An Introduction To Jainism ► [27] Jain Literature

Posted: 26.12.2008

Jain Literature

The scriptures propounded by Pārśva were available even up to the period of Tīrthaṅkara Mahāvīra. They are called 'Pūrvas’. However, no written teachings or records given by Ṛṣabha (1st Tīrthaṅkara) till Aristanemi (22nd Tīrthaṅkara) were available then. At present, what we have at our hand for understanding the fundamentals of Jainism, are the Āgamas taught by Mahāvīra.

As 'Vedas' hold an important place in Vedic tradition, the 'Tripiṭaka' in the Buddhist tradition, 'Gurugranth Sāhib in Sikhism, 'Yorah' in Judaism and 'Bible' in Christianity, so also, 'Āgamas' are the main canonical texts in the Jain tradition. They are called Dvādaśāṅgi and Gaṇipiṭaka.

They are 12 in number, each dealing with a special discipline of Jainism.

1. Ācārāṅga

Monasticism and spiritual discipline.

2. Sūtrakrtāṅga

Philosophical description.

3. Sthānāṅga

It is a collection of the above subjects in numerical sets of one to ten.

4. Samavāyāṅga

It also serves as a collection of matter on various subjects in a numerical system, with number one to more than hundred.

5. Bhagavatī

Ontology and philosophy. It is a sort of encyclopaedia.

6. Jñātādhartnakathā

Parables.

7. Upāsakadaśā

The ethical conduct of the lay followers.

8. Antakrddaśa

Narrations of people who have attained emancipation.

9. Anuttaropapātikadaśa

Narration about people bom in Anuttara Vimāna (the highest class of gods).

10. Praśnavyākaraṅa

It discusses the five types of āśravas (causes of influx of karma) and samvara (cause of inhibition of āśravas).

11. Vipāka

It narrates the life of people who have experienced benevolent and malevolent fruition of karma.

12. Dṛṣṭivāda

It contained the 14 Pūrvas which are now extinct.

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