Bhattarakas in the Digambara community are the counterparts of the Svetambara Chaityavasins whom we have already met in the first section of this article as those monks who, fallen from the ideals of the great vanavasis (forset dwellers), had flocked to towns, residing in temples or chaityas or monasteries leading the life of a householder, yet calling themselves ascetics. As a matter of fact, the word ‘Bhattarak’ connotes the distinction of a Maharaja, literator, Muni, pujya or deva or acharya. ‘Bhattarak’ has been defined as one who is “well up in all shastras and kalas, organizer of gachchhas, large-hearted, influential and revealing.”
Notwithstanding the emergency permission awarded to Svetambara sadhus for being clothed, nevertheless they have been ordained to live outside populated places, eat food unsolicited and keep themselves away from possessions (parigraha) of all kinds. Yet the influence of these mathavasi sadhus was on the increase to such an extent since the 8th century A.D. of the Christian era, that a shastrartha had to be convened in Patan (Gujarat) to obtain removal of ban against the entry of basatikavasis in this capital city in the eleventh century. The Vidhichaitya movement against the Chaityavasis started in the eleventh century took half millennium to bear fruit as late as the end of fifteenth century in Gujarat and Rajasthan i.e. in the post-Lonka period.
No such movement, parallel to the Svetambara Vidhimarga, is discernible in the history of Digambara Church. Nevertheless characteristic instances of sluggishness had begun to be pin-pointed in Digambara literature simultaneously with that of Svetambaras during the centuries of the Early Medieval Period for example “People, Sadhu-charactered, are scanty like enanent munis; alas! ascetic munis too, approach the villages for night-rest just like deer.” (Atmanushasan : V. 9th century) : “Wonder it is that naked people are still available in the Kali Age.” (Upasakadhyayana : V. 10th century). “Present-day Munis, may also the adored (Sashastil : V. 1016).
Certain evidence, available in the thirteenth century, indicates that mathvasi tradition may have crystallised in the eleventh and twelfth centuries among Digambaras for example Pandit Ashadhar in his Angara Dharmamrita (V. 1300 = 1243) has it that “in this Dark Age, god sermonizing Munis are seen here and there twinkling like glow-worm (jugnju) – Alas !” The process adopted by these Munis may be like this – they were wont to approach the towns for food; where they had now started tarrying, ending with residence in populated places resulting the establishment of dharma pattas of the bhattaraks of which the first patta is supposed to have come into existence in Delhi, the capital of the alien Turks for whose sake the Munis, applying the Apavad not only draped their nudity and obliged the harem ladies by their entry into inner apartment.1 These examples led them as a class to take drapery for granted. As history repeat itself, the first Svetambara schism of V. 271 = 214 A.D., based on drapery, was now on the way to acceptance after a millennium !
Ashadhar, the representative Acharya par excellence of the 13th century Digambarism the personal observer of the Bhattarak aberrations in his samaj, has expressed his sentiments the tika of the shlokas in ‘pathetic’ words saying that “Corrupt Pundits and wicked (watha Munis have defiled the pure teachings of the Jina”. Svetambara Mahendra Suri has a chapter ‘Digambara-mat-Vichara’ in his Shatpadi – (V. 1263 = 1206 A.D.)2 where he has furnished detailed picture of the life of contemporary Digambara Sadhs which is instructive at alarming ! :- “Digambara Sadhus were living in mathas and temples along with nuns (aryika by whom they got their food prepared on occasions, besides getting their feet massaged) women; getting their feet worshipped with flowers, leaves, ghee, milk, water saffron or sandal (paste) or gold or silver or washed or anointed with oil. They always stayed at one place; sleeping in temples; obtained support from fireplace during winter; slept on the cushion of payal (straw) and kept a variety of medicines like khadirbati, conconut etc. for physicking; employed jyotish (astrology) prognosting omens; using mantra, (charm-spell) and minerals; rode on palanquins and shod themselves with cloth-shoes : kept Kamandals (water-pots) of copper. brass etc. and peacock feather brush (mor-pichchhis); matting and clothing (coloured upper cloth) for warding off basfulness e.g. dhoti or dupatta which was some times put on and which was caused to be washed by dhobi (washerman). Miscellaneous other things were also kept or possessed by these Digambara sadhus of the 12th-13th century such as pustak-pustika, kaparika, sthapanika, pustakpatta, yoga patta, asana-patta, trnapati, straw-langoti, finger ring etc. They also sermonized and taught disciples.”
This means that in the time of Bhattarak Basantkirti of Mandal-Chittor (C.1264 = 1207 A.D.), the Apwad Vesh applied to the drapery of Munis for emergency’s sake, was the result of the twelfth century ‘mathawas‘ (residence in matha) which, in the words of Ashadhar had crystallised into ‘matha-patitva’ (Headship of matha) in the 13th Century. Thus Mahendrasuri (Shatpadi 1206/1237) and Ashadhar (Angaradharmamrta 1243) both contemporaries of the Svetambara and Digambara creeds respectively are unanimous on the acts of omission and commission perpetrated by sadhus of the Digambara brand.
Coming to the fourteenth century, the reign of Firoz Shah Tughluq is regarded as the period when the Apwad practice was repeated in the harem of the Sultan when the Bhattarak pratha is believed to be ‘formally’ instituted in the Digambara Church. After the ceremonial installation of the sadhu incumbents, they acquired freedom to address the householders duly draped and came to be called Bhattaraks. Following the Delhi patta recognized by Firoz Shah, dozens of pattas came into existence in due course throughout northern and western India including the Deccan of which the Gwalior and Chanderi patta are the most important and relevant to us with Chanderi treated next to that of Gwalior. The phenomenon of multi-patta Digambarism may be said to be the concomitance of the disintegration of the Tughluq Empire after Firoz Shah into provincial kingdoms giving place to an All India Central Government.3
We must concede at once that Bhattarakism was the product of necessity thanks to the absence of any reformist movement in the Digambara Samaj like Vidhichaitya movement among the Svetambara which was active till the end of the fifteenth century. As suggested by a modern Jaina scholar, the schism of V. 271 = 214 A.D. based on nudism or otherwise of the monks, raised its head again to split the Digambara Church further, after the lapse of the whole millennium thanks to the human weakness of the Munis who gained a preference and an advantage over the strict followers of Mhavira’s precept and practice under the auspices of the last Sultan of Delhi (Firoz Tughluq) who could be reckoned as a sympathiser of Jainism (Digambara), after the promoting and patronising attitude towards Svetambarism of his predecessor (Muhammad bin Tughluq). In fact Digambarism had to wait for another two hundred and fifty years before, what is called, the ‘Vanarasiya Mat‘ of Pandit Banarsidas was founded as an antidotal counter-action against Bhattarakism in the seventeenth century.
It may not be supposed, however, that we are taking the liberty of condemning the Bhattarak Movement altogether. On the contrary we agree with modern scholars who have declared the Bhattaraks, the righteous among them, is the benefactors of Jainism being the inspirers, promoters and patronisers of the orthodox image-worshippers, the builders of temples and consecrators of idols, transcribers of old and new manuscripts, patrons of authorship and establishers of libraries (bhandars) most of which have survived to this day as the repositories of palm-leaf and paper books and documents of great historical and literary value. Sakalakirti Shubhachandra, Prabhachandra and Gyanabhushana have been named by scholars as Bhattaraks, who were scholars, authors and high-charactered in spite of their aberration from the right path early Bhattaraks who have not only served the cause of Jaina dharma immensely but they have saved dharma from sinking down during the pre-patta period of Digambarism i.e. roughly during the two centuries before the Turkish conquest of Northern India.4
Mula Sangha – As regards the sanghas, such of them with whom we are concerned in the fifteenth century for example Yapaniya, Kashtha Sangha, Mathur Sangha, more specially Dravida Sangha had been declared fallacious and deceptive (Jainabhas) as early as the tenth century in standard works like Darshana Sara. Only Mula Sangha was an exception in the early centuries as its name ‘Mula’ (root or base) would have us believe but with the advance of time Mula Sangha originally intact in the early centuries, succumbed to the aberrant beliefs and practices of the other sanghas.
For the history of fifteenth century Digambara Bhattaraks, we are mainly concerned with Mula Sangha and Kashtha Sangha whose contribution to literature and to organisational affairs from Delhi to Gwalior and Chanderi (Western Bundelkhand) will be taken up presently. Historical sources, Svetambaras begin to be available from the 13 the century. Digambara pattavails are unfortunately a desideratum, except those few preserved in the latter day Bhattarak Bhandars specially in the Amer Bhattarak Bhandar of which the available Guru Namavali of the Nandi Shakha Balatkara Gana of the Mula Sangha has been referred to by two senior scholars – Pandit Parmanand Jain Shastri and Agarchand Nahta.5 But it was given to Dr. Jyoti Prasad Jain to unravel the entanglement caused by the only available pattavalis and guruvavalis which belong to the period from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century when the original Delhi patta had disintegrated into sub-pattas whose statistics and time schedule for the early period are doubtful and unreliable with affect from the thirteenth century onwards with which we are directly concerned.
