Article: Reference Aṅgas

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

The primary set of Śvetāmbara canonical scriptures, the Aṅgas – ‘limbs’ in Sanskrit – can be grouped into two classes.

The six Aṅgas numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 can be bracketed together. Although some of them use narrative techniques, they can be considered to be more or less reference works. They set out rules for mendicants and present a detailed compilation of topics fundamental to Jainism, such as cosmology and ethics. The principles of Jain doctrine are stressed, often contrasted with rival beliefs, while there is also information on the 24th Jina, Mahāvīra, and his opponent Makkhali Gosāla that is not found elsewhere.

The other five Aṅgas can be described as the ‘story Aṅgas’ because their predominant literary form is the narrative. By tracing the eventful lives of characters through the cycle of births, the stories offer numerous examples of the workings of crucial Jain concepts, such as karma and the soul.

Chiefly in prose, the Aṅgas also contain ‘ascetic poetry’, which is verse on subjects connected with Jain mendicants. One of the best-known examples is the sixth chapter of the second Aṅga, the Sūtrakṛtānga, which honours Mahāvīra. The Sūtrakṛtānga also contains one of the most celebrated of Mahāvīra’s parables.

Number and titles

A gallery of the Agam Mandir in Pune, Maharashtra, displays plates inscribed with the 45 holy writings or Āgamas of the Śvetāmbara Mūrtipūjak sect. Temples devoted to scriptures, Agam Mandirs were invented in the 1940s

Gallery of an Agam Mandir
Image by Nalini Balbir © Nalini Balbir

Śvetāmbara Jains believe the Aṅgas are the teachings of the 24th Jina. In the Jain tradition there were originally 12 Aṅgas, but one book has always been considered lost very soon after the time of Mahāvīra. This text, the Dṛṣṭi-vāda, was therefore never written down along with the other Aṅgas by the Jains who became the Śvetāmbara sect. The other main Jain sect, the Digambaras, does not hold these 11 Aṅgas to be canonical.

The titles of the Aṅgas can be understood in various ways. This table gives rough equivalents.

Eleven Aṅgas of the Śvetāmbara canon

Number

Prakrit title

Sanskrit title

Translated meanings

1

Āyāraṃga

Ācārāṅga

‘On monastic conduct’

2

Sūyagaḍa

Sūtrakṛtāṅga

‘On heretical systems and views’
Prakrit sūya is an equivalent of the Sanskrit sūci – ‘[wrong] views’

3

Ṭhāṇaṃga

Sthānāṅga

‘On different points [of the teaching]’

4

Samavāyaṃga

Samavāyāṅga

‘On “rising numerical groups”’ (Kapadia 1941: 126)

5

Viyāha-pannatti or Bhagavaī

Vyākhyā-prajñapti or Bhagavatī

‘Exposition of explanations’ or ‘the holy one’

6

Nāyā-dhamma-kahāo

Jñāta-dharmakathānga

‘Parables and religious stories’

7

Uvāsaga-dasāo

Upāsaka-daśāḥ

‘Ten chapters on the Jain lay follower’

8

Antagaḍa-dasāo

Antakṛd-daśāḥ

‘Ten chapters on those who put an end to rebirth in this very life’

9

Aṇuttarovavāiya-dasāo

Anuttaropapātika-daśāḥ

‘Ten chapters on those who were reborn in the uppermost heavens’

10

Paṇha-vāgaraṇa

Praśna-vyākaraṇa

‘Questions and explanations’

11

Vivāga-suya

Vipākaśruta

‘Bad or good results of deeds performed’

Aṅga 1 – non-violence, monastic conduct and Mahāvīra’s career

The first Aṅga is called the Ācārānga-sūtra. It deals with many aspects of monastic conduct and emphasises non-violence as the ultimate ideal and asceticism as the highest value. It presents the Jain mendicant as a sage living in seclusion and absolute self-control rather than as a member of an organised community.

Aṅga Number 1 contains two sections. The first is probably one of the oldest parts of the Jain holy writings. The second section is very likely to be younger and may have been added later. Each of the section is divided into several parts.

First section of the Ācārānga-sūtra

The first section of the Ācārānga-sūtra has the title of BambhacerāiṃPure Life. Because of its antiquity, the German scholar Walther Schubring dubbed it the ‘senior’ work. The seventh of its nine chapters was lost centuries ago.

The text mixes poetry and prose, with the final chapter describing Mahāvīra’s wandering as an ascetic a particularly well-known example of ascetic poetry.

Details of the first section of the Ācārānga-sūtra

Chapter number

Title

Details

1

Knowledge of the Weapon

This is a plea in favour of non-violence. Separate parts deal with the different types of bodies in Jain cosmology. This chapter is often regarded as the oldest of all, on the basis of its archaic language and phrasing.

2

Spiritual Conquest

Spiritual conquest of the world implies knowledge of the world, rejection of pleasures and control of behaviour.

