Literally Jina means a conqueror, that is, one who has conquered the worldly passions like desire, hatred, anger, greed, pride, etc. by one's own strenuous efforts and has been liberated himself from the bonds of worldly existence, the cycle of births and deaths.  Jina, therefore, is a human being and not a supernatural being or an incarnation of an all mighty God.  Hence the term Jina is applied to a person who is a spiritual victor.


Further, human beings have the potentiality to become Jinas and, as such, Jinas are persons of this world who have attained supreme knowledge, subjugated their passion and are free from all sorts of attachment and aversion.  Jainism is thus a set of principles preached by the Jinas.  Hence Jainism is not an apauruseya religion, i.e., a religion propounded by a non‑human being or based on a sacred book of non‑human origin.  On the contrary it is a religion of purely human origin and is preached by one who has attained omniscience and self‑control by his own personal efforts.  In short, Jainism is the substance of the preaching of those perfect souls who have attained the state of Jainas.


Again, the term Jainism, connotes the religion professed by the Jainas, i.e. the followers of the path practiced and preached by the Jinas.  This term Jainism is an English rendering of the original Sanskrit word Jaina‑dharma or Jina‑ dharma.  That is why some German Jainologists, like Leumann, Winternitz and Schubring, prefer the term Jinismus or Jinism. Both the terms are, however, correct since Jainism means the religion followed by the Jinas and Jainism means the religion of the Jina.  But between the two terms, Jainism and Jinism, the former is more popular and in current use both in literature and common parlance.



As the Jinas possessed the supreme knowledge, they are called the Kevali‑Jinas, i.e. the Jinas who attained the Kevala-jnana, that is, the infinite knowledge.  These Kevali‑ Jinas are also of two kinds, viz., samanya‑kevali and Tirthankara‑kevali.  While the samanya‑kevalis are those Jinas who are mainly concerned with their own salvation, the Tirthankara‑kevalis are the Jinas who after the attainment of Kevala-jnana, i.e. the infinite knowledge are not only concerned with their own salvation but are also concerned with showing the path of liberation to all.  These Tirthankara‑kevalis are generally known as Tirthankaras, because they are builders of the ford which leads human beings across the great ocean of existence.  The term Tirthankara literally means: Tarati samsara‑maharnavam yena nimittena tat Tirtham‑Tirtham karoti iti Tirthankarah.


That is, the contrivance which helps us to cross the great ocean of worldly life is known as Tirtha and the person who makes the Tirtha is termed as a Tirthankara.  Hence the Tirthankaras are the personages who delineate the path of final liberation or emancipation of all living beings from a succession of births and deaths.


As per Jaina tradition there were 24 such Tirthankaras, i.e. Great Guides, in the past age, there have been 24 in the present age, and there will be 24 in the future age.  In this tradition the names of 24 Tirthankaras, i.e. Great Preachers, of the present age are:

1.        Rsabhanath or Adinath           

2.        Ajitnath

3.        Sambhavanath                     

4.        Abhinandananath

5.        Sumatinath                       

6.        Padmaprabh

7.        Suparsvanath                  

8.        Chandraprabh

9.        Puspadanta or Suvidhinatha

10.     Sitalanath

11.     Sreyamsanath

12.     Vasupujya

13.     Vimalanath

14.     Anantanath

15.     Dharmanath

16.     Santinath

17.     Kunthunath                       

18.     Aranath

19.     Mallinath                        

20.     Munisuvratanath

21.     Naminath                         

22.     Neminath

23.     Parsvanath                       

24.     Mahavir, Vardhaman or Sanmati


Thus the tradition of Tirthankaras in the present age begins with Rsabha, the first Tirthankara, and ends with Mahavira, the twenty‑fourth Tirthankara.  Naturally, there is a continuous link among these twenty‑four Tirthankaras who flourished in different periods of history in India.  It, therefore, means that the religion first preached by Rsabha in the remote past was preached in succession by the remaining twenty‑three Tirthankaras during their life‑time for the benefit of living begins.


As seen above Mahavira is the twenty-fourth Tirthankara in this line of Tirthankaras.  As Mahavira happens to be the last Tirthankara he is regarded by the common people as the founder of Jaina Religion.  Obviously this is a misconception.  Now the historians have come to accept the fact that Mahavira did not found Jaina religion but he preached the religion which was in existence from the remote past.



The historicity of the Jaina tradition is amply borne out both by literary and archaeological evidences.  This traditional history of Jainism from the earliest times to the age of the last Tirthankara Mahavira (6th Century B.C.) can be consistently traced from the facts maintained by Jaina religion.  In this regard, Jainism primarily assumes that the universe, with all its constituents or components, is without a beginning or an end, being everlasting and eternal and that the wheel of time incessantly revolves like a pendulum in half circles from the descending to the ascending stage and again back from the ascending stage to the descending stage.  Thus, for practical purposes, a unit of the cosmic time is called kalpa, which is divided into two parts viz.  the avasarpini (i.e. descending) and the utsarpini (i.e. ascending), each with six‑division known as kalas i.e., periods or ages.  It means that at the end of the sixth sub‑division of the avasarpini(i.e. descending half circle) part the revolution reverses and the utsarpini (i.e. ascending half circle) part commences where the steps are reversed like the pendulum of a clock and that this process goes on ad infinitum.  Hence the utsarpini part marks a period of gradual evolution and the avasarpini part that of gradual decline in human stature, span of life, bodily strength and happiness and even in the length of each kala or age itself (i.e., the first age being the longest and the sixth age being the shortest).  Moreover, the life in the first age, the second age and the third age is known as the life of bhogabhumi (i.e., natural, happy, enjoyment‑based life without any law or society); while life in the remaining three ages viz., the fourth age, the fifth age and the sixth age, is called the life of karmabhumi (i.e., life based on individual and collective efforts).


In accordance with this wheel of time, the avasarpini (the descending half circle) part is continuing at present and we are now living in this part's fifth age which commenced a few years (3 years and 3 1/2 months) after Tirthankara Mahavira's nirvana in 527 B.C.  As per Jaina scriptures, the first age of the present avasarpini part was of enormous, incalculable length and it had the conditions of bhogabhumi when human begins lived in the most primitive stage which was entirely dependent on nature.  In the second age, therefore, the condition began to show some signs of gradual decline, but still they were of a happy bhogabhumi stage and in the third age, the process of degeneration continued further in spite of the prevailing bhogabhumi stage. But towards the end of the third age, man began gradually to wake up to his environments, to fell the effects of deteriorating conditions and to have desire, for the first time, for the necessity of seeking guidance.  Hence to satisfy this need, the fourth age produced, one after the other, fourteen law‑givers or preliminary guides of human beings known as the Kulakaras or Manus.  In the fourth age, the conditions greatly deteriorated since nature was not benevolent as before and conflicts among men had begun to appear and the Kulakaras, in succession, as the earliest leader of men, tried to improve the conditions in their own simple ways.    In the succession of fourteen Kulakaras or Manus the 14th manu by name Nabhiraya and his wife Marudevi gave birth to Rsabha or Adinatha who later on became the first Tirthankara or Expounder of Jaina religion.  This Lord Rsabha is considered as the harbinger of human civilization because he inaugurated the karmabhumi (the age of action); founded the social institutions of marriage, family, law, justice, state etc. taught mankind the cultivation of land, different arts and crafts, reading, writing and arithmetic; built villages, towns and cities; and in short, pioneered the different kinds of activities with a view to provide a new kind of social order meant for increasing the welfare of human‑beings.  Lord Rsabha had two daughters and one hundred sons.  After guiding human beings for a considerable period of time, Lord Rsabha abdicated his temporal powers in favor of his eldest son, Bharata, who in course of time, became the Chakravarti i.e., Paramount sovereign of this country; led a life of complete renunciation, got Kevala-jnana, i.e., supreme knowledge, preached the religion of ahimsa, became the first prophet of salvation and in the end attained nirvana, i.e., liberation at Mount Kailasa.


After Lord Rsabha, the first Tirthankara, there was a succession of 23 other Tirthankaras, who came one after the other at intervals varying in duration.  In this way, the Jaina tradition of 24 Tirthankaras was established in the course of historical times beginning from the first Tirthankara Lord Rsabha and ending with 24th Tirthankara Lord Mahavira.


Thus it is now an accepted fact that Mahavira (599‑527 B.C.) was the last Tirthankara or prophet of Jaina religion and that he preached the religion which was promulgated in the 8th century B.C. by his predecessor Parsvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara.  The historicity of Tirthankara Parsvanatha (877‑777 B.C.) has been established. Parsvanatha, the son of king Viavasena and queen Vamadevi of the kingdom of Kasi, led the life of an ascetic, practiced severe penance, obtained omniscience, became a Tirthankara propagated Jaina religion and attained nirvana or salvation at Sammed Shikhar, i.e., Parsvanatha as a historical personage and a preacher of Jaina religion.


The predecessor of Parsvanatha was Nemi‑natha or Aristanemi, the 22nd Tirthankara whose historicity like that of Parsvanatha, can be easily established.  Nemi‑natha, according to the Jaina tradition, was the cousin of the Lord Krsna of the Mahabharata fame as Samudravijaya, the father of Nemi‑natha and Vasudeva, the father of Krsna, were brothers. Nemi‑natha was a unique personality due to his great compassion towards animals.  This is clearly revealed by a significant incident in his life.  While Nemi‑natha was proceeding at the head of his wedding procession to the house of his bride, Princess Rajulakumari, the daughter of king Ugrasena of Gujarat, he heard the moans and groans of animals kept in an enclosure for some meat eaters and instantly decided not to marry at all as his marriage would involve a slaughter of so many innocent animals.  Immediately Nemi‑ natha renounced his royal title and became an ascetic. Learning this renunciation of Nemi‑natha, the betrothed princess Rajulakumari or Rajamati also became a nun and entered the ascetic order.  Nemi‑natha after achieving omniscience preached religion for a long time and finally attained nirvana on the Mount Girnar in Junagadh district of Gujarat. Since this great war Mahabharata is a historical event and Krsna is an historical personage, his cousin brother Nemi‑natha too occupies a place in this historical picture.  There is also an inscriptional evidence to prove the historicity of Nemi‑natha.  Dr. Fuherer also declared on the basis of Mathura Jaina antiquities that Nemi‑natha was a historical personage (vide Epigraphia Indica, I, 389 and II, 208‑210).  Further, we find Neminatha's images of the Indo‑ Scythian period bearing inscriptions corroborate the historicity of 22nd Tirthankara Neminatha.


Among the remaining 21 Tirthankaras of the Jaina tradition, there are several references from different sources to the first Tirthankara Rsabhanatha or Adinatha. Thus the tradition of twenty-four Tirthankaras is firmly established among the Jainas and what is really remarkable is that this finds confirmation from non‑Jaina sources, especially Buddhist and Hindu sources.



As Mahavira was the senior contemporary of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, it is natural that in the Buddhist literature there should be several references of a personal nature to Mahavira.  It is, however, very significant to note that in Buddhist books Mahavira is always described as nigantha Nataputta (Nirgrantha Jnatrputra), i.e., the naked ascetic of the Jnatr clan and never as the founder of Jainism.  Further, in the Buddhist literature Jainism is not shown as a new religion but is referred to as an ancient religion.  There are ample references in Buddhist books to the Jaina naked ascetics to the worship of Arhats in Jaina chaityas or temples and to the chaturyama‑dharma (i.e. fourfold religion) of 23rd Tirthankara Parsvanatha.


Moreover, it is very pertinent to find that the Buddhist literature refers to the Jaina tradition of Tirthankaras and specifically mentions the names of Jaina Tirthankaras like Rsabhadeva, Padmaprabha, Chandraprabha, Puspadanta, Vimalnath, Dharmanath and Neminatha.  The Dharmottara‑ pradipa, the well known Buddhist book, Mentions Rsabhadeva along with the name of Mahavira  or Vardhamana as an Apta or Tirthankara.  The Dhammikasutta of the Amgutara-nikaya speaks of Aristanemi or Nemi‑natha as one of the six Tirthankaras mentioned there.  The Buddhist book Manorathapurani, mentions the names of many lay men and women as followers of the Parsvanatha tradition and among them is the name of Vappa, the uncle of Gautama Buddha.  In fact it is mentioned in the Buddhist literature that Gautama Buddha himself practiced penance according to the Jaina way before he propounded his new religion.



The Jaina tradition of 24 Tirthankaras seems to have been accepted by the Hindus like the Buddhists, as could be seen from their ancient scriptures.  The Hindus, indeed, never disputed the fact that Jainism was founded by Rsabhadeva and placed his time almost at what they conceived to be the commencement of the world.  They acknowledged him as a divine person.  They gave the same parentage (father Nabhiraya and mother Marudevi) of Rsabhadeva as the Jainas do and they even agree that after the name of Rsabhadeva's eldest son Bharata this country is Known as Bharatavarsa.


In connection with the question of derivation of the name Bharatavarsa, it is pertinent to note that as many as three Bharatas had been prominent in ancient India.  In Ramayana, there is one prince Bharata, the younger brother of famous king Ramchandra, but considering his limited role, it is nowhere mentioned that after him this country is known as Bharatavarsa.  Similarly, another prince Bharata, the son of king Dusyanta from Sakuntala written by the celebrated poet Kalidasa.  But as there have been very few references in ancient Indian literature relating to outstanding military and other achievements of this Bharata, it cannot be maintained that this country's name Bharatavarsa is derived from him.  On the contrary, the well‑known prince Bharata, the eldest son of the first Jaina Tirthankara Lord Rsabhanath, is most famous as Chakravarti i.e., Emperor Bharata due to his great military exploits of bringing all kingdoms in India under his rule, and that is why, India is named Bharatavarsa after him.  This fact is amply borne out by Bhagavata, Markandeya, Vayu, Brahmanda, Skanda, Visnu and other Hindu puranas.  For example, in the Skanda‑purana (chapter 37) it is specifically stated:


Nabheh putras'‑cha Rsabhah Rsabhad Bharato'bhavat

tasya namna tvidam varsam Bharatam cheti kirtyate.


That is, Rsabha was the son of Nabhi and Rsabha gave birth to son Bharata and after the name of this Bharata, this country is known Bharatavarsa.


In the Rg‑veda there are clear references to Rsabha, the 1st Tirthankara, and to Aristanemi, the 22nd Tirthankara. The Yajur‑veda also mentions the names of three Tirthankaras, viz. Rsabha, Ajita‑natha and Aristanemi. Further, the Atharva‑veda specifically mentions the sect of Vratya means the observer of vratas or vows as distinguished from the Hindus at those times.  Similarly in the Atharva‑veda the term Maha‑vratya occurs and it is supposed that this term refers to Rsabhadeva, who could be considered as the great leader of the Vratyas.



From some historic references it can be regarded that Rsabha‑deva must be the founder of Jainism.  In this connection Dr. Jacobi writes " There is nothing to prove that Parsva was the founder of Jainism.  Jaina tradition is unanimous in making Rsabha, the first Tirthankara, as its founder and there may be something historical in the tradition which makes him the first Tirthankara ".  There is evidence to show that so far back as the first century B.C. there were people who were worshipping Rsabha‑deva.  It has been recorded that king Kharavela of Kalinga in his second invasion of Magadha in 161B.C. brought back treasures from Magadha and in these treasures there was the idol, known as Agrajina, of the first Jina (Rsabha‑deva) which had been carried away from Kalinga three centuries earlier by king Nanda I.  This means that in the 5th century B.C. Rsabha‑deva was worshipped and his statue was highly valued by his followers.  As we get in ancient inscriptions, authentic historical references to the statues of Rsabha‑deva, it can be asserted that he must have been the founder of Jainism.


Other archaeological evidences belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization of the Bronze Age in the India also lend support to the hoary antiquity of the Jaina tradition and suggest the prevalence of the practice of worship of Rsabha‑ deva, the 1st Tirthankara along with the worship of other deities.  Many relics from the Indus Valley excavations suggest the prevalence of Jaina religion in that ancient period (3500 to 3000 B.C.)


1.        It is observed that in the Indus Valley civilization there is a great preponderance of pottery figures of female deities over those of male deities and that the figures of male deities are shown naked.  In this regard Dr. Earnest Mackey, the renowned Archaeologist intimately connected with the Indus Valley excavations, mentions that " for some reason which it is difficult to understand, figures of male deities in pottery are distinctly rare.  They are entirely nude, in contrast with the female figures, which invariably wear a little clothing; necklaces and bangles, may be worn, but this  is by no means always the case ".  This fact clearly reveals the traces of Jaina religion among the Indus Valley people as the worship of nude male deities is a very well established practice in Jaina religion.

2.        For example, we find that the figures of six male deities in nude form, are engraved on one seal and that each figure is shown naked and standing erect in a contemplative mood with both hands keeping close to the body.  Since this kayotsarga way (i.e. in standing posture) of practicing penance is peculiar only to the Jainas and the figures are of naked ascetics, it can be maintained the these figures represent the Jaina Tirthankaras.

3.        Again, the figures of male deities in contemplative mood and in sitting posture engraved on the seals resemble the figures of Jaina Tirthankaras because in these the male deities are depicted as having one face only, while, the figures of male deities, supposed to be the prototypes of Lord Siva, are generally depicted as having three faces, three eyes and three horns.

4.        Moreover, on some seals we find the figure of a bull engraved below the figure of a nude male deity practicing penance in the kayotsarga way, i.e. in a standing posture.  These figures appear to be the representation of Rsabha‑deva, the 1st Jaina Tirthankara, because of the facts that among the Jainas there is an established practice of depicting the lanchhana, i.e. the emblem of each Tirthankara below his idol and that the emblem of Rsabha‑deva is a bull.

5.        In addition, the sacred signs of swastika are found engraved on a number of seals.  It is pertinent to note that the swastika signs engraved on seal No. 502,503, 506 and 514 exactly resemble the established Jaina and Hindu practices of drawing swastika signs.

6.        Furthermore, there are some motifs on the seals found in Mohen-jo-Daro and it is suggested that these motifs are identical with those found in the ancient Jaina art of Mathura.


From these archeological evidences it can be stated that there was the prevalence of worship of Jaina Tirthankara Rsabha‑deva along with the worship of the Hindu God who is considered to be the prototype of Lord Siva in the Indus Valley Civilization.  This presence of Jaina tradition in the earliest period of Indian history is supported by many scholars like Dr. Radha Kumud Mookerji, Gustav Roth, Prof. A. Chakravarti, Prof. Ram Prasad Chanda, T.N. Ramchandran, Champat Rai Jain, Kamta Prasad Jain and others.  Dr. Zimmerman strongly supports this antiquity of Jaina tradition in the following terms.  " There is truth in the Jaina idea that their religion goes back to remote antiquity, the antiquity in question being that of the pre‑Aryan". (Vide Zimmerman : The Philosophies of India, p.60).






Principles of Jainism

The fundamental principles of Jainism can be briefly stated as follows.


Man's personality is dual

The first fundamental principle of Jainism is that man's personality is dual, that is, material and spiritual.  Jaina philosophy regards that every mundane soul is bound by subtle particles of matter known as karma from the very beginning. It considers that just as gold is found in an alloyed form in the mines, in the same way mundane souls are found in the bondage of karma, from times immemorial.  The impurity of the mundane soul is thus treated as an existing condition.


Man is not perfect

The second principle that man is not perfect is based on the first principle.  The imperfectness in man is attributed to the existence of karma embodied with soul.  The human soul is in a position to obtain perfection and in that free and eternal state it is endowed with four characteristics, viz., ananta‑darsana, ananta‑jnana, ananta‑virya and ananta‑sukha, i.e. infinite perception or faith, infinite knowledge, infinite power and infinite bliss.


Man is the master of his material nature

Even though man is not perfect, the third principle states that by his spiritual efforts man can and must control his material nature.  It is only after the entire subjugation of matter that the soul attains perfection, freedom and happiness.  It is emphatically maintained that man will be able to sail across the ocean of births and achieve perfection through the control of senses and thought processes.


Man alone is responsible for his future

The last basic principle stresses that is only each individual that can scientifically separate his own soul from the matter combined with it.  The separation cannot be effected by any other person.  This means that man himself, and he alone, is responsible for all that is good or bad in his life.  He cannot absolve himself from the responsibility of experiencing the fruits of his actions.


It is pertinent to note that this principle distinguishes Jainism from other religions, e.g., Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.  According to Jainism no God, nor his prophet or deputy or beloved can interfere with the destiny of any being, with creation of the universe or with any happening in the universe.  Jainism also stresses that the universe goes on of its own accord.


In view of this specific attitude towards God, Jainism is accused of being atheistic.  This accusation is based on the fact that Jainism does not attribute the creation of universe to God.  But at the same time it must be realized that Jainism cannot be labeled as atheistic because of the basic facts that Jainism firmly believes in Godhood, in an infinity of Gods, in punya and papa, i.e., merit and demerit, and in various religious practices, etc. Jainism believes that the emancipated soul is itself God.  It is thus clear that Jainism cannot, in general, be considered as an atheistic religion.



With a view to achieve emancipation of soul from the bondage of karmas man has to acquire the knowledge of the beatific condition and of the causes which stand in the way of its attainment.  To find out these causes it is necessary to understand the nature of reality as it exists, sat is the concept the explains the nature of reality.


Jainism believes that sat, i.e., the reality, is uncreated and eternal and further asserts that sat, i.e., the reality, is characterized by : utpada, i.e., origination or appearance, vyaya, i.e., destruction or disappearance, and dhrauvya, i.e., permanence.  Jainism categorically states that every object of reality is found possessed of infinite characters, both with respect to what it is and what it is not.  In other words, according to Jainism every object of reality has its paryayas, i.e., modes, and gunas, i.e., qualities, through which persist the essential substrata through all the times.  That is why it is asserted that the basic substance with its gunas, i.e., qualities, is something that is permanent, and that is permanent, and disappear. Thus both change and permanence are facts of experience.  For example, the soul or spirit is eternal with its  inseparable character of consciousness, but at the same time it is subjected to accidental characters like pleasure and pain and superimposed modes such as body, etc., both of which are changing constantly.  For instance, gold with its color and density is something that is permanent though it is subjected to different shapes at different times.


Jainism believes that in this world dravyas, i.e., the substances, are real as they are characterized by existence. Jainism also believes that the entire substances of the universe can be broadly divided into two major categories, viz., jiva i.e., living, or soul and ajiva, i.e., non‑living, or non‑soul.  These two categories exhaust between them all that exists in the universe.  Jaina philosophy is based on the nature and interaction of these two elements.     It is this interaction between the living and the non‑ living, when they come into  contact with each other, that certain energies generate which bring about birth, death and various experiences of life.  This process can be stopped, and the energies already forged can be destroyed by a course of discipline leading to salvation.


A close analysis of this brief statement about Jaina philosophy shows that it involves the following seven propositions:

1.        that there is something, called living;

2.        that there is something, called non‑living;

3.        that the two come into contact with each other;

4.        that the contact leads to the production of some energies;

5.        that the process of contact could be stopped;

6.        that the existing energies could also be exhausted; and

7.        that the salvation could be achieved.


These seven proposition imply the seven tattvas or principles of Jaina philosophy.  These tattvas are termed as follows:

1.        jiva, i.e., living substance,

2.        ajiva, i.e., non‑living substance,

3.        asrava, i.e., the influx of karmic matter into the soul,

4.        bandha, i.e., bondage of soul by karmic‑matter,

5.        samvara, i.e., the stopping of asrava, the influx,

6.        nirjara, i.e., the gradual removal of karmic matter, and

7.        moksa, i.e., the attainment of perfect freedom from the karmas.


It is clear that the first two tattvas deal with the nature and enumeration of the eternal substances of nature, and the remaining five tattvas are concerned with the interaction between and separation of these two eternal substances, viz., jiva and ajiva, i.e., spirit and matter. In Jaina religion much importance has been given to these seven tattvas as every soul would be aspirant for moksa, i.e., salvation.  To achieve the ultimate goal a person has to understand the nature of these tattvas.  These seven tattvas point to two groups of substance.  Hence the really sentient object is the soul.


A recognition of these two entities‑soul and non‑soul‑ at once marks out the Jaina philosophy as dualistic and quite distinguishable from the monistic Vedanta philosophy which accepts only one reality without a second.


In view of this distinguishing feature of Jainism it is necessary to have a proper conception of these seven tattvas of Jaina philosophy.



The seven tattvas, i.e., principles of Jainism mentioned above are explained in Jaina religion as follows:



The Jiva means atman, i.e., soul or spirit.  The Jiva is essentially an undivided base of consciousness and there is an infinity of them.  The whole world is literally filled with them.  The souls are substances and as such they are eternal.  Their characteristic mark is consciousness, which can never be destroyed.  Basically the soul is all perfect and all powerful.  But by ignorance soul identifies itself with matter and hence all its troubles and degradation start.


Kinds of souls

The souls are of two kinds, viz.,

1.        samsarin, i.e., mundane, or baddha, i.e., those in bondage, and

2.        siddha, i.e., liberated, or mukta, i.e., those that are free.


Mundane souls are the embodied souls of living beings in the world and are still subject to the cycle of births.  On the other hand, siddha jivas are the liberated souls and they will be embodied no more.


Liberated souls

The liberated souls without any embodiment dwell in the state of perfection at the top of the universe.  So to say, they have no more to do with worldly affairs as they have reached Nirvana or Mukti, i.e., complete emancipation.  The liberated souls in their pure condition possess four attributes known as ananta‑chatustaya, i.e., infinite quaternary, viz.,

1.        ananta‑darsana, i.e., infinite perception

2.        ananta‑jnana, i.e., infinite knowledge,

3.        ananta‑virya, i.e., infinite power, and

4.        ananta‑sukha, i.e., infinite bliss.


Thus the most significant difference between the mundane and the liberated souls consists in the fact that the former is permeated with subtle matter known as karma; while the latter is absolutely pure and free from any material alloy.


Mundane souls

The mundane or embodied souls are living beings, the classification of which is a subject not only of theoretical but also of great practical interest to the Jainas.  As their highest duty is not to injure any living beings, it becomes incumbent on them to know the various forms which life may assume.


The mundane souls are of two kinds, viz., (i) samanaska, i.e., those who have a mind ( the faculty of distinguishing right or wrong), and (ii) amanaska, i.e., those who have no mind.

further, the mundane souls are also classified into two kinds from another point of view: (a) sthavara, i.e., the immobile or the one sensed souls, that is, having only the sense of touch; and (b) trasa, i.e., the mobile or, having a body with more than one sense organ.


Again, mobile souls are those which, being in fear, have the capacity of moving away from the object of fear.  But immobile souls do not have this capacity.


One‑sensed souls

The immobile or one‑sensed souls are of five kinds, viz.,

1.        prthvi‑kaya, i.e., earth‑bodied,

2.        ap‑kaya, i.e., water bodied,

3.        tejah‑kaya, i.e., fire‑bodied,

4.        vayu‑kaya, i.e., air bodied, and

5.        vanaspati‑kaya, i.e., vegetable‑bodied.


The Jaina believe that `nearly everything is possessed of a soul' has been characterized as animistic and hylozoistic by some scholars and therefore they regarded Jainism as a very primitive religion.  But a careful study of Jaina scriptures shows that Jainism cannot be termed as animistic faith because Jainism makes a clear distinction between soul and non‑soul.  It cannot be labeled as animism in the sense that `everything is possessed of a soul'.


Many‑sensed souls

There are in all five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing and therefore the mobile or many‑sensed souls are classified accordingly into four classes, viz.,

1.        dvi‑indriya jivas, i.e., those souls which have first two senses of touch and taste, for example, worms, etc.,

2.        tri‑indriya jivas, i.e., those souls which have first three senses of touch, taste and smell, for example, ants, etc.,

3.        chatur‑indriya jivas, i.e., those souls which have first four senses of touch, taste, smell and sight, for example, bumble bee, etc., and

4.        pancha‑indriya jivas, i.e., those souls which have all the five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing, for example, human begins etc.


Thus we find that in each class there is one sense organ more than those of the one preceding it.


Grades of mundane souls

From another point of view mundane beings are divided into four grades according to the place where they are born or their condition of existence.  The forms of existence or gatis are of four kinds, viz., (i) naraka‑gati, that is, hellish form, (ii) tiryag‑gati, that is, sub‑human form, (iii) manusya‑gati, that is, human form, and (iv) deva‑gati, that is, celestial form.


It is asserted that mundane beings are born in these four gatis according to their punya‑karmas, i.e., merits or papa‑ karmas i.e., demerits.  Jainism further believes that for moksa, i.e., complete salvation, birth in the human form is essential and that those in other forms or gatis will attain salvation only after taking birth in manusya‑gati, i.e., human form.


