Article: Aṅgas

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Other Aṅgas

This detail of a manuscript painting shows a monk offering forgiveness to a junior. Repentance – pratikramaṇa – is the most important of the six 'obligatory actions' – āvaśyaka – mendicants perform each day

Scenes of forgiveness
Image by Wellcome Trust Library © Wellcome Library, London

The remaining Aṅgas – numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 – can be considered together. They also feature narrative techniques but can be thought of as primarily reference sources. They contain detailed discussion of the rules by which mendicants are expected to live and exhaustive listings of Jain doctrine, thought and practice. This is also the only place to find certain information about the 24th Jina, Mahāvīra.  The ‘reference Aṅgas’ are explored in depth in the article of the same name.

Commentaries

Like several other Jain scriptures, the Aṅgas have been the starting point of a long and continuous process of explanation and critical interpretation. This takes the form of commentaries written in different forms and various languages.

The commentaries developed in four phases.

Phases of commentaries on the Aṅgas

Commentary name

Form and language

Period

Information

  • niryukti
  • bhāṣya

verse in Jaina Māhārāṣṭrī Prakrit

first centuries of the Common Era

methodological character listing synonyms of the main terms, analyses of terms according to fixed parameters and so on.
They are not available for all Aṅgas.

  • cūrṇi

prose in Jaina Māhārāṣṭrī Prakrit

6th century

These are not available for all Aṅgas

  • ṭīkā
  • vṛtti
  • dīpikā

prose in Sanskrit

8th to 9th century onwards

Each Aṅga has at least one, with some Aṅgas having more. There are some authors who have specialised in such commentaries. The most famous is Abhayadeva-sūri, in the 11th century, who wrote commentaries on nine Aṅgas.

  • ṭabo
  • bālāvabodha

vernacular languages, in particular Old Gujarati

15th century onwards

Among the specialist commentary authors is the 16th-century monastic teacher Pārśvacandra-sūri

The commentaries of the first two phases are mostly scholarly texts. Those of the latter phases focus more on the literal understanding of the texts. The commentaries are instrumental in the handing down of the Aṅgas through the centuries.

Commentaries on the 11 Aṅgas

Aṅga number

Prakrit title

Sanskrit title

Niryukti

Cūrṇi

Sanskrit commentary

1

Āyāraṃga

Ācārāṅga

Yes

Gandhahastin

Śīlānka, 9th century

2

Sūyagaḍa

Sūtrakṛtāṅga

Yes

Yes

Śīlānka, 9th century

3

Ṭhāṇaṃga

Sthānāṅga

No

No

Abhayadeva

4

Samavāyaṃga

Samavāyāṅga

No

No

Abhayadeva

5

Viyāha-pannatti or Bhagavaī

Vyākhyā-prajñapti or Bhagavatī

No

Yes

Abhayadeva

6

Nāyā-dhamma-kahāo

Jñāta-dharmakathānga

No

No

Abhayadeva

7

Uvāsaga-dasāo

Upāsaka-daśāḥ

No

No

Abhayadeva

8

Antagaḍa-dasāo

Antakṛd-daśāḥ

No

No

Abhayadeva

9

Aṇuttarovavāiya-dasāo

Anuttaropapātika-daśāḥ

No

No

Abhayadeva

10

Paṇha-vāgaraṇa

Praśna-vyākaraṇa

No

No

Abhayadeva

11

Vivāga-suya

Vipākaśruta

No

No

Abhayadeva

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