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Jainism in Kerala

  • Jainism came to Kerala in 3rd century BC.

  • Chandragupta Maurya abdicated his throne and came to Sravanabelgola in Mysore accompanied by the Digambara Jain saint Bhadrabahu.

  • It is Chandragupta Maurya and Bhadrabahu, who introduced Jainism in south India.

  • Even though Chandragupta Maurya visited only Sravanabelgola, his followers visited different parts of south India. Their objective was to find peaceful places for meditation.

  • Ilango Adikal, who wrote 'Silappadikaram' was a jain prince at Matilakam. At that time (Sangham age), Matilakam was a famous centre for Jain learning.

  • There were several Jain temples and shrines in ancient Kerala. Few of them continue to exist even today as Hindu temples.

    • In Matilakam, there was a famous Jain shrine. Later, it became a Hindu temple. According to 'Kokasandesam', the Brahmins never entered this temple as late as 1400 AD. The reason was that perhaps it was a Jain temple.

    • Kudalmanikkam temple at Irinjalakkuda, dedicated to Bharata, was a Jain temple. It was a jain temple dedicated to the Digambara saint Bharateswara. During the decline of Jainism, it was converted to a Hindu temple, dedicated to Bharata.

    • Kallil near Perumbavur has an old Jain shrine in a natural rock-cut cave (കല്ലിൽ ഗുഹാ ക്ഷേത്രം). In this shrine, there are images of Parswanatha, Mahavira and Padmavathi Devi. Today this temple is worshipped by Hindus as a Bhagavathi temple. But Jains visit this shrine even today assuming that they are worshipping Jain Gods not Hindu Gods.

    • In the Edakkal cave, the Jain inscriptions of Kadambas and Hoysalas can be seen. The Bhagavathi temple located on the top of Edakkal hill was a Jain temple.

    • An old Jain temple in complete ruins, with granite images of Mahavira and Parswanatha was discovered in Kavassery in Alathur.

  • The Decline of Jainism in Kerala started in the 8th century AD, by the arrival of Hinduism.

  • By the 16th century AD, Jainism almost disappeared in Kerala.

  • There are some old Jain families in the Wynad and Kasargod districts even today.

Impacts of Jainism

  • Jainism has influenced the architecture of Hindu temples and Muslim mosques of Malabar. Some temples and mosques have been built in the Jain style.

  • Naga or Snake worship in Kerala is the result of the impact of Jainism.

  • Bhagavathi worship was also assimilated from Jainism. Goddess Padmavathi Devi in Jainism was assimilated as Bhagavathi in Hinduism.

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1 Comment


MUHAMMED SHAFI MT
MUHAMMED SHAFI MT
Jul 05, 2023

Good Notes, Thanks a lot

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