Jain Scriptures

Jain scriptures are called Agamas. They are believed to have been verbally transmitted by the oral tradition from one generation to the next, much like the ancient Buddhist and Hindu texts. The Jain tradition believes that their religion is eternal, and the teachings of their first Tirthankara Rishabhanatha were their scriptures millions of years ago. The mythology states that the tirthankara taught in a divine preaching hall called samavasarana, which were heard by the gods, the ascetics and laypersons. The discourse delivered is called Śhrut Jnāna and comprises eleven angas and fourteen purvas. The discourse is remembered and transmitted by the Ganadharas (chief disciples), and is composed of twelve angas (departments). It is symbolically represented by a tree with twelve branches.

Jain Scriptures

Jain Scriptures

Scripture is the synonym of the holy text, which consists of religious dogmas, and assertions of an authentic authority (Apta Purusa). The Jainism has its own scriptures called Agamas or Srutas, which are directly derived from the Tirthankaras. The Agamas are divided into two Streams viz. Sutragamas and Arthagamas. The sermons of the Tirthankaras are called Arthagamas and the Sutras written over them are named Sutragamas. The Agamas compiled by Pratyekabuddhas or Sthaviras are also valid. Like the Buddhist Pitakas, they are called Ganipitakas. Agamas are the composed form of Angas and Purvas. Puravas are no longer in existence. They were based on spirituality and self – realization consisting of esoteric methods of attaining emancipation form all Karmas (Moksa). They might have established their own tradition that would have been absorbed in the Angas. The knower of fourteen Purvas is called Srutakevali. The Scripture that we have at present is derived from Tirthankara Mahavira. The main teachings of Purvas are included into Drastivada, the twelfth Anga that is totally lost in the eyes of Svetambara tradition. But the Digambaras were able to preserve the few sections dealing with the Karma theory from the Agrayanipurva and Jnanapravada Purva . Drastivada is briefly divided into five parts, viz. Parikarma, Sutra, Purvagata, Anuyoga and Culika. The Kasayapahuda and Satkhandagama Texts are perhaps the earliest source of knowledge of the Purvagata Drastivada. In course of time it was lost with obliteration of Kevalajnana gradually as can be understood by the posthumous spiritual titles of Caudasa, Dasa and Nava Puvvis.The works of Kundakunda and other Acaryas are also recognized as the scriptures of Digambaras. Digambara Adhyatma Texts are based on the Purvas while the Svetambara Agamas are founded on Angas excluding Drastivada. The fourteen Purvas, which are all extinct, are as follows:1) Utpada, 2) Agrayani, 3) Virya, 4) Astinastipravada, 5) Jnanapravada, 6) Satpravada, 7) Atmapravada, 8) Karmapravada, 9) Pratyakhyanapravada, l0) Vidyanuvada, 11) Kalyanavada, 12) Pranavada, 13) Kriyavisala, and 14) Lokavindusara.

Main article: Jain Agam Literature

English translation of the Ratnakaranda śrāvakācāra (1917)

English translation of the Ratnakaranda śrāvakācāra (1917)

The traditional way through hearsay (Evam maya suyam) has been the only means to preserve and protect the Anga Scriptures for sometimes. In due course, the addition and omission ought to take place in the Agamic Texts, which were used to examine by holding the Councils called Vacanas, like Buddhist Sangitis from time to time at Pataliputra, Mathura and Valabhi. The Third or Fourth Vacana was held at Valabhi 980 years after the Nirvana of Mahavira under the president ship of Devardhigani Ksamasramana who compiled and written down the available Scriptures. It may be mentioned here that no reference to these Councils is made in Digambara traditional literature. In its view the original form of Agamas went into oblivion and alienation up to 683 years after Mahavira’s Nirvana. The part of the Drastivada was of course remained which became the basis of the Sadkhandagama and Kasayapahuda. The Svetambara tradition does not refute the view but states that even if the original form of the Agamas is changed, its whole form cannot be completely rejected and ignored. Some cultural aspects and linguistic peculiarities prove its originality to a certain extent. Whatever the Agamas we have at present is belonging to Svetambara tradition. Digambaras are of view that they are lost and mingled with local elements.