3

Hot and Cold

These qualities are used as symbols of extremes. Faced with these, the wise ascetic should not depart from equanimity. Similarly, he should not be affected by passions.

4

Righteousness

Correct understanding of the world and faith in correct principles is a prerequisite for correct behaviour. These are the ‘three gems’.

5

Essence of the World

Desire and its cause should be uprooted. Watchfulness is the condition for true freedom. Detachment and solitude are the main values, and ‘the greatest temptation in this world are women’ (Jacobi’s translation p. 48). Contemplation of the Self and the inner purity of the soul are discussed.

6

Process of Cleaning

Knowing which are the causes of rebirth, one should try to cast them off to become totally free and purified.

7

Lost long ago

8

Liberation

Discusses the concept of liberation

9

The ascetic Mahāvīra

Righteousness as practised by Mahāvīra during his wandering ascetic life. The exemplary life of the 24th Jina can be seen as an illustration of all the preceding chapters. This is a well-known example of ascetic poetry.

Second section of the Ācārānga-sūtra

The second section of the Ācārānga-sūtra has linguistic and content features pointing to a later date than the first. There are also hints that it was originally a supplementary work. It is divided into sixteen chapters.

Details of the second section of the Ācārānga-sūtra

Chapter number

Title

Details

1

Search for Alms

Rules and precautions regarding alms

2

Search for Lodging

Rules and precautions regarding conditions for proper monastic lodging or stays

3

Walking

Precautions in walking and other movements

4

Modes of Speech

Precautions in the use of language and speech

5

Search for Monastic Clothes

Rules and precautions regarding clothes

6

Search for Monastic Bowl

Rules and precautions regarding alms-bowls

7

Regulation of Possessions

Rules regarding permission, especially for accepting a place of stay, and the notion of proper limits

8 to 14

These sections are considered as forming a set of seven lectures, covering the topics of:

  • religious postures
  • rules regarding the place of study
  • rules for relieving oneself
  • the attitude to hearing things, such as musical instruments that imply mundane festivals
  • attitude in seeing things, which imply temptations to take part in mundane pastimes
  • interactions with fellow mendicants and house holders
  • reciprocal action
  • places and temptations to be avoided, such as music and colour.

15

The Reinforcing Practices

A large part of this section on Mahāvīra’s life is close or identical to the corresponding section of the Kalpa-sūtra. It serves as an introduction to the innovation of Mahāvīra’s teaching, namely the five great vows – mahā-vratas. These are then detailed along with the practices meant to reinforce them – the bhāvanās.

16

Liberation

Pursuit of liberation explained through similes.

Aṅga 2 – right and wrong paths

This detail of an Uttarādhyayana-sūtra manuscript painting shows a Śvetāmbara monk teaching. As the highest-ranking monk, the teacher is the largest figure and sits on a dais. The junior mendicants gesture in homage while a bookstand is between them

Monastic teacher and pupils
Image by Victoria and Albert Museum © V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

One of the main characteristics of Aṅga Number 2 is the emphasis on the principles of Jain doctrine – the true doctrine. It contrasts them with the beliefs of other schools, whose followers are ‘fools’. Thus the Sūtrakṛtānga gives insights into the sects and schools that were rivals to the Jains. A number of comparisons and examples are used to impart the teaching.

There are 23 chapters in the Sūtrakṛtānga. The first section is made up of a mix of prose and verse chapters. The sixth chapter is a famous passage of poetry on mendicants and their lives. All in prose, the second section boasts a very well-known parable.

First section of the Sūtrakṛtānga

The first section of the second Aṅga has 16 chapters, in a mixture of prose and verse. One of the most famous examples of ascetic poetry is the sixth chapter, which pays homage to the 24th Jina, Mahāvīra.

Details of the first section of the Sūtrakṛtānga

Chapter number

Title

Details

1

The Doctrine

The Jain doctrine and false ones

2

The Destruction of Karma

Exhortation to mendicants to:

  • resist temptations
  • follow the right path
  • observe self-control
  • understand that the modes of one’s existence are due to karmas, which have to be annihilated.

3

The Knowledge of Troubles

This is an exhortation for mendicants and the wise to remain steadfast and firm in their resolution, whatever the situation.

4

Knowing about Women

One of the most important and well-known lessons exhorting the monks to stay away from women and whatever relates to them.

5

Description of the Hells

One of the most important canonical texts describing the variety of tortures in hell in great detail.

6

Praise of Mahāvīra

Praise of Mahāvīra, whose steadiness and strength are conveyed through a number of forceful similes. This is a well-known example of ascetic poetry.

7

Description of the Wicked

This contrasts the wise and the sinner.

8

On Energy

This contrasts:

  • the wrong definition of energy, which leads to actions
  • the wise man’s energy, which leads to the destruction of karmas.

9

The Law

This gives the principles of Jain doctrine and proper conduct as defined by Mahāvīra – in contrast with wrong views about dharma. Many of the rules are phrased as prohibitions – ‘a monk should not…'

10

Carefulness

On restraint, self-control, watchfulness, detachment as prerequisites for absolute spiritual freedom.

