What Is Jain Philosophy?

Jain philosophy is the oldest Indian philosophy that separates body (matter) from the soul (consciousness) completely. Jain philosophy deals with reality, cosmology, epistemology (study of knowledge) and Vitalism. It attempts to explain the rationale of being and existence, the nature of the Universe and its constituents, the nature of soul’s bondage with body and the means to achieve liberation.

Jain texts expound that in every half-cycle of time, twenty-four tirthankaras grace this part of the Universe to teach the unchanging doctrine of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. Jain philosophy means the teachings of a Tirthankara which are recorded in Sacred Jain texts. The distinguishing features of Jain philosophy are:

  • Belief on independent existence of soul and matter.
  • Refutation of the idea that a supreme divine creator, owner, preserver or destroyer of the universe exists.
  • Potency of karma, eternal universe.
  • Accent on relativity and multiple facets of truth and
  • Morality and ethics based on liberation of soul.

Jainism strongly upholds the individualistic nature of soul and personal responsibility for one’s decisions; and that self-reliance and individual efforts alone are responsible for one’s liberation.

Ranakpur Jain temple, Ranakpur, Rajasthan

Ranakpur Jain temple, Ranakpur, Rajasthan


Main articles: Ahimsa in Jainism, Vitalism (Jainism)

According to the Jain texts, the vitalities or life-principles are ten, namely the five senses, energy, respiration, life-duration, the organ of speech, and the mind. The table below summaries the vitalities, living beings possess in accordance to their senses.

Senses Number of vitalities Vitalities
One Four Sense organ of touch, strength of body or energy, respiration, and life-duration
Two Six The sense of taste and the organ of speech in addition to the former four
Three Seven The sense of smell in addition to the former six
Four Eight The sense of sight in addition to the former seven
sensed beings
Nine The sense of hearing in addition to the former eight
Ten Mind in addition to the above-mentioned nine vitalities

In the animal world, the five-sensed beings without mind have nine life-principles with the addition of the sense of hearing. Those endowed with mind have ten with the addition of the mind. According to Tattvarthasutra, a major Jain text, “the severance of vitalities out of passion is injury”. According to the Purushartha Siddhyupaya, “non-manifestation of passions like attachment is non-injury (ahiṃsā), and manifestation of such passions is injury (hiṃsā).” This is termed as the essence of the Jaina Scriptures. Vegetarianism and other nonviolent practices and rituals of Jains flow from the principle of ahiṃsā. See Jain Vegetarianism


Main article: Tattva (Jainism)

Jain philosophy postulates that seven “tattva” (truths or fundamental principles) constitute reality. These are:

  1. Jīva-The soul substance which is said to have a separate existence from the body that houses it. Jīva is characterised by cetana (consciousness) and upayoga (knowledge and perception). Though the soul experiences both birth and death, it is neither really destroyed nor created. Decay and origin refer respectively to the disappearing of one state of soul and appearance of another state, these being merely the modes of the soul substance.
  2. ajīva– the non-soul
  3. āsrava (influx)– inflow of auspicious and evil karmic matter into the soul.
  4. bandha (bondage)– mutual intermingling of the soul and karmas.
  5. Samvara (stoppage)– obstruction of the inflow of karmic matter into the soul.
  6. Nirjara (gradual dissociation)– separation or falling off of part of karmic matter from the soul.
  7. mokṣha (liberation)– complete annihilation of all karmic matter (bound with any particular soul).

The knowledge of these reals is said to be essential for the liberation of the soul.

The Path to Liberation

Main article: Ratnatraya

According to the Jain philosophy, the world (Saṃsāra) is full of hiṃsā (violence). Therefore, one should direct all his efforts in attainment of moksha. According to the Jain text, Tattvartha sutra:

Right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct (together) constitute the path to liberation.

