Article: Śvetāmbara canon

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Most religions have sets of holy writings that lay out key principles and offer guidance and examples to believers, and Jainism is no exception. For the Śvetāmbara sect, as for all Jains, the Jinas are the ultimate source of teaching. This is especially true of the 24th Jina, Mahāvīra. All Jains believe that this teaching was first transmitted orally. All sects also agree that this teaching was partly lost and partly changed over time. However, they disagree on which parts have vanished and which have been amended. This explains why the Śvetāmbaras and Digambaras consider different texts to be authoritative scriptures.

Śvetāmbara Jains have their own history about the transmission of scriptures and their own body of scriptures. The Śvetāmbara subsects disagree about what exactly these authoritative texts are. The number of accepted scriptures corresponds to a sectarian division which took shape from the 15th century onwards. Mūrti-pūjaks consider there are 45 scriptures while Sthānaka-vāsins and Terāpanthins state there are 32. Within the scriptures, some groups of texts are unchanging while others show fluidity and divergences.

Knowledge is significant for Jains because it is needed to make spiritual progress. The second type of knowledge in Jain epistemology is called ‘knowledge of what has been heard’ – śruta-jñāna – which means familiarity with the teachings of the Jinas. This is usually translated as knowing the scriptures, though there are long-running arguments over whether this alone is enough for spiritual development.

Whether they have access or not to the textual material passing on the Jinas’ teaching, all Jains are aware of the existence of their holy writings. These writings are the basis of their ritual and religious life and are venerated in various ways. The most striking examples are the Śvetāmbara festivals of Jñāna-pañcamī and Paryuṣaṇ, in which holy texts have central roles. Among contemporary Jains the scriptures remain key to religious life and cultural identity, leading to the development of new methods of sharing the teachings.


This manuscript painting shows some of Mahāvīra's chief disciples. The 24th Jina had 11 chief disciples – gaṇa-dharas – who were his closest followers. Depicted in Śvetāmbara robes, the monks sit in lotus and demonstrate typical signs of holiness

Five of Mahāvīra's disciples
Image by Wellcome Trust Library © Wellcome Library, London

Using the English word ‘canon’ to describe Jain holy writings is increasingly thought unsuitable, because it suggests an unchanging body of texts sanctioned by a central authority. Śvetāmbara Jains commonly use the Sanskrit word āgama. This pan-Indian term emphasises the idea of a tradition that has ‘come down to us’ and which goes back to authoritative voices.

Other terms that are used are the Prakrit phrases ‘open teaching of monks’ – niggantha-pāvayaṇa – or ‘basket of the chief disciples’ – gaṇi-piḍaga. Used in the singular, these terms imply that the primary sources are of global relevance.

The term āgama largely suggests unfixed categories that may change, which more accurately describes the ‘Śvetāmbara canon’. Texts have been placed in the various classes of scriptures that have arisen. Some of these categories have changed with time, with texts moving from one to another, while others have remained more or less static, with stable content.

These groupings and therefore the number of texts that are recognised as Āgamas have become focal points for sectarian disagreements. The image-worshipping sect of Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjaks count 45 Āgamas while the Śvetāmbara Sthānaka-vāsins and Terāpanthins reject both this practice and 13 texts of the Śvetāmbara canon, which they consider apocryphal.

Groupings of texts

Though the Āgamas have been grouped in diverse ways over the centuries, these classifications may be compatible with each other because they are based on various criteria.

One of the early classifications distinguishes between:

  • Aṅga-praviṣṭa – ‘included in the limbs’ or ‘main texts’
  • Aṅga-bāhya or Aṅga-bāhira – ‘not limbs’.

It is clear that the Aṅgas form the core category. They are named and described in the Śvetāmbara scriptures themselves.

Another grouping correlates the texts with the time to study them. It makes use of the terms kālika and utkālika. In one source, the first term means that a text must be read at a specific time, although the meaning is unclear, and the second allows it to be read at any time. However, in another source it is the reverse.

There is also a fourfold classification relating to the subject matter:

  • Prathamānuyoga – ‘First Exposition’
  • Karaṇānuyoga – ‘Exposition on Calculations and Techniques’
  • Caraṇānuyoga – ‘Exposition on Conduct’
  • Kathānuyoga – ‘Exposition of Stories’

Although it is occasionally found in Śvetāmbara sources, this is more common among Digambaras.

The classification that has become largely predominant among the Śvetāmbaras, however, distinguishes five groups. Two additional texts are treated separately because they provide a methodological and ‘epistemological context’ (Dundas 2002: 76).

Śvetāmbara canon or āgamas

Sanskrit title

Main categories


Approximate English meaning




‘previous texts’




‘limbs’ or ‘main texts’



‘not limbs’ or ‘subsidiary canon’




‘root texts’


‘rules for mendicants'








list of early teachers, discussion about kinds of knowledge, especially scriptural knowledge




discussion of various topics regarding methodology

On JAINpedia, as in many presentations of Jainism, this last grouping of the Śvetāmbara canon is followed.

Numbers of texts and sect

Ācārya Mahāprajña, Ācārya Tulsi and followers discuss the Āgamas. Ācārya Tulsi was leader of the sect of Śvetāmbara Terāpanthins until 1997 and was succeeded by Ācārya Mahāprajña until 2010. This sect believes there are 32 sacred texts

Discussing the scriptures
Image by Amitjain80 © CC BY-SA 3.0

The texts that are identified as the Āgamas have become crucial mostly from the 15th century, as the number and labelling of texts contributes to sectarian identity. Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjaks recognise the authority of 45 texts while Śvetāmbara Sthānaka-vāsins and Terāpanthins accept 32 Āgamas.

Debates about this point show a distinction between an unchanging core, recognised by all Śvetāmbaras, and other categories. These latter are fluid classes.

Śvetāmbara core canon and sectarian differences



Mūrti-pūjak texts

Sthānaka-vāsin texts

Terāpanthin texts


















Piṇḍa-niryukti and Ogha-niryukti





Ācāradaśāḥ or Daśāśruta-skandha
































Sthānaka-vāsins and Terāpanthins reject the whole of the last category – Prakīrṇaka-sūtras or ‘Miscellany’. With no fixed list of texts, it is the most fluid group, as recognised by authoritative scholar monks such as Muni Puṇyavijaya. The number of texts in this category ranges from 10 to 20, and there are also some called ‘supernumerary Prakīrṇakas’.

From the 17th century onwards there is copious evidence that the number of 45 Āgamas became emblematic of Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjak Jains. They were obviously keen on professing this as their position since they publicised this number by:

  • writing lists of their Āgamas
  • having manuscripts of the individual Āgamas copied, making collections of the 45 texts
  • copying those texts that are specific to them – in contrast with other Śvetāmbaras – such as the controversial Mahā-niśītha-sūtra
  • inventing visual modes to display the 45 Āgamas.

History of Śvetāmbara holy writings

This manuscript painting shows Indrabhūti Gautama preaching. The white-clad monk is fanned by a servant and sits on a lotus, symbols of worldly and spiritual rank. King Śreṇika and his family sit separately from the lords and ladies of the court

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

All Jains believe that the Jinas provide the original teachings for the Jain faith, especially Mahāvīra, the 24th Jina. The Jinas reveal the same essential truths, according to the needs of the society into which they are born. They pass on these principles in speech, beginning the chain of oral transmission. After being passed on for generations by leaders known as elders and teachers, these oral teachings are eventually written down, creating the scriptures.

The roots of the differences between the Śvetāmbara and Digambara canons can be traced to the physical split in the Jain community around 300 BCE. Large parts of the teachings had been forgotten already, such as the Pūrvas and the 12th Aṅga, the Dṛṣṭi-vāda, which both sects agree was lost by the 4th century BCE. The group of Jains who can be thought of as ancestors of the Śvetāmbara sect recognised that the famine that drove some Jains south endangered preservation of the tradition. They began to organise official recitations – vācanās – or ‘councils’ to consolidate knowledge of the teachings. The final council was held in Valabhī, Gujarat, under the supervision of the religious teacher Devarddhigaṇi Kṣamāśramaṇa in the 5th century CE. It took place ‘980 or 993 years’ after Mahāvīra’s death according to tradition, which is 453 or 466 CE. All the texts that are considered to comprise the Śvetāmbara canon were written down there. However, accounts of the event, which are all much later, do not provide names of the texts that were collected.

The Jains who later developed into the Digambara sect did not accept any of these councils. They believe that the remnants of the original teachings were written down in the 2nd century CE. These form the basis of the Digambara canon.

Marginal texts among the Śvetāmbara scriptures occasionally describe the inevitable deterioration of the teachings in the future. This will happen in the sixth descending phase of the cycle of time, in the reign of King Kalkin, when all principles of faith, knowledge and right conduct will be destroyed. The situation will be restored with the ascending cycle of time.

Dates of the texts

Establishing conclusive dates for the Āgamas is difficult for two main reasons, primarily connected with long intervals between the stages of the transmission process. Scholars can use internal features of the texts and surviving manuscripts to work out the probable dates of the texts in relation to each other.

The production process of the Śvetāmbara writings shows a very large gap between the time of oral transmission and the time when the Śvetāmbara tradition was officially fixed. Academic dating of Mahāvīra gives his lifespan from 497 to 425 BCE. The final redaction of the Āgamas took place in 456 or 466 CE. This gap of nearly a thousand years makes absolute dating of the texts impossible.

There is also a long time between the redaction and the period of the oldest available manuscripts. Some texts written on palm leaves survive but the earliest ones date back to the 11th to 12th centuries. This is some seven hundred years after the final Valabhī council.

Philologists have used internal criteria to come up with robust relative dates of the canonical texts. They compare features such as language, vocabulary, literary styles and material characteristics in many examples of the same text to roughly determine its relative age. Observations relating to the language used show that parts that may be remnants of the pre-Valabhī phases can be distinguished from other parts. Texts in which Ardhamāgadhī features prevail over Jaina Māhārāṣṭrī, such as the Ācārānga-sūtra, are considered ‘earlier’ works. Metrical form has been used as ‘an often trustworthy, if necessarily limited, guide to chronology’ (Dundas 2002: 73). It has been shown that there could be ‘earlier’ and ‘more recent’ parts in texts in which diverse metres – for example, rhythmical versus syllabic forms – used at different times are found side by side, for example the Mūla-sūtras.

Passing on the teachings

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

In its most restricted understanding, the phrase ‘Śvetāmbara Āgamas’ refers to the sūtras. This is both a style of writing – short aphorisms – and a more general phrase meaning any sacred text. In its broader meaning it can describe Mahāvīra’s teaching as shaped in successive councils. This wide interpretation is underlined by the extensive variety of styles and literary forms of the texts that make up the Āgamas.

