Article: Highlights of JAINpedia

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Many examples of remarkable manuscripts which Jains have copied or composed are digitised on the JAINpedia website. Articles in this section describe the contents of some of the individual texts available on JAINpedia.

Jain manuscripts capture religious teachings that have previously been passed on orally. Those that have survived date back to the 11th century or later. They are mostly written on palm leaf or paper, but other materials such as cloth are used as well. They also cover a wider range of needs, ranging from ceremonial procedures and philosophical treatises through stories and hymns to records of monastic lineages. Many manuscripts are also good examples of visual art, showing stylistic development in painting as well as conventional devices and patterns.

The digitised manuscripts on JAINpedia take several forms and are often lavishly illustrated. Scriptures preserve Jain religious beliefs and provide support for practices. A particularly interesting element of Jain doctrine is cosmology, the framework for important religious concepts such as the cycle of birth and karma. Embedding Jain values into stories has long been a popular method of passing on religious doctrine. These tales provide heroes and heroines for a minority group within Indian society and help create a Jain heritage. A key part of religious practice for Jains, hymns offer scope for both individual and community worship.

Sacred objects are also available on JAINpedia. Used in worship and meditation, items such as maṇḍalas, aḍhāī-dvīpas and victory banners are frequently artefacts of great artistic merit. Letters from lay Jains inviting mendicants for the rainy season have both practical and symbolic aspects, and are often beautiful objects.

Scriptures

This painting from an Uttarādhyayana-sūtra manuscript is of a Śvetāmbara monk in the kāyotsarga – 'rejection of the body' – meditation posture. He has the third eye and the bump of wisdom on his head. Four-armed gods and a lay man pay homage to him

Right monastic behaviour
Image by Victoria and Albert Museum © V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Several key holy texts are highlights of the manuscripts on JAINpedia.

The Kalpa-sūtra is the best-known book of the Śvetāmbara sect. Written in Ardhamāgadhī Prakrit, the Kalpa-sūtra features:

  • biographies of the Jinas
  • lineages of early Jain teachers
  • monastic rules for the rainy season.

It is surely the Jain work that has produced the largest amount of illustrated manuscripts. There are several examples on JAINpedia showing a variety of pictorial styles.

The British Library I.O. San. 3177 and the manuscript Gamma 453 in the Wellcome Library are remarkable specimens from the 15th century that use calligraphy, golden or silver ink, and coloured papers. In contrast, the manuscript Or. 13701 is an example of informal style with Mughal costumes and cursive script. All the other Kalpa-sūtras deserve interest in their own right as they are finely executed artefacts.

The Uttarādhyayana-sūtra is one of the most famous and fundamental books of the Śvetāmbara canon. In Ardhamāgadhī Prakrit, it contains both didactic and narrative material. It is one of the works that have developed an elaborate pictorial tradition. The two complete manuscripts of the Uttarādhyayana-sūtra digitised on JAINpedia offer remarkable paintings. Held by the British Library, the manuscript Or. 13362 and its counterpart in the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), with the shelfmark IS 2-1972, are powerful examples of Jain art.

The Āvaśyaka-sūtra, along with its commentary the Āvaśyaka-niryukti, holds central importance in the practice of Śvetāmbara Jains. It includes the:

One of the JAINpedia manuscripts is from the 15th century, which is noteworthy as it is comparatively early. Found in the British Library, the Āvaśyaka-niryukti manuscript with the shelfmark Or. 13550 dates back to 1466.

Considered with its commentaries, the Jītakalpa-sūtra deals with monastic rules and atonements for transgressions. Such works are not commonly found in manuscripts kept outside India. Therefore the two British Library manuscripts on JAINpedia, under the shelfmarks of Or. 1385 and Or. 1386, are notable. Another reason that makes them remarkable is that they are written on palm leaf, a material rarely found in libraries outside India for manuscripts from Western India.

Cosmology

This 19th-century manuscript painting shows the parable of the tree. Six hungry men suggest ways of reaching the fruit, ranging from chopping down the jambū tree to picking up windfalls. The colours of the men reflect their souls' colours – leśyās.

