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Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (1) : Between us (Ācāryaśrī Hastīmalajī Mahārāja)

Published: 17.03.2016

Benefits of the History of Jain Religion

History, of a country, race or religion, is a chronicle of all that has happened in the past. The objective of writing history is to inspire coming generations to behave in an appropriate manner following the path of great men. We do not see history of religion in as abundant a measure as the history of other subjects. That is why people believe that Jainism has no ancient or corroborative history. But that is not true. Though Jain historical works are available since a long time; however as these works were compiled in Prākṛta and Sanskrit and they did not present historical facts in a systematic manner they could neither attract attention of common people nor become popular. Moreover, readers are more attracted to worldly scenario (matters) and unrefined (gross) affairs of humankind than to the history of religion.

History of Jain Religion

Religion does not have its own independent history. Lives of great religious men and their preaching serve as introduction to religion. History of religious people is the history of religion. History of religion is the chronicle of the thought and conduct, propagation and preaching's of religious men in the country. The path to achieve victory over attachment and other flaws through right thought and right conduct is the essence of Jain religion. About the status of religion, experts of scriptures point out that just as five existents (Astikāyās) have always existed in this universe. Similarly right canons comprising the 12 limbs (Dvādaśāṃgī) comprising Ācārāṃga etc. composed by the venerable composers of the sermons of omniscient Lord (Gaṇadharas or gaṇipiṭakas) is eternal and without a beginning. In a religious place like India with religious people and their expectations, the start of the religion from the end of the enjoyment period (bhogayuga) and the end period of unhappy period (duḥṣamakāla) of the declining happiness epoch can be said to be the end period of religion. The exact description of religion during this period from its start till it's (religion) end is called the complete history of religion. The history presented here is from the point of view of India and this half-cycle of regression. The first Tīrthaṃkara Vṛṣabhanātha came at the end of the third epoch (kāla) of the declining happiness time epoch and it was through him that the systematic religious tradition of listening (śrutadharma) and conduct (caritradharma) emerged. Hence in terms of place and time this is considered the period of origin of the Jain religion.

Naming this book

According to Jain religious texts, there were 24 Tīrthaṃkara (fordmakers), 12 cakravartīs (world emperors), 9 Baladevas, 9 Vasudevas and 9 PratiVasudevas; in all 63 illustrious persons existed. According to the law of nature stewardship of both popular and religious leaders is essential for the physical, emotional (mental) and intellectual preservation and advancement of human society. Whether in the complete cycle, or half-cycle, while punishment is used (as a means) to destroy bad deeds in human society, the religious leaders, Tīrthaṃkara establish pilgrimage centers / religious abodes, and reform people's hearts through sermons, creating in them an abhorrence for misdeeds. The order of punishment may destroy misdeeds but with the nectar of knowledge religious order does not merely silence misdeeds, but also prevents their outbreak. Religious leaders, Tīrthaṃkara reassure the man through his inner awakening that he is himself the creator of his joy and sorrow (pleasure and pain). This book introduces such Tīrthaṃkara on the basis of ancient texts and hence it has been named "Jain Dharma Kā Maulika Itihāsa"

Basis / Source of History

Rationale of disposition of philosophical doctrine (Dṛṣṭivāda), the twelfth limb of Jain canons is the foundation or basic religious text and source of compiling the history. The fourth exposition (anuyoga) among the five main parts of Dṛṣṭivāda can be considered as prime source or origin of history of Jain religion. In the Prathamānuyoga (biographical exposition of illustrious Jains) the following are described:

  1. previous births of Tīrthaṃkara
  2. birth in heavens
  3. life span / age
  4. conception
  5. birth
  6. anointment / first holy bath
  7. coronation
  8. renunciation or initiation as monk
  9. intense penance
  10. origin of omniscience
  11. first religious congregation / sermon
  12. disciples
  13. gaṇa and Gaṇadharas
  14. creed congregation
  15. boundaries of the four-fold organization of the followers
  16. omniscient
  17. Telepaths / Knower's of the mental modes of others (manaḥparyayajṅānī)
  18. Clairvoyants / Knower of hidden and distant physical entities (avadhijṅānī)
  19. Twelve limbs scriptures (Dvādaśāṃgī)
  20. orators par excellence (vādī)
  21. Heavenly beings existing above SarvārthaSiddhi heaven
  22. roaming heavenly beings
  23. achievers of liberated soul status (Siddhas)
  24. leaders and preachers of the path of liberation (Tīrthaṃkara)
  25. description of the pious death (pādapopagamana) last rites.

Similar thoughts and references are found elsewhere in these.

As in the original Prathamānuyoga, Gaṇḍikānuyoga opines on Kulakara, Tīrthaṃkara, Cakravartī, Daśārha, Baladevas, Vasudevas, Gaṇadharas and Bhadrabāhu also. This text also gives a description of Harivaṃśa, ascending and descending happiness time cycles (Utsarpiṇī and Avasarpiṇī). These references make it clear that the Aṃga Dṛṣṭivāda encapsulated the complete evidential history of the Jain religion. Hence the opinion of western scholars such as Dr. Herman Jacobi that the story of Rāmāyaṇa is not found in the original Jain Āgamas and that it is based on Vālmikī Rāmāyaṇa or is borrowed from other Hindu scriptures is proved absolutely erroneous and baseless.

