Who is Kannagi in Tamil Literature


Tamil Jains (Tamil Samaṇarof Prakrit samaṇa “Wandering Renunciation”) are Tamils ​​from Tamil Nadu, India who practice Digambara-Jainism (Tamil) Samaṇam). The Tamil Jain is a micro-community of around 85,000 (around 0.13% of the population of Tamil Nadu), including both Tamil Jains and North Indian Jains who are settled in Tamil Nadu. They are mostly scattered in northern Tamil Nadu, mainly in the districts of Madurai, Viluppuram, Kanchipuram, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Cuddalore and Thanjavur. Early Tamil Brahmic inscriptions in Tamil Nadu date from the 3rd century BC. And describe the livelihood of the Tamil Jains. Samaṇar wrote much Tamil literature, including important sangam literature such as the Nālaṭiyār, the Silappatikaram, the Manimekalai and the Seevaka Sinthamaṇi. Three of the five great epics of Tamil literature are ascribed to Jains.[2]



Some scholars believe that Jain philosophy was sometime in the 6th century BC. Must have come to South India. Literary sources and inscriptions indicate that Bhadrabahu came to Shravanabelagola with a retinue of 12,000 Jain sages when northern India struggled to negotiate with the 12-year famine in the reign of Chandragupta Maurya. Even Chandragupta accompanied this constellation of wise men. When Bhadrabahu reached Shravanabelagola, he felt that his end was near and decided to stay with Chandragupta. He directed the Jain Saints to tour the areas ruled by Chola and Pandyan.

According to other scholars, Jainism must have existed in southern India long before Bhadrabhu and Chandragupta visited. In the vicinity of Madurai, Tiruchirāppaḷḷi, Kanyakumari and Thanjavur there are many caves as old as the fourth century, with Jain inscriptions and Jain deities.

A number of Tamil Brahmi inscriptions from the 2nd century BC have been found in Tamil Nadu. They are believed to be associated with Jain monks and lay followers.[3][4]

The exact origins of Jainism in Tamil Nadu are unclear. However, Jains flourished in Tamil Nadu at least as early as the Sangam period. According to the Tamil Jain tradition, its origins are much earlier. The Ramayana mentions that Rama paid homage to the Jaina monks living in southern India on his way to Sri Lanka. Some scholars believe that the author of the oldest extant literary work in Tamil (3rd century BC), Tolkāppiyam, was a Jain.[5]

Tirukkural of Thiruvalluvar is considered by many to be the work of a Jain by scholars such as V. Kalyanasundarnar, Vaiyapuri Pillai.[6] Swaminatha Iyer,[7] and PS Sundaram.[8] It strongly supports strict vegetarianism (or veganism) (Chapter 26) and states that giving up animal sacrifices is worth more than a thousand burnt offerings (v. 259).

Silappatikaram, the earliest surviving epic in Tamil literature, was written by a Samaṇa, Ilango Adigal. This epic is a major work of Tamil literature and describes the historical events of its time as well as the then predominant religions, Jainism, Buddhism and Shaivism. The main characters in this work, Kannagi and Kovalan, who have divine status among Tamils, Malayalees and Sinhalese, were Jains.

According to George L. Hart, Endowed Chair of Tamil Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, the legend of the Tamil Sangams or "literary gatherings" was based on the Jain Sangham at Madurai:

There was a permanent Jain congregation called the Sangha that was formed in Madurai around AD 604. It is likely that this gathering was the model according to which tradition invented the Sangam legend.[9]

Jainism dominated Tamil Nadu in the fifth and sixth centuries AD in what was known as the Kalabhra interregnum.

Decline [edit]

Jainism began to decline around the 8th century AD, and many Tamil kings adopted Hindu religions, particularly Shaivism. Nevertheless, the Chalukya, Pallava, and Pandya dynasties adopted Jainism. The Shaivite legend of Jain impaling in Madurai claims that 8,000 Jains were impaled after losing a competition to the Saivites. Thirugnana Sambandhar was invited by the Queen of Madurai to review the Jain atrocities and their influence on the king. However, this legend is not mentioned in any Jain text[11] According to Paul Dundas, the story is about the abandonment of Madurai by the Jains for economic reasons or the gradual loss of their political influence.[12]


When India became independent in 1947, the presidency of Madras became the state of Madras, which comprised what is now Tamil Nadu, the coastal area of ​​Andhra Pradesh, the district of Karnataka in southern Kanara and parts of Kerala. The state was then divided according to linguistic criteria. In 1969, Madras State was renamed Tamil Nadu Tamil country.[13][14]

