysundar.
  5. Pandit Todarmal, p. 33.
  6. Bhattarak Sampraday, p. 232.
  7. Hukamchand Bharilla, Pandit Todar Mal : Vyaktitva Evam Krititava, Jaipur, 1973, pp. 21, 22, 58.
  8. Ratnakirti, pp. 26-27.
  9. Ravindra Kumar Jain, p. 103.
  10. Pandit Todarmal, p. 19.
  11. Pandit Todarmal, p. 59.
  12. Ardha-kathanak, pp. 27-28.
  13. Yugapradhan, p. 26; Samaysundar, pp. 7-8.
  14. Ibid., p. 44.
  15. Ibid., p. 53.
  16. Ibid. pp. 56-57.
  17. Pandit Todarmal, pp. 24-25.
  18. Jain Itihasni…, p. 179.
  19. Yugapradhan, p. 11.
  20. Samaysundar, p. 10.
  21. Tribhuvankirti, p. 29.
  22. Yugapradhan, p. 46.
  23. Ibid, p. 23.
  24. Ibid, p. 26.
  25. Bhanuchandraganicharit, p. 45.
  26. Ramnarayan Dugad, Muhnot Nainsi Ki Khyat, Vol. II, Allahabad V.S. 1991, pp. 1-2, 4-5.
  27. Ibid.,

130a.   Budhraj pp. 253, 255; 130b. Ravindra Kumar Jain, p. 86

  1. Brahm Raimall, P. 11. Raimall during his stay in Delhi concentrated on transcribing books.
  2. Ibid., p. 103
  3. Buchraj, p. 11.
  4. Ibid., p. 12.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid., p. 121.
  7. Ibid., p. 103.
  8. Yugapradhan, p. 50.
  9. Bhanuchandraganicharita, p. 49.
  10. Ratnakirti, p. 87.
  11. Bhanuchandraganicharita, p. 45.
  12. Ratnakirti, pp. 45-46. In V.S. 1643 the Acharya annointed Tejbai, Jaimal, Meghai, Manbai, etc. in the town of Bardoli.
  13. Ratnakirti, p. 100.
  14. Ibid., p. 97.
  15. Yugapradhan, p. 54.
  16. Samaysundar, pp. 28-29.
  17. Brahm Raimall, p. 102
  18. Ratnakirti, p. 20.
  19. Surishwar Aur Samrat, p. 277.
  20. P.C. Nahar, Jain Inscriptions, II, No. 1677.
  21. Surishwar Aur Samrat, p. 6.
  22. Ratnakirti, pp. 26-27.
  23. Buchraj, p. 255.
  24. Ibid., p. 90.
  25. Ibid., p. 99.
  26. Ravindra Kumar Jain, p. 85.
  27. Ratnakirti, p. 43.
  28. Jain Itihasni…, p. 170.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Ibid., p. 178.
  31. Surishwar Aur Samrat, p. 258.
  32. Surishwar Aur Samrat, p. 260.
  33. A History of Gujarat, Vo. II, pp. 140-141.
  34. Surishwar Aur Samrat, p. 256; Bhanuchandraganicharit, p. 45.
  35. P.C. Nahar (ed) Jain Inscriptions, Vol. I, nos. 176, 196, 245, 271.
  36. Yugapradhan, p. 45.
  37. Brahm Raimall, p. 100.
  38. Ibid., p. 289.
  39. Ibid.
  40. Ibid., p. 101.
  41. Ratnakirti, p. 79. A list of popular food is given in Bhattarak Abhaychandra’s ‘Sukhri’,
  42. Buchraj, pp. 181, 251.
  43. Jain Itihasni…, p. 176.
  44. Ratnakirti, p. 92.
  45. Ibid., p. 91.
  46. Ibid, pp. 114, 116, 181-190. The ragas mentioned are Maruni, Sarang, Mallar, Nat Narayan, Bhairav, Kalyan, Kalyan Charchari, Desakh, Dhanyasi, Sri, Ashavari, Godi, Parjiu, etc., The songs written by Buchraj in seventeenth century of the Vikram era were set to different ragas. Buchraj, p. 39.

176a.   Yugapradhan, pp. 53-54

  1. Pandit Todarmal, p. 14.
  2. Brahm Raimall, p. 53.
  3. Vividh Tirth-Kalp, pp. 18, 23, 32, 33.
  4. Yugapradhan, p. 47.
  5. Ibid, pp. 50-51.
  6. Buchraj, pp. 240, 253.
  7. Yugapradhan, pp. 95-97.
  8. Samayasundar, pp. 13-14.
  9. Ravindra Kumar Jain, pp. 11, 94.
  10. Ibid., p. 88
  11. Buchraj, pp. 7.

187a.   Makrand Mehta, Indian Merchants and Entrepreneurs In Historical Perspective, New Delhi, 1991, p. 98.

  1. In fact Jain respect for Islam had a history. In the 13th century a Jain merchant Jagdu had built a mosque for Muslims in the port town of Combay. V.K. Jain, Trade and Traders in Western India, Delhi, 1990, p. 79.
  2. Ardhakathanak, vv. 224, 241, 142, Hiranand Mukhim was also a poet of Hindi. Ratnakirti, p. 40.
  3. Surishwar Aur Samrat, p. 395.
  4. Ratnakiriti, p. 27.
  5. Monserrate, The Commentary of Father Monserrate, New Delhi, 1992, pp. 189-90.
  6. Surishwar aur Samrat, p. 262.

193a.   Makrand Mehta, p. 44.

  1. Buchraj, pp. 7.
  2. Ibid, p. 258.
  3. Ravindra Kumar Jain, pp. 92, 93, 94.
  4. K.H. Kamdar “Sadavrat” (in Gujarati), Vinela Moti, Vol. V, No. 1, Baroda, 1968, pp. 126, 128.
  5. Makrand Mehta, p. 95.
  6. Ibid., pp. 105-106, 108.