Commentaries on Prasamarati Prakarana

Commentaries on Prasamarati Prakarana

Two Commentaries are available at present on Prasamarati one by Haribhadrasuri (12th Century A. D.) and another with avacurni by an unknown author.41 Both these commentaries belong to Svetambara school and it seems that no Digambara has commented upon it.  Except for these two commentaries, unfortunately, other commentaries are not available at present, but their existence is inferred from the colophon given at the end of Haribhadrasuris commentary on Prasamarati.42 But no special profundity is found in these two existing commentaries.  The essential qualities of a genuine commentary especially, critical insight of textual explanation, alternative interpretations, the supplementary discussions, standard quotations and similies are absent in these commentaries.


This Haribhadrasuri is not the same individual as the distinguished erudite writer, known as Yakinisunu Haribhadra, who flourished in circa 8th Century A. D. He is also different from that Haribhadra (1216 V. S. = 1160 A.D.) who is the author of Neminahacariu in Prakrit, and who belonged to Vadagachha and was a pupil of Sricandrasuri.  The colophon (1-2) given at the end of the commentary on Prasamarati by Haribhadra himself tells us that i.e.,  was a pupil of Jinadeva who was a disciple of Devasuri and this commentary is composed after going through all other commentaries existing before him, during the king Jayasimhadevas rule at Anahilapura Patan43 in V. S. 1185. From this colophon we learn that this commentator Haribhadra flourished in the first half of the 12th Century A. D. and there were many commentaries on Prasamarati already composed prior to the period of this commentator.

At the beginning of his commentary Haribhadra gives most valuable information about the author of Prasamarati by stating that Umasvati was a great logician, Acarya, Vacakamukhya, author of five hundred treatises and glory of the entire Svetambara family.  His fathers name was Svati and Uma was his mother.44 This commentator divides this book into 22 chapters according to the subject-matter treated in it.

Haribhadras commentary is very lucid and simple, but satisfied with giving only the literary meaning of the verses.  There are no additional philosophical discussions which can be distinguishedly pointed out nor are there any standard quotations from earlier works.  Very few passages from Agamas are quoted, here and there, and the commentators aim seems to be limited to giving literary meaning of the texts.


Yet another commentary with Avacurni by an unknown author appears to be older than Haribhadras commentary and is more elaborate in its nature.  This commentary, in addition to verbal explanations gives detailed explanation about some important ethical and philosophical conceptions of Jainism though very few standard passages are quoted from earlier texts.


Both the commentaries unanimously attribute this work to Umasvati and comment upon all the 313 verses45.  The style of both the commentaries is more or less similar.  The verbal explanations are often the same word for word.  But the unknown authors commentary is more elaborative.  Haribhadra/s commentary appears to be very modest, gives word for word explanations of the text and the extent of it is shorter than that of the unknown authors commentary46.  Haribhadras style is more refined and he uses precisely worded sentences.  His commentary is very precise and systematic.  It seems that Haribhadra follows this old commentary and thus does not feel it necessary to give detailed explanations of many well-known principles of Jainism.  His commentary justifies his statement samasena (very briefly), made in the colophon.

Though it is very difficult to say as to which commentary is older, still Haribhadras commentary seems to be later than the unknown authors commentary on the basis of the following grounds:-

Haribhadra mentions some alternative readings of the text in his commentary which are found in the unknown authors commentary and in the text that it follows.48

Secondly, Haribhadra divides prasamarati into 22 chapters on the basis of different topics dealt49 in it, while these divisions are not found either in the text accepted by the unknown author or in his commentary.  It is certain that, if the unknown authors commentary is later than Haribhadras commentary these divisions could have been mentioned by this commentator also.

Thirdly, Haribhadras commentary is very precise and seems to be a summary form of the unknown authors commentary.

Fourthly, Haribhadra commenting on 204th verse of Prasamarati, clearly mentions that, some scholars explain this verse as indicator of doctrine of sevenfold judgment (saptabhanginaya) and gives complete explanations found in the unknown authors commentary, word to word.  Again commenting on 2111th verse, he mentions that the word Ca, used in the verse here is not found in many texts.  It is very important to note that the word Ca is not found in the text that is accepted by the unknown author.  Again, Haribhadra, commenting on 213th verse, points out that, the word avasesa is considered as an adjective to word Catustaya by others.  This view is again found, in the unknown authors commentary.

Fifthly, some of the incorrect readings of the text followed by the unknown commentator seem to be corrected by Haribharda.50 Haribhadra corrects the commission and omission committed by the unknown author51.

Haribhadras refined and precise style, which is lacking in unknown author shows that Haribhadras commentary is later than the unknown authors commentary.

We have followed here the text of Prasamarati accepted by Haribhadra with his commentary which is precise, refined and omits nothing which is very essential to understand the text.52