Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (1) : From Publisher’s Desk

Published: 16.03.2016

Unique Decision

History is primarily a mirror to perceive and understand the antiquity of a nation, religion, culture, society or race. History is the systematic and chronological compilation and record of the process of the origin and development, rise and fall and rebuilding of any religious order, nation or race; and of the life-histories of leaders instrumental in the attainment of spiritual excellence and decadence. Since history is a repository of the context of the emergence, rise and fall and of events responsible for excellence and decay, it is considered as the path-finder and guide for future generations of mankind. Every individual, race, or nation can find appropriate guidance in history through up-to-date facts presented therein, from the ancient past to the present, of individuals, nations or race that ascended the path of constant progress and established themselves on the peaks of excellence and; at the same time, of those who slid into the abyss of decadence by following the wrong path, adversely affecting the fate of their nation, race or religion. History gives guidance to people to walk on the path of progress towards all-round welfare through instances such as these.

History is in fact the beacon light to evaluate the past

It wouldn't be an overstatement to say that a person who is ignorant of the history of his civilization, culture, nation or society, is as good as blind. In the same way as a blind person, unaware of the right or wrong path, faces hurdles at every step, a person totally ignorant of his / her history can neither establish himself / herself on the path of excellence nor lead the society, or nation towards progress. All these facts lead one to conclude that an exhaustive, systematic history (historical account) is indispensable and important for the all-round progress of a society, culture, race or nation.

Jain ācāryas (preceptors) whose knowledge transcended the knowledge of śāstras (scriptures) were well-aware of this fact since the early times. Hence they preserved the comprehensive Jain history texts such as expositions of world history (Prathamānuyoga), Mathematical expositions (Gaṇḍikānuyoga), Chronological listing of names or personalities (Nāmāvali), etc. Although these texts went into oblivion with time, and not a single of these is extant today, yet texts such as SamavāyāṃgaSūtra, NandiSūtra and Paumacariyaṃ allude to historical facts which were expounded in those early texts. Ācāryas (preceptors) from the later periods in their respective times did not leave any effort in compiling and preserving Jain history in their works in the genres of Niryuktis, Cūrṇis, Purāṇas, Kalpas, biographies (Caritras) and chronologies of elders (Sthvirāvalis). Paumacariyaṃ, Kahāvali, Titthogālīpainnaya, Vasudevahiṇḍī, Cauvanna Mahāpurisa cariyaṃ, Āvaśyakacūrṇi, Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacaritra, Pariśiṣṭaparva, Harivaṃśapurāṇa, Mahāpurāṇa, Ādipurāṇa, Mahākavi Puṣpadanta's Mahapurāṇa in Apabhraṃśa language, Himavanta Sthvirāvali, Prabhāvakacaritra, Kalpasūtrīyā Sthvirāvali, Nandīsūtrīyā Sthvirāvali, Dussamāsamaṇasaṃghathayaṃ, etc. are some of the significant ones. Besides these texts, important aspects of Jain history are scattered or are preserved in places such as the Hāthīgumphā inscriptions of Khāravela, and inscriptions found in other places as well as in copper plate charters. These inscriptions were written not in popular languages but in Sanskrit, Prākṛta, Apabhraṃśa, and regional languages such as old Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, etc. A selective study and analysis of the historical facts gleaned from the above mentioned texts and documents have brought to the fore important material in chronological order to reconstruct the Jain history of the period of the ford makers (Tīrthaṃkara). Fordmaker / Tīrthaṃkara bring forth the glorious period of Jainism during the period of Tīrthaṃkaras; however the latter period after Tīrthaṃkara, especially starting from Devardhigaṇi Kṣamāśramaṇa till seventh century AD, the Jain history is so concealed, disorderly and in relative darkness or unclear that no scholar had the courage to bring that to light. Even those who did try to do so had to give up, after significant effort, disappointed and stating, that five to six hundred years of Jain history following Devardhigaṇi Kṣamāśramaṇa a period of unreliable information as authentic sources to bring to light this history are unavailable.

This reliable and chronological history of Jain religion has been long found wanting. At a conference of sādhus (monks) held in Ajmer from 5th to 29th April 1933, prominent Jain ācāryas and śrāvakas (votaries) decided to initiate efforts towards the writing of Jain history. Jain Conference too, in its annual meetings, passed resolutions to fill this gap in Jain history but nobody showed courage to take this difficult task because this work called for undaunted labour and discipline.

Eventually, in 1965, the venerable Ācārya Śrī Hastīmalajī M.S. of the famous Ratnavaṃśa Śramaṇa tradition took up the extremely difficult task requiring time and labour akin to that of the churning of the ocean. In 1965, i.e., Śaka Samvata 1922, a History committee was set up at the Bālotarā rainy season retreat / halt (Cāturmāsa) under the stewardship of Ācāryaśrī Hastīmalajī M.S. and in consultation with Justice Śrī Indranath Modi, esteemed Jain scholar Śrī Dalsukhbhai Malvaniya, Dr. Narendra Bhanavat, etc. Justice Śrī Indranath Modi was elected as chairman, Śrī Sohanlal Kothari as Secretary and Śrī Punamchand Bader as treasurer of the committee by unanimous decision. On several occasions the History Committee sincerely invited many scholarly monks to actively support this difficult task of writing history.

Following the Bālotarā rainy season retreat Ācāryaśrī Hastīmalajī M.S. left for Gujarat with a firm determination to complete this very heavy responsibility. While moving through the desert region and in Gujarat he delved deep into the study of ancient handwritten manuscripts and the Jain corpus and compiled the ancient and historical material available in Pāṭaṇa, Siddhapura, Palanpura, Kheḍā, Khambhāa, Līmbadī, Baroda, Ahmedabad, etc. with untiring effort. These materials are preserved today in the Vinaychand Jṅānabhaṃḍāra and Research Institute, Lalbhavan in Jaipur. Writing of history began in 1966, Śaka 2023 during the Ahmedabad rainy season retreat. But the desired progress could not be made till June 1970. The main reason for this was that the History Committee could not find a scholar well–versed in Sanskrit, Prākṛta, Apabhraṃśa and old Rajasthani (a mixture of Gujarati and Rajasthani languages) who would study the available literature in those languages with dedication and present the essence of it all to him. Meanwhile, he himself was immersed in compiling, sorting, analysis and recasting the material collected so far. During this stay in Gujarat, he sorted out and researched very important chronicles (paṭṭāvalis) available in different libraries (Bhaṃḍ āras) and, on the basis of these, composed a poem containing their essence. The History Committee chose Dr. Narendra Bhanavat to edit nearly half of those chronologies of preceptors (ācāryas) and their history, which was published in 1968 as Paṭṭāvali Prabaṃdha Saṃgraha.

The eternal truth that work contemplated upon by great men for the welfare of all, can never be stalled was realised with the coming of ācāryaśrī to Jaipur in the month of May 1970. They suddenly found the scholar they were seeking since five – six years with comprehensive knowledge of Jain Prākṛta, Apabhraṃśa and other old Indian languages. The esteemed Jain scholar Śrī Gajsingh Rathod who had just then retired from the Rajasthan Assembly took over the editing of Jain history.

Commentaries (Treatises) such as on Samavāyāṃga, Ācārāṃga, VivāhaPrajṅapti, Cauvanna Mahāpurisa cariyaṃ; Prākṛta texts such as Āvaśyaka Cūrṇi, Vasudevahiṇḍī, Tiloyapaṇṇatti, Sattarisayadvāra, Paumacariyaṃ, Gacchācārapaiṇṇaya, Abhidhāna Rājendrakoṣa (7volumes) etc.; Ṣaṭkhaṇḍāgama, Dhavalā, Jayadhavalā; volumes of Sir Monier's Sanskrit to English dictionary; Sanskrit texts such as Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacaritra, Ādipurāṇa, Mahāpurāṇa, Vedavyāsa's Purāṇas; Apabhraṃśa works such as Puṣpadanta's Mahāpurāṇa were all referred to and by the end of the Meḍatā rainy season retreat the first volume of Jain Dharma Kā Maulika Itihāsa went to press. The second volume also commenced by the time the 1st volume was printed at the Meḍatā retreat.

With the completion of the four volumes of the history of Jain Religion, ācāryaśrī was very happy and a wave of cheer spread among the Jain community, thereby increasing hundred-folds the enthusiasm of the History Committee. Along with the publication of the first volume, the Committee published the last volume as "Three Historical Tīrthaṃkara" Both Jain and non-Jain scholars openly showered praise on the work and its author, the ācāryaśrī. With the magic of his writing skills the ācāryaśrī has made a dry subject like history seem so lucid and fascinating that thousands of devoted and self-taught (readers) read it every day.

In 1974, ācāryaśrī completed the second volume of Jain Dharma kā Maulika Itihāsa which was published by the History Committee in 1975. Even this volume was welcomed with cheer by the Jain community. Esteemed Jain scholar Śrī Dalsukhbhai Malvaniya poured out his heartfelt experience and praise on the publication of this text thus:

Ācāryaśrī

Many respectful greetings to you, I read the Jain Dharma kā Maulika Itihāsa and your preface. You have shown rare objectivity in unravelling the Jain history. Your historical text will remain for long an authentic work of history. There is scant possibility of new facts emerging hereinafter. The way you have placed the facts together giving them appropriate place is work akin to that of a well-informed historian. The respect, I had for you, has increased many fold now after reading this work."

