Article: Ānandghan

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Ānandghan or Ānandaghana, who lived in the 17th century, is best known as a mystical poet. Supposed to have been a Śvetāmbara monk, he wrote hymns to the Jinas and spiritual songs in a vernacular language close to Gujarati, Rajasthani and Hindi. He is part of the trend for both devotional poetry and exaltation of the Self, also known as the Absolute or the soul. For this reason and because he is also regarded as a powerful yogi, he has often been compared to the Hindu Sant poet Kabīr.

A mysterious figure in many aspects, Ānandghan is best remembered for two collections of poetry, one of which was compiled after his death. These poems underscore that the path to the Absolute lies within, with individual effort advancing the soul towards its final liberation. The tone is direct, sometimes conversational, and the poet uses alliterations, comparisons and puns. The language is plain and easy to understand, containing spiritual truths in terms that are accessible to a wide audience. The imagery is standard for bhakti poetry, working on more than one level and familiar to many listeners and readers. Jain beliefs shape the work but are not overpowering, with little technical detail or attempt to persuade. Ānandghan wrote poems that are non-sectarian and have a tone of universality that is appealing not only to all Jains but also to followers of other faiths.

The popularity of Ānandghan's hymns seems to have been constant, with the poems circulated in manuscript and book form and, more recently, in records and digital media. Even so, until the 2013 translation of a selection of Ānandghan's poems by Bangha and Fynes, with a substantial introduction, nothing in non-Indian languages was really available on this author. However, sound scholarship on Ānandghan was accessible in Indian languages. It consists of reference editions and translations in Hindi or Gujarati, which are listed in the Further reading tab on the left.


This painting from an Uttarādhyayana-sūtra manuscript shows Śvetāmbara monks listening to a senior mendicant. The teacher is the largest figure, indicating his importance, and he sits on a low dais with a bookstand – sthāpanācārya – in front

Senior monk teaching
Image by Victoria and Albert Museum © V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Hardly anything fully reliable is known about the life of Ānandghan, whose works do not provide any hint. He is known to have lived in the 17th century but his exact dates are a matter of hypothesis.

Similarly, there is some evidence that he may have come from Rajasthan, but there is no solid proof of this.

He appears to have been a Śvetāmbara monk but never used his monastic name in his poetry. Instead, he uses the name of 'Ānandghan' in his verse, which may reflect his poetic concerns.

Ānandghan's absence from monastic records indicates that he may have been something of an outsider, not quite a full member of the formal monastic hierarchy. Later legends position Ānandghan as something of a rebel against authority.

Dates and origins

This photograph of Mount Abu, a hill station in southern Rajasthan was taken around 1898. Mount Abu is a major pilgrimage site near the town of Dilwara, with five white marble temples renowned for their delicate carvings.

View of Mount Abu
Image by Archibald Adams © public domain

According to the latest estimation, based on several datable events during the same period, Ānandghan could have been born before 1624 and died before 1694 (Bangha and Fynes 2013: xxvii–xxx). This is the year of the oldest available manuscript of one of his works, the Cauvīsī.

Ānandghan's name is associated with that of the famous Jain ideologue Yaśovijaya. It is possible that the two of them met. Yaśovijaya wrote an eight-verse praise of Ānandghan called the Aṣṭapadī and is credited with a commentary, which is untraced so far, on one of Ānandghan's collection. Both of them are shown in legends as having had a lot of respect for each other.

Where Ānandghan came from is not fully clear either. Legends connect him with places in Rajasthan such as Mount Abu, Jodhpur and Merta. In this last place there is a sacred hall dedicated to Ānandghan – Ānandghan kā upāśray (Desai 1998: 48; Bangha and Fynes 2013: xxxi). The language Ānandghan uses in his verse is 'a mixture of different dialects' (Bangha and Fynes 2013: xxxi), leaning towards Rajasthani. This may support the idea that he came from the region of modern Rajasthan.


Ānandghan seems to have been first initiated as a Śvetāmbara monk, probably in the Tapā-gaccha monastic order, under the name Lābhānanda.

According to a Gujarati text, he was the younger brother – which can mean either by birth or a spiritual, monastic brother – of Satyavaijaya Paṃnyāsa. He was:

a famous ascetic of the Tapāgaccha lineage, who, disillusioned with factionalism, refused to accept the religious leadership of the Tapāgaccha and started the saṃvegī lineage, from which all contemporary Tapāgaccha monks claim their descent

Bangha and Fynes
page xxix, 2013

In the 17th century, records of Jain monastic history are available, especially for Śvetāmbara monastic orders. There is information on several religious teachers but there is no solid material about Ānandghan. This might suggest that he was a freelance ascetic who lived on the fringes of organised religious communities rather than being a full member of any of them, and that he was definitely not part of monastic hierarchy. 'He doesn't fit well into our models of late-medieval Śvetāmbar Mūrtipūjak Jain mendicancy' (Cort in Bangha and Fynes 2013: x) and can best be defined as an 'outsider to the mainstream ritual, institutional and devotional culture of the late-medieval Tapā Gaccha' (Cort as previous: xvi).