— Tattvārthasūtra (1–1)
  • Right Faith (Samyak Darśana) means belief in substances like soul and non-soul without delusion and misapprehension.
  • Right Knowledge (Samyak Jnāna)– When the nature of reality (substances) is ascertained with the help of the doctrine of manifold points of view (anekāntavāda), the knowledge thus obtained (free from doubts, misapprehension, and delusion) is said to be the Right Knowledge.
  • Right Conduct (Samyak chāritra)-The very nature of the soul; devoid of all passions, untainted, unattached to any alien substance is Right conduct. It is achieved by abjuring all sinful activities of the body, the speech, and the mind.


Main article: Gunasthana

Jain text mention about the following stages of spiritual development:

Head Gunasthāna Meaning
in perception)
1. Mithyātva The stage of wrong believer (Gross ignorance)
2. Sasādana Downfall from right faith
3. Misradrsti Mixed right and wrong belief
4. Avirata samyagdrsti Vowless right belief
Minor Vows
of Right conduct)
5. Deśavirata The stage of partial self-control
Right conduct:
Mahavratas (Major Vows)
6. Pramattasamyata Slightly imperfect vows
7. Apramatta samyata Perfect vows
8. Apūrvakaraņa New thought-activity
9. Anivāttibādara-sāmparāya Advanced thought-activity (Passions are still occurring)
10.Sukshma samparaya Slightest delusion
11.Upaśānta-kasāya Subsided delusion
12.Ksīna kasāya Destroyed delusion
13.Sayoga kevali Omniscience with vibration / Omniscience with Yoga [ Mind or Speech or Bodily Activity]
14.Ayoga kevali The stage of omniscience without any activity / Omniscience without Yoga [ Mind or Speech or Bodily Activity]

Those who pass the last stage are called siddha and become fully established in Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct.


Main article: Dravya (Jainism)

According to Jainas, the world is composed of two different kinds of substances, the Jīva (conscious) and the ajīva (unconscious). These are the uncreated existing constituents of the Universe which impart the necessary dynamics to the Universe by interacting with each other. These constituents behave according to the natural laws and their nature without interference from external entities. Dharma or true religion according to Jainism is Vatthu sahāvō dhammō translated as “the intrinsic nature of a substance is its true dharma.”

Unconscious substance

Main article: Ajiva

The five unconscious (ajīva) substances are:

  • Pudgala – It is non living (no soul) Matter, which is classified as solid, liquid, gaseous, energy, fine Karmic materials and extra-fine matter or ultimate particles. Paramānu or ultimate particles are the basic building block of matter. It possesses at all times four qualities, namely, a color (varna), a taste (rasa), a smell (gandha), and a certain kind of palpability (sparsha, touch). One of the qualities of the Paramānu and Pudgala is that of permanence and indestructibility. It combines and changes its modes but its basic qualities remain the same. According to Jainism, it cannot be created nor destroyed.
  • Dharma – (Medium of Motion) and Adharma (Medium of Rest) – Also known as Dharmāstikāya and Adharmāstikāya, they are unique to Jain thought depicting the principles of motion and rest. They are said to pervade the entire universe. Dharma and Adharmaare by themselves not motion or rest but mediate motion and rest in other bodies. Without dharmāstikāya motion is not possible and without adharmāstikāya rest is not possible in the universe.
  • Ākāśa: Space – Space is a substance that accommodates souls, matter, the principle of motion, the principle of rest, and time. It is all-pervading, infinite and made of infinite space-points. According to Jains, Space is a substance, in the nature of a vacuum but not a pure vacuum. It is an extended continuous vacuum. As pure vacuum it will be non-existent, and non-extended; which will devoid it of even one positive quality. Therefore, Jains propound that Space, which is endowed with infinite extension is a substance in itself.
  • Kāla (Time)- In Jainism, time is explained in two different aspects. Firstly as the measure of duration, known in the form of hours, days, and the like. Secondly, as the cause of the continuity of function of things. According to Champat Rai Jain, “Nothing in nature can exist destitute or devoid of function. Function is discharged by the displacement of energy in the case of simple units and things. If there were no Time-substance to help in the performance of the movement of the displacement of energy, things would be doomed to remain in the same condition always.” In its first aspect, time is likened to a wheel with twelve spokes divided into descending and ascending halves with six stages, each of immense duration estimated at billions of sagaropama (ocean years).

Conscious substance

Broad classification of Karmas as per Jain philosophy

Broad classification of Karmas as per Jain philosophy

According to the Jain philosophy, there are infinite independent souls. These are categorised into two—liberated and non-liberated. Infinite knowledge, perception and bliss are the intrinsic qualities of a soul. These qualities are fully enjoyed unhindered by liberated souls, but obscured by karma in the case of non-liberated souls resulting in karmic bondage. This bondage further results in a continuous co-habitation of the soul with the body. Thus, an embodied non-liberated soul is found in four realms of existence—heavens, hells, humans and animal world – in a never-ending cycle of births and deaths also known as samsāra. The soul is in bondage since beginningless time; however, it is possible to achieve liberation through rational perception, rational knowledge and rational conduct. Harry Oldmeadow notes that Jain ontology is both realist and dualist metaphysics.


Main article: Karma in Jainism

In Jainism, karma is the basic principle within an overarching psycho-cosmology. It not only encompasses the causality of transmigration, but is also conceived of as an extremely subtle matter, which infiltrates the soul—obscuring its natural, transparent and pure qualities. Karma is thought of as a kind of pollution, that taints the soul with various colours (leśyā).Based on its karma, a soul undergoes transmigration and reincarnates in various states of existence—like heavens or hells, or as humans or animals.

Jains cite inequalities, sufferings, and pain as evidence for the existence of karma. Jain texts have classified the various types of karma according to their effects on the potency of the soul. The Jain theory seeks to explain the karmic process by specifying the various causes of karmic influx (āsrava) and bondage (bandha), placing equal emphasis on deeds themselves, and the intentions behind those deeds. The Jain karmic theory attaches great responsibility to individual actions, and eliminates reliance on supposed existence of divine grace or retribution. The Jain doctrine also holds that it is possible for us to both modify our karma, and to obtain release from it, through the austerities and purity of conduct.


Main articles: Jain cosmology and Jainism and non-creationism

Jain cosmology denies the existence of a supreme being responsible for creation and operation of universe. According to Jainism, this loka or Universe is an uncreated entity, existing since infinity, immutable in nature, beginningless and endless. Jain texts describe the shape of the Universe as similar to a man standing with legs apart and arm resting on his waist. The Universe according to Jainism is narrow at top and broad at middle and once again becomes narrow at the bottom. Mahāpurāṇa of Ācārya Jinasena is famous for his quote:

Some foolish men declare that the creator made the world. The doctrine that the world was created is ill advised and should be rejected. If god created the world, where was he before the creation? If you say he was transcendent then and needed no support, where is he now? How could god have made this world without any raw material? If you say that he made this first, and then the world, you are faced with an endless regression.

Division of time as envisaged by Jains

Division of time as envisaged by Jains


According to Jainism, time is beginningless and eternal. The Kālacakra, the cosmic wheel of time, rotates ceaselessly. The wheel of time is divided into two half-rotations, Utsarpiṇī or ascending time cycle and Avasarpiṇī, the descending time cycle, occurring continuously after each other. Utsarpiṇī is a period of progressive prosperity and happiness, while Avsarpiṇī is a period of increasing sorrow and immorality. Each of this half time cycle consisting of innumerable period of time (measured in Sagaropama and Palyopama years) is further sub-divided into six aras or epochs of unequal periods. Currently, the time cycle is in avasarpiṇī or descending phase with the following epochs.The aras defined in Jain texts are:

  • Suṣama-suṣamā
  • Suṣamā
  • Suṣama-duḥṣamā
  • Duḥṣama-suṣamā
  • Duḥṣama
  • Duḥṣama-duḥṣama

In utsarpiṇī the order of the aras is reversed. Starting from Duḥṣama- duḥṣamā, it ends with Suṣama-suṣamā and thus this never ending cycle continues. Each of these aras progress into the next phase seamlessly without apocalyptic consequences. The increase or decrease in the happiness, life spans and length of people and general moral conduct of the society changes in a phased and graded manner as the time passes. No divine or supernatural beings are credited or responsible with these spontaneous temporal changes, either in a creative or overseeing role, rather human beings and creatures are born under the impulse of their own karma.


