By Pravin K. Shah
Jain Study Center of North Carolina
Appendix – Summary of Swetambar Jain Agams
Ang-agams are the oldest religious scriptures and the backbone of Jain literature.
- Acharang Sutra (Aayarang):
This agam describes the conduct and behavior of ascetic life. It also describes the penance of Lord Mahavir. This is the oldest agam from a linguistic point of view.
- Sutrakratang Sutra (Suyagdang):
This agam describes nonviolence, Jain metaphysics, and the refutation of other religious theories such as Kriyavada, Akriyavada, Ajnanavada, and Vinayavada.
- Sthananga Sutra (Thanang):
This agam defines and catalogues the main substances of the Jain metaphysics.
- Samavayanga Sutra:
This agam defines and catalogues the main substances of the Jain religion from a different perspective than the Sthananga Sutra.
- Vhakhya Prajnapti or Bhagavati Sutra (Viyah Pannati):
This agam explains the subtle knowledge of soul, matter, and other related subjects. Thirty-six thousands (36000) questions and answers are presented in discussion form. It is the largest of the eleven Ang‑agams.
- Jnata Dharma Kathanga Sutra (Nayadhammakahao):
This agam explains Jain principles through examples and stories. This text is very useful in understanding the mode of Lord Mahavir’s religious preaching.
- Upasaka Dashanga Sutra (Uvasagdasao):
This agam explains the code of conduct of the ten lay followers (Shravaks) of Lord Mahavir. This agam is very useful for understanding the code and conduct of ordinary people (Shravaka Dharma) in the Jain religion.
- Antah Kradashanga Sutra (Anatagaddasao):
This agam tells the stories of ten sacred monks attaining liberation (Moksha) by destroying their karmas.
- Anuttaroupa Patika Dashanga Sutra (Anuttarov Vaiya Dasao):
This agam contains the stories of additional ten sacred monks who attained the top-most heaven, known as Anuttara heaven.
- Prashna Vyakrana Sutra (Panha Vagarnai):
This agam describes the five great vows (mahavratas) and the five worst sins defined in the Jain religion.
- Vipaka Sutra (Vivagsuyam):
This agam explains the results of good and bad karmas through several stories.
- Drastivada Sutra:
The twelfth Ang-agam Drastivad is considered lost by all Jain Sects. The description, which is found in the other Jain Sutras relating to Drashtivada, indicates that this Ang-agam was the largest of all Agam Sutras. It was classified in five parts;
(l) Parikarma (2) Sutra (3) Purvagata (4) Pratham-anuyoga and (5) Chulika.
The third part, Purvagata contained 14 purvas. They contain the Jain religion’s endless treasure of knowledge on every subject. Some scholars believe that it was so named, the knowledge, which existed before Lord Mahavira was called ‘Purva’.