Parable of the tree
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

Writings on the Jain universe form one of the main branches of Jain scriptures. These manuscripts are often illustrated with charts, diagrams and paintings, because visualisation is part of the teaching.

Works of the kṣetra-samāsa variety focus on Jain geography, describing components such as continents, oceans and lands. A good example on JAINpedia is held in the British Library under the shelfmark Add. 26374. The saṃgrahaṇī texts are more concerned with karma and destiny. They deal with the spaces of the Jain universe as places where a soul is reborn, depending on its behaviour. Notable examples presented on JAINpedia are:

To this genre belong the large cloth paintings called aḍhāī-dvīpas – Two and a Half Continents. These have been executed from the 15th century onwards in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Remarkable aḍhāī-dvīpas on JAINpedia include the IS 6565 held at the Victoria and Albert Museum and several examples in the British Library, with the shelfmarks:

Teaching the niceties of karma is one of the most important topics of the Jain faith. Among the manuscripts digitised on JAINpedia are two remarkable items that deal with karma. They are a:

Stories

This manuscript illustration shows the monk Kālaka and an elderly brahmin. Śakra, king of the gods, tests Kālaka's modesty, learning and ability to see the truth by disguising himself. He takes on the form of an aged learned man, who disputes scriptures

Kālaka with Śakra in disguise
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

From the earliest times tales have been regarded as an essential part of teaching, for all types of audiences. The Jinas themselves recounted stories in their preaching. In the course of centuries, some simple anecdotes have developed into full-fledged works of fiction. Some characters who were just names meant to illustrate a notion have turned into heroes at the centre of novel-like works, undergoing ups and downs, losses and gains. In short, they have become figures that fully illustrate the concepts of karma and rebirth, and also inspiring heroes that hold the reader’s attention.

The most popular Jain heroes and heroines have been the starting point of numerous retellings. They also feature prominently in paintings in the manuscripts, which could be shown and used in festivals or temple-halls.

There are several good examples in manuscripts digitised on JAINpedia, especially the:

  • Story of the Teacher Kālaka, often appended to the Kalpa-sūtra, which is connected with the Śvetāmbara festival of Paryuṣaṇ
  • Story of Yaśodhara, held in the Wellcome Trust, which illustrates ahiṃsā
  • Story of Śālibhadra, found in the British Library, shows the power of giving alms to Jain monks
  • Story of Śrīpāla, closely associated with the worship of the siddhacakra
  • Āditya-vāra-vrata-kathā in the British Library, a popular story among Digambaras, which relates to the results of observing or not observing the so-called Sunday’s vow.

Jain authors are also famous for their rewritings of non-Jain stories, which are part of the common Indian heritage. Good examples of such illustrated manuscripts digitised on JAINpedia are the :

Hymns

This manuscript painting depicts a Jina meditating. Though hard to identify, he is probably Supārśvanatha or Lord Supārśva, the seventh Jina. The statue's jewellery, ornate headdress and open eyes indicate it is Śvetāmbara.

A Jina meditating, probably Supārśva
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

Devotional songs are part of Jain daily religious practice. They have been composed in all the ancient and modern languages of India, including Prakrit, Sanskrit, Gujarati, Hindi and Tamil. Hymns combine text, rhythm and chanting, but also have a visual dimension in many instances.

This is often the case with the Bhaktāmara-stotra, one of the most famous Jain hymns. One JAINpedia manuscript has vignettes and graphical characteristics that make it unusual. Another one has different diagrams for each of the 48 stanzas of the text and indications about performance.

In addition, JAINpedia presents another well-known set of devotional songs with a strong visual element. A collection of hymns to each of the 24 Jinas, composed by the 17th-century writer and philosopher Yaśovijaya, has an image of every Jina.

Objects

This manuscript cover illustrates the auspicious dreams of the mother of a baby who becomes a Jina. According to the Śvetāmbara sect, she has 14 dreams.

Fourteen auspicious dreams
Image by Victoria and Albert Museum © V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Manuscripts proper are not the only medium of teaching. Material culture in the form of various artefacts is also part of the Jain heritage. Some of these artefacts may be inscribed with text.

