On Ahmadiyyas and Jains

One of my favourite examples to demonstrate why Hindus and Muslims are like chalk and cheese (or cheese and chalk- no value judgment implied by the metaphor!) is their respective treatment of Jains and Ahmadiyyas.

We all know about the plight of Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan. Not a week goes by when there isn’t a story in the media on Ahmadiyya persecution. To Indian eyes, this can be quite baffling. The Ahmadiyyas reserve a highly exalted position for Prophet Muhammad. By all socio-cultural markers: naming and dressing conventions, eating habits, praying patterns etc., they appear “Muslim”. Yet certain theological red lines are crossed- including the recognition of Indic icons such as Buddha and Krishna as prophets, but most importantly the perceived violation of the doctrine of Khatam-un-Nabiyeen: the finality of Muhammad’s prophethood. A clear case of orthodoxy trumping orthopraxy. This hostility towards the Ahmadiyyas is not a recent phenomenon and can be traced back to the views of the founding fathers of Pakistan, such as Allama Iqbal.

From a Hindu perspective, this can appear bizarre- ethnic Punjabi “Muslims” who share so much in common in both cultural and kinship terms are so hostile towards each other due to some theological disputes. There are more consequential theological disputes within sects of Hinduism. For example, within Vaishnavism, there is the Dvaita Vedanta school founded by the 13th century scholar-saint Madhavacharya which believes that the Divine (i.e. Vishnu or the supreme being) is distinct from the individual. The better known Advaita Vedanta school founded by Adi Shankaracharya is Monistic (i.e. believes in the essential unity of the Divine or Vishnu and the individual). From a theological perspective, these ruptures are perhaps as radical as those between Sunni Muslims and Ahmadiyyas. Yet, the average modern Hindu, even someone who self-identifies strongly as a Vaishnavite, would find the notion of being hostile to other Vaishnavites on the basis of doctrinal differences to be bizarre and laughable.

This is because for Hindus, culture almost always trumps religion/theology. The salient case in the point are the Jains. From a theological standpoint, Jainism is clearly distinct: it is an atheistic religion that does not accept the authority of the Vedic corpus. Yet in a broader cultural sense, they can be regarded as “Hindu”, for want of a better word. In the sub-continent, the clearest distinction between an in-group and out-group is whether the communities in question have roti-beti ka rishta. In other words, do the communities inter-dine and inter-marry. Between urban Gujarati Hindus and Jains- a milieu I am deeply and intimately familiar with- the answer is a clear and resounding yes.

I have observed this phenomenon most clearly in the arranged marriage context. In my grandparents generation (born in the 1920s and 1930s), endogamy was almost the universal norm. All my relations from that generation married within the Gujarati Hindu Lohana community. The norms started relaxing (or the notion of endogamy became wider) in my parents’ generation. In my generation (born in the 1980s and early 1990s), the norms have relaxed further still. The acceptable ambit for an urban middle class Gujarati Lohana boy or girl looking to get married would be a range of Gujarati “Hindu” communities. This would include Brahmins, Patels, Bhatias, Baniyas, numerically smaller castes such as Bhanushalis, amongst others. The Jains usually tend to be Baniyas and are typically looked at no differently from a Hindu Baniya from a matrimonial perspective.

Both my wife and I happen to have cousins who have married Jains. In my wife’s case, two of her mother’s siblings have married Jains. For a Pakistani Muslim, looking at the world through theologically tinted glasses, the difference between Hindus and Jains must appear stark. Yet from a Gujarati Hindu perspective, I would regard Jains as an in-group. This is because the socio-cultural norms of Jains: naming and dressing conventions, eating habits, cultural reference points etc. are so similar.  Certainly there would be theologically inclined Hindus or Jains for whom these differences would matter. But in an urban middle class setting, these would be a small minority in the same way in which Lohanas looking to marry within caste would be a small minority.

This phenomenon is not restricted to just Gujarati Hindu-Jain relationships. In urban India, a similar phenomenon can be observed in Hindu-Sikh relationships. This is again because cultural affinity trumps theological differences. I do not know of any Punjabi or Sindhi Hindu whose family does not revere Guru Nanak as a great saint. Back in my teenage years in Mumbai, I was surprised to learn that the elder brother of one of my Sindhi Hindu friends was getting married in a gurudwara, even though both bride and groom were Sindhi Hindus. When I expressed my surprise, I was told that the Bhagavad Gita and the Guru Granth Sahib have an equally exalted status in the homes of Sindhi Hindus. Given this context, it is not surprising that an urban Hindu Punjabi Baniya marrying a Sikh Khatri would be regarded as an in-group marriage, in the same way as a Gujarati Lohana marrying a Gujarati Jain Baniya. Again, I would acknowledge that the divide is probably hardened in the Jat Sikh heartland of rural Punjab, where this phenomenon may not exist to the same degree.