Characteristics of mundane souls

The mundane souls are always in the impure state, and in this state their features are described in the classical text Dravya‑sangraha in the Prakrit language :

                Jivo uvaogamao amutti katta sadehaparimano

                Bhotta samsarattho siddho so vissasoddhagai


1.        Jiva : It lived in the past, is living now and shall live for ever.

2.        Upayogamaya : It has perception and knowledge.

3.        Amurti : It is formless, that is, it has no touch, taste, smell or color.

4.        Kartr : It is the only responsible agent of all its actions.

5.        Svadeha‑parimana : It fills the body which it occupies, for example, that of an ant or an elephant.

6.        Bhoktr : It enjoys the fruits of its karmas.

7.        Samsarastha : It wanders in Samsara.

8.        Siddha : It can become in its perfect condition, siddha.

9.        Urdhvagati : It has the tendency to go upwards.



As we have seen Jaina philosophy starts with a perfect division of the universe into living and non‑living substances, jiva and ajiva.  The ajiva, i.e., non‑

living or non‑soul substances are of five kinds, namely,

1.        pudgala, i.e., matter,

2.        dharma i.e., medium of motion,

3.        adharma, i.e., medium of rest,

4.        akasa, i.e., space, and

5.        kala, i.e., time.


These six substances are called dravyas, i.e., elementary substances, in Jaina philosophy.  It should be noted that the terms dharma and adharma have a special significance other than usual meaning of punya and papa, i.e., merit and demerit.


A dravya has got three characteristics as follows :

1.        first, dravya has the quality of existence,

2.        secondly, dravya has the quality of permanence through origination and destruction, and

3.        thirdly, dravya is the substratum of attributes and modes.


Thus the drvya is uncreated and indestructible, its essential qualities remain the same and it is only its paryaya or mode of condition, that can and does change.



Whatever is perceived by the senses, the sense organs themselves, the various kinds of bodies of Jivas, the mind, the karmas, and the other material objects‑all of these are known as pudgala or matter.



Dharma is the principle of motion, the accompanying circumstance or cause which makes motion possible.  Just as water itself, being indifferent or neutral, is the condition of movement of fishes, so dharma, itself non‑motive, is the sine qua non of motion of jivas and pudgalas.  Hence dharma is coterminus with the universe, and is one substance unlike jiva and pudgala which are infinite in number.



Adharma or the principle of rest has all the characteristics associated with dharma.  But it is like the earth the sine qua non of rest for things in motion.



What contains or accommodates completely all jivas and pudgalas and the remaining dravya in the universe is termed as akasa or space. It is very pertinent to note that in Jaina philosophy the term akasa means space and not ether as it is very often interpreted in other systems of Indian philosophy.



That which is the cause or circumstance of  the modification of the soul and other dravyas is kala, that is, time.  It is immaterial and it has the peculiar attribute of helping the modification of other substances.


It is thus clear that dharma, adharma and akasa are each a single dravya, whereas jiva, pudgala and kala are held to be manifold dravyas.


Further, it must be remembered that the doctrines of Jainism firmly emphasize that these six jiva and ajiva dravyas, i.e., living and non‑living substances, are externally existing, uncreated and with no beginning in the time.  As substances they are eternal and unchanging but their modifications are passing through a flux of changes. Their mutual cooperation and interaction explain all that we imply by the term `creation'.  hence the doctrines of Jainism do not admit of any `Creator' of this universe.



The third principle asrava signifies the influx of karmic matter into the constitution of the soul.  Combination of karmic matter with jiva or soul is due to the activity of mind, speech or body.  In other words, Yoga is the name of a faculty of the soul itself, to attract matter under the influence of past karmas.  Hence in the embodied state this faculty comes into play.


Thus Yoga is the channel of asrava.  The physical matter which is actually drawn to the soul cannot be perceived by the senses as it is very fine.


Further, asrava is of two kinds, viz., (a) subha asrava, i.e., good influx, and (b) asubha asrava, i.e., bad influx.


The subha asrava is the inlet of virtue or meritorious karmas, and asubha asrava is the inlet of vice or demeritorious karmas.



When the karmic matter enters the soul, both get imperceptibly mixed with each other.  Bandha or bondage is the assimilation of matter which is fit to form karmas by the soul as it is associated with passions.  This union of spirit and matter does not imply a complete annihilation of their natural properties, but only a suspension of their functions, in varying degrees, according to the fusion of the spirit and matter is manifested in the form of a compound personality which partakes of the nature of both, without actually destroying either.


The causes of bandha or bondage are five, viz.,

1.        mithya‑darsana, i.e., wrong belief or faith, or wrong perception,

2.        avirati, i.e., vowlessness or non‑ renunciation,

3.        pramada, i.e., carelessness,

4.        kasaya, i.e., passions, and

5.        yoga, i.e., vibration in the soul through mind, speech and body.


Further, this bandha or bondage is of four kinds according to (i) prakrti, i.e., nature of karmic matter which has invested the soul; (ii) sthiti, i.e., duration of the attachment of karmic matter to the soul; (iii) anubhaga, i.e., the intensity or the character‑strong or mild‑of the actual fruition of the karmic matter, and (iv) pradesa, i.e., the number of karmic molecules which attach to the soul.



Effective states of desire and aversion, and activity of thought, speech or body are the conditions that attract karmas, good and bad, towards the soul.  When these conditions are removed, there will be no karmas approaching the jiva, that is complete samvara ‑ a sort of protective wall shutting out all the karmas is established round the self.  This samvara is described as Asrava‑nirodhah samvarah, that is, samvara is the stoppage of inflow of karmic matter into the soul.


There are several ways through which this stoppage could be effected and further inflow of karmic matter into the soul could be checked.



Nirjara means the falling away of karmic matter from the soul.  It is obvious that the soul will be rendered free by the automatic shedding of the karmas when they become ripe. But this falling away of karmas is by itself a lengthy process. Hence with a view to shorten this process, it is asserted that the falling away of karmic matter from the soul can be deliberately brought through the practice of austerities.


This nirjara is of two kinds : (i) Savipaka nirjara: It is the natural maturing of a karma and its separation from the soul, and (ii) Avipaka nirjara : It is inducing a karma to leave the soul, before it gets ripened, by means of ascetic practices.  In this way, in the savipaka nirjara the soul, in the maturity of time, is rid of the karmas by their operating and falling off from it; and in the avipaka nirjara, the karmas, which had not yet matured to operate, are induced to fall off from the soul.



Moksa is described as


Bandhahetvabhavanirjarabhyam krtsnakarmavipramokso moksah,


that is, moksa or liberation is the freedom from all karmic matter, owing to the non‑existence of the cause of bondage and shedding of all the karmas.  Thus complete freedom of the soul from karmic matter is called moksa.


This condition is obtained when the soul and matter are separated from each other.  Complete separation is effected when all the karmas have left the soul, and no more karmic matter can be attracted towards it.






Importance of the Doctrine

The doctrine of karma occupies a more significant position in the Jaina philosophy than it does in the other systems of philosophy.  The supreme importance of the doctrine of karma lies in providing a rational and satisfying explanation to the apparently inexplicable phenomena of birth and death, of happiness and misery, of inequalities in mental and physical attainments and of the existence of different species of living beings.


It will not be out of place to recapitulate here whether we have already discussed that every Jiva or soul is possessed of consciousness and of upayoga comprising the powers of perception and knowledge; it has no form but it is the doer of all actions; it has the capacity to occupy the full dimensions of the body which embodies it; it is the enjoyer of the fruits of its actions and is located in the changing universe; it has an inherent tendency to move upwards and is a Siddha or liberated in its state of perfection.


If these are the characteristics of jiva or soul, how is it that a jiva finds itself entangled in the samsara, i.e., cycle of transmigration, suffering birth and death, happiness and misery? In the world, only a few souls are in a state of comparative development and the rest of them are encaged in forms and bodies which make them blind to their nature.


The answer to this enigma is to be found in the doctrine of karma which explains the operation of karmic matter which draws a veil over the natural qualities of the soul crippling their powers in varying degrees.  Jainism starts with the premise that the soul is found entangled with karma since eternity.  It is the primary function of religion to stop the influx and mitigate the presence of karma with the soul and to show the path of the liberation and the methods through which the soul could achieve perfection.


Nature of Karma

In ordinary parlance karma means action, deed or work. Sometimes it means acts of ritualistic nature enjoined by the scriptures.  In Jaina philosophy, it means a form of matter or pudgala.  It is inert and lifeless.  It is very fine and subtle.  It cannot be perceived or discerned by any of our senses.  It cannot be seen even with the most sensitive microscope, and with the maximum magnifying capacity.  It baffles all analysis at the hands of the chemist or physicist who can neither identify or analyze it.  It is millions of times finer and subtler than the waves of sound, light or electricity, or the electrons or the protons conceived by modern science.  Yet the matter is ever surrounding us on all sides and permeating the entire space and atmosphere.  It is the primary cause which keeps the universe going.  Every phenomenon in the universe is the manifestation of the karmic energy.


Bondage of Karma

As already noted, the basic principle of Jainism states that mundane souls exist in the world from time eternal in association with matter.  Of course, the character of the bondage is freely and constantly being changed; but the fact and condition of the bondage of the soul by matter persists through all changes.  This association leads to further bondage and so the cycle goes on till the association is severed in such a manner as to avoid any fresh contact.


As regards the process of bondage of karma with soul, it is maintained that the contact takes place in the following way:

1.        The soul is surrounded by a large volume of fine matter called karma.

2.        The vibration of the soul is called Yoga or activity and the activity may be due to the body, speech or thought.  Hence vibrations in the soul occur as a result of activity of any kind.

3.        When the soul tries to do anything, then instantly the surrounding particles of matter cling to it just as the particles of dust stick to the body besmeared with oil.

4.        Like water in milk these particles of matter get completely assimilated with soul.

5.        This assimilation of matter with the soul remains throughout life as well as in its migration from one body to another through the process of birth and death.

6.        This connection of soul and matter is real; otherwise in a pure state the soul would have flown to the highest point in the universe, as it is the innate quality of the soul.

7.        As this connection or bondage is effected by the karma or deed or activity of the soul, the subtle matter which combines with the soul is termed as karma.

8.        This bondage of karmas with soul produces in the soul certain conditions, just as a pill of medicine which when introduced into the body, produces therein manifold effects.

9.        This bondage of karmas with soul, obscures the innate qualities of the soul in the manner in which the light of the sun is obscured by thick clouds or blinding dust.

10.     Karma may result in or cause the inflow of punya, i.e., merit, or papa, i.e., demerit or sin, according as the activity is subha, i.e., virtuous, or asubha, i.e., wicked.  The intention underlying an activity and its consequences are both taken into account.  That is why, subha karma, i.e. merit, produces happiness and an asubha karma, i.e. demerit or sin, produces misery, pain or uneasiness.

11.     The karmic matter remains with the soul and binds it in the circle of birth as gods, men, denizens of hell and sub‑human beings.


Kinds of karma

The karmas are divided into eight main divisions and 148 sub‑divisions according to the nature of karmic matter.  The main eight karmas are :

1.        Jnanavaraniya, i.e., the Knowledge‑obscuring karma. It obscures the right knowledge of the soul and thereby produces different degrees of knowledge.

2.        Darsanavaraniya, i.e., the Contation‑obscuring karma. It obscures the conation attribute of the soul.

3.        Vedaniya, i.e. the Feeling karma.  It produces pleasure and pain and thereby obscures the nature of the soul.

4.        Mohaniya, i.e., the Deluding karma.  it distorts the right attitudes of the soul with regard to faith and conduct, etc. and produces passions and a variety of mental states.

5.        Ayuh, i.e., the Age karma.  It determines the length of life of an individual.

6.        Nama, i.e., the Body‑making karma.  It determines everything that is associated with personality, that is, the kind of body, senses, health and complexion and the like.

7.        Gotra, i.e., the Family determining karma.  It determines the nationality, caste, family, social standing, etc. of an individual.

8.        Antaraya, i.e., the Obstructive karma.  it obstructs the inborn energy of the soul and thereby the doing of an action, good or bad. when there is the desire to do it.


Further, these Karmas fall into two broad categories, viz., (A) the ghatiya, the destructive karmas, that is, those which have a directly negative effect upon the soul; and (B) the aghatiya, the non‑destructive karmas, that is those which bring about the state and particular conditions of the embodiment. Each category includes four kinds of karmas as given below:


The Ghatiya, i.e. the destructive Karmas comprise:

1.        Jnanavaraniya, i.e. the knowledge‑obscuring karma

2.        Darsanavaraniya, i.e. the Conation (darsana)‑ obscuring karma.

3.        Mohaniya, i.e., the Deluding Karma, and

4.        Antaraya, i.e. the Obstructive karma.


The Aghatiya i.e. the non‑destructive karmas comprise the remaining four kinds of karmas, viz.,

1.        Vedaniya, i.e. the Feeling karma

2.        Ayu i.e. the Age karma.

3.        Nama i.e. the Body‑making karma and

4.        Gotra i.e. the Family‑determining karma.


The reason for distinction in these two categories lies in the fact that while ghatiya karmas destroy the manifestations of the essential attributes of the soul, the aghatiya karmas are mainly concerned with environments, surroundings and bodies.


Destruction of Karma

Since the presence of karmic matter in the soul is the cause of the cycle of births and deaths and of all conditions of life, the soul must be freed from the karmic matter. For this the influx or inflow of karmic matter into the soul must be stopped by cultivating pure thoughts and actions, and the stock of existing karmic matter must be consumed by the practice of religious austerities.


In this way when the karmas are completely destroyed, the soul becomes liberated with all its potential qualities fully developed. This liberated and perfect soul is the embodiment of infinite perception, infinite knowledge, infinite bliss and infinite power. It should, therefore, be the aim of every individual to achieve this perfect and natural condition of soul by one's own efforts.


In regard to the question of the destruction of karmas. Jainism clearly asserts that the attainment of the freedom of the soul from the karma matter entirely depends on one's own proper deeds or actions and not on the favors of human or divine beings. Just as the interacting eternal substances, viz., the dravyas, postulated in Jainism, admit no Creator, so also the inviolable law of karma makes the man the master of his destiny and dispenses away with the favorite theistic idea that some divinity bestows on man various favors and frowns.


The doctrine of karma is not the doctrine of fatalism. It is the law of cause and effect. It is the moral law of causation which shows  that man is the maker of his fortunes or misfortunes. If a man enjoys or suffers, he does so as a consequence of his actions, thought or speech.



Thus the doctrine of karma is the key‑stone in the arch of Jaina ideology. It tries to explain the reasons lying behind or causes leading to effects. It maintains that every happening is the result of antecedent causes. As the soul is regarded as the doer of actions, really the soul is made responsible for all defferences in people's conditions. Whatever actions are performed by the soul, it must bear the consequences thereof sooner or later. There is no way out of it. The responsibility of consequences cannot be shifted, nor exemption from the consequences be given. The soul has to enjoy the fruits of the karmas in this life or in subsequent lives.


Further, it is clear that according to the doctrine of karma, there is no salvation until the soul stops the influx or inflow of karmas and gets rid of the existing karmas and that the soul will have to activate itself by its own deliberate efforts without expecting any help from an outside agency. There is no use in asking the favor of God or His representatives because Jainism never invests God with the power of determining the consequences of the karmas nor bestows on them the authority to forgive people from future consequences of past actions.


It may be noted that Jainism denies both intermediation and forgiveness on the part of God; of what we have done we must bear the consequences.  It is not fate, nor even predestination, but it is the ceaseless effect of recording of the different accounts that we keep with the forces of life.  The karmas constitute the karmic body bids good‑bye to the soul.


This doctrine or theory of karma is an original and integral part of the Jaina system.  As it lays full stress on individual action and completely denies the existence of divine dispensation, it is clear that the ethics and asceticism of the Jainas are the logical consequences of this doctrine of karma.


In this connection Dr. C. Krause has, in her book Heritage of Last Arhat, has rightly said that, "Jainism does not fortify its followers by the terrors of karma nor does it make them languish in unhealthy, effeminate fatalism, as many people think all oriental religions do, but on the contrary, it trains the individuals to become a true hero on the battlefield of self‑conquest".



Meaning of a Naya

According to Jaina Philosophy the object of knowledge is a huge complexity because (i) it is constituted of substances, qualities and modifications, (ii) it is extended over past, present and future times, (iii) it is extended over infinite space, and (iv) it is simultaneously subjected to origination, destruction and permanence.


It is obvious that such an object can be fully comprehended only in omniscience, which is not manifested in the case of worldly beings who perceive through their organs of senses.  But the senses are the indirect means of knowledge, and whatever they apprehend is partial like the proverbial perception of an elephant and concludes that the elephant is like a log of wood, like a fan, like a well, etc.


In view of these conditions we find that the ordinary human being cannot rise above the limitations of his senses; so his apprehension of reality is partial and it is valid only from a particular point of view known as Naya.


In other words, according to Jainism, reality is a complex not merely in the sense of constituting aneka, i.e., manyness but also because of its nature of anekanta, i.e., manifoldness of view‑points.  That is why Jainism points to the fact that reality may be comprehended from different angles.  The attempt at comprehending anything from a particular standpoint is known as Naya and the system of describing reality from different points of view is termed as Nayavada, i.e., the doctrine of Nayas.  This is based on the fact that Jainism regards all things as anekanta (or na‑ eikanta).  In other words it is held regards all things as anekanta (or na‑eikanta).  In other words it is held only under certain conditions.


In view of this, a naya is defined as a particular opinion framed with a view‑point, a view‑point which does not rule out other different view‑points, and is, therefore, expressive of a partial truth about an object, as entertained by a knowing agent.


Classification of Nayas

As nayas are modes of expressing things, there can be a number of nayas through which reality could be expressed.


Paryaya‑naya and Dravya‑naya

To take an example, when different kinds of gold ornaments are described from the point of view of the modes or modifications of gold, it is termed the paryaya‑naya or the

paryayarthika‑naya, i.e., the modal point of view.


Similarly, when gold ornaments are described with regard to their substance, i.e., gold, and its inherent qualities, it is termed the dravya‑naya or the dravyarthika‑naya, i.e., the substantial point of view.


Vyavahara‑naya and Nischaya‑naya

On the same lines, in spiritual discussion, the things could be described both from a practical point of view and from a realistic point of view.  Thus when things are described from the common sense or practical point of view, it is termed the vyavahara‑naya; and when things are described from the pure or realistic point of view, it is termed the nischaya‑naya.


Seven Nayas

Since naya is the device which is capable of determining truly one of the several characteristics of an object(without contradiction) from a particular point of view, the Jaina philosophers formulated seven nayas.  These nayas are:


1.        Naigama naya, i.e., universal‑particular, or teleological point of view.

2.        Sangraha naya, i.e., the class point of view.

3.        Vyavahara naya, i.e., the standpoint of the particular.

4.        Rjusutra naya, i.e., the standpoint of momentariness.

5.        Sabda naya, i.e., the standpoint of synonymous.

6.        Samabhirudha naya, i.e., the etymological standpoint.

7.        Evambhuta naya, i.e., the `Such‑likes" standpoint


It is also maintained that these seven nayas could be considered as sub‑divisions of dravyarthika and paryayarthika nayas.  Thus, the first three nayas, viz.,

1.        the naigama naya,

2.        the sangraha naya, and

3.        the vyavahara naya

are the sub‑divisions of dravyarthika naya as they deal with objects.


Similarly, the last four nayas, viz.,

1.        the rjusutra naya,

2.        the sabda naya,

3.        the samabhirudha naya, and

4.        the evvambhuta naya

are the sub‑divisions of paryayarthika naya as they are concerned with modification of substances.


Similarly, the first four nayas are called artha nayas in as much as they deal with objects of knowledge, whereas the remaining three nayas are called sabda nayas in as much as they pertain to terms and their meanings.


Further, each one of these nayas is considered to have one hundred sub‑divisions. Thus, according to this view, there are seven hundred nayas.


We find that two other views are also expressed, viz.,

1.        that there are only six nayas, i.e., the nayas (the seven mentioned above) with the exclusion of the first naya, i.e., the naigama naya, and

2.        that there are only five nayas, in the sense that the last two nayas (of the above‑mentioned seven nayas), viz., the samabhirudha naya and the evambhuta naya are included in the fifth (of the above mentioned seven nayas) naya, viz., the sabda naya.


Significance of Nayavada

Nayavada is a warning to those philosophers who assert that their system is absolute and all‑comprehensive.  It shows the way to a reconciliation of conflicting view‑points and harmonization of all stand‑points by appreciating the relativity of the different aspects of reality.


But it is pertinent to note that nayas reveal only a part of the totality and that they should not be mistaken for the whole.  Because of this infinite‑fold constitution of a thing, there can be infinite nayas and they can be classified into various categories.  As naya is defined by Saint Acharya Akalanka, the reputed philosopher‑author, as Nayo jnatur abhiprayah, i.e., naya is a particular approach of the knower, a synthesis of these different view‑points is a practical necessity; therein every view‑point must be able to retain its relative importance and this is fulfilled by the doctrine of syadvada, i.e., the doctrine of qualified assertion.



Term syadvada

The doctrine of nayavada provides the framework for the doctrine of Syadvada, since it clearly points out that reality can be looked at from many different standpoints, and that no standpoint can be claimed as the only valid one.  The term Syadvada is derived from the term syat meaning `in some respect'.  if the aim of philosophical inquiry is to comprehend reality, the Jaina philosophers point out that it cannot be achieved by merely formulating certain simple, categorical propositions.  Reality being complex any one simple proposition cannot express the nature of reality fully.  That is the reason why the term syat, i.e., `in some respect', is appended to the various propositions concerning reality by the Jaina philosophers without any absolute affirmation whatsoever in regard to any one of them.  That is why each affirmation is preceded by the phrase `syat', i.e., `in some respect'.  This indicates that the affirmation is only relative, made somehow, from some point of view and under some reservations and is not in any sense absolute.


Meaning of Syadvada

It is not enough if various problems about reality are merely understood from different points of view.  What one knows one must be able to state truly and correctly.  This need is met by the doctrine of Syadvada or Anekantavada, i.e., many‑sided view‑point.


It is a fact that the object of knowledge is a vast complexity covering infinite modes, that human mind is of limited understanding, and that human speech has its imperfections in expressing the whole range of experience. Under these circumstances all our statements are conditionally or relatively true.  Hence every statement must be qualified with the term syat, i.e., `in some respect', or `somehow', or `in a way', with a view to emphasize its conditional or relative character.


Statements of Syadvada

In this way, on the basis of Anekantavada or Syadvada, while describing a thing seven possible statements or propositions or assertions, seemingly contradictory but perfectly true can be made in the following manner :

1.        Syad‑asti, i.e., in some respects, it is;

2.        Syad‑nasti, i.e., in some respect, it is not;

3.        Syad‑asti‑nasti, i.e., in some respect, it is and it is not;

4.        Syad‑avaktavya, i.e., in some respect, it is indescribable;

5.        Syad‑asti, avaktavya, i.e., in some respect, it is not and is indescribable;

6.        Syad‑nasti, avaktavya, i.e., in some respect, it is not and is indescribable, and

7.        Syad‑asti‑nasti, avaktavya, i.e., in some respect, it is and is not and is indescribable.


These seven propositions are formulated by the three expressions, viz., asti, nasti and avaktavya, the word syat being common to all of them, and their combinations.


These propositions will be clear with the help of an illustration.  For example, a man is the father and is not the father and is both ‑are perfectly intelligible statements, if one understands the point of view from which they are made.  In relation to a particular boy he is the father; in relation to another boy he is not the father; in relation to both the boys taken together he is the father and is not the father.  Since both the ideas cannot be conveyed in words at the same time, he may be called indescribable: still he is father and is indescribable; and so on.


Further, it may be noted that the seven propositions can be formulated in regard to the eternality, identity and difference, etc., of any object.  The Jaina philosophers believe that these seven modes of predication together give us an adequate description of reality.


Moreover, it is obvious that the combinations of points of view cannot be more than seven as reality is open to seven statements and not to more.  The reason why the number of modes is neither more nor less than seven is because it is believed that any complex situation is amenable to treatment by this seven‑fold technique if one is adept in using it. Any attempt to add or subtract a mode will be found to be impossible since addition finds the mode already there among the existing seven modes, and subtraction will mutilate the essential limit from the scheme.


Thus the doctrine of Anekantavada, comprising these seven propositions, is neither self‑contradictory nor vague or indefinite; on the contrary, it represents a very sensible view of things in a systematized form.


Further, this doctrine of anekantavada is also called the doctrine of saptabhangi, i.e., the doctrine of seven‑ fold predication, because these seven possible modes of expression can be used while describing a thing.


Syadvada and Nayavada

From the above propositions it is obvious that Syadvada complements the Nayavada.  Whereas the emphasis in Nayavada is on an analytical approach to reality, on pointing out that different standpoints can be taken, the stress in Syadvada is on the synthetic approach to reality, on reiterating that the different view‑points together help us in comprehending the reality.  As analysis and synthesis are not unrelated to each other we find elements of analysis even in a synthetic view of reality.


In more concrete terms : in nayavada there is the recognition that over‑emphasizing any one view would lead to a fallacy that different views have their value, that each one of them reflects reality and, therefore, that they together alone can give a sweep into reality.  Similarly, in Syadvada the systematic character of the modes of predictions, is highlighted with a clear understanding that various propositions have, each one of them, something to convey about reality itself.


Significance of Syadvada

From the discussion of Syadvada it is clear that Syadvada aims to unify, coordinate, harmonize and synthesize the individual view points into a predictable whole.  In other words, the Syadvada, like music, blends discordant notes so as to make a perfect harmony.


Further, Syadvada is not a doctrine of mere speculative interest, one intended to solve not only ontological problems, but has a bearing upon man's psychological and spiritual life.


Moreover, the doctrine of Syadvada has supplied the philosopher with cosmopolitanism of thought convincing him that truth is not anybody's monopoly with tariff walls of denominational religions and it has again supplied the religious aspirant with `intellectual toleration' which is quite on par with ahimsa for which Jainism has eminently stood for the last two thousand years and more.


The essence of this doctrine of Syadvada, keeping off scholastic terminology, seems just that as to matters of experience it is impossible to formulate the whole and complete truth, and as to matters which transcend experience, language is inadequate.


Furthermore, it is pertinent to note that apart from the pains the Jaina philosophers have taken to describe reality, their doctrine of Syadvada brings out the comprehensiveness of approach of the Jaina Philosophers to these problems.





Three-fold path of Salvation

From the basic principles of Jaina philosophy, it is evident that the inherent powers of the soul are crippled by its association with karmic matter and that is why every person is found in an imperfect state.  The Jaina philosophy, therefore, asserts that real and everlasting happiness will be obtained by a person only when the karmas are completely removed from the soul.  Further, Jainism firmly believes that even though man is imperfect at present, it is quite possible for him to rid himself of the karmas associated with his soul by his own personal efforts without any help from an outside agency.  Moreover, it is quite clear that according to Jaina philosophy the highest happiness consists in securing final emancipation from the cycle of births and deaths and in attaining the state of liberated soul, that is, obtaining Moksa or salvation.  Furthermore, the Jaina philosophy reiterates that as this world is full of sorrow and trouble, it is quite necessary to achieve the aim of transcendental bliss by a sure method.


When the goal has been ascertained the next question arises regarding the way how to achieve that objective. To this question the Jaina religion has a definite answer.  In this connection, the Tattvarth‑adhigama‑sutra, the most sacred text of Jainism, emphatically states in its first aphoristic rule, Samyag‑darsana‑jnana‑charitrani moksa margah, that is, samyag darsana (right belief), samyag‑jnana (right knowledge)  and samyak charitra (right conduct) together constitute the path to salvation.  Further, these three basic ingredients, namely, right belief, right knowledge and right conduct, are called ratna‑traya or the three jewels in Jaina works.


It is pertinent to note that these three are not severally considered as different paths but are thought to form together a single path.  That is why it is firmly maintained that these three must be present together to constitute the path to salvation.  Since all the three are emphasized equally, since moksamarga, i.e., way to salvation, is impossible without the unity of all the three, it is obvious that Jainism is not prepared to admit any one of these three in isolation as means of salvation.


In view of this firm conviction in Jainism, the Jaina works always strongly emphasize that the three must be simultaneously pursued.  This conviction is brought home by some effective illustrations.  For example, it is contented that to effect a cure of a malady, faith in the efficacy of a medicine, knowledge of its use, and actual taking of it; these three together are essential; so also, to get emancipation, faith in the efficacy of Jainism, its knowledge and actual practicing of it, these three are quite indispensable.  Similarly, the Moksamarga, i.e., the path to salvation, is compared in Jaina works to a ladder with its two side poles and the central rungs forming the steps.  The side poles of the ladder are right belief and right knowledge and the rungs or steps of the ladder are the gradual stages of right conduct.  It is obvious that it is possible to ascend the ladder only when all the three i.e., the side poles and the rungs, are sound.  The absence of one makes the ascent impossible.


