Jaina Kingdoms

Published: 03.02.2011
Updated: 03.07.2015


The Rashtrakuta Kings

Among the Rashtrakuta kings, Amoghavarsh was the first follower of Jainism. He ascended the throne in 821 AD. He was a learned person. Acharya Jinasen, author of Adipuran, was his learned preceptor. Amoghavarsh was considered one of the four mightiest emperors of the world, his capital was Manyakhet.

Ganit Sar Sangrah states that Amoghavarsh was follower of  the religion of non-absolutism. He left the throne and practised the religion of non-possession for several years. Amoghavarsh requested Acharya Gunabhadra, the main disciple of Acharya Jinasen, to teach his son Krishna II. Gunabhadra has been the writer of the last five chapters of Adipuran, Uttarpuran and Atmanushashan. Krishnaraj was follower of  Jainism. He offered gifts for the temple of Mulagund.

Krishnarai III also patronised Jainism and Jain scholars. The inscription of Danavulapatu states that king Nityavarsh (Indra III) constructed a dais for the anointment of  Arhant-deva for gaining bliss. The last Rashtrakuta king Indra IV was a devoted Jain. He adopted Sallekhana vow for a peaceful death.

Many warrior ministers and commanders of Rashtrakuta were followers of Jainism. The first representative administrator of Amoghavarsh, whose name was Vankeya, was Jain. He was the ruler of Varanasi. He ordered to give a village to the Jain temples of his capital as a gift. Lokaditya, the son of Vankeya was also supporter of Jainism. Srivijaya, the commander of Indra III, was Jain and he patronised Jain literature. About 250 years period of Rashtrakuta rulers was the golden period for creation of Jain literature. At that time about two third population was Jain. Several Jain institutions were established, about 100 Digamber Jain authors wrote 200 books. Commentaries on Digamber canonical texts, Dhavala and Jaya Dhavala, were written during this period.

The great mathematician Mahaviracharya composed his Ganit Sar Sangrah. Amogavarsh himself wrote Prashnottar Ratnamala in Sanskrit and Kaviraj Marg in Kannad. Amoghavarsh had become a Jain ascetic. During the period of Akalavarsh, the son of Amoghavarsh, Gunbhadra completed his Uttarpuran.

Krishnadevaraj (III Krishna) was a powerful Rashtrakut king. He was the son of Akalavarsh III. The period of his rule has been decided as Shaka era 867-894. Bravely, he ruled in the south. The eulogy Yashastilak Champu describes that Krishnaraj defeated the kings of Singhal, Chola, Pandya and Cher. During his period Ponn, the great Kannad poet, composed Shantinath Puran. Krishnadevaraj honoured him by giving him the title of "Ubhayabhasha Kavichakravartin" (The poet emperor of both the languages, viz. Sanskrit and Kannada).

Shilahar Dynasty

One of the rulers of this dynasty was Gonka. An inscription at Teradal mentions that Gonka was healed from snakebite by a Jain monk and Gonk had built a temple of Lord Neminath. Many Jain temples in that region build in the next couple of century are called Gonka-Jinalya after him. During the reign of Bhoja I, a dynamic Acharya Maghanandi helped establish an institute at Rupanarayana-Basadi. Several of the kings and nobles of the dynasty were disciples of Maghanandi. Maghanandi is often called "Siddhanta-chakravarti" i.e. the great master of the scriptures. He is sometimes called "Kolapuriya" to distinguish him from many other Acharyas with the name Maghanandi. Maghanandi belonged to a distinguised lineage of Acharayas of Deshiya Gana Pustaka Gachchha. One of his predecessors of Gollachaya, who was once a king. The Bhattarakas of Shravenbelgola and Mudabidri belong to the same lineage [1]. Just like pairs Hemachandra Suri and king Kumarpal, Nemichandra Acharya and Chamundaraya.

Kolhapur has a famous Acharya-devotee pair. A legendary account of Maghanadi and Shilahara king Gandraditya of Kolhapur occurs in Jainacharya Parampara Mahima. It mentions 770 Jain shrines being built by Gandaditya and 770 disciple monks of Maghanadi. Many of the inscriptions in Kolhapur and nearby places attest to this relationship.

Gandaraditya had built a temple "Tribhuvan Tilak" for Lord Nemi at Arjurika, where Somadeva composed Shabdar Nava Chandrika (guide to a lexicon). Like Ashoka Maurya, El Kharvel etc., he was supported all religions. In one inscription he is called "sarva-darshan-chakshuha" i.e. viewer of all points of view.

