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Browsing: Ṣaṣṭiśataka with Sanskrit commentary (Or. 13179)

Image: First page with peacocks

Title: First page with peacocks

Source:
The British Library Board
Shelfmark:
Or. 13179
Author:
Nemicandra Bhāṇḍagārika
Date of creation:
1544
Folio number:
1 recto
Total number of folios:
8
Place of creation:
Chandagokula, western India
Language:
Prākrit and Sanskrit
Medium:
paper
Size:
26 x 11 cms
Copyright:
CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
Image copyright: Creative Commons Public Domain

Background

The title Ṣaṣṭi-śataka – One Hundred and Sixty – is a reference to the number of verses which make up the work. Its purpose is to give basic notions of right faith, good conduct, good teachers and so on, guiding the reader through the vivid atmosphere of controversies at the time the author lived, in the 12th century.

During that time the lax behaviour of the caitya-vāsins and the rigorous asceticism that reacted against it created high tension. This led prominent pontiffs of the Kharatara-gaccha mendicant order to try reforming corrupt practices. Nemi-candra, for instance, refers to the 'tenth wonder', which was that undisciplined monks were respected, a theme of this period.

A lay follower of the Kharatara-gaccha, Nemi-candra Bhaṇḍāgārika or Bhaṇḍārī lived in Maroṭa, a village in the Marwar region of Rajasthan. He is known for the fact that his son took initiation with Jinapati-sūri (V.S. 1210–1277) and later became the prominent pontiff Jineśvara-sūri (V.S. 1245–1331). Nemi-candra Bhaṇḍārī was influenced by the works of Jinavallabha-sūri, whose name occurs in a few verses of the present work. In addition, he wrote an Apabhraṃśa poem of praise for him, as well as a Prakrit hymn dedicated to Pārśvanātha or Lord Pārśva.

In the present manuscript the Prakrit verses are explained in a Sanskrit commentary. The format of the manuscript is pañca-pāṭha. Here the main text is written in the middle and the commentary is written in the margins around it. The commentary must be read in the following order:

  1. above
  2. right margin
  3. left margin
  4. below.

Glossary

Caitya
Sacred enclosure, temple.
Kāla
Time. One of the five insentient non-material substances that make up the universe along with the sentient substance, called jīvastikaya.
Kharatara-gaccha
Subsect of the Śvetāmbaras, chiefly found in Rajasthan and Mumbai and established in the 11th century. 
Samyak-darśana
'Right insight' or the proper view of reality, which means faith in the principles of Jainism taught by the Jinas. The first of the Three Jewels of Jainism and a necessary first step in spiritual progress.
Hymn
The terms stavan, stavana, stava, stotra and stuti are all used for a prayer, song, chant or hymn to a Jina, a god or any other holy figure. Religious songs are always hymns of praise in Jainism. These devotional songs may be performed during daily rites or on special occasions, such as completion of a fast or a wedding. The hymns may be performed:
  • solo or in groups
  • as a form of meditation
  • as a rite offered as part of worship.
Sūri
A title for the leader of a religious order among the Śvetāmbaras. It is a higher position than ācārya.
Nemi
The 22nd Jina of the present age, also called Ariṣṭanemi. His symbolic colour is blue or black and his emblem the conch. There is no historical evidence of his existence. The Jains hold that Nemi is the cousin of the Hindu god Kṛṣna. The tale of his renunciation and jilting of his fiancée Princess Rājīmati are famous among the Jains.
Pārśva
The 23rd Jina of the present age. His symbolic colour is green and his emblem the snake. Historical evidence points to his living around 950 to 850 BC.
Laity
Believers in a religion who are ordinary worshippers, not clergy or members of religious orders. In Jainism, lay people are often called 'householders', indicating that they live in houses and have domestic responsibilities, unlike ascetics.
Apabhraṃśa
Apabhraṃśa is an umbrella term for the dialects that were the forerunners of modern Indian languages. Taken from the Sanskrit term apabhraṃśa, which literally means 'corrupt' or 'non-grammatical language', Apabhraṃśa was used to write a large number of Jain texts. Though Apabhraṃśa developed over the 6th to 13th centuries, literary works date back to the 8th century.
Sanskrit
A classical language of India, originally used by priests and nobility. Sanskrit has a rich literary and religious tradition. With only a few thousand native speakers nowadays, it is predominantly used in Hindu religious ceremonies and by scholars.
Prākrit
A term for any of the dead vernacular languages of ancient and medieval India. It may be contrasted with classical Sanskrit, the language used by priests and the aristocracy. The Jains used a large variety of Prakrits, with the Jain canon written chiefly in Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit.
Asceticism
The practice of rigorous, even extreme, physical hardships in the belief that it leads to a higher spiritual condition. Asceticism involves self-denial – for example refusing tasty food or warm clothes – and sometimes self-mortification, such as wearing hair-shirts or whipping oneself.
Rajasthan
The largest state in India, in the north-western part of the country.
Commentary
An essay explaining a text. Commentaries on the scriptures are common in the Jain tradition and there are various types, including the:
  • bālāvabodha
  • bhāṣya
  • cūrṇi
  • niryukti
  • ṭīkā.
Sin
Breaking a religious or moral principle, especially if this is done deliberately. Sinners commit sins or may sin by not doing something they are supposed to do.
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