I said above that for Hindus culture almost always trumps religion. The caveat I had in mind is the Muslims. The clearest example I can provide is again from the Hindu Lohana community. Several Lohanas (both Sindhi and Gujarati) converted to Nizari Ismaili Shiism over the course of Islamic rule over India. In fact, my great grandmother recalled that her grandparents knew of some Lohana families who had converted, clearly indicating that some conversions were fairly recent. This group, known as the Khojas is a prosperous urban mercantile community, much like the Lohanas.

Blood brothers? Very few Indians would recognise that Azim Premji (the billionaire IT tycoon and a Khoja- inset above) and Uday Kotak (the billionaire banker and a Lohana- inset below) share common ethnic roots.

The Khojas had a long history of syncretic Hindu practices which were retained after their conversion to Islam. The compartmentalisation brought about by the British colonial administrators, aided by competing Hindu and Muslim nationalisms has hardened the divide on both sides, seemingly irreversibly. Some of these trends are captured in Amrita Shodan’s book A Question of Community: Religious Groups and Colonial Law which I had read back in law school in India. The book traces how the Pushtimargis (a Vaishnavite sect to which many Lohanas belong) and the Khojas became clearly distinct communities during the colonial period. You do not have to fully agree with the thesis of the book, but there is clearly an element of truth to it.

The project which was begun by British colonialists, Islamist Two Nation Theory supremacists and early Hindu nationalists has been brought to fruition by 70 plus years of Hindutva in independent India. It would be unthinkable for a Lohana to meet a Khoja in an arranged marriage context due to the Hindu-Muslim divide. In fact, I am certain that there would be less opposition to my sibling or cousin marrying any Hindu from any other part of India, or any Buddhist, Sikh or even Christian for that matter, than there would be to them marrying a Khoja. This is despite the common ethnic roots and socio-cultural similarities. The Hindu-Muslim divide has become the salient feature of Indian life, one that trumps all other factors. That is the biggest legacy of the Two Nation Theory, the Partition of India and the Hindutva project.

[The author tweets @paragsayta]

33 Replies to “On Ahmadiyyas and Jains”

  1. The project which was begun by British colonialists, Islamist Two Nation Theory supremacists and early Hindu nationalists has been brought to fruition by 70 plus years of Hindutva in independent India

    the biggest legacy of the Two Nation Theory, the Partition of India and the Hindutva project.

    So if understand right some of your article can be summarized as follows “Thankfully Hindus allow culture to trump their religion and theology, otherwise they would have been as nasty to out-groups as Pakistanis are to Ahmediyyas. But in this nice project of culture trumping religion, Hindus excluded Muslims due to three groups of people – British, two-nation-theorists and Hindutva people. After independence this Hindu-Muslim hostility, or rather Muslim exclusion, has been almost exclusively a Hindutva project, with no significant contribution from Indian seculars or Indian Muslims”.

    Am I reading you right?

    1. @frog- I think Hindutva bears a major responsibility for the Muslim exclusion. Their votaries would proudly own it, so not sure what I am saying would be controversial. Indian Islamists are conflated with TNTists, so yes they also bear a good deal of responsibility. Genuine Nehruvians/left-liberals may be blamed for a lot of things, but not in my view for Muslim exclusion- at least not intentionally. But the hard left/Islamoapologists such as the commentator Enigma below are definitely responsible on account of their insidious propaganda.

      1. @London Observer – I was mainly just asking to know the view espoused by the article. To avoid confusion I was not taking about “a major responsibility”, but the sole major bearer of responsibility. I think your response makes it clear, so thank you.

  2. This inter-dining thing can’t be emphasized enough. All the philosophical and theological differences, dharmic vs abrahamic this or that, is overwrought. A “pure” vegetarian muslim family will be the darlings of hindnats and beef-eating neo-vedantists will be shunned as impudent or worse.