11

The Path

Those who follow the right path and those whose behaviour means they may go astray.

12

Heretical Creeds

This chapter in particular mentions the tenets of various philosophical schools.

13

The Real Truth

It contrasts the attitude and practice of the wise, emphasising that the notion of the social context where one is born is not relevant.

14

The Nirgrantha

Taking the Sanskrit term for ‘free from knots’ – bondage of karmic matter – this is about the perfection of monastic life

15

The Yamakas

Taking its title from a stylistic technique, this chapter begins each verse or line with a word repeated from the preceding one.

16

The Song

A prose chapter with each of its paragraphs starting with the identical formula of:

  • ‘He is a Brahmana for this reason that’
  • ‘He is a Śramaṇa for this reason that’
  • ‘He is a Bhikṣu for this reason that’
  • ‘He is a nirgrantha for this reason that’.

Second section of the Sūtraktānga

The second section of the Sūtraktānga is entirely in prose. The first chapter of seven holds one of the best-known examples of Mahāvīra’s parables.

Details of the second section of the Sūtraktānga

Chapter number

Title

Details

1

The Lotus

The most beautiful white lotus grows in the middle of a pool full of white lotuses. Four men try to reach it but they all get stuck in the mud. The meaning of the parable is that one should lead a life of asceticism and restraint to reach the goal.

2

Activity

Thirteen kinds of activity are detailed in this section, the longest of the work. The first 12 are sinful, and lead to misery. Practising the 13th type, which refers to religious life, leads to perfection. References or allusion to heretical doctrines are found in this chapter.

3

Knowledge about Food

Detailed exposition on all classes of bodies, which are all living beings. It concludes that ‘This you should know, and knowing it you will be careful and circumspect with regard to your food, and always exert yourself’ (Jacobi’s translation p. 398).

4

Renunciation of Activity

Dialogue between a Jain teacher and an opponent on the status and impact of activity as leading or not to sin.  Discussion about act and intention, concluding: ‘The Venerable One has declared that the cause of sins are the six classes of living beings. As I feel pain, so they do. Therefore they should not be injured or killed’ (Jacobi’s translation p. 404).

5

Freedom from Error

List of successive heretical statements that a Jain mendicant should reject and not adopt.

6

Ārdraka

This is a dialogue between the monk Ārdraka, a follower of Mahāvīra, and followers of other creeds in succession, including:

  • Makkhali Gosāla, leader of the Ājīvikas
  • a Buddhist
  • a Vedic priest. 

7

Nālandā

This chapter is named after a town near Rājagṛha. This story cum dialogue features Lepa, a lay follower of Mahāvīra, and Udaka, a follower of the 23rd Jina, Pārśva. This is one of the most important texts contrasting Pārśva’s dharma and its four vows with that of Mahāvīra and its fifth vow and with the performance of repentance – pratikramaṇa. Here pratikramana is presented as being characteristic of Mahāvīra’s teaching.

Aṅgas 3 and 4 – encyclopaedic works

Aṅgas Number 3 and Number 4 go together in terms of structure and content. They supplement each other but also overlap to some degree. They can be described as reference works of Jain terms and concepts. Comprehensive, detailed and lengthy, they are often highly technical and thus are unsuitable for readers who do not already have a thorough understanding of Jain philosophy.

Structure of the Sthānānga and the Samavāyānga

The text of the Sthānānga-sūtra, the third Aṅga of the Śvetāmbara canon, on the wall of the Āgam Mandir in Palitana, Gujarat. Along with the fourth Aṅga, the Sthānānga-sūtra can be thought of as a kind of reference work

Engravings of the Sthānānga-sūtra
Image by Nalini Balbir © Nalini Balbir

The third and fourth Aṅgas – the Sthānānga and the Samavāyānga – stand apart from the others in their structure. The organising principle is a numerical arrangement of items and concepts in increasing order. This principle is also known in the Buddhist tradition. This technique may be baffling to Westerners, but it has to be related to the:

  • importance of lists in the Jain doctrinal system, where a broad concept is usually subdivided into many categories or subcategories
  • emphasis on knowledge of the correct number of items in the categories and subcategories
  • extremely frequent and common use of phrases associating numbers and terms, such as ‘four passions’, ‘five vows’, ‘six kinds of living beings’, to take just a few examples.

Phrases that put group concepts in numbers are not merely scholastic in Jainism. They apply to liturgy and ritual as well. For example, in the performance of repentancepratikramaṇa – which is central to Jain practice, the penitent utters phrases such as ‘I repent from offences relating to… the four passions, the five vows, the six kinds of living beings’ and so on up to 31. Called caraṇa-vidhi, this is the topic of chapter 31 of the Uttarādhyayana-sūtra. This fundamental book dealing with monastic behaviour is one of the Mūla-sūtras.

The Sthānānga and the Samavāyānga are kinds of encyclopaedic works applying this method on a large scale in a sophisticated manner.