The Jain Scriptures are divided into several ways. Viz. I) Angapravista and Angabahya, ii) Kalika and Utkalika, iii) Anga, Upanga, Chedasutra, Mulasutra, Prakirnaka and Culika, IV) Krta and Niryuhana, v) Carananuyoga, Dharmakathanuyoga, Ganitanuyoga, and Dravyanuyoga, and VI) Prathamanuyoga, Karananuyoga, Carananuyoga, and Dravyanuyoga. The present Agamas are found in Prakrit. It was spoken in the part of Magadha and was mingled with other dialects. Therefore it is called Ardhamagadhi in which the Svetambara Agmas are written. The Digambara Agamic literature is found in Sauraseni Prakrit. The Agamas can also be, therefore, divided into two ways, viz. Ardhamagadhi and Sauraseni. The Murtipujaka Śvētāmbaras recognize only 45 or 84 Agamas while the Sthanakavasis and Terapanthis accept 32 Agamas. On the other hand, the Digambaras are of view that the original Agamas became extinct. In their place they recognize the works of Pushapadanta, Bhutavali, Kundakunda, Vattakera, Sivarya, Umaswami, Samantabhadra, Akalanka and other Acaryas as the Agamas.

The fact that the Digambara and the Svetambara traditions agree on fundamental features of the structure of the Jaina Scriptures establishes beyond doubt, I) that the Jaina Scripture had been compiled, arranged and recognized before the schism and ii) that the traditional divisions were remembered even after the Digambaras rejected the Svetambara Scriptures as the later innovation. Thus there is no controversy between Digambara and Svetambara traditions about the twelve Angas, viz. Ayaranga, Suyagadanga Thananga, Samavayanga, Viyahapannatti, Nayadhammakahao, Uvasagadasao, Antagadadasao, Anuttarovavaiyadasao, Panhavanhagaranaim, Vivagasuyam and Ditthivaya. Due to lack of space, it is not possible to go through the Scriptures in detail, but it may be pointed out that they are full of linguistic, cultural, historical, philosophical and spiritual material. Likewise, the Kasayapahuda of Gunadhara, Sadkhandagama of Puspadanta and Bhutavali, Dhavalatika of Virasena, Samayasara, Pravacanasara etc. of Kundakunda, Mulacara of Vattakera or Kundakunda, Bhagawatiaradhana of Sivarya, Kattigeyanuvekha of Kartikeya, Tattvarthasutra of Umasvami, Ratnakarandasravakacara, Aptamimamsa etc. of Samantabhadra, Sanmatisutra etc. of Siddhasena, Tattvartha-rajavartika of Akalanka and some more Texts are treated as the Scripture of Digambara tradition.

Stela depicting Śhrut Jnāna, or complete scriptural knowledge

Stela depicting Śhrut Jnāna, or complete scriptural knowledge

Jain literature is written in Prakrit, Sanskrit, Apabhramsa, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, and Kannad languages. Prakrit and Sanskrit literature can be divided into Anga, Upanga, Mulasutras, Chedasutra, Culikasutras, Prakrinakas, Agamic Vyakhyas, Niryuktis, Bhasyas, Curnis, Tikas, Karma literature, Siddhanta, Acara, Vidhividhana, Bhaktimulaka, Pauranika- Aitihasika Kavyas, Kathatmaka, Laksanika (Jyotisa, Ganita, Vyakarana, Kosa, Chanda, Nimitta, Silpa etc.) and Lalita literature. There is also the vast literature written in Apabhramsa.

Out of five epics in Tamil literature, three of them belong to Jainism. They are Silappadikaram, Valayapani, and Cintamani. Likewise, Pampas, Ponna, Ratna, Camundaraya and others are main Jain Kavis in Kannada literature. Similarly Hindi literature is enriched from its inception. Due to lack of space it is not possible to write on these types of volumes Jain literature. (From Jainworld.com)


Jain Sacred Books

Jaina Sutras, Part I

(Sacred Books of the East vol. 22)
Translated from the Prakrit by Hermann Jacobi1884
Two Jain sacred texts, the Akaranga and Kalpa Sutras.

Jaina Sutras, Part II

(Sacred Books of the East vol. 45)
Translated from the Prakrit by Hermann Jacobi1884
Two Jain sacred texts, the Uttaradhyayana Sutra and Sutrakritanga.

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