Jain Ascetic Sects and Schools

53. Arising new sects and schools in religious and philosophical spheres is the natural phenomenon. They come out of the main stream by expressing unhappiness and unwillingness towards the existing norms and tenets of asceticism the schism usually occurs owing to social needs, personality cults, and differences on some points, which require the reconsideration over the dogmas in the light of social requirements.

54. Jainism is not an exception. The Majjhimanikaya (vol. 2,p.117) refers to an event taken place immediately after Mahavira’s Parinirvana. But there was no split in Jain order. Later on, it is started with two divergent narratives of one event and caused to split into two traditions, Digambara and Svetambara. It is said that about a hundred years after Mahavira’s Parinirvana, the terrible famine in the northern region took place for twelve years. Therefore, Bhadrabahu First sent the part of the Sangha (Order) to Southern India, particularly Karnataka where Jainas were very powerful under the leadership of Visakhacarya, the Maurya emperor Candragupta who followed the severe conduct of asceticism of Mahavira in Toto. Another group of the Church went to the Sindh region under the leadership of Sthulabhadra who found the need to relax the traditional practices. Both the groups came back to Magadha as soon as the disastrous famine came to an end. Bhadrabahu himself passed away before any return of the Sanghas was possible. The former Sangha, who stuck strictly to the regulation of nudity and prescribed the methods of begging and eating food came to be known as ” Digambara” (the sky-robbed) while the latter one, who continued to live under famine conditions and changed their ways accordingly became known as “Svetambara” (the white �robbed). Thus the main cause for the schism in Jain order was the attitude to traditional norms of conduct. Thus Jainism was spreader slowly in South and the west from its original home Magadha region.

55. After Mahavira’s Nirvana, According to Dhavala (pt. 1,p.66) and Tiloyapannatti (4.1482-84), Kevali Indrabhuti Gautama Ganadhara became the head of the Jain church for the next twelve years, followed by Sudharma or Loharya (l1 years), Jambu (39 years), Srutakevalins – Visnukumara (Nandi)- (14 years), Nandimitra (16 years), Aparajita (22 years), Govardhana (19 years), and Bhadrabahu first (29 years). The total number of years comes to 162 (62 +100). But the Sthaviravali enumerates it as 215 years. The main reason behind this discrepancy is that Acarya Hemacandra slipped to add the 60 years administration period of king Palaka. Then the difference becomes negligible. The Svetambara tradition submits the total period 580 years of Kevalis, Srutakevalis and Dasapurvadharis while the Digambara tradition in the Dhavala makes it 683 years. After this period, Ekangadhari Acaryas Gunadhara composed the Kasayapahuda on the basis of fifth Jnanapravada Purva and Puspadanta and Bhutavali on the basis of second Agrayaniya Purva composed the Satkhandagama.This was the migrated Jain ascetic order to Southern part of India called Digambara (naked or sky-clad) sect, which was afterwards claimed to be as belonging to the Mulasangha (the original order). The other section of ascetics was named as Svetambara as they had started to cover their bodies partly with the piece of white cloth (Ardhaphalaka). This section stayed in Magadha even during the famine period. Afterwards they too had emigrated to Gujarat and Saurashtra in the third or second century B.C. The schism in the Jain order was thus complete in first century A.D. Bhadrabahu First is only Aratiya Acarya who is regarded by both the traditions. But the Svetambara tradition is started with Sambhutivijaya Sthavira while the Digambara tradition is related with Bhadrabahu. Some more versions contrary to each other are available in Jain literature in this regard.

56. The Thanangasutta (Sutra 587) of Svetambara tradition termed Ninhava to such schism or difference of opinion occurred in the Jain order. It enumerates seven types of Ninhavas, which deal with Jain principles from one or other standpoint. But there was no schism taken place in Jainism due to such differences. Afterwards, Jinabhadragani Ksamasramana in his Visesavasyakabhasya (Gatha, 2308- 32) added one more Ninhava and termed it as Botika (corrupted) originated from Sivabhuti event. This event is not in fact related with Digambaras but it is related with Yapaniya sect.

57. This third section of the Jain ascetic order named Yapaniya reached Southern part of India via Mathura of the Saurasena region and tried for centuries to reconcile between the two divergent sects together, though without success in about third century B.C. They preached the conduct of Digambaras and favored the progressive attitude of Svetambaras. They used to live naked, worship nude images, and adore Mayurapiccha, according to Digambara tradition, whereas they believed in Strimukti, Kevalikavalahara and Savastramukti, which resemble to the Svetambara tradition. During this period, Mathura became the prominent center of Jainism where Jain Stupa was built in about first c. A.D. The archaeologists through their excavations supported that all the three sects were in existence there up to about tenth c. A.D. After that Yapaniya sect merged into Digambaras.