Remarkable items on JAINpedia are:

Images

  • Right monastic behaviour This painting from an Uttarādhyayana-sūtra manuscript is of a Śvetāmbara monk in the kāyotsarga – 'rejection of the body' – meditation posture. He has the third eye and the bump of wisdom on his head. Four-armed gods and a lay man pay homage to his advanced spirituality. It may eventually free his soul to fly up to the crescent-shaped siddha-śilā, home of liberated souls. . Image by Victoria and Albert Museum © V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London
  • Parable of the tree This 19th-century manuscript painting shows the parable of the tree. Six hungry men suggest ways of reaching the fruit, ranging from chopping down the jambū tree to picking up windfalls. The colours of the men indicate the spiritual state of their souls. The soul takes on one of six colours – leśyās – according to the karma that has bound to it.. Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
  • Kālaka with Śakra in disguise This manuscript illustration shows the monk Kālaka and an elderly brahmin. Śakra, king of the gods, tests Kālaka's modesty, learning and ability to see the truth by disguising himself. He takes on the form of an aged learned man, who disputes scriptures with the respected monk.. Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
  • A Jina meditating, probably Supārśva This manuscript painting depicts a Jina meditating in the lotus posture. Although it is hard to identify him, it is probably Supārśvanatha or Lord Supārśva, the seventh Jina. The curved pattern above hints that it is an idol in a temple. The statue's jewellery, ornate headdress and open eyes indicate that it belongs to the Śvetāmbara sect.. Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
  • Fourteen auspicious dreams This manuscript cover illustrates the auspicious dreams of the mother of a baby who becomes a Jina. According to the Śvetāmbara sect, she has 14 dreams. The dreams feature an elephant, bull, lion, pair of garlands, the moon, the sun, a flag, a full jug, a lotus pond, the ocean – symbolised by a ship – a heavenly palace, a heap of jewels and a smokeless fire. The largest picture is of the fourth dream, the goddess Śrī.. Image by Victoria and Albert Museum © V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Further Reading

Bhaktāmara, Kalyāṇamandira and Namiuṇa
Mānatuṅga and Siddhasena Divākara
edited by Hermann Jacobi
Sheth Devchand Lalbhai Jain Pustakoddhar Fund series; volume 79
J. S. Javeri; Surat, Gujarat, India; 1932

Full details

Bhaktāmara-stotra
Mānatuṅga
translated by Amṛtlāl Śāstrī
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India; 1969

Full details

Illustrated Bhaktamar-Stotra
Mānatuṅga
edited by Shricand Surana ‘Saras’
Diwakar Prakashan and Prakrit Bharati Academy; Agra, Uttar Pradesh and Jaipur, Rajasthan, India; 2006

Full details

Bhaktamara Stotra
Mānatuṅga
translated by Nathuram Premi and Manish Modi
Pandit Nathuram Premi Research series; volume 37
Hindi Granth Karyalay; Mumbai, Maharashtra, India; 2012

Full details

‘Devotional Culture in Jainism: Mānatuṅga and His Bhaktāmara Stotra’
John E. Cort
Incompatible Visions: South Asian Religions in History and Culture – Essays in Honor of David M. Knipe
edited by James Blumenthal
Center for South Asia, University of Wisconsin Press; Madison, Wisconsin USA; 2006

Full details

Mānatuṅgācārya aura unake stotra
Madhusudan A. Dhaky
and Jitendra B. Shah
Sri Svetambara Murtipujaka Jaina Bordinga granthamala series; volume 13
Sharadaben Chimanbhai Educational Research Center; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 1997

Full details

‘Cures and Karma: Attitudes Towards Healing in Medieval Jainism’
Phyllis Granoff
Self, Soul and Body in Religious Experience
edited by A. l. Baumgarten with J. Assmann and G. G. Stroumsa
Numen Book series; volume 78
Brill; Leiden, Netherlands; 1998

Full details

‘Illustrating the Bhaktāmarastotra’
Phyllis Granoff
Svasti – essays in honour of Prof. Hampa Nagarajaiah for his 75th Birthday
edited by Nalini Balbir
Muddushree Granthamala series; volume 75
K. S. Muddappa Smaraka Trust; Bangalore, Karnataka, India; 2010