Thus a simultaneous pursuit of right belief, right knowledge and right conduct is enjoined upon the people as the only proper path to salvation in the Jaina scriptures. Further, the ethical code prescribed by Jainism for both the house‑holders and the ascetics is based on this three‑fold path of liberation.  Hence it is quite necessary to see the main characteristics of these Three Jewels" which constitute that path.



Meaning of Right Belief

It is clear that out of the three jewels, mentioned above, right belief comes first and that it forms the basis upon which the other two jewels, viz., right knowledge and right conduct, rest.  Hence it has been laid down that one must, by all possible means, first attain right belief, i.e., the basic conviction in the fundamentals of Jainism, because it has been asserted that only on the acquisition of right belief, the knowledge and conduct become right.


The term Right Belief has been defined by acharya Umasvami in his authoritative Jina sacred text entitled Tattvarthadhigama‑sutra as follows :

                "Tattvarthasraddhanam samyag‑darsanam"

that is, right belief is the faith in the true nature of the substances as they are.  In other words, right belief means true and firm conviction in the seven principles or tattvas of Jainism as they are, without any perverse notions.


Further, it is maintained that right belief consists in believing that

1.        the Jaina Arhats including the Tirthankaras are the true Gods,

2.        the Jaina sastras are the true scriptures, and

3.        the Jaina Gurus are the true Preceptors.


Moreover, it is also asserted that such right belief

1.        should have eight angas, i.e., essential requisites,

2.        should be free from three kinds of mudhatas, i.e., superstitious beliefs, and

3.        should be free from eight kinds of mada, i.e., pride or arrogance.


Requisites of Right Belief

The Jaina scriptures states that the right belief should be characterized by eight angas, i.e., essential requisites or components or limbs, and that these angas determine the excellence of right belief.  These eight angas which support the right belief are :


1.        Nihsankita‑anga, that is, one should be free from doubt about the truth or validity of the tenets of Jainism.

2.        Nihkanksita‑anga, that is, one should have no love or liking or desire for worldly enjoyment as everything is evanescent.

3.        Nirvichikitsita‑anga, that is, one should decline to have an attitude of scorn towards the body even though it is full of impurities and should have regard for the body as it can be purified by the three jewels of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct.

4.        Amudhadrsti‑anga, that is, one should have no inclination for the wrong path or one should be free from perversity and superstition.

5.        Upaguhana‑anga, that is, one should maintain spiritual excellence and protect the prestige of that faith when it is faced with the risk of being belittled on account of the follies and shortcomings of others.  In other words, one should praise the pious but should not deride those who may be faltering in their pursuit of religion.

6.        Sthitikarana‑anga, that is, one should sustain souls in right convictions.  One should have the quality of rehabilitating others in the path of right faith or conduct by preaching them or reminding them of the religious truths whenever they are found to be going astray.

7.        Vatsalya‑anga, that is, one should have loving regard for pious persons.  One should show affection towards co-religionists and respect and devotion towards the spiritually advanced by receiving them with courtesy and looking after their comforts.

8.        Prabhavana‑anga, that is, one should endeavor to demonstrate and propagate the greatness of the Jaina tenets and scriptures.  One should try to wean people from wrong practices and beliefs by establishing to them the importance of the true religion by arranging religious functions and charities.


Avoidance of Superstitious Beliefs

It is also laid down in Jaina scriptures that right belief should be free from the following three kinds of mudhatas, i.e., superstitious beliefs:

1.        Loka‑Mudhata is the false belief in holiness.  It relates to taking baths in certain rivers, jumping down the peaks of mountains and entry into fires under the supposition of acquiring merit for themselves or for their kith and kin.

2.        Deva‑mudhata is the belief in false Gods.  It accepts the efficacy of village gods and goddesses who are endowed with ordinary human qualities and attempts to propitiate them. This superstition consists in believing in gods and goddesses who are credited with passionate and destructive powers, willing to oblige the devotees by grant of favors they pray for.

3.        Pakhandi‑mudhata is the belief in and respect for dubious ascetics.  It shows regard for false ascetics and considers their teaching as gospel of truth.  It refers to entertainment of false ascetics and respecting them with a hope to get some favors from them through magical or mysterious powers exercised for personal gain or show of power.


Thus the mind must be freed from such superstitious beliefs and any doubts so that the ground can be made clear for the rise and development of right belief.


Freedom from Pride

Besides the avoidance of these three kinds of superstitious beliefs, the mind must be made free from the eight kinds of mada or pride : jnana (learning), puja (worship), kula (family), jati (caste, or contacts and family connections), bala (power or one's own strength), riddhi (wealth or affluence or accomplishments), tapas (penance or religious austerities and vapus (body or person or beautiful form or appearance).


It is obvious that all or any one or more of these kinds of pride are likely to disturb the equilibrium of mind, and create likes or dislikes for men and matters.  In such a case understanding is likely to be erroneous, if not perverted. Naturally an inflated notion of oneself on necessary that for the blissful drawn of right belief there should be an effacement of these types of pride.


Glory of Right Belief

The Jaina works describe at length the glory of right belief and enumerate the benefits which can be accrued by a person possessing right belief.  They go to the extent of declaring that asceticism and that even a low caste man possessing right belief can be considered better fit to attain moral dignity.


In short, the Right Belief is given precedence over Right Knowledge and Right Conduct, because it acts as a pilot in guiding the soul towards moksa, i.e., salvation.  Further, there can be no rise, stability growth and fulfillment of knowledge and character, unless they are founded on right belief or faith.




Relation between Right Belief and Right Knowledge

It is considered desirable that on attaining right belief one should strive after right knowledge.  As regards the relationship between right belief and right knowledge it has been specifically stated thwart although right belief and right knowledge are contemporaneous, there is yet a clear relation of cause and effect between them, just as it is between a lamp and its light.  It is true that lamp and light go together, still the lamp precedes the light, and light cannot be said to precede the lamp.  In the same way there is the relation of cause and effect between right belief and right knowledge, though both are almost simultaneous.  Right knowledge cannot precede right belief, and from this point of view right knowledge is called the effect and right belief, the cause.


Nature of Right Knowledge

Right knowledge has been described in Jaina scriptures as "that knowledge which reveals the nature of things neither insufficiently, nor with exaggeration, nor falsely, but exactly as it is and with certainty".  It has also been stated that right knowledge consists in having full comprehension of the real nature of soul and non‑soul (i.e., matter) and that such knowledge should be free from samsaya, i.e. doubt, vimoha, i.e., perversity, and vibhrama, i.e., vagueness or indefiniteness.


Moreover, Jaina scriptures always assert that knowledge is perfect when it does not suffer from the mithyatva, i.e., wrong belief.  Mithyatva is the enemy of right knowledge as it perverts both the understanding and the attitude.  That is why all Jaina thinkers have insisted upon the elimination of wrong belief from mind.  Mithyatva reminds one somewhat of the aviveka, i.e., want of discrimination of the Samkhya, and the maya, i.e., illusion of the Buddhist systems of philosophy.  Hence Jainism insists that right knowledge cannot be attained, unless wrong knowledge is banished.


Kinds of Knowledge

When considered with reference to its means of acquisition, knowledge is of five kinds :

1.        Mati‑jnana (sense knowledge) is knowledge of the self and non‑self acquired by means of the five senses and the mind. Obviously this kind of knowledge  is limited to things in matter of existence.

2.        Sruta‑jnana (scriptural knowledge) is derived from the reading or hearing of scriptures. Like the first kind of knowledge, the sruta‑jnana is not limited to the things in existence but it can comprehend all matters of the present, past and future as expounded in the scriptures.

3.        Avadhi‑jnana (clairvoyant knowledge) is knowledge of things in distant time or place. It is knowledge of the remote or past. It can be acquired by saints who have attained purity of thought and developed their mental capacity by austerities. It is otherwise possessed by the celestial and infernal souls.

4.        Manah‑paryana‑jnana (Mental knowledge) is direct knowledge of another's mental activity, that is, about thoughts and feelings of others. It can be acquired by those who have gained self‑mastery or samyama.

5.        Kevala‑jnana (perfect knowledge or omniscience) is full or perfect knowledge without the limitations of time or space, which is the soul's characteristic in its pure and undefinable condition. It draws on the Tirthankaras and perfect souls.


Pillars of Right Knowledge

Like right belief, right knowledge also has got eight pillars or requirements:

1.        Grantha, that is correct use of words. It means that reading, writing and pronouncing of every letter and word should be done correctly. It also denotes that books must be studied with care and faith.

2.        Artha, that is meaning. It indicates that reading should be directed towards understanding the meaning and full significance of words, phrases and text. It suggests that mere mechanical study without understanding the meaning serves no purpose.

3.        Grantha‑artha, that is combination of grantha and artha. It stresses that both reading and understanding of the meaning are essential as they together complete the process and the purport. It is emphasized that mere reading is not enough.

4.        Kala, that is observance of regularity and propriety of time. It means that improper and unsuitable occasions should be avoided. Again, the time chosen for study must be peaceful and free from disturbance due to worries and anxieties.

5.        Vinaya, that is reverent attitude. It is laid down that humility and respect towards the scriptures should be cultivated to develop our devotion to learning.

6.        Sopadhanata, that is propriety. While studying we do come across difficult expressions and inexplicable ideas.  But in such cases one should not draw hasty conclusions which might lead to improper behaviour.

7.        Bahumana, that is zeal. It is pointed out that zeal in the mastery of the subject under study is also essential to sustain interest and continuity.

8.        Anihnava, that is without concealment of knowledge or of its sources. It is suggested that one must keep an open mind and attitude so that narrow considerations do not shut one out from fullness of knowledge.


Thus, the right knowledge can be acquired by pursuit with devotion by reading sacred scriptures, understanding their full meaning and significance in proper time and with punctuality, imbued with zeal, proper behaviour and open mind.


In conclusion, it can be specifically maintained that both right belief and right knowledge are very closely associated with each other just as the association between a lamp and its light. Even though lamp and light go together, there must be a lamp which must oil and wick before it could be lighted. Similarly, before right knowledge can be gained, there must be the inexhaustible piety and urge for knowledge which is the oil; the source of knowledge like the scripture, the discourses from preceptors and saints are the wick; the pursuit and study with devotion are like the lighting of the lamp; then only there can be light in the form of knowledge.



After right belief and right knowledge, the third, but the most important path to the goal of moksha, i.e. salvation is right conduct. In Jainism utmost importance is attached to the right conduct because right belief and right knowledge equip the individual with freedom from delusion and consequently equip him with true knowledge of the fundamental principles clarifying what are worthy renunciation and realization and ultimately lead to right conduct as an integral and crowning constituent of the path of salvation. That is why conduct which is inconsistent with right knowledge is considered as wrong conduct or misconduct. Hence conduct becomes perfect only when it is in tune with right belief and right knowledge. It is, therefore, enough to point out that the importance of right conduct in the process of self-realization consists in the fact that it is only when right knowledge based on right belief is translated into practical and spiritual discipline that the path of emancipation of soul from the cycle of births and deaths becomes smooth. It is clear that in accordance with Jaina philosophy right conduct presupposes the presence of right knowledge which presupposes the existence of right belief.  Therefore the Jaina scriptures have enjoined upon the persons who have secured right belief and right knowledge to observe the rules of right conduct, as the destruction of karmic matter associated with the soul can be accomplished only through the practice of right conduct.


Right Conduct includes the rules of discipline which

1.        restrain all censurable movements of mind, speech and body,

2.        weaken and destroy all passionate activity and

3.        lead to non‑attachment and purity.


Further, right Conduct has been conceived of two kinds or categories according to the degree of intensity of the actual practice of rules of behavior laid down under right conduct.  These two kinds are (i) Sakala‑charitra, i.e., complete or perfect or unqualified conduct; and (ii) Vikala‑ charitra, i.e., partial or imperfect or qualified conduct.


Out of these two kinds of right conduct, the former, i.e., the sakala‑charitra involves the practice of all the rules of conduct with vigor and higher degree of spiritual sensitivity while the latter, that is, the vikala‑charitra, involves the practice of the same with as much increasing degree of diligence, severity and purity as might be possible.


Further, it may be noted that (i) Sakala‑chritra is meant for and observed by ascetics who have renounced worldly ties, and is also known as muni‑dharma; and (ii) Vikala‑ charitras is meant for and observed by laymen who are still entangled in the world and, is also known as sravaka‑dharma, i.e., the householder's dharma.


The several rules of conduct prescribed both for laymen and ascetics constitute the ethics of Jainism.  As such they are discussed in detail in the next chapter on `Ethics of Jainism".





Prescription of Ethical Code

Ancient thinkers considered ethics as part of metaphysical and theological speculations and therefore made moral principles as part of their religion.  In doing so, they tried to indicate the relationship between man and the universe, and his goal in life.  Though man's conduct in society is the normal field of ethics, the Jaina thinkers have linked ethics with metaphysical ideas and ideals.


Jaina ethics is considered as the most glorious part of Jainism and it is simplicity itself.  That is why some authors have described Jainism as Ethical Realism.  In this ethics there is no conflict between man's duty to himself and to society.  Here the highest good society is the highest good of the individual.  According to Jainism the soul has to be evolved to the duty of helping others by example, advice, encouragement and help.


It is maintained that the first precept to a follower of Jainism is that he should possess and cultivate an intelligent and reasoned faith in that religion.  This faith must be of right type and should be free from false notions about God, scriptures and preceptors.  Such right faith or belief works as an inspiration for acquisition of right type in daily life.  Hence along with laying down the path of salvation consisting of right belief, right knowledge and right conduct, Jainism has also prescribed the definite rules of conduct to be observed by its followers.  All these rules of conduct are directed towards the main aim of achieving freedom of the soul from the karmic matter, i.e., attaining salvation.  In view of this aim it is emphasized that Jaina ethics has for its end the realization of nirvana or moksa, i.e., salvation.  To effect this end, the rules of conduct have to be observed and corresponding virtues have to be acquired.


It is pertinent to note that the scheme of Jaina ethics that is, the rules of conduct have been so designed that all persons would be in a position to follow them.  Accordingly, the rules of conduct prescribed by Jainism have been divided into two categories, viz.,

1.        those prescribed for sravakas, i.e., householders or laymen, and

2.        those prescribed for munis, i.e., ascetics.


The rules of the first category are termed as sravaka‑ dharma or sagara‑dharma and those of the second category are known as muni‑dharma or anagara‑dharma.


It is obvious that the rules laid down for the laity or householders are less rigid than those prescribed for ascetics because the householders have not renounced worldly activities for eking out their livelihood.  The obvious reason for this differentiation is that a householder has to look after his family and adjust himself to the social and political conditions in which he lives.  An ascetics, however, has no such limitation as he abandons all of them with the sole aim of pursuing a spiritual path.  He can observe the vows fully as he is in full control of his senses and is in a position to curb his passions quite easily due to his religious learning and spiritual discipline.


Further, the followers of Jaina religion have been traditionally divided into four groups : sadhus or munis or yatis, i.e., the male ascetics; sadhvis or aryikas, i.e., female ascetics; sravakas, i.e., male laity or male householders, and sravikas, i.e., female laity or female householders.


Obviously, this division of followers of Jaina religion has been done according to sex and the strictness with which the members practice the injunctions laid down by Jaina religion.  The rules of conduct prescribed for the first two categories of ascetics were almost identical and were to be observed with more strictness.  Similar rules were enjoined upon the last two categories of laity but these are allowed to be practiced with less degree of strictness and according to one's own capacity.  In each group the conduct was regulated by vows which every member was required to observe in his or her daily life.


Since the aim of the rules of conduct and vows prescribed for the sravakas and sravikas, is self‑ purification, it is but natural that they should be classified on the basis of their capacity.  The sravakas is a term used to designate a layman.  The sravaka is defined as srnoti iti sravakah, that is, the sravaka is a layman who srnoti, i.e., listen to and accordingly follows religious precepts.  Obviously, the term sravka is used for a Jaina householder who has faith in his religion and is accustomed to put into practice the precepts of religion according to his capacity.


It is common experience that men and women differ in their capacity for intellectual grasp and firmness of will. Some Jaina thinkers have accordingly adopted a three‑fold division of the sravakas as follows:

1.        Paksika sravaka is a layman who has a paksa, i.e., inclination, towards ahimsa, i.e., the basic principle of non‑injury to living beings.  He possesses samyaktva, i.e., firm faith in Jaina religion, and practices the mula‑gunas, i.e., the basic or primary virtues of a Jaina householders, and also the anu‑vratas, i.e., the small vows, prescribed for observance by a Jaina householder, and is assiduous in performing the puja, i.e., worship.

2.        Naisthika sravaka is a layman who pursues the path upwards through the  pratimas, i.e., the stages of householder's life, till he reaches the last, that is the eleventh stage.  At this nistha, i.e., culminating point, he quits the household life and practices ten kinds of dharma, i.e., virtues of the ascetics.  It would seem that if he backslides he is downgraded to the stage of a paksika sravaka.

3.        Sadhaka sravaka is a layman who sadhayati, i.e., concludes his human incarnation in a final purification of the self by carrying out sallekhana, peaceful ritual death by fasting.


In view of his twofold categorization of sravaka‑dharma and muni‑dharma, let us see the ethical code or rules of conduct prescribed both for the householders and the ascetics.




The ethical code prescribed for layman or householders is divided into the observance of twelve vratas or vows; eleven pratimas or stages in householder’s life, six avasykas or daily duties; and general principles of appropriate conduct.


As these rules of conduct for layman form the core of sravaka‑dharma, it is necessary to have a proper understanding of these observances.


TWELVE Vratas or Vows

Vratas or a vow is a solemn resolve made after deliberation to observe a particular rule of conduct; it is made before a saint on his advice or voluntarily to protect oneself against possible lapses of conduct.  The object is to control the mind and mold one's conduct along the spiritual path.  The rules are such as are intended to protect the society from harm by projecting oneself on the righteous path.  A vow affords stability to the will and guards its votary from the evils of temptation or of unguarded life; it gives purpose to life and healthy direction to our thoughts and actions.  It helps the growth of self control and protects against the pitfalls of free life.


It is laid down that a layman should try to avoid the following five aticharas, i.e., short‑comings, of faith before he begins to observe the vows which mark the first stage of right conduct : sanka, doubt or skeptic; kanksa, desire of sense pleasures; vichikitsa, disgust of anything, for example, with a sick or deformed person; anyadrsti‑ prasamsa, thinking admiringly of wrong believers; and anyadrsti‑samstava, praising wrong believers.


The householders are expected to observe in their daily lives the following twelve vratas or vows consisting of : (A) five anu‑vratas, i.e., small vows; (B) three guna‑vratas, i.e., multiplicative vows, and (C) four siksa‑vratas, i.e., disciplinary vows.


These vows form the central part of the ethical code and by their observance laymen can maintain constant progress in their spiritual career aimed at the attainment of final liberation.



The main five vows of the Jaina are as follows : (i) ahimsa, abstention from violence or injury to living beings, (ii) satya, abstention from false speech, (iii) asteya, abstention from theft, (iv) brahmacharya, abstention from sexuality or unchastity, and (v) aparigraha, abstention from greed for worldly possessions.


As regards the extent and intensity in the observance of these vratas it is stated that if these vows are strictly observed they are known as mahavratas, i.e., great vows and naturally these are meant for the ascetics.  Laymen, however, cannot observe vows so strictly and therefore they are allowed to practice them so far as their conditions permit. Therefore, the same vratas, i.e., vows when partially observed are termed as anuvratas, i.e., small vows.


Again, for fixing of these five vows in the mind, there are five kinds of bhavanas, i.e., attendant meditations, for each of the vows, and every person is expected to think over them again and again.


Further, every person must meditate that five faults meant to be avoided in these five vows are in fact pain personified and are of dangerous and censurable character in this as well as in the next world.


Moreover, every person must meditate upon the following four virtues which are based upon the observance of these five vows : maitri, friendship with all living beings; pramoda, delight at the sight of beings better qualified or more advanced than ourselves on the path of liberation; Kearny, compassion for the afflicted; and madhyasthya, tolerance or indifference to those who are uncivil or ill‑ behaved.


Furthermore, the observance of the five anuvratas, i.e., small vows, and refraining from the use of three `makaras' (three M's) namely madya (i.e., wine), mamsa, (i.e., flesh or meat) and madhu, (i.e., honey) are regarded as eight mula-gunas, i.e., the basic or primary virtues of a householder.  For minimizing injury to living beings, complete abstinence of win, flesh and honey is advocated, and every householder must necessarily possess these eight primary or fundamental virtues.



In addition to five main vratas or vows, a house‑holder is enjoined upon to practice three gunavratas, i.e., the multiplicative vows, which increase the value of the main vows.  These three gunavratas are : (i) digvratas, taking a life‑long vow to limit one's worldly activity to fixed points in all directions, (ii) desavarta, taking a vow to limit the above also to a limited area, and (iii) anarthadanda‑vrata, taking a vow not to commit purposeless sinful actions, or to abstain from wanton sinful activities.



Along with the five anuvratas and three gunavratas, a householder is required to practice four siksa‑vratas, i.e., disciplinary vows which are devised to prepare an individual to follow the discipline prescribed for the ascetics.  The four siksavratas are : (i) Samayika is taking a vow to devote particular time everyday to contemplation or meditation of the self for spiritual advancement, (ii) Prosadhopavasa is taking a vow to fast on four days of the month, namely, the two eighth and two fourteenth days of the month, (iii) Upabhoga‑paribhoga‑parimana is taking a vow everyday limiting one's enjoyment of consumable and non‑consumable things, (iv) Atithi‑samvibhaga is taking a vow to take one's food only after feeding the ascetics, or, in their absence, the pious householders.


It may be noted that three gunavratas and four siksavratas are grouped together and are known as silavratas, i.e., supplementary vows because these vows perform the work of supplementing or protecting the five main anuvratas just as towns are protected or guarded by the encircling walls built around them.


Thus the five anuvratas, the three gunavratas and the four siksavratas constitute the twelve vratas or vows of a householder.  There are five aticharas, i.e., defects or partial transgressions, for each of these twelve vows and they are to be avoided by the observers of these vows.


In addition to the above twelve vows a householder is expected to practice in the last moment of his life the process of sallekhana, i.e., peaceful or voluntary death.  A layman is expected not only to live a disciplined life but also to die bravely a detached death.  This voluntary death is to be distinguished from suicide which is considered by Jainism as a cowardly sin.  It is laid down that when faced by calamity, famine, old age and disease against which there is no remedy, a pious householder should peacefully relinquish his body, being inspired by a higher religious ideal.  It is with a quiet and detached mood that he would face death bravely and voluntarily.  This sallekhana is added as an extra vow to the existing twelve vows of a householder. Like other vows, the vow of sallekhana has also got five aticharas, i.e., partial transgressions, which are to be avoided by a householder.


The most significant feature of these twelve vows is that by practicing these vows a layman virtually participates, to a limited extent and for a limited period time, in the routine of an ascetic without  actually renouncing the world. It is obvious that such practices maintain a close tie between the laymen and the ascetics as both are actuated by the same motive and are moved by the same religious ideals.


The Eleven Pratimas or Stages


A layman who is desirous of attaining to greater heights in ethical and spiritual progress can do so by regulating his way of life.  The word pratima is used to designate the stages of ethical progress in a householder's life.  By treading the path of progress, a layman acquires capacity for spiritual advancement.  The pratimas or stages are closely connected with the twelve vratas or vows prescribed for laymen.


Further, the householder’s life has been divided into eleven pratimas or stages.  These pratimas form a series of duties and performances, the standard and duration of which rise periodically and which finally culminate in an attitude resembling monkshood.  Thus the pratimas rise by degrees and every stage includes all the virtues practiced in those preceding it.  The conception of eleven pratimas reveals in the best manner the rules of conduct prescribed for the laymen.  Hence, the pratimas are like the rungs of ladder: a layman desirous of spiritual progress must mount the ladder step until he reaches the top, that is, the highest stage of spirituality as a layman.


The eleven pratimas or stages laid down for householders are as follows:

1.        Darsana Pratima :

The householder must possess the perfect intelligent and well‑reasoned faith in Jainism, that is, he should have a sound knowledge of its doctrines and their applications in life.  He must be free from all misconceptions and also from attachment to worldly pleasures of every kind.


2.        Vrata pratima :

The householder must observe the twelve vows, that is, five anuvratas, three gunavratas and four siksavratas, without transgressions of any of them. He must also  keep up the extra vow of sallekhana. Such a householder is called a vrati.


3.        Samayika Pratima:

When the observance of the twelve vows is satisfactory, the householder should perform samayika which temporarily assimilates him to the status of an ascetic. Samayika consists in worshipping regularly, in general for forty‑eight minutes, three times daily. Here worship means self‑contemplation and purification of one's ideas and emotions.


4.        Prosadhopavasa Pratima :

This is a judge of fasting and it involves fasting regularly, as a rule, twice a fortnight in each lunar month. The entire period of fasting has to be spent in prayer, study of scriptures, meditation and hearing of religious discourses.


5.        Sachitta‑tyaga Pratima :

The householders should abstain from eating uncooked or insufficiently cooked vegetables and food‑stuffs and should also refrain from serving such food to others. Similarly, he should not trample upon any growing plant or pluck fruits from a tree. According to the Svetambara texts this vow is ranked seventh in the list of Pratimas. Unboiled water as well as liquids that contain salts are also prohibited.


6.        Ratri‑Bhojana‑tyaga Pratima :

In this stage the householder abstains form taking any kind of food after sunset. This practice is extended to include abstinence from taking any kind of drink also at night. According to the Svetambara texts, the sixth stage refers to abrahma‑ varjana pratima wherein the layman is prohibited from having not only sexual contact but also being alone with his wife and engaging in conversation with her.


7.        Brahmacharya Pratima :

The householder in this stage must observe complete celibacy, maintain sexual purity, put an end to all sexual desires and even avoid the use of all personal decorations which would lead to sexual desires. According to the Svetambara texts, abrahma‑varjana pratima is the sixth stage requiring similar restrictions on sexual life.


8.        Arambha‑tyaga Pratima :

The stage contemplates has to make further advance in this stage.  He must refrain from all activities like commerce, agriculture, service etc. exercised directly or indirectly for livelihood.  This he has to do with a view to avoid himsa, i.e., injury to living beings, as far as possible.  If he has children, he must give them all their shares and must use what is left with him for his maintenance and for giving as charity to others.  In this stage the Svetambara texts, however, do not seem to prohibit activity exercised indirectly through agents or servants for the sake of livelihood.


9.        Parigraha‑tyaga Pratima :

This stage contemplates the abandonment of all kinds of attachment.  The householder should give up ten kinds of worldly possessions, viz., land, house, silver, gold, cattle, grain, clothes, utensils, maid‑servants and male‑servants.  Even in matters like food, shelter and clothing, he should keep just enough for his mere requirements.  In a way he should train himself generally to bear the hardships incidental to a life of asceticism.  Hence this stage is essentially one of preparation for the eleventh stage.


The Svetambara texts use the word presya‑tyaga pratima to denote this stage.  It requires the householder to lay down the burdens of worldly life and stop carrying on any activity through servants and agents.  He reduces his requirements to the minimum and cherishes a longing for final release.


10.     Anumati‑tyaga Pratima:

A householder in this stage has to increase the vigor of his living in the direction of asceticism.  As such he should give up all his activities like trade and agriculture, his attachments to property and his concern with any of the family affairs.  He should not express either consent or dissent towards any of the activities or functions carried on by any of the members of his family.


11.     Uddista‑tyaga Pratima :

This is the highest stage of discipline for a householder.  Here he abandons his family house, goes to a forest or a lonely place for shelter and adopts the rules laid down for the guidance of ascetics.  He will not accept invitation for food. This is the highest stage of a Sravaka and hence he is called Uttama Sravaka.


According to Svetambara texts, the Uddista‑tyaga Pratima is the tenth stage and the eleventh stage is called the Sramana‑bhuta Pratima.  In this stage the householder observe according to his capacity the rules of conduct prescribed for the ascetics.


A householder is advised that according to his ability and environment he should proceed stage by stage and that he should observe the rules of discipline that are prescribed for each stage.  It, therefore, follows that the progress which a householder can achieve would finally depend upon his own convictions and faith in the Jaina philosophy.  Psychologically, there cannot be a sudden change in life from the stage of material attachments to the stage of renunciation.  That is why the eleven stages of discipline involving practice of vigorous mental and spiritual austerities is quite practical and worthy of realization by every aspirant. The final stage of a householder is, thus, a preparation for asceticism.  He practically performs all the austerities and awaits his initiation into asceticism.