      1. you are correct. there are many flavors of hindnats. There are the cosmopolitan dispassionate strategic realists, but i assume they are not the rank and file middle class housewives

  3. ” For a Pakistani Muslim, looking at the world through theologically tinted glasses, the difference between Hindus and Jains must appear stark.”

    I think u underestimate Pakistani muslim. From any outgroup perspective, even for non Gujju Hindus and Christians, Jains are considered Hindus (-ish). No one outside the Gujju-Rajasthani belt has understanding (and time) for nuance b/w them. The head of the Vishwa HINDU Parishad (VHP) is a Jain.

    On the other hand i think Hindu-Sikh difference is real one, and this Hindu idea of “divide is probably hardened in the Jat Sikh heartland of rural Punjab ” while urban Hindu-sikh go along fine is misplaced. Perhaps earlier it was true. But it hasn’t been true for a long time.

    1. “From any outgroup perspective, even for non Gujju Hindus and Christians, Jains are considered Hindus (-ish). ”

      In my school in Patna, we used to sometimes make fun of Jain classmates by asking them if they were Digambar.

      My Jain friend used to make fun of me for doing ‘idol worship’.

      Lol. So much of upper middle class Indians’ knowledge of other religions comes from NCERT history books.

  4. Let’s not Sugarcoat History. The Pandian King renounced Jainism and slaughtered 8,000 Jains in Madurai, there would’ve been more Jains Today in South India if Koon Pandian didn’t go full “Aurangzeb Mode” on Jains.

    The self-styled Gandhian Hindu image you’re projecting into the distant past is based on the idiosyncrasies of Modernity that did not exist in the Feudal Era.

    1. @Enigma: did you read and understand the article or are you commenting in a vacuum? So the lived experiences of my family is “The self-styled Gandhian Hindu image you’re projecting into the distant past is based on the idiosyncrasies of Modernity”. The numerous examples from history of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain monarchs belonging to the same family without any issues counts for naught. The one random example from an obscure South Indian king based on some textual references that you probably picked up from Leftist propagandists on Twitter proves that Hindus were as bad towards Jains as Turkic Muslims colonists were towards the Indic faiths.

      This false equivocation based on the Audrey Truschke school of historiography is devoid of facts, logic or evidence. This is the reason why although I hold Hindutva bigots in contempt, I find the hard left/Islamists even more pathetic. The woke Hindutva crowd’s bigotry can usually be blamed on ignorance. What’s your excuse?

      1. “An obscure South Indian king”, he’s from one of the most well known South Indian Hindu Empires. How about this one, Pallava King Mahendravarman wrote a comedy play mocking Buddhists,Jains&Un-Orthodox Shaivatie Sects, its called “मत्तविलासप्रहसन”, look it up or don’t. I can’t think of Modern Hindus taking the piss out of Buddhists like that.

        “The numerous examples from history of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain monarchs belonging to the same family without any issues counts for naught”
        You dismiss inconvenient facts because it doesn’t suit your narrative. How is this any different from Leftists portraying Akbar as a Secular Ruler and using examples of Rajput Princesses marrying Mughals as an evidence of Hindu-Muslim Parity? I’m not equating Hindu&Islamic rulers, i’m just poking fun at your attempts to imagine some pristine Hindu Past where various Dharmic Sects lived together without any conflicts.

        1. @Enigma- ok perhaps I should brush up on my South Indian history. My sense is that the types of incidents you highlight were very much the exception, but perhaps it was different in the Tamil country. And I do regard Akbar as a good ruler- not because of the Rajput wives, but due to many other factors. And I am not a Leftist. I don’t have a very high opinion of the Turkic/Afghan Muslim colonist rulers before Akbar or some of the later ones such as Aurangzeb.

          1. @London Observer: just to make sure you got his comment:

            How about this one, Pallava King Mahendravarman wrote a comedy play mocking Buddhists,Jains&Un-Orthodox Shaivatie Sects, its called “मत्तविलासप्रहसन”, look it up or don’t. I can’t think of Modern Hindus taking the piss out of Buddhists like that.

            This time the accusation is that this (certainly very non-obscure) king “wrote a play mocking…” and took “the piss out of Buddhists”. See the difference this time – this is a king we have some reliable sources of information about, and these sources don’t talk of killing Buddhists or Jains, so now he has to be accused of “making fun” of Buddhists etc. in a manner modern Hindus won’t.