Contents of the Sthānānga and the Samavāyānga

This manuscript painting in a Saṃgrahaṇī-ratna shows the 14 magical jewels – ratna – of a 'universal ruler' – cakravartin. He uses these to conquer his enemies and become a universal monarch. The first panel depicts the cakravartin and a servant

14 magical jewels
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

The two scriptures can be viewed as reference books of Jain terms and concepts in the form of headings and enumerations. They are not encyclopaedias since they do not expand upon the meaning of each term. The Sthānānga and the Samavāyānga merely list concepts that are organised into categories based on numbers. Taken at face value, some statements are therefore quite challenging. 

The terms and concepts of the works cover all possible areas of Jainism:

The same concept is often dealt with more than once. This is because, depending on the angle of analysis, it can be considered differently with different kinds of subdivisions. For instance, the total number of the colours of the soulleśyā – is six. But they are not found at the same time in the same living being. Thus it also occurs in the section discussing concepts grouped in threes, in connection with the number of colours applicable to various types of living beings.

In some ways, therefore, the Sthānānga and the Samavāyānga cover all areas of knowledge.

These two Aṅgas are thus highly technical. They address readers who are familiar with the doctrine because they suppose a lot of background knowledge. For the specialists, they function as highly developed mnemonic tools. Even so, the way the concepts are ordered within each numerical section is not crystal clear.

They are mostly written in prose, but verses are occasionally used in some topics. These could be quotations from external sources.

Contents of the Sthānānga

Section

Subject

Example statement

1

unitary concepts, which have no subdivisions 

  • The world is one
  • Emancipation is one

These statements apply to principles – tattvas – at the heart of Jain doctrine.

2

concepts with two subdivisions

  • Living and non-living
  • Good action and bad action

3

concepts with three subdivisions

  • Time – past, present, future
  • Grammatical gender – feminine, masculine, neuter

4

concepts with four subdivisions

  • Passions:
  • anger
  • conceit
  • deceit
  • greed.
  • Mount Meru on Jambū-dvīpa has four forests:
  • Bhadraśāla
  • Nandana
  • Somanasa
  • Paṇḍaka.

5

concepts with five subdivisions

  • Five major vows – mahā-vrata
  • Five colours – black, blue, red, green, white

6

concepts with six subdivisions

  • Descending half-cycle of time – avasarpiṇī –is of six kinds
  • Ascending half cycle of time – utsarpiṇi – is of six kinds

7

concepts with seven subdivisions

  • seven musical notes
  • seven mountain ranges in Jambū-dvīpa

8

concepts with eight subdivisions

  • eight categories of karmas
  • eight types of contact:
  1. rough
  2. mild
  3. heavy
  4. light
  5. cold
  6. warm
  7. unctuous
  8. harsh

9

concepts with nine subdivisions

  1. living
  2. non-living
  3. good action
  4. bad action
  5. influx of karmas
  6. blocking of karmas
  7. expulsion of karmas
  8. formation of karmas
  9. liberation

10

concepts with ten subdivisions

  • ten directions:
  1. east
  2. south-east
  3. south
  4. south-west
  5. west
  6. north-west
  7. north
  8. north-east
  9. upwards
  10. downwards
  • ten atonements (Caillat 1975):
  1. confession
  2. repentance
  3. mixed
  4. restitution
  5. undisturbed abandonment of the body
  6. isolation
  7. partial suppression of religious seniority
  8. radical suppression of religious seniority
  9. demotion
  10. exclusion

The third and the fourth Aṅgas go together. They supplement each other but also overlap each other to some extent.

Contents of Samavāyānga

Section

Subject

Examples

1 to 10

concepts with numbers of subdivisions according to section number

Some of the lists are identical with the corresponding sections in the Sthānānga

11…

concepts with 11, 12, 13 subdivisions and so on

  • 11 stages of progressive renunciation for a lay man – pratimā
  • 12 stages of spiritual development for a mendicant – pratimā

...22

concepts with 22 subdivisions

  • 22 troubles – parīṣaha – are known

This is followed by a list of troubles mendicants must overcome

...24

concepts with 24 subdivisions

  • 24 gods above gods – devādhideva – are known

This is followed by a list of the 24 Jinas

...10 to the power of 14 – sāgarovama-koḍākoḍī

concepts with numbers of subdivisions according to section number

Appendices

Various

  • Description of the contents of the 12 Aṅgas, one by one.
  • Elements relating to the Jain universe and Jain Universal History, such as:
    • biodata of the Jinas and other groups in Jain mythology
    • names of Jinas of the past and of the future, and of their previous births and so on

Aṅga 5 – ‘the Venerable One’

The fifth Aṅga is often referred to by the laudatory epithet Bhagavaī – ‘Venerable’. This name is probably more widely known than its formal title of Viyāhapannatti or Vyākhyāprajñapti.

