Globalisation of Jainism



By Mr. Satish Kumar Jain


History and culture on a world wide scale have developed to the point where some of the teachings and practices of Jainism have become imperative if life, and especially human life, is to continue (James E. Royster Cleveland State University, U.S.A.).

It is the feeling which even the westerners have started expressing increasingly about the sacred Jainism, particularly for its doctrines of ahimsa (non-injury and non-aggression), co-existence, Anekanta and Syadvada and the scientifically based code of conduct.

Jainism is a primitive, one of the most ancient religions which came into existence as a result of the most non-violent approach and humanitarian view point towards all creatures. It is an indigenous religion originated and developed in India with a profound progressive attitude and judicious understanding of special requirements and philosophical indispensable necessities of the time. It believes that all the particles of earth, water, fire, wind and plants are possessed of life. The universe is eternal and indestructible and was not created by God.

It has exerted an influence in India that far exceeds its relative size. But it has not been read and understood on a wider scale in the western world. Mrs. N. R. Guseva, a U.S.S.R. writer, in the introduction to her book "Jainism" writes that study in Jainism is very slender. During last 100-150 years thousands of works have been written about other religions in India, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism, but nor more than several hundreds are devoted to Jainism, that too mostly written in Indian languages. She further writes that the illustrious Russian scholar and indologist I. P. Minayev devoting one of his works to Jainism observed that the religion was not studied intensively and that there was no material on it in European libraries and collections. Professor Kay Koppedrayer of the University of Wilfred Laurier at Waterloo says "With the exception of those with Indian background of those who have taken a secondary school level world religions course most university students I teach know nothing whatsoever of Jainism".

Jainism though an ancient religion is neither known nor taught at schools, colleges and universities of the world in the format that a world religion is introduced to pupils.

Classification of Jaina Knowledge
Jainism classifies knowledge in two ways:
(1) Canonical (Agamika)  
(2) Philosophical (Darsanika).

Canonical Literature : The canonical literature (believed to be directly delivered from the Tirthankaras is divided into two viz. (1) Sutragamas and Arthagamas. Sermons of the Tirthankaras are called Arthagamas and the Sutras written over those are named Sutragamas.

Canonical literature consists of some sixty texts divided into three groups of works known as Purva (14 texts), Anga (12 texts) and Angabahya (34 texts) all  handed down in an ancient Magadhan language called Ardhamagadhi.

The Digambaras and Swetambars are unanimous in affirming that Acharya Bhadrabahu I (expired in 365 B.C.) was the last Srutkevali, who knew all the 14 Purvas by heart. After him knowledge of the Purvas was lost, most of those medicants who had memorised portions thereof perished in the great Magdha famine.

The Digambaras maintain that the Anga and Angabhaya texts were "totally lost" as early as the 2nd century A.D. The "Satkhandagama" (Scripture in six parts) and "Kasayaprabhrata" are the only canonical works that the Digambaras posses.

The Swetambars, however, maintain that the loss of Anga and Angabahya texts was not total ( It is likely that the Digambar sect actually did lose whatever canonical material they may have possessed during their migration to the south  during famine and subsequent isolation from the bulk of the Jaina medicant community). The Swetambars, who had inherited the scriptures that had been approved at the Patliputra Council, held in 367 B.C. (Vir Nirvana 160) organised by Acharya Sthulabhadra, were able to preserve large portion of Anga and Angabahya material even though they had lost the Purvas and the Dristivada Anga.

The earliest date of which the Jaina Acharyas began to put the canon into written form is not known; this must have taken place prior to the second council which was held at Mathura under the guidance of Acharya Skandila (A.D. 300-343) after Vir Nirvana 827-840 (4th century A.D.). The Swetambar tradition that speaks of this council also alludes to another synod held concurrently at Valabhi ( Saurashtra) under the supervision of Acharya Nagarjuna. It is said that the two leaders could not meet in order to resolve the differences in their recensions at that time; such a resolution was accomplished, however, by a third and last council, again at Valabhi, which took place either 980 or 993 years after Mahavira Nirvana (that is either in A.D. 453 or 466). The  leader of this meeting Devardhigani Ksamasramana, compiled the final redaction of the extant canon and had it committed to writing in its entirely.

Substantial Jaina literature is available written in Prakrit, Apabhramsa, Sanskrit, Kannarese, and Hindi languages on various subjects like religion, philosophy, Jain saints traditions, history, culture, literature, astronomy, cosmology, geography, mathematics, ayurveda etc. But very little has been written in English so as to be read in the rest of the world.

Jainism in The West Through Literature : The orientalists and the missionaries in India did work on Jaina studies in 1970s - 1820s. Dr. George Buhler (1837 - 1899), a German, who taught a Elphinstone College, Bombay from 1863 to 1878, collected large number of Jaina manuscripts; established the antiquity of Jaina ascetic lines of spiritual and  teaching decent from inscriptional studies and wrote books on various subjects. Dr. Hermann Jacobi, another German scholar, (1850-1937) produced two volumes on Jaina texts.

In Boston with its Harvard indological scholars, the first Indian work reaching U.S.A.  is a book printed and published by the American mission Press in Bombay in the 1940s.

Translation of Kalpasutra and Nava - Tatva was done in 1847 by Rev. J. Stevenson. A valuable work on Jainism "Life And Stories of Jaina Saviour Parsvanatha" was published by Prof. Maurice Bloomfield, who was born in Austria and at the age of four moved to U.S.A.. Having his  Ph.D. in 1897, he had further studied in Berlin and Leipzig in Germany. He came back to U.S.A. in 1881 as Professor of Sanskrit at John Hopkins Institute. Late in his career, he began work in Jain Maharashtri and Jainology.