58. Digamma sect is said to have remained intact up to Lohacarya, 685 years after Mahavira’s Nirvana and was not divided into Ganas and Gacchas. Thereafter came into existence the Aratiyas, the knower of part of Anga-Purvas. By that time some changes had naturally taken place in the order according to social needs and eventually these Sanghas arose up. Vanabasis became Caityavasi. The monks who were in favor of stern penance started new movements against the Caityavasis and other companions, the so- called Jainabhasas by Devasena. The Aratiya Acarya Sivagupta created Ganas and Sanghas at the time of monks’ congregation held at Mahimanagari with the view to avoid relaxation of norms in conduct or asceticism.

59. The Digambara sect was afterwards divided into several Ganas and Gacchasa Like Nandisangha, Senasangha, Kundakundanvaya, Dravidasangha, Kasthasangha and Bhattarkas etc. Vasatakirti started the Bhattarka (saffron-robed) tradition in the 13th century A.D. at Mandapadurga (Rajasthan) who preached to keep one garment and worship Ksetrapalas and Jinas with their follower deities. It made a remarkable contribution to the development of Jainism and its protection but a relaxation in conduct was not accepted by a section of order and ultimately Banarasidasa in the 17th century A.D. started the new sect called “Vidhimarga” or “Adhyatmi” around Agra and Jaipur. In spiritual language it is called “Terapantha” (thy way). The Bhattarakas accepted this nomenclature in the mocking spirit and called themselves ” Visapanthi”, the little higher than Terapanthi. These names may also be kept after some sort of code of conduct also. Terapanthis observed the thirteen types of Vratas, viz. five Anuvratas, five Samitis and three Guptis while the Visapanthis might have added seven types of Vinayas (Jnana, Darsana, Caritra, Mana, Vacana, Kaya, and Lokopacara) to the list. Taranaswami started another sect named “Taranapantha ” in the l5th- l6th c. A.D. who advocated worshipping only the Agamas (scriptures), and not the idols.

60. The Svetambara sect too was divided into Ganas, Kulas, Gacchas and Sakhas. Caityavasi sect stood up in 355 A.D. against the Vanavasis and preached that one can stay in the temples and accept donations for his protection. They accept the validity of 45 Agamas. Haribhadrasuri criticized their conduct severely in the Sambodha Prakrana. Jinesvarasuri and Buddhisagarasuri debated with the Caityavasis in l0th century A.D. and defeated them in Anahilpur Patan and got the ” Kharatara” name from Durlabhadeva. This was the background of establishment of the Kharataragaccha. It was divided into nine types of Gacchas like Ancalagaccha, Purnimagaccha, and Agamikagaccha etc. In 1228 A.D., due to the observation of the Ayambila penance by Jagaccandrasuri, Jaitrasimha, the king of Mewar named the Sangha ” Tapogaccha” which became the separate sect. Afterwards his pupil Vijayacandrasuri preached that the monk could accept the number of clothes, ghrta, milk, vegetable, fruits and meals brought by nuns.

61. Then Lokashah, the resident of Ahmedabad of Gujarat province started the Lokagaccha sect in 1451 A.D. against the Caityavasi tradition and recognized 32 Agamas as the main source of his sect. Then Labaji made an improvement in the Lokagaccha tradition and started the Dhundhiya Pantha in l652 A.D. The followers of Lokagaccha became the followers of this sect. They used to perform their all rites and rituals in the Sthanakas and Upashrayas and not in the temples. Therefore they were called Sthanakawasi.The Terapantha sect is derived from the Sthanakavasi sect. Bhikkana founded it in l760 A.D. One who followed five Mahavratas, five Samitis and three Guptis is called Terapanthi. Acharya Tulasi `s disciple Mahaprajnaji is at present Head of the Terapantha. There was another sect named Samvegi started in the same province by Vijayadevasuri in Sak. Sam. 1682.

62. There are so many controversial points between these two major sects of Jainism. For instance, I) Digambaras recognize the practice of complete nudity and non-possession as an absolute prerequisite condition for achieving salvation while Svetambaras do not admit it as an obstacle to salvation, 2) An omniscient in Digambara tradition does not involve in worldly activities. He preaches by means of the magical divine sound (Divyadhvani) in Om form while the Svetambaras are of view that he can be engaged in normal human activities simultaneously enjoining omniscient cognition. 3) Digambara tradition does not find capacity and capability in women to attain salvation due to their physical weakness while Svetambaras oppose this view, 4) likewise, differences in begging and eating habits. 5) Svetambaras worship the naked Jina-images marking their lips, eyes, and torsos in decorated form while Digmbaras do not accept so.