The early Jains contemplated the nature of the earth and universe and developed a detailed hypothesis on the various aspects of astronomy and cosmology. According to the Jain texts, the universe is divided into 3 parts:

  • Urdhva Loka – the realms of the gods or heavens
  • Madhya Loka – the realms of the humans, animals and plants
  • Adho Loka – the realms of the hellish beings or the infernal regions. The lower world consists of seven hells which is inhabited by Bhavanpati demigods and the hellish beings. Hellish beings reside in hells whose names are Ratna prabha-dharma, Sharkara prabha-vansha, Valuka prabha-megha, Pank prabha-anjana, Dhum prabha-arista, Tamah prabha-maghavi, Mahatamah prabha-maadhavi.


Main article: Salakapurusa

During the each motion of the half-cycle of the wheel of time, 63 Śalākāpuruṣa or 63 illustrious men, consisting of the 24 Tīrthaṅkaras and their contemporaries regularly appear. The Jain universal or legendary history is basically a compilation of the deeds of these illustrious men. They are 24 Tīrthaṅkara, 12 Chakravartī, 9 Baladevas, 9 Vāsudevas and 9 Prativāsudevas. Besides these there are 9 Narada, 11 Rudras, 24 Kamdeva, 24 Fathers of the Tirthankaras, 24 Mothers of the Tirthankaras and 14 patriarchs (Kulakara) who are also important figures in Jain universal history.

Structure of Universe per the Jain Scriptures.

Structure of Universe per the Jain Scriptures.


Main article: Jain epistemology

Jainism made its own unique contribution to this mainstream development of philosophy by occupying itself with the basic epistemological issues, namely, with those concerning the nature of knowledge, how knowledge is derived, and in what way knowledge can be said to be reliable. Knowledge for the Jains takes place in the soul, which, without the limiting factor of karma, is omniscient. Humans have partial knowledge – the object of knowledge is known partially and the means of knowledge do not operate to their full capacity. According to Tattvārthasūtra, the knowledge of the basic Jaina truths can be obtained through:

  • Pramāṇa – means or instruments of knowledge which can yield a comprehensive knowledge of an object, and
  • Naya – particular standpoints, yielding partial knowledge.

Pramāṇa are of five kinds:

  • mati or “sensory knowledge”,
  • Sruta or “scriptural knowledge”,
  • avadhi or “clairvoyance”,
  • manahparyaya or “telepathy”, and
  • kevala or “omniscience”

The first two are described as being indirect means of knowledge (parokṣa), with the others furnishing direct knowledge (pratyakṣa), by which it is meant that the object is known directly by the soul. Jains came out with their doctrines of relativity used for logic and reasoning:

  • Anekāntavāda – the theory of relative pluralism or manifoldness;
  • Syādvāda – the theory of conditioned predication and;
  • Nayavāda – The theory of partial standpoints.

These philosophical concepts have made most important contributions to the ancient Indian philosophy, especially in the areas of scepticism and relativity.

Aspects of Violence (Himsa)

Aspects of Violence (Himsa)


Main article: Anekantavada

One of the most important and fundamental doctrines of Jainism is Anēkāntavāda. It refers to the principles of pluralism and multiplicity of viewpoints, the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth.

