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Jainism in Orissa

There are indications that the 23rd Tirthankar, Parsvanath Swami, preached Jainism in Kalinga during the 7th century BC & King Karakanda was converted by him. The king built Karakanda Vihar for the propagation of Jainism and installed the image of second Tirthankar, Ajitnath in it.

The Jain preacher, Mahavira Swami, visited Kalinga to propagate the reformed version of Jainism & installed Vijay Chakra on the Kumari (Udayagiri) Hill, which became a famous pilgrimage centre along with Pithunda Nagar, where the image of Rishabhanath was installed after its consecration.

Jainism seems to have reached its pinnacle during the reign of Emperor Kharvela who made it his state religion. he, after his conquest of Magadha, brought back the Kalinga Jinasana that had been carried away by Mahapadma after his conquest of Orissa three hundred years of prior to his rule.

The Ancient Jain Monasteries: Kharvela'a patronage of Jainism is seen from the beautiful caves that he craved out from the rocks on the Udayagiri were used as places of worship while hose on Udayagiri were used for the accommodation of saints, monks & ascetics. The Hati Gumpha inscription bears testimony to this royal patronage as also to the liberalism of the emperor who, though himself of the Svetambara sect, showed due honour & respect to Digambar sect.

The influence of Jainism on culture can be well imagined from the stress on such virtues as kindness & compassion, charity & service to humanity. This stress enlarged the humane aspects of religion in Kalinga. Jainism declined after the reign of Kharvela. However, there was a short spell of importance during the reign of Murunda rulers in Kalinga, especially under Dharmadamodar.

The historical cum archeological evidence that is available from different parts of the State like Anandpur, Chhatia, Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri, Choudwar, Athagarh, Tigiria, Badamba, Banki, & Jajpur, Khiching & its environs Kupari, & Charmpa, Chumsur and Nawrangpur shows that Jainism had a wide influence in such areas. As a result of this interaction, the throne of Jagannatha is probably the one was been taken away by Mahapadmananda & later, restored by Kharvela. 
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