The Āgamas are written in forms of Prakrit. Since Prakrit was widely understood, this was probably a deliberate decision to ensure that as many people as possible could understand the holy writings. Even so the language of the elite, Sanskrit, was also used, especially in commentaries. Later on, writing in vernacular languages rose in importance. However, the language chosen for a form usually reflected the context and audience of the work and thus varied in different situations.

A situation that was widespread was the commentarial one. The Āgamas have always been the subject of intense hermeneutic activity. Scholars have produced copious translations, paraphrases, explanations, glossaries, notes and full commentaries, providing fuel for differences in opinion and interpretation. Early commentaries tended to use Māhārāṣṭrī Prakrit whereas later works were generally written in Sanskrit and regional languages.

Literary styles and forms

The Āgamas are presented in numerous styles and literary forms.

Literary styles of texts in the Śvetāmbara canon




Demonstrate formulaic style and phraseology, characterised by sequences of quasi-synonyms or stereotyped descriptions of persons and places. For example, the dialogue between a youngster who wishes to be initiated and his parents is common while accounts of a city or female beauty are descriptive conventions.

Prose is used for a variety of purposes, such as:

  • narratives in life-sketches, legends and parables
  • philosophical dialogues
  • descriptions of the Jain universe


For example, ascetic poetry depicting ascetic life or exhorting ascetics to follow the ideal mendicant’s way of life. This term has been applied in particular to verse chapters of the first Aṅga, the Ācārānga-sūtra, the Uttarādhyayana-sūtra and the Daśavaikālika-sūtra.

Philosophical dialogue

A method of explaining an argument and countering objections using a traditional Indian form. This is pervasive, for instance, in the fifth Aṅga.


Terms and concepts arranged in increasing numerical order of the components, for instance 1, 2… 10. Examples are the third and fourth Aṅgas.


Intended to be sung or chanted. The first hymns in the Śvetāmbara tradition are found in the Aṅgas.

Tables and charts

Often found in longer prose works, providing detailed measurements, time periods and categories.


The statue of Māhavīra is decorated for Māhavīr Jayantī at the Śvetāmbara temple in Potters Bar, England. Celebrated in March to April, the festival of Māhavīr Jayantī commemorates the birth of the 24th Jina, Māhavīra. The festival is celebrated by all Ja

Māhavīra decorated
Image by Ravin Mehta © Ravin Mehta

From the Śvetāmbara perspective, Mahāvīra’s original teaching was ‘open’ – an idea that the Prakrit word pavayaṇa applied to it in some early scriptures might convey. This term implied the use of Prakrit instead of Sanskrit, which was associated with the restricted elite of the brahmins.

Therefore the Āgamas are written in Ardhamāgadhī Prakrit and another form of Prakrit known as Jaina Māhārāṣṭrī. The former is associated with the region of eastern India when Mahāvīra  preached and the latter with western India. Somebody who understands one language can also understand the other because the differences are grammatical. The degree of blend depends on the texts. Earlier texts tend to have more Ardhamāgadhī.

From the 14th century onwards, regional languages tended to become an important medium of teaching and commenting. This did not mean that Prakrit and Sanskrit had become obsolete. Often corresponding to various levels of education, different languages were used depending on the context. Among Śvetāmbaras, this language was mainly Old Gujarati, used for the commentaries known as bālāvabodhas and ṭabos for instance. These range from extensive and in-depth explanations to word-to-word paraphrases, often equivalent to translations.


This is a good example of the pañca-pāṭha style of using the manuscript margins for commentary. This manuscript page is from a 16th-century copy of the Ṣaṣṭi-śataka.

Pañca-pāṭha style of manuscript commentary
Image by British Library © The British Library Board

The sūtras would have been ‘somnolent’ (Dundas 1996), had they not been kept alive by constant explanations, elaborations and discussions from the start. Commentaries take different forms and use various languages. Particular forms and languages tend to be associated with certain periods of scholarly activity.

The early phase of commentaries on the Śvetāmbara canon uses Jaina Māhārāṣṭrī Prakrit. These commentaries are:

These are technical kinds of commentaries that apply scholastic methods of analysis to understand words and concepts. Niryuktis, especially, are highly technical and often go further than their starting text. Not all texts have given birth to such commentaries. Not all such commentaries have identified authors.

Nevertheless, prominent authors include Bhadrabāhu and Jinabhadragaṇi. The former is sometimes called ‘Bhadrabāhu II’ (for example, Wiley 2004: 52), because he is likely to be a different person from the earlier writer credited with the Kalpa-sūtra. He is said to be the author of ten niryuktis. The latter monk is famous as the author of bhāṣyas.

Taking place from the 8th century onwards, the next phase of commentarial activity uses Sanskrit for ṭīkās, vṛttis and avacūrṇis. These terms cover a wide range of commentaries, which are often hard to distinguish, as they vary from simple paraphrases to elaborate discussions. Some Jain monks have specialised in commentary writing and stand out as figures of high calibre in the tradition. Perhaps the most eminent examples are:

  • Haribhadra-sūri, active in the 8th century
  • Abhayadeva-sūri, writing in the 11th century, who commented on nine Aṅgas
  • Malayagiri, who wrote in the 12th century.