Jains contrast all attempts to proclaim absolute truth with andhagajanyāyah, which can be illustrated through the parable of the “blind men and an elephant”. In this story, each blind man felt a different part of an elephant (trunk, leg, ear, etc.). All the men claimed to understand and explain the true appearance of the elephant, but could only partly succeed, due to their limited perspectives. This principle is more formally stated by observing that objects are infinite in their qualities and modes of existence, so they cannot be completely grasped in all aspects and manifestations by finite human perception. According to the Jains, only the Kevalis—omniscient beings—can comprehend objects in all aspects and manifestations; others are only capable of partial knowledge. According to the doctrine, no single, specific, human view can claim to represent absolute truth.

Anekāntavāda encourages its adherents to consider the views and beliefs of their rivals and opposing parties. Proponents of anekāntavāda apply this principle to religion and philosophy, reminding themselves that any religion or philosophy—even Jainism—which clings too dogmatically to its own tenets, is committing an error based on its limited point of view. The principle of anekāntavāda also influenced Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to adopt principles of religious tolerance, ahiṃsā and satyagraha.


Main article: Syādvāda

Syādvāda is the theory of conditioned predication, which provides an expression to anekānta by recommending that the epithet Syād be prefixed to every phrase or expression. Syādvāda is not only an extension of anekānta ontology, but a separate system of logic capable of standing on its own. The Sanskrit etymological root of the term syād is “perhaps” or “maybe”, but in the context of syādvāda, it means “in some ways” or “from a perspective”. As reality is complex, no single proposition can express the nature of reality fully. Thus the term “syāt” should be prefixed before each proposition giving it a conditional point of view and thus removing any dogmatism in the statement. Since it ensures that each statement is expressed from seven different conditional and relative viewpoints or propositions, syādvāda is known as saptibhaṅgīnāya or the theory of seven conditioned predications. These seven propositions, also known as saptibhaṅgī, are:

  1. syād-asti—in some ways, it is,
  2. syād-nāsti—in some ways, it is not,
  3. syād-asti-nāsti—in some ways, it is, and it is not,
  4. syād-asti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is, and it is indescribable,
  5. syād-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is not, and it is indescribable,
  6. syād-asti-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is, it is not, and it is indescribable,
  7. syād-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is indescribable.

Each of these seven propositions examines the complex and multifaceted nature of reality from a relative point of view of time, space, substance and mode. To ignore the complexity of reality is to commit the fallacy of dogmatism.


Nayavāda is the theory of partial standpoints or viewpoints. Nayavāda is a compound of two Sanskrit words—naya (“partial viewpoint”) and vāda (“school of thought or debate”). It is used to arrive at a certain inference from a point of view. An object has infinite aspects to it, but when we describe an object in practice, we speak of only relevant aspects and ignore irrelevant ones. This does not deny the other attributes, qualities, modes and other aspects; they are just irrelevant from a particular perspective. As a type of critical philosophy, nayavāda holds that all philosophical disputes arise out of confusion of standpoints, and the standpoints we adopt are, although we may not realise it, “the outcome of purposes that we may pursue”. While operating within the limits of language and seeing the complex nature of reality, Māhavīra used the language of nayasNaya, being a partial expression of truth, enables us to comprehend reality part by part.


Main article: Ethics of Jainism

The Jain morality and ethics are rooted in its metaphysics and its utility towards the soteriological objective of liberation. Jaina ethics evolved out of the rules for the ascetics which are encapsulated in the mahavratas or the five great vows.

Head Vow Meaning
Five vows 1. Ahiṃsā Not to hurt any living being by actions, speech and thoughts
2. Satya Not to lie or speak what is not commendable.
3. Asteya Not to take anything if not given.
4. Brahmacharya Chastity / Celibacy in action, words & thoughts
5. Aparigraha (Non-possession) Detachment from material property.
Guņa vratas 6. digvrata Restriction on movement with regard to directions.
7. bhogopabhogaparimana Vow of limiting consumable and non-consumable things
8. anartha-dandaviramana Refraining from harmful occupations and activities (purposeless sins).
Śikşā vratas 9. samayika Vow to meditate and concentrate periodically.
10.desavrata Limiting movement to certain places for a fixed period of time.
11.upvas / Paushad Fasting at regular intervals / Living a day of Life as similar to a Jain Monk with Fasting.
12.atihti samvibhag Vow of offering food to the ascetic and needy people

These ethics are governed not only through the instrumentality of physical actions, but also through verbal action and thoughts. Thus, ahimsa has to be observed through mind, speech, and body. The other rules of the ascetics and laity are derived from these five major vows.