Poet's name

Despite his monastic name of Lābhānanda, Ānandghan always wrote under the name of:

  • Ānandghan – spelt corresponding to the modern Indian pronunciation
  • Ānandaghana – spelt according to Sanskrit pronunciation.

This name can be translated as 'cloud' – ghana – 'of bliss' – ānanda – according to Bangha and Fynes's 2013 translation.

The name of Ānandghan agrees with the nature of the author's poetry and is strikingly non-Jain and non-sectarian. Some modern Jain authors sometimes add the title sūri or muni to Ānandghan's name in editions of his poems, as if they wanted him to have the same authority as other well-known Jain writers. However, the author himself never uses such titles.

The name of Ānandghan is found in the last verse of all the poems he wrote. This type of signature, technically known as bhaṇita – 'said' – is a long-existing usage in Indian poetical tradition, and has become systematic in vernacular language poetry.

There are other writers of the same name, especially one Nimbārkī Ānandghan, but recent research has demonstrated that they are all different persons.


This illustration from an 18th-century Ādityavāra-kathā manuscript shows Digambara monks preaching to lay men. Sitting on low platforms above their listeners, the monks hold up scriptures. The bookstands in front underline their role as religious teachers

Monks preach to lay men
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

Legendary episodes like to portray Ānandghan as a rebellious figure who followed his own path, against social conventions and institutional authorities. For instance, during one Paryuṣaṇ festival, he was sitting ready to give a sermon in a monastic hall – upāśraya. Everybody in the village was present, but the rule was that the sermon should start only when the leading businessman of the town – nagarsheth – arrived. The monk waited for quite some time, but as the man did not come he started preaching. When the nagarsheth finally turned up and was angry about the situation, the monk replied that he had to follow his own rules on time, and left (Ratnasenavijaya 1985: introduction 17–19).

Ānandghan is regarded as having had yogic powers. Much later than his own lifetime, legends about Ānandghan featured him:

as a great yogi who participated in the social life of his times and who attained siddhis, miraculous yogic powers, often associated with stereotypical miracles that are ascribed also to other saints. It is his asceticism that earned him the epithet yogīrāj

Bangha and Fynes
page xxv, 2013

His works, however, do not emphasise this aspect at all.


Ānandghan is mainly credited with two sets of poems, namely:

  • the Cauvīsī
  • poetry that was later collected in the anthology known as Bahattarī.

The language of Ānandghan's verse is a vernacularbhāṣā – combining Gujarati, Rajasthani and Braj. This is the typical language of devotional poets singing love and devotion – bhakti – to their respective gods.


This manuscript painting depicts the 16th Jina Śāntinatha or Lord Śānti, with lay people around him, raising their hands in worship under a domed roof. The statue's jewellery, ornate headdress and open eyes indicate that it belongs to the Śvetāmbara sect.

Worship of Śānti
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

This work of Ānandghan is a collection of 24 poems praising the Jinas and is a characteristically Jain poetic form. Most of the poems are quite short, even though they vary in length, but they are intended to be sung. A well-known tale depicts the hymns being passed on via singing, a tale which also links Ānandghan with the famous monk Yaśovijaya. Despite this, there seems to have been a healthy custom of making written copies of the anthology from the time of Ānandghan onwards.

The cauvīsī is a typically Jain form of poetry, which has been illustrated by several Jain authors in all the languages they used. This Indian word, which can also have the forms covīsī, cobīsī, cobīśī, means 'set of 24' and is used for poems addressed in devotion and praise to each of the 24 Jinas.

Ānandghan's Cauvīsī is no exception. But he did not write the hymns to the 23rd Jina, Pārśvanātha or Lord Pārśva, and to the 24th, Mahāvīra. Given these Jinas' importance, it is slightly puzzling to note that these two hymns have been handed down in completely different versions. This is clear from the very different hymns in the two commentaries on the Cauvīsī that have survived. These are the:

The 22 hymns which Ānandghan composed mostly have between six and 11 verses. The longest ones are those dedicated to the:

  • 16th Jina, Śāntinātha or Lord Śānti, with 15 verses
  • 22nd Jina, Neminātha or Lord Nemi, which has 17 verses.

Each poem has a refrain and a musical mode – rāga. According to legend, the author sang these hymns sitting in a temple in Mount Abu, where a group of leading and learned Śvetāmbara Jain monks happened to listen to him. Among them was Yaśovijaya, who memorised all of the devotional songs. This tale stresses the oral transmission of the hymns.

On the other hand, the Cauvīsī seems to have been widely transmitted in writing as well. Kumarpal Desai, editor of a 1980 critical edition of the text, has collected 174 manuscripts that were copied in the 18th and 19th centuries (pages 152 to 297). This fairly large number points to the continued popularity of the collection.


