The Jain community has a long tradition of scholarship and it has made significant contributions to Indian classical and popular literature. Jains have written on many non-Jain subjects so what is considered a ‘Jain manuscript’ must be defined.
Typical features of Jain manuscripts are outlined, such as the format and material, including the inks used.
The method of writing on the manuscript and which scripts are frequently used are also important.
All Jain manuscripts have been created in the Indian subcontinent.
Many other Jain manuscripts are handwritten documents on which a Jain scribe or author has copied or commented on a text belonging to the wider Indian heritage.
For instance, over the centuries several Jain monks have written well-known commentaries on classics of Sanskrit literature such as the works of Kālidāsa. Manuscripts of these commentaries are found in Jain libraries. Jain scholars have also read and commented upon Buddhist philosophical works and thus they are considered to belong to the Jain heritage as well.
Changes in technology and available materials over time have altered the format that Jain manuscripts take. Manuscripts take a traditional 'landscape' shape, in which the page is a rectangle with short sides on the right and left. This comes from the material on which the first texts were written.
A follower of Buddhism. There are two main schools of Buddhism, namely:
Both sects are practised in India.
An essay explaining a text. Commentaries on the scriptures are common in the Jain tradition and there are various types, including the:
A script for writing in different Indian languages, still used today. In Devanāgarī each letter has a horizontal line above it.
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.
The westernmost state in India, which is a stronghold of Śvetāmbara Jainism.
Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.
The great Sanskrit poet and dramatist, Kālidāsa, probably lived in the 4th century CE. A highly influential playwright, he is often called the Shakespeare of India.
The Book of Ritual attributed to Bhadrabāhu. It has three sections:
A significant sacred text for Śvetāmbara Jains, the Kalpa-sūtra has a central role in the annual Paryuṣaṇ festival.
A Muslim, or ‘one who submits to God’ in Arabic, follows the religion of Islam, which means ‘peace’. Muslims believe that Muhammad is the last in a line of prophets. The complete word of Allah or God was revealed to Muhammad in the sixth century CE and set down in the Arabic Qur’an or ‘recitation’. Nearly all Muslims belong to either the Shia or Sunni sects, with Sunni Muslims comprising around 90% of Islamic believers.
An early form of the Devanāgarī script, which is still used in India. Nāgarī was used to write several Indian languages, particularly Prākrit and Sanskrit.
A widely used language in northern India for hundreds of years, developed in modern south-western Iran. Used for administration and literary works in areas ruled by Islamic regimes across northern India, it became associated with culture, education and science, and was the official language of the Mughal Empire. Persian influenced other languages in India and was gradually supplanted by English and Hindustani – the forebear of modern Hindi – in the 19th century.
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.
The largest state in India, in the north-western part of the country.
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.
Someone who copies manuscripts for a living. Scribes are common in societies where literacy is rare. In the past, however, scribes could not always read and write fluently.
The Indian or South Asian subcontinent is a term for the geographical area roughly covering modern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.