It is obvious that these eleven stages are scientifically conceived and practically graded.  The graded steps have to be climbed one after the other only after the householder has been firm in the preceding step or steps.  The climbing commences with the `Right Belief', and progress is achieved only when he is prepared to observe the more difficult vows and rules of conduct.  Thus through these eleven stages a householder is fully prepared for practicing the severe course of ascetic life.


Six Avasyakas

Apart from the observance of twelve vratas, i.e., vows and eleven pratimas, i.e., stages, a householder is also required to perform six Avasyakas, i.e., daily duties.  As regards the nomenclature of these six Avasyakas, i.e., daily duties, there is a difference of opinion among different authors. Accordingly, the six daily duties of a householder are commonly listed as follows:


                                Devapuja gurupastih svadhyayah samyamastapah

                                Danam cheti grhasthanam satkarmani dine dine.


that is, the six daily activities or duties of householders are : worship of God, worship of the preceptor, study of scriptures, practice of self control, practice of austerities, and giving gifts.


It may be noted that in many authoritative sacred texts, a second set of six Avasyakas is :

1.        Samayika, i.e., Meditation;

2.        Stuti or Chaturvimsati‑Jina‑stuti, i.e., Praising of the twenty-four Jaina or Tirthankaras who are the religious ideals of all Jaina;

3.        Vandana, i.e., Ceremonial and humble greeting of or salutation to the spiritual teachers or worshipful saints;

4.        Pratikramana, i.e., Repentance of all transgressions (or the recitation of the formulae of confession of past faults);

5.        Kayotsarga, i.e., Austerity performed by standing motionless in a specific posture; and

6.        Pratyakhyana, i.e., renunciation, which means resolving to avoid particular thoughts and actions in future, which tend to disturb the performance of essential duties, ( or, the recitation of formulae for the forfending of future faults generally expressed in the form of abstinence from food and drink and comforts).


As regards this second set of six Avasyakas it may be noted that while Digambara texts mention these Avasyakas in the order given above, the Svetambara texts reverse the positions of the last two duties of Kayotsarga and Pratyakhyana, that is, the Svetambara texts mention Pratyakhyana as the fifth duty and Kayotsarga as the sixth duty.


The main reason for the constant performance of these daily duties seems to always keep up the eagerness and enthusiasm of the householders in their march towards spiritual progress.


General Principles of Appropriate Conduct


On the basis of the rules of Right Conduct laid down in Jaina scriptures, the prominent Jaina Acharyas or saints and thinkers have enunciated a number of general principles of appropriate conduct as guidance for putting them into actual practice by the sravakas or householders during their entire career as members of the Jaina community.  These principles are also termed as Sravaka‑gunas, i.e., qualities of an ideal householder. In this connection among the relevant Svetambara Jaina texts, the important treatise entitled Yoga‑sastra composed by the renowned Acharya Hemachandra presents a list of the thirty-five attributes of an ideal sravaka or general principles of appropriate conduct of sravakas:


1.        Nyayasampannavibhavah : Possessed of honestly earned wealth.

2.        Sistachara‑prasamsakah : Eulogistic of the conduct of the virtuous.

3.        Papabhiru : Apprehensive of sin.

4.        Kulasila‑samaih sardham anyagotrajaih krtodvahah : Wedded to a spouse of the same caste and traditions but not of the same Gotra.

5.        Prasiddham desacharam samacharan : Following the reputable usages of the country.

6.        Avarnavadi na kvapi rajadisu visesatah : Not denigrating other people, particularly rulers.

7.        Anativyakte gupte sthane suprativesmike aneka‑ nirgamadvaravivarjita‑niketana : Dwelling in a place which is not too exposed and not too enclosed, with good neighbors, and few exits.

8.        Sat‑acharaih krta‑sangah : Attached to good moral standards.

9.        Mata‑pitroh pujakah : Honoring father and mother.

10.     Upaplutam sthanam tyajan : Eschewing a place of calamity.

11.     Garhite apravrtta : Not engaging in a reprehensible occupation.

12.     Vyayam ayochitam kurvan : Spending in proportion to one's income.

13.     Vesam vittanusaratah kurvan : Dressing in accordance with one’s income.

14.     Astabhih dhigunaih yuktah : Endowed with the eight kinds of intelligence.

15.     Dharmam anvaham srnvan : Listening everyday to the sacred doctrine.

16.     Ajirne Bhojana‑tyagin : Not eating on a full stomach.

17.     Kale bhokta satmyatah : Eating at the right time according to a dietary regime.

18.     Anyonya‑pratibandhena trivargam sadhayan : Fulfilling the three‑fold aim of life ‑ that is, dharma, artha and kama ‑ without excluding any of its elements.

19.     Yathavat atithau sadhau dine cha pratipatti‑krt : Diligent in succoring the ascetics, the righteous and the needy.

20.     Sada‑anabhinivista : Always devoid of evil motives.

21.     Gunesu paksapatin : Favorably inclined to virtues.

22.     Adsa‑kalayoh charyam tyajan : Avoiding action which is inappropriate to time and place.

23.     Balabalam janan : Aware of one's own strength and weakness.

24.     Vratastha‑jnana‑vrddhanam pujaka : Venerating persons of high morality and discernment.

25.     Posya‑posaka : Supporting one's dependents.

26.     Dirgha‑darsi : Far‑sighted.

27.     Visesajna : Discriminating.

28.     Krtajna : Grateful.

29.     Loka‑vallabha : well‑linked.

30.     Salajja : Actuated by a sense of shame.

31.     Sadaya : Compassionate.

32.     Saumya : Gentle in disposition.

33.     Paropakrti‑karmatha : Ready to render service to others.

34.     Antarangari‑sadvarga‑parihara‑parayana : Intent on avoiding the six adversaries of the soul.

35.     Vasikrtendriyagrama : Victorious over the organs of sense.


On the same line among the Digambara texts, the reputed work entitled Sravakachara, i.e., Rules of Conduct for the householders, composed by the most revered Acharya Amitagati has given the following list of eleven gunas, i.e., attributes of a parama‑sravaka, i.e., best householder :


1.        Kama‑asuya‑maya‑matsara‑paisunya‑dainya‑madahina : Devoid of lust, envy, deceit, anger, backing, meanness and vain glory.

2.        Dhira : Steadfast.

3.        Prasanna‑chitta : Of contended mind.

4.        Priyamvada : Fair‑spoken.

5.        Vatsala : Tender‑hearted.

6.        Kusala : Competent.

7.        Heyadeya‑patistha : skilled in discerning what is to be accepted and what to be eschewed.

8.        Gurucharanaradhanodayata‑manisa : Ready in mind to adore guru's feet;

9.        Jina‑vachana‑toya‑dhauta‑svantah‑kalanka : Having the taints on one's heart washed clean by the Jina's words.

10.     Bhava‑vibhiru : Apprehensive of the samsara.

11.     Mandikrta‑sakala‑visaya‑krta‑grddhi : Having one's lust for sensual objects diminished.


Thus it is clear that both the Digambara and Svetambara texts have been very particular about impressing on the minds of Sravakas their responsibility to lead proper religious life and to become useful members of society.


As regards these principles of appropriate conduct for laymen it can be said in general that if the householder would carefully observe these principles of conduct, he would come into the possession of following qualities which every true gentleman should possess.  He would be serious in demeanor, clean as regards both his person and clothes, good‑tempered, popular, merciful, afraid of sinning, straight‑ forward, wise, modest, kind, moderate, gentle, careful in speech, sociable, cautious, studious, reverent both to old age and ancient customs, grateful, benevolent and attentive to business.




Enunciation of Rigorous Rules

When a layman consistently observes the rules of conduct prescribed for the householders and especially attains all pratimas, i.e., stages, he is qualified to become an ascetic. The admission into the order of monks is accompanied by the impressive ceremony known as diksa or initiation ceremony.  This ceremony makes the layman a member of the order of ascetics (including nuns) is one of the two orders in which Jaina community has been divided from the very beginning, and other order is that of layman (including lay‑women)


It is worth nothing that there is a close connection between these two orders and the stages of Sravakas, i.e., laymen, has been preliminary, and, in many cases, preparatory to the stage of sadhus, i.e., ascetics.  Because of this intimate relationship we find that the rules prescribed for laymen and ascetics do not differ in kind but in degree.  The same rules of conduct observed by laymen practice them partially or less vigorously, the ascetics have to observe them fully and more rigorously.  That is why we have seen that the main five vows of householders are known as anuvratas or small vows, and the same become mahavratas or great vows when practiced by ascetics.


This is obvious that the ascetic stage signifies absolute renunciation of the world and the only objective in this stage is to concentrate energy  on the attainment of moksa, i.e., final salvation.  Asceticism is a higher course in spiritual training and it is in this stage that real efforts are made to achieve samvara ( the stoppage of influx of karmas ) and to have nirjara ( the shedding of existing karmas) with a view to attain nirvana ( salvation of the soul).  It is laid down that to attain nirvana a man must abandon all trammels, including his clothes.  Only by a long course of fasting, self‑mortification, study and meditation., he can rid himself of karmas, and only by the most rigorous discipline he can prevent fresh karmas and from entering his soul.  Hence a monastic life is quite essential for salvation.


Therefore very minute rules of conduct are prescribed for the ascetics who have to observe them without any fault or transgression.  Obviously in these rules, prominence has been assigned to the rules meant for achieving samvara (stoppage of influx of karmas) and nirjara (shedding of existing karmas).


Rules for Samvara

Samvara is the stoppage of influx of karmic matter into soul and this stoppage is effected by the observance of three kinds of gupti (control), five kinds of samiti (carefulness), ten kinds of dharma (virtues), twelve kinds of anupreksa (meditations or reflections0, twenty‑two kinds of parisaha‑ jaya, (subdual of sufferings) and five kinds of charitra (conduct).



The Guptis

The flow of karmas into the atman or soul is caused by the activities of body, speech and mind : so it is quite necessary for the ascetics to keep these channels of influx under strict control, i.e., to observer the guptis.  The three guptis are regulations with reference to controlling one's inner nature, that is, they are dictated by the principles of self‑control.


1.        Mao‑gupti is regulation of mind in such a way as to give room only to pure thoughts.

2.        Vag‑gupti is regulation of speech; it consists in observing silence for a particular period or in speaking only as much as is absolutely necessary.

3.        Kaya‑gupti is regulation of one's bodily activity.


The Samitis

It is just possible that even in performing the duties of an ascetic, the vows might be transgressed out of inadvertence.  Hence as a precautionary measure the samitis (acts of carefulness) are prescribed.  The samitis are designed with a view to cultivate the habit of carefulness in accordance with the principle of ahimsa (n0n‑injury.  The samitis are prescriptions for the regulation of the movements of the body and are of five kinds as follows:


1.        Irya‑samitis : It aims at regulation of walking, so as not to injure any living being.

2.        Bhasa Samiti : It regulates the mode of speech with a view to avoid the hurting of other's feelings by the use of offensive words.

3.        Esana‑samiti : It regulates eating food in a prescribed manner and especially with a view to avoid faults.

4.        Adana‑niksepa samiti : It regulates the actions of taking or using, and of putting away, of his accessories like kamandalu, pichchhi, sastra, etc.

5.        Utsarga‑samiti : It regulates the movements connected with the answering of call of nature, etc.


It is pertinent to note that although these five samitis can be strictly observed only by ascetics, these are also desirable to some extent in the daily life of sravakas or laymen.  For example, it is expected that a devoted laymen should avoid treading on growing plants, should never leave a vessel filled with a liquid substance uncovered, and should not ever use an open light, lest insects might rush into it and be killed.


Both the three guptis and the five samitis are sometimes grouped together under the name of ast‑pravachana‑matrka, i.e, `The Eight Mothers of the Creed', on account of their fundamental character.


The Dharmas      

It is always asserted that mainly due to the kasyas (passions) the soul assimilates karmas. Hence it is laid down that the four kasyas, of krodha (anger), mana (pride), maya (deceptions) and lobha (greed), must be counteracted by cultivating ten uttama dharmas, i.e., supreme virtues : uttama‑ksama (supreme forgiveness), uttama‑mardava (supreme humility or tenderness), uttama‑arjava (supreme honesty or straightforwardness), uttama‑saucha (supreme purity or contentment), uttama‑satya (supreme truthfulness), uttama‑ samyama (supreme self‑restraint), uttama‑tapa (supreme austerities), uttama‑tyaga (supreme renunciation), uttama‑ akinchanya (supreme non‑attachment) and uttama‑brahmacharya 9supreme chastity).


The Anupreksas

With a view to cultivate the necessary religious attitude, it is enjoined on the ascetics to constantly reflect on twelve religious topics known as anupreksas (meditations or reflections).  It is laid down that these anupreksas should be meditated upon again and again.  These twelve anupreksas are as follows :


1.        Anitya : everything is subject to change or is transitory.

2.        Asarana : unprotectiveness or helplessness.  The feeling that soul is unprotected from fruition of karmas, for example, death etc.

3.        Samsara : mundaneness.  Soul moves in the cycle of births and deaths and cannot attain true happiness till it is cut off.

4.        Ekatva : loneliness.  I am alone, the doer of my actions and the enjoyer of the fruits of them.

5.        Anyatva : separateness.  The world, my relatives and friends, my body and mind, they are all different and separate from my real self.

6.        Asuchi : impurity.  The body is impure and dirty.

7.        Asrava : inflow.  The inflow of karmas is the cause of my mundane existence and it is the product of passions.

8.        Samvara : stoppage.  The inflow of karmas must be stopped by cultivating necessary virtues.

9.        Nirjara : shedding.  Karmic matter should be destroyed or shaken off the soul by the practice of penances.

10.     Loka : universe. The nature of the universe and its constituent elements in all their vast variety proving the insignificance and miserable nothingness of man in time and space.

11.     Bodhi‑durlabha : rarity of religious knowledge.  It is difficult to attain Right belief, Right knowledge and Right conduct.

12.     Dharma : reflection on the true nature of religion and especially on the three‑fold path of liberation as preached by the Tirthankaras or conquerors.


These anupreksas are also termed as bhavanas, i.e., contemplations.


The Parisaha‑jaya

With the view to remain steady on the path of salvation and to destroy the karmic matter, it has been laid down that ascetics should bear cheerfully all the troubles that might cause them distraction or pain.  These troubles or hardships or afflictions through which the ascetics have to pass are called the parisaha, i.e., suffering.  These are twenty-two parisaha which monks are expected to face unflinchingly. They are : ksudha (hunger), pipasa (thirst), sita (cold), usna (heat), damsamasaka (insect‑bite), nagnya (nakedness), arati (absence of pleasures of disagreeable surroundings), stri (sex‑passion), charya feeling (tired from walking too much), nisadya (discomfort of continuos sitting in one posture),sayya (discomfort in sleeping or resting on hard earth), akrosa (censure or scold), vadha (injury), yachana (begging), alabha (failure to get food), roga (disease), trna‑sparsa (thorn‑pricks or pricks of blades of grass), mala (body dirt and impurities), satkara‑puraskara (disrespect shown by men), prajna (non‑appreciation of learning), ajnana (persistence of ignorance), and adarsana (lack of faith or slack belief), for example, on failure to obtain super‑ natural powers even after great piety and austerities, to begin to doubt the truth of Jainism and its teachings.


These parisahas should be ever endured, without any feeling of vexation, by the ascetics who desire to conquer all causes of pain.


The Charitra

The ascetics are also expected to strive to observe five kinds of conduct : samayika (equanimity), chhedopasthapana (recovery of equanimity after a fall from it), parihara‑ visuddhi (pure and absolute non‑injury), suksama‑samparaya (all but entire freedom from passion) and yathakhyata (ideal and passionless conduct)


These five kinds of conduct help to maintain the spiritual discipline of ascetics.


Rules for Nirjara

Along with samvara (the stoppage of influx of the karmic matter into the soul) the ascetics have to strive to effect nirjara (the gradual removal of karmic matter from the soul), if they have to proceed further on their path of salvation.


The main step to nirjara, i.e. shedding of the karmas, is the observance of tapas (penance of austerities), which is included in the Right Conduct. Tapas is of two kinds, viz., (a) bahya tapa i.e. external austerities referring to food and physical activities, and (b) abyantara tapa i.e. internal austerities, referring to spiritual discipline. Each of these two types if tapa is of six kinds.


The Bahya Tapa

The six external austerities are as follows: anasana (fasting), avamaudarya (eating less than one's fill, or less than one has appetite for), vrtti‑parisamkhyana (taking a mental vow to accept food from a householder only if certain conditions are fulfilled without letting anyone know about the vow), rasa‑parityaga (daily renunciation of one or more kinds if delicacies, namely, ghee i.e. clarified butter, milk, curd, sugar, salt and oil), vivikta‑sayyasana (sitting and sleeping in a secluded place, devoid of animate beings) and kayaklesa (mortification of the body so long as the mind is not disturbed).


The Abhyantara Tapa

The six kinds of internal austerities are: prayaschitta (expiation or confession and repentance of sins), vinaya (reverence or modest behaviour), vaiyavrttya (rendering service to other saints), svadyaya (study of scriptures), vyutsarga (giving up attachment to the body) and dhyana (concentration of mind).


These external and internal penances show what a rigorous life of self‑denial the ascetics have to lead. The ascetic is to sustain the body with minimum feeding and to take maximum work from it in the attainment of his spiritual ideal. In Jainism an elaborate technique of fasting has been evolved and the ascetic is trained all along his career so efficiently that when the hour of death comes, he accepts voluntarily fasting and gives up the body as easily as one would throw off the old garment. The ascetic has always to take exercise in fasting by observing series of fasts variously arranged.


Among the internal penances special significance is attached to dhyana (meditation) because it is considered as the most important spiritual exercise whereby alone the soul can make progress on the path of salvation and can destroy all the karmas. Feelings like attachment for beneficial and aversion from harmful objects have to be given up to attain concentration of mind, which is the prerequisite of successful meditation. It is always emphasized that the sukla dhyana (pure meditation) ultimately leads the soul to salvation because in sukla dhyana an attempt is made for complete cessation of physical, verbal and mental activities. When the entire stock of karmas is exhausted by following the rules of conduct laid down by Jaina ethics, The soul shoots up to the top of the universe where the liberated souls stays for ever.


It is evident that the rules of conduct and the austerities which a Jaina ascetic has to observe, are of an extremely difficult character and that only a person who is mentally prepared for a life of renunciation can be initiated into the stage.  Obviously, only a person who is imbued with full faith in the validity of Jaina philosophy and is possessed of right knowledge of soul and matter in all their aspects and is prepared for a life of penance and austerities can be a successful Jaina ascetic.


Attributes Of Ascetics

According to Jainism an ascetic is expected to expected to possess certain mula-gunas, i.e., primary attributes or basic qualities.  The concept of the Mula‑gunas has been greatly developed by the Digambara sect of Jainas.  It is prescribed in the Digambara texts that a sadhu (ascetic) must possess the following twenty-eight mula‑gunas or basic attributes, the rigor of which is increased stage by stage.


These twenty-eight mula‑gunas are : 1‑5.  The five great vratas or Vows; 6‑10.  The five samitis, or carefulness; 11‑ 15.  Controlling of five senses; 16‑21.  The six Avasyakas or essential duties; 22.  Removal of hair with one's own hands periodically; 23.  Nakedness; 24.  Non‑bathing; 25.  Sleeping on hard ground; 26.  Refraining from cleansing the teeth;27. Taking food standing, and 28.  Eating not more than once a day.


These virtues are termed root‑virtues, because in their absence other saintly virtues cannot be acquired.


Classes of Ascetics

The ascetics are divided into different classes according to the strictness with which they observe the rules for ascetics life and their standing or position in the order of monks.  The Jaina ascetics are broadly divided into two categories, viz., the ascetics who observe the rules of conduct in their strictest form, without ever having recourse to exceptions are called Jainakalpi sadhus, and those who practice the ascetic prescriptions in a milder form are known as sthavirakalpi sadhus.


Further, the heads of the groups of saints are called Acharyas, those in charge of instruction are termed as Upadhyayas and the rest of the ascetics are known as mere Sadhus.


Moreover, there are different grades among ascetics according to the approved stages through which the rigor of ascetics life is increased.






The examination of an outline of Jaina ethics does make clear its certain outstanding features.  In the first place it is evident that there is a system of gradation in Jaina ethics because the whole course of Jaina ethics has been divided into stages and it is enjoined on every person to put into practice the rules of conduct step by step.  The whole life of an individual, in some of the later works, has been divided into four Asramas, i.e., stages, namely, (i) Brahmacharya, the period of study, (ii) Grhastha, the period devoted to household life, civic duties, and the like, (iii) Vanaprastha, the period of retirement from worldly activities, and (iv) Samnyasa, the period of absolute renunciation.


1.        Brahmacharya Asrama

The first is the stage of study when the pupil must acquire knowledge, religious as well as secular, and build up a character that will rule supreme in later life.  In this period he is to for the right convictions regarding the real nature of the soul and the world.


2.        Grhastha Asrama

After completing his studies he enters the second stage. He is expected to marry and settle down to lead a pious householder's life.  In this stage he tries to realize the first three of the four ideals or objectives in life, namely, dharma (religious merit), artha (wealth, position, worldly prosperity, etc.), kama (pleasure) and moksa (salvation). But it has been specifically stressed that while realizing dharma, artha and kama, he must subordinate artha and kama to dharma.  The householder, who aspires for moksa in the long run, knows that it cannot be attained except by severe self‑ discipline of a type which is not attainable by him as a layman.  He, therefore, only aspires to perfect himself in the first instance, in the performance of his own duties, so that he may adopt samnyasa, i.e., the stage of renunciation, in due course of time.  Even though he is the main popular support in other three stages, he is to prepare himself bit by bit for entering the subsequent stages.


3.        Vanaprastha Asrama

In this third stage he retires from worldly activities, abandons efforts for attaining the ideals of artha and kama and concentrates his attention on the first ideal of dharma.


4.        Samnyasa Asrama

After successfully crossing the third stage an individual enters the fourth stage which is marked by a sense of absolute renunciation and in this stage he aspires for the last and the most important ideal of moksa.


In this way we find that in Jaina ethics different rules of conduct are prescribed for different stages in life so that an individual may gradually attain the final aim in life.  Even in one stage the rules of conduct are divided into several grades, for example, the eleven Pratimas in the householder's stage.  This makes the progress on spiritual path very easy and a person readily understands what his position is on that path.  This scheme is intended for the protection of the individual in the sense that he is preparing step by step to achieve the real purpose in life.



The second distinguishing feature of the ethical code prescribed for the Jainas is the importance assigned to the five main vratas or vows in the life not only of an ascetic but also of a householder.  The five main vows of ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya and aparigraha form the basis on which the superstructure of Jaina ethics has been raised. They give a definite outlook on life and create a particular type of mental attitude.  The very essence of Jaina philosophy is transformed into action in the shape of observance of these five vows.


Though these vows on their face appear to be mere abstentions from injury, falsehood, theft, unchastity and worldly attachments. their implications are really extensive and they permeate the entire social life of the community. This is because it has been enjoined that these five faults should be avoided in three ways termed as (a) krta, that is, a person should not commit any fault himself; (b) karita, that is, a person should not incite others to commit such an act; and (c) anumodita, that is, a person should not even approve of it subsequent to its commission by others.


In view of this extension of the field of avoidance of five faults, we find that detailed rules of conduct have been laid down for observance in the matter of abstentions from these faults in the following way:


1.        Himsa

Himsa or injury has been defined as hurting of the vitalities caused through want of proper care and caution. But the meaning is not limited to this definition alone.  It is stated that piercing, binding, causing pain, overloading and starving or not feeding at proper times, are also forms of himsa and as such these forms must be avoided.


2.        Asatya

Asatya, i.e., falsehood, in simple terms, is to speak hurtful words.  But the meaning is further extended, and spreading false doctrines, revealing the secrets and deformities of others, backbiting, making false documents, and breach of trust are also considered as forms of falsehood, and therefore, these should be abstained from.


3.        Chaurya

Chaurya, i.e., theft, is to take anything which is not given.  But a wide meaning is attached to the term theft. That is why imparting instruction on the method of committing theft, receiving stolen property, evading the injunction of the law (by selling things at inordinate prices), adulteration, and keeping false weights and measures, are all considered as forms of theft and one must guard oneself against them.


4.        Abrahma

Abrahma, i.e., unchastity, is also considered to have several forms.  As a result, matchmaking (bringing about marriages, as a hobby), unnatural gratification, indulging in voluptuous speech, visiting immoral married women, and visiting immoral unmarried women are all forms of unchastity, and they should be avoided.


5.        Parigraha

The fault of Parigraha, i.e., worldly attachments, consists in desiring more than what is needed by an individual.  Hence accumulating even necessary articles in large numbers, expressing wonder at the prosperity of another, excessive greed, transgressing the limits of possession, and changing the proportions of existing possessions are all forms of parigraha, and therefore these should be discarded.


It may be noted that the last vow of aparigraha or parigraha‑parimana is very distinctive as it indirectly aims at economic equalization by peaceful prevention of undue accumulation of capital in individual hands.  Further, in this vow it is recommended that a householder should fix, beforehand, the limit of his maximum belongings, and should, in no case, exceed it.  If he ever happens to earn more than that limit, it is also recommended that he must spend it away in charities, the best and recognized forms of which are four viz., distribution of medicine, spread of knowledge, provision for saving lives of people in danger, and feeding the hungry and the poor.


Obviously these five vows are of a great social value as they accord a religious sanction to some of the most important public and private interests and rights which are, in modern times, safeguarded by the laws of the state.  It has been specifically pointed out by Jaina scholars that a due observance of the vows would save a man from application of almost any of the sections of the Indian Penal Code.



The third distinctive fact about Jaina ethics is the utmost prominence given to ahimsa or avoidance of himsa, that is injury.  It is really remarkable about Jainism that even though the noble principle of ahimsa has been recognized by practically all religions, Jainism alone has preached the full significance and application of ahimsa to such an extent that Jainism and ahimsa have become synonymous terms.  The Jainas always uphold that ahimsa paramo dharmah, that is, Ahimsa is the highest religion.  The philosophy of Jainism and its rules of conduct are based on the foundation of ahimsa which have been consistently followed to its logical conclusion.


That is why among the five main vows the first place has been given to the observance of ahimsa.  In fact in the Jaina scriptures ahimsa is regarded as the principal vow and the other four vows are considered to be merely its details or extensions.  This is made evident in the following ways:


Himsa: The term himsa has been defined as injury to the vitalities through passionate activity of mind, speech and body. The Jaina scriptures, in this connection, always maintain that the appearance of attachment and other passions is himsa and their non‑appearance is ahimsa, because under the influence of passion, the person first injures the self, through the self, whether or not there is subsequently an injury caused to another being.  Thus whatever is done under the influence of passion, that is, through pramada‑yoga meaning careless activity of mind, speech and body, and without any caution is included under himsa.


Asatya is himsa: Wherever any wrong statement is made through pramada‑yoga, it is certainly known as asatya, i.e., falsehood.  It is, therefore, clear that as pramada‑yoga, the chief cause of himsa, is present in all such statements, himsa occurs in asatya, i.e. falsehood, also.


Chaurya is himsa: The taking, by pramada‑yoga of objects which have not been given, is deemed as theft and that is himsa because it is the cause of injury to the self in the form of a moral fall and to the person deprived of There is no difference between himsa and theft.  Himsa is inherent in theft, for in taking what belongs to another, there is pramada‑yoga.  Thus all theft, like all falsehood, is included in himsa.


Abrahma is himsa: Indulgence in sex passion always brings about himsa because it originates out of desire. Hence abrahma or sexual impurity is a form of himsa.


Parigraha is himsa: Parigraha or possession of worldly goods is of two kinds, internal and external. The renunciation of parigraha of both the kinds is ahimsa and their appropriation is himsa.  Internal parigraha, that is. the desire for worldly objects, prejudicially affects the purity of the soul, and this injury to the pure nature of the soul constitutes himsa.  External parigraha, that is, the actual possession of worldly objects, creates attraction and love for them, and defiles purity of the soul and therefore amounts to himsa.


Thus it is evident that a himsa is implied in falsehood. theft, sexual impurity and possession of goods, all the main five vows of Jainism are based on the principle of ahimsa. That is why supreme importance is given to the principle of ahimsa and it is enjoined upon every Jaina to avoid himsa under all conditions.



