17th Jaina Studies Workshop ►Jaina Tantra ►Book of Abstracts

Posted: 02.04.2015
Updated on: 30.07.2015

IMG-Jaina Tantra

17th Jaina Studies Workshop

Jaina Tantra

Book of Abstracts:

Tantric Elements in the Original Praśnavyākaraṇa ‒ A Study

Jagat Ram Bhattacharyya (Shantiniketan, India)

Praśnavyākaraṇa is known to be the tenth canon of the twelve fold aṅgas of the Śvetāmbara sect. The available editions of Praśnavyākaraṇa are dealt with two major aspects of nine categories in Jainism, the influx (of karman–āsrava) and inhibition (of karman-saṃvara). These two aspects are the basis of the theory of the karma in Jainism. Praśnavyākaraṇa is also known in two other terms -Paṇhavāgaraṇadasā or Vāgaraṇadasā. Although the available text of the Praśnavyākaraṇa is same in all the editions, there is no doubt that this (newly edited) one is the new addition in the name of Praśnavyākaraṇa.

It is interesting to note that the subject matter of the Praśnavyākaraṇa was first introduced in the Sthānāṅgasūtra of being ten sections of the text, such as, Upamā, Saṃkhyā, Ṛṣibhāṣita, Ācāryabhāṣita, Mahāvīrabhāṣita, Kṣobhikapraśna, Komalapraśna, Ādarśapraśna and Bāhupraśna. Samavāyaṃga, the fifth canon has mentioned the Praśnavyākaraṇa in more elaborative manner. It has mentioned that there are 108 praśnas, 108 apraśnas and 108 praśnāpraśnas in it. It also mentions about the divine dialogue between Nāgas and Suparṇas. It also names some chapters like, Ādarśa (addāga), Aṅguṭṭha, Bāhu, Asi, Maṣi, Kṣauma and Āditya etc. Some typical names that hint to the tantric elements are also there, such as, Mahāpraśnavidyā, Manapraśnavidyā and Devaprayoga etc. It also mentions that the contents of the Praśnavyākaraṇa hold forty-five uddeśanas, forty-five samuddeśanas and one lakh couplets and so on and these are based on metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. Nandīsūtra, on this point comments that Praśnavyākaraṇa is the shorter form of the Samavāyāṅga with minor difference in the name of the chapters.

The newly edited Praśnavyākaraṇa, which I name as the Original Praśnavyākaraṇa has been lost for centuries. This text has a commentary named Darśanajyoti and the commentator is Jīvabhogin, an unknown Jain mendicant (Ācārya?), a disciple of Devanandin. One Devanandin is known to be a Digambara Ācārya of 7th/8th century A.D. Considering the period of Devanandin this commentary should also be placed in that period. Jain commentary literatures are acknowledged to be written on or after 10th century A.D. On this point the Darśanajyoti may be the earliest commentary so far if Jīvabhogin would be the disciple of that very Devanandin. However, the present Praśnavyakaraṇa comprises 34 chapters with an appendix. These are, 1. Vargaracanā, 2. Yoni-nirdeśa, 3. Śikṣā, 4. Saṃkaṭa-vikaṭa, 5. Uttarādhara, 6. Abhighāta, 7. Jīvasaṃjñā-bheda, 8. Jīvacintā (manuṣya), 9. Jīvacintā, 10. Dhātucintā, 11.Mūlasaṃjñā, 12. Mūlacintā, 13. Muṣṭijñāna, 14. Saṃkaṭa-vikaṭa (repetition of 04 with little change), 15. Saṃsthānavibhāga, 16. Varṇa-vibhāga, 17. Ghanachidra, 18. Jñātakāṇḍa, 19.Saṃkhyā, 20. Kālānayana, 21. Nakṣatrānayana, 22. Dvika-yoga, 23. Guṇakārakāṇḍa, 24. Mahākaraṇa-nandika parvan, 25.Gaja-vilulita, 26. Gajavilulita saṃkhyā-karaṇa, 27. Mahākaraṇa-Gajavilulita, 28. Siṃhāvalokana, 29. Sarvatobhadra, 30. Aśvamohitakaraṇa, 31. Sama-viṣama, 32. Guṇa, 33. Akṣarotpādana kāṇḍa, 34. Antikṣapaṇa and 35. Pariśiṣṭa.