Shri Vir Chand Gandhi, an English knowing Gujrati Jain, who participated in India in the Parliament of World Religions at Chicago in 1892 and was introduced there as one of the Chief Exponents of Jain religion, introduced Jainism in U.S.A. in its most brevity. His English disciple Herbert Warren wrote about Vir Chand Gandhi's Achievements in his work. William Norman Brown (1892-1975) from Baltimore (U.S.A..) studied at John Hopkins Institute and at Varanasi and taught at Jammu. His works included Jain miniatures and manuscript illustrations. The lectures of Heinrich Zimmer (Germany) on Jaina teachings were after his death edited by Joseph Campbell and published. Kendall W. Folkert was a promising Jainologist from Harvard University whose work was recognized. R. William's "Jain Yoga" portrays Jain ideas of physiology, psychology and holistic approach to health. 

As foreign scholars began studying Jainism, the Jain authors also produced their works with editions and critical texts, barrister Champat Rai Jain's (1867 - 1942) works - Key of knowledge, Confluence of Opposites, Jain logic, Psychology, What is Jainism, Jain Law, Jain Penance, Jain Culture are important creations. Barrister Jugmandir Lal Jaini (1881-1927), who went to Oxford (1906-1910) devoted much of his time to the study of Jain scriptures and literature. He translated Tatvarthasutra, Atmanushasana, Pancastikayasara, Samayasara, Jiva-Karma-kanda, and initiated the translation of Gommatsara. His "The Outlines of Jainism" was published by Cambridge University Press in 1986. He had established Jain Library in London, and Central Jain publishing House in India.

Dr. Hiralal Jain (1898-1973) who followed J. L. Jaini, completed the translation of Gommatasara (1923), edited 16 volumes of Satkhandagama Siddanta (1935-1959) and Prakrit works. Dr. A. N. Upadhye (1906-975), a keen researcher, head to his credit nearly 25 critical editions of Sanskrit and Prakrit works, 150 research articles, and he worked together with Dr. Hiralal Lal Jain and lectured in some foreign universities and conferences on Jaina subjects.

Y. J. Padmarajiah's "A comparative Study of The Jaina Theories of Reality and Knowledge" published in 1963, is his work (1947-1952) for which the degree of Doctor of philosophy was awarded to him by Oxford University. 

Prof. Padmanabh S. Jaini's (University of California, at Berkeley, U.S.A.) "The Jaina Path of Purification" has been highly hailed as one of the best studies in the religions of South Asia in this century and certainly the best on Jainism. In his other works "Gender and Salvation" "Jaina Debates on the Spiritual Liberation of Women" he has presented tightly and meticulously argued analysis of ancient Jain discussions about whether only the totally unclothed can reach the goal (attain salvation- Nirvana).

 In brief, starting from the mid of the 19 century various western scholars  notably Dr. Hermann Jacobi, R. J. Stevenson, Herbert Warren, B.A. Salotore, H. V. Glasenapp. M. Winterntiz, Heinrich Zimmer, Walter Schubring, R. William, Mrs. Sinclair Stevenson, F. M. Thoms, Paul Marett, Stephen Rosen, Ken Oldfield, Colebrook, Buchanan, Dr. Buehler, Joseph Campbell, Esther Solomon, Maurice Bloomfield, Kendall W. Folkert, Dr. Michael Tobias, Mrs. N. R. Guseva, Ms. Collette Cailiat wrote treaties on canonical subject; Jain literature, outlines of Jainism etc.

Hinduism Buddhism, Christianity and Islam are the four principal religions of the world. With national and international support these flourished well in and outside the countries of their origin. This has not  been the case with Jainism. Though initially Jainism developed from the ruling class itself and also in the ancient period of the Indian history it was patronised by some great emperors and rules but by the thirteenth century and onwards it lost their support. General belief about the obscure nature of Jainism laying great stress on austerities, non possessiveness, renunciation, self control, a highly regulated code of conduct, and increasing popularity of Shaivism much came in the way of popularisation and spread of Jainism and it remained confined to a very small proportion of the entire Indian population and to some extent to Indian settlers in foreign countries.

Position in Home Country : The home country of Jainism is Bharat (India) which derives its name from paramount king Chakravarti Bharat, the eldest son of Rishabhadeva the first Tirthankara in the present cycle of 24 Tirthankaras, of the present Avasarpini era. According to Jaina tradition, the universe and its creations are eternal and infinite. It can be divided into two eras ( Kalpas) - (1) Avasarpini or descending era with happiness point of view, sub-divided into six ages, (i) Susama-Susamal (happy-happy), (ii) Susama (happy), (iii) Susma-Dusma (happy-unhappy), (iv) Dusama - Susma (unhappy-happy), Dusma (unhappy), and (vi) Dusma-Dusma (unhappy-unhappy), (2)Utsarpini or ascending era, sub-divided into six ages having same names in reverse order.

Rishabhadeva was the first king who gave an organised Agriculture (Krishi), Military science for Defense ( Asi-art of sward), Script (Masi),  Architecture (Shilp), Trade (Vanijya) and Learning (Vidya) Brahmi script and the numericals. He had laid down the norms for good and honest citizens and organised 'Varna' system on functional basis. Having highly developed spiritualism and understanding of the reality of soul and matter, he as an ascetic attained for him liberation from bondage of Karma (Salvation) from the continuing cycle of birth and death (Nirvana). He was the torch bearer for others for attaining Nirvana. Among the 24 Tirthankaras, of the present era, he was the first Tirthankara who originated Jainism.