Jainism does not invoke fear of or reverence for God or conformity to the divine character as a reason for moral behaviour, and observance of the moral code is not necessary simply because it is God’s will. Neither is its observance necessary simply because it is altruistic or humanistic, conducive to general welfare of the state or the community. Rather it is an egoistic imperative aimed at self-liberation. While it is true that in Jainism, the moral and religious injunctions were laid down as law by Arihants who have achieved perfection through their supreme moral efforts, their adherence is just not to please a God, but because the life of the Arihants has demonstrated that such commandments were conducive to the Arihant’s own welfare, helping them to reach spiritual victory. Just as the Arihants achieved moksha or liberation by observing the moral code, so can anyone, who follows this path.

Science and Mathematics


The most elaborate and well-preserved Indian theory of atomism comes from the philosophy of the Jaina school, dating back to at least the 6th century BC. Some of the Jain texts that refer to matter and atoms are Pancastikayasara, Kalpasutra, Tattvarthasutra and Pannavana Suttam. The Jains envisioned the world as consisting wholly of atoms, except for souls. Paramāņus or atoms were the basic building blocks of matter. Their concept of atoms was very similar to classical atomism, differing primarily in the specific properties of atoms. Each atom, according to Jain philosophy, has one kind of taste, one smell, one color, and two kinds of touch, though it is unclear what was meant by “kind of touch”. Atoms can exist in one of two states: subtle, in which case they can fit in infinitesimally small spaces, and gross, in which case they have extension and occupy a finite space. Certain characteristics of Paramāņu correspond with that of sub-atomic particles. For example, Paramāņu is characterized by continuous motion either in a straight line or in case of attractions from other Paramāņus, it follows a curved path. This corresponds with the description of orbit of electrons across the Nucleus. Ultimate particles are also described as particles with positive (Snigdha i.e. smooth charge) and negative (Rūksa – rough) charges that provide them the binding force. Although atoms are made of the same basic substance, they can combine based on their eternal properties to produce any of six “aggregates”, which seem to correspond with the Greek concept of “elements”: earth, water, shadow, sense objects, karmic matter, and unfit matter. To the Jains, karma was real, but was a naturalistic, mechanistic phenomenon caused by buildups of subtle karmic matter within the soul. They also had detailed theories of how atoms could combine, react, vibrate, move, and perform other actions, which were thoroughly deterministic.

Contributions to Indian philosophy

Jainism had a major influence in developing a system of philosophy and ethics that had a major impact on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The scholarly research and evidences have shown that philosophical concepts that are typically Indian – Karma, Ahimsa, Moksa, reincarnation and like – either have their origins in the shramana traditions or were propagated and developed by Jain teachers. The sramanic ideal of mendicancy and renunciation, that the worldly life was full of suffering and that emancipation required giving up of desires and withdrawal into a lonely and contemplative life, was in stark contrast with the brahmanical ideal of an active and ritually punctuated life based on sacrifices, household duties and chants to deities. Sramanas developed and laid emphasis on Ahimsa, Karma, moksa and renunciation.