Tirumalai Jain Temple Hill

Acharya Nirmal Sagar was the first Digambar Jain monk to return to Tamilnadu in 1975 after several centuries.[15] After him, some of the Jain nuns visited Tamilnadu, which led to a renaissance of Jainism among the Tamil Jains. Many abandoned and crumbling temples have been renovated due to renewed interaction between the Tamil Jains and the Jains from the rest of India. Financial grants were provided by Bharatiya Digambar Jain Tirth Samrakshini Mahasabha and the Dharmasthala institutions.[16][17] Local Jain scholars and activists have started "Ahimsa Walks" to raise awareness of the Tamil Jain heritage.[18][19]

Archaeological evidence [edit]

From time to time, archaeological remains are discovered in Tamilnadu, proving the popularity of Jainism in Tamilnadu. Most of the rock inscriptions refer to the Jain ascetics who usually lived in hill caves.[20]

The ruins of Anandamangalam were discovered in Anandamangalam, a small hamlet nearby Orathi Village in Kancheepuram District of Tamil Nadu. The ruins had the stone sculptures from Yakshini (Guardian Deity) Ambika and Tirthankara Neminatha and Parshvanatha.[21]

Population [edit]

The total number of Jains in Tamil Nadu according to the 2011 Indian Census is 83,359,[1] This corresponds to 0.12% of the total population of Tamil Nadu (72,138,958). This includes the Jains who emigrated from northern India (mainly Rajasthan and Gujarat).[22] The population of Tamil Jains is estimated at 25,000 to 35,000.[23]

parameter population Male Female
Total population 83.359 43,114 40,245
Literary population 68.587 36.752 31.835
Worker population 26.943 23.839 3,104
Cultivating population 2,216 1,675 541
Farm workers population 768 325 443
HH industry workers population 574 441 133
Other workers population 23.385 21.398 1,987
Non-working population 56,416 19.275 37,141

The Tamil Jains are ancient natives of Tamil Nadu[24] and belong to the Digambara sect.[25] They usually use the title Nainar. Some in Thanjavur district use Mudaliar and Chettiar as titles.[26]

The former North Arcot and South Arcot districts (now Tiruvannamalai, Vellore, Cuddalore, and Villupuram) have large numbers of Jain temples as well as a significant Tamil Jain population.[27] Nainars who have fallen from Jainism are sometimes referred to as Nir Puci Nainar.[28] Many of them retain some Jain customs like vegetarianism.

The title Nainar has been used for Jain monks since ancient times. In Cilappatikaram, a Jain temple is mentioned as Nayinar Koil, and the Kalugumalai inscription refers to Jaina munis as Nayinar.[29] It is similar to the term sahu or sadhu in North Indian Jain inscriptions.

Religious head

Bhattaraka Laxmisena [edit]

Swasthi Shree Bhattaraka Laxmisena Swamiji from Jina Kanchi Jain Mutt or Frau in Mel-Sithamoor (near Tindivanam, Villupuram District) is one of the religious leaders of the community. He performs the Upadesam ceremony (similar to baptism) for Jain children. In the past, this mutt had been the center for religious study that directed and supported the economic activities of its members, organized religious discourses, maintained temples, and such activities. With the help and contributions of its members, the mutt was able to perform so diverse operations. Currently, the mutt also maintains a gousala (for cows and others).

The mutt's current financial situation is not sufficient for day-to-day maintenance. The planting of coconut and mango trees was started in order to increase the income of the fund for the purpose of the daily care of the mutt. The car (‘ther’) in the mutt requires the replacement of wooden wheels.

Swasthi Shree Dhavalakeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji [edit]

In addition, since February 8, 1998, a new mutt named Arahanthgiri Jain Math has been operating in Thirumalai near Polur, Tiruvannamalai District, named Dhavalakeerthi Swamigal. Currently around 2300 students from elementary school to upper secondary level, including the Jain philosophy, are studying in the Köter, with free boarding school and accommodation. The above is maintained through contributions from donors.[30]

Lifestyle [edit]

The traditional occupation of the majority of the Tamil Jain families were landowners of agricultural land. There are many teachers now. A significant number of them are located in urban areas and employed in the public and private sectors. A small population has settled overseas (US, Canada, UK, Australia and other places).