The ancient civilization process is divided into three periods viz. Paleolithic Age (Old Stone Age) (1,00,00,000-6,00,000 B.C.), Neolithic Age (New Stone Age) (15,000 - 8,000 B.C.) Copper - Iron Age (Metallic Age) from 8,000 B.C.

The antiquity of Jainism is established through various sources. According to Jaina tradition, it is very very ancient beyond counting in number of years (most most prehistoric).

In this context, a question arises when did man begin to live in India?

The answer is suggested by a large number of primitive stone tools found in the Soan Valley (now in Pakistan) and in and around Chennai (Madras-Tamil Nadu State) in South India. The antiquity of these tools and their makers goes back to the second interglacial period probably lasting from 400,000 to 200,000 B. C. Some  information is available about the primitive man who lived in the Old Stone (Paleolithic) Age in very small and nomadic communities. He used tools and implements of rough stone which came his way. In course of time he learnt to control fire and tame the wild dog. He protected his body from the weather with animal skin, bark or leaves. In India, as else where in the world, man, thus, lived precariously for many millennia.

Great changes took place in man's way of life (the present Homosapien Man) between 15000 B. C. and 8000 B.C. when he learnt to grow foods crops, domesticate animals, make pots, weave cloth and manufacture well polished stone implements in contrast to the crude ones of he Paleolithic Age. In this Neolithic Age (New Stone Age) marked by the use of efficient and polished stone tools and incipient agriculture, were laid the foundations of civilised human existence. With the introduction of cultivation, it was possible to plant more seed, till more land and breed more animals to feed the increasing population. Many families began to live together and practice communal production of food and defend themselves against enemies. All these gave Neolithic man some measure of security and allowed leisure for the art and civilisastion. In the process of migration to different regions particularly to the valley and river side where land and water both were available for agriculture and animal grazing, the settled population became an important feature.

The purpose of the above reference is to establish the antiquity of the earliest civilisation of India, the originators of which according to Jaina tradition were the 'Kulakaras' i.e. the ancestors of Rishabhadeva. Among the 14 Kulakaras, Nabhirai, father of Rishabhadeva was the last Kulakara.

After the 14 Kulanakaras, the Jaina tradition recognises 63 Great Personalities or "men of mark" - Trisasti-Salakapurusa, who preached to the humanity religion and ethics. They include 24 Tirthankaras, 12 Chakravartis, 9 Balbhadras, 9 Vasudevas, and 9 Prati - vasudevas.

24 Tirthankaras
(1) Rishabha (2) Ajit (3) Sambhava (4) Abhinandan (5) Sumati (6) Padamprabha (7) Suparsva (8) Chandrprabha (9) Pushpadanta (10) Shital (11) Shreyans (12) Vasupujya (13) Vimal (14) Anant (15) Dharma (16) Shanti (17) Kunthu (18) Araha (19) Malli (20) Munisuvrata (21) Nami (22) Nemi (23) Parsvanatha (24) Vardhmana or Mahavira.

12 Chakravartis
(1) Bharata (2) Saghara (3) Maghva (4) Sanatkumara (5)Shani (6) Kunthu (7) Araha (8) Subhaum (9) Padama (10) Harisena (11) Jayasena, and (12) Bhrahmadutta.

9 Balbhadras
(1) Achala (2) Vijaya (3) Bhadra (4) Suprabha (5) Sudarshana (6) Ananda (7) Nandana (8) Padama (9) Rama

9 Vasudevas
(1) Triprastha (2) Dviprastha (3) Swayambhu (4) Purushottama (5) Purushsingha (6) Pursaha Pundarika (7) Datta (8) Narayana, and (9) Krishna

9 Prati -  Vasudevas
(1) Asvagreeva (2) Taraka (3) Meraka (4) Madhu (5) Nishumbha (6) Bali (7) Prahalada (8) Ravana (9) Jarasandha.

References about Rishabhadeva have been made in Vedic literature. The Rigveda (4.58.3, 10.136.1) clearly refers to Rishabhadeva. Kesi and Rishabhadeva mentioned in the Rigveda (10.9.102 - 6.136) are one and the same personalities. The twenty second Tirthankara Neminatha (Aristanemi) has reference in the Rigveda (7.32.20) and the Yajurveda (25.28). Twenty third Tirthankara Parsvanatha (circa 9th - 8th century B. C.) son of Asvasena, ruler of Ayodhya, is a historic personage. His doctrines were widely practiced before Tirthankara Mahavira. Parsvanatha laid stress on non-violence (Ahmisa), truth (Satya), non stealing (Acaurya) and non-possessiveness (Aparigraha). Mahavira added to it celibacy (Brahmacarya) making 5 great vows of the Jains.

Parsvanatha became a Jain saint at the age of 30 and preached his philosophy as an ascetic for 70 years. He got salvation  (Nirvana) at the age of 100 years at mount Parsvanatha (Sammet Shikharji in Bihar). He was about 250 years earlier than Mahavira. The twenty fourth tirthankara Vardhamana or Mahavira was born in 599 B. C.  at Kundagrama in the Republic of Vaishali. His father Siddharth was a chief in the Republic and mother Trisal was the daughter of King Chetak, who was the head of the Republic. Mahavira attained salvation in 527 B.C. from Pavapuri in Bihar State. He was the contemporary elder spiritual teacher to Lord Buddha, as the later was born in 563 B. C.