The fourth distinct feature of Jaina ethics is its simple practicability.  It is clear that Jaina ethics lays down very elaborate rules of conduct both for laymen and ascetics.  As prescribed rules of conduct are described in minutest details.  it is feared that it would be difficult to put them into practice.  But on a close examination it will be seen that the fear is unfounded.


Creation of a Graduated Course

In the first place it may be mentioned that even though the rules of conduct are the same for all people, they are to be followed stage by stage. Accordingly, the vratas or vows have been divided into two categories, viz., anuvratas or small vows, and mahavratas or great vows.  The householders have to practice the anuvratas and the ascetics, the mahavratas.  Similar is the case with other observances. Moderation is the key‑note of householder's life and severity, of saintly discipline Hence the important hall‑mark of Jaina ethics is the fact that a graduated course is prescribed with a view to make it possible for every person to observe all rules of conduct agreeably.


Allowance for one's capacity

In the second place it may be stressed that it is not enjoined upon a person to observe all rules of conduct pertaining to a particular stage in life.  It has been specifically mentioned that the three‑fold path of liberation, consisting of right belief, right knowledge and right conduct, is to be followed yathashakti, that is, according to one's capacity.  It is always emphasized that the severity of rules of conduct is to be adjusted after taking into account one's own status and capacity.  This means that a person can take all the vows or can make a selection of some of them.


This important aspect of simple practicability of Jaina ethical code can be best explained by showing the way of observing the basic rule of conduct, namely, ahimsa.


According to Jaina scriptures, ahimsa is abstention from himsa and this renunciation of himsa may be either autsargiki nivrtti, i.e., complete renunciation, or apavadiki nivrtti, i.e., partial renunciation.  The complete renunciation is accomplished in nine ways, by self (krta), through agent (karita), or by approbation (anumodita), in each case through mind (manas), speech (vachana) and body (kaya).  That which is not complete is partial renunciation.  For a householder it is not possible to practice complete renunciation, and therefore he is recommended to discharge his worldly responsibilities with the minimum injury to others.


For giving further practical guidance in this matter, it is important to note that himsa has been analyzed, according to the mental attitude of the individual, into four kinds namely, grharambhi himsa (accidental injury), udyami himsa (occupational injury), virodhi himsa (protective injury) and sankalpi himsa (intentional injury).


It has been made clear that grharambhi himsa is that which is unavoidably committed in the performance of necessary domestic duties, such as preparation of food, keeping the things clean, construction of buildings, wells, etc.  Similarly, udyami himsa is that which is performed in the exercise of one's profession or occupation whether of a soldier, or an agriculturist, or a trader, or an industrialist, or a doctor.  Further, virodhi himsa is that which is unavoidably committed in the defense of person and property against the assailants and enemies.  And, sankalpi himsa is that which is committed intentionally or knowingly. for example, in hunting, offering sacrifices, killing for food, amusement or decoration etc.


In relation to these four kinds of himsa it has been categorically stated that one who has crossed the stage of the life of a householder should certainly avoid all the four kinds of himsa.  But it is significant to note that it is enjoined upon a householder to abstain only from sankalpi himsa or intentional injury and not from the accidental, occupational and protective himsa as it is not possible to do so while in the householder's stage.  However, it may be noted that a house‑holder has been advised to avoid as far as possib1e the first three kinds of himsa or injury and to make a steady progress in such endeavor.  Thus a householder's vow of ahimsa means abstention from intentional injury and this abstention he should put into practice.



The last significant fact about Jaina ethics is the prescription of one common ethical code to all people irrespective of their worldly position and stage in life.  It has already been brought out that the rules of conduct are exactly the same both for laymen and ascetics with the only obvious difference that while the former observe them partially, the latter have to observe them strictly.  Thus in Jaina religion the ascetic life is considered to be a extension of house‑holder's life and it is pertinent to note that this has fostered intimate relationship between the two main divisions of society viz., Ascetics and Householders, that is, sadhus and sravakas, of the Jaina community.  Again, it may be emphasized that as the sadhus or ascetics are not generally recruited directly from outside the Jaina community, but are taken from the sravakas or householders, a feeling of oneness is created so far as the spiritual enterprise of the people is concerned.


It is, therefore, worth mentioning that since spiritual upliftment was the main aim of the people, common practices in spiritual enterprise brought the laymen and the monk together and that this was the prime factor in the survival of Jainism.  It cannot be doubted that this, between the sravakas or laymen and the sadhus or ascetics affinity brought about by the similarity of their religious duties, differing not in kind but in degree, has enabled Jainism to avoid fundamental changes within, and to resist dangers from without for more than two thousand years; while Buddhism, being less exacting as regards the laymen, underwent most extraordinary changes and finally disappeared from the country of its origin.


Thus it can be maintained that the prevalence of one common ethical code among both major divisions of Jainas, viz., the sadhus and the sravakas, has chiefly been responsible for the continuity of Jaina community in India for so long a time in spite of opposition from other faiths.







From the history of Jaina religion up to Mahavira it appears that sects and sub-sets had not arisen till that time. But later on we find that various schisms arose in Jaina religion as a result of which Jainism was divided into several sects and sub-sects. There were various reasons which contributed to the splitting of Jainism in small sects and sub-sects.

Increase in the extent of Jainism

In the first place it may be mentioned that during the lifetime of Mahavira the spread of Jainism was limited and it did not seem generally to have crossed the boundaries of kingdoms of Anga and Magadha, comprising modern Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal, where Mahavira mainly lived and concentrated his attention; but after the death of Mahavira, his successors and followers succeeded to a large extent in popularizing the religion throughout the length and breadth of India, so that it did not fail to enlist for a long period the support of kings as well as commoners. As the number of adherents to Jaina religion fast increased and as they were scattered practically in all parts of the country, the Ganadharas, that is, the religious leaders and the religious pontiffs must have found it very difficult to look after and organize their followers. Naturally, different conditions.  customs, manners and ways of life prevailing in different parts of the country in different periods of time might have influenced in giving rise to various religious practices which might have ultimately resulted in creating factions among the followers of Jainism.


Interpretation of Jaina Canons

Secondly, the religious doctrines, principles and tenets of  Jainism as they were enunciated and taught by Mahavira were not committed to writing during the lifetime of Mahavira or  immediately after his death. The important fact was that the  religious teachings of Mahavira were  memorized by his immediate successors and they were thus  handed down by one generation to another, till they were  canonized at the council of Pataliputra in the early part of the 3rd century B.C. By this time much water had flown down  the Ganges and what was canonized was not acceptable to all,  who vigorously maintained that the canon did not contain the  actual teachings of Mahavira.


Again. there was the question of interpreting what had been canonized. As time passed on, differences of opinion regarding the interpretation of many doctrines arose and those who differed established a separate school of thought and formed themselves into a sect or sub-sect.


Revolt against Jaina's Religious Authorities

Thirdly, it may be maintained that sects and sub-sects arise as a direct result of the revolts against the actions and policy of ruling priests or religious authorities including the heads of the Church. Those who are at the helm of religious affairs are likely to swerve from their prescribed path and debase themselves or they are likely to be too strict in maintaining and preserving the religious practices in a manner they think proper, without taking into account the needs of the changing conditions. In both the cases natural indignation is bound to occur on the part of the elite and there should not be any surprise if this accumulated indignation and discontent took a turn in formulating and organizing a separate sect. For example, Martin Luther revolted against the high-handed policy of Popes and Priests in Christian religion and founded the section of Protestants in that religion. Generally, the same thing happened in Jaina religion also.


As a result of these factors the Jaina religion which was one and undivided up to the time of Tirthankara Mahavira and even up to the beginning of the Christian Era got divided first into the two major sects, viz., Digambara and Svetambara, and later on into many sub-sects in each sect. This has given rise to a number of sections and sub-sections in Jainism and the process, in one form or another, is still going on.



The history of Jaina religion is full of references to the various schisms that had taken place from time to time and some of these schisms contributed to the rise of sects and sub‑sects in Jaina religion. There is, however, no unity of opinion on the manner and nature of such schisms. It is maintained that there were eight schisms, of which the first was caused by Jamali during Tirthankara Mahavira's life­time, and the eighth took place during the first century of the Christian Era, that is after the lapse of nearly six hundred years after the nirvana of Tirthankara Mahavira. Among these schisms, the eighth schism was more important as it ultimately split the Jaina religion into two distinct sects of Digambara Jainas and Svetambara Jainas. In this connection it may be noted that in order to prove the antiquity of their particular sect, both the sects have put forward their own theories regarding the origin of the other sect.

According to the account of the eighth schism, known as the great schism, which is corroborated by historical evidence, the process of the split continued from the third century B.C. up to the first century of the Christian Era. In the third century B.C. famous Jaina saint Srutakevali Bhadrabahu predicted a long and severe famine in the kingdom of Magadha (in modern Bihar and with a view to avoid the terrible effects of famine Bhadrabahu, along with a body of 12,000 monks, migrated from Pataliputra, the capital of Magadha, to Shravanabelagola (in modern Karnataka State) in South India. Chandragupta Maurya (322‑298 B.C.). who was then the Emperor of Magadha and was very much devoted to Acharya Bhadrabahu, abdi­cated his throne in favor of his son Bindusara, joined Bhadrabahu’s entourage as a monk‑disciple, and stayed with Bhadrabahu at Shravana­belagola. Chandragupta, the devout ascetic disciple of Bhardrabahu, lived for 12 years after the death of his teacher Bhadrabahu, in about 297 B.C. and after practicing penance died according to the strict Jaina rite of Sallekhana on the same hill at Shravanabelagola. This Bhadrabahu ­Chandragupta tradition is strongly supported by a large number of epigraphic and literary evidences of a very reliable nature.


When the ascetics of Bhadrabahu‑sangha returned to Pataliputra after the end of twelve‑year period of famine, they, to their utter surprise, noticed two significant changes that had taken place during their absence. Among the ascetics of Magadha under the leadership of Acharya Sthu­labhadra. In the first place, the rule of nudity was relaxed and the ascetics were allowed to wear a piece of white cloth (known as Ardhaphalaka). Secondly, the sacred books were collected and edited at the council of Pataliputra specially convened for the purpose. As a result the group of returned monks did not accept the two things, introduced by the followers of Acharya Sthulabhadra, namely, the relaxation of the rule of nudity and the recension of the sacred texts, and proclaimed themselves as true Jainas. Eventually, the Jaina religion was split up into two distinct sects, viz., the Digambara (sky‑clad or stark naked) and the Svetambara (white-clad).


In connection with this Great Schism it is pertinent to note that the practice of nudity, strictly observed by Tirthankar Mahavira and the ascetic members of his sangha, was later on found impracticable and discarded gradually by some sections of the Ascetic Order of the Jainas. That is why Dr. Herman Jacobi, the pioneer of Jaina studies in Germany, has made the following observation:

"It is possible that the separation of the Jaina Church took place gradually, an individual development going on in both the groups living at a great distance from one another, and that they became aware of their mutual difference about the end of the first century A.D. But their difference is small in their articles of faith."

In this regard Dr. A.L. Basham, the renowned authority on Oriental Studies, has given his positive opinion as follows: "Out of this migration arose the great schism of Jainism on a point of monastic discipline. Bhadrabahu, the elder of the community, who had led the emigrants, had insisted on the retention of the rule of nudity, which Mahavira had established. Sthulabhadra, the leader of monks who had remained in the North, allowed his followers to wear white garments, owing to the hardships and confusions of the famine. Hence arose the two sects of Jainas, the Digambaras and the Svetambaras. The schism did not become final until the first century A.D."

(vied "The Wonder that was India", pp. 288‑89).

Further it is worth noting that in the beginning when the schism materialized, the differences between the two sects were not acute and did not take the form of a dogmatic and doctrinaire rigidity as is clear from the fact that the Jainas by and large agreed that nakedness was the highest ideal as it is the characteristic of a Jina Accordingly, they adored the nude images of Tirthankaras without any reser­vation. In this context it is pertinent to note that all the early images of Tirthankars found at Mathura in Uttar Pradesh are nude. But slowly the question of clothing became important and accordingly different views and approaches were put forward in regard to various aspects and practices of the religious life. As a result with the passage of time and changed conditions, attitudes and approaches began to stiffen, doctrines to ossify and the sectarian outlook to dominate. This phenomenon is found among the other religious sects of that time. Naturally, it affected the Jaina religion also.



It is worthwhile to see what the exact differences between the Digambara and Svetambara sects of Jainism are. Literally, the monks of the Digambaras are naked while those of the Svetambaras wear white clothes. In fact there are no fundamental doctrinal differences between the two sects. For example, the most authoritative sacred text of all Jainas is the Tattvarthadhigama‑sutra by Umasvati. How­ever, there are some major as well as minor points on which the two sects are opposed to each other.


Some Points of DIFFERENCES

Some of the points of differences between the Digambaras and Svetambaras are as follows:


Practice of Nudity

Digambaras stress the practice of nudity as an absolute pre‑requisite to the mendicant's path and to the attainment of salvation. But the Svetambaras assert that the practice of complete nudity is not essential to attain liberation.


Liberation of Woman

Digambaras believe that a woman lacks the adamantine body and rigid will necessary to attain moksa, i.e., liberation: hence she must be reborn as a man before such an attainment is possible. But the Svetambaras hold the contrary view and maintain that women are capable. in the present life time, of the same spiritual accomplishments as men.


Food for Omniscient

According to the Digambaras, once a saint becomes a kevali or Kevala-jnani, that is, omniscient, he needs no morsel of food. But this view is not acceptable to the Svetambaras.


Minor Points of Differences

Leaving aside the trivial differences in rituals, customs and manners, the following are some of the minor points on which the two sects of Digambaras and Svetambaras do not agree:


Embryo of Mahavira

The Svetambaras believe that Mahavira was born of a Ksatriya lady, Trisala, though conception took place in the womb of a Brahman lady, Devananda. The change of embryo is believed to have been effected by God Indra on the eighty-third day after conception. The Digambaras, however, dismiss the whole episode as unreliable and absurd.


Marriage of Mahavira

The Svetambaras believe that Mahavira married Princess Yasoda at a fairly young age and had a daughter from her by name Anojja or Priyadarsana and that Mahavira led a full-fledged householder's life till he was thirty, when he became an ascetic. But the Digambaras deny this assertion altogether.


Tirthankara Mallinatha

The Svetambaras consider Mallinatha, the 19th Tirthankar as a female by name Mall; but the Digambaras state that Mallinatha was a male.


Idols of Tirthankars

The Svetambara tradition depicts the idols of Tirthankars as wearing a loin‑cloth, bedecked with jewels and with glass eyes inserted in the marble. But the Digambara tradition represents the idols of Tirthankars as nude. Unadorned and with down­cast eyes in the contemplative mood.


Canonical Literature

The Svetambaras believe in the validity and sacredness of canonical literature, that is, the twelve angas and sutras, as they exist now. While the Digambaras hold that the original and genuine texts were lost long ago. The Digambaras also refuse to accept the achievements of the first council which met under the leadership of Acharya Sthulabhadra and consequently the recasting of the angas.


Charitras and Puranas

The Svetambaras use the term 'Charitra' and the Digambaras make use of the term 'Purana' for the biographies of great teachers.


Food of Ascetics

The Svetambara monks collect their food from different houses while the Digambara monks take food standing and with the help of knotted upturned palms and in one house only where their sankalpa (preconceived idea) is fulfilled.


Dress of Ascetics

The Svetambara monks wear white clothes. but the Digambara monks of the ideal nirgrantha type are naked.


Possessions of Ascetics

The Svetambara ascetic is allowed to have fourteen posses­sions including loin‑cloth, shoulder‑cloth, etc. But the Digambara ascetic is allowed only two possessions (viz., a the pichhi, a peacock‑feather whisk‑broom) and a kamandalu (a wooden water‑pot).



The division of the Jaina religion into two sects was only the beginning of splitting the religious order into various sub‑sects. Each of the two great sects, viz., the Digambara sect and the Svehmbara sect, got sub‑divided into different major and minor sub-sects according to the differences in acknowledging or interpreting the religious texts and in the observance of religious practices. These major and minor sub-sets gradually sprang up for the most part on account of different interpretations the pontiffs put on the canonical texts from time to time and due to revolt or opposition by sections of people against the established religious authorities and the traditional religious rites and rituals.


The Digambara sect, in recent centuries, has been divided into the following sub‑sects:

Major sub‑sects ‑

1.        Bisapantha,

2.        Terapantha, and

3.        Taranapantha or Samaiyapantha.


Minor sub‑sects:

1.        Gumanapantha

2.        Totapantha.



The followers of Bisapantha support the Dharma‑gurus, that is, religious authorities known as Bhattarakas who are also the heads of Jaina Mathas, that is. religious monasteries. The Bisapanthas, in their temples, worship the idols of Tirthankaras and also the idols of Ksetrapala, Padmavati and other deities. They worship these idols with saffron, flowers, fruits, sweets, scented 'agara‑battis', i.e., incense sticks, etc. While performing these worships. the Bisapanthis sit on the ground and do not stand. They perform Arati, i.e., waving of lights over the idol, in the temple even at night and distribute prasada, i.e., sweet things offered to the idols. The Bisapantha, according to some, is the original form of the Digambara sect and today practically all Digambara Jainas from Maharashtra, Karnataka and South India and a large number of Digambara Jainas from Rajasthan and Gujarat are the followers of Bisapantha.



Terapantha arose in North India in the year 1683 of the Vikram Era as a revolt against the domination and conduct of the Bhattarakas. i.e. religious authorities, of the Digambara Jainas. As a result in this sub‑sect. the Bhattarakas are not much respected. In their temples, the Terapanthis install the idols of Tirthankaras and not of Ksetrapala, Padmavati and other deities. Further. they worship the idols not with flowers, fruits and other green vegetables (known as sachitta things), but with sacred rice called 'Aksata', cloves, sandal, almonds, dry coconuts, dates, etc. As a rule they do not perform Arah or distribute Prasada in their temples. Again, while worshipping they stand and do not sit.

From these differences with the Bisapanthis it is clear that the Terapanthis appear to be reformers. They are opposed to various religious practices. As according to them. These are not real Jaina practices. The Terapantha had performed a valuable task of rescuing the Digambaras from the clutches of wayward Bhattarakas and hence the Terapanthis occupy a peculiar position in the Digambara Jaina community. The Terapanthis are more numerous in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

It is pertinent to note that even though the name Terapantha sub-sect appears both among the Digambara and the Svetambara sects. Still the two Terapanthis are entirely different from each other. While the Digambara Terapanthis believe in nudity and idol‑worship, the Svetambara Terapanthis are quite opposed to both.



The sub‑sect Taranapantha is known after its founder Tarana‑Svami or Tarana-tarana-Svami (1448‑1515 A.D.). This sub‑sect is also called Samaiyapantha because its followers worship Sarnaya, i.e., sacred books and not the idols. Tarana‑Svami died at Malharagarh, in former Gwalior State in Madhya Pradesh, and this is the central place of pilgrimage of Taranapanthis.

The Taranapanthis strongly refute idolatry but they have their own temples in which they keep their sacred books for worship. They do not offer articles like fruits and flowers at the time of worship. Besides the sacred books of the Digambaras, they also worship the fourteen sacred books written by their founder Tarana‑Svami. Further, Taranapanthis give more importance to spiritual values and the study of sacred literature. That is why we find a complete absence of outward religious practices among them. Moreover, Tarana-Svami; was firmly against the caste‑distinctions and in fact threw open the doors of his sub‑sect even to Muslims and low‑caste people.

These three main traits of the Taranapanthis, namely, (a) the aversion to idol worship, (b) the absence of outward religious practices, and (c) the ban on caste distinctions, were evolved as a revolt against the religious beliefs and practices prevailing in the Digambara Jaina sect, and it appears that Tarana-Svami might have formulated these principles under the direct influence of Islamic doctrines and the teachings of Lonkashaha, the founder of the non-idolatrous Sthanakvasi sub‑sect of the Svetambara sect.

The Taranapanthis are few in number and they are mostly confined to Bundelkhand, Malwa area of Madhya Pradesh and Khandesh area of Maharashtra.



The Gumanapantha is not so important and in fact very little is known about it. It is stated that this sub-sect was started by Pandit Gumani Rama or Gumani Rai, who was a son of Pandit Todaramal, a resident of Jaipur in Rajasthan.

According to this Pantha, lighting of candles or lamps in the Jaina temples is strictly prohibited, because it regards this as a violation of the fundamental doctrine of Jaina religion, viz., non‑violence. They only visit and view the image in the temples and do not make any offerings to them.

This pantha became famous in the name of shuddha amnaya, that is pure or sacred tradition, because its followers always stressed the purity of conduct and self‑discipline and strict adherence to the precepts.

Gumanapantha originated in the 18th. Century A.D. and flourished mainly during that century. It was prevalent in several parts of Rajasthan, and it is found now in some areas of Rajasthan around Jaipur.



The Totapantha came into existence as a result of differences between the Bisapantha and Terapantha sub‑sects. Many sincere efforts were made to strike a compromise between the Bisa (i.e. twenty) Pantha and the Tera (i.e.. thirteen) pantha and the outcome was sadhesolaha (i.e., sixteen and a half)‑Pantha or 'Totapantha'. That is why the followers of Sadheso!aha Pantha or Totapantha believe to some extent in the doctrines of Bisapantha and to some extent in those of Terapantha.

The Totapanthis are extremely few in number and are found in some pockets in Madhya Pradesh.

In connection with the account of the major and minor sub‑sects prevailing among the Digambara sect. it is worth while to note that in recent years in the Digambara sect a new major sub‑sect known as 'Kanji‑pantha', consisting of the followers of Kanji Swami is being formed and is getting popular especially among the educated sections. Saint Kanji; Swami (from whom the name ‘Kanji‑pantha' is derived), a ‘Svetambara‑Sthanakvasi’ by birth, largely succeeded in popularizing the old sacred texts of the great Digambara Jaina saint Acharya Kunda-Kunda of South India. But Kanji Swami’s efforts, while interpreting Acharya Kunda kunda's writings, to give more promi­nence to nischaya‑naya, that is, realistic point of view, in preference to vyavahara‑naya, that is, practical view point, are not approved by the Digambaras in general as they consider that both the view points are of equal importance. However, the influence of Kanjipantha is steadily increasing and Sonagarh town in Gujarat and Jaipur in Rajasthan have become the centers of varied religious activities of the Kanajipanthis.



Like the Digambara sect, the Svetambara sect has also been split into three main sub‑sects:

1.        Murtipujaka,

2.        Sthanakvasi, and

3.        Terapanthi



The original stock of the Svetambaras is known as Murtipujaka Svetambaras since they are the thorough worshippers of idols. They offer flowers, fruits, saffron, etc. to their idols and invariably adorn them with rich clothes and jeweled ornaments.

Their ascetics cover their mouth with strips of cloth while speaking, otherwise they keep them in their hands. They stay in temples or in the specially reserved buildings known as upasrayas. They collect food in their bowls from the sravakas or householders' houses and eat at their place of stay.

The Murtipujaka sub‑sect is also known by terms like (i) Pujera (worshippers), (ii) Deravasi (temple residents). (iii) Chaityavasi (temple residents) and (iv) Mandira-margi (temple goers)


The Murtipujaka Svetambaras are found scattered all over India for business purposes in large urban centers, still they are concen­trated mostly in Gujarat.



The Sthanakvasi arose not directly from the Svetambaras but as reformers of an older reforming sect, viz., the Lonka sect of Jainism. This Lonka sect was founded in about 1474 A.D. by Lonkashaha, a rich and well‑read merchant of Ahmedabad. The main principle of this sect was not to practice idol‑worship. Later on, some of the members of the Lonka sect disapproved of the ways of life of their ascetics, declaring that they lived less strictly than Mahavira would have wished. A Lonka sect layman, Viraji of Surat, received initiation as a Yati, i.e., an ascetic, and won great admiration on account of the strictness of his life. Many people of the Lonka sect joined this reformer and they took the name of Sthanakvasi, meaning those who do not have their religious activities in temples but carry on their religious duties in places known as Sthanakas which are like prayer-­halls.


The Sthanakvasi are also called by terms as (a) Dhundhiya (searchers) and (b)Sadhumargi (followers of Sadhus, i.e., ascetics). Except on the crucial point of idol‑worship, Sthanakvasi do not differ much from other Svetambara Jainas and hence now‑a‑days they invariably call themselves as Svetambara Sthanakvasi. However, there are some differences between the Sthanakvasi; and the Murtipujaka Svetambaras in the observance of some religious practices. The Sthanakvasi do not believe in idol‑worship at all. As such they do not have temples but only sthanakas, that is, prayer halls, where they carry on their religious fasts, festivals, practices, prayers, discourses, etc. Further, the ascetics of Sthanakvasi cover their mouths with strips of cloth for all the time and they do not use the cloth of yellow or any other color (of course, except white). Moreover, the Sthanakvasi admit the authenticity of only 31 of the scriptures of Svetambaras. Furthermore, the Sthanakvasi do not have faith in the places of pilgrimage and do not participate in the religious festivals of Murtipujaka Svetambaras.


The Svetambara Sthanakvasi are also spread in different business centers in India but they are found mainly in Gujarat, Punjab, Harayana and Rajasthan.


It is interesting to note that the two non‑idolatrous sub‑sects, viz., Taranapanthis among the Digambaras and Sthanakvasi among the Svetambaras, came very late in the history of the Jaina Church and to some extent it can safely be said that the Mohammedan influence on the religious mind of India was greatly responsible for their rise. In this connection Mrs. S. Stevenson observes: "If one effect of the Mohammedan conquest, however, was to drive many of the Jainas into closer union with their fellow idol‑worshippers in the face of iconoclasts. Another effect was to drive others away from idolatry altogether. No oriental could hear a fellow Oriental’s passionate out­cry against idolatry without doubts as to the righteousness of the practice entering his mind, Naturally enough it is in Ahmedabad, the city of Gujarat, that was most under Mohammedan influence, that we can first trace the stirring of these doubts. About 1474 A.D. the Lonka sect, the first of the non‑idolatrous Jaina sects, arose and was followed by the Dhundhiya or Sthanakvasi sect about 1653 A.D. dates which coincide strikingly with the Lutheran and Puritan movements in Europe." (vide Heart of Jainism, p. 19).



The terapanthi sub‑sect is derived from the Sthanakvasi; section. The Terapanthi sub‑sect was founded by Swami Bhikkanaji Maharaj. Swami Bhikkanaji was formerly a Sthanakvasi saint and had initia­tion from his Guru, by name Acharya Raghunatha. Swami Bhikkanaji had differences with his Guru on several aspects of religious practices of Sthanakvasi ascetics and when these took a serious turn, he founded Terapantha on the full‑moon day in the month of Asadha in the year V.S. 1817, i.e., 1760 A.D.


As Acharya Bh1kkanaji laid stress on the 13 religious principles, namely, (i) five Mahavratas (great vows), (ii) five samitis (regulations) and (iii) three Guptis (controls or restraints), his sub‑sect was known as the Tera (meaning thirteen)‑pantha sub‑sect. In this connection it is interesting to note that two other interpretations have been given for the use of the term Terapantha for the sub‑sect. According to one account, it is mentioned that as there were only 13 monks and 13 laymen in the pantha when it was founded, it was called as Tera (meaning thirteen) ‑pantha. Sometimes another interpretation of the term Terapantha is given by its followers. Tera means yours and pantha means path; in other words, it means, "Oh! Lord Mahavira! it is Thy path".


The Terapanthis are non‑idolatrous and are very finely organized under the complete direction of one Acharya, that is, religious head. In its history of little more than 200 years, the Terapantha had a succession of only 9 Acharyas from the founder Acharya Bhikkanaji as the First Acharya to the present Acharya Tulasi as the 9th Acharya.


This practice of regulating the entire Pantha by one Acharya only has become a characteristic feature of the Terapantha and an example for emulation by other Panthas. It is noteworthy that all monks and nuns of the Terapantha scrupulously follow the orders of their Acharya, preach under his guidance and carry out all religious activities in accordance with his instructions. Further, the Terapantha regularly observes a remarkable festival known as Maryada Mahotasava. This distinctive festival is celebrated every year on the 7th day of the bright half of the month of Magha when all ascetics and lay disciples, male and female, meet together at one predetermined place and discuss the various problems of Terapanthis.


The penance of Terapanthis is considered to be very severe. The dress of Terapanthi monks and nuns is akin to that of Sthanakvasi monks and nuns. But there is a difference in the length of muhapatti, i.e., a piece of white cloth kept always on the mouth. The Terapanthis believe that idolatry does not provide deliverance and attach importance to the practice of meditation.