Two earliest names which seem to be free from the mist of inauthenticity are those of Basantakirti and Dharmachandra. Which the date for Basantkirti of Mandal (not Mando) regarded as ‘parampara–Guru6 has been mentioned as 1264=1207 A.D. who is supposed to have visited the then Sultan’s harem to satisfy the curiosity of the royal ladies, was really the founder of the Ajmer patta. Dharmachandra has been reported as a Bhattarak honoured by “Hammira Bhupal” who according to the identification of Dashratha Sharma was no other than Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud son of S.Iltutmish.7 Ratnakriti, his successor on the Ajmer patta, lived and died there.
The next Bhattarak after Ratnakirti, the great Prbhachandra with whom we are on surer grounds as to his course of the thanks to his Shravaka disciple Kavi Dhanapala’s references about his guru in his Apabhransha Bahubali Charit written in 1454 (1397). His first known authentic date is V. 1408 = 1351 A.D. : he is the founder of the Delhi patta and its first pattadhish about whom Dhanapala has reported that he himself had studied under him in Palanpur (Gujarat) and accompanied him on his travels to Pattan, Khambhat, Dhara, Deogiri etc. and finally to Yoginipur (Delhi) where a large gathering assembled to celebrate his accession to the patta of Ratnakirit. Bhattark Prabhachandra, now Pattadhish of Delhi, had regaled the Sultan ‘Mahmud Sahi’ (i.e. Muhmmad Tughluq 1325-51) and had discomfited the disputants by his learning.
During the regime of Prabhachandra as the first founder-pattadhara of Delhi, there was only one undivided (akhanda) patta in the Metropolis, of the Mulasangha. Also when earlier branch pattas were established during his own and that of his successor. Padmanandi’s time (C. 1368-C. 1418), these new pattas were all governed by the Delhi patta e.g. those of Ajmer, Gwalior etc. Disintegration of the Delhi patta started after Padmanandi with the establishment of several pattas like those of Sagawada. Surat, Idar, Malwa etc. more or less independent of the Delhi patta of the Centre until the bifurcation of the Delhi patta itself during the regime of Padmanandi’s grand disciple. Jinachandra (C.1450-C. 1514 A.D.) into Chittor and Nagaur pattas, with the winding up of the Centre. No wonder, therefore, that the pattavalis and guruvavalis of the Mulasangha available, acquire authenticity about patta-succession, guru-names and dates (as and when mentioned) with effect from the sixteenth century, not earlier.
Coming back to Padmanandi (C. 1368-C. 1418) the pattavalis, prepared during his time or immediately after him, all take their start with Bh. Padmanandi himself the most complete pattavali from the earliest times to the first half of the twentieth century Vikrami being that of the Chittor-Amer patta. Padmanandi himself has a very distinguished place in the heirarchy of the Mulasanghi Bhattaraks. His disciples and grand disciples have glorified him in their records and prashastis. He has left a number of works while his disciples were numerous in diverse places in Gujarat and Gwalior.
Padmanandi successor was Shubha Chandra (C. 1414-C.137 A.D.) whose devotee, some “Rajadhiraja” has been suggested to be Sayyid Mubarak Shah, the Delhi Sultan. Shubhachandra in V. 1481 = 1424 A.D. is known to have consecrated three images in Deogarh (Lalitpur District of Uttar Pradesh) Namely those of Vardhaman Mahavira. Padmanandi (his own guru) and Basantkirit the parampara-guru, during the reign of ‘Shah Alam’ (i.e. Hoshang Shah Ghori) while two years earlier in 1479 = 1422, the Apabhransh work ‘Parashwanath Charit‘ was produced in Karhal (Itawa District) of the Chauhan Chief Bhojaraja by the son of his minister Amar Sinha.
The successor of Bh. Shubhachandra on the gaddi namely Jinachandra (C. 1450-C. 1514) “is perhaps the greatest consecrator of Jaina images not only of his time but of the entire historic period” (of Jainism). His mention in the pattavali has been made with all distinctions as a learned man of high character. Images, consecrated by him are found all over Northern India in almost all Jain temples today mostly dated 1547 (1490), 1548 (1491) or 1549 (1492). In the year 1510 (1453) Jinachandra consecrated several Jaina images in the town of Tonk in the dominions of the Tomara monarch of Gwalior State. In the numerous stone images of his time consecrated by many of his disciple and grand disciple Munis, his name is invariable mentioned in the murtilekhs while after his death, specially after 1575 (1518) his mention has come down as an ancestor (purva purush), his period as pattadhish extending to 64 years (C. 1450- C. 1514), Many a Muni, brahmachari and grhastya scholar was his disciple.
Chanderi Patta – Dhilli patta alone will not present the account of Mulasangha for our purpose without a reference to the Chanderi Patta which covered Malwa and Bundelkhand in the fifteenth century. Pattadhar of Dhilli Patta, named Padmanandi (C. 1368-C.1418 A.D.) had a disciple, other than Shubhachandra, in Devendrakirti who enjoyed a position in the Nandi Amnaya of the Mulasangh no less important than that of Padmanandi. Devendra Kirti who passed the major portion of his Bhattarak career in Bundelkhand and its neighbourhood, as compared to Gujarat, has the credit of founding the Chanderi Patta. We know that with the abolition of the gaddi of Gandhar, Devendra Kiriti revived it is Rander in V. 1461 = 1404 A.D. from where it was transferred by Bh. Vidyananandi in V. 1581 = 1461 A.D. to Surat but it is not clear whether Devendra Kiriti had attained to the status of Bhattarak in 1461 or earlier. In the prashasti of the Punyasrava (Sanskrit), he has been called a ‘Muni’ and a disciple of Bh. Padmanandi in V. 1473 = 1416 A.D. An image inscription of Deogarh (Lalitpur) would have us believe that in V. 1493 = 1436 A.D. Devendra Kirti has been called ‘Bhattarak’. Chanderi Patta should have been established before this date in as much as his Chief Disciple Vidyanandi Parwar has been called the disciple of Devendra Kirti Dikshitacharya, acharya or guru with effect from the year V. 1499 = 1442 A.D. in various inscriptions while an image inscription of V. 1511 = 1454 expressly calls him a Bhattarak
The region of Chanderi and neighbourhood was called in those days ‘Chanderi Mandal’ and Devendra Kirit has been recognized in V. 1532 = 1475 A.D. as ‘Chanderi Mandalacharya‘ in an image inscription of the Bada Mandir of Bhelsa (Vidisha) in which Bhattarak genealogy of Dhilli-Patta from Prabhachandra to Jinachandra (and Sinhakirti) precedes Devendra Kirti and his successor Tribhuvana Kirti. Similar inscriptions about Devendra Kirti have been found in Karanja, Ganj Basoda and Guna (dated V. 1531 – 1474), besides two others dated V. 1542 = 1485.
In an image inscription of Bada Mandir, Lalitpur, Tribhuvankirti (successor of Devendra Kirti) has been called Mandalacharya which may mean that Tribhuvanakirti had occupied the Chanderi Patta sometime before V, 1525 = 1468 when the amnaya of Bh. Jinachandra and Bh. Sinha Kirti (both of Dhilli Patta) too was flourishing. Besides this, Tribhuvanakirti figures in V. 1522 = 1465 A.D. as the consecrator of a Chaubisi (24 Tirthankaras) patta in Bada Mandir, Chanderi which means that he was occupying the patta from before 1465 A.D.
In a manuscript of Shantinath Purana in the Shastra Bhandara of Bhanpura Bada Mandir, the prashasti calls the Bhattarak tradition of Devendrkirit etc. as ‘Malwadhish‘ or ‘Malwadeshadhisha‘ (V. 1663- 1606 A.D.) and, ‘Malwadesh‘ again in Sironj Nagara ‘Chaityalaya‘ (called Golarad, besides the title of ‘Mandaleshwara’ and ‘Mandalacharya’ given to Bh. Lalit Kirti in two image inscriptions.10
In V. 1746 = 1689 A.D. the Chanderi-Sironj-Vidisha Patta has been called Parwar Patta for the obvious reason that both pattas of Chanderi and Sironj were established by Parwar Samaj and a Bhattarak from the Parwar Samaj presided over each patta with the qualification that Bhelsa had no independent gaddi although the Bhattaraks stayed there for months together treating it is the chief centre of the Parwar Samaj ever since. As for the Sironj patta, that it continued up to the nineteenth century is proved by a yantra-lekha found in the Digambara Jaina Mandir of Guna dated V. 1871 = 1814 A.D.11 when Sironj was the headquarters of a pargana in the Nawabi State called Tonk prior to the Anglo-Nawab Treaty of 1818.
As to why the name of Chanderi patta was changed to Malwa patta, it was presumably due to the newly established Rajput Bundela State of Chanderi under the Mughul Emperor Jahangir in the seventeenth century with a view to avoid misunderstanding.