Jainism In Indus Valley Civilisation : Indus Valley civilization is related to pre-Aryan, pre-Vedic culture. The people were there polytheistic. The duration of the Harappan culture has been variously estimated by scholars. Sir John Marshall suggested in 1931 that it flourished from 3250 B. C. to 2750 B. C. According to the most persistent opinion in archaeological circles the Harappan civilisation lasted for about 1000 years from 2500 B. C. to 1500 B.C.  But in recent years the new methods of dating adopted by archaeologists have led to the revision of the earlier opinion. The total time span of the Harappan civilization is now fixed between 2300 B. C. and 1750 B.C.

Around 1750 B. C. the culture of the Harappans broke up although the decline seems to have set in earlier. The adherents of the Indus civilisation culture can be said to be the ancestors of the Dravidas. But their religious and spiritual guides were those original Aryas of central India who had faith in Sramanic traditions and the religion of soul of the Tirthankaras. 

Mohenjo-daro (Mond of City of dead) in Larkana district of Sindh, and Harappa in Montgomery district of Western Punjab, both in Pakistan are the two important and best known sites of the Indus valley civilisation on account of their size and diversity of finds. The other important sites of the Indus Valley civilization are Amri, Chanhu Daro  (80 miles south of Mohenjo-daro), Kalibangan (Ganganagar Distt. in Rajsthan) and Lothal (Gujrat).

The nude figures in standing posture (Kayotsarga) found at the Harappan excavation may  be identified as the Jaina statue of Tirthanakar, possibly of Rishabhadeva, though, authentically no established so far.

First Tirhtanakra Rishabhadeva is said to have travelled to Bhali (Bacteria), Greece, Svarnabhumi, Panhave (Iran) etc. (Awasyaka Nir-336-37). 23rd Tirthankara Parsvantha went to Nepal. Existence of Jainism is also traced in Afghanistan. Tirthankara images in the Kayotsarga i.e. standing meditating pose have been found in Vahakaraj Emir (Afghanistan). 

Jainism crossed India from south India in about 8th century B.C., if not earlier, and became one of the most important, religions of Ceylon (earlier a part of India), which was known in those days by the name of Lanka, Ratnadvipa or Simhala. The Mahavamsa refers to the existence of Jainism in Ceylon even before the arrival of Buddhism. It was a living religion of Ceylon upto 10th century A.D.

Kalkacharya, a Jain monk, is said to have visited Burma (Svarnabhumi) (Uttaradhayna Niryukti, 120). The Digambara Jaina monks have been in Iran, Siam and Philistia. Greek writers mention their existence in Egypt, Abyssinia and Ethiopia. It had also propagated in Kamboj, Campa, Bulgaria and some other foreign countries.

Alexander, son of Philips, ruler of Macedonia, then a province of Greece, attacked North India in 327 B.C. with a large trained army. He retreated from Northern India in 325 B. C. and died in Babylone in in 323 B.C. He sough to see a famous Jain saint Mandan near Taxila, who refused to go to him. There upon Alexander himself went to the saint who advised Alexander to practice renunciation by heart and body both like him and to devote himself to the religion of soul upliftment. Another Jain saint named Kalyan Muni accomplished Alexander to Baby lone where the Jain saint resorted to Samadhi-maran.

Tradition Of Jain Acharyas : There is a long tradition of Jain Acharyas after Bhagwan Mahavira like Gautam Gandhara, Sudharma Gandhara, Jamboo Swami (all the three Arhata - Kevalis; Vishnukumar, Nandimitra, Aparajita, Govardhana, Bhadrabhanu (all the five Sruta-kevalis); Sthulabhadra, Mahagiri, Suhasti, Kalka, Arhadbhali, Dharasena, Pushpadanta, Bhutabli, Kunda - kunda, Umaswami, Skandila, Nagarjuna, Deverdhigani Kasma-Sramana, Sidhasena, Samantabhadra, Mantunga, Bhatta Akalanka, Haribhadra, Virsena, Jinasena, Gunabhadra, Vidyananda, Amritchandra, Somdeva Vadriraja, Hemchandra, Shubhachandra, Jinchandra Suri Manidhari and many others who have propagated the great real knowledge of the Tirthankaras.

Thus, after first Tirthankara Rishabhadeva, the later 23 Tirhtankaras continued the process of soul purification. From Tirthankara Rishabhadeva to Mahavira, saint, savantas and seers make a distinctive impact on the evolution and refinement of fundamental values of life.

The great knowledge, exemplary worldly renunciation, highly restrained life of austerities full of compassion of the Jain Tirthankaras, Acharyas and saints tremendously influenced many Indian emperors, rulers and chiefs and the masses. Jainism flourished very well in Bihar, South, Central India, Gujrat, Rajasthan and several other parts of India and many Jain rulers were either themselves adherents of Jainism or patronised it.

Jainism in Ancient Time : Continuous history upto 60 B.C. is not available. The dynasty wise continuous history of the Indian territories is available from 600 B.C. King Karakandu, powerful ruler of Kaling (present Orissa), was contemporary of Tirthankara Parsvanatha. He became a Jain saint practicing the doctrines of Parsvantha. Srenika - Bimbasara, ruler of Magadha, was a regular visitor to the religious assemblies of Mahavira. He ascended the throne of Magadha circa 587 B.C. and had his capital Rajgriha (present Rajgir). His wife queen Chelna was the Chief of the Jain Sravika Sangha in the organisation of Bhagwan Mahavira.

Ajatsatru Kunika, Prasenjita, Udayina, Nandivardhana, Kakavarana Kalashoka were the powerful Jain rulers of the Magadha empire. Kalashoka ruled over Magadha during 449-407 B.C. He conquered Kalinga in 424 B.C. and took with him the Kalinga-Jina (icon of Rishbhadeva) and established it in his capital at Patliputra. His son Mahanandina (Mahapadamananda of Nanda dynasty), who ruled over Magadha during 363-329 B.C. was a Jain ruler. Chandragupta Maurya, who dies as Jain saint circa 290 B.C. at Sravanbelgola (Karnataka), Bindusara, Amitraghata, Samprati, Shalishuka were the historically known Jain rulers of Magadha of the Mauryan dynasty.

King Kharvela, who ruled Kalinga during 166-152 B.C. (for 13 years) was a historical Jain ruler. He built famous Jain caves a Udaigiri hill near Bhubaneshwar, (Orissa), and brought back the Kalinga - Jina to his capital, which is mentioned in his famous inscription of Hathigumpha (cave) at Udaigiri Hill. 

The Ganga kingdom in Karnataka (South India) in the 2nd century A.D. was a virtual creation of the famous Jain saint Simhanandi and naturally practically all Ganga monarchs championed the cause of Jainism. The Hoyasaal Kingdom in Karnataka in the 11th century A.D. also owed its creation to a Jaina saint Sudata and as such many of the Hoysala monarchs and general extended their patronage to Jainism and carefully looked after the interests of the Jains.

Several rulers of the Pandya, Chola, Chera, Ganga, Pallava, Kadamba, Chaulukya, Rastrakoota, Hoyasal, Vijaynagar and Vodyar dynasties in the south were either Jain or patronised Jainism.

Later several of the Gujrar - Pratihara, Solanki, Parmara, Chandela and Rajput rulers had respect for Jain religion and its saints and helped in construction of large, artistic and famous Jain temples and monuments.

From the ancient period today a large number of important Jain centers have been established in various parts of the country which have been seats of Jaina learning, and have famous Jain temples, caves and other installations. Many of the magnificent Jain temples and caves particularly in Rajsthan, Gujrat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh attract the world tourist as those are the fine specimen of art and architecture.

Name as Jain Religion
In the very ancient time, it was know as Ahrat Dharma i.e. the religion of Arhatas. Earlier the word Jina was in use which meant who conquered the self. The word 'Jain' more commonly has been used in Padam Purana (676 A.D.) and Harivansa Purana (683 A.D.) since when its has become common name 'Jain Dharma' for adherents of Jainism.

Spread of Jainism Through Emigration of Jains : Emigration plays an important role in the interplay of culture and thought, particularly if the emigrants are educated. Historically, five distinctive patterns of Indian emigration can be identified:

(1) indentured labour emigration (2) kangani/maisry labour emigration (3) "free or passage" emigration (4) "brain drain" or voluntary emigration to the metropolitan countries of Europe, U.S.A., Canada, and Oceania, (5) labour emigration to West Asia.

The first three forms of migration were colonial phenomena and the later two forms are voluntary for seeking employment or for better prospectus. The migration of Jains from India to other countries has been on voluntary grounds for better prospects in life.

The earliest migration of Indians of Indians, including Jains (also Panis) is ascribed to countries of Africa, South East countries and China. The region wise position of Indian emigration is interesting.

India had a long stand, about 2000 years old, mercantile connection with East Africa mainly Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique as part of ancient network of Indian Ocean. They were present on the east coast of Africa long before the Europeans appeared on the scene. The 'Periplus' of the 'Erythrean Sea' in the second century A.D. provides ample evidence of arrival of Indian ships in the East African coastal towns. The great Venetian traveler Marco Polo describes in his 'Travels of Macro Polo' written in 1260 A.D. ' the merchants from Gujrat and Saurashtra on Africa's East Coast as the best and most honorable that can be found in the world". It is remarkable that merchants from Gujrat and Saurahstra (including Jain traders) had various types of trade through sea route with countries of Africa continent and by land and sea routes with several other countries of Asia particularly Afghanistan, China and Thailand.

Abolition of slavery in 1833 throughout British empire created the need of large man power in those territories. British government asked British India to send its man power. Thus, from the year 1834 Indians began to emigrate through out the world. And they migrated to South Africa as well. In 1886 with  the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand, thousands of immigrant fortune seekers, including businessman (called Utilanders or 'foreigners') flocked into Transwaal and Johannesburg (South Africa). Transwaal was formed into a modern industrial economy.

Possibly after the discovery of diamonds in 1867, Indian traders entered cape-colony at the seaports of Port-Elizabeth and East London. A small number of ex - indentured  Natal Indians also made their way to the Diamond fields at Kimberley. Today, Indian traders and businessmen, including Jains, are found in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Johannesburg and other towns.

In an over all position of migration of Jains to countries of Africa continent they are settled in fairly good number in Kenya followed by Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Zanzibar and coastal towns of East Africa. As hinter land of Kenya and Tanzania opened, they went into inland and established their business there. They also went to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa.

Nairobi, the capital of Kenya and Mombase a beautiful sea coast of the country, has fairly good population of Jains, possibly 20,000 mostly Gujratis and in business. In Nairobi there are two beautiful Jain temples.

The traders community of India traded with Malaya (present Malaysia) from pre-Christian era when commercial motives first brought Indian traders to its shores. Though, most of the Jains now in Malaysia migrated to that country buy many are locally born too. The Jains in Malaysia are by and large engaged in business. Due to liberalization of Malaysia's  citizenship law in 1952 and 1957, which allowed non-Malaysia, provided they fulfilled certain requirements, many Jains have become Malaya citizens. Some rich Jain families have big business in Kulalmpur and other towns of Malaysia.