Kitchen: Tamil Jains are passionate about vegetarians. Until the turn of the 20th century they were a self-sufficient rural farming community. They were landowners and used contract workers for their agricultural activities. Their households included large tracts of land, cattle and dairy cows. They had vegetable gardens where vegetables for everyday use were grown. Dairy products such as milk, curd cheese, butter and ghee were cooked in the house. The daily meal was very simple and consisted of a brunch with rice, cooked lentils (Paruppu), ghee, vegetable sambar, quark, sun-dried mango, lemon or lemon cucumbers and deep-fried, sun-dried "crispies" (vadavam) made from rice cakes. In the evening snacks with deeply burnt lentil preparations and before sunset dinner consisting of idli, dosa or rice with buttermilk and lentil chutney (thogaiyal). While seniors, people who indulge in religious, quick and ardent adherents of religious principles, avoid garlic, onions, and bulbs in their daily food, these were occasionally used by others in the household.

Identity [edit]

Tamil Jains are well assimilated in Tamil society with no outward differentiation. Their physical characteristics are similar to those of the Tamils. Aside from certain religious affiliations, practices, and vegetarianism, their culture is similar to the rest of Tamil Nadu. However, they name their children by the names Tirthankaras and characters from Jain literature.

Lifelong ceremony

Ezhankaapu - on the seventh day of his birth, a newborn baby is adorned with bracelets.

Kaathu Kutthal - piercing and decorating a child with earrings. This ceremony is mostly performed either in Aarpakkam Temple or in Thirunarangkondai ieThirunarungkundram. (Appandai Nathar is the deity).

Other ceremonies

Tirumalai Neminatha statue

Upadesam - the formal introduction to religious practices and attachments is called Upadesam. This happens to both boys and girls around the age of 15. According to Upadesam, religious practices should be followed with vigor and seriousness.

Marriage - Outwardly, Jain marriages are similar to Hindu marriages. However, the mantras sung are Jain. There is no Brahmin priest; Instead there is a samaṇar called a Koyil Vaadhiyar or temple priest who presides over the ceremonies.

Pilgrimage - Most Jains make pilgrimages to tirthas and major Jain temples in northern India - Sammed Shikharji, Pavapuri, Champapuri and Urjayanta Giri - as well as places in southern India such as Shravanabelagola, Humcha or Hombuja Humbaj, Simmanagadde in Karnataka and Ponnur Malai in Tamil Nadu.

There are also private amateur tour operators that take pilgrims to newly identified ancient Jain Tamil sites in western Tamil Nadu (Kongunadu) and northern Kerala (Vayanadu).

Funeral rites - the dead are placed on a pyre and cremated. The ashes are then paid out in watercourses and ceremonies are performed on the 10th or 16th day. Annual memorial ceremonies similar to Hindu practice are not held. But this year there are no parties or events on the paternal side.

Festivals [edit]

Fasting and other religious practices

Full moon days, Chaturdasi (14th day of the fortnight), Ashtami (8th day of the fortnight) are days chosen for fasting and religious observations. Women do not eat until after they have recited the name of a Tirthankara five times. People practice such practices as vows for a period of time - sometimes even years. Upon completion, Udhyapana celebrations (special prayer services) are held, and religious books and memorabilia are distributed. People who take certain vows do not eat until after sunrise and before sunset.

List of Tamil Jains [edit]

Temple locations [edit]