Structure of the Bhagavaī Aṅga

This bulky book is divided into 41 sections known as śatakas. These are themselves subdivided into subsections called uddeśas, except for section 15, which has no subdivision. In many cases these subdivisions have further divisions. Since the beginning of Jain studies, the structure of this work has been discussed. With variations, it is now more or less agreed that there is a nucleus. This corresponds to sections 1 to 20, except for section 15. Later stages of accretions have been identified (Weber, Deleu, Ohira, Dixit), mainly on the basis of formal criteria.

Form of the Bhagavaī Aṅga

Indrabhūti Gautama in a painting from a 15th-century Śvetāmbara manuscript. The chief disciple of the 24th Jina, Mahāvīra, Gautama is an important Jain figure and features in many scriptures and tales.

Indrabhūti Gautama
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

This Aṅga mostly uses the dialogue form, although it also uses other methods. In a large majority of cases, the dialogues feature Mahāvīra. He is questioned by Indrabhūti Gautama, his first disciple, on a variety of subjects, in the town of Rājagṛha, in Magadha, eastern India. But a large gallery of other debating characters is also on stage, such as the disciples Roha, Maṇḍiyaputta, Māgandiyaputta, and the setting varies. Even if the text is in formalised dialogues, it gives an insight into vibrant debates on doctrinal issues, with Mahāvīra’s answers on them. These answers are more statements than arguments, however.

The teachings are presented in a variety of patterns, such as:

  • dialogues
  • question and answer
  • exemplary conversion stories
  • episodes
  • refutations of heterodox views
  • references to and quotations from other works (Deleu 1970: 25).

Long quotations from other works are characteristic of the fifth Aṅga. The Prajñapanā, the fourth Upāṅga is the most quoted work, with entire passages of it incorporated into the Bhagavaī Aṅga. In fact these works are traditionally perceived as being closely connected to each other.

Contents of the Bhagavaī Aṅga

In the nucleus of the Aṅga, the same topic may be dealt with at various places. It starts abruptly with the discussion on whether ‘the action that is being performed equals the completed action’ – calamāṇe calie – and unfolds into a very loosely connected series of topics. In the accretions, on the other hand, ‘vast yet well-delimited doctrinal domains are systematically explored in the course of wholly uniform dialogues’ (Deleu 1970: 24). Among the most conspicuous topics discussed are:

The conversion stories features people from various social and religious backgrounds who happened to cross Mahāvīra’s path and who heard the right doctrine from him. They are often mentioned as examples in other scriptures as well.

Well-known examples of conversions in the Bhagavaī Aṅga

Name

Background

Khandaga

a brahmin

Gangeya

a monk, follower of the 23rd Jina, Pārśva

Kālodāi

a dissident, probably a follower of the Ājīvikas

Siva

a king who became an ascetic in the forest

Jamāli

a king who became an ascetic in the forest

Jayantī

a noble lady

Sudaṃsaṇa

a merchant, a Jain devotee

Section 15

In this detail from a manuscript painting Śvetāmbara monks receive alms from lay people. This manuscript of the Uttarādhyayana-sūtra, a major text outlining the rules of monastic life, dates back to the 16th century

Giving alms to Śvetāmbara monks
Image by Victoria and Albert Museum © V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This section, which might have been an independent text originally, provides information on Mahāvīra’s career that is not detailed in other scriptures. It focuses on the second phase of the 24th Jina’s encounter with Makkhali Gosāla, the leader of the Ājīvika movement.

During their first meeting, Gosāla had learnt from Mahāvīra how to perform penance, which creates bodily heat – tejas – to burn away karma. He then directed this heat on two of Mahāvīra’s disciples, who were burnt to death. Then he turned it on Mahāvīra, saying that he would die from fever in six months. Mahāvīra directed this fire back on Gosāla, who died shortly thereafter (Wiley 2004: 136). Mahāvīra, however, had fallen ill from this heat. A Jain lay woman named Revatī gave him the remedy and he recovered.

Revatī is a role model for Jain women and her story illustrates the proper giving of a gift to a mendicant. This Aṅga features her tale for the first time.

Aṅga 10 – esoterica to ethics

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 title of the tenth Aṅga is Praśnavyākaraṇa, which means Questions and Explanations. This looks like a general term, but in practice it applies mostly to the field of divinatory science and astrology. That this work originally dealt with such topics is confirmed by other canonical scriptures. These describe its contents as referring to divinatory practices and miraculous powers.

In recent years a major discovery has taken place. A manuscript with the same title has been discovered in Nepal. Its contents demonstrate an esoteric and magical character in tune with the ancient descriptions (Diwakar Acharya). An edition of this new manuscript is in progress (Bhattacharyya, forthcoming).

The official Praśnavyākaraṇa text currently available has nothing to do with esoteric knowledge and seems to be the result of a deliberate replacement of controversial matter by more ordinary material. In two parts, this Aṅga is a detailed elaboration of fundamental concepts in Jain ethics, with respect to monastic conduct.

The first section deals with the five areas of wrong conduct. These correspond to the five reasons for the inflow of karmic matter into the soulāsrava.