Ānandghan's second major work is the Bahattarī. The title means '72' but the work does not refer to anything connected to this number. It contains brief verses with musical modes, which were handed down in both writing and the oral tradition. Ānandghan did not compile the collection himself but the anthology of this name was formed by 1775 and became a standard reference. The number of poems varies according to the edition.

The Bahattarī consists of short poetical units – pads – like those composed by the famous bhakti poets Sūrdās and Mīrābāī, addressed to the Hindu god Kṛṣṇa, or the poems of spirituality and transcendence composed by Tulsīdās and the Sant poet Kabīr. They are sometimes known as adhyātma pads – 'spiritual verses'. Each of them is connected with a musical mode – rāga.

The songs in the Bahattarī were transmitted both orally and in written form, in anthologies of varying lengths, although the Bahattarī collection is the main one. However, Ānandghan's songs form a kind of fluid body of work, in that many poems attributed to him may not be his. Like other poets of this type, Ānandghan's name has worked as a magnet to attract numerous similar poems, the authorship of which is uncertain. Bangha and Fynes's selection (2013) thus places at the end what they call 'Songs Forgotten', which are found only in part of the manuscript tradition.

Manuscripts of the pads present variations in the number and identity of songs they collect, ranging from 75 to 89. The first printed collection, published by the lay man Bhimsingh Manak in 1876, has 107 songs. This became a kind of reference but the 1974 Khairad-Jargad critical edition contains 124 hymns. Up to 152 songs are attributed to Ānandghan today (Bangha and Fynes 2013: li).


The poems of Ānandghan demonstrate several characteristics. Firstly, they emphasise the primacy of the internal spiritual journey to fulfilment of the soul. The tone and vocabulary are plain and quite informal, talking directly to the reader or listener. Thoughout, the poet uses simple language that can be easily understood but which also conveys deep insights. Typically for bhakti poetry, the verse uses imagery of love and separation that can be read on several levels.

Finally, although the Jain perspective can be found throughout Ānandghan's work, it is not insistent, technical or sectarian. The poems display openness towards all religions and sects and stress the internal nature of spiritual progression, which must be undertaken by an individual alone. Rituals and teachings are not as important in this progress as individual effort.

Internal experience

A typical Digambara representation of a siddha, shown as an empty space. This underlines the idea that a siddha has no body and is a soul that has recovered its original purity. It regains this purity when it is liberated from the cycle of rebirth. In thi

Image of a siddha
Image by Hindi Granth Karyala © Public domain

Ānandghan's religious poetry is a strong exhortation for everyone to undertake an inner journey in search of the Absolute. This opens up his work to a far wider audience than his own sect of Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjaka Jains.

For the Jains the Absolute is paramātman, the pure form of the soul. This can be reached only through personal experience, which is an idea conveyed by the word anubhavSanskrit spelling, anubhava – that recurs in the poems. Although learning, knowledge and following a spiritual master are also important, they are clearly secondary in this perspective.

Tone and vocabulary

Ānandghan's verse creates a marked impression in the reader or listener. With many alliterations and comparisons and a direct, often informal tone of voice and vocabulary, it is conversational yet poetic. The metre and musical mode – rāga – also help generate these effects.

His work is urgent in tone, directly addressing the listener or reader, as shown in this example.

Hey, you dullard, why are you asleep? Get up, awake!
Life is slipping away like water from folded hands;
look, the watchman is striking the hour.
Hey, you dullard, why are you asleep? Get up, awake!

Kapadia, poem no. 1, page 1

translation by Bangha and Fynes
page 5, 2013

A recording of this song, known as Kyā sove uṭha jāga bāure, and others are available to listen to online.

The choice of words often produces alliterations and lots of comparisons. Combined with the rhythm of the metre, the direct address to the reader or listener and the musical melody of the rāgas all contribute to the poetry's striking effects.

Simplicity and depth

Hymn writers illustrating the trend of bhaktidevotional songs, whether they are Jains, like Kundakunda or Yogīndu, or non-Jains, like Kabīr, created poems that are both uncomplicated and profound. Ānandghan's work clearly displays these qualities.

Rather than sophisticated philosophical argumentation incomprehensible to the masses, Ānandghan used powerful imagery with metaphors and similes familiar to ordinary people. The largest part of Ānandghan's imagery is shared with the imagery of devotional songs and the imagery of the Hindi court poetry of his times. This imagery can be reinvested with a Jain spiritual meaning

Bangha and Fynes
page xxxvi, 2013

Ānandghan's poems range from straightforward to cryptic at first sight, because of their abrupt style and the use of puns. They are regarded as having deep spiritual meaning and thus many Indian editions expand upon them with detailed explanations – vivecan. All this makes any concise translation rather difficult.

