History of Jainism ►Jainism during Nanda Dynasty

Published: 14.08.2012
Updated: 04.10.2012



Jainism during Nanda Dynasty occupied a significant position. According to Jain texts the rulers of the Namda Dynasty were followers of Jainism and had many Jain ministers in their courts.

According to Jain texts and inscriptions the rulers of the Nanda Dynasty were the followers of Jain cult. There are several literary evidences that reflect the inclination of the Nanda rulers towards the Jain religion. The Nandas were bitter enemies of the Brahmins. The anti Brahmanical origin of the Nandas reflects their preference towards Jainism.

Hathigumpha Inscription

According to the inscription in Hathigumpha of Kharavela the kings of Nanda Dynasty were the followers of Jainism. A certain `Nandaraja` of this dynasty had conquered Kalinga. He had taken away idol of Kalinga Jina and installed it in his own capital. It was regarded as the kuladevata of Kalinga. The Nandaraja has been mentioned twice in the famous Hathigumpha inscription.

In the twelfth line of the Hathigumpha inscription one can find the reference to the Nanda king. According to this inscription Kharvela, the famous ruler of Chedi Dynasty and the King of Kalinga brought back the image of Kalinga Jina which had been carried away by Nandaraja. The idol was thus well preserved by Nandaraja and other rulers of Magadha. It is therefore apparent that the Nanda Rulers followed Jainism. From the reference to this image of Jina, it is clear that image worship began just after 200 years or a little earlier than the passing away of the last great Jain Tirthankara Lord Mahavira.

Mahapadma Nanda, the first king of the Nanda Dynasty and his successors were staunch Jain is also supported by the fact that they followed the Jain custom of offering special gifts on the day of Kartika Purnima. This is the last day of the Jain festival, Kartika Astahnika. Another significant fact is that is that Dhana Nanda, the last Nanda ruler had constructed the Panchapahari at Pataliputra and a group of ancient stupas. This further strengthens the fact that Nandas followed Jainism.

Mudra- Rakshasa

The existence of the Jainism during the rule of the Nandas is also proved by the Sanskrit play Mudra- Rakshasa. It depicts about the story of Chandragupta`s accession and tells about the incident when Chanakya hired a Jain monk Jivasiddhi as one of his chief emissaries. The later has gone in the guise of a Ksapanaka in the palace of the Nanda king to win the confidence of the last Nanda minister. According to the drama this Jain monk acted as his chief agent in his political game of eradicating the rule of the `Sudra Nandas`. Jain religion thus occupied a position of high honour in the days of the Nandas and in those of Kharavelas.

Jain Nanda Ministers

During the rule of the Nanda Dynasty many Jain ministers were appointed in their court. Kalpaka was one of the Jain ministers who helped king Nanda in uprooting all the reigning kshatriya dynasty. Acharya Haribhadra Suri and Hemachandra were also Jain saints. According to Jain texts all the ministers of the Nandas were his descendants. During the rule of the Dhana Nanda the Jain church was governed by two high priests, Sambhutavijya and Bhadrabahu. Many people also took to ascetic life during this time.

Sagadala was the minister who had two sons, Sthulabhadra and Sriyaka. After the death of Sagadala, the Nandas offered the minister ship to his elder son Sthulabhadra, but he refused. He left his worldly life and became an ascetic. He joined the order of Sambhutavijaya, the sixth pontiff of the Jain church. The minister ship was finally given to his brother Sriyaka.



Compiled by PK

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  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Haribhadra
  3. Brahmins
  4. Chanakya
  5. Haribhadra
  6. Haribhadra Suri
  7. Hemachandra
  8. Jainism
  9. Jina
  10. Magadha
  11. Mahavira
  12. PK
  13. Sanskrit
  14. Tirthankara
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