In the later phase, from the 14th century onwards, the language of the Śvetāmbara commentaries is mainly Old Gujarati. The bālāvabodhas and ṭabos range from extensive and in-depth explanations to word-to-word paraphrases, often equivalent to translations.

Studying and teaching the Āgamas

A Śvetāmbara monk and a bookstand – sthāpanācārya – which symbolises his role and authority as teacher. It holds a scripture in protective cloth. He sits on a low plaform while pupils sit on the floor. Religious beliefs were originally passed on orally

Monk and pupils
Image by Chandu Shah © Chandu Shah

Śvetāmbaras have displayed assorted attitudes towards their holy texts and the ways to use them. Scholar monks have used the scriptures to support or disprove intellectual and religious arguments down the centuries, which often have a sectarian dimension. Although knowledge of the teachings is a basic part of being a practising Jain, access to the teachings in written form has often been indirect for many Jains. This is again an issue of difference among the sects. Similarly, printing and editing the holy writings has been a controversial matter.

Since the medieval period, there is a great deal of evidence demonstrating how the scriptures are used in intellectual debates and controversies among learned mendicants (Granoff 1993, Dundas 2007, Balbir 2009 and others). An example of such an issue is that of image worship. The Mūrti-pūjak Śvetāmbaras practise it while the Sthānaka-vāsin and Terāpanthins reject it. The scholar monks often quote certain sections in particular works, sometimes giving the page number of the particular manuscript of the text they have used. Favoured since the 17th century, a question-and-answer format including scriptural quotations is a common method of presenting arguments and objections. These texts – praśnottaras or bols – are popular today as pedagogical tools.

Sectarian attitudes among both laity and mendicants vary regarding open access to all scriptures.

At the beginning of the 20th century, several monks complained that they could only access canonical writings through the mediation of commentaries in modern languages. They could not read the texts in the original language. This situation still applies today with variations depending on monastic orders and their attitudes towards religious education.

Nuns of the Śvetāmbara Tapā-gaccha sect are not allowed to read the Cheda-sūtras. These texts deal with monastic discipline in great detail. Lay people are generally not supposed to read them either.

Mendicants of the Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjak orders study the Āgamas in a steady staged manner (Cort 2001). A junior monk starts with the basic texts – the Mūla-sūtras – and in time moves on to read more technical texts as he becomes more senior. This progression is codified in books dealing with the monastic way of life.

Both mendicant and lay Jains usually believe that the laity should read the Āgamas in their narrowest interpretation together with or under mendicant supervision. But they can read alone stories, hymns or digests that are specially produced for lay people and can learn about the Āgamas from monastic sermons. Thus there are ‘practical canons’ (Cort 2001, Dundas 2002: 63) for various purposes and people, which may evolve in the course of time.

Printing scriptures

Statue of Ānandasāgara-sūri, the 20th-century reviver of the holy writings or Āgamas of Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjaks. Ācārya Ānandasāgara-sūri established Agam Mandirs devoted to the scriptures and inspired the 1999 publication of the canon in a single volume

Image of Ānandasāgara-sūri
Image by Nalini Balbir © Nalini Balbir

Jains have often been resistant to the idea of printing the holy writings. One reason is because printing is a mechanical process and may therefore involve harm. Another one is the quasi-magical qualities attributed to scriptures.

After opposition from some monks and lay people, the first printed edition of the Śvetāmbara Āgamas was published in 1874.

Maintaining knowledge of the original Āgamas among Śvetāmbara Jain mendicants has been an issue in the 20th century and is still so today. The monk Ānandasāgara-sūri (1875–1950) was one of the driving forces in reviving this declining knowledge. He founded the Āgamodaya Samiti publishing house, which specialises in publishing the sūtras and their commentaries in their original languages.

Editing scriptures

Śvetāmbara Āgamas have been passed on through palm-leaf and paper manuscripts in western India since the 12th century without break. The material available is thus overwhelmingly large. The texts are all separate, with no single manuscript collecting them together. They are copied either individually or in small sets. Published editions of the holy writings tend to use different manuscripts for the various texts.

There is no central religious authority among Jains so a single edition serving as the final, authorised word is impossible and does not seem to be an issue. Rather, numerous editions of the scriptures have been published since the end of the 19th century, of varying types and standards. This is the case today.

The first critical editions to use palm-leaf manuscripts and provide critical apparatus such as a glossary or references were published in 1968. These efforts were led by the prominent scholar monks:

Muni Puṇyavijaya and lay Jain scholars began publishing the Jaina-Āgama-Series from the Mahāvīra Jain Vidyālay in Bombay. At the same time Ācārya Tulsi and Ācārya Mahāprajña published the Ladnun edition. These editions differ because the editors hold varying opinions on how commentaries should be used in textual history.

Holy writings as sacred objects

First page of the Āgama-ratna-mañjūṣā, showing photographs of two Agam Mandirs and image of the Āgama-puruṣa – Āgama man – embodiment of the holy writings. Ācāryā Ānandasāgara-sūri published the 45 holy Āgamas of the Śvetāmbaras in one volume

First page of Āgama-ratna-mañjūṣā
Image by Nalini Balbir © Nalini Balbir

The scriptures are of key significance to Jains not only for their contents. Jains pay homage to them as holy objects in themselves. Jains venerate the sacred writings as a whole or as single items in various ways. Temples sometimes house scriptures in the shape of books, symbols or quotations inscribed on the walls. The holy texts frequently feature in religious ceremonies. Festivals celebrated by both the Digambara and Śvetāmbara sects have holy books at their heart, both as symbols of knowledge and as physical objects.

