Identity, Community and State (The Jains Under the Mughals)
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Identity, Community and State (The Jains Under the Mughals)

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Item Code: NAU069
Author: Shalin Jain
Publisher: Primus Books, Delhi
Language: ENGLISH
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9789384082925
Pages: 404
Other Details 9.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 650 gm
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About the Book

This work traces the history of the' Medieval Jain community, focusing on the engagements of the Jains with the imperial authority in the Mughal provinces of Ajmer, - Awadh, Allahabad, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Lahore and Malwa. It examines the trajectories of Jain community formation under the Mughals in India by scrutinizing the everyday reproduction of a religious minority ruled by a monarchical dynasty belonging to another religious affiliation. The endeavour is to gain insights on how diverse complexities of early modern South Asian society were dealt with.

One can argue that socio-economic realities and cultural considerations had a significant influence in the evolution of the inter-community relationship and state formation in early modern South Asia. An analysis of the ideological underpinnings of the political processes into their relations with the Jains reflects the subtleties of the making of Mughal India. Although most of the Jains were traders and merchants, their relations with the Mughal state can be examined beyond the technicalities of economic considerations. The extensive use of contemporary Jain literary genres, like vigyaptipatras, in this work may thus widen the horizons of the history of Jain 'pasts' and Mughal historiography.

About the Author

SHALIN JAIN is an Associate Professor with the Department of History, University of Delhi. His research interests include social history of medieval India, religious thought and practices, gender and society, identity formation, and environment and society.


It was while contemplating research on communities in medieval India, that the idea of working on my own community, the Jains, struck me. The first question I faced was 'who are the Jains?, or rather, 'who am I?' For the first time, I realized that as a lay Jain family, Jainism for us simply meant being believers of Lord Mahavira, reciting the Namokar Mantra, i.e. the key mantra of the Jains, visiting a Jain temple, celebrating Mahavira Jayanti and the Daslakshani festival (paryushan parv), and following the principle of non-violence (not in the literal sense of the word!). The disciplinary requirements of selecting a research topic made me pursue my interest in medieval social history and I ended up going beyond the confines of a believer. Coincidentally, I came across The Jains-a book by a Western scholar, Paul Dundas, which made me realize that lay followers of any religion usually follow the popular practices they have imbibed from their families, their co-religionist elders and their religious institutions, i.e. external symbols of the religion through its rituals. I also realized that most of the followers, be it of any religion, have limited knowledge about its inner core, i.e. the philosophical and textual traditions which make it distinct from the rest. The secular medieval literature further aroused my interest in this paradox. Abul Fazl, the celebrated Mughal court chronicler, in his observations on Jainism noted that 'the founder of this wonderful system was the Jina, called also Arhat or Arhanel The next reference, the glossary of Hobson-Jobson, confused Jainism with Buddhism and noted that Jains: chose the most eventful period of medieval history-the Mughal period-and looked at the target community, the Jains, during this time. This study focuses on the Jain community under Mughal rule, the intra-community and inter-community relations of the Jains and also the community's relations with the rulers of the time, with special reference to the perception of Jains.

This work uses the case study of the medieval Jain community to situate the problem of the processes of 'community formation' under the Mughals in India. The problem is to locate the circumstances of existence of a religious minority in a given plural society ruled by a monarchical dynasty, belonging to another religious minority, when there were no modern, democratic compulsions or secular ethos per se. To be more precise, it examines how multiple cultural-complexities of medieval India were negotiated by the society and rulers. The work intends to pose the question of how a given 'pluralistic situation' contributed to the formation of a pluralistic society leading to the emergence of a composite culture. Thus, an analysis of the ideological underpinnings of the Mughal emperors' relationship with the Jains would reflect the subtleties of the making of Mughal India, which is necessary to understand the complexities of the period under review. I intend to explore the relationship between merchant communities and the state, going beyond the technicalities of economic considerations. No doubt, dominant trends in the existing historiography look into the intentions of the monarchs and the state, placing much value on its fiscal foundations, but my attention has also been captured by the socio-economic realities and cultural considerations.

