The Structure of Jain Community
Jainism is a less known religion from India. The number of followers of Jainism is very small, when compared to the other religions.
There are many misconceptions about Jainism. Jainism is known as an advocate of non-violence, and it is. But there are more important things about Jainism which are not discussed even by Jains. Please read my article What Jains Do Not Tell You About Jainism? discussing the core values of Jainism.
Like the religion, the followers of Jainism are also misunderstood. Most of the people think that followers of Jainism are mostly business people, and that too from Gujarat and Rajasthan, two states of western India.
This article tells you about ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity in the followers of Jainism. It is a social survey of Jain Community in India.
What is Jain Community?
Jain community is the community which is follower of Jainism. But it is not the perfect definition, as there are many small endogamous groups, which follow Jainism but do not call themselves as Jains. On the other hand, there are some other endogamous groups, which do not follow Jainism, but call themselves as Jains.
Are All Jains Business People?
It is one of the biggest misconceptions that Jains are mostly business people. But in fact Jain community consists of people working in the various fields of life like education, administration, farming, police, journalism, military and other jobs in private and public sector.
Jain community is not a single community, but a group of communities with different traditional occupations.
We should note that the percentage of business people in Jain community is low, and the percentage of Jain business people in entire business community is also low.
But Jain religious activities are dominated by business people, so one can think that Jainism is a religion of businessman.
The Languages Jains Speak
The most spoken languages by Jains in India is a subject of interest. I have compiled two lists of the languages spoken by Jains, one of first languages and second of Second or Third Languages.
First Languages of Jains
Second or Third Languages of Jains
Most of the Jains have become multilingual. They speak in their first language at home, with community members of their own specific community, and with the people having same first language. Then they speak other language or languages whenever necessary. The most spoken second language of Jains is of course Hindi. According to a survey, almost all of the Jains who are non-Hindi, can understand and speak this language fluently. Then, if they are migrants, they can understand and speak the regional language of that area. A small percentage of Jains can speak English language.
It would be interesting to know that Marathi stands on the second number in the list of popular second languages amongst Jains.
Here is a list of the most popular second or third languages in Jain community.
Jainism in Tribal Communities
According to the famous report of Sachchar commission, 2.6% of total Jains belong to the tribals. Jainism is widespread amongst tribal communities of India.We can see Jainism amongst tribal communities all over India, including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Kashmir, Punjab, Karnatak, Maharashtra, Bengal etc. Some of such tribal communities are traditionally Jains, others are converted to Jainism in recent days.
Some of the tribal communities amongst which there are considerable number of followers of Jainism are, Kurumba/Kuruba (Karnataka), Gadaria, (Gujarat), Meena (Rajasthan), Gujjar (all over western India), Bakarwal (Kashmir). Two big tribal communities Saraak (Bengal and Jharkhand) and Parmar Kshatriya (Gujarat) are well known tribal Jain communities.
Jainism in Brahmins
In ancient and medieval times, Brahmins had contributed a lot for the promotion of Jainism. In modern times also, few great Jain ascetics from Jain Brahmin communities and also from non-Jain Brahmin communities have worked for the spread of Jainism.
A small percentage of Brahmins are followers of Jainism today. They are found in southern part of Karnataka, and also in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Some Brahmin communities follow both Jainism and Vedic religion.
Jainism in Dalit Communities
Two big dalit castes of Malawa region, Balai and Khatiks were converted to Jainism in recent past. Now they are known as Dharmpal and Veerval. These neo-Jains are numerically strong.
Now many Dalits are becoming Jain laymen and few of them have joined Jainism as ascetics.
A dalit community of Maharashtra is attracted towards Jainism in recent days.
Jainism in Warrior Communities
Jainism is originally a religion of warriors. There is a great history of Jain warriors.
In India, some communities are traditionally warriors. Most of such communities were great followers and patrons of Jainism. Although such communities follow Hinduism today, there are considerable number of followers of Jainism amongst them. Such warrior communities include Jats, Rajputs,Khatris and Bunts
Jainism in Cultivators
Cultivation is the most important occupation of Indians. In Jain community also, the number of cultivators is very large. There are many Jain sub-communities who are traditionally farmers. Chaturth community is one of such community of farmers. It is the biggest community in Digambar sect of Jainism. Then there are many Gowda and Patidar farmers, who follow Jainism.
