Brief Introduction to Jainism :
Jainism is a contemporary of many other religions of India as well as world like Buddhism Zoroastrianism, Taoism, and Islam. Jina or Jain means the conqueror. Mahavira has the same story as Buddha. Mahavira was a Kshatriya clan prince born in Kundagram (Muzaffarpur, Bihar) at the age of 30 he set out in search of truth leaving behind his family. After 13 years he attained enlightenment and from the time onwards he was called Jain and his followers came to be known as Jain. Jainism has deep roots perhaps even anterior to Aryan Traditions. The 23 Tirthankaras or prophets of Jainism in which Rishabh deva was the first, were before Mahavira but Mahavira is credited to have revived the religion eliminating evils that have crept into the religion after passage of time. Later as differences arose among followers the Jains were divided in to 2 groups:
Digambara Sect :
Digambaras are those followers who are stark naked. Digambara in Sanskrit means, Sky clad. One of the great followers of this sect was Chandargupta Maurya. Digambara oppose the entry of women to the fold as they take them as barrier to salvation.
Shwetambara Sect :
Shwetambaras are those who wear white clothes. Shwetambaras follow the teachings of Jain and also all Jain Scriptures i.e. Anga, Upanga, Prakirnaka, Ved Sutra and Mulasutra. Shwetambaras are more liberal to women. They accept them in its fold.
Spread of Jainism :
Jain Munis or monks spread Mahavira’s teachings in Central India, Rajasthan and Karnataka but Jainism did not spread as widely as Buddhism. It rarely found appeal among neighbouring countries like China, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.
Patrons of Jainism :
Great patrons of Jainism who helped to flourish the religion were Nandas, Mauryas and Kharavela Rulers of North India. In South India Ganga and Kadamba dynasties while among rulers Kumarpala and Amoghavarsha were the great patrons of Jainism.
Jainism is the 6th most popular religion in India. The followers of this cult are said to be very strict regarding their ethics and values. Indian culture has been deeply influenced by Jainism in ideas, language, literature art and architecture.
Some of prominent Jain Architectures are Mt. Abu in Rajasthan, Shravanbelgola in Karnataka, Udaigiri Khandagiri caves in Odisha while Gomateshvara is the tallest statue of Jain in India. After the rule of foreign rulers like Kanishka there came a great variation in style of sculpture. There came two important forms of sculpture:
Being the City of Temples, Varanasi has numerous Jain temples as it has assimilated all cultures in itself with time.
The two most famous Jain Temples of Varanasi are: