Jains in Maharashtra


Jains in Maharashtra

Jainism has been present in Maharashtra since ancient times. The oldest inscription in Maharashtra is a Jain inscription. It is in a cave near Pale village in Pune district of Maharashtra. This 2nd century B.C.E. inscription is in Prakrit language and contains the Namokar Mantra.

Marathi language was born from a Prakrit language called Jain Maharashtri. The first Marathi inscription is carved at Sravanabelagola, Karnatak near the left foot of statue of Bhagwan Bahubali inscribed in C.E. 981.

Maharashtra was ruled by many Jain rulers like Rashtrakutas and Shilahars. Many of the forts in Maharashtra are built by kings from these dynasties and thus Jain temples or their remains are found in many of the forts. Texts such as Shankardigvijaya and Shivlilamruta suggest that a large fraction of the people in Maharashtra were follower of Jainism in the ancient period.

Large Jain populations exist in Maharashtra in several regions.

The native Jains of Maharashtra today are endogamous communiites and generally do not intermarry with the Jains who have arrived of North India. They are all Digambaras and are divided into four large communities:

* Saitwal, Originally Tailors and Cloth Merchents
* Chaturtha, originally agriculturists, now engaged in various professions
* Panchama, various professions
* Bogara or Kasara, Traditionally coppersmiths

and three small communities:

* Upadhyayas,
* Kambhoja [http://books.google.com/books?id=BsBEgVa804IC&pg=PA910&ots=0k-6i0b5Mn&dq=Kambhoja&sig=cjvbpQ_AE8D_1d-h0u9fvHIyziE] , [http://books.google.com/books?id=lYSd-3yL9h0C&pg=PA265&ots=aBqkEjZ6JS&dq=Kambhoja+desh+features&sig=pbU8jeev6YHSf6WV3gL-BNzfDhc] and
* Harada. Each of the four major communiites led by its own spiritual leader (Bhattaraka), who head an institution termed Matha.

The emigrant Jains have a large population in Maharashtra. Majority of them are from Rajasthan and Gujarat. Some of them are from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Some of these communities have been in Maharashtra for centuries, and are now indistinguishable from the native residents of Maharashtra. They are divided in following large groups:

* Agrawal
* Oswal
* Khandelwal
* Jaiswal
* Shrimali
* Humad

There are some more groups also, like:

* Bagherwal
* Palliwal
* Porwal
* Bannore

Many of the distinguished Jain munis and Acharyas have been from Maharashtra.

ee also

* Jainism in Mumbai
* Acharya Shantisagar
* Acharya Vidyasagar

Links

* [http://www.jainfriends.com A portal to connect jains and discuss about Jainism and other things]
* [http://tirth.jinvani.com/tirthlist.php?id=15&page=0 Jain Tirthas in Maharashtra]
* [http://www.jainteerth.com/teerth/ellora.asp Ellora]
* [http://marathas.tripod.com History Of Maharshtra]


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