#Jainism influence in #Tamil country.  The subject is so vast that an attempt is made now to indicate, only in rough outlines, the nature of such a contribution and its permanent influence in Tamil literature, gramme aspects, Tamil culture and the language itself.
It is well known that, among the Dravidian tribes of South India, the Tamils were the first to possess a literature. Unfortunately, most of the pre-Sangam works are either lost or destroyed or  not known to us.
If they are available, we will be able to know something about the religion, the morals and the civilization of the pre-Sangam age in the Tamil land. Poems like AhaNaanuru & PuraNaanuru which have been published late 19th century show that the earliest tribes were a warlike race.
Tamils loved war and adventurous life. Their literature, therefore, is full of references to their martial habits. A change in the tone of Tamil literature is noticed after the advent of the Aryans, among who must be included the Buddhists and the Jains.
Tolkappiyar's mention in his  work… (Tolkappiyam) , of Hora, for a knowledge of which it seems we are indebted to the Greek astronomers that accompanied Alexander the Great in the course of his Indian raid, would fix the age of Tolkappiyar as 5th - 4th Century B.C.
Again the mention in the colophon to Tolkappiyam, of the Sanskrit grammar of Indra, coupled with the fact that Indra's date has been ascertained as 350 B.C. makes it plain according to some that 350 B.C. is the latest date that can be assigned.
Tolkappiyar, the earliest known grammarian & Sangam author, whose work was an authority for all later literary productions. Mr.S. Vyapuri Pillai suggests that Tolkappiyar was a Jain by faith. His chief argument rests on the fact that Panambaranai a contemporary of Tolkappiyar,
Tolkappiyar calls him "Pal pugal niruththa padimaiyon”.  Padimai is from the Prakrit Padima, essentially a #Jain Word referring to “Jain rules of conduct“.
It is common knowledge that Kural is quoted in Silaippathikaram of Ilangovadigal. He was the brother of Senguttuvan whose date is said to fall in the 1st – 2nd century A.D. It is contended by some that the Kural must have been written at least a century before Silappadikdram.
It is astonishing that the author of Kural, who is undoubtedly recognised as one of the great geniuses of the world, should have remained without a name.
Tamil literary tradition attributes the authorship of Kural to Valluvar.
There are strong reasons for believing that the author of Kural was a Jain. Prof. Seshagiri Sastri held that Valluvar was a follower of Arhat. Certain references in Kural to Malarmisaiyeginan & Yenkunaththaan held to be sufficient evidence to prove that the author was a Jain.
Hindu scholars have pointed out, however, that these expressions are equally applicable to Vishnu.
But one who has read or is acquainted in the least, with Jain canonical scripture will have no hesitation in agreeing with Mr. Seshagiri Sastri.
The expression Malarmisaiyeginan, i.e.,' He who walked on lotus 'is a very common epithet applied to Arhantas. According to the Jain scriptures, when the Tirthanhara attains omniscience there gather around him a vast crowd of men, animals, birds & other living beings to hear him.
Indra & many other Devas, according to them, worship & praise Him by manifesting wonderful phenomena. One such wonder is the formation of a beautiful lotus under the feet of the Jina, which moves along under his feet as he goes to several countries to preach his doctrine.
God, according to Tamil #Jainism, has the following eight qualities.

Perfect faith

Infinite knowledge

Infinite cognition


Extreme fineness


Stationariness (quality of being neither light nor heavy)


Un disturbable bliss
The commentator of Nilakesi a Jain work calls kural Emm oththu (our own veda) That shows that the Jains generally believed that Valluvar was a member of their community.
The tradition is that one Elacharya, a Jain sage, was the author of KuraL. This Elacharya, some say, was no other than Sri Kunda Kunda, a Jain Muni,  well versed in Sanskrit & Prakrit, who carried on the work of propagating Jainism in the Tamil land, in or about the 1st century.
A sage (Valluvar) of great intellectual attainments, he is supposed to have written for the instruction of Sivaskandha, a ruler of Conjeeveram, the Panchastikaya, which has been recently edited by Prof. Chakravarti, a prominent member of the Jain community.
In the historical portion of the introduction to that book, the learned Prof Chakravarti identifies the author of the Kural with “Kunda Kunda” whose other name was Elacharya. From the Pattavalis edited by Hoernle & Klatt, the date of Kunda Kunda can be ascertained as 1st century.
It must be remembered that Kural represents not only what was best in Dravidian culture but also it has given to the Tamils the quintessence of Aryan wisdom contained in such works as the Arthasdstra of Kautilya.
No one, who had not a sound knowledge of Prakrit and Sanskrit literature, could have attempted the writing of Kural and such a.... one was Kunda Kunda Acharya.
It is inevitable that the Jains had penetrated into the extreme south of India so early as if not earlier than, the 3rd century BC and that they had actively taken up the work of propagating their faith through the medium of the vernacular of the country namely Tamizhagam.
“It was through the fostering care of the Jains that the south seems to have been inspired with new ideals and literature, enriched with new forms and expressions"