‘Jaina Hitaishis’ doubt about the corruption of the Mula Sangha stands confirmed authoritatively by the Ph.D. thesis on Deogarh12 from which we would like to supplement an addendum on this subject in as much as the Bhattaraks of the Mula Sangha had dominated from beginning to end the religious activities of this great Jaina centre in the fifteenth century for good or ill. The learned writer of this Hindi monograph, after tracing the development of Bhattarakism with special reference to the Mula Sangha deplores the materialism of the Bhattaraks who attributed themselves to Mula Samgha in spite of their clothing which had reduced them to the status of “corrupt Munis.”
Details about the Bhattaraks of the Mula Sangha lead as to two parallel traditions :- namely those of the ‘Senagana’ and the ‘Balatkaragana’. Bhattaraks of the Senagana attribute themselves to Pushkara gachchha and, assuming the epithet of ‘Vrshabhasenanvaya’, trace their origin to Vrshabhasena (the ganadhara or head attendant of Rishabhadeva). Bhattaraks like Somasena, writer of Trivarnachar etc. have flourished in this tradition. As to the Bhattaraks of the Balatkaragana, they attribute themselves to Saraswatigachchha and writing Kundakundanvaya for themselves, they commence their origin from Kundakundacharya. Many Bhattaraks have flourished in this tradition whose disciples and grand disciples were generally scholars. They and their disciples have been responsible for the production of Jaina literature in great volume, besides consecration of many a Jaina image.
Balatkaragana has the following shakhas (branches) : Karanja, Latura, Dhilli-Jaipur, Nagaur, Ater, Idar, Bhanupura, Surat, Jerhat shakhas etc. Covering these branches, Bhattarak Padmanandi13 was the Chief Sustainer of Northern India affairs (V. 1385-1450 = 1328-93 A.D.). He had three Chief Disciples namely Shubhachandra, Sakalakirit and Devendrakirit who initiated the branches of Delhi-Jaipur, Idar and Surat respectively. Their disciples and grand disciples were responsible for the other branches. Such literati as Sakalakirti, Shubhachandra, Shrutasagara and Brahmanemidatta etc. belong to this Balatkaragana.
Bhattaraks of the Senagana use the epithets of Mulasangha, Pushkaragachchha, Vrshabhasenanvaya with their names and for their identity, at the same time when those of the Balatkaragana use the surnames of Mulasangha, Saraswatigachchha and Kundakundanvaya-surnames whih they employed in land-grant documents, consecration records and in grantha prashastis (book colophons).
Assiduous study of the then state of affairs, reveals the fact that the sluggish Bhattaraks, whether naked or those clothed, for that matter, are the ones who have identified themselves with the above attributes and not those ancient respectable acharyas of the Mulasangha. Their motive was to keep themselves distinct from the Bhattaraks of such sanghas as the Kashtha Sangha in as much as they themselves delineate the deportment of ‘Munis’ in their self-authored books, as depicted by the acharyas of the ancient Mulasangha with the qualification that several Bhattaraks like Srutasagara etc. have now and then extended their justification to shithilachar (slackness) too.
Although these Bhattaraks felt that they were incapable of following the spiritual Muni behaviour, nevertheless they have presented their own selves as Muni, Yati, Gani, Suri etc. for the simple reason that according to the Jaina heirarchy, there is provision in society of only two divisions of ‘Muni’ and ‘Shrawak’. In case they allowed themselves to be counted among the shravakas, how could their title and position be highly regarded from the points of view of dharma and samaj to entitle them to palanquin ride with fly-whisk, to the honour of rulers and to the obedience of shrawaks. With a view to be counted among Munis, they celebrated their diksha (initiation) by assuming the nagna-linga (nude appearance) as if to observe the Munivrata of the time honoured tradition. Thereafter they put on clothing at the so-called instance of the then ‘panchas‘ (assessors). Their manner of thinking and action deserves to be called a deviation from the right path and their way of life will be known as “Bhattarak Pantha” because clothed Bhattaraks can not be recognized as Munis on the lines of clothed Munis of the Svetambara tradition.
Deogarh not only witnessed the frequentation of Munis in the medieval period; but provided places of permanent residence for them. Even now, there exist in Deogarh temples which were not temples in reality but were lodging houses for sadhus; their construction was not at all done according to the lines prescribed by shastras for temples. So much is certain that the sadhus passed the last years of their life there in as much as we find a number of samadhis (tombs) close to these so-called temples, besides samadhi–stambhas (pillars) in a sizable number and charanpadukars (foot- prints) which testify to the fact that Munis here achieved samadhimaran (death by samadhi) and this was the place where their funeral rites were performed. The large number of images of acharyas, upadhyayas and sadhus found here, lead us to believe that several sanghas of Munis lived here. A murtilekha (image inscritpion) found here, indicates that some images were carved for the chaturvidha–sangha (muni, aryika i.e. nun, shravaka and shravikas) which proves without doubt that in Deogarh various kinds of facilities were provided for the stay of sadhus.
In short the Sadhus of Deogarh were a variety of Bhattaraks (with) huge decorated temples, alms houses who caused to make thousands of images and their consecration.”
Name of Jainism in Deogarh
The images of gods and goddesses found in Deogarh in hundreds point undisputably to the fact that the Jaina Samaj of Deogarh was a believer in ceremonial religion with emphasis on materialism rather than spiritualism in as much as the Bhattaraks, like the Vajrayanis in Buddhism and the Kapaliks in Brahmanism, had invented scores of devices for the enjoyment of worldly pleasures and for the satisfaction of mundane desires in the name of religion. They had bewitched the samaj with the imaginary kathas (stories) of gods and goddesses, with mantra-tantra (charms-spells) and miracles. The process, as old as the post-Gupta period, still lingers among the Kaulas of Kashmir, the Pandas of Mathura, Varanasi and Prayag and the Bhattarakas of South India. This is confirmed by a pattavali dated 1805 = 1748 A.D. discovered from the Bhattarak Shastra Bhandar, Dungarpur (Rajasthan), by Dr. Kasturchandra Kasliwal (Vide Dr. Kasturchandra Kasliwal : ‘Tin Aitihasik Pattawaliyan’ : Sammati Sandesh VII, 3, March 1962, p. 27, as quoted in ibid, p. 132). This feature is also reflected in the sculptors switching from spiritualism oriented carvings to materialism oriented carvings (in the fifteenth century).
Kashtha Sangha – Of the twin Sanghas working in Northern India during our period Kashtha has been traced from the village Kashtha, near Delhi, on the bank of the Jamuna. The early record of the activities of the Kashtha Sangha which originated from Mathura as a matter of fact, is not available in regular sequence except in the existence of metallic images of the Tomara period in, Gwalior in the eleventh century. Madhava Sena, pattadhara of Pratap Sena is said to, have achieved victory in debate at the court of Alauddin Khilji. Earliest date of a Kashtha Bhattarak, made available, is that of Vimalasena, the consecrator of two images of the fourteenth century A.D. traced in Jaipur and Delhi dated 1357 and 1371 A.D. respectively. Names of his successors on the patta, yielded by the Kashtha Sangha Pattavali, are Dharmasena of Hissar.15 Bhavasena and Sahasrakirti until we come to Gunakirti whose known date is V. 1460 = 1403 A.D. when Pandit Khemal Khandelwal had presented a copy of the Uttarpurana of Pushpadanta to Gunakirti.
Gunakirti (1403-24) : With Gunakirti; we are on sure grounds about the activities of the Kashtha Sangha in Gwalior for reasons which apply equally to Bhattaraks of all Sanghas during this period including the Mula Sangha which also flourished simultaneously in Gwalior with exemplary fraternity16 during a period when its Kashtha counterpart of the Mathur gachchha had completely dominated the religious life of the Jaina Samaj in the fifteenth century rule of the patronizing Tomaras in the background of the religio-literary achievements of the Poet-Laureate, Mahakavi Raidhu. With the disintegration of the Delhi Sultanate, the provincial kingdoms, independent in all respects, proved to be the best patrons of the Jaina local culture as we have seen in the case of the neighbouring Mandogarh ruled by the Turkish families of Ghoris and Khilchis. Simultaneously with Malwa, the Jaina Samaj of Gwalior not only cultivated their time-honoured idolatry on a grand extensive scale but a prolific devotee of Saraswati in Gwalior like Raidhu could leave behind single handed the Mandn-Sangram-Punja trinity of Mandogarh in the realm of idolatrous literary production. The credit for all this distinction and development in Gwalior goes to the Kashthasanghi Bhataraks in general and to Gunakirti and his disciple younger brother Yashahkirit in particular.
Gunakirti was distinguished equally well in learning, penance and resulting influence that he wielded on the local Rajput rulers of his times and their senior ministers and treasurers of the Jaina Agrawal community as per the tributes paid to his qualities of head and heart by Raidhu and the writer of the Kashtha Pattavali document. Extraordinary penance, practised by him, had reduced him to an emaciated being. The extensive carving of images, small and colossal, accomplished with a vengeance during the reign of Dungar Sinha (1425 = 59 A.D.) was originally inspired by Gunakirti and his disciples.