Schools and traditions

Jain philosophy arose from the shramana traditions. In its 2500 years post-Mahavira history, it remained fundamentally the same as preached by Mahavira, who preached essentially the same religion as the previous Tirthankara. Harry Oldmeadow notes that the Jain philosophy remained fairly standard throughout history and the later elaborations only sought to further elucidate preexisting doctrine and avoided changing the ontological status of the components. The schisms into Śvetāmbara and Digambara traditions arose mainly on account of differences in question of practice of nudity amongst monks and liberation of women. Apart from these minor differences in practices, there are no major philosophical differences between the different sects of Jainism. The Tattvārthasūtra, which encapsulates major philosophical doctrines, is accepted by all traditions of Jainism. This coherence in philosophical doctrine and consistency across different schools has led scholars like Jaini to remark that in the course of history of Jainism no heretical movements like Mahayana, tantric or bhakti movement developed outside mainstream Jainism. Thus, there are traditions within Jainism, but basically the same philosophy that is at the core of Jainism.

Earlier traditions

As per the tradition, Jain Sangh was divided into two major sects:

  • Digambaras, the older sect hold that nudity is necessary for liberation and only men can attain the final stage of non-attachment to the body by remaining nude. They also hold that the canonical literature was eventually lost.
  • Śvetāmbaras believe that women can attain liberation and that nudity is optional. Śvetāmbara scriptures support both acelakatva, nudity in monks and sacelakatva, the wearing of white clothes by ascetics. They also hold that the Jain canon was not lost.

The now defunct Yapaniya sect followed the Digambara practice of nudity and eating from the hands while standing up along with Śvetāmbara beliefs and texts. They notably also permitted their ascetics to be “half-clothed” (ardhambara) in public areas only. The Yapaniya sect was absorbed into the Digambara community during the medieval period.

Medieval traditions

The period of 16th to 18th century was a period of reforms in Jainism. The following schools arose during this period :

  • Sthanakvasi – The Sthanakvasis, arising from the Śvetāmbara tradition, rejected idol worship as unsanctioned by scriptures.
  • Terapanthi (Digambara) – The Digambara Terapantha movement arose in protest against the institution of Bhattarakas (Jain priestly class), usage of flowers and offerings in Jain temples, and worship of minor gods.
  • Terapanthi (Śvetāmbara) – The Terapanthi, also a non-iconic sect, arose from Sthanakvasis on account of differences in religious practices and beliefs.

Recent developments

Recent events lead to dissatisfaction with the monastic tradition and its related emphasis on austerities saw the arising of two new sects within Jainism in the 20th century. These were essentially led by the laity rather than ascetics and soon became a major force to be reckoned with. The non-sectarian cult of Shrimad Rajchandra, who was one of the major influences on Mahatma Gandhi, is now one of the most popular movements. Another cult founded by Kanjisvami, laying stress on theological determinism and “knowledge of self”, has gained a large following as well.

Jain philosophers

Jains hold the Jain doctrine to be eternal and based on universal principles. In the current time cycle, they trace the origins of its philosophy to Rishabhanatha, the first Tīrthankara. However, the tradition holds that the ancient Jain texts and Purvas which documented the Jain doctrine were lost and hence, historically, the Jain philosophy can be traced from Mahavira’s teachings. Post Mahavira many intellectual giants amongst the Jain ascetics contributed and gave a concrete form to the Jain philosophy within the parameters set by Mahavira. Following is the partial list of Jain philosophers and their contributions:

