Bhattaraka

Posted: 15.07.2010
Updated on: 16.01.2012

Alias

Bhattarakas, Bhattarakha, Bhattarakhas, Bhaṭṭāraka, Bhaṭṭārakas


Bhattaraka (Sanskrit: भट्टरक bhaṭṭāraka "venerable") is the head of traditional Jain institutions.


Bhattarakas are responsible for training of scholars, maintenance of libraries, managing the endowments, presiding over the installation ceremonies and running of Jain institutions:

  • Sonda Jain Mutt ►His Holiness Swasti Sri Bhattakalanka Bhattaraka Swamiji.
  • Narasimharajapura Jain Mutt ►His Holiness Swasti Sri Lakshmisena Bhattaraka Swamiji.
  • Kambadahalli Jain Mutt ►His Holiness Swasti Sri Bhanukirthi Bhattaraka Swamiji.
  • Kanakagiri Jain Mutt ►His Holiness Swasti Sri Bhuvanakirthi Bhattaraka Swamiji.
  • Mudabidri Jain Mutt ►His Holiness Swasti Sri Charukirti Panditacharya Swamiji.
  • Shravanabelagola Jain Mutt ►His Holiness Swasti Sri Charukirti Bhattarakha Pattacharya Swamiji.

The term Bhattaraka was used for Acharya Virasena, Acharya Bhadrabahu etc. It was in the past used for leaders of other religious orders (Shaiva, Buddhist, Saura), but currently it is applied for heads for traditional Digambara Jain institutions. Unlike a full monk, a Bhattaraka wears an orange robe, stays in a single place and is involved in management of assets of the institution.

The role of a Bhattaraka is described by Bhrahm Gyansagar who was a disciple of Bhattaraka Shribhushana of Nanditat Gaccha of Kashtha Sangh in seventeenth century of the Vikram era:

भट्टारक सोहि जाण भ्रष्टाचर निवारे, धर्म प्रकाशे दोइ भविक जीव बहु तारे|
सकल शस्त्र संपूर्ण सूरिमंत्र आराधे, करे गच्छ उद्धार स्वात्मकार्य बहु साधे|
सौम्यमूर्ति शोभाकरण क्षमाधरण गंभीरमति, भट्टारक सोहि जाणिये कहत ज्ञानसागर यति ||९||

Bhaṭṭāraka sōhi jāṇa bhraṣṭācara nivārē, dharma prakāśē dōi bhavika jīva bahu tārē|
Sakala śastra sampūrṇa sūrimantra ārādhē, karē gaccha uddhāra svātmakārya bahu sādhē|
Saumyamūrti śōbhākaraṇa kṣamādharaṇa gambhīramati, bhaṭṭāraka sōhi jāṇiyē kahata jñānasāgara yati.

"Thus a bhaṭṭāraka illuminates both dharmas, is an expert in all scriptures, has the authority to recite the suri-mantra (to consecrate an image). He is also responsible for preserving the order. He is the head of the six limbs of the sangha: shravaka, shravika, pandita (brahma), muni (vrati), aryika and Bhattaraka."

Once Bhattarakas were common all over India, but at the present time, they have survived only in south India.

Famous Bhattaraka seats include:

  • Humcha ► Bhattaraka of Humcha:
    • Seat of Balatkara Gana (Sarasvati Gaccha).
    • The Bhattaraka is named Dharmakirti.
    • This is the original seat of the order which once had branches all north India from Idar in Gujarat to Sammet Sikhar in Jharkhand.
  • Shravanabelagola ► Bhattaraka of Shravanabelgola:
    • Seat of Deshiya Gana (Pustaka Gaccha) of Mula Sangh.
    • The Bhattaraka is named Charukirti (Svasti Shri Charukirti Bhattaraka Pattacharya Svamiji).
    • This is where the Siddhanta Granthas were once preserved in the library, before they were moved to Mudabidri.
  • Mudabidri ► Bhattaraka of Mudabidri:
    • Also seat of Deshiya Gana (Pustaka Gaccha) of Mula Sangh.
    • The Bhattaraka is named Charukirti (Svasti Shri Charukirti Panditacharya Svamiji).
    • The original manuscripts of the siddhanta-granthas like Dhavala are preserved here.
  • Nandani ► Bhattaraka of Nandani:
    • Also seat of Sena Gana (Pushkara Gaccha).
    • The Bhattaraka is named Jinasena.
    • Acharya Shantisagar belonged to this tradition.
  • Jinakanchi ► Bhattaraka of Melsithamur Jain Math:
    • The Bhattaraka is named Laxmisena who heads the Jains of Tamil Nadu.

References

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