Jainism in Southeast Asia

Jainism is a minority religion in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries. More broadly, the civilisation of India in general has influenced the languages, scripts, calendars, and artistic aspects of these people and nations.


There are references in Jain texts to various areas of Southeast Asia.[1] During the reign of Samprati, Jain teachers were sent to various Southeast Asian countries.[2]

Prominent Jains (e.g., Jain monk Kshullaka Prayatna Sagar[3]) from India have visited South East Asia for the purpose of representing Jainism, guiding the local Jain community and interacting with the members of other religious faiths, notably Buddhism.



The Jain Agamas refer to Southeast Asia as Suvarnabhumi. Kalakacharya, a Jain monk, is said to have visited Burma.[1]

About 5000 Jain families lived in Burma before World War II. Almost all of the families have now left.[4] There are three or four Jain families and a Jain temple in Yangon.[5][6] It was built with romanesque architecture and is located on 29th Street in Latha Township in Old Rangoon.[7] The Yangon Heritage Trust has been lobbying to preserve this temple, along with other prominent landmarks of Old Rangoon.[8]


There is no evidence of Jainism in Cambodia.[9]


A small Jain community exists in Indonesia. The community organises various Jain festivals in Jakarta. The community organisation is called Jain Social Group, Indonesia.[10]


There is no presence of Jainism in Laos.


There are about 2,500 Jains in Malaysia. It is believed some of them came to Malacca in the 15th or 16th century.[11]

The first Jain temple in Malaysia is located at Ipoh, Perak and was consecrated in 2012.[12][13] There is also a Jain temple in Kuala Lumpur.[14] The temple is located in the Bangsar locality of Kuala Lumpur and was built using 4000 kilograms of marble from India.[15] Malaysia's Human Resources Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam was present during the inauguration of the temple in 2011.[16]

The Jain community actively celebrates Jain festivals like Paryushan.[17]

The Philippines

There is no presence of Jainism in the Philippines.


Main article: Jainism in Singapore

Jains have been settled in Singapore since just before the First World War (1910 – 1914).[18] As of 2006, there were 1,000 Jains in Singapore.[19]


Historically, Jain monks took Jain images to Thailand via Sri Lanka. A nude Jain image is worshipped as an image of Buddha at Chiangmai.[20] However, due to a rigid emphasis on austerity, Jainism did not take root in Thailand.[20]

As of 2011, there are about 600 Jain families in Thailand, mainly in Bangkok.[21][22] The Jain community in Thailand in not united, unlike the Jain communities in Singapore, the United States, and some other countries. Separate Jain temples exist for the Digambara and the Svetmabara Jain communities.[23] The Digambar Jain Foundation was established in 2007.[24]

The Jain community also sponsors local Thai PhD students to pursue higher studies in Jainism.[25] Some restaurants in Thailand serve Jain food.[26][27]

A majority of the diamond cutting and polishing business in Bangkok is handled by the Jain community.[28]


There is no presence of Jainism in Vietnam.

See also


  1. 1 2 "on www.jainsamaj.org ( Jainism, Ahimsa News, Religion, Non-Violence, Culture, Vegetarianism, Meditation, India. )". Jainsamaj.org. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  2. Framing the Jina: Narratives of Icons and Idols in Jain History - John Cort - Google Books. Books.google.com. 16 November 2009. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  3. "No Pain, No Jain | Bangkok Post: multimedia". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  4. Motiba's tattoos: a granddaughter's journey into her Indian family's past - Mira Kamdar - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  5. "Yangon, Myanmar: A 'City That Captured Time' (PHOTOS)". Huffingtonpost.com. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  6. "Jain Diaspora Convention(JDC) 2009 - JAINA-JainLink". Jaina.org. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  7. "A Stroll through Old Rangoon". Dream Of A City. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  8. Brady, Brendan (13 August 2012). "Burma: Progress Puts Rangoon's Architectural Past at Risk | TIME.com". World.time.com. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  9. "Jainism Ahimsa News Religious Non-Violence Celebrities Literature Philosophy Matrimonial Institutions". Jainsamaj.org. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  10. "Magazine | Locations | Indonesia | Jakarta | Jain Social Group Indonesia Organized The 1st Event Of Kshama Yachana At Sadhu Vasvani Center, Jakarta". Herenow4u.net. 29 November 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  11. "on www.jainsamaj.org ( Jainism, Ahimsa News, Religion, Non-Violence, Culture, Vegetarianism, Meditation, India. )". Jainsamaj.org. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  12. "Jain Heritage Centre - Jainism Abroad - Malaysia". Jainheritagecentres.com. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  13. Jain temples in India and around the world - Laxmi Mall Singhvi, Tarun Chopra - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  14. chandaram dewasi pujari says: (17 November 2011). "New Jain Temple in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia". The Chakra News. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  15. "Archives | The Star Online". Thestar.com.my. 13 November 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  16. "Malaysian Minister Subramaniam: Agencies Which "Recycle" Maids Will Have Their Licence Revoked Immediately". Nam News Network. 12 November 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  17. Chavan, Mahavir S. (27 August 2009). "Jain News: Gujaratis in Malysia fast during Paryushan". Jainsamachar.blogspot.com. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  18. "History of Jainism in Singapore". Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  19. "Jainism Joins National Inter-Faith Organization (Singapore)". Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  20. 1 2 Sri Lanka Past and Present - L. R. Reddy - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  21. "Magazine | Locations | Thailand | Bangkok | Shri Digamber Jain Samaj ►Bangkok, Thailand". Herenow4u.net. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  22. "Report ISSJS2009 Bangkok | International School for Jain Studies". Isjs.in. 1 June 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  23. Anuj Jain (20 April 2008). "Digamber Jain Mandir- Bangkok,Thailand". Djfmandir.blogspot.com. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  24. "Indian Associations - Embassy of India,Bangkok - Thailand". Indianembassy.in.th. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  25. "Indians in Thailand - Shri Digamber Jain Samaj, Bangkok". Thaindian.com. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  26. "Chiang Mai Citylife: This is Thailand". Chiangmainews.com. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  27. "Baluchi Restaurant - Phuket - Patong Beach Restaurants & Dining". Phuket. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  28. Inside Knowledge: Streetwise in Asia - Michael Backman - Google Books. Books.google.com. 16 June 2005. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
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