Imagery of love and separation

Śvetāmbara painting of the worship of an image of Naminātha or Lord Nami, the 21st Jina. The blue lotus emblem identifies the figure in the lotus pose of meditation, wearing jewellery and fanned by richly dressed lay people.

Worship of Nami
Image by Royal Asiatic Society © Royal Asiatic Society Images / RAS, London

The principal imagery of Ānandghan's poetry is that of love in separation – viraha – which is typical of religious poetry. This imagery can be read at the most obvious level as two lovers separated but can also be thought of the narrator's relationship to aspects of Jain doctrine and to the Jinas.

At first sight the refrains seem self-explanatory and not tied to any author or religious trend. Examples include the lines given in the table, along with details of where to find the whole poem in Kapadia 1970 and Bangha and Fynes 2013.

Lines from Ānandghan's poems and translations of the poems


Kapadia 1970

Bangha and Fynes 2013

Look at me, I'm pining away day and night without my lover

Pad number 47

page 9

Without my beloved my good sense is blocked

Pad number 62

page 32

Without my lover I forgot good sense


page 33

Won't someone help me meet my gold-coloured Lord

Pad number 49

page 35

In Ānandghan's verse, however, the woman is Equanimity – samatā – or Good Understanding – sumati. These are feminine words in Indian languages. The husband is Consciousness – cetan – or the Self – ātman – which are masculine words. All of these concepts are vital in Jain doctrine, which emphasises that the journey to spiritual bliss is based on the 'three jewels' and detachment from the world.

The isolated pads translated by Bangha and Fynes 2013 plainly demonstrate the Jain perspective. Jain beliefs also come through strongly in Ānandghan's poems praising the Jinas, such as this one:

The Lord Jina, Ṛṣabha is my beloved. I don't want any other dear one.
If satisfied, the Master does not avoid my company. [The] Link with him has a beginning, but no end

Translation by Nalini Balbir

Such is the initial stanza of the Cauvīsī, which is understood as being spoken by a lady because here consciousness – cetanā – is a feminine word. She speaks in front of her female friend, Faith. The Jina is here a name for the totally pure Self. This double level of understanding continues throughout the poem addressed to the first Jina, and in the rest of the work as well.

Jain presence

In some respects, the Jain faith is not an overt theme of Ānandghan's work. His poetry does not have any sectarian angles and also makes very little reference to the technicalities of Jain teachings.

However, there are instances where Jain philosophy seems to be referred to. For example, the following poem can be seen as a way of stating that an approach of multiple viewpoints, such as the Jain anekānta-vāda, has advantages over one-sidedness.

If I say 'the perfect one has form', then there is no consideration of bondage and liberation. [...]
If I say 'he is perfect and eternal', then who comes into existence and passes away?
If I say 'the one who comes into existence and passes away', my dear, his ways are eternal and unbound. [...]
The one with all the parts and the master of all the standpoints – all the proofs accept this.
The advocate of a standpoint clutches at straws, my dear, he makes place of fighting.

Bahattarī 36
translated by Bangha and Fynes, page 28, 2013

In another song, there is a sentence that commentators understand as a reference to the Jain sevenfold method of analysis – sapta-bhaṅga. The line in Bahattarī 20 goes:

Is, is not, not in words, unreachable to senses; is this evidenced by the standpoints, and the sevenfold?

Bangha and Fynes, page 15

And, like any Jain poet, Ānandghan can compose praises of the founding figures of Jainism – the 24 Jinas – in lines such as:

aise jina caraṇe citta lyauṃ re manā
aise arihaṃta ke guṇa gāuṃ re manā

Kapadia, number 95

Hey, mind, bring thought to the feet of the Jina! Sing the virtues of the Worthies

Bangha and Fynes, page 58

Attitude towards sects and other religions

Equipment for performing temple rituals is arranged on a silver-sided chest. The small bell is used by the officiant – pujāri – during rituals or by devotees during their prayers. In front of it are a yellow and a blue prayer book, the blue one of a tiny

Equipment for religious rituals
Image by Ravin Mehta © Ravin Mehta

Ānandghan's work is popular among Jains of all sects and also non-Jains partly because it is in the general Indian bhakti tradition of devotional song and partly because it does not portray other religions negatively. The poetry dwells on the internal spiritual path of the individual seeker, which is not linked to particular rituals of worship or to different gods.

Several of Ānandghan's songs stress the fact no religious tradition is satisfactory and that the Absolute is beyond any human categories. This example uses some key Hindu gods alongside a Jina of the Jain faith to emphasise that the end goal of fulfilment of the soul is not constrained by the differences of human religions.

One may say Rama, Rahman, Krishna or Shiva, then.
One may say Lord Parshva, and say Brahma – all is the absolute itself.
One may say Rama, Rahman, Krishna or Shiva, then.
Various kinds of pots are named – they are the forms of the same clay.
One may say Rama, Rahman, Krishna or Shiva, then.
Thus, parts are imposed by imagination; his own form is undivided.
One may say Rama, Rahman, Krishna or Shiva, then.