Beginning from the first chapter till the end this text covers some aspects of grammar and at the same time it specifically deals with the nimittaśāstra, for example, while dealing with the letters like k, g, c, j, t and d etc. are treated as consonants as laghu akṣara, these are also called as jīvacintā; in terms of mātrā, certain vowels are not only treated in hrasva, dīrgha and pluta, some other terminologies are created as tiryak, adhaḥ and ūrdhva etc. Phonemes are termed as, āliṅgita, abhidhūmita, abhighāta, dagdha, carama and so on. So in other chapters, we come across some points that lead to the tantric ordinances. Dealing with the whole text an overview of tantric elements would be highlighted in the paper as this text holds good a new dimension of Indian tantric tradition.


The Five Great Elements (pañca mahābhūta) in Jaina Meditation Manuals

Christopher Key Chapple (Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, USA)

Śubhacandra's Jñānārṇava, a Digambara text most likely composed in the 11th century, includes a chapter on Piṇḍastha Dhyāna that correlates element, color, geometric form, and mantra, leading to a meditation on lotuses. The text describes a progressive entry into various states of concentration on the elements. Unlike the ascent from earth to water, and then to fire, air, and space commonly found in HinduTantra texts and in the Visuddhimagga of Buddhaghosa, the 29th chapter of the Jñānarṇava outlines a different sequence, beginning with earth, proceeding to water, but then using wind to generate the fire necessary to burn off karmas, delivering one to a state of pure meditation or the final and fifth element of space. Specifically, this chapter describes the four elements (earth, water, air, fire), four corresponding geometric forms (square, crescent, sphere, triangle), four colors (ochre, white, blueblack, yellow), and four mantras (lam, vam, yam, ram) to be performed.

Several chapters later more explicit directions are given in terms of the technique and results of this meditative sequence. In chapter 37, the order of concentration on the elements is switched, with water rising to ascendancy as a culminating practice that cools the burning fires generated by the breathing practices that have eradicated karmas. One reconfigures the gaze upon the earth to visualize the earth as taking the shape of a lotus. The “stuff” of the earth becomes correlated with mountains seen in the distance at dusk. This meditation then promotes fires to burn, scorching the eight downward petals of the lotus that represent the eight Jaina karmas. The four negative karmas, to be purified and expelled through this practice, are karmas that obstruct knowledge, that obstruct intuition, that obstruct energy, and that cause delusional thinking and action. The four remaining categories, which are also ultimately left behind, are karmas that enable feeling, lifespan, physique, and social status. This fire then leads to the practice of effortful, wind-like breathing that frees one from all constraints. The final visualization on water leads one to a reflection on the presence of the liberated soul and great teacher Mahāvīra, visualized externally on his Lion Throne as well as internally within one‟s own body. This latter meditation is reproduced nearly verbatim in the Yogaśāstra of Hemacandra (1089-1172).

This paper will compare and contrast these variant approaches to Tantric visualization practices, examining the uniquely Jaina aspects found in these two texts. Select new translations will be shared.


Reading Gorakhnāth through a Jain Lens: Jain Receptions of the Nāths in PreColonial North India

John E. Cort (Denison University, USA)

Toward the end of the Banārsī Vilās, the “collected works” of Banārsīdās (1586-1643) that was compiled by his colleague Jagjīvanrām in 1644, there is a curious seven-caupāī composition entitled “Gorakhnāth ke Vacan,” or “The Sayings of Gorakhnāth.” In it he gives a favourable overview of Gorakhnāth‟s teachings. To the best of my knowledge, no scholarly attention has been focused on this text. Scholars of Banārsīdās at best simply mention it in passing. Scholars of Gorakhnāth, and the Nāths seem largely to be ignorant of the text.

A century later, in his Mokṣa-mārg Prakāśak, the Jaipur-based Terāpanth ideologue Ṭoḍarmal (ca. 1719/20-1766/67) included a discussion of yogic practices. While Ṭoḍarmal did not specify a source for his discussion, his comments were harshly critical of these false practices.  We thus see two different responses to the Tantric Yoga of Gorakhnāth and the Nāths. In this paper, I analyse these two texts, to see two Jain readings of and responses to Nāth Tantric Yoga. I speculate on what the two sharply different receptions might tell us about the two authors, and also the socio-religious situations of the Jains in seventeenth-century Agra and eighteenthcentury Jaipur. Finally, I look at other evidence of Jain readings and receptions of Nāth Tantric Yoga in pre-colonial North India.