Among Mūrti-pūjak sects, there are specific worship ceremonies – pūjās – and specific ritual diagrams – yantras – honouring their 45 Āgamas.

Copies of the Kalpa-sūtra are displayed in public. The text and the book itself are at the centre of the festival of Paryuṣaṇ. The festival of Jñāna-pañcamī is an annual occasion where books of the Āgamas are dusted, repaired, copied and so on.

The Mūrti-pūjak leader Ācārya Ānandasāgara-sūri inspired the 1999 publication of the Śvetāmbara Āgamas, known as Āgama-mañjūṣā. Weighing several kilos, the single monumental volume is enshrined in glass boxes in temples and is an object of worship.

New transmission methods

Interior walls of the Āgam Mandir in Palitana, Gujarat, are covered with inscriptions of the 45 holy Āgamas of the Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjaks. Agam Mandirs were invented in the 1940s to display scriptures for worship

Engravings of the Śvetāmbara Mūrtipūjak scriptures
Image by Nalini Balbir © Nalini Balbir

Though the scriptures themselves are not open to all, since the 1940s new methods of passing on the traditional teachings have been devised. Visual art is a favourite mode, since it can be appealing and suitable for all ages. Specially targeted at younger generations, who may not be familiar with all the cultural and religious traditions of the past, these methods are designed for lay people. They are intended to make it easier for lay people to understand the principles of the Jain faith and to show them the relevance of the scriptures in today’s life. With the role of ideologues for the Śvetāmbara community, learned monks are often at the forefront of efforts to spread knowledge of the Āgamas.

Main collected editions of the Śvetāmbara Āgamas


Date and place of publication, publisher

Brief description

Edition sponsored by Rāya Dhanapatisiṃha

1874–1900 Calcutta

equivalent of 'printed manuscripts', with Sanskrit and Gujarati commentaries

edited by Ānandasāgara-sūri

1911 onwards

first true edition of Mūrti-pūjak scriptures

Amolaka Ṛṣi edition


text of the 32 Āgamas of the Sthānaka-vāsin with Hindi translation

edited by Pupphabhikkhu

2 volumes
Gurgaon, Haryana

Prakrit text only of the Sthānaka-vāsin canon

Ghāsīlāla Mahārāja edition


Sthānaka-vāsin scriptures with Sanskrit transposition and Hindi and Gujarati translations

edited by Muni Puṇyavijaya

1968 onwards
Ladnun, Rajasthan
Jaina Viśva Bhāratī

critical edition of Mūrti-pūjak scriptures

edited by Ācārya Tulsī

1968 onwards
Ladnun, Rajasthan
Jaina Viśva Bhāratī

critical edition of Terāpanthin scriptures

Āgama Prakāśana Samiti series
edited by Yuvācārya Madhukar Muni

Byāvara, Rajasthan
Jināgama Granthamālā

Sthānaka-vāsin scriptures with Hindi translation

Illustrated Āgamas
edited by Amar Muni

1993 onwards
Padma Prakashan, Agra, Diwakar Prakashan

Sthānaka-vāsin scriptures with Hindi and English translation and colour illustrations

of Muni Dīparatnasāgara

30 volumes
Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Āgama Śruta Prakāśana

Mūrti-pūjak scriptures with niryukti and Sanskrit commentaries

Ācārya Ānandasāgara-sūri inaugurated a new type of temple in the 1940s. The Āgam Mandir contains inscriptions or engravings of all the 45 scriptures of the Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjak sect (Balbir forthcoming 2012a). Considered to have the status of a Jina image, they are thus meant for worship, or at least darśana – being seen. The main Āgam Mandirs to date are in Surat, Palitana, Sankheshvara, all in Gujarat, and Pune in Maharashtra.

Sthānaka-vāsin mendicant Amar Muni began working on the ‘Illustrated Agam’ edition in the 1990s. Emphasising pictures to help readers understand the texts, the books use the visual styles of Indian comics and Indian mythological serials familiar to 20th-century audiences (Balbir forthcoming, 2012b).

These examples demonstrate how the Āgamas remain of vital importance to all the Śvetāmbara sects, primarily as religious teachings but also as a cultural notion of identity and heritage that can adapt to new environments.