Kapadia, number 67
translated by Bangha and Fynes, page 44, 2013

Another poem declares that rituals and practices, different as they may be, are all irrelevant. The message is that the purity of the inner soul has to be experienced by each person alone and no intermediate person can be of any help.

I studied Rama, they taught me Rahman, Jain worthies made me recite.
I was attached to chores in house after house, unattached to my life-relation.
My friend, no one at all left me impartial! I longed so much to be impartial; slowly they whispered their own opinions into me.
Someone shaved my head, someone plucked, someone wrapped my hair.
Someone woke me up, someone left me sleeping – nobody destroyed the pain.
My friend, no one at all left me impartial! I longed so much to be impartial; slowly they whispered their own opinions into me.
One established me, one uprooted me; one made me go, one made me stay.
I haven't seen anyone in agreement; no one is another's witness.
My friend, no one at all left me impartial! I longed so much to be impartial; slowly they whispered their own opinions into me.

Khairad-Jargad 1974: Granthāvalī 66
translated by Bangha and Fynes, pages 50–51

Legacy and presence

Women chanting hymns in the temple. Singing hymns of praise to the Jinas is one of the main elements of worship and is a crucial part of most religious ceremonies.

Women singing hymns
Image by Dey – Dey Alexander © CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The poetry of Ānandghan remains popular among contemporary Jains, both those in India and those outside India, and among non-Jains. There have been many versions of his poems since the 17th century, with translations increasing the audience. Recordings of the hymns also testify to the continuing popularity of Ānandghan's work. His songs can be heard in Jain temples around the world, especially among Digambara worshippers. The hymns' emphasis on internal spirituality is similar to the work of Digambara writers such as Banārasīdās and Dyānatrāya, who lived around the same time as Ānandghan. This quality and the poems' non-sectarian nature have long made them appealing to those concerned with non-sectarianism and spirituality in general, such as the Shri Ramchandra mission and Mahatma Gandhi.

The transmission of Ānandghan's songs – pads – has shown how collections of Jain verse were being formed in the centuries following his birth. Examples of printed collections include those edited by:

  • Bhimsingh Manek, 1877
  • Buddhi-sagar, who published the first edition in 1913
  • Sarabhai Nawab, 1954.

Popular editions of the Cauvīsī and the Bahattarī with modern Hindi or Gujarati translations and detailed explanations published in India show that the poet still has a large audience. One example is the 1985 Hindi translation by Muni Ratnasenavijaya.

The Cauvīsī and the Bahattarī are very much alive today among Jains. Jain communities in India sing them but they are also favourites among the diaspora. Like Rājacandra, whose Ātmasiddhi may speak to Jains who do not practise rituals, Ānandghan's strong appeal to transcendence, expressed through powerful images, encourage spiritual development in everyone.

Recordings of the songs are popular, with online versions and DVDs and tapes available to buy. This example on YouTube is a good example of singing the original text. It is preceded by a modern Hindi translation of the poem Kin guna bhayo re udāsī bhamarā by Piyush Nagar:

kina guna bhayo re udāsī, bhamarā?
paṃkha terī kārī, mukha terā pīrā, saba phūlana ko vāsī
saba kaliyana ko rasa tuma līno, so kyūṃ jāya nirāsī?
Ānandaghana prabhu tumāre milanavu, jāya karavata lyūṃ kāsī

Number 106 in Kapadia, volume 2: 473–478

Bee, why on earth are you sad? Why on earth are you sad?
Your wings are black, your mouth is yellow, you make your home in all flowers.
Bee, why on earth are you sad? Why on earth are you sad?
You have taken the juice of all flowers. So why are you desperate?
Bee, why on earth are you sad? Why on earth are you sad?
Cloud of Bliss, Lord, in order to meet you I am ready to go up to Benares.
Bee, why on earth are you sad? Why on earth are you sad?

Translation by Nalini Balbir

This is one of 11 of Ānandghan's songs in the record Mere Prāṇ Ānandghan. This is named after one of the songs, called 'My life is the Cloud of Bliss, my song the Cloud of Bliss' (number 52 in Kapadia; Bangha and Fynes's translation 2013: 52), as sung by Darshana Bhuto and Piyush Nagar.

A good selection of recorded songs with different musical styles is found on, along with the transliteration of the text. Details are in the table.