Karandai Digambar Jain Temple
Thirupanamur Digambar Jain Temple
Cave temple
is performed in the following old (built a few centuries ago) and new (built in the last 100 years) Tamil Digambara Jain temples
(in alphabetic order):
  • Aadhinath Jain Temple, Cuddalore (old)
  • Anumanthakudi, Sivagangai German (new)
  • Adambakkam, Adi Nath Digambar Jain Temple Chennai (New)
  • Agalur, Villupuram German (old)
  • Agarakorakottai, Thiruvannamalai German (New)
  • Alagramam Jain Temple, Villupuram Dt. (Old)
  • Arahanthgiri Jain Math, Thiruvannamalai Dt. (Alt)
  • Arani (SVNagaram), Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Arani (Pudukamur), Thiruvannamalai German (New)
  • Arani (Saidapet), Thiruvannamalai German (New)
  • Arani (Palayam), Thiruvannamalai German (New)
  • Arani (Kosapalayam) Thiruvannamalai German (New)
  • Arani (Sevoor) Thiruvannamalai
  • Arungulam Kanchipuram German (old)
  • Arpaakkam, Kanchipuram German (old)
  • Arugavur, Solai, Thiruvannamalai Dt. (Alt)
  • Avadi, Chennai Dt. (New)
  • Ayalavadi, Thiruvannamalai German (New)
  • Chitharal Jain Temple, (old): Temple from the 9th century
  • Chitharal Malaikovil, (old): before AD 425
  • Cheyyar, Thiruvannamalai German (New)
  • Deepangudi, Nagapattinam German (old)
  • Easaakolathur, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Elangadu, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Eyyil, Villupuram German (old)
  • Erumbur, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • George Town, Chennai Dt. (New)
  • Gingee, Viluppuram German (old)
  • Ilayangudi, Sivagangai German (New)
  • Kannalam, Villupuram German (old)
  • Kallapuliyur, Villupuram German (old)
  • Kallakullathur, Villupuram German {old}
  • Karanthai, Kanchipuram German (old)
  • Karanthai Jain Temple, Thanjavur Dt. (Old)
  • Kalugumalai Jain Betten German (old)
  • Kanchiyur Jain cave and stone beds German (old)
  • Kattumalaiyanur, Thiruvannamalai German (New)
  • Keezh Villivanam, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Keezh Edayalam, Villupuram Dt.
  • Kilsathamangalam, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Koliyanur, Villupuram German (old)
  • Kolathur, Chennai Dt. (New)
  • Kovilampoondi, Thiruvannamalai Dt (old)
  • Kumbakonam, Thanjavur German (old)
  • Mannargudi Mallinatha Swamy Jain Temple, Nagapattinam Dt. (Old)
  • Melapandal, Vellore German (New)
  • Melmalaiyanur, Villupuram German (old)
  • Mel Sithamur Jain Math, Villupuram Dt.
  • Mettu Street, Kanchipuram (new)
  • Mudalur, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Nallavanpalayam, Thiruvannamalai Dt. (New)
  • Nallur, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Nanganallur, Chennai Dt. (New)
  • Marine, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Nedimolliyanur Villupuram German {old}
  • Nelliyankulam, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Othalavaadi, Thiruvannamalai German (New)
  • Parshwa Padmavathi Jain Temple, Sundampatti, Orappam Krishnagiri Dt. (Old)
  • Pammal, Chennai (new)
  • Peranamallur, Thiruvannamalai Dt (old)
  • Perani, Villupuram German (old)
  • Peravoor, Villupuram Dt. (Old)
  • Periyakozhappalur, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Perumandur, Villupuram German (old)
  • Perumbogai, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Poondi Arugar Temple, (old)
  • Ponnur Malai, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Puzhal, Chennai Dt. (New)
  • Renderipet, Thiruvannamalai German (New)
  • R. Kunnathur, Thiruvannamalai Dt. (New)
  • Shri Vasupujya Temple, Sathuvachari, Vellore Dt. (Old)
  • Sathuvachari, Vellore German (New)
  • Sevur, Vellore Dt. (Alt)
  • Sitharaal, Nagercoil German (old)
  • Sittanavasal, Pudukottai German (old)
  • Sitthamur, Villupuram Dt. (Oldest Jain temple and Jain math)
  • Somaasipadi, Thiruvannamalai (new)
  • Thellar, ThiruvannamalaiDt.
  • Thirunarunkundram, Villupuram German (old)
  • Thiruparuthikundram Temple, Kanchipuram Dt. (Old)
  • Thirupanamoor, Thiruvannamalai Dt. Near Kanchipuram
  • Thachambadi, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Thatchur, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Thayanur, Villupuram German (old)
  • Thennathur, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Thirakoil, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Thirupparankunram, Madurai Dt. (Sangam Literature Paripadal 19 Step 51)
  • Thiruvannamalai, Thiruvannamalai German (New)
  • Thondur, Villupuram German (old)
  • Tindivanam, Villupuram Dt (new)
  • Tirumalai, Polur German (old)
  • Trilokyanatha Temple, Kanchipuram Dt (old)
  • Valathi / Valathy, Villupuram Dt. (Alt)
  • Vandavasi, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Valapandal Vellore German (Alt)
  • Veedur, Villupuram German (old)
  • Veeranamur, Villupuram German (old)
  • Vellimedupettai, Villupuram Dt. (Alt)
  • Vempoondi, Villupuram Dt. (Alt)
  • Venbakkam, Kanchipuram German (old)
  • Vilangadupakkam, Chennai Dt. (Old)
  • Vizhukkam, Villupuram German (old)
  • Vijayamangalam, Erode Dt. (Alt)
  • Virudur, Thiruvannamalai German (old)
  • Dedicated to Nasiyan Jain Temple, Prithvi Raj Road, Ooty, Rishabhdevji.[34]
  • Sri 1008 Vaupujya Swamy Swethambar Jain Temple, Ooty[35]

Photo gallery [edit]

Tamil Jain books

“Jeevaka Chinthamani”, “Sripurana” by J Srichandran.[36]

See also [edit]

