Kshatriyas and Jainism
Most of the people are unaware about the fact that Jainism is basically religion of the Kshatriyas. Although this religion is for all and anybody can become a Jain, only Kshatriyas can become Jain Tirthankars. That is why all the 24 Tirthankars of Jains are Kshatriyas.
Rishabh, the first Tirthankar was the first Kshatriya also. That is why he is called the ancestor of all the Kshatriyas. Bharat, the elder son of Rishabh was the first Chakravarti . He was so brave that our country’s name Bharat was kept Bharat after him. Bahubali, his younger brother was so brave that he defeated Bharat and then renounced all worldly things and later got nirvana.
If you study Ramayan, you will find that Ram was follower of Jainism. He was from Ikshwaku kul, the clan of Rishabh the first Tirthankar. He says:Naham Ramo na me wanchhcha bhaveshu ch na me man:, Shantimasthatumichhami swatamanyev Jino Yatha(8/c15 Yogvashisth,Vairagya Prakaran)
Meaning: “I am not Ram, I am not interested in anything . I want peace of soul like Jindev”
Seeta is called ‘Shramani’ in Ramayan. Shramani means the female follower of Jainism. In fact Madri, Kunti, Gandhari and Droupadi were Shramanis according to Mahabharat.
Neminath,the 22nd Tirthankar was cousin of Shri Krishna. He was spiritual guide of Shri Krishana. (see Harivanshapuran). Late Shivaji Sawant, noted Marathi writer has given this fact in his famous novel ‘Yugandhar’ which is based on the life of Shri Krishna.
Parshwanath, the 23rd Tirthankar was from Nagvanshi Kshatriya clan while Mahavir the last Tirthankar was from Nathwanshi Kshatriya clan.
The Shishunag dynasty of Magadh was a Jain dynasty and the King Bimbisar, also known as Shrenik, was the famous disciplae of Bhagwan Mahavir.The nands also were Jains and the inscription of Kharvel in Orissa gives the fact that he brought back the idol of 'Kaling Jin' which the Nands had captured in a war with Kalinga. Chandragupta Mourya was the first emperor of India and a strict follower of Jainism. He became a Jain monk and took sallekhana (death by fasting) at Shravanbelgola,Karnatak. The other emperors in Mouryan dynasty like Bimbisar, Ashok, Kunal,Samprati were also followers of Jainism. (Ashok became a Buddhist in later part of his life).
Kharvel,the famous emperor from Kaling was also a follower of Jainism.
In ancient and medieval period, many kings and generals from various dynasties like Kadambs, Gangs, Rastrakoots, Chalukyas, Solankies, Shilahars were followers of Jainism. Some of them were Chamundrai, Amoghvarsh, Rachmall, Marsingh, Bhoj II, Nimbadev, Kumarpal etc.