Further, it may be stressed that the Terapantha is known for its disciplined organization characterized by one Acharya (i.e., religious head), one code of conduct and one line of thought. The Terapanthis are considered reformists as they emphasize simplicity in religion. For example, the Terapanthis do not even construct monasteries for their monks, who inhabit a part of the house which the householders build for themselves. Recently their religious head, Acharya Tulasi, had started the Anuvrata Andolana, that is, the small vow movement. which attempts to utilize the spiritual doctrines of the Jainas for moral uplift of the masses in India.


The rise of Terapantha is the last big schism in the Svetambara sect and this Pantha is becoming popular. The Terapanthis are still limited in number and even though they are noticed in different cities in India, they are concentrated mainly in Bikaner, Jodhpur and Mewar areas of Rajasthan.




Since Jainism spread all over India in ancient times, the Jainas possess a long and continuous history of their own. It is, therefore worthwhile to see the status or high position enjoyed by Jainism in relation to other religions and the important Jaina political personali­ties like rulers. ministers. generals, etc. in different parts of India during the ancient and medieval times.




In Bihar

In the political history of India in ancient times, East India figured more prominently than any other part of India. From the middle of the seventh century B.C. the kingdom of Magadha, the modern south Bihar, had assumed the position of the recognized political center of India. As Lord Mahavira happened to belong to this part of the country, we find that many kings, chiefs and masses gave their full support to Jainism.


The Saisunaga Dynasty

King Chetaka, the most eminent amongst the Lichchhavi princes and the ruler of Vaisali, the capital of Videha, was a great patron of Jainism. He gave his sister, princess Trisala, in marriage to Siddhartha, to whom Lord Mahavira was born. As king Chetaka was related to lord Mahavira and as Lichchhavis are often mentioned in the Jaina literature, it is supposed that practically all Lichchhavis were the followers of Jaina religion.


In the Saisunaga dynasty (642‑413 B.C.), Bimbisara or Srenika and Ajatasatru or Kunika were the two important kings who extended their full support to the Jaina religion. Both Bimbisara and his son Ajatasatru were the near relatives of Lord Mahavira, in whose contact they frequently came, and hence the Jainas believe that they did belong to the Jaina religion for a considerable period in their



The Nanda Dynasty

The Nandas (413‑322 B.C.) who were the successors of Saisunagas in Magadha, were, according to the inscriptions of king Kharavela of Kalinga, the followers of the Jaina faith because the inscriptions speak of king Nanda I who led a conquering expedition into Kalinga and carried off an idol of Adi‑Jina, that is, the first Jaina Tirthankar Lord Adinatha or Rsabhanatha. Dr. Vincent Smith in his 'Early History of India' also mentions that the Nandas were Jainas.


The Maurya Dynasty

The Jaina tradition, which is ancient in origin and is referred to in subsequent ages down to the present day as well‑known and authentic, asserts that Emperor Chandragupta Maurya (322‑298 B.C.), the founder of the Maurya dynasty, turned Jaina and that he abdicated the throne, joined the Jaina migration led by Acharya Bhadrabahu to the South. became the chief disciple of Bhadrabahu, by entering the ascetic order of Jaina monks and died in a Jaina way (i.e. by observing the vow sallekhana or peaceful death) at Shravanabelagola after leading a life of Jaina ascetic for twelve years. This tradition is now accepted as true by famous historians B.L. Rice and Vincent Smith. Regarding the early faith of Emperor Ashok (273‑236 B.C.) it is maintained by some historians that he professed Jainism before his conversion to Buddhism. The famous edicts of Ashok are said to reveal this fact. Further, according to Ain‑i‑Akbari, Emperor Ashok was responsible for introducing Jainism into Kashmir and this is confirmed by the Rajatarangini, the famous work depicting the history of Kashmir. Many other reasons are also given in support of this contention.

Emperor, Samprati, the grand son and successor of Ashok, is regarded the Jaina Ashok for his eminent patronage, and efforts in spreading Jaina religion in east India.


In Orissa

Like Magadha, the kingdom of Kalinga or Orissa had been a Jaina stronghold from the very beginning. It is asserted that Jainism made its way to south India through Kalinga only. Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankar, visited Kalinga and preached Jainism to the people, who already belonged to the Jaina Sangha, as organized by Parsvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankar. It is worth mention that in the second century B.C. Kalinga was the center of a powerful empire ruled over by Kharavela and that he was one of the greatest royal patrons of Jaina faith. It is further contended that even after Jainism lost the royal patronage it continued for a long time as a dominant religion and that this is testified by the famous Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang (629 A.D.) when he says that in Kalinga "among the unbelievers the most numerous are the Nirgranthas (i.e., Jainas)."


In Bengal

Jainism had its influence in Bengal also. Hiuen Tsang states that in Pundravardhana and Samatata, that is, in western and eastern Bengal the naked ascetics called nirgranthas are most numerous. Even now Jaina relics, inscriptions, idols, etc., are found in different parts of Bengal. Even the name 'Vardhamana' is given to one district in Bengal. In this connection it has been pointed out that the indigenous people of western Bengal known as 'Saraka' are the Hinduised remnants of the early Jaina people. Again, in some parts of Bengal Jaina idols are worshipped as the idols of Hindu deity Bhairava. In short, the influence of Jaina religion on the customs, manners and religions of Bengal is very much visible even at present.




In Karnataka

It is now an undisputed fact that Jainism entered into Karnataka and south India during the days of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya when Bhadrabahu, the distinguished leader of Jainas and the last of the Jaina saints known as sruta-kevalis, after predicting twelve years famine in the north India, led the migration of the Jaina Sangha to the South. Thus it is stated that the Jaina history in the South commences from the 3rd Century B.C. as according to all Jaina authors the death of Acharya Bhadrabahu took place in 297 B.C. at Shravanabelagola. But in this connection it is strongly asserted from further historical researches that this Bhadrabahu tradition is the starting point of a revival and not the commencement of the Jaina activities in south India and hence regard that Bhardrabahu was in fact the rejuvenator of Jainism in south India. In this regard, it is argued that if south India would have been void of Jainas before Bhadrabahu reached there, it is least conceivable that an Acharya of Bhadrabahu's status would have led the Jaina sangha to such a country and for the mere sake of dharma‑raksa, that is, protection of religion. Again, in this relation various archaeological, epigraphic and literary evidence are brought forward to prove the antiquity of the Jainas in south India and it is asserted that Jainism had reached south India long before Sruta-kevali Bhadrabahu.

In any case Jainism prevailed in south India in 3rd Century B.C. and it continued as a popular faith for more than one thousand years of the Christian Era and it is significant to note that up to the 14th century A.D. Jainism played an important role in the history of south India.


The Kadamba Rulers

The Kadamba rulers of Banavasi (from the 3rd to the 6th Century A D.) were essentially Brahmanical in religion. Yet the royal Kadamba family gave a few monarchs who were devout Jainas, and who were responsible for the gradual progress of Jaina religion in Karnataka Eventually Jaina religion became a popular religion in the Kadamba Empire.


The Ganga Rulers

The Ganga Rulers (350 to 999 A.D.) of Talakada in Karnataka patronized Jaina religion to a great extent. In fact the Ganga kingdom itself was a virtual creation of the famous Jaina saint Acharya Simhanandi and naturally practically all Ganga monarchs championed the cause of Jainism.


The Chalukya Rulers

During the reign of Chalukya Rulers of Badami in Karnataka (500 to 757 A.D.). the Jaina religion was more prominent and many Jaina Acharyas were patronized by Chalukya kings including Pudakesi II.


The Rastrakuta Rulers

Many of the Rastrakuta emperors and their feudatories and officers were staunch Jainas and hence the period of Rastrakutas of Malakheda in Karnataka (757 to 973 A.D.) is considered as the most glorious and flourishing period in the history of Jainism in the Deccan.


The Western Chalukya Rulers

From the 10th to the 12th century A.D. the Western Chalukya rulers of Kalyan in Karnataka regained their ascendancy after the fall of the Rastrakutas and preferred to show the same liberal attitude to Jainism which the Kadambas, the Gangas and the Rastrakutas had shown.


The Hoyasala Rulers

The Hoyasala rulers during their reign from 1006 to 1345 A.D. over their kingdom of Halebid in Karnataka did strongly extend their support to Jaina religion. In fact like the earlier Ganga  kingdom, the Hoyasala kingdom in the 11th century also owed its creation to a Jaina saint by name Acharya Sudatta. Further it has been specifically reported that many of the Hoyasala kings and their Generals extended their patronage to Jainism and that they very carefully looked after the interests of the Jainas.


Kalachuri of Kalyan

In addition to these major dynasties and their rulers it has been emphasized that the Kalachuri rulers (from 1156 to 1183 A.D.) of Kalyan were Jainas and naturally in their time Jainism was the state religion.


Minor Rulers

On the same lines the Alupa kings of Tuluva (i.e. modern South Kanara district of Karnataka) showed leanings towards Jainism and the inscriptions reveal that Jainism was patronized by these Alupa kings. Further, Jainism was the state religion of the minor states of Punnata of the Santaras, the early Changalvas, and the Kongalvas, as testified by their inscriptions. Similarly, the Rattas of Saundatti and Belgaum and the Silaharas of Kolhapur were Jainas by religion.


Thus from early ages various royal families came forward as champions of Jainism and it is no wonder if their example was followed by their feudatories.


In Andhra and Tamilnadu.

In the far South, Tamilnadu discloses traces of Jaina domi­nation almost everywhere and on many a roadside. a stone image of Tirthankara may be seen either standing or sitting cross‑legged. From the ancient and important sangama literature and other archeological and epigraphic sources it is evident that Jainism flourished in the Tamil country from the earlier times intelligible with our present means. Jaina epigraphs have been discovered in Anantapur, Bellary, Cuddapah, Guntur, Krishna, Kurnool, Nellore, North Arcot, South Kanara, and Vizagapattam districts of former Madras Province, These Jaina epigraphs and other Jaina relics clearly indicate the larger vogue that Jainism once had in that part of the country.

Thus the whole of south India comprising the Deccan, Karnataka, Andhra and Tamilnadu was a great stronghold of Jainas, especially Digambara Jainas, for more than one thousand years. Apart from the provincial capitals, Shravanabelagola in Karnataka was the center of their activities and it occupies the same position even up to the present day.

Jainism, however, began to decline in south India from the 12th century due to the growing importance of Srivaisnavism and Virasaivism.



Jainism had very close relations with western India, that is, Gujarat and Kathiawar, where we find the largest concentration of the Jainas at present. Here on the Mount Girnar in Junagarh district, Lord Neminath, the 22nd Tirthankara of the Jainas, attained salvation. Here in the Council of Jaina ascetics held at Valabhi in the year 993 after Lord Mahavira, that is, in 466 A.D., the Jaina canon was, for the first time, reduced to writing. Just as south India is the stronghold of Digambara Jainas, similarly, west India is the center of activities of Svetambara Jainas.

Regarding the migration of Jainas to these parts of India, it is thought that the migrations must have taken place by 300 B.C. from Eastern India. In this connection the Cambridge History of India has given the following conclusion:

"From the facts that the Jainas tell us something about the regions of Chandragupta Maurya and his son Bindusara but at the same time they have practically nothing to tell about the reigns of Ashok and his successors in East India and that the division of the Jaina Church into two great sects of the Digambaras and Svetambaras had probably begun after the reign of Chandragupta Maurya. It is concluded that the Jainas were probably already at this time, i.e., 300 B.C., gradually losing their position in the kingdom of Magadha, and that they had begun their migration towards the western part of India, where they settled and where they have retained their settlements to the present day."


In Gujarat

Jainism flourished in Gujarat during the days of Rastrakuta monarchs, many of whom were devout Jainas, and it received a further fillip at the hands of that veteran Jaina ruler Vanaraja of Chavada family. About 1100 A.D., Jainism gained a great ascendancy when the Chalukya king Siddharaja and his successor Kumarapala openly professed Jainism and encouraged the literary and temple building activities of the Jainas.

During the days of Baghelas in the 13th century A.D. Jainism received patronage through the hands of Vastupal and Tejapal, the two famous Jaina ministers of the time. They were responsible for constructing the beautiful temple‑cities at Satrunjaya, Girnar and Abu.

Afterwards, even though Jainism did not receive the royal patronage as before, still it continued to hold its position and the numerical and financial strength of Jainas gave their religion a place of honor which is acknowledged even to this day.



As in Gujarat, in the region of Maharashtra also the Jaina religion had settled and flourished from ancient times. In Jaina religion the siddha‑ksetras, that is, the places from where Jaina saints and great souls had attained salvation, are considered sacred and ancient places of veneration and such siddha-ksetras are found at as many as four places in Maharashtra, that is, at Gajapantha (Dist. Nasik), Mangi‑tuni (Dist. Khandesh), Kunthalgiri (Dist. Oosmanabad) and Muktagiri (Dist Amraoti). In this connection it is worthwhile to note that such a siddhaksetra is not there in the entire area of south India. Further, it is evident from ancient Prakrit Jaina literature that Lord Mahavira the 24th Tirthankar, had visited the Marathavada region of Maharashtra during his religious propagation tour of different parts of India. Moreover, in Jaina religion the mountain‑caves and cave-temples are considered more ancient and sacred and in northern India such Jaina caves are found only in Udayagiri and Khandagiri hills in Orissa But in Maharashtra such ancient cave‑temples. in developed forms, are found at Ellora (Dist. Aurangabad), Ter (Dist. Oosmana­bad) Anjaneri (Dist. Nashik) and at many other places in the interior areas. In this respect it is asserted from recent archaeological researches that out of total number of Jaina caves and cave‑temples in India. Maharashtra has got the largest number, that is more than 75 percent. Again, it is pertinent to note that from ancient times the seats of respected Bhattarakas, that is, religious heads, and their mathas, that is, monasteries were located at different places in Maharashtra like Kolhapur and Nandani in western region. Later in Marathavada region and Karanja and Nagpur in Vidarbha region in Maharashtra. Similarly it is quite clear from literary evidences that from ancient times most renowned and influential Jaina saints like Acharya Samantabhadra. Virasena, Jinasena and Somadeva were intimately connected with Maharashtra also and had composed their sacred works and literary masterpieces in this region. Furthermore, it is remarkable to find that before the advent of Muslim rule in Maharashtra, continuously from the 3rd century A.D. the powerful ruling dynasties like the Satavahanas of Paithan. Chalukyas of Kalyan, Rastrakutas of Malakhed, Yadavas of Devagiri and Silaharas of Kolhapur and Konkan had extended their royal patronage, in a large measure to Jaina religion.

As a result we find that the Jainas and the Jaina religion had a prestigious position in Maharashtra during the ancient and medieval periods. The same position is continued to the present day and in this regard it is pertinent to note that the largest proportion of Jaina population in India today is found in Maharashtra. According to 1981 Census of India, out of the total Jaina population of 32,06.038 in India, the largest number of Jainas, viz. 9.39,392 are in Maharashtra and next to Maharashtra the population of Jainas in other states is. Rajasthan (6,24,317), Gujarat (4,67,768), Madhya Pradesh (4,44,960), Karnatak (2,97,974), Uttar Pradesh (1,41,549) and Delhi (73,917). It means that out of total Jaina population in India the largest, that is, 29.3 percent Jainas are in Maharashtra followed by 19.5 percent in Rajasthan, 14.6 percent in Gujarat and 13.9 percent in Madhya Pradesh. In other words, as many as 43.9 percent of the total Jainas in India are concentrated in western India comprising the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. It is thus evident that western India is the stronghold of Jaina religion.



When by 300 B.C. the migration of Jainas began from eastern India to different parts of the country. One of their branches was firmly established in north India from the middle of the second century B.C. and was settled in the Mathura region. That Shravanabelagola was to the Jainas of South. Mathura, in the old kingdom of Surasenas, was to the Jainas of North. The numerous inscriptions excavated in this city tell us about a wide‑spread and firmly estab­lished Jaina religion. Strongly supported By pious lay devotees and very jealous in the consecration and worship of images and shrines dedicated to Lord Mahavira and his predecessors. As these inscrip­tions range from the 2nd century B.C. to the 5th century A.D.. it is clear that Mathura was a stronghold of Jainas for nearly a thousand years.

Another center of Jaina activities in the North was Ujjayini It was the capital of Maurya Emperor Samprati who was the Jaina Ashok. Since we find several references to Ujjayini in the Jaina literature, it seems that the city might have played an important role in the history of Jaina religion.

The archaeological and other evidences brought to light from different parts of north and central India establish close relations of various rulers with Jainism During the Mohammedan period Jainism could not get the royal and popular support as it used to receive before but it succeeded in holding its own without much trouble. Jainas even could secure some concessions for their holy places and practices from the liberal minded Mughal emperors like Akbar the Great and Jahangir.

It is recorded that emperor Akbar was very favorably inclined towards the Jaina religion. In the year 1583 A.D. he made animal laughter during the Paryusana days a capital offense throughout his vast empire. This tolerant policy of the Great Mohgal was revoked by his successor Jahangir. A deputation of the Jainas which visited Jahangir in 1610 A.D. was able to secure a new imperial firman or rescript under which the slaughter of animals was again prohibited during the days of the Paryusana.

During the Mohammedan period, however, the Jainas particularly increased in the native States of Rajputana, where they came to occupy many important offices under the state as generals and ministers. In this connection Col. Tod remarks that:

"The officers of the state and revenue are chiefly of the Jaina laity. The Chief Magistrate and assessors of Justice in Udaipur and most of the towns of Rajasthan, are of this sect. Many of the ancient cities where this religion was fostered, have inscriptions which evince their prosperity in these countries, where with their own history is inter­woven. In fine, the necrological records of the Jainas bear witness to their having occupied a distinguished place in Rajput society; and the privileges they still enjoy, prove that they are not overlooked." (Vide Col. Tod, J. Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Vol. II, pp. 603‑605).



It is evident that Jainism is an ancient religion of India and that right from hoary antiquity to the present day it has continued to flourish, along with other religions, in different parts of India. Jainas, the followers of Jainism, are, therefore, found all over India from ancient times. The Jainas are also known everywhere for the strict observance of their religious practices in their daily lives. That is why Jainism could survive in India for the last so many centuries. The Jainas, in this way, succeeded in continuing to exist as devout followers of a distinct religion in India.

But this is not the only distinguishing feature of Jainas in India. In fact, the most outstanding characteristic of Jainas in India is their very impressive record of contributions to Indian culture. In comparison with the limited and small population of Jainas. the achievements of Jainas in enriching the various aspects of Indian culture are really great.



Perhaps the most creditable contribution of Jainas is in the field of languages and literature. It is quite evidence that right from the Vedic period two different currents of thought and ways of life known as (a) Brahman culture and (b) Sramana culture are prevalent in India The Sramana culture is mainly represented by the Jainas and the Buddhists and of them the Jainas were the first to propagate that culture. That is why from ancient times we have the Sramana literature besides the Brahmanic literature. The characteristic features of the Sramana literature are as follows: It disregards the system of castes and Asramas; its heroes are, as a rule, not Gods and Rule, but kings or merchants or even Sudras. The subjects of poetry taken up by it are not Brahmanic myths and legends, but popular tales: fairy stories, fables and parables. It likes to insist on the misery and sufferings of samsara and it teaches a morality of compassion and ahimsa, quite distinct from the ethics of Brahmanism with its ideals of the great sacrificers and generous supporter of the priests, and of strict adherence to the caste system.

The authors of this Sramana literature have contributed enor­mously to the religious, ethical, poetical, and scientific literature of ancient India. A close examination of the vast religious literature of the Jainas has been made by M. Winternitz in his 'History of Indian Literature'. In this masterly survey of ancient Indian literature, M. Winternitz has asserted that the Jainas were foremost in composing various kinds of narrative literature like puranas, charitras, kathas, prabandhas, etc. Besides a very extensive body of poetical narratives, the non‑canonical literature of the Jainas consists of an immense number of commentaries and independent works on dogma, ethics. and monastic discipline. They also composed legends of saints and works on ecclesiastical history. As fond of story‑telling, the Jainas were good story‑tellers themselves, and have preserved for us numerous Indian tales that otherwise would have been lost. Kavyas and maha­kavyas too, of renowned merit have been composed by Jaina poets. Lyrical and didactic poetry are also well represented in the literature of the Jainas.

Apart from these, the most valuable contributions have been made by the Jainas to the Indian scientific and technical literature on various subjects like logic, philosophy, poetics, grammar, lexico­graphy, astronomy, astrology, geography, mathematics and medicine. The Jainas have paid special attention to the arthasastra (or politics) which is considered to be "a worldly science" par excellence. Thus there is hardly any branch of science that has not been ably treated by the Jainas.

The literature of the Jainas is also very important from the point of view of the history of Indian languages for the Jainas always took care that their writings were accessible even to the masses of the people. Hence the canonical writings and the earliest commentaries are written in Prakrit dialects and at a later period Sanskrit and various modern Indian languages were used by the Jainas. That is why it is not an exaggeration when the famous Indologist H.H. Wilson says that every province of Hindustan can produce Jaina compositions either in Sanskrit or in its vernacular idioms. It is an established fact that the Jainas have enriched various regional languages and especially Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu.

Regarding the Jaina contribution to Kannada literature, the great Kannada scholar R. Narasimhacharya has given his considered opinion in the following terms: "The earliest cultivators of the Kannada language were Jainas. The oldest works of any extent and value that have come down to us are all from the pen of the Jainas. The period of the Jainas' predominance in the literary field may justly be called the 'Augustan Age of Kannada Literature'. Jaina authors in Kannada are far more numerous than in Tamil. To name only a few, we have Pampa, Ponna, Ranna, Gunavarman, Nagachandra, Nayasena, Nagavarman, Aggala, Nemichandra, Janna, Andayya, Bandhuvarma and Medhura, whose works are admired as excellent specimens of poetical composition. It is only in Kannada that we have a Ramayana and a Bharata based on the Jaina tradition in addition to those based on Brahmanical tradition. Besides kavyas written by Jaina authors, we have numerous works by them dialing with subjects such as grammar, rhetoric, prosody, mathematics, astrology, medicine, veteri­nary science, cookery and so forth. In all the number of Jaina authors in Kannada is nearly two hundred".

As the Jainas have produced their vast literature in these languages from very ancient times, they have certainly played a very important part in the development of the different languages of India. The medium of sacred writings and preachings of the Brahmins has all along been Sanskrit and that of the Buddha’s Pali. But the Jainas alone utilized the prevailing languages of the different places, besides Sanskrit, Prakrit and Apabhramsha, for their religious propagation as well as for the preservation of knowledge. It is thus quite evident that the Jainas occupy an important position in the history of the literature and civilization of India.



Along with literature the Jainas have always contributed consi­derably to the development of the arts in the country The Jainas have taxed their mite to enhance the glory of India in several branches of arts. Compared with their number their contributions appear to be very imposing and distinctive.



It must be remembered that Jainism did not create a special architecture of its own, for wherever the Jainas went they adopted the local building traditions For example, while in Northern India the Jainas followed the Vaisnava cult in building in southern India they adhered to the Dravidian type. The stupas of the Jainas are indistinguishable in form from those of the Buddhists, and a Jaina curvilinear steeple is identical in outline with that of a Brahmanical temple.

Even though the Jainas have not evolved a distinct style of architecture, yet it must be said to their credit that they have produced numerous and finest specimens of architecture in different parts of the country. In this regard it is quite clear that more than any other religion in India the Jainas have displayed their intense love of the picturesque while selecting the sites for the construction of their sacred buildings like temples, temple cities, cave temples, stupas, pillars and towers. They have erected their temples either on lonely hill‑tops or in deep and secluded valleys.



As the Jaina religion considers construction of temples as a meritorious act, the Jainas have constructed an unusually larger number of temples throughout India. Nearly 90 percent of Jaina temples are the gifts of single wealthy individuals and as such the Jaina temples are distinguished for elaborate details and exquisite finish.

Of these innumerable Jaina temples, the two marble temples at Mount Abu in Rajasthan are considered as the most notable contribu­tions of the Jainas in the domain of architecture. The two temples are famous as unsurpassed models of Western or Gujarati style of architecture which is characterized by a free use of columns carved with all imaginable richness, strut brackets, and exquisite marble ceilings with cusped pendants. The temples are known for the beauty and delicacy of the carving and for the richness of the design. As Cousens remarks:

"The amount of beautiful ornamental detail spread over these temples in the minutely carved decoration of ceilings, pillars, door ways, panels and niches is simply marvelous; the crisp, thin, translucent, shell‑like treatment of the marble surpasses anything seen elsewhere and some of the designs are veritable dreams of beauty. The work is so delicate that an ordinary chiseling would have been disastrous. It is said that much of it was produced by scrapping the marble away, and that the masons were paid by the amount of marble dust so removed."

Again, the Jaina temple at Ranakpur in Mewar, a part of Rajasthan (which was built in 1440 A.D.), is the most complex and extensive Jaina temple in India and the most complete for the ritual of the sect. The temple covers altogether about 48,000 sq. feet of ground and on the merits of its design, the notable art‑historian Dr. Fergusson remarks that:

"The immense number of parts in the building, and their general smallness, prevents its laying claim to anything like architectural grandeur: but their variety, their beauty of detail--no two pillars in the whole building being exactly alike--the grace with which they are arranged, the tasteful admixture of domes of different heights with flat ceilings, and mode in which the light is introduced. combine to produce an excellent effect. Indeed I know of no other building in India, of the same class that leaves so pleasing an impression, or affords so many hints for the graceful arrangements of columns in an interior".

The other temples of such superb character are (i) the temple of Parsvanatha at Khajuraho in Bundelkhand in Madhya Pradesh, (ii) the temple at Lakkundi in North Karnataka, (iii) the temple known as Jinanathapura Basadi near Sravana‑belagola in South Karnataka, (iv) Seth Hathisinghi's temple at Ahmedabad. and (v) The temple known as Hose Vasadi at Mudabidri in South Kanara District of Karnataka.

As regards the spread of beautiful Jaina temples in India it may be noted that the number of such temples in India was considerably reduced during the Muslim period because the structure of Jaina temple was such that it could easily be converted into a mosque. The light columnar style of the Jaina temples not only supplied materials more easily adopted to the purposes of Muslims. but furnished hints of which the Muslim architects were not slow to avail themselves. A mosque obtained in this way was, for convenience and beauty, unsurpassed by anything the Muslims afterwards erected from their own original designs. Thus the great mosques of Ajmer, Delhi, Kanauj and Ahmedabad are merely reconstruction on the temples of Hindus and Jainas.



Further, the grouping together of their temples into what may be called 'Cities of Temples' is a peculiarity which the Jainas have practiced to a greater extent than the followers of any other religion in India. Such notable temple cities are found, among other places, at (i) Satrunjaya or Palitana in Gujarat, (ii) Girnar in Gujarat. (iii) Sammed-Shikhara in Bihar (iv) Sonagiri in Bundelkhand in Madhya Pradesh, (v) Muktagiri in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, (vi) Kunthalgiri in Marathwada, Maharashtra, (vii) Sravana‑belagola in Hassan District, Karnataka and (viii) Mudabidri in South Kanara District, Karnataka.



Again, the Jainas also like the Buddhists, built several cave‑temples cut in rocks from the early times. But in dimensions, the Jaina cave temples were smaller than the Buddhist ones because the Jaina religion gave prominence to individualistic and not to congregational ritual. The most numerous cave‑temples are in Udayagiri and Khandagiri Hills in Orissa. The picturesqueness of their forms, the character of their sculptures, and the architectural details combined with their great antiquity render them one of the most important groups of caves in India. These and those of Junagadh in Gujarat belong to the second century B.C. while the others are of a later date of which the important ones are found at (i) Aihole and Badami in Bijapur District (Karnataka), (ii) Ankai and Patana in Khandesh District (Maharashtra), (iii) Ellora and Oosmanabad in Marathwada (Maharashtra), (iv) Chamar Lena near Nasik City (Maharashtra), and (v) Kalugumalai in Tinnevelly District (Tamilnadu).



Like the Buddhists, Jainas also erected stupas in honor of their saints, with their accessories of stone railings, decorated gateways, stone umbrellas, elaborate carved pillars and abundant statues. Early examples of these have been discovered in the Kankali mound near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, and they are supposed to belong to the first century B.C.


Mana-stambhas or Pillars

Another remarkable contribution of the Jainas in the field of architecture is the creation of many stambhas or pillars of pleasing design and singular grace which are found attached to many of their temples. In connection with these manastambhas, as they are popu­larly called, the famous authority on Jaina architecture, Dr. James Fergusson, states that it may be owing to the iconoclastic propensities of the Muslims that these pillars are not found so frequently where they have held sway, as in the remoter parts of India; but, whether for this cause or not, they seem to be more frequent in south India than in any other part of India. Dr. James Fergusson further suggests that there may be some connection between these Jaina stambhas and the obelisks of the Egyptians. Regarding these Jaina pillars in the South Kanara District of Karnataka, the research scholar Mr. Walhouse has remarked that "the whole capital and canopy are a wonder of light, elegant, highly decorated stone work, and nothing can surpass the stately grace of these beautiful pillars whose proportions and adapta­tion to surrounding scenery are always perfect, and whose richness of decoration, never offends." According to another eminent authority on Indian Architecture, Dr. Vincent Smith, in the whole range of Indian Art there is nothing perhaps equal to these pillars in the Kanara District for good taste.