Selected songs by Ānandghan


Number in Kapadia's edition

Page in Bangha and Fynes's 2013 translation

mūlaḍo thoḍo bhāī vyājaḍo ghaṇo re



mere prāṇa āṇandaghan



terī huṃ terī huṃ kahuṃ rī



merī tuṃ merī tuṃ kānhī ḍarerī



sādho bhāī samatā raṅga ramīje



dekho eka apūrava khelā


avadhu! kyā māguṃ gunahīnā



kyāre mune milaśye



dulaha nārī tuṃ baḍī bāvarī



avadhū! āja suhāgana nārī



niśadina jovuṃ vāṭaḍī



mere ghaṭa gyāna bhānu bhayo bhora



anubhava: tuṃ hai hitu hamāro



anubhava! ham to rāvarī dāsī



kyā sove uṭha jāga baure



avadhū! kyā sove tana maṭha meṃ



anubhava nātha kuṃ kuṃ na jagāve



Ānandghan's songs may be sung at Jain temples in and outside India (Bangha and Fynes 2013: xxiii note 1). Despite their author's Śvetāmbara affiliation, the hymns are extremely popular among the sect of the Digambaras. This can be explained by the songs' stress on internal spirituality – adhyātma – which was a trend initiated by Banārasīdāsas and continued more by Digambara personalities like Dyānatrāya (1676–1727. Thus Ānandghan's verses are heavily used by Digambaras in their performance of devotion – bhakti – and find a place in Digambara hymn collections.

In 2006 a religious camp organised by the Shri Ramchandra mission in Dharampur, Gujarat, focused on the Cauvīsī. It took the collections as the basis for meditation and detailed expositions by the religious teacher.

Mahatma Gandhi included the poem 'One may say Rama, Rahman, Krishna or Shiva, then' in his prayer book, Āśram Bhajanāvalī (Bangha and Fynes 2013: xxiii).


  • Senior monk teaching This painting from an Uttarādhyayana-sūtra manuscript shows Śvetāmbara monks listening to a senior mendicant. The teacher is the largest figure, indicating his importance, and he sits on a low dais with a bookstand – sthāpanācārya – in front. Monks and nuns are expected to show respect to their superiors – vinaya.. Image by Victoria and Albert Museum © V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London
  • View of Mount Abu This photograph of Mount Abu, a hill station in southern Rajasthan was taken around 1898. Mount Abu is a major pilgrimage site near the town of Dilwara, with five white marble temples renowned for the delicacy of their carvings. There are Hindu temples as well as Jain temples on the hill.. Image by Archibald Adams © public domain
  • Monks preach to lay men This illustration from an 18th-century Ādityavāra-kathā manuscript shows monks preaching to lay men. Though dressed in white, like monks of the Śvetāmbara sect, the mendicants are Digambaras. Sitting on low platforms above their listeners, the monks hold scriptures in their hands. The bookstands before them underline their role as religious teachers. . Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
  • Worship of Śānti This manuscript painting depicts the 16th Jina Śāntinatha or Lord Śānti. Lay people stand around him, raising their hands in worship. The domed roof hints they are worshipping an idol in a temple. The statue's jewellery, ornate headdress and open eyes indicate that it belongs to the Śvetāmbara sect.. Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
  • Image of a siddha A typical Digambara representation of a siddha, shown as an empty space. This underlines the idea that a siddha has no body and is a soul that has recovered its original purity. It regains this purity when it is liberated from the cycle of rebirth. In this cycle, karma causes a soul to be born into a succession of bodies until it progresses spiritually to enlightenment and then to liberation. The siddhas exist without bodies in the siddha-śilā at the top of the universe in endless bliss.. Image by Hindi Granth Karyala © Public domain
  • Worship of Nami Śvetāmbara painting of the worship of an image of Naminātha or Lord Nami, the 21st Jina. His emblem of the blue lotus identifies the figure in meditation, adorned with jewellery and under a royal parasol within an ornately carved shrine. Richly dressed lay people stand either side, fanning the statue with fly-whisks.. Image by Royal Asiatic Society © Royal Asiatic Society Images / RAS, London
  • Equipment for religious rituals Equipment for performing temple rituals is arranged on a silver-sided chest. The small bell is used by the officiant – pujāri – during rituals or by devotees during their prayers. In front of it are a yellow and a blue prayer book, the blue one of a tiny size. These miniature prayer books are common and generally contain one or two famous hymns with yantras. Right of the books is a metal bowl, which could be used to hold flowers, for instance. Behind the bell is a mirror for viewing – darśana – of the Jina idol. It is symbolic in the sense that viewing the Jina idol helps to view one's own pure soul, which is like the Jina, who is a siddha or liberated soul. The chest is a box for offerings, with money put into the slit on top. The banner and the full jar can be seen on the side, symbols of the auspicious dreams of the Jina’s mother.. Image by Ravin Mehta © Ravin Mehta
  • Women singing hymns Women chanting hymns in the temple. Singing hymns of praise to the Jinas is one of the main elements of worship and is a crucial part of most religious ceremonies.. Image by Dey – Dey Alexander © CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Further Reading

It's a City-Showman's Show!: Transcendental Songs of Ānandghan
translated and edited by Imre Bangha and R. C. C. Fynes
Penguin Books; New Delhi, India; 2013

