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The Jains in India have been the last direct representatives of the Shramana tradition in India. They follow Jainism, as the dharma taught by the 24 Tirthankaras, the last of whom was Mahavira.

The moral and intellectual influence of the Jain communities gives them a social importance greater than would result from their mere numbers. They are not only among the businessmen and industrialists, many of the prominent authors, justices, administrators and politicians have been Jain.

The Jains have the highest literacy rate, 94.1% compared with the national average of 65.38%. They have the highest female literacy rate, 90.6% compared with the national average of 54.16%. It is believed that the Jains also have the highest per capita income in India.

There are about 110 different Jain communities in India and overseas. They can be divided into six groups based on historical and current residence.

  • Central India (Madhya Pradesh/Uttar Pradesh)
  • Western India (Gujarat/Jains in Maharashtra)
  • Northern India (Jains in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttaranchal) (Bhabra/Baniya Communities: Agrawal, Oswal, Khandelwal, Porwal, Maheshwari, etc.)
  • Southern India (Jains of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka {Kannada and Tulu Jains}, Tamil Jain|Tamil Nadu, Kerala)
  • Eastern India (Jains in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal)
  • Overseas Jains (Germany, USA, UK, East Africa, Belgium)

The Jain population in India according to 2001 census is 4,225,053 out of the total population of India 1,028,610,328. The states or regions with largest populations are:

  • Maharashtra - 1,301,843
  • Rajasthan - 650,493
  • Madhya Pradesh - 545,446
  • Gujarat - 525,305
  • Karnataka - 412,659
  • Uttar Pradesh - 207,111
  • Delhi - 155,122
  • Tamil Nadu - 83,359

It is likely that the actual population of Jains may be significantly higher than the census numbers.

The Jain population in USA is estimated to be about 120,000-130,000.

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