Tantra Without ‘Tantrism’: The Quotidian Jain Mantra According to Somasena Bhaṭṭāraka

Paul Dundas (University of Edinburgh, Scotland)

This presentation will first draw attention to a range of references from Śvetāmbara Jain sources which might be styled 'tantric' without fitting into any overarching system of 'Jain Tantrism' and will then focus on the role of mantra in daily life as described by the seventeenth century Digambara Somasenabhaṭṭāraka.


Digambara Jaina Divination Rituals in Coastal Karṇāṭāka

Peter Flügel (SOAS, University of London)

The paper presents a comparative analysis of the divination rituals performed to the yakṣīs Kūṣmāṇḍīnī, Jvālāmālinī and Padmāvatī at pilgrimage shrines related to the maṭhas of the Digambara bhaṭṭārakas at Mūḍabidarī, Narasiṃharājapura andHūmchā in Coastal Karnataka and similar Hindu rituals in Central Karnataka to discern the specific features of Jainisation of regional divinatory practice.


The Mudrās of Jain Mantraśāstra

Ellen Gough (Yale University, USA)

Ritual gestures (mudrā) are among the many components of Jain ritual that scholarship in non-Indic languages has completely overlooked. Jain ritual manuals, however, catalogue a variety of mudrās, with the twentieth-century Digambara compendium Laghuvidyānuvāda listing 45, and Nayacandrasāgara‟s Śvetāmbara Vardhamāna Vidyā Kalpa picturing 24. While this paper cannot examine all of these mudrās, it will focus on the eight used today in the daily worship of the sūrimantra paṭa, the cloth ritual diagram gifted to Śvetāmbara mendicant heads (ācārya) upon their promotions. Following the Gujarati manual ācāryas of the Tapā Gaccha use today, this paper will historicize these eight mudrās, placing them within the Indic use of mudrās more generally: (1) the saubhāgya mudrā, (2) the parameṣṭhī mudrā, (3) the garuḍa mudrā (4) the surabhi mudrā, (5) the mudgar mudrā, (6) the cakra mudrā, (7) the pravacana mudrā, and (8) the añjali mudrā. While some of these gestures, like the añjali mudrā, are omnipresent in Indic traditions, others are more commonly associated with particular sects: the garuḍa mudrā, for example, is associated with Vaiṣṇava traditions, while the pravacana mudrā perhaps is not used outside of Jain traditions. Ultimately, examining how and why these mudrās are used in the worship of the sūrimantra will help us more fully understand not only components of Śvetāmbara worship, but also those of the non-Śvetāmbara traditions - Vedic, Vaiṣṇava, Śaiva, Buddhist and Digambara –  that use these same gestures.


Jaina Meditation as depicted in Jñānārṇava by Śubhacandra (1003-1068 A.D.)

Shugan C. Jain (ISJS) New Delhi, India)

The paper highlights the uniqueness of the eleventh century AD Jain text,  Jñānārṇava written by Śubhacandra on Jaina meditation system. The peculiarity of  Jñānārṇava lies in its treatment of knowledge (jñāna) and meditation (dhyāna) as synonymous which is in conformity with Jain philosophical tradition. Śubhacandra argues that meditation, like a ship in the ocean, is the enabler of not only right knowledge but also of liberation (mokṣa, total annihilation of karmas). Jñānārṇava is a pioneering text with comprehensive details of concept and practice of Jaina yoga and meditation. The author discusses the types and subtypes of meditation based on the four types of puruṣārtha; their pre-requisites (control of mind, renunciation, selfrestraint of sensual inclinations); process of meditation including body postures, seat/place for meditation, breathing, and retention for lay people, self -study and meritorious meditation (dharmadhyāna) for auspicious results and liberation ultimately. For successful practice of Jaina meditation, Śubhacandra in Jñānārṇava emphasized the need to acquire right knowledge about the soul and its attributes, to develop renunciation (vairāgya), and equanimity of mind. To do so, he detailed the twelve reflections and the trio of jewels (ratnatraya). Similarly he said that the objective of dhyāna - yoga should be to enhance spiritual knowledge that ultimately leads to the attainment of liberation rather than just for meritorious results (puṇya). Śubhacandra had adopted some of the techniques of other yogic and meditation systems prevailing in India to explain the practice of Jaina meditation. The paper also details as to how Śubhacandra draws on the writings of his predecessors as well his acquaintance with prevailing non-Jaina practices along with his own long experience as a Jaina monk to explain the Jaina meditation systems. He also shows limitations of techniques like use of mantra, tantra, body postures, breathing and objects of concentration etc. for meditation propagated by other traditions. Finally the paper analyses the impact of Śubhacandras writings on the practice of Jaina meditation of later and contemporary Jainācāryas.