Full details

Ānandghan Granthāvalī: Saralārtha Sahita
translated by Umarcand Jain Jargad
edited by Mahtab Chandra Kharaid
Vijaycandra Jargad; Jaipur, Rajasthan, India; 1974

Full details

Śrī Ānandghan Padya Ratnāvalī
edited by Sarabhai Nawab
Prakrit Bharti Academy; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 1954

Full details

translated and edited by Muni Ratnasenavijayaji
Padma Prakashan; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 1985

Full details

‘Scribal Transmission and Emerging Hindi Canons in the Eighteenth Century: The Case of the Jain Ānandghan's Bahattarī’
Imre Bangha
Annali dell'Istituto Orientale di Napoli
volume 68: 1–4

Full details

Ānandghanjī pad saṅgraha
Bombay, Maharashtra, India; 1953

Full details

‘God Outside and God Inside: North Indian Digambar Jain Performance of Bhakti’
John E. Cort
Bhakti Beyond the Forest: current research on early modern literatures in North India, 2003–2009
edited by Imre Bangha
Manohar; New Delhi, India; 2012

Full details

Ānandghan: ek adhyayan: 'Ānandghan Bāvīsī' ne anulakṣīne
Kumarpal Desai
Adarsh Prakashan; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 1980

Full details

Ab Ham Amar Bhaye: Ānandghan: Jīvan aur Kava
Kumarpal Desai
Jayabhikkhu Sāhitya Ṭrasṭ Prakāśan; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 1998

Full details

Bhāratīya Sāhitya ke nirmātā Ānandghan
Kumarpal Desai
Sahitya Academy; Delhi, India; 2006

Full details

Śrī Ānandaghanajī nāṃ pado
Moticand Girdharlāl Kapadia
Mahavir Jain Vidyalaya; Bombay, Maharashtra, India; 1955–1963

Full details

Śrī Ānandaghana-Covīsī
Moticand Girdharlāl Kapadia
edited by Ratilāl Dīpcand Desāi
Mahavir Jain Vidyalaya; Bombay, Maharashtra, India; 1970

Full details

Mahāmuni Ānandghanjī tathā Cidānandj viracitaī Bahoṃterīo
edited by Bhimsingh Manak
Shravak Bhimsingh Manak; India

Full details

Tryambak Lal Mehta
Umechand Bhai and Kasumbaben Charitable Trust; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; 1998

Full details

‘Sant Kabīr aur Sant Kavi Ānandghan’
Agarchand Nahta
Kabīr Sāhab
edited by Vivekdās
Kabīr Vāṇī Prakāśan Kendra; Banaras, Uttar Pradesh, India; 1978

Full details

Ānandghan Caubīsī: 17 racnāoṃ kā saṃkṣipta bhāvārtha, avaśiṣṭa stavan mūl, vivecnākār Muni Sahājānandghan
Bhamvarlal Nahta
Prakrit Bharati Academy and Śrīmad Rāmcandra Āśram; Jaipur, Rajasthan and Hampi, Karnatak, India; 1989

Full details

Ānandghan kā rahasyavād
Sadhvi Sudarshanashri
Parshvanath Vidyashram Shodh Samsthan; Benares, Uttar Pradesh, India; 1984

Full details



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.


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.


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. 


From the Sanskrit for 'devotion', the bhakti movement originated in the late medieval period. It revolved around the emotional experience of devotion to religious figures and gods, stressing that caste, ritual and complex religious philosophy were unimportant compared to expressing overwhelming love for the deities. Showing this by repeatedly chanting the deity’s name is a powerful devotional practice, because the chanter both praises the god and moves nearer to spiritual self-realisation. These emotional experiences were often recorded in poetry and hymns, which became a repertoire of devotional hymns for later devotees.


Language, speech.


The chief creator god in Hinduism, who has red skin and four heads and four arms. One of the triad of principal gods along with Śiva and Viṣnu.

Braj Bhāṣā

A vernacular language used throughout northern India for centuries. It is still spoken but has disappeared as a literary language.


(1874–1925) Jain monk credited with over a hundred books, who became heavily involved in debates about idol worship.


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.


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'.


Not feeling attached to any things, people or emotions in the world, whether positive or negative. Jains believe that detachment from the world is necessary to progress spiritually towards the ultimate aim of freeing the soul from the cycle of rebirth.


Sanskrit for 'meditation', one of the six internal austerities or tapas that help purify the soul of karma. Meditation is deep thought about religious doctrine or mental focus on spiritual matters over a period of time. An important part of many religions, meditation is especially important in Jain belief because it forms key elements of religious practice and spiritual development.


From the Greek term meaning 'scattering or dispersal', the word 'diaspora' describes large groups of people with shared roots who live away from their ancestral homes. They have usually moved because they were forced to by other groups, because they have fled war, famine or persecution, or to improve economic opportunies. They usually have strong emotional, religious, linguistic, social and economic ties to their original homeland.


