the ancient city pithunda capital of kalinga, is described in the jaina text uttaradhyana sutra as an important centre at the time of mahavira, and was frequented by merchants from champa rishabha, the first tirthankara, was revered and worshiped in pithunda and is known as the kalinga jina. mahapadma nanda (c. 450–362 bce) conquered kalinga and took a statue of rishabha from pithunda to his capital in magadha. jainism is said to have flourished under nanda empire.
the mauryan dynasty came to power after the downfall of nanda empire. the first mauryan emperor, chandragupta (c. 322–298 bce), became a jain in the latter part of his life. he was a disciple of badhrabahu, a jaina ācārya who was responsible for propagation of jainism in south india. the mauryan king ashoka was converted to buddhism and his pro-buddhist policy subjugated the jains of kalinga. ashoka’s grandson samprati(c. 224–215 bce), however, is said to have converted to jainism by a jaina monk named suhasti. he is known to have erected many jaina temples. he ruled a place called ujjain.
in the 1st century bce the emperor kharvela of mahameghayahana dynasty conquered magadha. he retrieved rishabha’s statue and installed it in udaygiri, near his capital shishupalgadh. kharavelawas responsible for the propagation of jainism across the indian subcontinent. hiuen tsang (629–645 ce), a chinese traveller, notes that there were numerous jains present in kalinga during his time. the udayagiri and khandagiri caves near bhubaneswar are the only surviving stone jaina monuments in orissa.
king vanaraja (c. 720–780 ce) of cavada dynasty in northern gujarat was raised by a jaina monk silunga suri. he supported jainism during his rule. the king of kannauj ama (c. 8th century ce) was converted to jainism by bappabhatti, a disciple of famous jaina monk siddhasena zivakara. bappabhatti also converted vakpati, the friend of ama who authored a famous prakrit epic named gaudavaho.