Yashahakirti (1429-53) : Yashahakirit happens to be a younger brother and disciple of Bhattarak Gunakirti – a writer of good hand and scholar of Prakrit, Sanskrit and Apabhransh in which last his four works from his pen are extant. He has been extolled in the pattavali and by the poet Raidhu who regarded him as his ‘mantra guru’. He is known as the transcriber of the decayed and ragged fragment of the famous Harivansha Purana of Mahakavi Swayambhudeva which he copied out with the permission of his guru, sitting in a temple in the vicinity of Gwalior at Kumaranagar (now Khumharapura) on the bank of the river Murar (1521 = 1464), completing the missing portion of the manuscript with his own composition. This autograph transcript of Yashahakirti is preserved in the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona.17 Himself the author of the four Apabhransha works extant today, Yashahakirti encouraged Radihu to compose many Apabhransha Kavya and caused the Jaina Seths of Delhi and Hissar to get chiselled the colossal images of Gwalior fort by skilled handicraftsmen.
After Yashahakirti Bh. Malayakirti (1453-68 A.D.) and Bh. Gunabhadra (1468-83) occupied the Kashtha gaddi of Gwalior of which the latter is the author of fifteen Apabhransha Kathas, preserved in the Panchayati Mandir of the Khajur Masjid, Delhi but written in a Gwalior temple. The pattadhar of Gunabhadra. Bh. Bhanukirti was also the author of a Katha called Ravivrat Katha.
The pattavali of Gwalior gaddi referred to by Parmanand Shastri18 seems to be incomplete. After Bhanukirti the name of Kamalkirti has been introduced followed by names of Bhattaraks which seem to be those of the Hissar patta of the Kashtha Sangha including the name of Kamala Kirti who was the ‘diksha-guru‘ of Raidhu and who established the Sonagiri patta of the Gwalior gaddi on which his disciple Shubhachandra was seated as its first pattadhara (1449-73). In the non-availability of further link in the personnel of the Bhattarakas of the Kashtha Sangha we have to stop here and take up the activity of the Kashtha Sangha which constitutes virtually the Golden Age of the Jaina Digambara Church in Gwalior under the Tomara rulers inspired by the Kashtha Bhattarakas and their Jaina Agrawal disciples who dominated the Court of father and son viz. Dungar Singh (1425-59) and Kirti Singh (1459-80) with the Poet-Laureate Raidhu as their mouthpiece and spokesman, a centenarian author of as many as thirty books, big and small of which two dozen are reported to be extant today. Verify the advent of the Hisar-Firuza-based Jaina Agrawals who functioned as the ministers and treasurers of the ruling family had turned the Rajput State of Gwalior into a Digambara Jaina Centre par excellence representing the culture of the Agrawal multi-millionner shravakas as sponsored by them. It was a great achievement of the Kashtha Sanghi Bhattaraks in which they excelled their their Mula Sanghi counterparts of the Dhilli ‘patta, the shravakas leaving behind their Svetambara rivals of Mandogarh in the literary field thanks to the single handed efforts of the long lived Mahakavi Raidhu as also in the realm of image carving in general and the chiselling of the calossal images of the Gwalior Fort in particular in which the contribution of the two Tomara rulers between themselves has left a record of constant activities spreading over a long period of thirty-three years.
Jainism in the Tomara State of Gwalior (Fifteenth Century)
Tomara Rulers of Gwalior
The origin of the Tomaras of the Chambal region has been traced to Aisah, their old capital, to which they had retired after the occupation of Dhilli by Aibak (1193) following the battle of Tarain (1192). From Aisah to Dhilli and from Dhilli back to Aisah for a period of two hundred years before Raja Virasinhadeva (1375-1400) could try his fortune successfully, first as ‘Rai’ and later as independent ruler of Gwalior after the death of Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq (1388) when Virasinha first combining with Summer Chauhan of Itawa and the Chiefs of Khora and Bhuingaon (1391-92) declared himself as independent of Delhi thanks to the civil war that had started among the weak successors of Firuz but had to submit to the terms of peace and to stay in Delhi, deprived for a time of his ancestral possession of Aisah. But next year in 1392-93 he seems to have managed to return to Aisah and start depredations in Turkish territory when Alauddin Sikander Shah, now the occupant of the Delhi throne, offered Virasinha the rulership of Gwalior after the death of Sultan Muhammad Tughluq II in January 1394. But Virasinha could obtain the possession of the Gwalior Fort from the Qiladar not without the successful device of stratagem, (1394). This was a great achievement for Varasinha which proved to be the percussor of great events in the period when the anarchy, caused by the civil war among the Tughluq princes, culminated in the thorough sack of the Delhi Metropolis and general massacre of its population by Amir Taimur (1399) resulting in the disintegration of the Turkish empires and independent provincial kingdoms including Gwalior destined to be the representative of Rajput – Jaina culture in the fifteenth century, the subject of this section. The importance of the Tomara dynasty of Gwalior does not lie only on their valour in war but also on the cultural legacy left by them. Virasinha was not only brave in name (vira) and deed but he equally distinguished himself in own learning and the patronage of learned men. Himself a scholar of astronomy, dharma shastra. Vedic learning and Ayurveda, he was the author of two books ‘Durga–bhakti Tarangini” and ‘Virasinhavaloka‘, a treatise on Indian Medicine (1382). What is more directly relevant to our subject in hand is the Tomara-Jaina amity, even earlier than the establishment of Rajput suzerainty over Gwalior. Jayasinha Suri, the founder of Shri Krishna Gachchha or Shri Krshnarshi Gachchha (1391 = 1334) and the author of Kumarapalacharitra – Kavya (1422=1365) whose transcript in the same year was prepared by his grand disciple Nayachandra Muni (later Suri) was known to Virasinha. On attaining the status of Suri, Nayachandra composed the celebrated Hammira Maha Kavya at the instance of Viramadeva Tomara (1402-23 A.D.), grandson of Virasinha and son of Uddharandeva (1400-02). Jayasinha Suri was the Kavya-guru of Nagachand Suri who had defeated Saranga in disputation according to the statement of Nayachandra Suri in his Hammira Mahakavya. This Saranga has been identified as Sharngadhara, the transcriper of Virasinha’s Virsinhavaloka, the grandson of Hammiradeva Chauhan’s sabhasada Raghavadeva. Raghuvadeva’s two grandsons, this Sharngadhara and his brother Lakshmi had migrated from Ranthambhor to the Tomara patronage. Jayasinha Suri himself was the visitor to Gwalior or Aisaha, as the case may be. So much under Virasinha; more intimate contact of Nayachandra Suri with Viramadeva in the Gwalior Fort will follow.
We have seen the contact of Virasinha with the Suris of Ranthambhor on the eve of the foundation of the Gwalior kingdom; its culmination will come in the second and third quarter of the fifteenth century during the reigns of father an son that is Dungar Singh and Kirti Singh when Jainism developed under the hegemony of the Bhattaraks of the Kashtha Sangha on one hand and the benefaction of Hisar-Firuza based Agrawal ministers and treasurers on the other with the Poet-Laureate Mahakavi Raidhu virtually as the literary father of the ‘Jainised’ State of the Rajput Tomaras. In between lies the formative reign of Viramadeva (1402-23), a period of two decades which furnishes the link between the preparatory stage of Virasinha and the peak period decades which furnishes the link Dungar-Kirti Age. For example the celebrated Kayastha scholar wrote the Yashodhara-Charit at the instance of Minister Kuÿharaja who was the builder of a big temple of Chandraprabhu in Gwalior city celebrating its consecration ceremony with great eclat. The mausoleum of Shaikh Muhammad Ghaus of the Shatttari Order built by Emperor Akbar, as Khadagadas would have us believe, is situated on the site of this temple. Gunakirit of the Kashtha Sangha was the Bhattarak of the Gwalior patta (1411-29) during the regime of Viramdeva who had inspired Padmanabha Kayastha to write the Yashodhara Charit. Morre notable than the above, is the composition, by Nayachandra Suri of Ranthambhor, of the historical Kavya, Hammira Mahakavya at the instance of Viramadeva, the author rising above the time-honoured Jaina-Brahmanical communal hostility and adoring both Brahmanical and Jaina gods in his mangalashlokas while writing on the matchless and worhshipable personality of Hammira Chaughan with an altruistic view “to purify the mind of the community of Rajas.” It is a Kavya depicting the character of one regarded as an ideal Rajput versus a cruel aggressive Turk in the person of Alauddin Khilchi. That the inspiring source of Nayachandra’s Kavya was the Raj-Sabha of Viramadeva is a tribute to the high political idealism of Viramadeva Tomara of Gwalior.
Rambhamanjari, a drama, is another work attributed to Nayachandra Suri, again as a product of Viramadeva’s Rajasthan.
