Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Essence of Jainism

Search for Happiness
Know Thyself
SAMYAKTVA, the basis of Jainism
ASHTAKARMA - Eight types of Karma
  Theory of Karma and Cycle of Rebirth
  Questions and Answers about the Theory of Karma
  Shaddravya, The Six Substances
  NAV TATTVA : Punya and Paap
  NAV TATTVA : Asrava and Bandha
  Samvar and Nirjara
  Other factors conducive to Nirjara
  The Liberation
  Ladder of Elevation
  Syadvad
  History of Jain Sects and Scriptures
  Glossary

HISTORY OF JAIN SECTS AND SCRIPTURES


 

- By Manubhai Doshi

Jain scriptures are popularly known as Aagamas. The term means what comes out (from the mouth of the Lord). It is generally accepted that whatever Lord Mahavir taught after gaining omniscience, was compiled by His Ganadharas in 12 parts, Sanskrit word for part is Anga. These 12 compilations are therefore called as 12 Angas and are collectively known as Dwadashangi. The foremost of these Angas is Aacharang Sutra. Other well known Angas are Sutrakritang, Samavayang, Sthanang and Vyakhya Pragnapti which is more popularly known as Bhagavati Sutra. Based on these Angas, the seers also compiled 12 auxiliary works that came to be known as Upangas. These 24 compilations should have been completed by the time of Jambuswami who was the second successor of the reli gious order set up by Lord Mahavir and also was the last omniscient of the current time cycle.

It should be noted that these Angas and Upangas were not written for a long time. They were orally passed on by the preceptors to their pupils. Memory of the omniscient being infallible, they could have been retained in the original form up to the time of Jambuswami. Immediate successors of Jamuswami were known as Shrut Kevalis meaning that they knew all Angas and Upangs thoroughly well. During their time, however some variations seem to have crept in, since Samavayang and Nandisutra indicate some varying versions of Sutras. Shrut Kevalis and other prominent Acharyas also prepared subsidiary works known as Mul Sutras, Chhed Sutras etc. which were considered authorized versions of the Lord�s teaching. Dashvaikalik, Uttaradhyayan and Avasyak are the most we ll known Sutras belonging to this category. By the time of Bhadrabahuswami who was the last Shrut Kevali, there came to be quite a few compilations that were admitted as Aagamas. They were written in Ardhamagadhi which was the language understood in the a rea where Lord Mahavir went about during His life.

About 160 years after the Lord�s departure, when Bhadrabahuswami was the head of religious order and Nand dynasty was ruling over Magadha, Pataliputra, the capital city became the center of learning and knowledge. That time, there occurred a severe famine that seems to have raged for 12 long years. During that period of shortage and scarcity, it was hard for Jain monks to observe the code of conduct laid down by the Lord. Bhadrabahuswami therefore decided to migrate to south along with many followers. (Ac cording to another version, he went to Nepal.) For those who stayed behind, it was hard to remember accurately whatever they had learnt. Hence there came about varying versions of Aagamas. Condition might have reached a chaotic stage. A convention was th erefore called at Patliputra under the leadership of venerable Sthulibhadra, who was the principal disciple of Bhadrabahuswami. That convention prepared uniform version of all the Aagamas. In Jain traditions this is known as the first Vachana of Aagamas.

The version so prepared was however not found acceptable to most of those who had migrated to south. They considered the version unauthentic and contended that the original Aagamas had got lost. This was the first major cleavage among the followers of Lor d Mahavir. In this connection it would be interesting to dwell a little in the background of this cleavage. When the Lord renounced the worldly life, he seems to have retained a single cloth to cover His body. During the first year of His renounced life, that cloth seems to have been worn, torn or entangled in thicket somewhere. After that He did not care to get another one. For the rest of life He therefore stayed without clothes. The immediate followers that He got after omniscience were also presumabl y unclad. Later on, followers of Parshwa traditions acknowledged His leadership. They were covering their bodies with two pieces of cloth. While admitting them in His fold, the Lord does not seem to have objected to their being clad. Thus His Sangha cons tituted clad as well as unclad monks amicably staying together. The amity between these two however might not have survived after the age of omniscients. Though there was no open dispute, there could have been some misunderstanding and unfriendliness betw een these two groups.

Venerable Sthulibhadra and most of those who stayed in north used to cover their bodies with plain, white cloth; while those who had migrated with Bhadrabahuswami were mostly unclad. With the open cleavage on the authenticity of the Aagamas. the latter to ok pride in their being true unclad followers of the Lord and in due course came to be known as Digamabars which means skyclad. Those on the other side came to be known as Shwetamabars on account of white cloth that they wore. The history of the Aagamas f rom that time onwards thus takes two different courses.

Even after Patliputra convention, Aagamas remained unwritten and continued to be passed on orally from preceptor to pupil. Memorizing must have taken its own toll. Moreover with the fall of Mauryan dynasty in 150 B.C., Patliputra ceased to be the main cen ter of Jainism, because Mitra dynasty that took over, was not favorably inclined to it. There was therefore large scale migration of Jain monks and laymen towards Udaygiri(Near present Bhuvaneshwar) in the south-east and towards Mathura in the west. All t hese factors contributed once again to variations in the version of Sutras. By the end of the first century, most probably in 97 A.D., another convention was called at Mathura under the leadership of Hon�ble Skandilacharya. Curiously enough, another conv ention was simultaneously held at Valabhipur in Saurashtra under the leadership of Hon�ble Nagarjunacharya. There were some differences in the versions arrived at the two conventions. We are not exactly sure whether any attempt was made to reconcile the v arying versions. Any way, this is called second Vachana of the Aagamas.