There is evidence to show that apart from pillars the Jainas. especially from northern India, constructed a great number of beauti­ful towers dedicated to their Tirthankaras. There is such a tower which is still adorning Chittor in Mewar (Rajasthan) and it is considered as one of the best preserved monuments in India. This Jaina Tower at Chittor is a singularly elegant specimen of its class, about 75 feet in height and adorned with sculpture and moldings from the base to the summit. The Tower was constructed in the 12th century and was dedicated to Adinatha, the first of the Jaina Tirthankaras, and nude figures of them are repeated some hundreds of times on the face of the Tower.



The innumerable specimens of Jaina sculpture found in practically all parts of India show that the Jainas enlisted the services of sculptors from very ancient times. Their most common form of sculpture up to this day is modeling of images or statues of their Tirthankaras. But in giving shape to these figures no scope at all was given for the free play of imagination of individual sculptors as regular rules regarding the form and pose of statues of Tirthankara had been prescribed by the Jaina religion from the very beginning. Consequently, practically all Jaina images pertain to one class and therefore Jaina images from any part of the country cannot be distinguished from their style even though they belong to different ages altogether.

Further, it is significant to note that the Jaina images have been made of all sizes and substances and are almost always invariable in attitude, whether seated or standing. Small images are made of crystal, alabaster, soapstone, bloodstone, and various other precious and semiprecious materials, while the larger ones are carved from whatever kind of stone happens to be locally available.

Undoubtedly the most remarkable of the Jaina statues are the celebrated colossi of southern India, the largest free‑standing statues in Asia which are three in number, situated in Karnataka State respectively at Sravana-Belgola in Hassan District (constructed in 981 A.D. and 56.5 feet in height), at Karkala in South Kannada District (constructed in 1432 A.D. and about 41 feet in height) and at Yenura or Venura in South Kanara District (Constructed in 1604 A.D. and 35 feet in height). All these three images of Lord Bahubali, the son of first Tirthankar Adinatha, being set of the top of eminence, are visible for miles around, and inspire of their formalism they command respectful attention by their enormous mass and expression of dignified serenity. That is why these three images are considered by authorities like Dr. James Fergusson and Dr. Vincent Smith as the most remarkable works of native art in south India.


Decorative Sculpture

Regarding the unrivaled progress of the Jainas in decorative sculpture, as distinguished from individual statuary, Dr. Vincent Smith remarks that "The Jainas encouraged the work of a high order of excellence and beauty, employed to adorn with the utmost possible magnificence and pillared chambers which were their favorite form of architecture. Nothing in the world can surpass for richness and delicacy of detail the marble columns and ceilings of the Mount Abu

temples and it would be easy to fill to large volume with illustrations of more or less similar exquisite work in many localities."



Along with architecture and sculpture, the, Jainas have contributed in a large measure to the development of art of painting in India. The tradition of Jaina painting is as old as Buddhist painting and innumerable Jaina paintings of exquisite quality could be found on walls. palm‑leaves, paper, cloth, wood, etc. It is significant to note that the Jainas possess a very extensive treasure of manuscript paintings drawn in the early Western Indian Style, sometimes called the 'Gujarat Style' or specifically the 'Jaina Style'.



As Jainism is an original system, quite distinct and independent from all others, the Jainas have developed a separate philosophy which is regarded as a valuable contribution to Indian philosophy.

In philosophy the Jainas occupy a distinct position between the Brahmanic and Buddhist philosophical systems. This has been shown very clearly by Dr. Hermann Jacobi in his paper on 'The Metaphysics and Ethics of the Jainas'. Regarding the problem of Being the three hold different opinions. The Vadantins consider that underlying and up-holding from within all things there is one absolute permanent Being' without change and with none other like it. On the contrary the Buddhists hold that all things are transitory. The Jainas, however, contend that Being' is joined to production. continuation and destruction and that they call their theory of multiple view points (i.e. Anekantavada). in contradistinction to the theory of permanency (i.e. Nityavada) of the Vedantins, and to the theory of Transitoriness (i.e. Ksanika‑vada) of the Buddhists.

The Jainas think that the existing things are permanent only as regards their substance, but their accidents or qualities originate and perish. To emphasize once again here the significance of this Jaina theory of 'Being' comes out more clearly when it is regarded in relation to the doctrines of Syadvada and of Nayavada. According to the doctrine of Syadvada any proposition about an existing thing must, somehow, reflect the many-sidedness of Being.' i.e.. any metaphysical proposition is right from one point of view, and, the contrary proposition is also right from another point of view. The Nayas are ways of expressing the nature of things; all these ways of judgment are, according to the Jainas, one‑sided, and they contain but a part of truth. The doctrine of the Nayas is. thus, the logical complement to the Syadvada which is the outcome of the theory of the many-sidedness of ‘Being' From this Dr. H. Jacobi affirms that the Jaina theory of Being is an indication of the commonsense view.



As the Jainas have evolved a philosophy of their own, they follow a distinct ethical code based on their philosophy. The Jaina ethics stands as a class by itself in the sense that it is the only system which is founded, on the main principle of ahimsa. It has already been noted how the principle of ahimsa forms the basis of various rules of conduct prescribed for both the Jaina laymen and ascetics.

Thus one of the significant contributions of the Jainas is the ahimsa culture. It the Jainas are known for anything it is for the evolution of ahimsa culture and it must be said to the credit of the Jainas that they practiced and propagated that culture from ancient times. In fact the antiquity and continuity of ahimsa culture is mainly due to the incessant efforts of the Jaina ascetics and householders. Naturally wherever the Jainas were in great numbers and wielded some influence they tried to spread ahimsa culture among the masses. That is why we find that the States of Gujarat and Karnataka, which are the strongholds of Jainas from the beginning, are mainly vegetarian.

In fact it is admitted that as a result of the activities of the Jainas for the last so many centuries, ahimsa still forms the substratum of Indian character as a whole.



The Jainas also distinguished themselves in giving their unstinted support for the improvement of political and economic life in the country. The Jainas, especially in southern and western India, pro­duced a large number of eminent and efficient monarchs, ministers, and generals and thereby contributed to maintain and improve the political importance of the people. Not only the ordinary Jainas but their acharyas, i.e., saints. also aided materially to create the proper political environment based on ahimsa culture necessary for the resuscitation of the life in the country.


It is considered that due to the keen interest taken by the Jaina Acharyas, i.e.. saints. in political affairs of the country, Jainism occupies an important place in the history of India. The Jaina ascetics were never indifferent towards the secular affairs in general. We know from the account of Megasthenes that, in the 4th century B.C., the Sramanas of Jaina ascetics who lived in the woods were frequently consulted by the kings through their messengers. regarding the cause of things. So far as Karnataka is concerned Jainism, throughout its course of more than one thousand years, was an example of a religion which showed that religious tenets were practiced without sacrificing the political exigencies when the question of rejuvenating life in the country was at stake. That is why in Karnataka we find that the Jaina acharyas ceased to be merely exponents of dogmas and turned themselves into creators of king­doms. It has already been noted that the Jaina saints were virtually responsible for the founding of the Ganga  kingdom in the 2nd century A.D. and the Hoyasala kingdom in the 11th century A.D.



As Jainism, in all respects, is a religion of India, it has very close relations with other main religions of India like Hinduism and Buddhism. Formerly, it was thought that Jainism was a branch either of Buddhism or of Hinduism. But now it is an established fact that Jainism is a distinct religion of India and not a branch of any other religion. Similarly, it is also accepted that Jainism is an ancient religion of India and that it is older not only than Buddhism but also older than Vedic religion of the Hindus.

Since Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism, the three important ancient religions of India, have been living side by side for the last so many centuries, it is natural that they have influenced one another in many respects. It is also a fact that with the advent of Islam in India during the medieval period, Jainism and Islam came in contact and began to influence each other. In this way, intimate relations were established between Jainism and other major religions of India like Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. It is, therefore, worthwhile to see the nature of these relations so that our understanding of these religions will be more clear and our conception of Jaina religion will be more perfect.



In matters like theories of rebirth and salvation. descriptions of heaven, earth and hell, and belief in the fact that the prophets of religion take birth according to prescribed rules. We find similarities between Jainism and Hinduism. Since the disappearance of Buddhism from India. the Jainas and Hindus came closer to each other and that is why in social and religious life the Gains on the whole do not appear to be much different from the Hindus. In matters like dress and ornaments, occupations and professions, games and amusements, language and literature, outlook on life and behavior, superstitions, beliefs and practices, religious festivals and fasts, sacraments and rituals, there are various common things between Jainas and Hindus, and especially the vegetarian Hindus, in various geographical regions of India. In fact there are certain castes whose members are found in

both the Hindus and the Jainas and to some extent marital relations are still maintained between the Jaina and Hindu sections of the same caste.

From these similarities between the Jainas and the Hindus, it should not be considered that the Jainas are a part of the Hindus or Jainism is a branch of Hinduism. On the contrary, if we compare Jainism and Hinduism, we find that the differences between them are very great and that their agreement is in respect of a few particulars only concerning the ordinary mode of living. Even the ceremonies which appear to be similar are in reality different in respect of their purport if carefully studied.

Hence the significant differences between Jainism and Hinduism can be briefly noted as follows:



The sacred books of the Hindus like Vedas, Smrtis, Puranas etc. are not accepted by the Jainas and the Hindus also do not recognize even a single scripture of the Jainas.


Origin of the world

While the Jainas regard the world as eternal, the Hindus hold it to have been made by a creator.


Objects of worship

In Jainism worship is not offered to an eternal and eternally pure God, but to those great ones who have realized their high ideal and attained Godhood to themselves; in Hinduism worship is performed of many forms of one God who is the creator and the ruler of the world.


Purpose of worship

The significance of worship in Hinduism is also not the same as that in Jainism. In Jainism, there is no offering of food and the like, nor is a prayer made to the deity for boons. On the other hand, in Hinduism the attainment of the desired object is by the will of certain divine beings who are to be propitiated.


Practice of sacrifices

As Hinduism is a sacrificial religion, the performance of several sacrifices for a variety of reasons and for different duration has got an important place in it. This is not the case with Jainism and especially the animal sacrifices practiced by the Hindus have absolutely no place in Jainism.


Attainment of Salvation

While the Hindus believe that Gods alone can attain salvation, the Jainas consider that it is, the right of human beings only.


Path of salvation

The path of salvation prescribed by Jainism is only one and it is known as Ratnatraya‑marga, i.e., the threefold path of Right Belief, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct, which is to be simultaneously pursued by all persons. But in Hinduism, there is no prescription of one single, definite and clear path of salvation. Instead, in Hinduism different ways have been laid down for the attainment of salvation by various religious preachers in different periods of time.


Idea about karma

The Hindus regard Karma as in invisible power but the Jainas think it as a form of matter which can stick to the soul.


Religious concepts

In Jainism there are various concepts like dharma, adharma, lesya, gunasthana etc., which are not found in Hindu spiritual ideology.


Principles in Logic

In the systems of Jaina logic there are distinctive principles like Syadvada, Nayavada, Niksepa etc.. which are not found in the Hindu system.


The liberated soul

According to Hinduism, the liberated soul enjoys eternal happiness in heaven or gets merged with Brahman i.e., the Primeval Being, the

originator of the world. But as per Jainism, the soul after liberation remains for ever at the top of the loka, i.e., universe.


Religious objects

The Jaina deities, temples, places of pilgrimage, holy days, fasts, festivals, rituals and ceremonies are quite different from those of the Hindus.


Religious Practices

The peculiar Hindu practices like niyoga, i.e., levirate and sati, i.e., ascending the funeral pyre of the husband, are not approved by the Jainas. Further, a large number of Hindu religious practices. which are repugnant to Jainism, have been termed as mudhatas or stupid customs and beliefs and the true Jainas are required to be absolutely free from them. They are sun‑worship, bath during eclipses, giving away money at the end of eclipses, fire‑worship, the worship of edifices, ceremonial bathing in rivers and the ocean, adoration of trees, sacred offerings of boiled rice, religious suicide by falling from a precipice, bowing at the tail of a cow and taking cow's urine, etc.

From the facts mentioned above, it is evident that there are several items of religion on which there are basic differences between Jainism and Hinduism. It is also pertinent to note that these differences are persisting even up to the present day.



Regarding the relation between Jainism and Buddhism, the opinion of early European scholars was divided. While one group consisting of E. Thomas, Stevenson, Colebrook and others thought that Jainism is older than Buddhism, yet the other group of orientalists like H.H. Wilson, Lassen and others hold that Jainism was an off‑shoot of Buddhism because outwardly certain points were common to both and their land of origin and early activities was the same. This question whether Jainism was a precursor to Buddhism or not was settled for good in a scholarly manner by the researches of two great German orientalists, namely, Jacobi and Buhler. It is now an estab­lished fact that Jainism is not a branch of Buddhism but is an independent religion and that it was flourishing when Lord Gautama Buddha founded his new religion.

There are many similarities between Jainism and Buddhism. Both are Indian religions in every sense of the term and both are re­presentatives of Sramana culture in India; while Hinduism is the representative of Brahman culture in India. As such both Jainism and Buddhism:

1.        do not regard Vedas of the Hindus as authoritative and binding;

2.        do not accept the permanent power of God as the creator of the world;

3.        do strongly oppose the violent or animal sacrifices;

4.        do assign prominent place of sadhus and sadhvis, i.e., religious ascetic organizations. Further, both Tirthankar Mahavira and Lord Gautama Buddha hailed from Magadha, i.e., modern Bihar, were contemporaries and had many common points in their lives and activities.

In spire of these similarities, we do find that there are some basic differences between Jainism and Buddhism as follows:


Nature of Religion

Buddhism belongs to the category of 'Founded Religion' as it was founded by a specific person viz.. Lord Gautama Buddha, at a particular period of time i.e.. in the sixth century B.C. But this cannot be said about Jainism which is a traditional religion continuously existing in India from remote Past.


Concept of Soul

Jainism is an atmavadi religion in the sense that it is based on the existence of soul and that it deals, in detail, with various aspects, conditions and progress of the soul till it reaches its highest position after getting liberated from the bondage of karmas. But Buddhism holds completely contrary views. Buddhism is, therefore, termed as anatmavadi; religion i.e., a religion which does not give any im­portance to the soul. According to Buddhism, soul is not a permanent thing and that it will wither away in due course.


Principles of Ahimsa

Even though Buddhism and Jainism are regarded as religions based on the fundamental principle of ahimsa still there is a significant difference in the treatment and application of the principle of ahimsa in actual practice by both religions. Buddhism deals with the principle of ahimsa in a limited way in the sense that it enjoins upon its followers not to commit himsa themselves only. That is why a Buddhist can eat fish caught by others. But Jainism not only considers the principle of ahimsa in all its aspects, but also makes it obligatory on its followers to abstain from committing himsa in nine possible ways. In other words, it is expected of a devout Jaina that he should not commit himsa through manas (i.e., mind), vachana (i.e., speech) and kaya (i.e., body) and each through the manner of krta (i.e., personally committed), karita (i.e., commissioned through others) and anumodita (i.e., giving consent for commitment by others).


Practice of Penance

It is true that both Jainism and Buddhism are considered as ascetic religions as they attach prominence to the ascetic way of life and to the practice of penance. But there is a great difference in the extent of practice of penance in both religions. Jainism always lays utmost stress on the strict observance of the practice of asceticism in all possible ways. In fact, Jaina asceticism is considered as most difficult in the world and for its proper observance in practice, elaborate rules and regulations have been laid down giving rise to what is known as monastic jurisprudence. But Buddhism has shown complete aversion to extreme asceticism and in its place, it has laid down madhyam-marga i.e.. the 'Middle Path' lying between complete laxity and extreme asceticity.



In contrast to Jainism, Islam is a religion of non‑Indian origin and that too of a mono‑theistic type. But it is a fact that Islam flourished in India for many centuries as a religion of the rulers of India. As such , both Jainism and Islam came in close contact with each other for a long time and naturally influenced each other. As a result we find that there was a great impact of Muslim Architecture and Painting on the Jaina Architecture and Painting. Similarly, the arts of the architecture and painting developed by the Jainas had exerted their influence on the Muslims. This is why Muslims found it very convenient and easy to convert the Jaina temples into mosques. Many examples of such conversion are found in Rajasthan and Gujarat. But the most prominent and lasting impact of Islam on the Jainas was in the field of their practice of idol‑worship. Considering the strict opposition of the Muslims to idol‑worship and their policy of destruction of idols, some Jaina thinkers like Lonka Shah began to show their inclination towards non‑idolatry in Islam and ultimately it gave rise to the establishment of non‑idolatrous sub‑sects of Sthanakvasis among the Svetambara sect and of Taranpatha among the Digambara sect of Jainism during the medieval period of Muslim domination in the central and western regions of India.



From the social history of India it is evident that Tirthankara Mahavira, in order to solve the pressing problems of the time, made several important salient contributions from a social point of view. It has been recorded that Tirthankara Mahavira, after the attainment of omniscience at the age of forty two, toured different parts of India for a continuous period of thirty years, met people from various urban, rural and tribal societies, and preached the principles and rules of conduct as laid down by Jainism. The personality and preachings of Tirthankara Mahavira created a tremendous impact on the minds of all sections of people and especially on the down‑trodden sections of the population. He not only revealed to them the path of liberation, i.e., the path to attain the eternal happiness, which was the main object of the people, but also showed the actual means through which all people, irrespective of any distinction of class or status, can achieve this objective. His sincerity of purpose, way of approach, method of explanation, divine speech and distinctive philosophical and ethical doctrines appealed to the people to such an extent that with a firm conviction of mind and great determination people began to adopt Jaina religion as lay followers or as ascetics.

In this way Tirthankara Mahavira ushered in a new era of hope and aspirations for the common people and succeeded in considerably other arrangements for the perpetuation of his social order. Obviously new concepts and ideas revolutionized the entire course of life of the people. The significance of Tirthankara Mahavira lies in successfully effecting a social change and in making institutional and other arrangements for the perpetuation of his social order. Ob­viously, the Jaina Acharyas, thinkers and preceptors continued to advocate this new social policy. Thus the Jainas made remarkable contributions in the social field, and the significance of Jainism. from a social point of view, lies in these contributions which are briefly outlined here.



The most significant contribution of Jainism in the social field was the establishment of social equality among the four varanas. i.e.. classes, prevalent in the society. Tirthankara Mahavira succeeded in organizing his large number of followers into a compact social order quite distinct from that of the Brahmanic social order of his time.

The Vedic society was composed of four classes, viz., Brahman, Rajanya (i.e. Ksatriya), Vaisya and Sudra. They were said to have come from the mouth, the arms, the thighs, and the feet of the Creator, Brahman. The particular limbs ascribed as the origins of these divisions and the order in which they were mentioned indicated their status in the society of the time. The fact that the four classes were described as of divine origin could be taken as sufficient indication that they were of long duration and also very well defined Not only the four classes were distinct and separate, but they were also later on affected by the spirit of rivalry among themselves. Even in the early Rgvedic times the Brahmanical profession had begun to set up claims of superiority or sadness for itself and accordingly we find that different rules were prescribed for different classes. Obviously the prerogatives of the sacerdotal class created cleavages in the society. The Ksatriyas were assigned a position next to Brahmans and Vaisyas and Sudras were comparatively neglected. Thus the society at that time was completely class‑ridden in the sense that unusual importance was given to the Brahmin class to the detriment of other classes and that nobody was allowed to change his class which he had got on the basis of his birth in that class.

Against these glaring practices based on the acceptance of social inequality and on the wide observance of social discrimination, Tirthankara Mahavira and later on Jaina Acharyas forged their opposition. Tirthankara Mahavira recognized the division of society into four classes but based them on the nature of activities carried out by the people and not on the basis of their birth. He gave full freedom to one and all, including women and the Sudras, to observe common religious practices prescribed for all and admitted them into his religious order. In this way Tirthankara Mahavira threw open the doors of Jainism to all and gave an equal opportunity to everybody, irrespective, of his, class or birth, to practice religion according to his capacity. Those who followed religion as householders (male and female) were known as sravakas and sravikas and those who observed the religion fully by leaving their houses and becoming ascetics (male and female) were called as sadhus and sadhus.

In this way the society as envisaged by Tirthankara Mahavira and other Jaina Acharyas, was a society where classes were not hereditary like water‑tight compartments and where complete freedom was granted to the people to change to the class of their own aptitude. All classes were considered as different ways of life and utmost importance was attached to individual character and mode of behavior. There was no room for anybody to feel that he was neglected or degraded as he was free enough to follow any profession he liked and he could observe all religious rites and practices with others.

Thus Tirthankara Mahavira's conception of Varna system produced social impact of great significance. The principle of social equality among the classes was finally established and the social mobility among the classes was considerably increased as the criterion of birth for the membership of a class was straightway removed. This had a very wholesome effect on the conditions of the Sudras which were very deplorable in the sense that the Sudras were deprived of education, denied all rights, subjected to inhuman treatment, and assigned the lowest position in society. Formerly the Sudras were completely disregarded in religious matters and several binding restric­tions were placed on their movements and ways of living. Obviously, Tirthankara Mahavira's teachings proved a great solace to the Sudras. This resulted in the rise of social status of the down‑trodden people, and similarly there was a distinct change in the social attitude towards the non‑Aryans and the common masses. Slowly there arose a strong opposition to the continuation of the practice of slavery in any form.



Along with the establishment of social equality the teachings of Tirthankara Mahavira and the Jaina Acharyas affected to a very great extent the privileged position enjoyed by the Brahmans belonging to the priestly profession. From the Vedic times such Brahman priests enjoyed high social status, political facilities, economic concessions, educational opportunities, and religious privileges to the exclusion of other classes. In view of this monopolistic condition the Brahman priests used to hold the positions of prominence in society and freely made use of that position for the exploitation of the masses in different fields and especially in religious matters which were of highest importance to the people.

In these circumstances Tirthankar Mahavira launched an open and forceful attack on the priestly class and on their ingenious practices used for the excessive exploitation of the common masses. At the same time Tirthankara Mahavira made his religion easily accessible to the common masses, gave equal opportunities in the practice of religion to one and all irrespective of their class affiliations, and held out a sure promise to achieve salvation, the highest goal of their life, by observing the rules of conduct laid down by the religion and not by merely getting the different kinds of sacrifices performed by the priests. This practical and ethical approach to religion vigorously and effectively enunciated by Tirthankara Mahavira made people inde­pendent of the priestly domination, created a feeling of self‑reliance and appealed to the common masses. Thus Tirthankara Mahavira's opposition was to the priestly class of Brahmans and to the several tactics employed by them for the exploitation of the common masses by managing to keep the masses virtually ignorant and entirely dependent on the favors of the priests. This strong opposition considerably reduced the influence and domination wielded by the priestly class over the other people.

But it is significant that the opposition of Tirthankara Mahavira was confined to the priestly class of the Brahmans and not to the Brahman varna as such. In fact, Tirthankara Mahavira always appreciated the intellectual capacities of the Brahmans, initiated many learned Brahmans to Jaina religion, admitted several scholars from among the Brahmans to his ascetic order and even appointed Indrabhuti Gautama, the most learned Brahman teacher, as his first Ganadhara, i.e., the apostle or the chief disciple. In this connection it may be mentioned that Tirthankara Mahavira delivered his first upadesa, i.e., sermon, after 66 days of attainment of omniscience, and that too only when he got the collaboration of the most talented Brahman teacher, viz., Indrabhuti Gautama, for the proper inter­pretation of his preachings to the people. In this way Tirthankara Mahavira always showed regard to the learning and education of the Brahmans but invariably led a strong and consistent attack against the priestly domination of the Brahmans.



Another contribution of a distinctive nature made by Tirthankara Mahavira and Jaina Acharyas in the social field was in the direction of raising the status of women. In the latter part of the Vedic period women had practically been reduced to the status of Sudras. Like the Sudras, women were debarred from the right of initiation and investment with the sacred thread. They were considered to have no business with the sacred religious texts. In many passages we find that women was considered as inauspicious and people were asked to avoid seeing women, Sudras, dead bodies, etc. Thus women had practically no place in the religious life of the society and as such they were neglected and degraded by the people.

Since the days of Rsabha the low position of women was definitely changed by Tirthankara Mahavira in many ways. He removed various restrictions imposed on women especially in the practice of religion. In fact Tirthankara Mahavira did not make any distinction between the males and the females in the observance of religion. The rules of conduct prescribed for the males and females were exactly the same. Both the sexes were given equal opportunities in different matters of religion like the study of sacred texts, ob­servance of necessary duties, practice of vratas, i.e. vows, entrance into the ascetic order, practice of penance, making spiritual progress, etc. In the religious order of Tirthankara Mahavira the male house­holders were called sravakas and the female householders were termed sravikas, and both were quite free to observe their common religious duties and to prepare themselves for adopting ascetic life in due course. Similarly, complete freedom was given to women, like men, to enter the ascetic order . The female sex was no bar to the practice of asceticism. Tirthankara Mahavira always showed this attitude of equality towards women and admitted them freely into his ascetic order, no matter whether the candidates for admission were royal consorts, members of the aristocracy, and those belonging to the common run of society. Naturally many ladies availed themselves of this opportunity of achieving their salvation in due course by entering into the ascetic order. That is why in Tirthankara Mahavira's religious organization there were two orders of ascetics, like those of house­holders, namely, sadhus, i.e. male ascetics and sadhvis, i.e. female ascetics. It is stated that in Tirthankara Mahavira's fourfold religious order there were about 14000 sadhus, 36000 sadhus, 1,00,000 Sravaks and 3,00,000 Sravikas. This shows that the female members outnumbered the male members in both the categories of house­holders and ascetics. It is a clear indication that the females were very eager to take full advantage of the opportunity offered to them by Tirthankara Mahavira. In fact, many females from royal families and close relatives of Tirthankara Mahavira joined his ascetic order along with the other ordinary members. For example, Chandana and Jydesta, the two younger sisters of queen Trisaladevi, the mother of Mahavira, and Yasasvati, the wife of their maternal uncle entered the ascetic order of Tirthankara Mahavira; and eventually Chandana assumed the position of the head of the sadhvis, i.e. the female ascetics. In this way Tirthankara Mahavira effected emancipation of women by giving them similar opportunities like men to achieve their highest objective in life, viz. liberation. Females made best of these opportunities and many of them distinguished themselves as teachers and preachers.



Further the religious independence given to women had its re­percussions in other fields also. Equality of opportunity was accorded to women in several social spheres of action. In education they were given equal treatment with the males. The utmost importance of imparting education to females, along with males, was realized even in the ancient past by Rsabhadeva, the first Tirthankara, who had advised his two young daughters, Brahmi and Sundari. That "only when you would adorn yourself with education your life would be fruitful because just as a learned man is held in high esteem by educated persons, a learned lady also occupies the highest position in the female world." According to Jaina tradition women are expected to know 64 arts which include dancing, painting, music, aesthetics, medicine, domestic science etc. As a result of this high type of education received by women, we find, in Jaina tradition, that many women used to enter the teaching profession and to remain unmarried throughout their life in order to carry on their spiritual experiments unhampered. It is recorded in Jaina tradition that Jayanti, a daughter of king Sahasranika of Kausambi, remained unmarried out of her love for religion and philosophy. When Mahavira first visited Kausambi, she discussed with him several abstruse metaphysical questions and eventually became a nun. Similarly, in later periods of history also Jaina women not only kept up the pace of female education but at ties made original contributions to literature. For example, along with men Jaina women also added to Kannada literature. The greatest name among them was Kanti, who along with the great poet Abhinava Pampa, was one of the gems that adorned the court of Hoyasala king Balla I (A.D. 1100-1106) in Karnatak. She was a redoubtable orator and poet who completed the unfinished poems of Abhivana Pampa in the open court of that ruler. Similarly, Jaina lady Avvaiyara. ‘the Venerable Matron’, was one of the most admired amongst the poets in Tamil language.



