Mahavira spent the rest of his life preaching his doctrine to all kinds of men. He moved from place to place for eight months a year and spent the rainy season (four months) in some towns of eastern India. The Jaina tradition gives the names of such places as Champa, Vaisali, Rajagriha, Mithila and Sravasti. The wanderings of Mahavira give us a fair idea of the spread of the religion. This included the kingdoms of Kosala, Videha, Magadha and Anga.

Jainism was bestowed with royal patronage from time to time. Rulers of important royal families of Magadha and Kosala were converted into Jainism. He paid frequent visits to Magadha as its rulers, Srenika, Bimbisara and Ajatasatru hounoured him highly. It is believed that Chandragupta Maurya became a Jaina, gave up his throne and spent last years of his life as a Jaina ascetic at Sravanabelgola in Mysore. Under the royal patronage of Kharavela, Jainism became the state religion of Kalinga as recorded in the Hatigumpha Inscription. It succeeded in establishing itself firmly and in some places became very influential but it never spread beyond India. Mathura in the north and Sravanbelgola in the south formed important centres of Jaina activities. During the later period, south Indian dynasties like Kadambas, Chalukyas and Rastrakutas accorded patronage to Jainism.

Mahavira left behind him a strongly organised religious order, which gradually spread over the country. A band of Jaina monks under Bhadrabahu migrated to south and spread the religion in entire Deccan with Sravanalgola as the centre. Jainism was popular in and around Mathura. The Junagarh inscription of the grandson of Jayadmana (Damaysada or Rudradaman I) of 2nd century A.D. refers to adoption of Jainism. Jainism did not spread in India as widely as Buddhism. It also did not spread like Buddhism in countries beyond India. But it is noteworthy that when Buddhism has almost perished in the land of its birth, Jainism still survive with millions of followers over thousands of years.