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Jainism : The World of Conquerors: 3.2 ► Ancient Non-Canonical Literature

Published: 26.11.2015

The Angavijja, a text dealing with the science of prognostics is one of the remarkable Jain sacred texts. It contains sixty chapters and is considered the treasure house for cultural history of India of the early Christian era (Chatterjee 1978: p.256). It provides material on the cultural, social and political life of India, and contains lists of deities, professions, adornments, textiles, food-grains, food, coins, conveyances, boats, and many other important elements. It also provides interesting references to women belonging to the different regions of India, to architectural terms, to clans, to male and female deities (including Greek, Avestan, Persian, and Roman, and the moon-goddess) and sexual love.

Jains also have a vast amount of non-canonical literature stored in the sastrabhandars (libraries) at various locations in India. Some of the Svetambar literature is listed below:

Tarangavati written by Paadilptasuri in the c. first century BCE: a story of Udaya and his heroine Vaasavdatta.

Paumacariyan written in first century CE by Vimala: the Jain Ramayana. Vasudevahindi written in the c. third century CE by Sanghadaasa and Darmasena: contains the story of Vasudeva, Krisna's father, story of Krisna, materials from the Vaisnava Purana, direct reference to the Bhagavat Gita, and places of Western India. It has references to the well-known temple of Vasupujya at Campa and the Naga temple, passages from the Arthasastra of Kautilya, coins, and trade with China and Suvarnabhumi (Burma), the society and its festivals, the story of Rama, and the lives of the tirthankaras such as Kunthunatha, Aranatha and Risabhdeva. Haribhadra's phenomenal work (believed to be a total of 1440 texts; a list of 88 texts is available at present) in the eighth century CE: such as the Samaraiccakaha (a religious story of Samaraditya discussing his nine re-births and lives); Yogabindu and Yogadrastisammucchaya (texts on Yoga); Dhrmabindu (a manual on duties of both laypeople and ascetics); and Saddarsanasammuccaya (a summary of six philosophical systems). His other work includes Lokatattvanirnaya (edited in Bhavnagar in 1901 CE, and an Italian translation by Suali in 1905 CE); Lalitavistara; Upadesapada; Pancaasaka; Dhurtakhyana (stories from the Hindu epics and Puraanas); texts on logic, and a commentary on Dinnaga's Buddhist text, Nyaayapravesa. Kuvalayamaalaa by Udyotsuri in the eighth century CE: contains a description of everyday religious life, affluent and corrupt city life, romantic episodes, student life in various parts of India, and the characteristics of the people from the different regions of India.

Ajitasantistava by Nandisena in the eighth century CE is a popular prayer glorifying the tirthankaras Ajitanatha and Shantinatha. Chaupan mahapurisacariyam by Silanka in the ninth century CE: contains lives of 54 great personages, references from the aagamic texts, and commentaries and Jain noncanonical texts such as Paumacariyam. Dharmopadesamaalaa by Jayasimha in the tenth century CE: describes Jain philosophy, places and social conditions of historical importance.

Upamiti bhava prapancaakathaa by Siddharsi in the tenth century CE is the first extensive allegory in Indian literature to illustrate Jainism as a moral religion. It describes the mundane career of a worldly soul from the lowest stage to final liberation, its various re-births, the influence of the cardinal passions and the five senses. The narrative stories make it readable and give a clear moral message. Tilakmanjari by Dhanapala in the tenth century CE gives valuable information on the early Parmar dynasty and the morality of the Jain way of life. Kathaakosa by Jinesvara in the eleventh century CE contains several popular stories: such as of Salibhadra, Sinhakumar and Dhavala; some stories describing rivalries between Svetambars and Digambars, between Jains and Buddhists, and between Jains and orthodox Brahmins; and some stories aimed at the teaching of morality. Jnaanapancamikathaa by Mahesvara in the early twelfth century CE describes the popular Jain festival for the veneration of knowledge on the fifth day of bright half of the Kartika month of the Indian calendar, and gives many references showing his knowledge of geography.

Surasundaricariya by Dhanesvara in the eleventh century CE is a love story, which gives references to the social conditions and overseas trade. Samvegarangosala, Parsvanathacarita, Mahaviracarita and Kathaaratnakosha by Gunacandra in the eleventh century CE: the first is lost, the second and the third describe the biographies of Parsvanatha and Mahavira respectively. The fourth contains fifty stories throwing light on the contemporary conditions, with references to non-Jain literature, tantric rituals, and life-styles of female courtesans. Aakhyaanamanikosa, Ratnacundaraajcarita and Mahaviracarita by Nemicandra in the twelfth century CE: the first is considered as the treasure house for its stories, and contains tales of historical persons such as of Candragupta, Bindusara, Asoka, Kunala, Samprati, geography including a description of Ujjayini, Indian and overseas ports, festivals, art, architecture, sculpture, painting, music and other related subjects. The second is a love story and the third describes Mahavira's life and his teachings. Kalkaacaaryakathaa by Devacandrasuri in the twelfth century CE describes the story of Kalkaacaarya, who invited the Sakas to punish Gardabhila who had kidnapped a Jain nun, his sister.