  • Five of Mahāvīra's disciples This manuscript painting shows some of Mahāvīra's chief disciples. The 24th Jina had 11 chief disciples – gaṇa-dharas – who were his closest followers. Depicted in Śvetāmbara robes, the monks sit in the lotus position and demonstrate typical signs of holiness and monastic seniority.. Image by Wellcome Trust Library © Wellcome Library, London
  • Discussing the scriptures Ācārya Mahāprajña, Ācārya Tulsi and followers discuss editions of the holy scriptures, the Āgamas. Ācārya Tulsi was leader of the sect of Śvetāmbara Terāpanthins until 1997 and was succeeded by Ācārya Mahāprajña until 2010. The Śvetāmbara Terāpanthins believe that 32 texts make up the canon and actively spread the scriptures. Examples include allowing nuns to read them and publishing critical editions.. Image by Amitjain80 © CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Indrabhūti Gautama preaches This manuscript painting shows Indrabhūti Gautama preaching. The white-clad monk is fanned by a servant and sits on a lotus, symbols of worldly and spiritual rank. King Śreṇika and his family sit separately from the lords and ladies of the court.. Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
  • 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
  • Māhavīra decorated The statue of Māhavīra is decorated for Māhavīr Jayantī at the Śvetāmbara temple in Potters Bar, England. Celebrated in March to April, the festival of Māhavīr Jayantī commemorates the birth of the 24th Jina, Māhavīra. The festival is celebrated by all Jain sects, though not all of them have idols. . Image by Ravin Mehta © Ravin Mehta
  • Pañca-pāṭha style of manuscript commentary This is a good example of the pañca-pāṭha style of using the manuscript margins for commentary. This manuscript page is from a 16th-century copy of the Ṣaṣṭi-śataka.. Image by British Library © The British Library Board
  • Monk and pupils A Śvetāmbara monk sits before a bookstand – sthāpanācārya – which is a symbol of his role and authority as teacher. It holds a scripture wrapped in protective cloth. He sits on a low plaform while his pupils sit on the floor and listen. Religious beliefs were originally passed on orally, with junior monks memorising what their teachers said. Today, monks and nuns still learn in large part from senior monks.. Image by Chandu Shah © Chandu Shah
  • Image of Ānandasāgara-sūri Statue of Ānandasāgara-sūri, the 20th-century reviver of the holy writings or Āgamas of the Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjak sect. Ācārya Ānandasāgara-sūri established a new type of temple devoted to the scriptures in the 1940s and inspired the 1999 publication of the Śvetāmbara Āgamas, known as Āgama-mañjūṣā. The Agam Mandirs hold engravings of the 45 scriptures, which are intended for worship, or at least darśana – being seen.. Image by Nalini Balbir © Nalini Balbir
  • First page of Āgama-ratna-mañjūṣā The first page of the Āgama-ratna-mañjūṣā, showing the photographs of two Agam Mandirs, and the image of the Āgama-puruṣa – Āgama man – embodiment of the holy writings. Produced by Ānandasāgara-sūri, the book of the 45 holy writings or Āgamas of the Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjak sect is often enthroned as a sacred object in temples. This one is housed in the Agam Mandir in Surat, Gujarat.. Image by Nalini Balbir © Nalini Balbir
  • Engravings of the Śvetāmbara Mūrtipūjak scriptures The interior walls of the Āgam Mandir in Palitana, Gujarat, are covered with plates inscribed with the text of the 45 holy writings or Āgamas of the Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjak sect. Temples sometimes house the scriptures in the shape of books, symbols or quotations inscribed on the walls. 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

Further Reading

Jaina Studies: Their Present State and Future Tasks
Ludwig Alsdorf
translated by Bal Patil
edited by Willem Bollée
Hindi Granth Karyalay; Mumbai, Maharashtra, India; 2006

Full details

‘Samayasundara’s Sāmācārī-śataka and Jain Sectarian Divisions in the Seventeenth Century’
Nalini Balbir
Essays in Jaina Philosophy and Religion
edited by Piotr Balcerowicz
Lala Sundara Jain Research series; volume 20
Motilal Banarsidass; Delhi, India; 2003

Full details

‘Autobiographies of Jain Monks and Nuns in the 20th Century: A Preliminary Essay’
Nalini Balbir
Jaina Studies
edited by Colette Caillat and Nalini Balbir
Papers of the XIIth World Sanskrit Conference series; series editor Petteri Koskikallio and Asko Parpola; volume 9
Motilal Banarsidass; Delhi, India; 2008

Full details

‘Les lecteurs jaina śvetāmbara face à leur canon’
Nalini Balbir
Ecrire et transmettre en Inde classique
edited by Gérard Colas and Gerdi Gerschheimer
Études thématiques series; volume 23
École Française d’Extrême Orient; Paris; 2009

Full details

‘Is a Manuscript an Object or a Living Being?: Jain Views on the Life and Use of Sacred Texts’
Nalini Balbir
The Death of Sacred Texts: Ritual Disposal and Renovation of Texts in World Religions
edited by Kristina Myrvold
Ashgate; Aldershot, Hampshire UK; 2010

Full details

‘On the role and meaning of the Śvetāmbara canon in the history of Jainism’
Nalini Balbir
Studies in Jaina History and Culture: Jaina Law
edited by Peter Flügel
Routledge Advances in Jaina Studies series; volume 4
Routledge Curzon Press; London, UK; 2013 – forthcoming

Full details

‘Old texts, new images: Illustrating the Śvetāmbara Jain Āgamas today’
Nalini Balbir
In the Shadow of the Golden Age
edited by Julia A. B. Hegewald
University of Bonn Press; Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany; 2012

Full details

‘Das Kanonproblem bei den Jainas’
Klaus Bruhn
Kanon und Zensur
edited by Aleida Assman and Jan Assman
Archäologie der literarischen Kommunikation series; volume II
Wilhelm Fink Verlag; Munich, Germany; 1987

Full details

‘The Recent Critical Editions of the Jain Āgama’
Colette Caillat
Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft
volume 21: supplement 5
F. Steiner; 1980

Full details

‘Notes sur les variantes dans la tradition du Dasaveyāliya-sutta’
Colette Caillat
Indologica Taurinensia
volume 8–9
International Association of Sanskrit Studies; 1980–81

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

In Search of the Original Ardhamāgadhī
N. M. Kansara
translated by K. R. Chandra
Prākrt̥a Grantha Pariṣad series; volume 35
D. M. Prakrit Text Society; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 2001