-Mr. Frazer, Literary History of India, pp. 310 & 311
The period immediately following the age of Kural is characterised by the growth of classical literature, mainly under the Jain patronages. This age is generally called the Augustan age of Tamil literature, the period of the predominance of the Jains in intellect & learning.
It was during this period first century A.D. that the famous Tamil epic Silappadikaram is supposed to have been written. The author of the work was Ilangovadigal, a brother of the Chera prince, Senguttuvan, and, a member of the Jain temple.
From this epic and its companion volume, Manimekalai, can be gleaned a graphic account of the state of the Dravidian society at that time. It would appear that there was then perfect religious toleration, Jainism advancing so far as to be embraced by members of the royal family.
Religious conversion did not, as it does now, destroy the bonds of society and family. Thus, for example,  Ilangovadigal, the author of the Tamil epic Silappadikaram, was a Jain, while his brother, Senguttuvan, was a Saivite.
In short, the fervent manner in which Jain beliefs & morals are depicted and the description of the society in general, leave no doubt in the minds of the readers of the Tamil epics, the impression that the religion of Arhat was embraced by large numbers of Dravidians.
The Tamils themselves borrowed from the Nagas some of their elements of worship. Traces of the Tree and Serpent Worship so eminently characteristic of the Turanian race are also to be seen in Jainism that was introduced in the Tamil country.
MS. Ramaswami Ayyangar, (former Chief Lecturer in History & Economics,  Maharaja s College, Vizianagram) says in his “SOUTH INDIAN JAINISM”, the masses of the Dravidians were remnants of the great Naga race that held the sovereignty of the land before the Tamils conquered it.
Manimekalai, being a Buddhistic work, one may not expect an ideal representation of the Jain system at the hands of its author Chattanar, a staunch Buddhist. But enlightened Jain opinion is, that excepting Dharmastikaya, every other point of the Jain system is fairly represented.
Judging from the account of the society as depicted in Manimekalai, the Tamil sovereigns appear to have been generally tolerant towards all the foreign faiths in the country.
Thus, on the occasion of the annual festival held in the city of Puhar in honour of Indra, the king asked all preachers of virtue belonging to all religious sects to ascend the public halls of debate and preach their respective doctrines to the people.
Certain reasons why Jainism was so popular in those DAYS with Dravidians.  The Jains took every advantage of the opportunity and large was the number, of those that embraced this faith.
Didactic Works of Tamil Jains.
Among works of this nature composed by the Jains, special mention must be made of Tirukkural We have already noticed that its author was a Jain. But every rival sect in the Tamil country has claimed Kural as its own.
The Kural is a masterpiece of Tamil literature, containing highest & purest expressions of human thought.
'.. above all is wonderful in the Kural is the fact that its author addresses himself, without regard to peoples or beliefs, to the whole community of mankind” M. Ariel says
the fact that Jaina author of Kural  formulates sovereign morality and absolute reason, that he proclaims in their very essence, in their eternal abstractedness, virtue and truth.
The Kural owes much of its popularity to its exquisite poetic form. It is an apple of gold in a network of silver.  It has been translated into various European languages. It is cosmopolitan in its teachings and appeals directly both to the head and heart of every religionist.
Naladiyar, another Jain work, is an anthology containing 400 quatrains in 40 chapters. During Kalabhras period that this Naladiyar was composed by Jains. There are 2 references in Naladiyar about Muttaraiyar indicating that the Kalabhras were Jains & patrons of Tamil literature.
Dr. Pope styles it as the Vellalar Vedam வேளாண் வேதம் that is, the “Bible of the Vellalar or Agriculturists”.  It stands in the estimation of the Tamils, next to Kural. It treats about the transitoriness of wealth and other vanities of human wishes.
Apart from traditions, there is no doubt that some Jains of Madurai were the authors of these Naladiyar poems containing excellent moral sentiments.  The period of their composition must be referred to the time after the founding of the Digambara Jain Sangam at Madurai (470 A.D)
The references in the anthology to Muttaraiyar would further show that these Naladiyar quatrains were written at a time when the Kalabhras were in occupation of the Madurai country.
Pazliamozlii Nanuvu: author of this work was a Jain king of Munrurai, perhaps a feudatory of the Pandyan kings. As every stanza has a proverb tacked to it in the end, it is called Pazhamozhi (a proverb). These proverbs, were current in the days of the last Academy at Madurai.
A careful study of these proverbs will enable us to form an idea of the ancient Tamil civilisation. As in Kural the sentiments expressed are cosmopolitan in nature. Some of the topics treated in the book are learning, great men, perseverance, royalty and household life.
In Tamil literature there are five major kavyas and five minor ones. The major epics are Manimekalai, Silappadikaram, Valayapadi, Seevaga Chintamani and Kundalakesi. Of these the Jains were responsible for three.
Silappadikaram.The references to Kounti adigal & to innumerable Jain sthotras clearly indicate the Jain origin of the book. As has already been stated, its author was llangovadigal, brother of the Chera prince. Silappadikaram is a storehouse of information on the state of Jains.
The moral sought to be inculcated by the epic Silappadikaram  is, that as life, youth and riches are evanescent, men should take warning and make the best use of their life in doing good deeds, which alone would be of benefit in their after-life.
The greatest in importance, of the #jain works, is of course Chintamani.