The contribution of Tirathnkara  Mahavira and Jaina Acharyas of a revolutionary nature consisted in completely changing the attitude of the people towards God and thereby inculcating the spirit of self-reliance among the minds of the people. The common belief held by the people according tot he prevalent ideology was that as this world has been created by God and the work of controlling the events in this world in also carried out by God. This popular  belief engendered a feeling of divine dispensation in the kinds of the people because it was firmly held by the people that God can do and undo anything in this world in accordance with his wishes. Naturally this feeling created a sense of complete dependence on God by the people in the conduct of their daily activities and in securing happiness in this world as well as in the next world. Obviously this sense of dependence on God urged people to find out ways and means so as to obtain in abundant measure the favors of God in mundane and spiritual matters and also to avoid the displeasure or wrath of God which, it was thought, would not only bring several difficulties in the normal course of lie but also would lead to complete disaster. As a result of this attitude, people began to place entirely blind faith on the omnipotent God and to secure his favors by practicing certain rites and rituals laid down for the purposes. These prescribed rituals ere so elaborate that they did require the services of priests who were supposed to have the special knowledge about these rites and who were also specifically authorized to perform these rituals in a proper manner. In this way the entire code of conduct of the people was fully dominated by the practice of various rituals throughout the course of life and by the priests whose help and assistance were considered most essential to work as intermediary between people and God for securing desired favors from God.

Tirthankara Mahavira and Jaina Acharyas launched an intensive attack on this attitude of complete submission to God by the people for attaining their final objective in life. viz. liberation. In this regard Tirthankara Mahavira firmly asserted that this world is eternal and has not been created by any power like God and that the happenings in this world are not controlled by God. He clearly proclaimed that nothing here or elsewhere depends on the favors of God but everything depends on the actions of the people. He confidently stated that all persons, irrespective of their ultimate objective in life, by relying on themselves and through the observance of an ethical code of conduct and not by merely performing some rituals with the help of others. For this purpose he laid down a path to liberation which consisted of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct and appealed to the people to follow this path on their individual initiative and efforts and not with the help of any intermediary.

Further, he impressed on the people the theory of karma which is based on the principle of self-reliance. This doctrine explains the reasons lying behind or causes leading to effects. It maintains that every happening in this world is the result of some antecedent causes. Since the individual soul is the doer of actions, it must bear the consequences of these actions sooner or later. The is no way out of it. The responsibility of consequences cannot be shifted nor exemption form the consequences of these actions sooner or later. There is no way out of it. The responsibility of consequent cannot be shifted nor exemption from the consequences be given by anybody. The soul has to enjoy the fruits of the karmas in this life or in subsequent lives. There is no salvation until the soul stops the influx of karmas and gets rid of existing karmas and this it will have to do by its own deliberate efforts without expecting any help form an outside agency like God. There is no use in asking the favor of God or his representative because they do not have the power of determining the consequence of the karmas and have no authority to forgive people form future consequences of past actions.

This theory of karmas has been an original and integral part of the Jaina ideology, and Tirthankara Mahavira convinced the people of the necessity of adopting this doctrine and of molding their entire life on the foundation of this theory. Naturally Tirthankara Mahavira laid full stress on individual action and completely denied the existence of divine dispensation. He emphasized that man is the architect of his destiny and that there is no external power which can come in the way of getting the fruits of one’s actions, whether good or bad. He assured the people that the attainment of liberation, the ultimate object in life, is within their reach and it depends entirely on one’s own efforts in the march on the path liberation. In this way Tirthankara Mahavira wanted every individual to become a true hero on the battlefield of self-conquest. Thus Tirthankara Mahavira inculcated a spirit of reliance among the people in place of the feelings of utter dependence on God. This basic change in attitude brought an over-all change in the course of life of the people who began of lay stress more on the ethical aspects than on the ritualistic aspects of their conduct.



The most distinctive contribution of Tirthankara Mahavira and Jaina acharyas consists in their great emphasis on the observance of ahimsa, i.e. non-injury to living beings, by all persons to the maximum extent possible. Ahimsa in its full significance was realized and preached by twenty-three Tirthankaras preceding Tirthankara Mahavira. In fact, the philosophy and rules of conduct laid down in Jaina religion have been based on the solid foundation of ahimsa which has throughout and consistently, been followed to its logical conclusion. That is why Jainism has become synonymous with ahimsa and Jaina religion is considered as the religion of ahimsa. The significance of this basic principle of ahimsa was very powerfully reiterated by Tirthankara Mahavira as the practices of committing violence on different pretexts had become rampant at that time.

During the later Vedic period utmost importance was attached to the performance of sacrifices with a view to secure  the favors of God and to avert His anger. The sacrifices were very elaborate, complicated and hedged with various restrictions. The sacrifices became a regular feature of the religious life of the people. The peculiar characteristic of these sacrifices was that they were usually accompanied by the slaughter of animals. As the sacrifices ere mainly animal sacrifices they involved the practice of himsa to a considerable extent. Along with this practice, the flesh-eating or non-vegetarian diet was extremely popular among the different sections of the people. The people in those days were fond of meat-eating and practically all the important ceremonies were attended with the slaughter of animals. Offerings of flesh were frequently made to the Gods by worshippers.

Tirthankara Mahavira and Jaina Acharyas launched a vigorous attack against meat-eating and the performance sacrificial rites by propagating the principle of ahimsa, i.e. non-injury to living beings. In fact in all his preachings Tirthankara Mahavira invariably laid great stress on the observance of ahimsa because the principle of ahimsa is the logical outcome of the basic Jaina metaphysical theory that all the souls are potentially equal. He therefore asserted that as no one likes pain, one should not do unto others what one does not want others to do unto oneself. Since all living beings possessed a should the principle of non-injury was obviously extended to cover all living beings. He explained the doctrine of  ahimsa systematically and to the minutest detail. He considered injury or violence of three kinds: (i) physical violence, which covered killing, wounding and causing any physical pain, (ii) violence in words consisted in using harsh words, and (iii) mental violence, which implied bearing ill-feeling towards others. Further, he made it clear that violence or injury should be avoided in three ways, that is, it should not be committed, commissioned or consented to. Moreover, among the five main vratas, i.e. vows, the first place was given to the observance of ahimsa. In addition, ahimsa was regarded as the principal; vow, and the other four vows were considered to be merely details of the principal vow.

All these preachings of Jaina religion regarding the strict observance of the principle of ahimsa to the maximum extent possible by every individual in society produced far-reaching effects in social fields. The practice performing sacrificial rites and especially the slaughter of animals at the time of sacrifices considerably fell into disuse. Similarly killing of animals for hunting, sports and decoration purposes was greatly reduced. Further, the slaughter of animals and birds with a view to use their flesh as a form of diet slowly became unpopular. In this way injury to living beings was greatly reduced and the practice of vegetarian diet was adopted by large sections of population in different regions of the country. In this connection Dr. N.K. Dutt (in his book Origin and Growth of Caste in India) observes that “Animal sacrifice had been o so long standing among he Aryans and such was the respect for the authority of the Vedas which made it obligatory to sacrifice with flesh offerings, that the abolition of sacrifices, even of cows, became a very slow process effecting only a very small minority, the intellectual section of he people; and might not have succeeded at all, if Jainism and Buddhism had not overwhelmed the country and the mass of the people with the teachings of ahimsa and inefficacy of sacrificial rites.”

Thus Tirthankara Mahavira emphasized the basic fact that every living being has a sanctity and a dignity of its own and therefore one must respect it as one expects one’s own dignity to be respected by others. He also firmly emphasized that life is sacred irrespective of species, caste, color, creed or nationality. On this basis he advocated the principle of ‘Live and let live’.  In this way Tirthankara Mahavira convinced the people that the practice of ahimsa is both an individual and a collective virtue and showed that ahimsa has a positive force and a universal appeal.



Advocacy of the principle of religious tolerance has been the characteristic contribution of Tirthankara Mahavira and the Jaina Acharyas. When Tirthankara Mahavira promulgated Jaina religion, he never deprecated other religions and never tried to prove that other religions are false. In fact he propounded the doctrine of Anekantavada, i.e., many-sidedness, and showed that a thing can be considered from many points of view. That is why he always advised the people to find out the truth in anything after taking into account several sides or aspects of that thing. This obviously broadens the outlook of the persons as they are made to look at a thing from different angles. At the same time the principle of Anekantavada does not engender the feelings of enmity or hatred towards the other religionists because it believes that other religions also would be having some truth from their points of view. Hence by enunciating the principle of Anekantavada, Tirthankara Mahavira and the Jaina acharyas advocated the principle of tolerance and asserted that it could be applied to intellectual, social, religious and other fields of activities. As a result we find that Anekantavada has definitely a being on man's psychological and spiritual life and that it is not confined to solve a mere ontological problem. It has supplied the philosopher‑with catholicity of thought, convincing him that truth is not anybody's monopoly with tariff walls of denominational religion. It also furnished the religious aspirant with the virtue of intellectual toleration which is a part of ahimsa.

Human beings have limited knowledge and inadequate expression. That is why different doctrines are inadequate, at the most they are one‑sided views of Truth which cannot be duly enclosed in words and concepts. Jainism has always held that it is wrong, if not dangerous, to presume that one's own creed alone represents the truth. Toleration is, therefore, the characteristic of Jaina ideology as propounded by Tirthankara Mahavira. Even the Jaina monarchs and generals have a clean and commendable record to their credit in this regard. The political history of India knows no cases of persecution by Jaina kings, even when Jaina monks and laymen have suffered at the hands of other religionists of fanatical temper. Dr. B.A. Saletore has rightly observed in this regard that "The principle of ahimsa was partly responsible for the greatest contribution of the Jainas to Hindu culture--that relating to toleration. Whatever may he said concerning the rigidity with which they maintained their religious tenets and the tenacity and skill with which they met and defeated their opponents in religious disputations, yet it cannot be denied that the Jainas fostered the principle of toleration more sincerely and at the same time more successfully than any other community in India".



Along with the maximum emphasis on the actual observance of ahimsa, Tirthankara Mahavira and the Jaina acharyas greatly ex­tended the implications of ahimsa. They invariably stressed both the negative and the positive aspects of ahimsa . They strongly advocated that the concept of ahimsa should not be confined only to the negative side of it, that is, the avoidance of injury to the living beings of different categories, but should be consistently applied in the positive way, that is, in the direction of increasing the welfare of all living beings. They always appealed to the people to bear good intentions about the prosperity of others, to show active interest in the welfare of the needy persons, and to take practical steps to ameliorate the miserable conditions of afflicted living beings including insects, birds, animals and men. This positive encouragement to social welfare activities has been the most useful and noteworthy contribution of Jainism to Indian Culture.

This humanitarian approach to lessen the miseries of living beings was included in the vrata, i.e. vow, of aparigraha, i.e. abstention from greed of worldly possessions. The vow of aparigraha is the fifth of the five main vows which must be consistently followed by all persons. Aparigraha involves avoiding the fault of parigraha which consists in desiring more than what is needed by an individual. Accumulating even necessary articles in large numbers, expressing wonder at the prosperity of others, excessive greed and changing the proportions of existing possessions are all forms of parigraha i.e. worldly attach­ments. This vow aims at putting a limit on the worldly possessions by individuals according to their needs and desires. That is why this vow of aparigraha is many times termed as parigraha‑parimana‑vrata, i.e. the vow to limit one's worldly possessions.

This vow of parigraha‑parimana is very noteworthy as it indirectly aims at economic equalization by peacefully preventing under accu­mulation of capital in individual hands. It recommends that a householder should fix, beforehand, the limit of his maximum be­longings, and should, in no case, exceed it. If he ever happens to earn more than that he must spend it away in dana, i.e. charities. The best forms of charities prescribed by religion are ahara-abhaya-bhaisajya-sastra-dana, i.e. giving food to the hungry and the poor, saving the lives of people in danger, distribution of medicines and spreading knowledge. These charities are called the chaturvidha‑dana i.e. the fourfold gifts, by Jaina religion and it has been enjoined on the householders that they should make special efforts to give these charities to the needy irrespective of caste or creed.

From the beginning the Jaina householders made it one of their cardinal principles to give these four gifts to all persons who are in need of such help. In fact this help was extended to the protection and well‑being of insects, birds and animals also. For this the Jainas established alm‑houses, rest‑houses, dispensaries and educational insti­tutions wherever they were concentrated in good numbers. The anna­chhatralayas, i.e. alm‑houses, were conducted at pilgrim and other centers for the benefit of poor people. In the dharmasalas, i.e. rest ­houses, lodging arrangements were provided without any charges or at nominal charges at important towns, cities and pilgrim places. The ausadhalayas, i.e. dispensaries, provided free medicines to the afflicted persons. Along with the dispensaries for men, the Jainas conducted special institutions known as Pinjarapolas for the protection and care of helpless and decrepit animals and birds. In unusual times of flood and famine these pinjarapolas carry out various activities for animal protection. There is hardly any town or village of Gujarat or Rajasthan, where a pinjarapola is not present in some form or other. the spread of education the Jainas took a leading part in the education of the masses. Various relics show that formerly Jaina ascetics took a great share in teaching children in the southern countries, viz. Andhra, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra. In this connection Dr. A.S. Altekar rightly observes (in his book Rastrakutas and Their Times) that before the beginning of the alphabet proper the children should be required to pay homage to the deity Ganesha, by reciting the formula Sri Ganesaya namah, it is natural in Hindu society, but that in the Deccan even today it should be followed by the Jaina formula 'Om namah siddham', it shows that the Jaina leaders of medieval age had so completely controlled the mass education that the Hindus continued to teach their children this originally Jaina formula even after the decline of Jainism. Even now the Jainas have rigorously maintained the tradition by giving freely these Chaturvidha‑danas, i.e. four types of gifts, in all parts of India. In this manner the legacy of Mahavira has been continued to the present day.

Thus there is an immense value attached to this vow of aparigraha or parigraha‑parimana from social point of view. At the same time this vow has got a great significance in preparing a proper mental attitude towards material possessions, in forming a true scale of values, and in developing a right sense of proportion for individual possessions. This vow emphasizes that one should not feel too much attachment towards his own possessions and should resist all tempta­tions. It teaches that one may keep wealth and commodities to satisfy one's requirements but one should not lose oneself in the pursuit of material gain. In this manner it appeals that one should rise above greed, vanity, lust, etc. Thus the vow of aparigraha inculcates a particular mental attitude of self‑restraint in the face of pleasures, of stoicism before temptations and of detachment from superfluities and super‑abundances. This attitude of mind is perhaps more necessary today than ever before.




Abhyantara tapa: internal austerity

Abrahama: unchasity

Acharaya: the head of a group of sadhus

Adana-niksepa samiti: regulation of actions of taking or placing

Adharma: medium of rest

Agama: sacred precepts

Aghatiya karma: the non-destructive karma

Ahimsa: abstention from injury to living beings

Ailaka: the grade of ascetics of Digambara sect below that of Nirgrantha grade

Ajiva: non-soul, non-living substance

Akasa: space

Aksata: sacred rice

Amanaska Jivas: souls having no mind

Anagara-dharma: ethical code for non-householders, i.e. ascetics.

Ananta-chatustaya: infinite quaternary

Ananta-darsana: infinite perception

Ananta-jnana: infinite knowledge

Ananta-sukha: infinite bliss

Ananta-virya: infinite power

anarthadanda-vrata: a vow to abstain form wanton unnecessary activities

Anasana: fasting

Anatmavada: belief in the non-existence of soul

Anekanta: manifoldness

Anekantavada: many-sided view-point, doctrine of manifold aspects

Anga: essential requisite, component, limb

Anihnava: Without concealment of knowledge

Antaraya karma: the obstructive-karma

Anumana: inference

Anupreksa: reflection

Anu-vrata: a small vow

Anu-vrata Andolana: the small vow movement

Aparigraha: abstention from greed for worldly possessions

Apauraseya: of non-human origin

Apavadiki nivrtti: partial renunciation

Ap-kaya jivas: water-bodied souls

Apta: Tirthankara

Arati: waving of lights in front of an idol

Arjika: a female ascetic

Artha: wealth, worldly prosperity, meaning

Asatya: falsehood

Asrama: a stage in life

Asrava: the attraction of karmic matter towards the soul

Asubha-asrava: influx of vice or demeritorious karmas into the soul

Asteya: abstention form theft

Atichara: transgression, short coming

Atithi-samvibhaga-vara: a vow to feed ascetics and/ or pious householders

Atman: soul, spirit

Atmavada: belief in existence of soul

Autsargiki nivrtti: complete renunciation

Avadhi-jnana: clairvoyant knowledge of matter

Avamodarya: eating less

Avasarpini: descending

Avasyakas: necessary daily duties

Avatara: incarnation

Avidya: ignorance

Avirati: vowlessness, non-renunciation

Aviveka: want of discrimination

Ayu-karma: the age-determining karma

Baddha jivas: souls in bondage

Bahumana: great honor or zeal

Bahya-parigraha: actual possession of worldly objects

Bahya-tapa: external austerities

Bla-mada: pride of power, pride of one’s own strength

Bandha: bondage of soul by karmic matter

Bhakti: faith, devotion

Bharata-varsa: India, i.e., the country named after Bharata, the eldest son of the first Jaina Tirthankara Adinatha

Bhasa-samiti: regulation of mode of speech

Bhattaraka: a Dharma-guru of Digambara Jainas

Bhavana: contemplation

Bhogabhumi: enjoyment-region

Bispantha: name of sub-sect of Digambara Jainas

Brahmacharya: abstention form unchasity or sexuality

Brahmacharayasrama : the first stage in life of study and preparation

Chiatya: idol or statue

Chaityalaya: a temple

Chaityavasi: temple residents, another name of Murtipujaka sub-sect of Svetambara sect

Chakravarti: Emperor, a paramount sovereign

Charitra: biographies of great teachers and personages

Chatur-indriya-Jivas: souls having first four senses of touch, taste, smell and sight

Chaturyama Dharma: fourfold religion

Chaurya: theft

Chhedopasthapana: recovery of lost equanimity

Dana: charity

Darsanavaraniya karma: the conation-obscuring karma

Dasalaksana dharma: observance of ten virtues

Deravasi: temple resident, another name of Murtipujaka sub-sect of Svetambara sect

Desa-vrata: a vow to limit worldly activity to a particular area.

Deva-gati: celestial condition of existence

Deva-mudhata: belief in false gods

Deva-puja: worship of God

Dharma: religion, religious merit, virtue, medium of motion

Dharma-guru: a religious authority

Dhrauvya: permanence

Dhundhia: searchers, another name of Sthanakvasi sub-sect of Svetambara sect

Dhyana: mediation, concentration of mind

Digambara: ‘sky-clad, naked, name of a major sect of Jainas

Digvrata: avow to limit worldly activity to fixed points in all directions

Diksa: initiation

Diksa-vidhi: initiation rite

Dravya: substance

Dravya-naya: the substantial point of view

Dvi-indriya jivas: Souls having first two senses of touch and taste

Esana samiti: regulation of seeking or eating food

Evambhuta Naya: the ‘such-like’ standpoint

Ganadhara: spokesman of Tirthankara

Gati: form of existence

Ghatiya karma: the destructive karma

Gotra karma: the family-determining karma

Grantha: book, correct use of the words

Grharambhi himsa: accidental injury, injury due to household activities

Grahasthasrama: the second stage in life of a house holder

Guan: quality

Guna-vrata: a multiplicative vow

Gupti: regulation, control

Guru: teacher, preceptor, guide

Gurupasti: worship of the preceptor

Himsa: injury

Iray-samiti: regulation of walking

Jaina: a follower of Jaina religion

Jaina-dharma: Jaina religion

Jati-mada: pride of cast

Jina: spiritual victor

Jina-dharma: Jain religion

Jinakalpi Sadhu: an ascetic who observes prescribed rules of conduct in the strictest form

Jiva: soul, spirit, living substance

Jnana: knowledge

Jana-mada: pride in learning

Jnanavaraniya karma: the knowledge-obscuring karma

Kala: time, period, age

Kama: pleasure want

Kalpa: a  unit of the cosmic time

Kamandalu: a wooden water pot

Kanksa: desire for sense pleasure

Karma: subtle particles of matter

Karmabhumi: life based on efforts

Karunya: compassion for the afflicted beings

Kasaya: passion

Kaya-gupti: regulation of bodily activity

Kayaklesa: mortification of the body

Kaya-yoga: activity of body

Kayotsarga: the way of practicing penance in a standing posture

Kevalajnana: pure infinite knowledge

Kevala-jnani: the omniscient

Kevali Jina: the Jina who has attained Kevala-jnana

Krodha: anger

Ksullaka: the lowest grade of ascetics of Digambara sect

Kulakara: law giver

Kula-mada: pride of family

Lanchhana: emblem

Loka: universe

Lobha: greed

Loka-mudhata: belief in superstitions

Mada: pride, arrogance

Madhya-marga: middle path

Madhyastha: indifferent to ill-behaved persons

Maha-vrata: a great vow

Maitri: friendship

Mana: pride

Manahparyaya-jnana: capacity to know other’s mind

Mandira-margi: temple goers, another name of Murtipujaka sub-sect of Svetambara sect

Mano-gupti: control

Mano-yoga: activity of mind

Manu: law giver

Manusya-gati: human form

 Matha: monastery

Mati-jnana: sense-knowledge

Maya: deception, illusion

Mithyadarshana: wrong belief

Mithyatva: wrong belief

Mohaniya karma: the deluding-karma

Moksa: attainment of complete freedom of the soul from karmic matter, salvation

Moksa-marga: way to salvation

Mudhata: superstitious belief

Mukta jiva: a liberated soul

Mukti: complete liberation or emancipation

Mula-gunas: basic attributes, root-virtues

Muhapatti: a piece of white cloth kept always on the mouth by Svetambara sadhus

Muni: an ascetic

Muni-dharma: ethical code for ascetics

Murtipujaka: idol-worshipper, a major sub-sect of Svetambara sect

Naigama-naya: the figurative point of view

Nama karma: the body-making karma

Naraka-gati: hellish form

Naya: a particular point of view, a mode of expressing things

Nayavada: system of describing reality from different points of view

Nirgrantha: naked, a  naked ascetic, the highest grade of Digambar ascetics

Nirjara: gradual removal of karmic matter form the soul

Nirvana: salvation, liberation

Nischya naya: the realistic point of view

Niyoga: levirate

Pakhandi mudhata: belief in false ascetics

Pancha-indriya Jivas: souls having all five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing

Papa: demerit

Paramasravaka: best householder

Parigraha: worldly attachments and possessions

Parigraha-parimana: limitation of worldly attachments

Parigraha-parimana vrata: a vow not to exceed worldly attachments beyond a pre-determined limit

Parihara-visuddhi: pure and absolute non-injury

Parisaha: suffering, hardship, affliction

Parisaha-jaya: subdual of sufferings

Prayaya: mode or form

Paryaya-naya: the modal point of view

Pichhi: a peacock-feather whisk-broom

Pramada: carelessness 

Pramada-yoga: careless activity of mind, speech or body

Pramana: means of acquiring knowledge

Pramoda: delight for better qualified persons

Pratikramana: the recitation of the formulae of confession of past faults

Pratima: a stage of  ethical progress in a householder’s life

Pratyakhyana: the recitation of the formulae for averting future faults

Prayaschitta: expiation

Prthvi-kaya jivas: earth-bodied souls

Prosadhopavasa vrata: a vow to fast on the four days of a month

Pudgala: matter

Puja: worship

Puja-mada: pride in worship

Pujera: worshippers, another name of Murtipujaka sub-sect of Svetambara sect

Punya: merit

Purana: a biography of great teachers or persons

Rasa-parityaga: renunciation of one or more delicacies in food

Ratna-traya: the three Jewels, viz., samyag-darsana, jnana and charitra

Rddhi-mada: pride of wealth or accomplishments

Rjustra Naya: the standpoint of momentariness

Sachitta: flowers, fruits and green vegetables

Sadhu: a male ascetic

Sadhu-margi: followers of Sadhus, another name of

Sthanakvasi sub-sect

Sadhvi: a female ascetic

Sagara-dharma: ethical code for householders

Sakala-charitra: complete or unqualified conduct

Sallekhana: ritual peaceful voluntary death by fasting

Sambhirudha naya: the specific standpoint

Samanaska jivas: souls having mind

Samanya kevali: the Jina or the omniscient involved in his own salvation

Samayika: equanimity, meditation

Samiti: carefulness

Samsara: cycle of transmigration

Samsari-jivas: mundane souls, embodied souls

Samyag-jnana: right knowledge

Samyak: right

Samyak-charitra: right conduct

Samyaktva: firm faith in Jaina religion/realities

Samyama: practice of self-control

Samvara: the stopping of asrava

Sangraha naya: the class point of view

Sankalpa: preconceived idea

Sankalpi himsa: intentional injury

Samsaya: doubt

Samnyasa-asrama: the last life stage of absolute renunciation

saptabhangi: another name of Anekantavada, the doctrine of seven-fold predication

Sat: reality

Satya: truth, abstention form false, speech, real

Sabda naya: the verbal view point

Sanka: doubt, scepticism

Sastra: scripture

Siddha jiva: a liberated soul

Sila-vratas: supplementary vows

Sopadana: propriety of behaviour

Sravaka: male householder, a layman

Sravaka-dharma: ethical code for layman

Sravaka-gunas: qualities of an ideal householder

Sravika: female householder, a lay-woman

Sruta-jnana: scriptural knowledge

Sthanaka: a building meant for prayer and religious activities

Sthanakvasi: a major sub-sect of  Svetambara sect, Stahanak-resident

Sthanaka: a building meant for prayer and religious activities

Sthanakvasi: a major sub-sect of Svetambara sect, Sthanaka-residents

Sthavara jiva: immobile soul

Sthavirakalpi Sadhus : ascetics who observe their rules of conduct  in a milder form

Subha-asrava: influx of virtue or meritorious karmas

Suddha ammaya: pure and sacred tradition

Sukla dhyan: pure mediation

Suksma-sampraya: all but entire freedom form passion

Sutra: aphoristic expression

Svadhyaya: study of scriptures

Svetambara: white-clad, name of a major sect of Jainas

Swastika: the particular sign considered propitious

Syadvada: many-sided view-point, the doctrine of qualified assertion

Syat: in some respect, some how, in a way

Tapa: penance, austerity

Tapa-mada: pride of penance or religious austerities

Tarana-pantha: name of a sub-sect of Digambara sect, name of a major sub-sect of Svetambara sect

Tattva: principle, reality

Tejah-kaya jiva: a fire-bodied soul

Terapantha: name of a major sub-sect of Digambara sect, name of a major sub-sect of Svetambara sect

Tirtha: the contrivance which helps to cross the great ocean of worldly life

Tirthankara: one who makes the Tirtha, ford-maker across the stream of existence, Great Guide, promulgator

Tirthankara Kevali: the Kevali showing the path of salvation to all beings

Tiryancha-gati: sub-human form

Trasa jiva: a mobile soul

Tri-indriya jivas: souls having first-three senses of touch, taste and smell

Udyami himsa: occupational injury

Upabhoga-paribhoga-parimana-vrata: a vow to limit enjoyment of consumable and non-consumable things

Upadhyaya: the sadhu in charge of instruction

Upamana: analogy

Upasraya: a building meant for stay of Svetambara ascetics

Utpada: origination, appearance

Utsarga-samiti: regulation of movements connected with answering calls of nature

Utsarpini: ascending

Uttama-akinchanya: supreme non-attachment

Uttama-arjava: supreme simplicity

Uttama-brahamacharya: supreme chastity

Uttma-dharma: supreme virtue

Uttama-ksama: supreme forgiveness

Uttama-mardava: supreme humility or tenderness

Uttama-samyama: supreme self-restraint

Uttama-satya: supreme truthfulness

Uttama-saucha: supreme purity

Uttama-tapa: supreme austerity

Uttama-tyaga: supreme renunciation

Vachana-yoga: activity of speech

Vag-gupti: stoppage of speech

Vaiyavrttya: rendering service to saints

Vanaprastha-asrama: the third stage in life of retirement form worldly activities

Vanaspati-kaya jiva: vegetable bodied and bacteria type soul

Vapu-mada: pride of body  or beautiful form or appearance

Vayu-kaya jiva: air-bodied soul

Vedaniya karma: the feeling karma

Vibhrama: vagueness, indefiniteness

Vichikitsa: disgust of anything

Vikala-charitra: partial or qualified conduct

Vimoha: attachment, delusion

Vinaya: reverent attitude, modest behaviour

Virodhi himsa: protective injury

Vivikta-sayyasana: sitting and sleeping in a secluded place

Vrata: a vow

Vrati: a person who observes vratas

Vrtti-parisamkhyana: taking a mental vow regarding acceptance of food

Vyavahara-naya: the practical point of view

vyaya: destruction, disappearance

Vyutsarga: giving up attachment to the body

Yathakhyata: ideal and passionless conduct

Yati: a male ascetic

Yoga: activity of mind, speech and body.





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