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Contribution of Jainism to Indian culture

Jainism made the first serious attempt to mitigate the evils of Varna order and the ritualistic Vedic religion.Mahavira criticized the caste system and threw open the gates of Jainism for all people irrespective of their castes. He believed in the equality of mankind.he also laid stress on leading a simple life. He condemned all the complex rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices. He gave people a very simple religion to follow. The Jaina philosophy has certainly enriched Indian thought. The five vows ahimsa,satya,asateya,aparigraha and brahmacharya are relevant even today. The Hindu religious texts were all in Sanskrit. The early Jainas described Sanskrit language and adopted Prakrit language of the common people to preach their doctrines.Mahavira himself preached in Ardha-Magadhi.

Their religious literature was written in Ardha-Magadhi and the texts were compiled in the 6th century AD. The adoption of Prakrit by the Jainas helped the growth of this language and its literature. The Jainas composed the earliest important works in Apabhramsa and prepared its first grammar. In early medieval times the Jainas also made good use of Sanskrit and wrote many texts in it. Thus Jaina writings gave impetus to the regional languages. Even though these texts are religious scriptures yet we gain valuable information from them regarding the political and social state of those times.

The Jainas built Bhikshu grihas or cave dwellings for the residence of their monks. Some of the best examples are Udayagiri at Ellora,Mount Abu at Ginar etc.In south India there are beautiful Jain shrines at Sravana Belgola at Mudabidri and at Guruvayankeri.The Jaina temples were constructed at all places of pilgrimage. The temples of Ranakpur near Jodhpur and Dilwara temples at Mount Abu are the products of superb craftsmanship.

The Jaina tower in the fort of Chittor is another specimen of architectural engineering. Innumerable manuscripts in palm leaves were written down and some of them were painted with gold dust. These have given rise to a new school of painting known as the Western Indian School.Jainas also constructed stupas adorned with railings, gateways with carved figures and pillars. The images of Tirthankaras were also made.