            By the way, if you really want to learn south Indian history, I urge great caution, because there is so much bullshit that passes for history. A lot of stuff gets added simply due to the fantasy of “dravidian” chauvinists. e.g., a lot of people like Thiruvalluvar or the Kalabhras, about him we know next to nothing, get claimed as Jain because some of these movements are organized on the “anything good is non-Hindu” principle scrupulously observed by many secular “historians”. Be suspicious of any pre-Mahendra Varman post-Sangam Tamizh history, and even for the Sangam and post-Mahendra Varman history, insist on proofs with reference to original sources.

            Contra Ugra below, there is no historical evidence that the south was “fully Jaina” at any point of time. There were clearly many Jains at some point, they did get royal patronage, and people like Sambandhar wrote nasty enough stuff about them to make me cringe, so there was a lot of acrimony, but one doesn’t know much beyond that.

          2. @froginthewell

            Hinduism/Saivism was in a clear crisis in peninsular India by the end of the 5th century. The writings of all the Nayanar saints is very clear. Royal patronage had diminished.

            In Karnataka, the writings of Basava are even more clear about his hostility to Jains. What more proof do you want?

            You haven’t detailed the situation in your alternative history universe. If all was hunky dory, what was Sambandar’s grouse?

          3. @Ugra: Your original claim was a more concrete one – that south was “fully Jaina”. To justify anything of that sort one needs somewhat concrete evidence. If you have any I will be happy to revise my view.

            Regarding
            You haven’t detailed the situation in your alternative history universe.

            I don’t have a detailed picture – I just feel the evidence on Tamil history between Sangam period and up to and including the sixth century is too slim, and we should suspend judgement instead of insisting that some picture needs to be drawn connecting the existing sparse distribution of dots.

    2. The claims such as Pandian king killing jains are from books that were written centuries after the events allegedly occurred, and full of implausible miracles, such as Sekkizhar’s Periya Puranam. None of these events is corroborated by any book in the centuries that lay in between, and version-changes between authors usually involve story-changes too.
      The saints like Sambandhar who are implicated in such acts of violence do write statements about Jains that are judgemental and harsh enough to make me cringe, but I don’t remember seeing any call for violence anywhere in their writings (Vanbakkam sir can clarify if he is familiar with those writings). Unfortunately, lefties who rightly call for good standards of proof in making claims about Muslim violence, are happy to throw any sense of history or caution out to attack Hindus.

  5. Jaina and Hindu streams have achieved a sort of equilibria after 2500 years of co-existence. Not fair to expect similarity in praxis between Ahmediyyas and Islamic cores with less than 200 years of evolution. A better comparison would be between Shia and Sunni schools in South Asia.

    What @Enigma says is correct. The deep South was fully Jaina in the period from 5th century BCE to 7th century CE. The Nayanars reconverted the kings and populace into Saivism. And that reconversion part was violent in both rhetoric and action. If you knew even the slightest history of Saivism in Tamil Nadu/Karnataka, then you wouldn’t be so quick in painting Hindus as cows chewing cud in the sunny valley.

    H Vs M cannot be simply framed as a colonial legacy. This is the standard marxist line – Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb and all that kool aid. There were two coterminous imperialisms that yoked India – Persian/Turkic and the English. India has ejected both. The remnants have a way of kicking now and then to show that they still exist.

    1. “Jaina and Hindu streams have achieved a sort of equilibria after 2500 years of co-existence. Not fair to expect similarity in praxis between Ahmediyyas and Islamic cores with less than 200 years of evolution. A better comparison would be between Shia and Sunni schools in South Asia.

      What @Enigma says is correct. The deep South was fully Jaina in the period from 5th century BCE to 7th century CE. The Nayanars reconverted the kings and populace into Saivism. And that reconversion part was violent in both rhetoric and action. If you knew even the slightest history of Saivism in Tamil Nadu/Karnataka, then you wouldn’t be so quick in painting Hindus as cows chewing cud in the sunny valley.”

      Please provide sources. I think there’s a lot to suggest that Hinduism was more prominent (or whatever antecedents to what is now Hinduism) during that period.

      For example, in their literature, the Nayanars list something like 270 holy temples (or ‘paadal petra sthalams’).

      If there are already 270 holy Saiva temples in what is today mainly TN and Kerala… and this doesn’t seem to be some exhaustive list, but rather a curated list of the top ones… then that seems to suggest that there must have been Saivism or Hinduism or whatever you want to call it. And that it was popular and received some patronage.