During the weak rule of Firuz Shah Tughluq (d. 1388), Rajput chiefs of Ganga-Jamuna and Chambal valleys had combined under the leadership of the ruler of Itawa – Sumer Singh Chauhan as early as that. Their two risings in succession (1391-92 and 1392-93) during the regime, of Firuz’s successors were followed by Virasinhadeva’s capture of Gwalior fort in the year of grace 1394 when Alauddin Sikandar Shah Humayun Khan was succeeded by Nasiruddin Muhammad Shah. Ever since this great achievement of Virasinhadeva, as if both parties had been biding their time during the following period of uncertainty extending over five years, when great catastrophe, coming from outside, decided the fate of India for good or ill and ushered in a period for the country to be divided into a congeries of States independent and warlike without a Centre with Delhi itself reduced to a position as one among these States. Gwalior under the Tomaras surrounded by Malwa, Gujarat, Jaunpur and Delhi among major States, grew, in the course of three decades, into a virile State, free to evolve a fully developed Jaino-Brahmanical culture during the eventful reigns of Dungar Singh (1425-59) and Kirti Singh (1459-80) notwithstanding the disturbances caused, off and on, by the aggressive attitude of the surrounding States. Taken together, these two regimes, extending over a period of half a century, constitute the Golden Age of the Gwalior State in general and that of the Jaina culture in particular.
Dungar Singh (1425-59) – That Dungar Singh may not be counted as a promoter of Jaina interests unavoidably, we may try to present a balanced picture of his personality by indicating the part played by him as a ruler over the overwhelming Brahmanical majority among his subjects with a Brahmin Rajakavi as their mouthpiece.
Dungar’s is not an ordinary personality among rulers of the fifteenth century which has been called “the century of cultural synthesis” par excellence. The great Sultan Zainul Abideen, founder-father of the Kashmir synthesis who had contacted Rana Kumbha and Dungar Singh the two Rajput potentiates among others in 1451-52 on the occasion of the olympian celebrations held in his kingdom, received two manuscripts on Music – the ‘Sangita Chudamani’ and the ‘Sangita Shiromani’ along with a collection of songs at the hands of Dungar Singh as recorded in the Jaina-Rajatarangini of Shrivara, the then Rajapundita of Kashmir, Thus “the cultural development, achieved in the time of (Raja) Man Singh (Tomara) crossing the bounds of communities and religious beliefs, its luminious beginning had originated with the friendship between Zainul Abideen and Dungar-Kirti”, father and son.
Dungar Singh had combined in himself, valour of a hero (sura) with the attributes of a protective ‘Kalpa-vraksha’ for his Minority dependants at the same time upholding the banner of traditional Brahmanism as is evident from the Hindi Mahabharat written in 1435 by his poet-laureate (Raj-kavi) Vishnudas to be rehearsed to this ‘Todarmalla’ among ashvapatis, gajapatis and narapatis of his times. This Hindi writer is the first Mahakavi of Hindi adorning the court of Dungar Singh whose ‘Svargarohana’ was translated into French as early as in 1850, hundred and fifty years ago. The Mahabharat of Poet Vishnudas was a composition in response to the royal patron’s inquisitiveness as to the essentials of dharma in the light of the ancient Pandava minority of five (5) destroying the Kaurava majority of a hundred and one (101).19 Vishnudas has counted all the aberrations that had crept into the then society especially the scarcity of valour among Rajas.
In his Hindi Ramayana too, written of his own accord, the poet has condemned the “seed” of avarice out of which grows the “tree” of sin which yields the “fruit” of misdeed full of poison. Avarice, combined with lack of discrimination, are the twin vices which can be cut down by the axe of ‘Rama-nama’ i.e. leading to liberation (moksha), the concomitant requirement for which, as suggested should be ‘Ramarajya’ and the presence of a hero (nara) who could protect the earth.
Verily the poet-laureate of Dungar Singh, was the begetter of that (Gwalior) Hindi which furnished the foundation of the vehicle of Tulasidasa and Keshava’s verse in the next century, Vishnudas’s Mahabharat and Ramayana, combined with the Chhitaicharita of his son, Narayanadas, being the pioneers of the Early Mughul Kavyas of ‘Hindvi’.
Fifteenth Century the Golden Age of Gwalior
This brings us to the extra-ordinary stimulus given to the Jaina community under the twin Tomara patrons, Dungar Singh and Kirti Singh. We propose to start with the role of the Hisar based Jaina Agrawal Shreshtins in the court of the Tomara after the sack of the Tughuq Metropolis and general massacre indiscriminately perpetrated by the Timuride soldiers when Delhi was reduced to the headquarters of a provincial dynasty like other similar dynasties of which the Tomaras of Gwalior were perhaps the best objects of gravitation for the Jaina commercial classes who carried on their trade on national and international basis of exports and imports. The cultural history of Gwalior, during this period, is virtually the history of the civilization and culture of the Agrawala multi-millionaires of the Jaina community who monopolised the highest keyposts in the administrative set-up of the Tomara government. Before we do so, we may refer to an image inscription edited by Prof. Dr. Rajaram Jain in the light of the prashasti of Raidhu’s Sammattaguna-nihan Kavya. The Agrawal Sreshthins had influenced the Tomara family of rulers with their conduct and behaviour. skilful wisdom, cleverness, their superior cognition, literary and cultural ambition, their great regard for the literati and their fondness for art turning Gwalior in the words of Raidhu into ‘great Tirtha.’
Gwalior had been an eminent centre of the Bhattaraks following the Kashtha Sangha Mathur gachchha, Pushkar gana, who were the parampara gurus and Samaj-netas (leaders) of all Jaina Agrawals of this parampara (line). As a great devotee of Adinath, when Dungar Singh, during his maturity as a poet, invited Raidhu to the Fort as its resident, he could not but accept the royal invitation. But Raidhu could not feel at his ease without the darshan of Adinath. So his child-mate and disciple, Kamal Singh Sanghwi20, Jaina Agrawal of Mudgal gotra, the trustworthy Nagar Seth of Dungar Singh and his Finance cum Home Minister took upon himself to construct a fifty foot high colossal image of Adinath which was consecrated by Raidhu himself. Thanks to the righteous influence wielded by Raidhu through learning, truthful versification, virtuous behaviour, honest dealings, other regarding sympathies and servicable disposition without distinction of rank, the work of chiselling images, high and low alike, was taken up by the Tomara ruler and his Yuvaraja themselves so much so that Dungar Singh caused Raidhu by his offer to take up residence in the royal apartments on the fort where to carry on his activities of authorship.
Not only that. Sometimes Raidhu himself would approach one of the opulent Jaina Agrawals to finance the composition of one of his own big works and his sacrificial nature, piety and literary accomplishment would automatically derive the desired object as happened in the case of his mature work in Apabhransh which he himself called ‘Kavya Rasayana’ namely the Pasnaha Chariu. The transcript of the manuscript extant in Svetambar Jaina Shastra Bhandar Delhi in illustrated from was got prepared by one of the sons of Kheu Sahu or Khem Singh who had accepted the patronage of this most distinguished work of Raidhu, offered by this patron praiseworthy garments called from foreign countries after the completion of the work.
These devotees or admirers of Raidhu, among the Jaina shresthins, besides the Agrawals hailed from the ranks of Jaiswals, Khandelvals Padmavatipurwals and Golalars also. On the whole they were those borught up in a moral environment – energetic, business – minded, religious, charitable, altruistic, studious, curious, fond of literature, and respectful to the meritorious, the descriptions of whose qualities has come down to us from the facile pen wielded by the great Mahakavi. Naturally enough the poet was justified in highlighting the personalities and the illustrious lineage of these unselfish and undeceptive patrons in his grantha-prashastis thus furnishing a valuable sources of Jaina social and cultural history of the period. Before we take up the narrative of this aspect of Raidhu period of Gwalior with respect to Jainism and Jaina society in Gwalior of the fifteenth century, we pause to estimate the role of the chief among the Jaina merchants.
Let us take Kamal Singh first, the most distinguished in the court of Dungar Singh who took upon himself, along with the Yuvaraj, Kirti Singh to get prepared the biggest and the highest image ever erected on the Gwalior fort or else where for the matter of that.
We have reached a stage when we may refer to the prashasti of Raidhu’s Saãmattagunanihan Kavva in which the name of Kamal Singh appears at the seventh or last place among the sources of the contemporary culture which constituted the Golden Age of the fifteenth century Gwalior. For example Dungar Singh, Kashtha Sangh Mathuranvaya, Gunakirtideva, Yashahakirit, Raidhu Amnaya, Kamalasih and Kamala Sinha. This Kamal Singh, apart from being a friend and devotee of Raidhu was ‘Sanghvi’ also i.e. one who had been the leader of a Sangha (pilgrimage party or congregation) who requested Raidhu to compose a Kavya for him. On his reply in the affirmative, Kamala Singh communicated the news to the ruler and his heirapparent who not only supported the proposal but offered to cooperate with financial help honouring the minister with the offer of betel leaf. This shows the unanimity created in the religious atmosphere by the practice of mutuality adopted in the matter concerning Raidhu’s literary activities who always chose a subject for his composition which led to the creation of sober literature. As to the colossal image of Adinath, which reminds the observers about the ‘gommateshwara‘ of the Decean, the construction of this image started in 1497 = 1440, continued up to 1530 = 1473 A.D., thirty-three long years during which period, the preparation of numerous Jaina images followed in its wake. As and when the image saw its completion, it was caused to be consecrated by Raidhu himself – an image which has been called ‘Rock – Giant’ in a Railway booklet on Gwalior.