Full details

‘Zwei Jaina-stotra’
Hermann Jacobi
Indische Studien
volume 14
Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft; Berlin and Leipzig, Germany; 1876

Full details

Nava Smaraṇa: Nine Sacred Recitations of Jainism
Vinod Kapashi
edited by Signe Kirde
Hindi Granth Karyalay; Mumbai, Maharashtra, India; 2007

Full details

‘Jain Stories of Miraculous Power’
Rosalind Lefeber
Religions of India in Practice
edited by Donald S. Lopez Jr
Princeton Readings in Religions series; volume 1
Princeton University Press; Princeton, New Jersey, USA; 1995

Full details

Bhaktāmara-rahasya
Śatāvadhānī Paṇḍit
and Śrī Dhīrajalāla Śāh
Navabhārata Sāhitya Mandira; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 1999

Full details

‘Śvetāmbar Mūrtipūjak Jain Scripture in a Performative Context’
John E. Cort
Texts in Context: Traditional Hermeneutics in South Asia
edited by Jeffrey R. Timm
State University of New York Press; Albany, New York, USA; 1992

Full details

‘A Note on the Heterodox Calendar and a Disputed Reading in the Kālakācāryakathā’
Paul Dundas
Journal of the Pāli Text Society
volume 29
2007

Full details

'Kalpa Sûtra'
translated and edited by Hermann Jacobi
Jaina Sutras: Âkârâṅga Sûtra and Kalpa Sûtra
Sacred Books of the East series; series editor F. Max Müller; volume 22: 1
Clarendon Press; Oxford, England UK; 1884

Full details

'The Kalpa Sûtra of Bhadrabâhu'
Bhadrabāhu
translated and edited by Hermann Jacobi
Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes
Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft series; series editor Otto Loth; volume VII: 1
F. A. Brockhaus; Leipzig, Saxony, Germany; 1879

Full details

Kalpa Sūtra of Bhadrabāhu Svāmī
Bhadrabāhu
translated by Kastur Chand Lalwani
Motilal Banarsidass; New Delhi, India; 1979

Full details

A Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue of Miniature Paintings of the Jaina Kalpasūtra as executed in the Early Western Indian Style
W. Norman Brown
Freer Gallery of Art – Oriental Studies series; volume 2
The Lord Baltimore Press / Smithsonian Institution; Washington DC, USA; 1934

Full details

Catalogue of the Jain manuscripts at the British Library: including the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum
Nalini Balbir, Kanhaiyalal Sheth, Kalpana Sheth and C. B. Tripathi
British Library & the Institute of Jainology; London, UK; 2006

Full details

The Story of Kālaka: Texts, History, Legends, and Miniature Paintings of the Śvetāmbara Jain Hagiographical Work, the Kālakācāryakathā
W. Norman Brown
Freer Gallery of Art – Oriental Studies series; volume 1
Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution; Washington DC, USA; 1933

Full details

'Das Kālakācāryakathānakam'
translated by Hermann Jacobi
Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft
volume 35
Leipzig, Saxony, Germany; 1881

Full details

Glossary

Aḍhāī-dvīpa

The Hindi phrase for 'Two and A Half Continents' describes the only part of the universe where human beings live in the Middle World of Jain cosmology. It is made up of the central continent, Jambū-dvīpa, the second continent, Dhātakīkhaṇḍa, and Lavaṇa-samudra, the circular ocean that separates them. Kālodadhi is the ring of ocean around Dhātakīkhaṇḍa, dividing it from the 'half' continent, which is the inner part of the Puṣkara continent.

Ahiṃsā

The principle of non-violence that is one of the five chief vows of Jainism.

Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit

A dialect of the Prākrit language used for many Śvetāmbara Jain scriptures.

Bhaktāmara-stotra

One of the few hymns accepted by both Śvetāmbara and Digambara sects, the Bhaktāmara-stotra is a Sanskrit hymn praising the first Jina, Ṛṣabhanātha or Lord Ṛṣabha. Its name means Devoted Gods, which comes from the first verse, in which the deities pay homage to Ṛṣabha. It is attributed to the medieval poet Mānatuṅga. The Śvetāmbara version has 44 verses and the Digambara one 48.