Five spheres of wrong conduct in the Praśnavyākaraṇa

Sanskrit term

Information

hiṃsā

nature, causes, modes and consequences of violence

mṛṣā

nature, causes, modes and consequences of falsehood

adatta-dāna

nature, causes, modes and consequences of stealing

a-brahmacarya

nature, causes, modes, and consequences of non-chastity

parigraha

nature, causes, modes and consequences of possessiveness

The second section covers the five ways of blocking karmic inflow – saṃvara – connected to the five areas of misconduct described in the first section. They are related to the 'absolute' vows – mahā-vratas – that monks and nuns swear when they take initiation.

Five methods of blocking karmic inflow in the Praśnavyākaraṇa

Sanskrit term

English meaning

Information

ahiṃsā

non-violence

Ways to reinforce non-violence, called the bhāvanās. The five precautionssamiti – stop violence being committed through carelessness:

  1. care in walking or, more generally, in movement
  2. care in speaking
  3. care in getting alms
  4. care in picking things and putting them down
  5. care in disposing of refuse

satya

true speech and veracity in all its forms

Ways to reinforce truthfulness:

  1. thoughtful speech
  2. not giving into anger
  3. not giving into greed
  4. having no fear
  5. discarding laughter

dattānujñāta

‘given and authorised’

Ways to reinforce rules on alms and behaviour:

  1. using lodgings in accordance with monastic rules
  2. using bedding in accordance with monastic rules
  3. avoiding sinful activities in this context
  4. eating food that has been given according to the rules
  5. behaving modestly towards colleagues.

brahmacarya

chastity

Ways to reinforce chastity:

  1. avoiding places frequented by women
  2. avoiding conversations with and about women
  3. avoiding looking at the beauty of women
  4. avoiding remembering earlier enjoyments
  5. avoiding rich and tasty food.

aparigraha

non-possessiveness

Ways to reinforce non-possessiveness are restraints of each of the five sense organs. In effect, this means:

  1. accepting only what is permitted by the rules
  2. using only the prescribed monastic equipment
  3. using monastic equipment only for religious purposes
  4. not being attached to the objects themselves.

Images

  • Gallery of an Agam Mandir A gallery of the Agam Mandir in Pune, Maharashtra, displays plates inscribed with the 45 holy writings or Āgamas of the Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjak sect. An Agam Mandir is a type of temple invented in the 1940s containing engravings of the Āgamas, which are intended for worship, or at least darśana – being seen.. Image by Nalini Balbir © Nalini Balbir
  • Monastic teacher and pupils This detail of a painting from an Uttarādhyayana-sūtra manuscript depicts a senior Śvetāmbara monk teaching. As the highest-ranking monk, the teacher is the largest figure and sits on a dais while the junior mendicants make a gesture of homage. The teacher has a bookstand – sthāpanācārya – in front of him, symbolising his teaching. . Image by Victoria and Albert Museum © V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London
  • Engravings of the Sthānānga-sūtra Plates inscribed with the text of the Sthānānga-sūtra, the third Aṅga of the Śvetāmbara canon, on the wall of the Āgam Mandir in Palitana, Gujarat. Along with the fourth Aṅga, the Sthānānga-sūtra can be thought of as a kind of reference work, detailing areas of knowledge in a highly technical manner. An Agam Mandir is a type of temple invented in the 1940s containing engravings of the Āgamas, which are intended for worship, or at least darśana – being seen.. Image by Nalini Balbir © Nalini Balbir
  • 14 magical jewels This manuscript painting from a Saṃgrahaṇī-ratna illustrates the 14 magical jewels – ratna – of a 'universal ruler' – cakravartin. He can use these to conquer his enemies and become a universal monarch. The first panel depicts the cakravartin himself, fanned by a servant.. Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
  • Indrabhūti Gautama Indrabhūti Gautama in a painting from a 15th-century Śvetāmbara manuscript. The chief disciple of the 24th Jina, Mahāvīra, Gautama is an important Jain figure and features in many scriptures and tales.. Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
  • Giving alms to Śvetāmbara monks In this detail from a manuscript painting Śvetāmbara monks receive alms from lay people. This manuscript of the Uttarādhyayana-sūtra, a major text outlining the rules of monastic life, dates back to the 16th century.. Image by Victoria and Albert Museum © V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London
  • Scenes of forgiveness This detail of a manuscript painting shows a monk offering forgiveness to a junior monk. The bookstand – sthāpanācārya – above the junior monk emphasises that the larger monk is his teacher. Repentance – pratikramaṇa – is the most important of the six 'obligatory actions' – āvaśyaka – mendicants perform each day.. Image by Wellcome Trust Library © Wellcome Library, London

Further Reading

‘The Original Paṇhavāyaraṇa / Praśnavyākaraṇa Discovered’
Diwakar Acharya
International Journal of Jain Studies
edited by Peter Flügel
volume 3: 6
Centre of Jaina Studies, SOAS; London, UK; 2007