Tiruttakkadevar, the author of Chintamani one of the great epic of Tamil., is an eminent Sanskritist too.
Chintamani treats of the life of a king, Seevakan, from his birth to the attainment of bliss. The various incidents connected with the life of this hero are intended to preach the following morals:—
1. That a king should not be hasty in his action and that he should consult his ministers several times before determining on final action.

2. Ruin is the ultimate result of the actions of those who keep with women.
3. Preceptor's orders and his advice should be implicitly obeyed.

4. He who wants to conquer his enemy should never utter a word about his designs under any circumstance, till the proper time comes for realising his object.
5. It must be the duty of men to relieve the distress of others.

6. No one should ill-treat those who had never rendered him any injury.

7. A true friend will prove to be a source of great help.
8. Under all circumstances, whether of joy or of sorrow, it is becoming for men not to lose their mental equilibrium.

9. Mercy and tenderness to all animals must be the watchword of all men.
10. Try to rectify the man who is pursuing evil ways.  And, above all, never forget kindness done to you.

There is no doubt "Seevaga Chintamani" has been praised as one of the choicest masterpieces of Tamil literature.
Not only Jains but also scholars belonging to Saiva faith have eulogised it in terms that at once speak of the immense popularity of the Tamil epic
In order to counteract the effect of such a work on popular imagination, Sekkizhar had to undertake the composition of Periyapuranam
One of the Minor epic work of the Jains is YasodaraKavyam. It teaches

Under no circumstance the life of living things should be taken away

Lying & deception are bad

Stealing is sinful

Adultery is heinous

One should be content with just the necessaries of life and no more.
The other 2 minor epics are Nagakumara kavyam & Choolamani. We need only mention other Jain works. Eladi is a work on didactics composed by a Jain. It is a moral poem by Kanimethaviyar. Each quatrain is supposed to combine, compare & illustrate 5 or 6 points of practical wisdom.
Kalingattuparani, the well-known poem describing the battle in the Kalinga country between the forces of Kulottunga Chola & the Northern Kalinga Raja
One peculiarity regarding Kalingattuparani, is that it is perhaps the only work written by the Jains on things pertaining to war.
Besides these there are various sthotras composed by the Jains such as Tirukkalambagam, Tirunootr anthathi. The Jains had a genius for lexicon work. ChUddmani Nigandu is a work of this kind. It was composed by a Jain, Viramandala Purushar, disciple of Gunabhadra Acharyar.
Besides Nannul of the celebrated Pavanandi, there are other treatises such as Neminatham by Gunavirapandita, Yapparungalakkarigai by Amritasagara Muni.  Sripuranam in prose and Merumandarapuranam in verse are two other Jain works, expository of religion and theology.
"The above list is by no means exhaustive. A large number of Jain works treating of various branches of learning unfortunately lie buried in the archives of Matams".

(Derived from the book "Studies in South Indian Jainism" of Prof M. S. Ramaswami Ayyangar & B. Seshagiri Rao)
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