'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.


A principle or system of teachings, especially religious philosophy.


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. 


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.


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


Follower of the majority faith in India and an adjective describing something belonging to Hinduism. Hindus have numerous gods and diverse beliefs and practices, though many believe in the soul, karma, the cycle of births and liberation. Roughly a billion Hindus comprise the third largest religion in the world.


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.


Formal or ceremonial admission into an organisation or group.


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.


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.


One of the best-known avatars of the deity Viṣṇu the preserver, Kṛṣṇa is one of the principal Hindu gods. Since his name means ' dark blue', 'dark' or 'black' in Sanskrit, he is usually depicted with blue or black skin. Often shown as a boy or young man playing a flute, Kṛṣṇa is a hero of the Indian epic, Mahābhārata, and protagonist of the Bhagavad Gītā. Jains believe he is the cousin of Lord Nemi, the 22nd Jina.


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.


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.

Mohandas Gandhi

Often known by his title Mahātma – meaning 'Great Soul' – Gandhi (1869–1948) was one of the leaders of the struggle for Indian independence. Influenced by the Jain notion of ahiṃsā, his policy of peaceful non-co-operation was a key factor in the British withdrawal from India.Gandhi's non-violent civil disobedience continues to inspire activists around the world.


The 'liberation' of the soul from its body and thus from the cycle of rebirth because it has no karma and becomes omniscient. The ultimate aim of Jainism is to achieve mokṣa and become a liberated soul in siddha-śilā.

Monastic order

A single-sex group of ascetics that vows to follow rules set out by a founding religious teacher. They formally renounce the world to become monks and nuns. They usually have a hierarchy of leaders at different levels to govern them.


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.


Sage. A common term for a Jain monk.


Jains who venerate and worship images of Jinas in temples.


The highest soul, the liberated soul, the Absolute, often used instead of siddhi. Jains believe that a soul or ātman can achieve liberation from the cycle of birth through its own spiritual development. This concept has been called God in Western thought since the start of the Christian era.


The 23rd Jina of the present age. His symbolic colour is green and his emblem the snake. Historical evidence points to his living around 950 to 850 BC.


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.


Literally 'colour' or 'hue' in Sanskrit, rāga has come to mean 'beauty', 'harmony' and 'melody'. Consisting of five or more musical notes from which a melody is created, the rāga is one of the melodic modes of Indian classical music. Traditionally, rāgas express the moods of different times of day or seasons to help create an emotional response in the listeners.


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


The language spoken in Rajasthan, in north-western India, and surrounding states. It is also spoken in some parts of neighbouring Pakistan. Also the adjective describing people, things or places in or associated with the state of Rajasthan.


An avatar of Viṣṇu, the preserver or protector who is one of the three major Hindu gods. Rāma is a prince of Ayodhyā and is often shown with blue skin, holding a bow and arrow. The epic poem Rāmāyaṇa recounts his adventures as he searches for his wife Sītā, who has been kidnapped by Rāvaṇa. Blending Jain values into the story, the Jain Rāmāyaṇas cast him and other figures in the tale as some of the 'great men' of Jain Universal History.


The ‘three jewels’ that form the fundamentals of Jainism, without which spiritual progress is impossible. They are:

  • right faith – samyak-darśana
  • right knowledge – samyak-jñāna
  • right conduct – samyak-cāritra.


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.


First Jina of the present age. His symbolic colour is gold and his emblem the ox or bull. There is little historical evidence of his existence. Jains believe that he established many social institutions, such as marriage and the caste system, and introduce crafts and agriculture to the people.


Someone who is declared by a religious organisation or by popular acclaim to be of outstanding goodness and spiritual purity, usually some time after his or her death. The person's holiness is often believed to have been demonstrated in the performance of miracles. Saints are frequently held up as examples for followers of a religious faith.


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.


During the 15th to 17th centuries of devotion – bhakti – this term is applied to holy sages who worshipped and praised God as the Absolute in the form of poems – pads – which were sung.


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 principal destroyer or transformer deity in the Hindu religion. One of the triad of major Hindu gods, along with Brahmā the creator and Viṣṇu the preserver or protector. Śiva is often depicted with a third eye, a crescent moon on his forehead, matted hair and smeared with cremation ashes.


A title of respect often used to indicate holiness or divinity. It honours a person or place and is also added to the name of written or sung texts, such as scriptures. It is added before the name, for example Śrī Ṛṣabha.


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


'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.


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.


The conversion of words from one alphabet into the corresponding letters of another alphabet. The text is not necessarily translated into another language, just put into another alphabet.


Dwelling-hall near a Jain temple where wandering ascetics stay. They may stay for a short time during their travels or for the long rainy season. There is usually a main room where lay Jains come to listen to sermons. Lay people may also perform fasts here, such as upadhāna tapas or rituals such as posadha that involve leaving household activities for a while.


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.


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

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