Full details

‘The Intellectual Formation of a Jain Monk: A Śvetāmbara Monastic Curriculum’
John E. Cort
Journal of Indian Philosophy
volume 29

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

‘Somnolent Sūtras: Scriptural Commentary in Śvetāmbara Jainism’
Paul Dundas
Journal of Indian Philosophy
volume 25

Full details

The Jains
Paul Dundas
Library of Religious Beliefs and Practices series; series editor John Hinnels and Ninian Smart; volume 14
Routledge Curzon Press; London, UK; 2002

Full details

History, Scripture and Controversy in a Medieval Jain Sect
Paul Dundas
Routledge Advances in Jaina Studies series; series editor Peter Flügel; volume 2
Routledge Curzon Press; London, UK; 2007

Full details

‘Protestantische und Post-Protestantische Jaina-Reformbewegungen: zur Geschichte und Organisation der Sthānakavāsi II’
Peter Flügel
Berliner Indologische Studien
volume 15–17
Berlin, Germany; 2003

Full details

Scripture and Community: Collected Essays on the Jains
Kendall W. Folkert
edited by John E. Cort
Studies in World Religions series; volume 6
Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University & Scholars Press; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; 1993

Full details

‘Going by the Book: The Role of Written Texts in Medieval Jain Sectarian Conflicts’
Phyllis Granoff
Jain Studies in Honour of Jozef Deleu
edited by Rudy Smet and Kenji Watanabe
Hon-no-Tomosha; Tokyo, Japan; 1993

Full details

The Lives of the Jain Elders
translated and edited by R. C. C. Fynes
Oxford World’s Classics series
Oxford University Press; Oxford, UK and New York, USA; 1998

Full details

'The Kalpa Sûtra of Bhadrabâhu'
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 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 Jaina Path of Purification
Padmanabh S. Jaini
University of California Press; Berkeley, California USA; 1979

Full details

‘Hemaraja Pande’s Caurāsī Bol’
Padmanabh S. Jaini
Jambū-jyoti: Munivara Jambūvijaya Festschrift
edited by Madhusudan A. Dhaky and J. B. Shah
Shresthi Kasturbhai Lalbhai Smarak Nidhi series; volume 7
Sharadaben Chimanbhai Educational Research Centre; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 2004

Full details

‘Jain Sectarian Debates: Eighty-four Points of Contention (Cauryāṃsī bol) Between Śvetāmbaras and Digambaras (Text and Translation)’
Padmanabh S. Jaini
Journal of Indian Philosophy
volume 36

Full details

A History of the Canonical Literature of the Jainas
Hiralal Rasikdas Kapadia
Surat, Gujarat, India; 1941

Full details

Āgama Sampādana kī Samasyāeṃ
Yuvācārya Mahāprajña
Jain Vishva Bharati; Ladnun, Rajasthan, India; 1993

Full details

Āgama aura Tripiṭaka: A Comparative Study of Lord Mahavira and Lord Buddha
Acharya Nagaraj
Language and Literature series; volume II
Concept Publishing Company; New Delhi, India; 2003

Full details

Nandisuttaṃ and Aṇuogaddārāiṃ
edited by Muni Puṇyavijaya, Dalsukh Mālvaṇiā and Amritlāl Mohanlāl Bhojak
Jaina Agamas series; volume 1
Mahāvīra Jaina Vidyālaya; Bombay, Maharashtra, India; 1968

Full details

The Doctrine of the Jainas: Described after the Old Sources
Walther Schubring
translated by Wolfgang Bühlen
edited by Satya Ranjan Banerjee
Lala Sunder Lal Jain Research series; volume 15
Motilal Banarsidass; New Delhi, India; 2000

Full details

Albrecht Weber’s Sacred Literature of the Jains: An Account of the Jaina Āgamas
Albrecht Weber
translated by H. W. Smyth
edited by Ganesh Chandra Lalwani and Satya Ranjan Banerjee
Jain Bhavan; Calcutta, West Bengal, India; 1999

Full details

‘The Dating of the Jaina Councils: Do Scholarly Presentations Reflect the Traditional Sources?’
Royce Wiles
Studies in Jaina History and Culture: Disputes and Dialogues
edited by Peter Flügel
Routledge Advances in Jaina Studies series; volume 1
Routledge Curzon Press; London, UK; 2006

Full details

The “Śvetāmbara Canon.” A Descriptive Listing of Text Editions, Commentaries, Studies and Indexes: Based on Editions held in the Library of the Australian National University
Royce Wiles
unpublished; Canberra, Australia; 1997

Full details

‘The First Collected Edition of Śvetāmbara Jain Canonical Texts’
Royce Wiles
Studia Indologica: Professor Satya Ranjan Banerjee Felicitation Volume
edited by Jagat Ram Bhattacharyya
Eastern Book Linkers; Delhi, India; 2007

Full details

Historical Dictionary of Jainism
Kristi L. Wiley
Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies, and Movements series; series editor Jon Woronoff; volume 53
Scarecrow Press; Maryland, USA; 2004

Full details



Preceptor, teacher. A title given to a Jain religious teacher, usually one who is a head monk.


Authoritative scriptures. The holy texts that are considered authoritative depend on the group and the period.

Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit

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


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.


In Sanskrit, literally ‘an explanation for the fools'. Usually written in Gujarati, a bālāvabodha is a type of commentary on Jain scriptures, which are generally written in Prākrit. 


