Jainism is one of the ancient religions of India. Arugan is worshipped as the god of this religion. The greatmen who propagated the principles of this religion are called the Theerthankarar. Rishaba Devar alias Andhi Naathar is the first who propagated the principles of this religion; Mahaveer is the 24th Theerthankarar (599-527 B.C.); Parsavanathar of the 9 century; all of these men are in the history as greatment of the religion.
Mahaveer took an important part in the propagation of the principles of this religion in India. In Tamil Nadu this religion started spreading by the Visaaka Muni of the 3rd century A.D. During the 1st and 2nd century A.D. in Tamil Nadu in Sangam priods, Jainism became popular in Pandia Kingdoms. During the period from 3rd century A.D. and 6th century A.D. when the Kalhappirars were dominant, the Jainism became popular in Madurai. The Kalhappirars are the followers of the Jainisms.
In 470 A.D. one "Dravida Sangam" was formed by Vachira Nandhi for propagating Jainisms in Madurai. Even during the days of the Pandia king who defeated the Kalhappirars this religion was popular, the reason being that the king Harikesari Maaravarman (640-670 A.D.) embraced the Jain religion. From the 7th century A.D. to the 13th century A.D. there happened a lot of changes resulting in the gradual diminishing of this religion.
During the beginning of the 20th century some followers of Jainism came down to Madurai from Rajastan and Gujarat. After the period of Mahaveer, the Jainism became divided into three sects called Thigambarar, Swenthaambaras and Sthaanagavaasi. Among these in Madurai, the Swenthaambaras and the Sthaanagawasis wear pure white dress. In these Jains, the Sthaanaga waasis are not the believers of idol worshipping. The Jain people living in Madurai have constructed two temples for their worshippings.
Sumathi Naathar Temple
Near to the Meenakshi Amman temple in the Meenakshi Koil street there is a Jain temple which has the metal cast idol of the 5th Theerthankarar called Sumathi Naathar. Jain people worship this and the pictures of the other Theerthankarars. This temple was started in 1965.
Parasura Naathar Temple
This is the temple for the greatman of Jainism called Paarsuranathar, the 23rd Theerthankarar. This was started in 1962 and contains the metal cast idol and also idols of other Theerthankarars and pictures of other Jain saints for worshipping. This temple is situated in the upstairs of a house in the Jadamuni Koil Street which is at short distance from Meenakshi Amman temple.
Other Jain Temples
They are situated at: