Article: Mūla-sūtras

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Appendix 2

In the Daśa-vaikālika-sūtra’s second appendix, many rules set out in the previous chapters are stated again in different words. A powerful comparison is meant to stimulate one on the right path:

While most people are swimming with the current, a man who wishes to cleanse himself must oppose his body to the current and thus receive the oncoming waves. The worldly-minded people delight in swimming with the current and the reduced influence of the virtuous consists in the turning back of the flood. The current is the Saṃsāra, to pass through it is to make headaway against it

12. 2–3, Schubring’s translation, page 120

The emphasis here is on secluded life and the proper way to practise it. As in the rest of the work, one of the main points underlined is how to behave in the monk’s daily interactions with householders.

The final stanza, which is also the last of the whole text, is often quoted as summarising its general tone.

The soul must always be protected by all senses under control. An unprotected [mendicant] treads on the path of rebirth, a well-protected [one] is freed from all pain

12. 16, Schubring’s translation, page 121, slightly modified

Mūla-sūtra 2 – basic concepts and legends

This illustration from an Uttarādhyayana-sūtra manuscript shows some of the obstacles to chastity. Generally considered to be the hardest vow a mendicant must take, the vow of celibacy is at risk if a monk is in the company of women

Dangers to the vow of celibacy
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

The second Mūla-sūtra is called Uttarajjhayaṇa-sutta in Prakrit, Uttarādhyayana-sūtra in Sanskrit. The term uttara can be understood as meaning ‘last’, ‘additional’ or ‘excellent’. This scripture deals with all aspects of Jain doctrine and monastic practice, such as:

These fundamental concepts are considered in 36 lessons, all characterised by forceful statements.

The 36 chapters of the Uttarādhyayana-sūtra

Chapter number

Title

English meaning or topic

Number of stanzas

1

Viṇaya-suya

Discipline and modesty

48

2

Parīsaha

The disturbances

prose and 48 stanzas

3

Cāurangijja

The ‘four mains’

20

4

Asaṃkhaya

On carelessness and vigilance

13

5

Akāma-maraṇijja

Death of the wise and death of the fool

32

6

Khuḍḍāga-niyaṇṭhijja

The new ascetic

17

7

Elaijja

The parable of the ram

30

8

Kāvilīya

Kapila’s verses

20

9

Nami-pavvajjā

King Nami’s renunciation

62

10

Duma-pattaya

The tree leaf

37

11

Bahu-ssuya

The very learned

32

12

Hariesijja

On Harikeśa

47

13

Citta-sambhūijja

The story of Citta and Sambhūta

35

14

Usuyārijja

On Iṣukāri

53

15

Sa-bhikkhuya

The true monk

16

16

Bambhacera-samāhi-ṭṭhāṇa

The conditions of chastity

prose and 19 stanzas

17

Pāva-samaṇijja

The bad ascetic

21

18

Saṃjaijja

On Sañjaya

54

19

Miyāputtijja

On Mṛgāputra

99

20

Mahā-niyaṇṭhijja

On the great ascetic

60

21

Samuddapālijja

On Samudrapāla

24

22

Rahanemijja

On Rathanemi

49

23

Kesi-Goyamijja

Keśi and Gautama

89

24

Pavayaṇa-māyā

The main articles of the doctrine

27

25

Jannaijja

On sacrifice

45

26

Sāmāyārī

Right monastic behaviour

53

27

Khalunkiya

The parable of the bad bullocks

17

28

Mokkha-gama-gati

The road to emancipation

36

29

Sammatta-parakkama

The effort towards righteousness

in prose, fairly long

30

Tava-magga-gaijja

The road to austerity

37

31

Caraṇa-vihi

Mode of conduct

21

32

Pamāya-ṭṭhāṇa

The causes of carelessness

111

33

Kamma-payaḍī

The varieties of karma

25

34

Lesā

The colours of the soul

61

35

Aṇagāra-magga-gaīya

The path to the life of a mendicant

21

36

Jīvājīva-vibhatti

On living and non-living

267

The Uttarādhyayana-sūtra offers a combination of didactic and narrative chapters, containing numerous conversion stories. In the latter in particular, Jain values are not universally accepted and have to be demonstrated. Thus dialogues and opposing views are common in this text.

With one of the richest pictorial histories of any Śvetāmbara scripture, the Uttarādhyayana-sūtra has countless illustrations for both instruction and story approaches.

Although it has prose passages, the Uttarādhyayana-sūtra is chiefly in verse. The poetry demonstrates a range of metres, which suggest different parts of it date from various periods.

This scripture is examined in more depth in the dedicated Uttarādhyayana-sūtra article.

Mūla-sūtra 3 – six obligatory duties

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

Called Āvassaya-sutta in Prakrit and Āvaśyaka-sūtra in Sanskrit, the third Mūla-sūtra is also the shortest.

In its full form the Āvaśyaka-sūtra is not considered to be extremely old, but it is very important because of its subject. It deals successively with the six obligatory duties of a mendicant, centring around the idea of confession and repentancepratikramaṇa. It is a liturgical text, containing the formulas a monk must recite in the presence of a teacher to express his wish to adopt proper conduct or to repent for transgressions. In five sections out of six, the formulas are in the first-person singular, with the ‘I’ a mendicant. Examples include:

  • ‘Venerable teacher, I perform the rite of equanimity’
  • ‘O teacher, I wish to pay homage / repent and so on’.

Each covering one of the obligatory duties, the six sections are in prose but contain hymns of praise in verse. These devotional songs are also part of the formalised ritual that the Āvaśyaka-sūtra unfolds.

This scripture is examined in more depth in the article on the Āvaśyaka-sūtra and its commentary, the Āvaśyaka-niryukti.

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