Nammayaasundarikahaa by Mahendrasuri in the twelfth century CE describes the trials and tribulations of Narmadasundari, the wife of the Jain merchant Mahesvaradatta, who took her overseas on a business trip and who deserted her on suspicion of adultery. Although she stayed with a prostitute, she kept herself chaste, and the story ends with a marital reunion and describes the economic and commercial life of India. Trisasthi salakaa purusacarita, Siddha-Hema vyaakarana, Yogasastra, Abhidhancintaamani, Lingaanusaasana, Chandonusaasana, Kavyanusaasana and Kumarpalacarita were written by Hemcandrasuri, one of the greatest Indian saints and literary artists of the twelfth century, who was given the epithet of kalikalasarvagna (omniscient of the Kali era) and who is known as the father of Gujarati language. The first is a voluminous work of 11 volumes, which contains the biographies of sixty-three important figures (vol. 7 includes the characters from the Ramayana, and vol. 8 includes those from the Mahabharata). The second is an exegesis on grammar, but also contains a history of Gujarat. The third is on the spiritual life and meditation. The fourth is of the greatest works in Sanskrit lexicography, and contains the botanical names of great importance to students of botany and Ayurvedic Medicine. The fifth, sixth and seventh volumes are popular works of poetry and Prakrit and apabhransa metres. The eighth is of great historical importance as it is the biography of Kumarpala. Naatyadarpana, Kumaara vihaara sataka and Dravyaalankara were written by Hemcandra's disciple Ramacandra. The first contains dramatic poetry and plays, the second, a description of a temple built by Kumarpala at Patan, and the third, a text on philosophy.

Several plays, of two to five acts, were written in the twelfth century. Kirtikaumadi by Somesvara, and many other works in praise of Vastupala and Tejapala, and Kumarpala were written by various authors. Balabharata (summary of Mahabharata) and Jinendracarita (short verses on the twentyfour tirthankaras) were written by Amaracandra Prabhaavakacarita is the historical account of 22 great Jains from Vajrasvami to Hemcandra, written by Prabhacandra. It describes the destruction of Taksasila by the Muslims, and provides other history of the period. Prabandhacintaamani by Merutunga is a history up to the fourteenth century. Vividhatirthakalpa by Jinaprabha gives a systematic account of the Jain tirthas (places of pilgrimages).

Kharataragaccha brahadgurvavali by Jinapala gives an account of the activities of gurus of Khartara gaccha, the relationship between their well-known monks and contemporary rulers of North India and the tirthas Vijnaptilekhasangraha is a collection of letters between Svetambar monks of differing locations, describes various tirthas and social and religious customs Drvyapariksaa by Thakkura Pheru in the fourteenth century discusses contemporary coins of Ala-Ud-din and various other coins from India. Hiravijay composed many useful works, and other monks also composed hundreds of works. From other texts, we find Svetambar monks wrote on every aspect of Indian life, and their literary activities are heritage for India.