Prathamānuyoga is considered an ancient historical scripture and the original source for many available and unavailable texts. The historical facts found strewn across the Śvetāmbara and Digambara Āgama-texts and in Āvaśyakaniryukti are essentially the contributions of Prathamānuyoga. Due to the vagaries of time and fading of memory gradually with the 14 pūrvas the repository of history, the Prathamānuyoga and Gaṇḍikānuyoga scriptures have gone in the oblivion today.

The benefits of earlier ācāryas in history writing

After the disappearance of Prathamānuyoga and Gaṇḍikānuyoga the credit of preserving Jain history goes to the services of its early ācāryas. They did us a favors having bestowed through the āgama-based Niryuktis, Cūrṇis, Bhāṣya, Tīkā etc. which has proved to be of great help for contemporary research scholars in history. We think it is necessary to remember those few authors here:

  1. Vimala Sūri wrote Paumacariyaṃ in V. N.530
  2. Yati Vṛṣabha wrote texts such as Tiloyapaṇṇatti after V.N. 1000
  3. Ācārya Bhadrabāhu wrote niryukti on ten sūtras such as Daśavaikālika, Āvaśyaka, etc. between V.N.1000 to 1045.
  4. Saṃghadāsa Gaṇi wrote Vṛhatkalpa bhāśya and Vasudeva Vasudevahiṇḍī between V.N. 1000 and 1055
  5. Jīnadāsa Gaṇi Mahattara wrote Āvaśyaka, Nandi Cūrṇi etc. in V. N. 1203
  6. Jinabhadra Gaṇi Kṣamāśramaṇa wrote Viśeṣāvaśyakabhāṣya in V.N. 1203
  7. Jīnasena wrote Ādipurāṇa and Harivaṃśapurāṇa in V.N.1310
  8. Ācāryaśīlāṃka wrote Cauvana Mahāpurisacariyaṃ in V.N. 1395
  9. Ācārya Guṇabhadra wrote Uttara Purāṇa in V.N. 1425
  10. Raviṣeṇa wrote Padmapurāṇa in V.N. 1448
  11. Puṣpadanta wrote Mahāpurāṇa in Apabhraṃśa language in V.N. 1486-1492
  12. Ācārya Hemacandra wrote the historical text Triṣaṣṭi śalākāpuruṣa caritra in V.N  1696-1699
  13. Dharmasāgara Gaṇi wrote Tapāgaccha Paṭṭāvali Sūtra Vṛtti, a historical text in Prākṛta-Sanskrit in V.N. 1934
  14. Bhadreśwara wrote Kahāvalī Grantha in V.N. 17th century
  15. Agastya Siṃha also wrote a Cūrṇi on Daśavaikālika Sūtra.

Works of an awakened group of monks through their Sthavirāvalis, Paṭṭāvalis, etc. and many known-unknown scholars through their creations in regional languages also enriched history. We express our heartfelt gratitude to them.

Credibility / Reliability of History

After the above deliberation it can be firmly stated that Jain history stands on a deep and firm foundation and emerges not from hearsays and imaginations from all and sundry but from the uninterrupted / continuous tradition of the early ācāryas. Hence there is no scope for doubting its credibility/reliability. Just as Vimala Sūri writes in Paumacariyaṃ:

Nāmāvaliya nibaddhaṃāyariyaparamparāgayaṃ Savvaṃ
Vocchāmi pauma cariyaṃ, ahāṇupuvviṃ samāsaṇa

That is, I shall tell in brief all the history composed in the chronology (paṭṭāvalis). He says further Scholars should not be dejected / disgruntled by the harm done to the meaning of the early texts on account of time, viz.

Evaṃ paramparāe pariahṇi puvvagaṃtha atthāṇaṁ
Nāūṇa kālabhāvaṃ narusiyavvaṃ bahujaṇeṇaṃ

This proves that the method of preserving history in the abridged form of paṭṭāvalis was universally acceptable. Thus there is no doubting the fact that history encapsulated in paṭṭāvalis is ancient as it is evidential / authentic.


Title: Jain Legend: Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (1)
Acharya Hasti Mala
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. Anuyoga
  2. Apabhraṃśa
  3. Avasarpiṇī
  4. Bhāṣya
  5. Caritra
  6. Cūrṇi
  7. Daśavaikālika
  8. Daśavaikālika Sūtra
  9. Dharma
  10. Digambara
  11. Dṛṣṭivāda
  12. Gaṇa
  13. Gaṇḍikānuyoga
  14. Hemacandra
  15. Jacobi
  16. Jain Dharma
  17. Jainism
  18. Jinabhadra
  19. Kulakara
  20. Kāla
  21. Niryukti
  22. Omniscient
  23. Purāṇa
  24. Puṣpadanta
  25. Pādapopagamana
  26. Rāmāyaṇa
  27. Sanskrit
  28. Soul
  29. Sūtra
  30. Tīkā
  31. Tīrthaṃkara
  32. Utsarpiṇī
  33. Vimala
  34. Vṛtti
  35. Vṛṣabhanātha
  36. Yati
  37. siddhas
  38. Ācārya
  39. Āgamas
  40. Āvaśyaka
  41. ācāryas
  42. Śvetāmbara
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