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.

Cosmology

A belief system about the universe that covers its origin, structure and parts, and natural laws and characteristics such as space, time, causality and freedom.

Digambara

'Sky-clad' in Sanskrit, used for one of the two main divisions of Jainism, in which monks are naked. There are some differences of doctrine or belief between these two sects and to some extent their followers consider themselves as belonging to distinct branches. Divisions can be fierce in practical matters, for example, over the ownership of pilgrimage places, but all sects see themselves as Jains.

Festival

A public commemoration of a religious ritual. Often a celebration that involves holding a religious ceremony to mark an important event in a religion's history. 

Gujarāt

The westernmost state in India, which is a stronghold of Śvetāmbara Jainism.

Gujarati

The language that developed in Gujarat, in western India. It is also spoken in neighbouring states. Also a term for someone or something associated with or coming from Gujarat.

Hindi

The most widely spoken group of languages in India, originating in the northern part of the subcontinent. Local dialects and Hindi languages are spoken all over northern India and in surrounding countries. Standard Hindi is used in administration by the central government of India, along with English.

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.

Idol

An image of a deity or concept that is worshipped either as a god or as a representation of the deity.

Jain

Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.

Jina

A 'victor' in Sanskrit, a Jina is an enlightened human being who has triumphed over karma and teaches the way to achieve liberation. A synonym for Tīrthaṃkara, which means 'ford-maker' or one who has founded a community after reaching omniscience through asceticism. The most famous 24 – Ṛṣabha to Mahāvīra – were born in the Bharata-kṣetra of the middle world, but more are found in other continents. There have been Jinas in the past and there will be some in the future.

Jīva

Sanskrit for 'self', 'soul' or 'that which is sentient'. It makes up the universe along with ajīva, or non-sentient material substance. It is a material substance that changes in size according to the body it inhabits in each life. It is born in different bodies in various places in the Jain universe based on karma from earlier lives. The soul is liberated from the cycle of birth when it has achieved spiritual purity and omniscience. Also called ātma or ātman.

Kalpa-sūtra

The Book of Ritual attributed to Bhadrabāhu. It has three sections:

  1. 'Jina-caritra' – 'Lives of the Jinas'
  2. 'Sthavirāvalī' – 'String of Elders'
  3. 'Sāmācārī' – 'Right Monastic Conduct'.

A significant sacred text for Śvetāmbara Jains, the Kalpa-sūtra has a central role in the annual Paryuṣaṇ festival.

Karma

Action or act, thought of as physical in Jainism. Created by mental or physical action, karma enters the soul, which then needs religious restraints and practices to make it flow out. Karma can be both:

  • negative – deriving from harmful acts
  • positive – arising from beneficial actions.

Both types of karma trap a soul in continual rebirth. A pan-Indian concept, karma has extremely complex, detailed and technical divisions and subdivisions in Jainism.

Mughal

The Mughal Empire lasted from 1526 to 1858, a period noted for its wealth, overall religious tolerance, and cultural and intellectual achievements, particularly in art and architecture. Originally Muslims who swept down from Central Asia, the Mughals' best-known ruler is probably Akbar the Great (1556–1605).

Namaskāra-mantra

Sanskrit for 'homage formula', the Namaskāra-mantra is the fundamental religious formula of the Jains. A daily prayer always recited in the original Prākrit, it pays homage to the supreme beings or five types of holy being:

  1. arhat - enlightened teacher
  2. siddha - liberated soul
  3. ācārya - mendicant leader
  4. upādhyāya - preceptor or teacher
  5. sādhu - mendicant

Note that chanting the mantra is not praying for something, material or otherwise. Also known as the Pañca-namaskāra-mantra or 'Fivefold Homage mantra', it is also called the Navakāra-mantra or Navkār-mantra in modern Indian languages.

Paryuṣaṇ

An eight-day festival in August / September, which is the most important event of the religious calendar for Śvetāmbara lay Jains. They fast, read, spend time with monks and meditate. The last day is the occasion for public repentance. Reading the Kalpa-sūtra and sponsoring new manuscripts or editions of this canonical book are associated with this festival.