Full details

Ācārāṅgasūtra
edited by Muni Jambūvijaya
Jaina Agamas series; volume 2
Shri Mahavira Jaina Vidyalaya; Bombay, Maharashtra, India ; 1977

Full details

Studien zum Sūyagaḍa – die Jainas und die anderen Weltanschauungen vor der Zeitenwende: Textteile, Nijjutti, Übersetzung und Anmerkungen
Willem B. Bollée
Schriftenreihe des Südasien-Institut der Universität Heidelberg series; volume 24 and 31
Franz Steiner Verlag; Wiesbaden, Hesse, Germany; 1977 and 1988

Full details

‘Transmission textuelle et variations dans le canon jaina śvetāmbara: L'exemple de l'Āyārangasutta’
Colette Caillat
Langue, style et structure dans le monde indien
edited by Nalini Balbir and Georges-Jean Pinault
Champion; Paris, France; 1996

Full details

Viyāhapannatti (Bhagavaī): The Fifth Anga of the Jaina Canon
Jozef Deleu
Lala Sunder Lal Jain Research series; volume 1
Motilal Banarsidass; Delhi, India; 1996

Full details

Early Jainism
K. K. Dixit
L. D. series; volume 64
L. D. Institute of Indology; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 1978

Full details

'Sûtrakritâṅga'
translated and edited by Hermann Jacobi
Jaina Sutras Part II: Uttarâdhyayana Sûtra and Sûtrakritâṅga
Sacred Books of the East series; series editor F. Max Müller; volume 45
Clarendon Press; Oxford, England UK; 1895

Full details

'Âkârâṅga 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: 2
Clarendon Press; Oxford, England UK; 1884

Full details

Sūyagaḍaṃgasuttaṃ (Sūtrakṛtāṅgasūtram)
edited by Muni Jambūvijaya
Jaina Agamas series; volume 2: 2
Shri Mahavira Jaina Vidyalaya; Bombay, Maharashtra, India; 1978

Full details

Ṭhāṇaṃgasutta ṃ Samavāyaṃgasuttaṃ ca
edited by Muni Jambūvijaya
Jaina Agamas series; volume 3
Shri Mahavira Jaina Vidyalaya; Bombay, Maharashtra, India; 1985

Full details

‘The Sthānāngasūtra: An Encyclopaedic Text of the Śvetāmbara Canon’
Kornelius Krümpelmann
International Journal of Jaina Studies (Online)
edited by Peter Flügel
volume 2: 2
Centre of Jaina Studies, SOAS; 2006

Full details

A Study of the Bhagavatīsūtra: A Chronological Analysis
Suzuko Ohira
Prakrit Text Society series; volume 28
Prakrit Text Society; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 1994

Full details

Bhagavatīcūrṇi
edited by Pt Rupendrakumara Pagaria
L. D. series; volume 130
L. D. Institute of Indology; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 2002

Full details

Ācārāṅga-sūtra: Erster Śrutaskandha
Walther Schubring
Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes series; volume 12: 4
F. A. Brockhaus; Leipzig, Saxony, Germany; 1910

Full details

Mahāvīra’s Words
Walther Schubring
translated and edited by Willem Bollée and Jayandra Soni
L. D. series; volume 139
L. D. Institute of Indology; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 2004

Full details

Glossary

Ascetic

Someone who withdraws from ordinary life to meditate and practise physical hardships in order to advance spiritually. Jain ascetics or mendicants beg for food from devout lay followers and wander the land.

Also used as an adjective to describe the practice of rigorous, even extreme, physical hardships in the belief that it leads to a higher spiritual condition.

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.

Āsrava

Karmic influx. Karma is a very subtle matter that is attracted to the soul by actions. Āsrava refers to the beginning of the process, when karma enters into the soul and becomes bound with it.

Baladeva

One of the five types of 'great men' – śalākā-puruṣas or mahā-puruṣas – in Jain Universal History, Baladevas are the older half-brothers of the Vāsudevas, sharing the same fathers. They are both demi-Cakravartins or half Universal Rulers. In the part of the universe where humans live, nine Baladevas are born in each progressive and regressive half-cycle of time. Baladevas are devout Jains who, after renouncing the world to become monks, are usually liberated but may be reborn as gods in one of the heavens. Baladevas are also known as Balabhadras.

Buddhist

A follower of Buddhism. There are two main schools of Buddhism, namely:

  • Theravāda – 'the Teaching of the Elders' in Pali – is older and is found chiefly in Sri Lanka and continental South East Asia
  • Māhayana – 'Great Vehicle' in Sanskrit – is the larger sect and is followed mainly in East Asia and the Himalayan nations.

Both sects are practised in India.

Cakravartin

Sanskrit for 'universal monarch'. There are 12 in the continent of Bharata in each progressive and regressive half-cyle of time. They have 9 treasures and 14 jewels they can use to conquer their enemies and become 'universal monarchs'. The cakravartin form one of the five groups of '63 illustrious men' in Jain mythology.

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.

Disciple

An active follower of a religion, especially one who passes on teachings to others.