Thailand (Old Siamdesh) has attracted Indians from prehistoric times. They settled there, married with local and took Thai names. For over past 50 years inflow of Indian migration has been steady. Presently about 100 Jain families, who have mostly migrated from Rajsthan (India), are well settled in Bangkok alone carrying on gems, jewelry, cloth, real estate, commission agency and other business. They have a Jain society.

Singapore gained internal self government in 1959. Migration to this beautiful island mainly started from 1972. Over 120 Jain families, mostly Gujratis are residing in Singapore engaged in various types of business. 'Jain Sangh Singapore' is a prominent social - religious institution having a large Sthanak.

Hongkong is a big hub of business activity. Some 100 Jain families mostly engaged in business reside in Hongkong and Kaloon areas.

Migration of Jains to Europe, America, Canada and other Countries : Following the second world war Indian migration to the advanced industrialized countries of Europe and North America had begun to gain momentum. The postwar economic expansion in these countries created heavy demand for skilled labour and professionals. Simultaneously, immigration laws were also relaxed in Canada and U.S.A. This form of overseas Indian migration of skilled and education personnel, popularly known as the 'brain drain' thus resulted formation of sizeable Indian communities in Britain, Canada and U.S.A.

United Kingdom : Of all the Indian communities settled abroad especially in the western world, it is important to remember that for historical reasons the settlement of Indians in U.K. is not only one of the oldest, but also one of the largest. 

Indians arrived in Britain not only from India but also from other British empire countries from Hongkong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji in the Far East, from various countries of Africa, from Mauritius, Aden and Middle East, and from the Western Hemisphere from such land as Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and from several other countries in the West Indies. Many Jain families too migrated from several of these countries to Britain.

Some of those who emigrated to Britain naturally settled there. But the largest Indian settlement, including Jains, has occurred after Independence of India in 1947. The inflow to Britain for white collar jobs, public service, professions and business gradually increased in 1950s. Migration to U.K. increased in the early 1960s.

Indians are settled all over Britain, but nearly 50 percent of them are living in Greater London area. Out of the present Jain population of 30,000 in United Kingdom nearly 20,000 - 25,000 are living in Greater London Area i.e. London and its suburbs and rest are scattered in east Midlands, Leicester and around it, West Midlands, Birmingham, Manchester and surrounds in North - West and in Leeds and Bradford in Yorkshire. Jain families also reside in Glasgow in Scotland.

The Jain population in U.K. is established well in business, professions and services. They are active religiously and socially. About 30 religious, social institutions are working mostly in Greater London area. Some of those have established religious and social centers and a few even Jain temples. institute of Jainology (London) which is carrying on research in Jainological subjects and publishes 'Ahimsa' English journal and the "Jain Academy" at Leicester which has succeeded in introduction Jain syllabus in Leicester University deserve special mention. Jain families have also settled in Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Russia, Switzerland and some other European courtiers and also in Japan. Shri Vijay Mahta and Shri Suresh Mahta ( Jains from Palanpur (Gujrat) are wealthy diamond traders at Antwerp (Belgium which is known world over for diamond cutting. Many other Jain families from Palanpur (Gujrat and else where have settled in Antwerp.

Kobe in Japan is a famous world centre in pearl trade. Shri S.R. Choudary is known name in pearl trade there. Many Jain families are engaged in various trades in Japan.

Migration To U. S. A.
The first arrival of Jains in America is recorded in the visit of Shri Virchand Gandhi, an educated  English knowing  advocate  from Gujrat in 1893, to attend the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago. During the time, one American family - the Howard of Inglewood - became Jain, following Virchand Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Rai (a Jain from Punjab) (1865-1928), a pioneer in enlisting American  moral support for Indians freedom, established in new York City during World War I "Indian home Rule League" and helped organise "Hindustan Students Association" in New York city. The next record of the Jain visit to America was by barrister Champatrai Jain to address World Fellowship of Faiths held in Chicago on 30 of August, 1933. Records in the mid to late sixties show that there were handful of proselytized Jain in Canada and America.

Jain immigration to America started from early 50s of the present century. It increased in the 1960s with the USA liberalization of immigration Laws. The large arrivals occurred in the 70s and 80s largely due to exodus from Africa.

Jain immigration to American can be divided into four phases based on kind, period, political expulsion and home grown population.

First phase consisted of coming of the professionals and the students, the immigration being directly from India. These men were mostly married before landing in America. After having established a home, they called their wives. The students (mostly unmarried) south immigration instead of going home, devised a system of their own to get a wife. They arranged marriage in India and sometimes they made two or three trips to India before they returned with their wife.

Second phase consisted of family members of the first arrivers. This was the period of building a foundation in the new country. Between the spouses the male assumed role of a patriarch with specific duties and responsibilities.

Third phase consisted of immigration due to political expulsion. They came as a family unit, often as a joint family. The period saw the numerical strength of the Jains grow, and thus, Jain communities came to existence in many regions.

Fourth phase consisted of the second generation Jain where North America (U.S.A. and Canada) Jain have established their own independent families, and in many instances children of the third phase formed a constituent of the majority born and raised second generation, who may be termed as Ameri Jains. 

The exact number of Jain now residing in U.S.A. is not known but publications like telephone directories, Jain Directory published by Jain Centre of Greater Boston and mailing list of "Jain Digest" (Quarterly Journal) and 'Jinamanjari' publications indicate that about one lakh Jain (100 thousands) now reside in U.S.A.

