Even before the reign of Chalukya king Pulakesi the (17th Century A. D.) Jainism was a dominant religion in the Karnataka. All the later kings like Vinayaditya, Vijayaditya helped Jaina saints in spreading their religion. During Vatapi Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas in whose kingdoms much of Andhra (mainly Rayalaseema and Telangana regions) was a territory influenced by Jainism as these kings were great patrons of this religion.
During the Rashtrakuta king Nitya Varsha Indra Vallabha (915-927 A. D.) Bodhan was his capital and even now it is considered by the jainas as one of their Adima Thirthas. The famous Jaina Acharya Somadevasuri of that time wrote many books and spread the faith the Telangana region.
From 2nd century B. C. up to 800-900 A. D., there were no inscriptions bearing the dates of that period. It might be the period of Jaina decline in Kalinga and it was only during that period of Jaina decline in Kalinga and it was only during that period the Vedic and the Buddhistic religions began to flourish in Kalinga.
Tradition says that in a village known as Gangaperulu in Rayalasema, a Jaina monk known as Simhanandi Acharya lived. The princes who fled from a town known as Vijayapura in northern India, sought his protection and later founded the famous Ganga dynasty with his blessings. Excavations conducted at Danavulapadu in Cuddapah district revealed the extent of spread of Jainism in that area.
The founder of Eastern Chalukya dynasty Kubjavishnuvardhana (624-641 A. D.) was brother of Pulakesi II. During his period Vijayawada was a great Jaina centre. His Danasasana (762 A. D.) indicates that he was a great portion of Jaina religion.
Ramatirtham in Visakhapatnam district was both a Buddhist and Jaina Kshetra and now it is a famous Hindu Kshetra. Excavations at Penugonda in East Godavari district revealed that it was once a Jaina religious centre. At the time of Kullotunga Chola son of Raja Rajanarendra, Munugodu in Sattenapalli taluq was a Jaina kshetra. Another inscription of 1178 A.D., reveals that Bhogapuram in Visakhapatnam Dt. was having Jaina temples. In Nellore district up to 13th Century there were Jaina temples.
Spread of Saivism and Vaishnavism and decline of Jainism :
During the 12th and 13th centuries Saivism began to spread in Andhra and there used to be religious debates over these religious faiths. There were many clashes between the followers of these faiths and of the Jaina Bastis (centres) were destroyed by the Saivites. Panditaradhyacarita and Palkuriki Somanatha and Sivaratrimahatmya of Srinatha gives evidence to this fact.
It is a wonder that though Jainism was prevalent for more than 1500 years in Andhra only one book written a by a saint of this area is available now. It is Jinendra Kalyanabhyudaya by Appayacharya (1241 Saka era).
While Saivism became popular during Kaltiya kings, Vaishnavism became popular during Vijayanagara kings. Spread of these religions led to the decline of the Jaina faith. Bur Jainas have their piligrim even now. Kollipaka in Nalgonda district is jaina kshetra and Penugonda in Anantapur district is one of the Jaina Chaturdasa mahavidya sthnams.
For an Archaeologist and epigraphist who wishes to study Jaina history Andhra provides a rich source .
‘Padu’ were all Jaina villages. In many places in Andhra we find wells known as Jainabavulu. They are of a particular type of construction. They are covered by lids so that animals in the streets may not fall in the nights. Similarly in many villages we find idols called as ‘Sanyasi Demullu. All such villages were once Jaina villages. Many such villages are found in Coastal Andhra.
Its relevance :
To understand Indian Philosophy and culture in broader perspective study of Jainism in essential. As Prof. Hopkins puts it, Jainism “represents a theological mean between Brahmanism and Buddhism . Then assuredly a serious study of Jainism becomes incumbent on all who may seek to understand aright either the early. Brahmanic ritual or the trenchant and for long effective Buddhist protest which that elaborate ritual evoked”
The interest of Jainism to the student of religion lies in the fact that it goes back to a very early period and to primitive currents of religious and metaphysical speculations, which also gave rise to the oldest Indian philosophies like Sankhya, Yoga and Buddhism. It also shares their theoretical pessimism and the practical ideal of liberation.
Jaina approach to truth saying that it has many facts leads to relativism though not to pluralism. Their acceptance of the uniqueness of each soul and stress on individual effort to reach kaivalya makes it a humanistic religion. The ills of the 20th century are absolutism and ideological dogmatism. These attitudes will lead the world to catastrophy and more so in a nuclear age.
The Jainas say our affirmative predication is dependent on Svadravya, Svakshetra, Svakala and Svabhava. If it is paradravya, parakshetra, parakala and parabhava it can be negatively predicated. This approach to understand alien religions, cultures, political and social systems will lessen the tensions in the world and improve our quality of life and make this planet a better place to live. As Ratnasekhara in Sambodhasattari says “No matter whether he is a Svetambara or a digambara, A Buddhist or a follower of any other creed, one who has realized the self sameness of the soul, i.e., looks on all creatures as his own self, attains salavation”.
AVADHU ATMAJNAN MEN RAHANA
Avadhu, live in the realization of soul never say anything to anyone
One who realizes the self, known all beliefs fighting
In the heats does not keep one-sidedness, sees tow-coloured wings
All sorrows and sickness end, becomes immortal and unchanging
Does not believe in muum and tuum breaks the worldly bondage
He keeps in his mind and soul the form which is invisible, incomparable, ultimate
He forsakes the pleasures of physical sight, with determination follows intuition
One thief is very active and militant he is found all over the world in sly
One has to keep vigilent and not permit him to enter the house secretly
One who leaves one and takes up the other only fans the fires of passion
Suri Rajendra’s saying you ponder keep yourself on vigil, well-equipped.