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Jaina Monastic Jurisprudence
The Background to Monastic Jurisprudence
The Custodians of Monastic Discipline
Laws of Jurisprudence and Their Working
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THE CUSTODIANS OF MONASTIC DISCIPLINE


 

 

None was allowed to change the Gana for avoiding atonement for a fault. Similarly a person could be allowed entry into the Gana after his dismissal for a grave offense, only if the other members expressed their confidence in him. So also the change over from a Gana of greater standing to that of a less standing was prohibited (N:s. 16. 15).

     The next group was designated as the kula, which however has not been satisfactorily explained in any text. However, it has already been seen that the kulas formed the Gana (Aup., com -. 81). The Bhagavai commentary (p. 382b) explains it as 'egayariyassa santai' (also Mull I, p. 143), or the disciples of a particular acarya. This, however, fails to explain the kula and the rules of its formation and working. It is likely that a kula was headed by a junior officer and a group of such hulas and their heads were responsible to the acarya.

The sambhoga is yet another formation referred to in early texts. This has been variously explained as 'a group taking food together' (Utter. comm. p. 333a), or as a group having a common samacari and taking food together' (Patga., p. 1062) or as "a group of monks begging alms in one district only" (Jacobi, See, XIV, P. 167, In. 1). The unit is also referred to in the inscriptions from Mathura.

The exact purpose for the formation of the sambhoga is not explicit though it is said that it facilitated exchange of requisites, common study of texts, exchange of food, attending the ill, etc. (Smv. 21b). It is doubtful whether it was a unit in the real sense of the term.

The most important unit is the gaccha, which is even now current in Jaina church. It is remarkable to note that it does not occur in the early texts of the Svetambaras canon but comes into constant reference in the Nijjuttis. As a matter of fact an entire text among the Painnayas, the Gacchayarapainnaya, deals with the gaccha.

There is no unanimity regarding the information as given about the gaccha. For instance, the Ovavaiya (p. 86) explains the gaccha so as to mean the following of one acarya. The Chedasutras do not mention the gaccha, whereas the Mulacara commentary makes it a group of seven monks (saptapurusiko: pt. I, p.133). In several texts and commentaries, it is equated with the Gana. The information as given in the Marinara makes it a unit of bigger strength than the gang, as the latter required only five people for its formation. On the whole it is not clear what relation gacchos and Gana had between them. Later on, however, the Gana went out of vogue, giving place to or identifying itself with the gaccha, which arose in a fairly large number. (DEO, op. cit., pp. 519ff).

The Ohanijjutti (116-117) enjoins every monk to be a member of some gaccha. Later inscriptions show that there was an enormous increase in the number of the Gacchas, which were formed on regional, personal and incidental basis as also on the strength of some monastic practice. However, since the Gana was equated with the gaccha in later days, it would not be incorrect to assume that the rules and regulations pertaining to discipline were the same.

There are other minor units, which find mention in the Ovavaiyasutta. For instance, it refers to 'gamma' and the commentator explains it to be a part of a gaccha controlled by the Upadhyaya (p. 86). No other information is available regarding this unit.

Similar is the ease of yet another unit designated as �phaddaga�, which was a small part of a gaccha and was in charge of the Ganavacchedaka (Ova. p. 86). This involves contradictions as it makes the Ganavacchedaka subordinate to the Upadhyaya whereas the Chedasutras lay down identical qualifications for the Ganavacchedaka and the acarya, the latter being definitely senior to the Upadhyaya. On the basis of this discrepancy, Schubring (Die Lehre der Jainas, article 140) doubts whether these were technical divisions at all.

Schubring�s remarks seem to hold good even in the case of the mandali (Ogha. N. 522, 547, 561). This implied the formation of a group of monks for the purpose of waiting upon the ill or for helping the new young entrant to the order etc. The Thera or the elderly monk who headed such a group was called the mandali- Thera. 

The Saka or sakha was not a unit in the strict sense of the term. JACOB' points out that "it is not quite clear what is meant by Gana, kula and sakha. Gala designates the school which is derived from one teacher; kula, the succession of teachers in one line; sakhathe lines which branch off from each teacher". (SBE, XXII, p. 288, In. 2).

The details so far given, though not exhaustive, are sufficient to give an idea about the custodians of monastic conduct, the qualifications required for various positions in the church hierarchy, the rules and regulations which were enjoined upon them and the various groups which formed the monk-order as a whole.

Having known the inter-relation between the various officers and the groups they headed, let us now pass on to the actual enactment of the rules of monastic conduct and the application or enforcement thereof by those who were qualified and authorized to do so.