Only a research scholar can rightly value the efforts of another research scholar. Only this can be the ultimate appreciation! What more could be said about ācāryaśrī and his immortal historical creation?

By the end of 1975 compilation of material for the third volume of Jain Dharma kā Maulika Itihāsa had begun. Seven to eight hundred years after the demise of Devardhigaṇi Kṣamāśramaṇa, the tradition of temple dwellers had established its monopoly in different parts of India. Its newer set of beliefs / practices impacted / influenced the Jain community. Monks and female-monks following the pure original tradition of Lord Mahāvīra were not only restricted form moving from place to place in the provinces of the North but their very entry into these places was prevented by those in power. As a result, the numbers of monks–female monks, and laity of the original tradition could be counted on one's fingers. People had even forgotten the term Śramaṇa tradition, what to speak of anyone seeking to be ordained into the same? People began to believe that the newly established Temple dweller (Caityavāsī) tradition was the original tradition. While the original pure tradition did not meet its death following gradual decline, it certainly became relatively quiescent, or hidden.

In this way, the temple dwellers tradition which made sustained efforts to completely destroy the pure original tradition of Lord Mahāvīra for seven to eight hundred years – destroying their sign-boards, wiping out their ancient relics – ultimately vanished without a trace by the 20th century V.N. Despite its presence in different parts of the country for 7-8th century's evidence related to this tradition – texts – paṭṭāvalis, etc. – are not available. Due to this, a lot of labour was expended in tracing out and putting together the missing links, in a systematic order, about the period following Devardhigaṇi Kṣamāśramaṇa. However, some evidence relating to the original pure tradition came from a deep study and research based on the various notebooks written by Panyāsaśrī Kalyāṇa Vijayajī Mahāraja. MahāNiśītha, Titthogālīpainnaya, Jina Vallabha Sūri Saṃghapaṭṭaka, the Oriental Manuscripts Library situated in the Madras University campus, the Mackenzie Collections and old journals that were referred to bring forth some historical material of the dark period 1000 to 2000 of V.N. In the course of research on the Yāpanīya sect, 349 verses (ślokas) about the origin and development of the Bhaṭṭāraka (administrator monks) tradition were found in the Mackenzie Collections. Some historical facts about the Karnatak Yāpanīya sect were also found. Based on all this material four volumes of Jain history have been published.

Words fail us in expressing heartfelt gratitude to the great man, the late Ācāryaśrī Hastīmalajī M.S. for his efforts and unimaginable labour expended in producing this wondrous refined grandiloquent text. We express heartfelt gratitude to the disciple of late ācāryaśrī, the present Ācāryapravara Hīracandrajī M.S. for giving his invaluable time in this magnificent work. The chief editor of the present volumes, Shri Gaj Singh Rathod's effort in research and editing of the second edition cannot be forgotten.

Jain Dharma Kā Maulika Itihāsa has been published in four volumes for the sake of convenience and each volume contains 850 – 900 pages. Many editions of the four volumes have been published.

On request of several scholars and seekers the Samyakjňāna Pracāraka Maṇḍala took an unprecedented decision to publish abridged synoptic editions in Hindi and English of Jain Dharma kā Maulika Itihāsa. We are happy, as a result, in offering this, 1st abridged volume to English readers translated from the Hindi version. We express heartfelt gratitude to Śrī Ramagopalajī Misra and Dilipakumarajī and through him, other scholars who have supported us in abridging this first volume.

P.S. Surana
President
S.R. Choudhry
Working President
V.R. Surana
Secretary

Samyakjňāna Pracāraka Maṇḍala

*****

Sources

Title: Jain Legend: Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (1)
Author:
Acharya Hasti Mala
Editors:
Shugan C. Jain
Publisher: Samyakjnana Pracaraka Mandala, Jaipur
Edition: 2011
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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Ahmedabad
  2. Ajmer
  3. Apabhraṃśa
  4. Baroda
  5. Bhaṭṭāraka
  6. Caityavāsī
  7. Cūrṇi
  8. Dharma
  9. Discipline
  10. Gaṇḍikānuyoga
  11. Gujarat
  12. Jain Dharma
  13. Jainism
  14. Jaipur
  15. Jina
  16. Madras
  17. Mahāvīra
  18. Misra
  19. Objectivity
  20. Purāṇas
  21. Rajasthan
  22. Rajasthani
  23. Sanskrit
  24. Sādhus
  25. Tamil
  26. Tīrthaṃkara
  27. Yāpanīya
  28. cāturmāsa
  29. Ācārya
  30. Ācāryas
  31. Āvaśyaka
  32. ācāryas
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