This article possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. (September 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Statue of Adinath at Pakbirra Jain Shrine of Purulia 05.jpg
Lord Adinatha at Pakbirra
ReligionsHinduism, Jainism
LanguagesBengali, Hindi, Nagpuri
Populated statesJharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, odisa

Saraks (Bengali: সরাক) (from Sanskrit Śrāvaka) is a community in Jharkhand, Bihar, Bengal, and Orissa. They have been followers of some aspects of Jainism, such as vegetarianism, since ancient times, however, were isolated and separated from the main body of the Jain community in western, northern, and southern India and have been Hindu Bengalis ever since. The governments of India and West Bengal both have classified some of the Saraks under Other Backward Classes since 1994 but many of them have been in the General category from the beginning itself.[1]


Pakbirra Jain temples, Purulia

The Saraks are an ancient community in Jharkhand and Bengal. British anthropologist Edward Tuite Dalton noted that according to the Bhumij tradition in Singhbhum district, the Saraks were early settlers in the region.[2] According to Santosh Kumar Kundu, the Saraks arrived from the northwestern region of India, presently in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. In the region between the rivers Barakar and Damodar, two democratic republics, Shikharbhum and Panchakot, flourished. Later they merged and came to be known as Shikharbhum, with the capital at Panchkot. According to Ramesh Chandra Majumder, the Jain scholar Bhadrabahu, the second Louhacharya and the author of Kalpa Sutra may have come from the Sarak community.[3]

The region is called Vajjabhumi in ancient texts because diamonds were once mined in the region.[4] The Tirthankara Mahavira visited this region according to the Kalpa Sūtra.

Separation and rediscovery

7.5 feet statue of Shitalanatha, Purulia
7.5 feet statue of Shitalanatha, Purulia

The Saraks lost contact with Jains in the rest of India after its conquest by Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji. Contact with the Digambara Bundelkhand Jains was reestablished when the Parwars Manju Chaudhary (1720–1785) was appointed the governor of Cuttack by the Maratha Empire.

Saraks are concentrated in Purulia, Bankura and Burdwan district of West Bengal and Ranchi, Dumka and Giridih districts and Singhbhum region of Jharkhand. The Saraks belonging to most of Jharkhand and West Bengal are Bengali speakers while those living in historical Singhbhum region speak Singhbhumi Odia. Educated Saraks speak fluent English.

In 2009, more than 165 Sarak Jains living in parts of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar visited the ancient Jain pilgrimage center of Shravanabelagola. A special function to welcome the Sarak Jains was organised at Shravanabelagola.[5]

See also

Pakbirra, Purulia Temples and Sculptures

  • Divine couple with child, Pakbirra, Purulia
    Divine couple with child, Pakbirra, Purulia
  • Sahasrakuta, Pakbirra, Purulia
    Sahasrakuta, Pakbirra, Purulia
  • Miniature shrine, Pakbirra, Purulia
    Miniature shrine, Pakbirra, Purulia
  • Miniature shrine, Pakbirra, Purulia
    Miniature shrine, Pakbirra, Purulia
  • Adinatha Idols
    Adinatha Idols
  • Miniature shrine, Pakbirra, Purulia
    Miniature shrine, Pakbirra, Purulia
  • Miniature shrine, Pakbirra, Purulia
    Miniature shrine, Pakbirra, Purulia
  • Jain Sculptures at Pakbirra
    Jain Sculptures at Pakbirra


  1. ^ "Government of West Bengal: List of Other Backward Classes". Govt. of West Bengal. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  2. ^ Ghosh, Binay (2010) [1957]. Pashchimbanger Samskriti [The Culture of West Bengal] (in Bengali). Vol. 1 (2nd ed.). Kolkata: Prakash Bhawan. pp. 447–449.
  3. ^ Kundu, Santosh Kumar (2008). Bangali Hindu Jati Parichay [An Introduction of Bengali Hindu Castes] (in Bengali). Kolkata: Presidency Library. pp. 273–275. ISBN 978-81-89466-13-8.
  4. ^ Historical Background (Archived 9 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine)
  5. ^ "> News Updates". Www.Jainheritagecentres.Com. 2 September 2009. Archived from the original on 23 December 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2012.