For years of sincere working in various professions, business and services the Jains for the past two decades have become affluent enlightened class of the American population and also active socially and religiously. In many cities they have established Jain centers, associations, societies, and institutions, for celebration Jain Parvas, religious and social get together. These centers and associations are developing community brotherhood among Jains and many of them have become centers of initiating and developing religious, social, educational, literary and welfare programmes.

Jains United States live in all the states except Maine, South Dakota, Wyoming. Majority of Jains are concentrated in the states of California, Illions, Michigan, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Texas.

Canada : The second half of the twentieth century saw the dawn of a new era in inter-racial and inter cultural relationships, due to the displacement of large sections of people as a result of World War II, gradual disappearance of colonialism, national awakening in the so called third world countries, and rapid development of communications and transport systems. The Canadians themselves are a mix of so many nationalities who have settled in Canada. Canada was all liberal in immigration laws. Like U.S.A., the Jain immigration to Canada mostly occurred from 1960s. The Jain population of Canada is at present estimated around ten thousands. All Canadian provinces, except Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, Yukon and Northwest Territories, have Jain residents. Majority of Jains live in the province of Ontario - mainly in Toronto, followed by Quebec (mostly Montreal) and British Columbia.

In America and Canada Jains mostly live in urban and industrial centers.

Immigration to West Asian Countries : Emergence of sprawling, very well planned towns, particularly the capital towns, having multistoried buildings having all facilities of modern life in petroleum rich, west Asian countries opened the avenues for many Indians, including Jains, to make fortune in business, professions and services. The migration to these countries including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Behrien, Kuwait etc. Mainly occurred since the early 1970s. High profits in oil earned by these countries prompted the rulers/governments to undertake various developmental activities including construction of wide roads, education institutions, hospitals, shopping centers, development of civic amenities and modernization of sea ports.

The population also increased considerably and so also increased their needs in various sectors. These threw open avenues for large number of emigrants. The number of Jains residing in these Muslim countries engaged in medical profession, engineering, computer technology, other professions, business and service is not known. It is estimated that 500-600 Jain families reside in United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) alone. Though they celebrate their religious and social functions on limited scale, but in view of  enforcement of strict Islamic laws they are neither permitted to purchase property nor to build temples or institutions building. In Dubai "Jain Social Group" is active in Organising get-togethers and functions.

Jain Centers & Associations Abroad : Establishments of Jain centers, temples, societies and associations has resulted in organisation of the Jain community in various countries. There have been a lot of organised Jain activities in USA and Canada since the 1960s . The first Jain centre was established in 1966 in New York city by late Professor Narendra K. Sethi, Professor Duli Chand Jain, Dr. Mahenera K. Pandya and Dr. Surendra Singhvi. Starting from 20 families, which used to celebrate major Jain festivals, the centre now has more than 500 members. It has its own Jain temple. Gurudev Chitrabhanu came to USA in 1971 and established the Jain Meditating International Centre Centre in New York city in 1975. Gurudev lectures on Jainism and has published numerous books and prepared video - audio cassettes on Jainism.

Acharya Sushil Kumar Ji came to USA in 1975 with a few Jain monks. He first established and Ashram in Burlington, later in Staten Island in New York and finally a huge Ashram - Siddachalam in 120 acres in Blairstown in New Jersey State in U.S.A. It has a large Jain temple inaugurated in 1991 and has many impressive large and small statues on Jain Tirthankaras. Siddhachalam  has developed into a big religious and pilgrim centre with various religious and social activities going round the year.

As the Jain activities in North America needed to be expanded with a proper central co-ordination and guidance, the need was felt by a few concerned and far sighted Jains to create an umbrella organisation to provide leadership to help create more organizations and promote Jainism in the wider world.

The establishment of Federation of Jain Associations of North America (JAINA) in 1981 by holding its first convention in Los Angeles is indeed a great achievement towards globalization of Jainism. It started by representing four local Jain Centers, mainly with the initiative and efforts of Shri Lalit C. Shah, Dr. Tansukh Salgia and Dr. Manoj Dharamsi.

Today Jain represents 54 Jain Centers and Associations, 49 in USA and 5 in Canada, which are affiliated to it. Being an umbrella organisation its objectives is to provide a forum to foster fellowship and unity among numerous Jain Associations and Centers and  to take up religious causes and issues that will benefit its member  associations. The Federation has been publishing its quarterly journal 'Jain Digest' since 1985 which is mailed free to about 7500 families. JAINA has established two  libraries in Lubbock, Texas, U.S.A. and in Toronto, Canada. Young Jains of America (YJA) has also been founded to encourage Jain youth to participate in the religious activities, seminars and conventions. The Federations sponsors monks, nuns, Bhattarkas, Shramans, Shramnis and scholars from India to lecture in U.S.A. There are several other activities sponsored by JAINA such as  publication of Jain literature, a youth exchange programme between U.K. and North America. It has established JAINA Charitable Trust to finance construction of Jain temples, some projects and Senior Citizens housing near Jain temples where they can live in a happy religious atmosphere for the rest of their life. 

JAINA holds a Biennial Convention after every two years in some city of U.S.A. or Canada. At each of these conventions  thousands of Jains participate, majority being from north America, including participation from India and other countries. New time needed themes are picked up at each of the conventions. The invitations are wide based, even calling non -  Jain scholars and social workers to attend and express their  views. It gives them a proper opportunity to understand Jainism, which was not attempted before. 

