Universität Bonn

Abteilung für Asiatische und Islamische Kunstgeschichte

Jainism in Karnataka: History, Architecture and Religion

 Interdisciplinary Emmy Noether Research Project
funded by the German Research Foundation/Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

© Julia A.B. Hegewald
© Julia A.B. Hegewald

The project is headed by Prof. Dr. Julia A. B. Hegewald from the Department of Asian and Islamic Art History at the University of Bonn. It examines historical, religious and artistic developments and changes affecting the Jaina community in Karnataka from about the twelfth century onwards (project description).

The research group was founded at the South Asia Institute (SAI) of the University of Heidelberg, Germany, in February 2005. In 2007 it moved to the Department of Art History and Visual Studies (AHVS) at the University of Manchester, UK. Since the autumn 2010 it has been based in the Department of Asian and Islamic Art History (AIK) in Bonn, Germany.

© Julia A.B. Hegewald
© Julia A.B. Hegewald

Project Description

Jainism in Karnataka: History, Architecture and Religion

Alongside Hindus and Buddhist, the Jainas represent one of the oldest religious groups in India. The numerically relatively small community of the Jainas developed an entirely distinct culture (religion, art, architecture, philosophy) and looks back upon more than 2500 years of changing history. In the modern south Indian state of Karnataka, the Jainas experienced a period of great political and cultural flourishing from about the 5th to the early 12th century CE, a period during which many kings and their ministers were Jainas. In the early 12th century, their influence allegedly came to a sudden end. The reasons for this abrupt and forceful change, however, have never been examined in detail.

In this interdisciplinary research project, political changes as well as their immediate effect on religion, art and architecture will for the first time be studied together. Historically, the main questions will concern the reasons for the sudden loss of power and the procedures employed to depose the Jainas. From a religious studies point of view, the influence this had on the beliefs, the philosophy and the ritual of the Jainas will be of major concern. Art historically, the further development of certain Jaina pilgrimage centres, even after the loss of power on the one side, and the forcible conversion of Jaina into Hindu temples on the other, will also be analysed and interpreted in the light of the other two disciplines. Through a combination of results from the three different subject areas, this intriguing and so far widely neglected period in the history of south India will for the first time be presented in a more holistic and complete way, explaining the lasting importance of the Jaina community in Karnataka today.



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Team Members


Prof. Dr. Julia A.B. Hegewald

University of Bonn
Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies 
Department of Asian and Islamic Art History
Adenauerallee 10
53113 Bonn


Tel.: +49 228-73 7212
Fax: +49 228-73 4042
E-mail: aikinfo@uni-bonn.de

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