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However, Jains flourished in Tamil Nadu at least as early as the Sangam period.
Tamil Jain tradition places their origins are much earlier.
Some scholars believe that Jain philosophy must have entered South India some time in the sixth century BCE.This epic is a major work in Tamil literature, describing the historical events of its time and also of then-prevailing religions, Jainism, Buddhism and Shaivism.The main characters of this work, Kannagi and Kovalan, who have a divine status among Tamils, were Jains. Hart, who holds the endowed Chair in Tamil Studies by University of California, Berkeley, has written that the legend of the Tamil Sangams or "literary assemblies", was based on the Jain sangham at Madurai: Jainism began to decline around the 8th century A.The Ramayana mentions that Rama paid homage to Jaina monks living in South India on his way to Sri Lanka.Some scholars believe that the author of the oldest extant work of literature in Tamil (3rd century BCE), Tolkāppiyam, was a Jain.
They are a microcommunity of around 85,000 (around 0.13% of the population of Tamil Nadu).