The study of different aspects of the socio-economic dimensions of the medieval Jain community could effectively bring out the nuances of the medieval context for its evolution. There is a wider scope of unveiling the vast literature of Jain sources, imbibing the spirit of the particular age and of regional histories. The ideological claims of any individual, sect or institution, be it religious or secular, hardly reflect the empirical reality. In spite of all the textual claims and religious guidelines stating that each religious community might be or should be treated, and could function as, a monolithic block, a researcher needs to be cautious about the competing empirical realities of day-to-day co-existence, social dialogues and materialistic stakes to explore varied traditions and dissents within the religious community being researched. The available sources clearly indicate that the symbolic gestures carried through the rituals and ceremonies established a bridge between the piety and the laity of the Jain community, but this relationship kept on fluctuating according to the specific material context.

As far as the space and time covered by this work is concerned, the geographical area is basically of the Mughal subas (provinces) of Ajmer, Awadh, Allahabad, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Lahore and Malwa, with a major Jain presence, though, as per availability of evidence, other Jain inhabitations of the Mughal Empire have been frequently referred to. Yet, the majority of the source material comes from the regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The point of departure for this study comes in 1578, when the gates of the Ibadat Khana were thrown open by the Mughal Emperor Akbar to all Jain community to religious groups, including the Jains. Available historical material and formation' under the contemporary records testify that Akbar was keen to understand and nstances of existence appreciate the principles and doctrines of all existing religions of the time by a monarchical Abdul Qadir Badaoni, a historian, while writing during the reign of Akbar, there were no laments the fact that his majesty preferred `Samanas' and 'Brahamans' over per se. To be more everyone else in granting the honour of interaction in his quest for truth of medieval India and reason.' intends to pose the moment of deja vu for this process is at the beginning of the soited to the formation called 'conservative' phase with the coronation of Aurangzeb in Delhi. The a composite culture new emperor issued two farmans (imperial orders) in August 1658, in Mughal emperors' favour of the leader of the Jain community, merchant Seth Shantidas es of the making of Jauhari of Ahmedabad, and his sons. The first of these farmans confirmed complexities of the royal repayment of the loan previously taken by Prince Murad during ip between merchant the war of succession from the family of Shantidas; the second farman calities of economic issued in favor of Shantidas expected that, as an influential person, he sting historiography should spread the imperial message to establish stability and peace in the Mughal period-; this time. This study the intra-community the community's to the perception, placing much value empire: captured by the is dimensions of the nuances of the of unveiling the particular age and individual, sect or empirical reality.

He has been commanded that after his arrival there he should announce to all the businessmen and the Mahajans and to all the inhabitants of that land our desire for just administration and our regard for the subjects, which (qualities) are the cause of the order of the universe and of the regulation of the affairs of mankind, so that all, having settled in their places and settings, may pursue, with composure of mind and satisfaction of heart, their respective occupations and professions, and may pray for the permanence of the State granted by God (daulat-i-khudadad).4

Another farman issued to Shantidas, dated 12 March 1660, is in line with the norms set by Emperor Akbar to negotiate with the religious communities through their established leadership. The farman, issued in favour of `Satidas Jawahari, son of Sahasbhai of the shravak community' recognized his services as he, 'greatly helped the army during its march with provisions. Thus, the Emperor not only confirmed the ownership of the hill and temples of the Jain pilgrimage centre of Shatrunjaya at Palitana in his favour, but also granted him the sacred hill of Girnar near Junagarh and the hills of Abuji, which were under the Raja of Sirohi. This farman was similar to Aurangzeb's letter to Rana Raj Singh of Mewar in 1658 to win his support in the war of succession. In this letter, he reiterates the basic principles of the theory of sovereignty which evolved under Akbar. He states that the rulers are bound to ensure that men belonging to various communities and different religions should live in the veil of peace and pass their days in prosperity, and no one should interfere in the affairs of another.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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