List of Major Jain Castes
According to People of India, there are more than 120 endogamous groups who follow Jainism. following is the list of some of major Jain sub-communities. Please read in following order: Name of the community, region, traditional occupation. Community name in bold font denotes that it is numerically strong.
Agrawal/ Agarwal: North India: Business community, also dominant in high level Government jobs, armed forces, politics etc.
Arasu: Karnataka: Backward Community
Asathi Vaishya: Uttar Pradesh: Business community
Ayodhyavasi: Uttar Pradesh: Business community
Bagherwal: Rajasthan, Maharashtra: Business community
Bakarwal: Kashmir: Shephards
Bhavsar:Gujarat, Maharashtra: Tailors
Bhojak: Gujarat: Brahmins
Bogar: Karnataka: Business People
Chaturth: South Maharashtra, North Karnataka: Cultivators
Gujjars: Western India:Shephards
Indra: Tulunadu -Karnataka: Brahmin
Jain Brahmin: South Karnataka
Jain Bunt: Decedents of Royal families
Jain Gouda:South Karnataka: Cultivators
Jain Koshti: Vidarbh (Maharashtra): Weavers
Jaiswal: Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat: Traders
Jaat: Haryana, Punjab, North Rajasthan, Western Uttar Pradesh: Cultivators
Humad/Humbad: Business People
Kuchchhi Oswal: Business People
Kandoi: Gujarat: Sweet Makers
Khandelwal: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Marathwada (Maharashtra):Business community
Khatri: Punjab: Warriors
Kshatriya Ghanchi: Rajasthan: Oil millers
Kshatriya Parmar: Gujarat: Tribals
Nainar: Tamil Nadu: Cultivators
Oswal: Business Community: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra
Pancham: North Karnataka, South Maharashtra: Traders, cultivators
Parwar: Bundelkhand (M.P.-U.P.): Cultivators, Traders, Intellectuals
Patidar: Gujarat: Cultivators
Porwal: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh: Traders
Saitwal: Maharashtra: Tailors
Sadaru: Karnataka: Cultivators
Saraak: Bengal, Jharakhand: Tribals
Shrimali: Rajasthan: Brahmins
Shrimali: Gujarat: Traders
Upadhye: South Maharashtra, North Karnataka: Priests
Veerval: Malawa: Ex-Dalits
- Rajput History: Rajputs and Jainism
There is a close relation between Rajputs and Jainism. Many Rajput dynasties were followers and supporters this faith. That is why Jainism get flourished In Rajput era. On the other hand, most of the Jains from Rajputana are of Rajput origin.
- Minority Communities in India
According to the constitution of India, two types of people are considered as Minority Communities in the country. First is Religious Minority and second one is Linguistic Minority.
- Life of Jain Women in India
Jain women are also literate, and the literacy rate is highest in Indian women. However it is slightly lower than that of Jain men. A large portion of Jain women are housewives, as they do not need to work for living. But a significant number of Jain
- Migration of Jain Community
Humans are migrating here and there from ancient times. The migrations were due to natural disasters in their region like droughts & famines, floods, earthquakes etc. and also because of the problems created by other people: like invasions and wa
- An Introduction to Some Western Jains
people of other faiths slowly got attracted towards this less known religion.A small but increasing number of People started to adopt Jainism. Here I am introducing some of the great western individuals, who have converted to Jainism.
- Future of Jainism
But I see a great future for Jainism if a large part of non-Jains take interest in Jainism, if the social composition of Jain community is changed (i.e. the intellectuals replace traders), and non Indians in West and East adopt Jainism on their own.
- Famous Jains on Postal Stamps
Many Jains have contributed to development of India and its culture. Some of them have got place on the postal stamps and postal stationary of India. Here are some of the stamps and postal stationary featuring the great Jains.
© 2012 Mahaveer Sanglikar