The second inciter of Raidhu besides Kamal Singh, named Kheu Sahu or Khem Singh Sahu, hailed from Delhi which had been held by Sayyid Mubarak Shah, successor of Khizr Khan to be quite popular as a philosophical tract. Sahu Kheu, on arrival from Delhi, had become the Nagar Seth of Gwalior. He was carrying on business transaction with foreign countries in garments and jewellery and was the construtor of a colossal image in Gopachal. Raidhu was the consecrator of this image according to its inscription. Kamal Singh, the son of Khem Singh, who established his business in Gwalior itself, is the maker of another colossal image of Adinath, eleven hands high.
Khelha Brahmachari, hailing from Hisar Firuza was called Brahmachari for having taken the Anuvrat (vow) under Muni Yasaha Kirit; he was the maker of a colossal image of Chandraprabhu on the Gopachal, and enjoyed the close friendship of Kamal Singh. He was a Jaina Agrawal of the Goel Gotra, the eldest son of Tosau Sahu descended from Bilha Sahu honoured by Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq. Being studious, he had earned familiarity with siddhanta and again literature. Khelha Brahmachari’s incitement led to the composition of two Apabhransha works namely Sammai Jina Chariu and Neni Chariu (a great work) by Raidhu, who in their prashasti, pays tribute to Khelha’s self mortification, penance and fasting, as an inspirer, lower and appreciator of literature and very clever. The Sammai Jina Chariu was composed by the poet on the recommendation of Yashahakirti who was the dharma guru of Khelha and the mantra guru of Raidhu. The book excels in the elegance of language, depth of ideas, charm of style and weightiness of subject.
Deprived of any progeny from his marriage Khelha, entrusting the household responsibility to his adoptive son, assumed the anuvrata, with Muni Yashahkirti and came to be called Brahmachari. He caused the construction of a colossal imge of Chandraprabha on the Gwalior Fort which he consecrated with the help and cooperation of his friend Kamal Singh and that of a big shikhar-topped temple. He was a lover of popular mixed language in which he wanted to study the Puranic works, so Raidhu obliged him.
For want of space we may now refer to the estimate of Jaina ladies of Gwalior, presented by Raidhu as endowed with chastity, devotees of their husbands, religious, skilled as housewives, liberal minded, compassionate munificient, caretakers of household and energetic.” Raidhu imagines “Jaina lady as a mother – walking like a swan (gai hansa-jiva) and speaking with a melodious voice (lalit-gira).” Some of these ladies are credited with the construction of images and temples.
All round the Gopachal hill, numerous cave temple were excavated within thirty years so that Gopachal was now a virtual Jaina tritha to be counted as such.
Mahakavi Raidhu may be regarded as a poet of synthesis or samanvaya who brought about a new cultural revival and putting an end to the antique enmity between Lakshmi and Saraswati, so to say, replaced it by a miraculous synthesis or integrity between the two.
Conditions in Gwalior during the Raidhu period were up to the mark from the social, cultural and literary point of view according to Raidhu thanks to the peaceful and settled political and economic life. Gwalior was overflowing with wealth and grain, supplied with all kinds of necessities. Traders earned income with honest dealings. Merchants like Sahu Khem Singh carried on exports and imports with foreign countries in high quality clothes and gold, silver, diamond and pearls etc. in sufficient quantity.
Description of City : The description of the city of Gwalior as given by Raidhu, attracts our attention. The grandness of the Tomar Capital was at its prime; studded with artistic mansions and Jaina temples; with roads thronged with the multitude; markets with jewellers dealing with gold and silver, diamonds and pearls, almshouses at every place, Chatshalas etc. quarters of scholars, poets; consecration (of images) and temples. When city maidens passed through streets, the city atmosphere was covered with peaceful silence. Such a city, all rounder in many respects, had earned the epithet of ‘Pandit’ from the poet. Gwalior in the eyes of Raidhu was a “Pandit Shreshth” or “the Guru of shreshtha (pre-eminent) cities” – Gwalior, “a courtyard of Nature, with rivers and streams, forests and gardens, extensive reservoirs, verdant fields, swans swimming in tanks, step-wells full of water, sporting males and females its births are virtually the continuation of Raja Dungar Sing’s progeny.”
Only Dungar Singh and Kirti Singh among kings find mention in Raidhu’s writings. Dungar Singh was adorned with qualities such as subjects-loving, religious, liberal, impartial, progressive, among diverse others. The entire credit for the development of Jaina literature and art goes to him, his rule being the Golden Age as per the description of Raidhu whom he had lodged comfortably in the Fort. Some of his qualities had been inherited by his son and successor, Kirti Singh.
Jainism under Raja Kirti Singh (1459-80)
If Maharajadhiraj Dungar was ‘Kalikala Chakravarti’ to the Jaina Laureate, Shri Kritisinhedeva of Shri Gopachal Durga has also been called Maharajadhiraja Shri “Hindu Suratran” (Hindu Sultan) in Vikram Samvat 1525 = 1468 A.D. in an image inscription of Gwalior Fort (for some achievement unknown). Raidhu too has paid his tribute to the valour and majesty of Kirti Singh in his Samayakatva Kaumudi with a detailed inscription mentioning Kirti Singh’s Rajkumars. According to Shrivara’s Rajatarangini, Kirti Singh continued to guard the amity towards Sultan Zainul Abideen like his father. A ruler who did not withdraw his hand of friendship from a non-Hindu contemporary counterpart of a far-off land, could not be expected to change his attitude of regard and consideration towards Jainism in his realm as is proved by the continued prevalence of Apabhransha which held its monopoly as the medium of Jaina compositions being the national language of the Jaina community and the treasury of fifty years record of Tomara ruled Gwalior with special reference to that of Jaina community, commercial and socio-religious.
During this period Kumaranagari (Kumharapura) on the bank of the Murar, with its huge Jaina Mandir, was the headquarters of Bhattaraka patta of Yashaha-Kirti who had established a big Gyana Bhandar (Jaina library) where manuscripts were transcribed and repaired in which Yashahakirti distinguished himself as already mentioned, by getting the oldest extant repairable copy of Swayambhu’s Harivansha Purana repaired and repalcing the missing portion by his own composition (1464 A.D.). Of his own original compositions written in Apabhransha viz. the Pandava-purana (1440), Harivansha purna, Jinaratri Katha and Ravi Vrata Katha are extant today. In the same year (1464 A.D.), in the colophone of the Adipurana of Pushpadant, copied in Gwalior, it has been recorded that Padma Singh of ‘Gobaggiri’, with a view to put his restless Lakshmi to good use, caused twenty four Jaina temples to be built and one lac manuscripts to be transcribed and donated !22 Yashahakirti, apart from composing Kavyas in the Jaina language of Apabhransha took pains to encourage Raidhu to produce Apabhransha Kavyas on one hand and simulatenously to invite Jaina Sahus of Delhi and Hisar to carve colossal Jaina images on the Gwalior Fort. If Padmanabha Kayastha had Bhattarak Gunakirti as his inspirer, Raidhu had the helping hand of the former’s borther – disciple Yashahakirti as the pusher of his literary cause.
Yashahakiriti (1429-53) was succeeded by Malayakirit (1453-68) to the Bhattarak gaddi and his pattadhar was Gunabhadra (1468-83) whose fifteen Kathas we have already mentioned under Bhattarak Sampradaya, written at the instance of Shresthins as usual.