The Digambars have produced a very important philosophical and technical literature, which is useful to students of metaphysics and philosophy. The Mulaacaaras of Vattakera is the earliest Digambara non-canonical work. It describes various practices of the monks, has 1252 verses and is divided into 12 parts (adhikaara). The language of this work assigns it to the fifth century CE. The Bhagavati Aaraadhanaa was composed by Panitalabhoji Sivaarya (Sivakoti) in the fifth century CE. It contains 2100 verses, deals with the conduct of ascetics and has references to Kalpa, Vyavahara, Aacaaranga and Jitakalpa Sutras. The Tiloyapannati by Yativrasabha is a famous work of the fifth century CE on Jain cosmography. It has 8000 verses and is divided into nine sections. The Svaamikaarttikeya anupreksa is a popular work from the early centuries CE by Svaami Kumaara, which explains 12 anupreksas (reflections). Gommatasaara by Namicandra is an important work of the tenth century CE, consisting of Jivakaanda (733 verses) and Karmakaanda (972 verses). It describes Jain philosophy, and is considered the essence of the discourses of Mahavira (Jindal 1988: p.94). Jivakaanda describes the natural characteristics of jiva and the means and the stages of their development. Karmakaanda discusses the obstacles producing karma, which must be shed to attain liberation. Namicandra is also the author of Dravya-sangraha, Labdhisaara, Ksapanasaara and Trilokasaara. Dravya-sangraha discusses six dravyas (substances), seven tattvas ('reals') and the path to attain liberation, including meditation. It has 54 verses. Labdhisaara is a treatise on attainment (labdhi) of those things, which will lead to perfection. Ksapanasaara deals with the control and destruction of the passions. Trilokasaara describes the Jain cosmography and the universe. Pancaadhyaayi (Jainendra grammar) was written by Pujyapada in the fifth century; it is in five parts and it has some commentaries. Padma Puraana by Ravisena (678 CE) is a popular Jain Ramayana among Digambars and a translation of Vimal's Paumcariyain. Varaangacarita by Simhanandi (7th century), is a popular religious story, which runs to 31 chapters and contains references to history, geography and the temples with images of precious stones, royal gifts and walls decorated with the scenes from the Puraanas. Raagahava-Paandaviya by Dhananjaya (8th century) contains 18 chapters and the story is based on the Ramayana and Mahabharat. Dhnanjaya's other important works are Naamamaala, Visaapahaara-stotra and Anekaarthanaamaala Harivansapuraana by Jinasen (783 CE) is a poem on moral themes, which contains the social, religious and cultural conditions of India. Aadipuraana by Jinasena (and his disciple Gunabhadra (8th century CE) is one of the finest poems that deals with the life of Risabhdeva (Aadinaatha). It has 47 chapters and contains material of sociological importance such as town planning, the duties of warriors and the art of government, the six Indian seasons, moonrise and sunrise, a description of female beauty and various popular hymns. Gunabhadra later wrote Uttarapuraana, which contains the life of all the tirthankaras accept Risabha, important personages from Jain mythology and versions of Ramayana and Mahabharata. The two texts together are known as Mahaapuraana. Paumacariyu by Svayambhu (9th century CE) is the story of Rama, which contains lists of commercial products, parts of the body and material of historical and sociological importance. With his son he composed Rathanemicariyu or Harivansapuraana. Kalyanakaaraka by Ugraditya (9th century) is a medical treatise, which discusses differing aspects of medicine and non-violent remedies, and the value of a meatless diet. Ganitasaara sangraha by Mahaviraacaarya (9th century) is a popular text on mathematics, which had a Telugu translation in the 11th century. Prasnottara Ratnamaalaa by Amoghavarsa ((9th century) on Jain philosophy also had a Tibetan translation (Chatterjee 1978: p.310). Brahatkathaakosa by Harisena (10th century) contains stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata, earlier Digambar literature and informative material, such as that on the famous Sun-temple at Multan (destroyed by Muslims), Mathura, Ujjayini, stories for children and some material on religious conflicts of the period. Trisasthi mahaapurusa gunacariyu, Naagakumarcariyu and Yasodharacarita by Puspadanta are important works of the tenth century CE. The first work, also known as Mahaapuraana, has 142 chapters and contains the life of 63 important personages; the second work is of historical importance and the third one is on the popular Jain theme of karma and its consequences. Nitivaakyamruta, Yasastilakacampu, and Adyaatmatarangini by Somadeva (10th century) are important works on business ethics, society and the spiritual life respectively. Among other prominent works of the 10th century are; Neminirvana mahaakaavya (a poem on the life of Neminatha) by Vaagbhatta; Candraprabhacarita mahaakaavya (on the life of Candraprabha) by Viranandi; Vardhamancarita (on Mahavira's life) by Asaga; Subhaasita ratnasansodha (benedictory hymns) by Amitgati; Aadipuraana (life of Risabha) by Pampa, Santipuraana (life of Shantinatha) and Ajitapuraana (life of Ajitanatha)

Between the twelfth and the sixteenth century a mass of literature mainly in Prakrit Sanskrit and some in local languages, such as in Tamil and Kannada was produced, but it was mainly for the consumption of the lay readers. Prominent among this literature is Kathaakosa by Prabhacandra in the 11th century, the Vaddaaraadhane (a collection of devotional stories), Nyaayaviniscayavivarana (encyclopaedia of Indian logic) by Vadiraja, Sarasvati-mantra Kalpa and Mahaapuraana by Mallisena, Jnaanarva (on Jain philosophy) by Subhacandra, Dharmamruta by Asaadhara (on philosophy and conduct) and Tattvarthadipikaa (a commentary on Tattvarthasutra) by Srutasagara.


Title: Jainism: The World of Conquerors
Dr. Natubhai Shah
Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
Edition: 1998
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