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Browsing: Tattva-bodha-prakaraṇa (Or. 2112 ms. B)

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Title: Text begins

The British Library Board
Or. 2112 ms. B
Date of creation:
perhaps 15th century
Folio number:
1 recto
Total number of folios:
Place of creation:
western India
Prākrit and Sanskrit
26 x 11 cms
CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
Image copyright: Creative Commons Public Domain


The Tattva-bodha-prakaraṇaTreatise on Awakening to Realities – is a Śvetāmbara sectarian work, the main concern of which is to refute practices typical of rival monastic orders. Such works emerged parallel to the rise of numerous gacchas from the 12th century onwards. Their subjects are Jain ethics and its principles. These are openly or covertly discussed with the aim of assessing their truth or validity when viewed as part of the contests between different groups. The differences between these gacchas are mainly of practice. The authors of such works largely draw on textual references to show that the practices they defend are rooted in the tradition, and that those of their rivals are innovations coming out of the blue. They usually proceed in two stages:

  1. proving wrong their rivals’ practices
  2. establishing – pratiṣṭhā or siddhi – the practice they consider valid.

The title of the work underlines this twofold process of argumentation. This work, which is written in Sanskrit, refutes the practices of two groups. The practices of the Añcala-gaccha are proved wrong from the beginning of the text up to line 4 of folio 11B, while those of the Pūrṇimāgaccha are disproved in the second part. For instance, the attacks against the Añcala-gaccha focus on their habit of having the lay community use ‘the border of a garment’ – añcala – instead of the mouth-clothmukha-vastrikā – while performing necessary duties such as sāmāyika.

Its author is named as Haribhadra-sūri in the final colophon. This is not the famous author of the 8th century, but the Haribhadra who belonged to the Nāgendra-gaccha. In the course of the text the author mentions the name of Amaracandra-sūri as his guru. The name of Śānti-sūri, another monk in the same gaccha, also appears. Amaracandra-sūri was a contemporary of King Siddharāja Jayasiṃha of Gujajrat (1094–1143 CE). Since Haribhadra is his disciple, he must have composed the present work some time during the 12th century – at a time when the Añcala-gaccha and the Pūrṇimā-gaccha had just emerged.

Works of this type are usually known from very few manuscripts. The polemical outlook of the Tattva-bodha-prakaraṇa probably explains the limited number of these works. The British Library manuscript is one of the very rare ones recorded. As far as is known, the text is not available in printed form.


Common Era
The period of time starting with the year when Jesus Christ was traditionally believed to have been born. Using CE is a more secular way of dating events in a multinational, multi-religious world.
Literally a Sanskrit word for 'tree', gaccha is used by Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjak Jains to describe the largest groups of their mendicant lineages. It is often translated as 'monastic group', 'monastic order' or 'monastic tradition'. These groups are formed when some mendicants split from their gaccha because of disagreements over ascetic practices.
Sanskrit term meaning both:
  • a spiritual teacher
  • 'heavy', in contrast to laghu or ‘light'.
Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.
Time. One of the five insentient non-material substances that make up the universe along with the sentient substance, called jīvastikaya.
Modern Indo-aryan language term from the Sanskrit ‘mukhavastrikā'. The small rectangular piece of cloth permanently fixed over the mouth by some mendicant orders. This is to avoid being violent accidentally, either by inhaling tiny creatures or killing them by breathing over them unexpectedly.This is not the same as the mouth-cover used on some occasions by other mendicants and by laypeople when they perform certain rites.
The highest soul, the liberated soul, the Absolute, often used instead of siddhi. Jains believe that a soul or ātman can achieve liberation from the cycle of birth through its own spiritual development. This concept has been called God in Western thought since the start of the Christian era.
Equanimity, calm, a mental state where one is able to consider all beings as equal to oneself. The second of the four śikṣā-vratas or vows that lay Jains take. The ritual entails working towards being even-tempered by meditating or reciting mantras for 48 minutes each day. Performing this ritual three times each day is also one of the six duties – āvaśyakas – of a mendicant.
Sanskrit for 'community'. The Jain ‘fourfold community’ is composed of monks, nuns, lay men and lay women.
Reality or truth. This is very important to Jains and the satya-vrata is the second of the mendicant's Five Great Vows and the lay person's Five Lesser Vows.
A title for the leader of a religious order among the Śvetāmbaras. It is a higher position than ācārya.
Śvetāmbara mendicant leader who lived around the seventh to eighth centuries. He wrote many significant philosophical works, including the Anekāntajayapatākā and the Ṣaḍdarśanasamuccaya. He also wrote the first Sanskrit commentaries on the Āgamas .
The 16th Jina of the present age. His symbolic colour is gold and his emblem the deer. There is no historical evidence of his existence.
An active follower of a religion, especially one who passes on teachings to others.
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.
An organised group of believers in a religion, often distinguished from other groups within the same religious faith who have differences of doctrine or practice.
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.
Ritual installation of an idol in a temple. A new statue or picture is often the centre of a noisy procession through the streets to the temple, where a ceremony to consecrate the image takes place. Public rejoicing surrounds the pratiṣṭhā.
Walls around a temple compound that encircle the entire sacred temple area. These are usually free-standing detached compound walls, but they may join up with the walls of neighbouring temples.
A single sheet of paper or parchment with a front and a back side. Manuscripts and books are written or printed on both sides of sheets of paper. A manuscript page is one side of a sheet of paper, parchment or other material. The recto page is the top side of a sheet of paper and the verso is the underside.
Found at the end of a Jain manuscript, a colophon is similar to the publication information at the beginning of modern books. It usually contains the title and sometimes details of the author, scribe and sponsor. The colophons of Jain manuscripts may also include the names of owners, readers and libraries where they have been stored. They frequently have decorative elements and very commonly contain a wish for good fortune for any readers. Written mainly by the scribes who copy texts, Jain colophons are often written in Sanskrit.

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