We want to conclude this section with a few words on the overwhelming genius of Raidhu who called him self ‘Padmavati Puravala’ i.e. one of the 84 castes of the Jainas descended from His Reverence Devanandi and he led his life like a Jaina Brahmana, writing Kathas for Jaina Sahus and consecrating images to earn his livelihood. Instead of aspiring to become a ‘Lakshmi-sakhah’ or a ‘dhana Kubera’, he lived in deep devotion of Saraswati. For his earnings he may have visited Delhi, Hisar or Chandwar, yet he was a patriot of Gwalior par excellence. Whether he was a diksha-shishya of Kamal Sah or Yashahakirti does not matter but his ‘Kavya guru’ was Brahmapala alias Khelha Brahmachari no doubt. “Raidhu is perhaps the last great poet of Apabhranshar language but his works can not be separated from the discrimination of the then Jaina capitalists”. The tradition of synthesis started by Nayachandra Suri in the time of Viramadeva and promoted by the Bhattaraks of Jaina pithas (seats), was followed by Raidhu in his laudation of Shankara (Shiva) as Rshabhadeva in his Megheshwara Charit.23
Jainism under Raja Kalyanamalla (1480-88). Apabhransha, the religious medium of the Jainas so far, now received a set-back in this period giving place to the rapid development of Hindi literature of which the Chhitai Charit by Narayanadasa, son of Mahakavi Vishnudasa, his the most distinguished Kavya written on the lines of Nayanachandra’s Hammira Mahakavya and Padmanabha Vyasa’s Kanhadade Prabhanda. In other words the source of the Golden Age of Apabhransha literature seems to have been on the way to drought under Kalyana with on other spring in its turn. In fact, for the further development of the Jaina Samaj, instances of Jaina works are few and far between during this period. As for the ‘Gwaliori Bhasha’, there was little difference between the Hindi of Gwalior in the fifteenth century, and the so-called Juni Gujarati of Gujari, during “a period when the Yoga – tantra of Gorakhnath was a favourite subject common to Hindu, Jaina and Musalman Sufis.24 The Gwalior patta of the Bhattarakas of Kashtha Sangha was intact at least up to the time of Man Singh Tomara (1486-1516) according to a prashasti in a Ms. of the ‘Shatakarmopadesh‘ copied in V. 1558-1501, when Bhattarak Vijayasen was occupying the patta as successor of Somakirti. Raja Man Singh gave full regard to the Jaina community as per the Nemishwara Gita composed by Chatru son of Shrawak Sirimala of Gwalior in V. 1559 = 1502.25
Of the two Gangolatal Sanskrit inscriptions of Raja Man Singh dated V. 1551 = 1494 A.D., the first recorded in April 8, mentions Khem Sah of the Mulwar Caste as the Pradhan of the Raja and Sajas of the Shrimala caste as the composer of the epigraph. Khem Sah figures here as desilting the Gangolatal at the instance of the ruler. Another Sanskrit inscription dated V. 1552 = 1495 is an epigarh yielded by a Jaina image which pertains to the Mula Sangh, Balatkargana, Saraswati gachchha Kundakundacharyanava recording the pattavali as follows :
Padmanandideva, Shubhachandradeva, Manichandradeva. The name following Manichandradeva, has the prefix Muni (name not clear) from which it has been guessed that the centre of this branch of Mula Sangha had been shifted to some other place.26
Cave Temples – Lastly the cave temples of the Tomara period studded all around the borders of the hill fort of Gwalior furnish an attractive feature. Not all of them are Jaina temples, while a couple of them are devoid of images. Some of them, have good-looking halls carved out of rocks with images. These Jaina cave-temples belonging to the eventful period of V. 1497-1530 (1440-73 A.D.) spreading over thirty-three years are not indebted to the rulers for their construction to the contemporary Jaina merchants including their women folk who contributed generously for the sculptural adornment of a distance of more or less one and a half mile long circumference. The images of the Gwalior Fort have been divided into five parts on directional basis of which those situated on the Urwahi gate and the south-eastern group attract the visitor for their hugeness and their decorative art respectively. The Urwahi group of cave temples were carved during the reign of Dungar Singh, of which six of a total of twenty images bear the date V. 1497 = 1440 A.D. including the Neminath image in sitting posture, thirty feet high.
Of the north-western group of cave temples, the Adinath image bears the date V : 1527 = 1450 of the reign of Kirti Singh. The south eastern group, artistically important, bears 18 images, 20 to 30 feet in height and an equal number, eight to fifteen feet high.
Sixteenth Century A.D. : Coming to the sixteenth century of the Christian era, we have already deplored the non-availabilty of the Bhattarak sources in the form of Pattavalis. There was scarcity of learned men in the Bhattarak tradition among Shravakas because the Bhattaraks catered to the need of their own dharma-sadhna (worship) themselves27 or through their disciples. But when the Bhattaraks slowly and steadily lost the purity and sublimity of their conduct, the disgruntled among the Shravaks took to the study of ancient works and their traslation into the popular language, both in prose and poetry, themselves composing original works based on original authorities without which it was not possible or practicable for them to take up the cudgels against the dominating Bhattarak priests who showed conservative attitude in the matter of displaying their own (reading) material to others. In the absence of any reformist movement among the Digambar Samaj, they had to wait for a whole century for a leader who could pioneer the anti-Bhattarak feelings of the Digambar Samaj.
As for the Svetambaras we find their yatis and acharyas as active as before in regaling the rulers of the new set of the Afghan-Mughul class28 to whom it was given to preside over the destinies of the Indian masses and classes. But the movement generated against the unlearned Bhattaraks by the Dhundhiya – Sthanakvasi reformers, of which the seeds were sown by Lonka Sah, seems to have received a fillip from the radical bhaktas, Kabir and Nanak and the like, on a larger scale and extent, so much so indeed that conditions of the Bhattarak – oriented Jaina society became intolerable and unbearable to Jaina intellectuals thanks to the reactionary attitude shown by the Bhattaraka priesthood themselves. Sixteenth century, therefore, is the period, of the emitting of fire and lava from the Digambari volcano before its bursting up in explosion in the form of Terapantha in the next century !
Origin and Development of Terapanth
The origin of Terapantha has been traced to the seventeenth century from Varanasi at the hands of a renowned Jaina Pandit (poet-divine) – Varanasi, the centre of the reformist movement of a Brahman divine of the 14th – 15th century from where Kabir Das (half-Muslim, half Jaina-Gorakhnathi) had started his radical campaign against, caste system, image worship and pilgrimage etc. in the 15th century which had borne immense fruit and had spread through- out Northern India in course of time. According to a Shvetambar critic, Acharya Mahamahopadhyaya Meghavijayagani, in his Prakrit work ‘Yuktibodha’ published with Sanskrit Tika from Agra (C. 1700-1643 A.D.), in order to condemn the doctrine of Pandit Banarsidas which he has repeatedly called ‘Varansiya Mat’ “which forbade the shravaks from following the Bhattarakas, ornamenting and anointing the images, Upadhyaya Meghraja fixes V. 1680-1623 as the date of the origin of the Varanasiya Mat. In course of time Kunwarpala took up the cause of this doctrine and was recognized a guru by all and sundry.”
Kunwarpala was a friend of Banarsidas, according to Banarsi Vilasa, a collection of Kunwarpala’s many works who may have risen to be a successor of Banarsidas during the time of the critic, Megharaja.
After the death of Banarsidas, some time after V. 1698-1641 A.D., when Pandit Bakhat Ram wrote his ‘Buddhi Vilasa’, he has suggested V. 1683-1626 as the date of the foundation of the ‘Terahpantha’. The dates 1623 and 1626 make little difference; what is important is the period at the end of the first quarter when the Varanasiya reformists declared their separation from the Bhattarakas for good as confirmed by Bakhat Ram.
The Varabasiya Pantha of Pandit Banarsi Das soon became popular among the Jainas of the Agra – Jaipur region from where it spread as an All India Faith and Worship thanks to the writings of the scholars of these two centres. Apart from this, no work attributed to Terahpanth, composed prior to V. 1680-1623, has been available so far which is an additional proof of Banarasidas being its chief founder and that it is the Varanasiya Mat itself which in due course, has acquired the name of Terahpanth. The possibility of these views being current prior to his age can not be ruled out; being a scholar of eminence, Banarsidas’s name came to be credited with the foundation of this Pantha. In short, the name of the old mathavasis now was Bispantha while their antagonist Vanavasis were the Terahpanthis of today (Nathuram Premi : Jaina Hitaishi XIV, 4 Jan. 1920, pp. 97-108).
The Bhattaraks of the twentieth century furnish a good example of a ‘Raja’ equipped with a palanquin, high cushion and throne, accompanied during tour by more than one servant as orderlies, fastened with belt round their waist, cook versed with preparation of dainty dishes, possession of wealth worth lakhs and crores. Every family pays them an annual cess collected by a peon or pandit. In case a shravak invites the ‘Maharaj’ to dinner, he must present an offering (dakshina) which is realised by force specially in Gujarat. In the Deccan, a Bhattarak, was reported to have caused the young girl of his salvery to accompany him when he went out. Whenever there are Bhattaraks of more than one Sangha in the same city, they are “at cudgles drawn” or sometimes “at shoes drawn” against one another (e.g. in Nagpur)! No wonder, therefore, that the reformist intellectuals during the period 1600-1800 A.D. succeeded in winning over the shrawak samaj to their side to such an extent that more or less two third population of the Digambara Jainas today follows the Varanasiya Mat, now called Terahpanth, with the qualification that the educated class among the Bispanthis too do not follow the Bhattarak Pantha.
As regards the differences between he Terahpanthis and Bispanthis after the reform carried out by the former, the following deserve mention :
(1) Sprinkling of the Panchamrit i.e. the collection of five sweet ingredients used in worshipping deities e.g. milk, curd, ghee, smell (like sandal paste) and sugar – cane juice.