      In Sangam literature there are lots of references to Hindu gods (Mayyon – Krishna, for example), to Hindu mythology (incl Mahabharata), to Vedic sacrifices, to Brahmins (who were also very involved in writing the Sangam poems).

      Similarly with the Alvars they list 100 Divya Desams (holy Vaishnavite shrines) most of which are in what is today TN and Kerala.

  6. “The Hindu-Muslim divide has become the salient feature of Indian life, one that trumps all other factors.”

    I dont think the average Hindu-Muslim interaction is that fraught. There is no great divergence in terms of murder rates, income and incarceration between these two groups, as there is between White/Asian and Black/Hispanic in the US.

    There is a confluence of three factors that makes Hindu-Muslim issues blow up,
    1) The nature of orthodoxy in Abrahamic religions, which leaves very little room for accommodation among those who develop extreme views.
    2) The weak law and order situation in India, which allows those with extreme views to escape without apprehension, and leaves society at large vary of their potential impact.
    3) The legacy of Pakistan sponsored terrorism in India, which did see the participation of some Indian Muslims, at all levels, from the actual acts to intellectual justification.

    Broadly, Muslim TFR trends with Hindu TFR, so this issue should subside in the near future.

    1. I forget where I saw the reference, but someone’s run the numbers and concluded that Muslims will *never* make up more than 20% of the Indian population, since the fertility rates are projected to eventually converge.

      It’s somewhat similar to the situation with Roma in Eastern Europe: if you want to reduce their fertility, the best thing you can do is educate them, since , e.g. high-school plus educated Roma women in Hungary actually have slightly *lower* fertility than similarly educated Hungarian women (overall Roma birthrates are massively higher, but this goes away once you correct for education).

  7. LOL at all this S-Indian Hindu vs Jain fight. A mountain out of molehill

    Yeah, we accept that there were badass S-Indian Hindu warriors doing Jihad against peaceful Jains.

  8. Another data point for the Southern Hindu Jaina acrimony. Just like the North, where many cusswords and abuses are M specific, in the south – they are Jain specific.

    The abuse “Kasmalam” means a lecher or lowlife. But it’s literal meaning is dirty hair – a reference to the refusal of Jain laity to delouse or clean their hair when possible.

    The word “samaan” derived from samanar which itself was a corruption of the word Sramana. Today it’s the word for a man or a woman’s privates – the link with the unclothed state of monks is very clear.

      1. journal.fi › article › viewPDF
        The Hindu Confrontation with the Jaina and the Buddhist – Journal.fi

        This is only a small sample of the rhetoric translated in English. The body of Nayanars work is vast.

    1. Tamil word SAmAn comes from Urdu which means article or stuff. It may be used as a double entedre sometimes to refer to private parts – as a precious stuff
      kamAlam is attrbuted by Tamil sources to sanskrit source word meaning despair or menatl disturbance
      Neither of them carry ref to jains

      The alleged imaplement of jains by a Pandyan kings is just that- exaggerations , many centuries after the alleged events. Only persons who really believe in ot or talk about are extreme Dravdian parties who want to paint Hinduism as a religion of persecution a la Islam. This is a kind of counter narrative developed by Drav parties against the historical narrative of Muslim persecution of Hindus

      1. @vijayvan – I do not understand – the works of Basava and Nayanars have been preserved with good fidelity. Are they also Dravidians now? The anti-Jain rhetoric is significant and is expressed in great fervour.

        A lot of cusswords originate in religious contexts.This is true for a lot of cultures. The song “Saroja Samaan Nikalo” is set in a Tamil movie at a Jain family’s house. Sung by Premji Amaran, its a irreverent rip. These sort of things are only understood, not referenced in books.

        1. Anti-jain rhetoric is one thing- alledged events of impalement of 8000 jains is another. I can say Ugra is a bad man – does not mean physical violence has ben inflicted. The so-called events come 500-600 years after the ‘events’ .
          \Are they also Dravidians now ?\ Youe question has unwittingly opens a different dimension.
          Campantar , one of those nayanars who was strident against jainism , and whose lines quoted by Dravs against and against to prove he incited violence.
          Adi Sankara , in his Soundarya Lahari, refers to ‘dravida sisu’ which many people undertand as Campantar. This refers to dravdia brahmins. Yes Campantar had always beena dravidian , in the tarditional meaning of the term. You are mistaking that with 20th century political ideology which has as much relations with traditional term as Nazi claims of Aryan with vedic rishis or Nazi Swastika (Hakenkreuz) with Hindu/jain swastika

        2. As I previously mentioned, anti-jain rhetoric in north KA and south/west MH should be seen more along regional and ethnic lens. The local agrarian castes especially in north KA banded together and used Shaivism to remove/reduce jain(marwari/gujju) dominance of trade/religious networks. It would have(has) been the same if(when) marwari/gujjus were Vaishnavas.

  9. There are a few other versions of the story that Enigma mentioned.
    And I think there’s also a story where Hindus were killed by Jains.

    There was most likely friction back then, but this particular story is most likely BS.

    You dismiss inconvenient facts because it doesn’t suit your narrative. How is this any different from Leftists portraying Akbar as a Secular Ruler and using examples of Rajput Princesses marrying Mughals as an evidence of Hindu-Muslim Parity? I’m not equating Hindu&Islamic rulers, i’m just poking fun at your attempts to imagine some pristine Hindu Past where various Dharmic Sects lived together without any conflicts.

    Keyword is magnitude. He doesn’t really have to paint any picture for anyone. Violence between non-Muslims and Muslims in the subcontinent will always come across as more brutal than violence among Dharmic sects. Natural for most people to see it the way London Observer does.

    Woke clowns that go “omg we’re a Hindu pak now” also ignore magnitude/scale. Araingang does the same. He’ll bring up Hindu-Buddhist conflict in order to justify violent acts carried out by muslim rulers, while casually ignoring the scale of events.

    I know you said “I’m not equating Hindu&Islamic rulers”, but that’s where the benchmark is actually set. It’s relative.

    And expecting everything to be peaceful is also very naive. Living side-by-side for centuries without any violence (especially back then) is just a fairytale. You could dig dirt on pretty much any group if you tried hard enough.

    Present-day behaviour plays a role too. Aurangzeb wouldn’t be half as relevant if it weren’t for H-M friction in India and treatment of non-M in Pak.

  10. My whole family is thanakvasi Jain. My dad grew up in New Delhi. He ended up marrying Jain but there were rishta talks with khatri, lohana, bania, and gujarati vania families. The intermarriage and interdining stuff is true. Gujarati Hindus and Jains get along really well in Gujarat and that’s been true for a long time. Some of the most common Gujarati last names like Shah, desai, doshi, etc. are equally common among Gujarati Hindus and Jains.

    And Jains are aware some Jain temples were razed and Hindu ones were built atop. But they view it has history because it is viewed as less massive in scale and less salient to modern era, especially since big hindu figures like Gandhi were so influenced by Jain Dharma. Jains as a whole feel like they would be much more persecuted by Muslim majority rule: eg. not allowed to practice their own faith under Muslim majority, something evidenced to then by Pak and Bangla’s treatment of dharmic minority. They also feel some muslims are trying to take over and convert everyone to their faith, something constantly brought up in political speeches by prominent orthodox Muslim leaders. Hindus, even the most right wing, take a more pluralistic view. They say something along the lines of:

    “You can have your religion. You can do everything and believe everything. Just accept it under the Hindu umbrella nominally.”

    The most orthodox Jains sometimes take issue. But most just accept it as a practical reality, given the small number of Jains in existence. It is also seen far better than Islamic majority S Asian no bargain system of: “Convert or be persecuted.”

    1. Most Jains I know of are Gujarati or Marwari baniyas, who marry other specific types of Gujju and Marwari baniyas. E.g. I’m a Maheshwari, my uncle by marriage is an Agarwal, his sister is married to a Jain. As far as I know, in traditional circles, many Maheshwaris marry Agrawals, plenty of Agrawals marry Jains, but not a lot of Maheshwaris are married to Jains. It’s like a complicated web of “what group is permissible to what group”.

      There are way more Hindus, so Jains are aware of Hindu practices, but Hindus are less likely to know Jaina practices. Traditionally, though, Jaina and Hindu baniya groups have maintained caste and blood ties. I think it’s less that Jains are willing to marry Hindus, and more that specific Jain castes are marrying within caste or to closely aligned caste groups. In the context of South Asian societies, it’s almost as if there’s been an ‘unfinished’ separation of religion and endogamous practice.

      This is not unlike Meo Rajputs from the Mewat region, many of whom converted to Islam quite a while ago, but continued to enact marriages across the H-M religious divide into the modern era. This endogamous group clearly valued jati over religion for much of its history, just like Hindu and Jain baniyas.

Comments are closed.