Why was Ardhamagadhi Prakrit used to write the scriptures of Jainism?

By Sunil Kumar

The reason for this is quite simple; it was the language of the court in the most powerful empire of the time – the Magadha janapada which later morphed into the Mauryan empire.

The Jain agamas were written largely in Ardhamagadhi; as well as in the other Prakrits in vogue at the time; Shauraseni and Maharashtri. The use of these languages in dramas may be insightful as to why Ardhamagadhi was used to write the Jain scriptures; it was the earliest one around and most religions around the world use the ruling king’s language to project power and influence; for eg. Sanskrit, Latin, Arabic, Persian, Middle English etc.

Ashoka the Great subdued Kalinga, during the K...

Visit sunil-kumar.co.in Ashoka the Great subdued Kalinga, during the Kalinga War circa 265 BC, and the southern kingdoms. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the plays of the time; Dramili was the language of “forest-dwellers”, Sauraseni was spoken by “the heroine and her female friends”, and Avanti was spoken by “cheats and rogues”. Residual competition between the janapadas; geographical area(Magadha was the biggest and most influential); and where the maximum monastic orders were can be contributory factors.

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