(2) Applying saffron to the feet of the idol.
(3) Offering fruits and flowers to the deity.
(4) Worship of Kshetrapalas etc. that is deities protecting fields.
Bispanthis regard these practices as essential while with Terapanthis, these are prohibited. Nevertheless the main difference between the Terapantha and the Bispanth is based on the adoration of the Bhattaraks.
Just as the Bhattarak sampradaya is supposed to have saved Jainism in the previous centuries (13th, 14th 15th), the Terapanth are regarded as the saviours of Jaina dharma in the 17th-18th century from the despotism of the lordly Bhattaraks, their greatest exertion being applied against their reactioary conservatism. The Terapanth caused the shravak to believe that if they could not study Sanskrit, they will be provided facility to acquire knowledge of Jaina doctrines through Hindi which they did by furnishing thousands of Jaina standard works in the simple language spoken and understood in the region of Jaipur – Agra during the last two hundred – three hundred years so much so indeed that Hindi has developed in this period as the medium of Digambara Jainism par excellence like Gujarati as that of Svetambarism.
The question now arises whether the Bhattaraks are householders (grhastha) or Muni. They are actually grhasthas no doubt but not like the ordinary shravaks. As they start their Bhattarak career with ‘Keshlonch’ (cutting of the hair), and nudity (also at the time of dinner). Having no treatise on which to base their practices, they stand on a stage lower than ordinary shravakas in view of the fact that conditions for Munihood ban possession (parigraha) even “equal to hair point or shell of a til”; nude digambarism alone is the road to salvation; food should be eaten as placed on hand !
Now it remains to consider whether the existence of Bhattaraks is necessary to conduct religion on the right path in the Digambara society which suffers from paucity of influential persons like Munis, sermonisers or Bhattaraks as the case may be. Notwithstanding the dissatisfaction of the Bispanthis with the character of the Bhattaraks they recognize them as their dharma – gurus whereas those Bispanthis endowed with wisdom do not regard them as Munis; they only show hospitable treatment to them. The Bhattaraks may be given diksha of brahmacharya pratima only (short of hair-lochan and nudity) with drastic cut in their possessions. This may lead to lessening of antagonism between Terahpanth and Bispanth (vide Jaina Hitaishi VII, 9).
A classical pen-picture of a modern corrupt Bhattarak of South India as given in Jaina Hitaishi VII, 10-11, is reproduced here in brief :
The Bhattarakji levies several kinds of taxes on his followers, the most profitable being Widow Remarriage Cess introduced by some Bhattarak more or less three hundred years ago among several castes of Jains, a male marrying a widow on payment of Rs. 16/- while a female can remarry, after divorcing her husband, if she pays Rs. 100/-.
Adoring the Kamandalu (water pot) of the Maharaj costs Re. 1/- while the dakshina of a meal is Rs. 3.50/- in the least. On non-payment of the dakshina or committing some such fault, the shrawak is outcasted.
The amount of fine is divided into three parts (i) that of the Bhattarak, (ii) that of the Upadhyaya and (ii) that of the Patil (malguzar).
On the occasion of the Sanskar practices of the grhastas, the fee for ear-breathing of children was Rs. 1.25/-. Permission for holding wakefulness on the occasion of some function with performance of male – dancers etc. could only be obtained by advance payment of a ‘fine’ of Rupee three.
The Maharaj entertained small causes or suits from plaintiffs on payment of some fee and passed judgement in favour of one or the other party.
As regards dress on hourse back putting on jacket and trousers with a gold – embroidered precious sash as covering for the head and a whip in hand. On religious occasions, he put on priceless dress of bhagva colour, sometimes embroidered dhoti, exquisite shawl, a gold bangle and a finger ring; slippers, wooden, silver or golden; kamandalu made of silver and peacock brush (mayura pichchhi) of gold; eating out of silver vessels; using perfumery of oil and attar; having a kitchen – maid for cooking – all this paraphernalia devoid of learning or scholarship to the point of an atom !
- Instances quoted by modern scholars are twofold viz. Those of Muhammad Ghori and Firuz bin Rajab Tughluq.
- Prakrit text of Dharmaghoshsuri translated into Sanskrit (V. 1294 = 1237 A.D.).
- Besides Delhi, Gwalior and Chanderi, the following pattas have been mentioned; Jaipur, Idar, Surat, Nagaur, Ajmer, Malkheda (Hyderabad), Kolhapur, Karanja Mudabidai, Hisar-Firuza, Sonagiri etc.
- Jaina Hitaishi VII 7-8, pp. 59-69; 9 pp. 13-20 and XIV, 4 pp. 97-105.
- Anekant XVII, 1 and Jaina Siddhanta Bhaskar XXII, 1 (51-59) respectively.
6, The year 1207coincides with the second year of Sultan Aibak’s regime who had shifted his capital from Ghazni to Delhi in 1206.
- His date (C. 1278-1303 A.D.) as calculated by J.P. Jain, does not agree with Nasiruddin Bhupala.
- Presumably the result of the disintegration of the Delhi empire of the Tughluq Sultans when India had become devided into provincial kingdoms; the earlier example is the disintegration of the Central Organization of the Chishtiya Silsila of the Sufis in the middle of the fourteenth century after the demise of Shaikh Naseeruddin Chiragh-i Dilli, successor of Kh. Nizamuddin Auliya.
- Dilli patta ke Mulasanghi Bhattarakon ka Samaya-Krama (time schedule) by J.P. Jain Vide Anekant, XVII, 2, pp. 54-56, 74; XVII, 4, pp. 159-64.
- List of Bhattaraks of Chanderi Patta – Devendrakirti, Tribhuvana Kiriti, Sahasrakriti, Padmanandi, Yashahakirti, Lalit Kirti, Dharma Kirti, Padma Kirit, Sakala Kirti and Surendra Kirit.
- Chanderi-Sironj (Parwar) Patta by Pandit Phulachandra Shashtri, Varanasi Kshullak Chidananda Smriti Grantha Dronagiri (Chhatarpur), 1973, pp. 119-22.
- Deogarg Ki Jain Kala : Dr. Bhagachandra Jain Bharatiya Gyan Pitha, New Delhi, 1st edn, 1974.
- There are half a dozen namesakes of Padmanandi, Our Padmanandi here is the one mentioned in two inscriptions of Deogarh of which one is preserved in the National Museum of Delhi while the other is demonstrated in the Jaina Dharmashala itself.
- Among such sadhus (there were) Camanandi, disciple of Lokanandi; Kamaladevacharya and his disciple Shrideva; Chandrakirti, Yasahakyaticharya and Nagasenacharya, Kanakachandra, Lakshmichandra, Hemachandra, Dharmachanra Ratnakirti, Prabhachandra, Padmanandi, Shubhachandra, Devendrakirti etc. worth mentioning.
- Hissar (Hansi) was a new Division created by Sultan Firuz Tughluq, a Jaina centre ever since, extending towards the South up to Narnaul and beyond to Ladnun in the modern Nagaur district of Rajasthan.
- As Kashtha Sangha is devoid of any Achara scripture, we know little about its precepts except the practice of having ‘go-pichhi’ (cow tail brush) for the sadhus with the result that members of one and the same caste or subcaste were the followers of both the two flourishing sanghas – the Kashtha and the Mula.
- Gwalior ke Tomar : Harihar Niwas Dwivedi, pp. 106-8.
- Anekant, XXII, 2 p. 74.
- Even as the Turkish minority had defeated the Rajput majority in Medieval period.
- i.e. one who had been leader of a congregational pilgrimage party.
- For the account of Jainism in Gwalior we are indebted to Harihar Niwas Dwivedi (Gwalior ke Tomara) and Rajaram Jain (Miscellaneous articles).
- Written in 1440 at the instance of Sahu Hemraj mantri of the (erstwhile) Sultan Mubarak Shah Sayyid, son and successor of Khizr Khan, Sayyid ruler of Delhi, anachronous mention of a late ruler, the favourite Sultan of Jaina shreshthis in general.
- Gwalior ke Tomara, pp. 105-12.
- Ibid, pp. 118-27.
- Ibid pp. 376-77.
- Ibid pp. 129, 140.
- See for example a clothed Bhattarak, writer of a hotchpotch collection of topics, called Bhadrabahu Samhita to which attention was, for the first time, drawn by Jugal Kishore Mukhtar (Jaina Hitaishi, XIII, 2, p. 50) and commented upon in the editorial (XIII, 8, p. 367) to the effect that the hot displeasure (Kopa) shown against the admirers of Digambara Munis or the Yati himself in this Age by the prejudiced author led him to call them ‘moodh’ (blockhead) and ‘unadorable’ respectively unless the latter condescended to drape himself with five varieties of clothing material, (hide, leaf, silk, wood and cotton) contrary to the 16th century tika of K. Kundacharya’s ‘Shata Pahur’ with respect to Apavada Vesh.
- Savants and saints like Hiravijayji etc.