His general Nimbadeva was also a devoted Jain. A Kolhapura inscription at the Mahalakshmi Temple (it has 72 Jinas carved on the shikhar) mentions a Jain temple made by Nimbadeva. His son Vijayaditya was a disciple of Manikyanandi, the successor of Acharya Maghanandi. Several inscriptions mention donations by Vijayaditya and his generals to Jain institutions. A Brahmin Vasudeva, a dependant of a general Kamadeva of Vijayaditya, had built a temple to Lord Parshvanath [2].

The glory of Jainism in Kolhapur declined after the Shilaharas. Still Kolhapur has a unique place in the Jain society. It is the only place in India today with not one but two functioning Bhattaraka seats, that of Bhattaraka Laxmisena Swamiji and of Jinasena Swami which has shifted from Nandani to Kolhapura. The Lakshmisena Matha is an active publisher of books and a periodical Ratnatryaya. There is famous 9 meter high idols in the matha temple. It is said that height of the gate of the Math was chosen to match the height of the gate of the local king, such was the significance the Bhattaraka seat. In 1871 the maha-mastakabhisheka of Lord Gommateshvar at Shravanbelgola was entirely organized by the then Lakshmisena of Kolhapura.

About Kolhapur

At the border of Maharashtra and Karnataka, that is a region that has been an ancient center of Jainism. We can perhaps term the region Konkan, although the term Konkan is used with different meanings. Such was the influence of Jainism here in ancient times that the Vaishnava Bhagavat Purana mentiones that Lord Rishabha had wandered in the Konka (Konkana), Venka (Vengi) and Kutaka region and a king of this region had spread Jainism due to his influence.

There is still a large Jain population in this region. In fact you will be surprised to know that Belgaum (across the border in Karnataka), Kolhapur and Sangli (both in Maharashtra) are among the top 5 districts in India in terms of the Jain population. There were many kings in this area that followed or supported Jainism. The most glorious among them were the Rashtrakuta who originated from Latur and had their capital at Mayurkhandi (near Nasik) and later at Manyakhet [3]. During their reign numerous famous Jain texts were composed, including Dhavala, Jayadhavala, Mahapurana, Uttarapurana and Ganita-sara-samgraha. They ruled from about 752 AD to 972 AD. The last Rashtrakuta king, Indra IV retired to Shravanbelgola and passed away in samadhi-marana in 904 [4].

In the first century AD, a king Nahapan (of non-Indian origin) ruled region near Nasik. According to Shrutavatar of Vibudh Shridhar, Nahpan became a Jain monk named Bhutabali. Bhuytabali and Pushpadnata later studied under Dharasena who live in a cave in Junagarh. They togeter later wrote the famous Shat-khandagam. Here I will briefly mention about Kolhapurand nearby places.

In the first century AD, at Mahimanagari, near Kolhapur a gathering of monks was held. This assembly decided to send Bhutabali and Pushpadnata to Mt. Girnar to study under Dharasena. Some say that part of Shat-Khandagam was composed at Kolhapur.

Kolhapur beame a major Jain center during the rule of Shilahar kings in the 11th century. Kolhapura was also known as Kshullakapur because of the presence of a large number of Junior Jain monks [5] or Padmalaya, after the deity Padmavati who is now worshipped there as Mahalakshmi and is the tutelary goddess of Kolhapura.


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Compiled by PK

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharyas
  3. Ashoka
  4. Belgaum
  5. Bhagavat
  6. Bhattaraka
  7. Bhattaraka Laxmisena
  8. Bhattarakas
  9. Brahmin
  10. Brahmins
  11. Chamundaraya
  12. Deshiya Gana
  13. Digamber
  14. Gachchha
  15. Girnar
  16. Glory of Jainism
  17. Hemachandra
  18. Indra
  19. Jain Temple
  20. Jain Temples
  21. Jainism
  22. Jaya
  23. Jinasena
  24. Karnataka
  25. Kolhapur
  26. Krishna
  27. Kshullaka
  28. Latur
  29. Maharashtra
  30. Mahaviracharya
  31. Manikyanandi
  32. Math
  33. Matha
  34. Mudabidri
  35. Nandani
  36. Nemi
  37. Neminath
  38. Non-absolutism
  39. PK
  40. Padmavati
  41. Parampara
  42. Parshvanath
  43. Rishabha
  44. Sallekhana
  45. Sanskrit
  46. Shantinath
  47. Shravanabelgola
  48. Swami
  49. Swamiji
  50. Tilak
  51. Varanasi
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