A type of commentary on Jain scriptures. It may be either:

  • Prākrit verse commentary on Śvetāmbara texts
  • Sanskrit prose commentary on a Sanskrit work, such as the Tattvārtha-sūtra.


A member of the highest caste in Hinduism, the priests or brahmins. 'Brahminical' means 'of or like brahmins'.


Set of sacred texts that believers accept as authoritative within a religion. Another word for 'scripture'.


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.

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.


A class of Prākrit commentary. Written in prose, the cūrṇis were composed between the 6th and 8th centuries CE.


Vision, insight or perception. It works with the quality of jñāna – knowledge in the soul – to gain deep, true understanding and is ever-changing.

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


'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.


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


A term used for a man who is one of those listed in early sources as the direct successors of Mahāvīra, the 24th Jina.


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. 


A religious title for a monk in charge of a small group of mendicants, who live and travel together. A gaṇinī is a nun who leads a group of female mendicants. 


To explain or translate a word or phrase in a text. A glossary is a collection of such explanations. A gloss may be a short note in the margin or between the lines of a text or it may be an extended commentary.


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


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.


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 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.


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


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


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.


'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'.


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.


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.


Bordering on the Arabian Sea, Māhārāṣṭra in central India is the third-largest and the richest state in India. Its capital is Mumbai and the official language is Marathi.

Māhārāṣṭrī Prākrit

A dialect of the Prākrit language used in some Jain writings.


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.


A man who has taken a public vow to withdraw from ordinary life to formally enter religious life and advance spiritually. Frequently, monks perform physical austerities or undergo physical hardships in order to progress spiritually.


The capital of the state of Mahārāṣṭra, the city of Mumbai is the biggest and richest in India. Formerly known as Bombay, Mumbai is the centre of Indian film-making and commercial activities.


Sage. A common term for a Jain monk.


Jains who venerate and worship images of Jinas in temples.


A class of early Prākrit verse commentary in the Śvetāmbara tradition.


A woman who has taken a public vow to withdraw from ordinary life to enter religious life and advance spiritually. Frequently, nuns perform physical austerities or undergo physical hardships in order to progress spiritually.


The study of texts with a focus on language. It covers the historical development and structures of languages, and of written records. Philologists may be interested in establishing the authenticity or age of a text or in tracing the introduction and evolution in usage of certain terms or languages.


A rather flexible class of Śvetāmbara scriptures, which not all Jains believe to be canonical. Several texts deal with sallekhanā or fasting unto death.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Sanskrit term meaning 'with a home’ – that is, a ‘householder’ or lay Jain. A synonym for a lay person, emphasising that he or she is a member of a household, with responsibilities to the family, community and society that a Jain mendicant does not have.


'Right conduct'. A person who has faith in the principles of Jainism and knows them should put them into practice. This is the third of the Three Jewels vital for spiritual progress.


Sanskrit for 'community'. The Jain ‘fourfold community’ is composed of monks, nuns, lay men and lay women.


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.


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


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 speech on a religious topic, usually delivered by a member of the clergy. Frequently a sermon has a moral lesson or is based on a sacred text.


The Sanskrit phrase meaning ‘hall-dwellers’ is used for a Śvetāmbara movement that opposes the worship of images and the building of temples. The term Sthānaka-vāsī, whose origin remains unclear, came into widespread use in the early 20th century. The movement's roots can be traced to the 15th-century reform movement initiated by Loṅkā Śāh, from which the founders of the Sthānaka-vāsī traditions separated in the 17th century. Sthānaka-vāsīns practise mental worship through meditation. The lay members venerate living ascetics, who are recognisable from the mouth-cloth – muhpattī – they wear constantly.


A title for the leader of a religious order among the Śvetāmbaras. It is a higher position than ācārya.


In common use it refers to any sacred text. However, strictly speaking, it means an extremely concise style of writing, as illustrated in the Tattvārtha-sūtra, or a verse.


'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.

Śvetāmbara Terāpanthin

A subsect of the Śvetāmbara Sthānaka-vāsin, which originated in Rajasthan in the 18th century. The Terāpanthin do not worship images. One of the sect's best-known leaders was Ācārya Tulsī, who created a new category of ascetics in 1980. These samaṇ and samaṇī are allowed to travel using mechanised transport and to use money.


A Śvetāmbara mūrti-pūjaka sect, first established in the 13th century and reformed from the 19th century. Today nearly all mūrti-pūjak mendicants belong to this sect.


A building reserved for public worship or prayer, usually dedicated to one religion and run by members of that religion's clergy.


A category of Sanskrit commentary generally written in prose.


The wealthy city of Valabhī – now Vallabhi – in Gujarat was a major centre of Jain intellectual life in the early medieval period. The final version of the Śvetāmbara canon was written down there under the supervision of the religious teacher Devarddhi-gaṇi Kṣamāśramaṇa in the fifth century CE.


The everyday or common language spoken by people in a particular country or region, often contrasting with the literary form or the national or official language. Similarly, vernacular architecture reflects local conditions and conventions more than other considerations, such as national or international design trends, and may be built by non-professional architects.


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.

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Related Manuscripts

  • First page

    First page

    British Library. Or. 1385. Jinabhadra. 1201

  • Text


    Victoria and Albert Museum. IM 7-1931. Unknown author. Circa 1490

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