Doctrine

A principle or system of teachings, especially religious philosophy.

Indrabhūti Gautama

Chief disciple of Mahāvīra, the 24th Jina. From a brahmin family, he was the first of Mahāvīra's 11 chief disciples. He became enlightened on the day Mahāvīra was liberated. He achieved liberation himself 12 years later.

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.

Jñāna

'Knowledge', of which there are five main types:

  • mind-based and sensory knowledge – mati-jñāna
  • scriptural knowledge – śruta-jñāna
  • extra-sensory knowledge or clairvoyance – avadhi-jñāna
  • knowledge of others’ minds or telepathy – manaḥparyaya-jñāna
  • omniscience or absolute knowledge – kevala-jñāna.

With spiritual progress, one can gain the different types of knowledge.

Also one of the 14 'gateways' or categories of investigation of mārgaṇā or 'soul-quest'.

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.

Kaṣāya

'Passion' that causes activity, which results in new karma binding to the soul. It must be eliminated by restraints or austerities so the soul can be liberated. Passion may be attraction – rāga – or aversion – dveṣa – and has degrees of intensity. There are traditionally four passions:

  • anger – krodha
  • pride – māna
  • deceit – māyā
  • greed – lobha.

Also one of the 14 'gateways' or categories of investigation of mārgaṇā – 'soul-quest'.

Leśyā

Karmic stain, the colour of which indicates a soul’s degree of purity. There are traditionally six colours:

  • kṛṣṇa – black
  • nīla – blue
  • kāpota – ‘pigeon-colour’, usually grey
  • tejas – ‘fiery’, usually red or yellow
  • padma – ‘lotus colour, usually yellow or pink
  • śukla – white.

Also one of the 14 'gateways' or categories of investigation of mārgaṇā or 'soul-quest'.

Mahā-vrata

The five vows taken by ascetics. Monks and nuns must follow these ‘absolute’ vows of:

  • non-violence – ahiṃsā
  • truth – satya
  • taking only what is given – asteya
  • celibacy – brahmacarya
  • non-attachment or non-possession – aparigraha.

The 24th Jina Mahāvīra added a fifth vow to his predecessor Pārśva's four, making the vow of celibacy not just implicit but a separate vow.

Mahāvīra

The 24th Jina of the present age. His symbolic colour is yellow and his emblem the lion. Mahāvīra or 'the great hero' is his title. His birth name was Vardhamāna, meaning 'ever increasing'. His existence is historically documented but the two main sects of Digambara and Śvetāmbara Jains have slight differences in their accounts of his life.

Miracle

An extraordinary event that cannot be explained by natural causes or human effort and therefore is believed to be caused by divine or supernatural powers.

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.

Prati-vāsudeva

One of the five types of 'great men' – śalākā-puruṣas or mahā-puruṣas – in Jain Universal History. In the part of the universe where humans live, nine Prati-vāsudevas are born in each progressive and regressive half-cycle of time. Each one personifies the forces of evil and battles his mortal enemy, one of the Vāsudevas. After the Vāsudevas kill them, the Prati-vāsudevas are reborn in hell. Prati-vāsudevas are also known as Prati-nārāyaṇa and Prati-śatru.

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.

Revatī

A leading female follower of Mahāvīra. She is known for having offered medicine to him when his life was endangered because of his enemy Gośāla.

Rite

A sequence of actions that must be followed to perform a religious ceremony. The set of actions is largely symbolic, for example offering food to statues symbolises sacrificing to a deity. The ritual actions are often accompanied by set phrases.

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.

Saṃvara

Stoppage of karmic influx.

Scripture

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

Sect

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.

Śrāvikā

'Hearer’ of the teaching. This commonly refers to the Jain lay woman, who follows the teachings of the 24 Jinas and is not a member of the clergy or a religious order. The masculine form is śrāvakā.

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.

Universal History

A Western academic term used for the largely medieval texts that hold the Jain legendary history of the world. Recounting the life stories of the '63 Great or Illustrious Men', the writings are intended to provide role-models for later Jains. The main texts of Jain Universal History are the:

  • Śvetāmbara monk Hemacandra's Triṣaṣti-śalākā-puruṣa-caritraLife Stories of 63 Great Men
  • Mahā-purāṇaGreat Ancient Tale – of the Digambara writers Jinasena and Guṇabhadra.

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.

Vāsudeva

One of the five types of 'great men' – śalākā-puruṣas or mahā-puruṣas – in Jain Universal HistoryVāsudevas are the younger half-brothers of the Baladevas, sharing the same fathers. They are both demi-Cakravartins or half Universal Rulers. In the part of the universe where humans live, nine Vāsudevas are born in each progressive and regressive half-cycle of time. Each one battles his mortal enemy, one of the Prati-vāsudevas. For breaking the principle of non-violence, the Vāsudevas are reborn as hell-beings – nārakis. Some may then become Jinas in their next lives. Vāsudevas are also known as Nārāyaṇa.

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. 

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