  • Kundakunda (1st—2nd century CE) – exponent of Jain metaphysics and Jain nayas dealing with the nature of the soul and its contamination by matter, author of Pañcāstikāyasāra “Essence of the Five Existents”, the Pravacanasāra “Essence of the Scripture”, the Samayasāra “Essence of the Doctrine”, Niyamasāra “Essence of Discipline”, Atthapāhuda “Eight Gifts”, Dasabhatti “Ten Worships” and Bārasa Anuvekkhā “Twelve Contemplations”.
  • Samantabhadra (2nd century CE) – first Jain writer to write on nyāya, (Apta-Mimāmsā), which has had the largest number of commentaries written on it by later Jain logicians. He also composed the Ratnakaranda śrāvakācāra and the Svayambhu Stotra.
  • Umāsvāti or Umasvami (2nd century CE) – author of first Jain work in Sanskrit, Tattvārthasūtra, expounding philosophy in a most systematised form acceptable to all sects of Jainism.
  • Siddhasena Divākara (5th century) – Jain logician and author of important works in Sanskrit and Prakrit, such as, Nyāyāvatāra (on Logic) and Sanmatisūtra (dealing with the seven Jaina standpoints, knowledge and the objects of knowledge).
  • Akalanka (5th century) – key Jain logician, whose works such as Laghiyastraya, Pramānasangraha, Nyāyaviniscaya-vivarana, Siddhiviniscaya-vivarana, Astasati, Tattvārtharājavārtika, et al. are seen as landmarks in Indian logic. The impact of Akalanka may be surmised by the fact that Jain Nyāya is also known as Akalanka Nyāya.
  • Pujyapada (6th century) – Jain philosopher, grammarian, Sanskritist. Composed Samadhitantra, Ishtopadesha and the Sarvarthasiddhi, a definitive commentary on the Tattvārthasūtra and Jainendra Vyakarana, the first work on Sanskrit grammar by a Jain monk.
  • Manikyanandi (6th century) – Jain logician, composed the Parikshamaukham, a masterpiece in the karika style of the Classical Nyaya school.
  • Jinabhadra (6th–7th century) – author of Avasyaksutra (Jain tenets) Visesanavati and Visesavasyakabhasya (Commentary on Jain essentials) He is said to have followed Siddhasena and compiled discussion and refutation on various views on Jaina doctrine.
  • Mallavadin (8th century) – author of Nayacakra and Dvadasaranayacakra (Encyclopedia of Philosophy) which discusses the schools of Indian Philosophy. Mallavadin was known as a vadin i.e. a logician and he is said to have defeated Buddhist monks on the issues of philosophy.
  • Haribhadra (8th century) – Jain thinker, author, philosopher, satirist and great proponent of anekāntavāda and classical yoga, as a soteriological system of meditation in the Jain context. His works include Ṣaḍdarśanasamuccaya, YogabinduYogadṛṣṭisamuccayaand Dhurtakhyana. he pioneered the Dvatrimshatika genre of writing in Jainism, where various religious subjects were covered in 32 succinct Sanskrit verses.
  • Prabhacandra (8th–9th century) – Jain philosopher, composed a 106-Sutra Tattvarthasutra and exhaustive commentaries on two key works on Jain Nyaya, Prameyakamalamartanda, based on Manikyanandi’s Parikshamukham and Nyayakumudacandra on Akalanka’s Laghiyastraya.
  • Abhayadeva (1057 to 1135) – author of Vadamahrnava (Ocean of Discussions) which is a 2,500 verse tika (Commentary) of Sanmartika and a great treatise on logic.
  • Acharya Hemachandra (1089–1172) – Jain thinker, author, historian, grammarian and logician. His works include Yogaśāstra and Trishashthishalakapurushacaritra and the Siddhahemavyakarana. He also authored an incomplete work on Jain Nyāya, titled Pramāna-Mimāmsā.
  • Vadideva (11th century) – He was a senior contemporary of Hemacandra and is said to have authored Paramananayatattavalokalankara and its voluminous commentary syadvadaratnakara that establishes the supremacy of doctrine of Syādvāda.
  • Vidyanandi (11th century) – Jain philosopher, composed the brilliant commentary on Acarya Umasvami’s Tattvarthasutra, known as Tattvarthashlokavartika.
  • Yaśovijaya (1624–1688) – Jain logician and one of the last intellectual giants to contribute to Jain philosophy. He specialised in Navya-Nyāya and wrote Vrttis (commentaries) on most of the earlier Jain Nyāya works by Samantabhadra, Akalanka, Manikyanandi, Vidyānandi, Prabhācandra and others in the then-prevalent Navya-Nyāya style. Yaśovijaya has to his credit a prolific literary output – more than 100 books in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Gujarati and Rajasthani. He is also famous for Jnanasara (essence of knowledge) and Adhayatmasara (essence of spirituality).

See also

 Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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