  1. ^ abchttp://census2001.tn.nic.in/religion.aspx Archived March 5, 2012 on the Wayback machine
  2. ^Jaina Literature in Tamil, Prof. A. Chakravarti
  3. ^Early Tamil epigraphy from the earliest times to the 6th century AD, Iravatham Mahadeva, Harvard University Press, 2003
  4. ^http://jainsamaj.org/rpg_site/literature2.php?id=595&cat=42 RECENT DISCOVERIES OF JAINA CAVE INSCRIPTIONS IN TAMILNADU by Iravatham Mahadevan
  5. ^Singh, Narendra (2001). Encyclopedia of Jainism. Anmol Publications. p. 3144. ISBN.
  6. ^Tirukkural, Vol. 1, SM Diaz, Ramanatha Adigalar Foundation, 2000,
  7. ^Tiruvalluvar and its Tirukkural, Bharatiya Jnanapith, 1987
  8. ^The Kural, PS Sundaram, Penguin Classics, 1987
  9. ^“The Milieu of Ancient Tamil Poems, Prof. George Hart”. July 9, 1997. Archived from the original on July 9, 1997. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
  10. ^Ashim Kumar Roy (1984). “9. History of the Digambaras ”. A history of the Jainas. Gitanjali. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  11. ^Paul Dundas (2002). Jains. Routledge. p. 127. ISBN. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  12. ^http://www.tamiljains.org
  13. ^Tamil Jain? by Mahima Jain, The Hindu, December 28, 2013.
  14. ^Acharya Nirmal Sagarji Maharaj, 1975, 08/03/2015
  15. ^Taminadu Digambar Jain Tirtha Kshetra Sandarshana, 2001
  16. ^Anointing rituals of Lord Bahubali performed by Jains of Tamil Nadu, Times of India, March 12, 2019
  17. ^This Chennai group is exploring the hidden, not so famous Jain temple of Tamil Nadu, Anjana Shekar on August 30th, 2018
  18. ^The Jain Connection in Tamil Nadu, Tamanna Shah, Express Message Service, May 22, 2018
  19. ^Deciphering Tamil Brahmi and Vattezhuthu scripts, Nahla Nainar, Hindu, February 3, 2017
  20. ^Bhaskaran, S. Theodore (November 27, 2015), The Jain ruins at Anandamangalam in Tamil Nadu, while small, have enough detail to deserve special attention, Frontline
  21. ^Tamil Jain ?, Mahima Jain, The Hindu, December 28, 2013
  22. ^The Tamil Jains: A Minority Within a Minority, Mahima A. Jain, South Asia @ London School of Economics, December 11, 2015
  23. ^Genetic admixture studies in four in situ developed, two migrant and twenty-one ethnic populations in Tamil Nadu, South India, G. SUHASINI et al., Journal of Genetics, Vol. 3, No. 90, No. 2, August 2011., p. 191-202
  24. ^[Volume 40 of People of India, Kumar Suresh Singh,
    Volume 3 of People of India: Tamil Nadu, Anthropological Survey of India, Affiliated East-West Press for Anthropological Survey of India, 1997, p. 1437]
  25. ^Reading History with the Tamil Jainas, A Study of Identity, Memory, and Marginalization, R. Umamaheshwari, Springer, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, pp. 4, 111
  26. ^Castes and Tribes of South India, Volume II of VII By Edgar Thurston, Library of Alexandria,
  27. ^Reading History with the Tamil Jainas, A Study of Identity, Memory, and Marginalization, R. Umamaheshwari, Springer, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, p. 100
  28. ^Identities in Conflict: Jainism in Early Tamilakam, Maheshwari, R. Uma, Jawaharlal Nehru University Dissertation, 2007, Chapter II The Tamil Jain Community: Issues of Identity, p. 85
  29. ^“Swasthy Shree Dhavalakeerthi Swamiji”. Akalanka-educational-trust.com. Archived from the original on January 4, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  30. ^The pros and cons of the Jains in Tamil literary history, Christoph Emmrich, J. Indian Philos (2011) 39: 599–646
  31. ^R. Umamaheshwari, ‘Retrieving’, Seeking, The Tamil Jain Self: The Politics of Memory, Identity, and Tamil Language, Reading History with the Tamil Jainas, Jan. 26, 2018, pp. 205-298
  32. ^ abThe village of Tamil Nadu prays for the safe return of the pilot Abhinandan
  33. ^“Ooty: Jain Temple, Ooty”. Archived from the original on August 21, 2013. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  34. ^“Gallery - Category: Ooty - Picture: Sri 1008 Vaupujya Swamy Swethambar Jain Temple, Ooty”. Archived from the original on August 26, 2013. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  35. ^The 87-year-old is passionate about bringing epics by MT Saju to lay readers. The Times of India, January 8, 2015.

References [edit]

External links [edit]