The vision of the convention organisers is highly commendable in involving every class of Jain including women, youth and children. At the Conventions, the hope is increasing that the youth will continue to take active interest in Jain activities and a big fear about their indifference to Jain thought and activities is allayed. I was amazed to see the involvement of people of all ages in the four big JAINA Conventions in different cities of U.S.A. which I attended in different years. The 9th Biennial JAINA Convention during July 4-6, 1997 held at Toronto (Canada) had a remarkable attendance of 7500. JAINA hopes to prompt construction few more Jain temples in U.S.A. and Canada in addition to the existing 12 Jain temples or Hindu Jain temples.

JAFNA, Jain Academic Foundation of North America established in 1995, is another devoted organisation to promote Jainism on global basis. Its main goal is to be an instrument and catalyst in starting and facilitating regular Jaina Studies and Research at several well-known reputed universities in U.S.A. and Canada. It is a tax exempt educational, religious organisation in U.S.A.

 It has funded a semester for graduate level course in Jaina Studies at University of Guam, awarded several scholarships to non - Jain students to do research and write research papers on Jainism, sponsored and funded a four day International - Seminar "Vedanta and Jainism" at Miami University in October 1996, funded and eminent Professor to write the chapter 'Jain Vision' for a college level text book, sponsored and funded translation and publication of (1) 'Lord Mahavira' by Dr. Boolchand and (2) 'Aspects of Jainism' by Dr. Vilas Sangve in French language.

The future programmes of JAFNA include International Conference on 'Jainism, Ecology and Environment' at Harvard University, Boston U.S.A., arranging annual lecture series on Jainism in five universities in U.S.A. and Canada, planning Jaina Academic studies with the cooperation of several university professors and Jain Academy in Europe and to start a high level reference journal of Jaina Studies and Research in collaboration with Jain Academy (U.K.) 

A significant work of far reaching importance which JAFNA has undertaken in hand is compilation an publication of Eight Volume Encyclopedia of Jainism in English Language.

Role of World Jain Conferences Organised By Ahimsa International, World Jain Congress & Jaina : The World Jain Conferences in New York, London, Delhi and Siddachalam U.S.A. and the Regional International Jain conferences in cities of Asia continent like Bangkok and Singapore organised by Ahimsa International and World Jain Congress, and the JAINA Conventions in U.S.A. and Canada are much instrumental in dissemination of Jaina information and doctrines on global basis. The Jaina concepts are communicated on a wider scale through deliberations, discussions, speeches and literature published at these conferences and conventions and thereafter. Jainism is now better known to the people of the world as a result of these efforts.

About three decades before Jainism was virtually unknown in Europe (except U.K.), America and Canada. But due to increased contacts by the Jain emigrants with the local people and supplying to them to some extent Jain literature and calling them to their conventions and functions the local people are receiving more information and getting interested in Jainism. They appreciate the principles and the scientific aspects  of the Jaina thought and the depth of observations and studies of the Jain ascetics. This has aroused interest in Jainism of many more Americans and Europeans and they are coming forward to write books, prepare papers and video films on subjects of Jainism and pilgrim places.

As an important religions of the East, Jainism is attracting  the attention of western  Organisers of conferences and seminars on world religions and ethics. During the past few years several Jain scholars has been invited in U.S.A., Canada and countries of Europe to deliver their lectures on Jainological subjects. It is a happy beginning.

The last three decades have been very important in the attempts towards globalisation of Jainism. These have seen the fuller emergence into self consciousness of the world wide Jain Diaspora, i.e. people of Jain decent domiciled overseas.

Jainism, as today, has made its firm root in almost all parts of India, being a scientific and practical religions, quality of tents, and a highly religious, clean and regulated life. Today the Jain community is and important section of the population of the Indian union. It not only contributes significantly to the industry and business of the country in a big way but is also endowed with a remarkable cultural heritage and has succeeded in preserving in a large measure the originality and integrity of its creed.

The upsurge in Jain activities, in several parts of the world, is decidedly congenial to globalisation of Jainism.

Kurt Tietze of Germany in his monograph "Why Jainism" writes 'Through acts of renunciation and deep learning of the great Jain saints in ages long past the religion known as "Jainism" has taken roots and began to grow and blossom'.

About the Author

Mr. Satish Kumar Jain
a profile.......

Born in a respectable Jain family of Nehtaur in District Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, Shri Satish Kumar Jain took his master's degree in Economics from Agra University and did L.L.B. from Lucknow University. Known as a 'child prodigy', he showed his worth at various levels in School, College University, Government service and in social life.

As a brilliant student and prize winner a various occasions, he organised and participated in various School, College and University educations activities. Painstaking and sincere by temperament, he posses and undaunted nature and indifatigueable courage.

Keenly interested in social work, he is widely known among Jains in many parts of India, USA, Canada and several European countries. founder Secretary General of Ahimsa International and World Jain Congress, President  of Jain Sabha, New Delhi and Chairman of Jain Happy School, he has created an image of its own kind in these organisations by his dedicated and untiring efforts. He visited USA, Canada and several European countries in 1983 and 1986 to organise the international Jain Conferences and addressed various Jain Centers and Associations. Connected with several literary, cultural, welfare, religious, social and music institutions of repute, for his organisational capabilities and stamina to work, he is known as and institution by himself. He has also been a source of inspiration for many upcoming, dedicated social workers.

He is a prolific writer on wild life, forestry, archaeology and economic matters, widely published in prominent literary periodicals of the country. He is also author-editor of Delhi Jain Directory published in 1970. He is currently working on several other books on forestry, Jain art and history and culture.



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