The following points highlight the top seven contributions of Jainism to Hindu culture. The contributions are: 1. Philosophy 2. Caste 3. Purification of Hindu Religion 4. Greater attention towards Public Utility 5. Dampening of Military Spirit 6. Literature 7. Architecture.
Contribution # 1. Philosophy:
Though the teachings of Jainism were greatly influenced by the Vedic philosophy, it developed a distinct philosophy of its own also. For example “syatvad” was a new and original philosophy propounded by Jainism. This philosophy is new in the sense that it aims at the welfare of both individual as well as the community.
Contribution # 2. Caste:
Jainism also rendered great service to the Indian society by giving a rude shock to the caste system. Rigours of the caste system were greatly reduced during the 6th century B. C.
Contribution # 3. Purification of Hindu Religion:
The vehement attack on the perversions of Hinduism led the Hindu scholars and informers to devote attention towards the removal of the evils which had crept into its fold. They tried to get rid of the various evils with the view- to regain the lost prestige for Hinduism.
Contribution # 4. Greater attention towards Public Utility:
The teachings of Jainism not only insisted on Ahimsa but also laid stress on the greater service to the cause of humanity. The followers of Jainism opened a number of inns, hospitals, schools and other institutions for public utility and thereby gave encouragement to the spirit of public utility works.
Contribution # 5. Dampening of Military Spirit:
Jainism’s emphasis on Ahimsa and peace led to the dampening of the military spirit of the Indian people. According to certain scholars it was due to this reason that a number of foreign invaders could win easy victories over the Indians and established their control over this country.
Contribution # 6. Literature:
Jainism has also rendered valuable contribution to the growth of vernacular literature. While the Buddhist and the Brahmans preached in Pali and Sanskrit, the Jains preached in the language of the people. Most of the Jain literature was written in Prakriti.
Large literature was produced in the vernacular language also. For example Mahavira preached in a mixed dialect called Ardha Magadhi so that people of the area could understand his teachings.
His teaching, which were subsequently compiled into 12 books under the title Srutangas were also composed in this language. Hut the most important contribution of the Jains to the literature is in Apabhramsa language. This literature links the classical language Sanskrit and Prakrit on the one hand and modern vernacular on the other.
The Jains also influenced the Kanarese literature in the South. It may be noted here that certain Jain works were also produced in Sanskrit language. The literature produced in Sanskrit includes not only philosophical works but also subjects like Grammar, prosody, lexicography and mathematics. The prominent scholars of the Jain literature were Hem Chandra, Hari Bhadra, Sidha Sena, Pujya Pad.
Contribution # 7. Architecture:
Besides religion and philosophy Jainism rendered great contribution to the development of art and architecture: The Jain followers erected stupas like Buddhists in honour of their saints. These stupas were built of stones and were decorated with Bate-ways, stone-umbrellas, carved-pillars and huge statues. The followers of Jainism also built many famous caves such as Tiger cave of Udaigiri and Indira Sabha of Ellora.
These caves are excellent examples of architecture and sculpture of the period. The Jains also constructed cave-temples out of rocks. One of the best cave- temples of the second century B.C. exist in Orissa and is popularly known as Hathingumpha caves.
Temples of Gwalior, 57 feet high statue of Gometeshwar in Shramanbdlogola, temples of Khujaraho and Abu are other marvelous examples of the high standard of Jain art and architecture.