Spread and Growth of Jainism
The use of common dialect in place of Sanskrit by Mahavira and his monks,
the simple and homely moral precepts, the free ministration of spiritual truths
to the masses, the activities of the Jaina monks and royal patronage were the
forces which helped in the spread of Jainism.
The followers of Mahavira gradually spread over the whole country. Jaina
monks were to be seen on the banks of the Indus when Alexander invaded
India. According to Jaina tradition, Udayin, the successor of Ajatasatru, was a
devoted Jaina. The Nandas were also probably Jainas. In the first century BC
Ujjain became a great centre of Jainism as is evidenced from the legends of
the Jaina Saints Kalakacharya and Gardabhilla and his son Vikram of Ujjain.
By the close of the fourth century BC a band of Jaina monks under
Bhadrabahu migrated to the Deccan and spread Jainism throughout the south
with Sravana Belgola in Mysore as their central seat. A late inscription (900
AD) records that the summit of the Chandragiri (Mysore) is marked by the
footprints of Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta Munipati. There Jainism became
very popular, especially, among the mercantile community.
Royal patronage, as noted above, was also bestowed upon Jainism.
1. Chandragupta Maurya was its devout patron. He himself had joined
Bhadrabahu’s march to the south. A cave is dedicated to him and the
hill on which it exists is known as Chandragiri after him.
2. During the second century BC King Kharavela of Kalinga professed
Jainism, and became its illustrious and renowned patron by setting up
Jaina images himself.
3. In the Kushana period, it flourished well at Mathura and was
dominant in eastern India in the time of Harsha.
4. During the early centuries of the Christian era, Mathura in the north
and Sravana Belgola in the south were great centres of Jaina activities
as is evidenced by a large number of inscriptions, images and other
monuments discovered at both the places.
5. In the fifth century many royal dynasties of the south, such as the
Gangas, the Kadambas, the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas