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Jaina literature, a Portrait

There are innumberable works on Jaina literature. Right from the time of Mahavira to the present day many great Jainacaryas and writers have written thousands of books. Acaryasri Umasvati has written 500 works. Sri Haribhadrasuri also has written 1444 books. Kalikalasarvajna Hemacandracarya has a vast literature to his credit. Upadhyaya Srimad Yasovijayaji Maharaj has composed 108 big works. Many learned sadhus have written innumerable books. The Bhagavadgita is considered to be the most important work of Hindus, Kuran-e-sharif is the chief work of Muslims and the Bible is the most sacred work of Christians. Similarly Agamas are the most sacred and authentic literature of Jain religion. It is also known as ‘Sutra’, ‘Sastra’, ‘Siddhanta’ or ‘Nirgrantha Pravacana’. Formerly there were 84 Agamas but now only 45 are existent. Among these 45 Agamas, the first Agama-anga is the Acaranga Sutra. This Anga contains a subtle and sutra-style description of the pure conduct and thoughts of the Jain monks. Only this great work can be considered a brief epitome or a representative of Jain literature. This Acaranga-sutra, the main work of Jain literature, is written in the style of sutras. Being written in sutras, its sutras are variously interpreted.

Bhagvan Mahavira gives the essence of right knowledge in three words - upapannei va dhuvei va vigamei va (It is produced, it remain permanent and it is destroyed). He gave his discourses in the Ardhamagadhi langauage which could be understood even by ordinary people and childern. His learned disciple Sudharmasvami and other Ganadharas (chief pupils) arragned his discourses in the sutra form. There are 12 parts of his discourses which are known as angas.

11 Angas

1. Acaranga
2. Sutrakratnga
3. Samvayanga
4. Thananga
5. Bhagavati
6. Jnatadharmkatha
7. Upasakadasa
8. Antakritdasa
9. Anuttaraupapatikadasa
10 . Prasna Vyakarana
11. Vipaka Sutra
12. Dristivada
(The 12th agnga is lost.)

12 Upangas

1. Aupapatika
2. Rajaprsniya
3. Jivajivabhigama
4. Prajnapana
5. Jambudvipaprajnapti
6. Candraprajnapti.
7. Suryaprajnapti
8. Nirayavaliyao
9. Kalpavatanisika
10. Puspika
11. Puspaculika
12. Vrishnidasa

10 Payanna

1. Catusasarana
2. Samstara
3. Aturapratyakhyana
4. Bhakta Praijna
5. Tandulaveyaliya
6. Candavijaya
7. Devendrastava
8. Ganividya
9. Mahapratyakhyana
10. Virastava

6 Chedasutras

1. Nisitha
2. Mahanisitha
3. Vyavahara
4. Dasasutra Skandha
5. Bruhatkalpa
6. Jitakalpa

2 Sutras

1. Nandi Sutra
2. Anuyoga-dvara

4 Mulasutras.

1. Avasyaka-oghaniryukti
2. Dasavaikalika
3. Oghaniryukti
4. Uttaradhyayana

The Subjects discussed in the Agamas are :

1. Acaranga (The first Anga) - It contains discussions about knowledge, perception, character, penances and power, etc. It describes ‘gocari’, Vinaya (education) Siksa (training), language, good conduct, ceremonies etc.

2. Sutrakrtanga. It discusses Loka, Aloka, Lokaloka, Jiva, Time and establishes the theory of Anekantavada by refuting 363 views, (80) kriyavadas, (67) Ajnana Vadas and (32) Vinayavadas).

3. Sthananga - It discusses Jiva, Time, Loka and geography.

4. Samavayanga. It discusses objects bearing nos. 1 to 101 and the form of the 12 angas.

5. Bhagavatisutra deeply discussed Jiva, etc.

6. Jnatadharma katha contains the stories of Jain devotees.

7. Upasakadasa describes the lives of Sramanas.

8. Antakritdasa contains the lives of souls about to be liberated.

9. Prasnavyakarana conatins questions about Vidya-mantras and dialogues between gods.

10. Vipakasutra discusses the causes of happiness and misery.

The 12th anga is Drstivada, but it is lost.

Sudharmasvami alone has not written all the agamas. Syamacarya, has written 4th Upangas, Shri Virbhadra Gani has composed the Chatuhsaran sutra.

The names of the writers of Payanna are not known. Bhadrabahusvami has written all the Chedasutras except the first two. Shri Haribhadrasuri has reconstructed Mahanisitha written by Sudharmasvami. Devavacakagani is the author of Nandisutra, while Dasvaikalikasutra and Pindaniryukti are written respectively by Svayambhavasuri and Bhadrabahusvmi.

The ascetics began to forget the sutras on account of the weakening of memory. All the ascetics gathered together in Pataliputra and collected all that was remembered by different ascetics. After 500 years. Arya Skandilacarya gave lectures on the sutras. They are known as ‘Mathuri version’. In vira samvat 980, Devardhigani Ksamasramana called a council at Vallabhipur (Vala) and put the doctrines of Jain Agamas on paper.

Thus the Agmas were written for the first time. They are known as the ‘Vallabhi version’. Copies were made and propagated at various places. The Agamodaya Samiti of Surat and other bodies have published these 45 Agamas. Most of the agamas have been translated into Gujarati and other languages.

These Agamas contain the knowledge of various subjects. Many languages have come into existence by changes taking place in the Prakrit language. The original Prakrit language cannot be understood properly but these Agamas are available in Sanskrit, Apabhramsa, old Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil, English and German languages.

Next to the Agamas, Tattvarthadhigamasutra is a very valuable work for understanding Jain philosophy. Many commentaries have been written on this work.

Saddarsanasamuccaya of Sri Haribhadrasuri, Visesvasyakabhasya of Sri Jinabhadra Srimasramana, Pariksasutralughuvrtti of Sri Anantavirya, Syadvada-manjari of Pramanansya Tattvalokalankara of Sri Mallisena and Tarkarahasyadipika of Sri Gunaratna are other important works of Jain philosophy.

As philosophy and nyaya (logic) are closely connected, it is sometimes difficult to separate the works on these two subjects.



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