Penance

A voluntary action undertaken to make up for a sin or breach of a religious principle, frequently an act of self-punishment or physical hardship.

Persian

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.

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.

Pratikramaṇa

'Introspection’ in Sanskrit. The elaborate ritual of confession and repentance that involves reciting liturgical texts and performing set gestures at dawn and dusk. It is one of an ascetic's six daily duties – āvaśyaka. For many lay people, pratikramaṇa is the essence of Jainism.

Preach

To deliver a speech on a religious topic, usually given by a prophet or member of the clergy. It may be a formal task of a religious office or open to all believers in a religious faith. Often covering social and moral subjects, preaching may be intended to:

  • remind hearers of religious principles and rules
  • encourage piety
  • persuade non-believers of the correctness of the preacher's religious beliefs.

Pūjā

Sanskrit for 'worship' or 'homage'. All Jains perform rites of honour to the 24 Jinas. Rites of worship take place daily, with more elaborate ceremonies performed on holy days. Mendicant and lay Jains perform different rituals. Some sects worship images – mūrti-pūjaka – and others do not, and different sects have various practices. Focused on images or not, worship can be:

  • external or material – dravya-pūjā – involving offerings of food, drink and precious substances
  • internal or mental – bhava-pūjā – including singing hymns of praise, reciting mantras and meditating.

Rainy season

The annual four-month rainy period in India, lasting roughly from June / July to October / November. Heavy rain, strong storms and gale-force winds are very common during this period. Mendicants cannot travel around and must stay in one place to avoid breaking their vow of non-violence and because the monsoon makes travelling on foot difficult and dangerous. It is known as cāturmāsa in Sanskrit, comāsa in Hindi and comāsu in Gujarati.

Rajasthan

The largest state in India, in the north-western part of the country.

Saṃsāra

Cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth caused by karma binding to the soul as a result of activities. Only by destroying all karma can this perpetual cycle finish in mokṣa – liberation. The karma gained in life affects the next life, and even future lives, for example:

  • in which of the three worlds the life is lived out
  • which of four conditions – gati – the body takes, namely human, divine, hellish or as a plant or animal.

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.

Scripture

Set of sacred texts that believers accept as authoritative within a religion. Synonymous with canon.

Śvetāmbara

'White-clad’ in Sanskrit, the title of one of the two main divisions of Jainism, in which both male and female mendicants wear white robes. There are some differences of doctrine or belief between these two sects and to some extent their followers consider themselves as belonging to distinct branches. Divisions can be fierce in practical matters, for example, over the ownership of pilgrimage places, but all sects see themselves as Jains.

Uttarādhyayana-sūtra

An ancient Jain text outlining the rules of monastic conduct, said to be Mahāvīra's final sermon. These 36 lectures provide rules for ascetics but also discuss various topics, such as karma and the substances in the universe, and recount the tale of Nemi's renunciation.

Vijñapti-patra

A highly decorated formal letter inviting a leading monk of a certain monastic group to spend the next rainy season in a certain place. Sent by lay people, the vijñapti-patra is a speciality of the Śvetāmbara Kharatara-gaccha and Tapā-gaccha communities.

Vrata

Vows are extremely important in Jain religious life. Mendicants take the compulsory Five Great Vows – mahā-vratas – as part of their initiation – dīkṣā

Lay people can choose to take 12 vows, which are divided into:

  • aṇu-vratas – 'Five Lesser Vows'
  • guṇa-vratas – three supplementary vows
  • śikṣā-vratas – four vows of spiritual discipline

All of these vows are lifelong and cannot be taken back. The sallekhana-vrata is a supplementary vow to fast to death, open to both ascetics and householders. 

Yantra

Sanskrit for 'instrument' or 'machine', a yantra is a mystical diagram used in religious rituals. Yantras are typically formed of symmetrical, concentric circles and may also have the diagram of a lotus in the middle of numerous squares. Containing the names of the Jinas and sacred mantras, such as oṃ, yantras are meditation aids.

Yaśovijaya

(1624–1688) Śvetāmbara Tapā-gaccha monk who wrote extensively on Jain philosophy.

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