Tantric Elements in Prekṣa Meditation

Samaṇī Pratibhāprajñā (SOAS, Jain Viśva Bhāratī Ladnun)

This paper aims at understanding the role of tantric elements in the development of the prekṣā-dhyāna developed by Ācārya Mahāprajña (1920-2010), an aspect of prekṣā meditation which has not so far been explored. I argue that Mahāprajñā’s prekṣā meditation synthesises tantric “right hand practices” with elements of modern science in a new model of meditation. It examines the incorporation of tantric techniques such as visualisation, verbalisation, identification, models of the body, practices of mantra „fixing‟, and the assignment of colours to various parts of the body (nyāsa). The anthropomorphic representation as a site for the mapping of these systems as well as a locus for these practices to take place is explored. It will show how mainstream tantric elements are mirrored in the Jaina prekṣā system: “coiled power” (kuṇḍalinī) / internal journey (antara-yātrā), concentrated gaze (trāṭaka) / fixed-gaze perception (animeśa-prekṣā), colour visualisation (rāga-dhāraṇā) / colour meditation (leśyā-dhyāna), element balancing (dhātu-saṁtulana) / perception of the body (śaṛīra-prekṣā), and alphabet fixing (mantra-nyāsa). The attempt to develop a new model of tantra which is compatible with modern science, empirical, and free of superstition and religious dogma will be investigated. Finally, the humanitarian and „socially engaged‟ features of these tantric elements will be assessed.


Tantra in Practice: How to Convert a King

Olle Qvarnström (University of Lund)



The Jaina Appropriation and Adaptation of Śaiva Ritual: The Case of Pādliptasūri’s Nirvāṇakalikā

Alexis Sanderson (University of Oxford)

I shall show that the Nirvāṇakalikā, a published manual for the rituals of image installation (pratiṣṭhāpaddhati) attributed to Pāllittasūri, covering also daily ritual and the ceremony of initiation, is an adaptation of the Siddhāntasārapaddhati, an unpublished but influential eleventh-century Saiddhāntika Śaiva Paddhati covering the same topics. In addition to demonstrating that there is direct textual dependence here I shall attempt to explain and illustrate how the Jaina author went about adapting his Śaiva source-text through deletions, substitutions, and additions to produce an acceptably Jaina work.


Love, Violence, and Healing in Jain Tantra

Michael Slouber (Western Washington University, USA)

Jainism is often encapsulated in a series of stereotyped images: rigid non-violence, chastity, atheism, and a focus on transcending the world. On the other hand, tantra is popularly imagined to be all about ritual sex and black magic. Both characterizations contain some truth, of course, but neither does justice to the complexity of entire religious traditions. This paper introduces the character of medieval tantra, a religious current that rose in the fifth century AD and came to exert a lasting influence on all Indian religions. Drawing colourful examples from such Jain tantras as the Jvālāmālīnīkalpa, Vidyānuśāsanā, and Bhairavapadmāvatīkalpa - as well as derivative ritual and medical texts - I demonstrate that the Jains enthusiastically took part in the cosmopolitan world of Indian tantra, at once defying and redefining normative expectations in both the Tantric and orthodox Jain domains.


Roundtable Featuring


John E. Cort John E. Cort (Chair) (Denison University, USA)

Ashok Jain (Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee)

Ashok Jain (Department of Botany, Gwalior University)

Anupam Jain (Government Autonomous Holkar Science College, Indore)

Vimal Kumar Jain (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre Trombay, Mumbai)

Kokila H. Shah (Department of Philosophy, Ramniranjan Jhunjhunwala College, Mumbai)

D.C. Jain (Vardhman Mahavir Medical College & Safdarjang Hospital, New Delhi)

Parasmal Agarwal Jain (Oklahoma State University, Stillwater & Udaipur)

Sanjeev Sogani (Gyan Sagar Science Foundation, New Delhi)

Chakresh Jain (Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, New Delhi)


Addressing the question:

"In the 19th century, many Indian social and religious reformers differentiated 'custom and rituals' from 'true religion'. Is this distinction still relevant for lived Jainism today?"

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