Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (2): Devārdhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa

Published: 27.05.2016

28th discourse (vācanā)-ācārya & group (gaṇa) ācārya

Among the Ācāryas of Lord Mahāvīra's Jain order, discourse-ācārya Devārdhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa occupies an exceptionally important place. The foresighted Ācārya Devārdhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa convened a council in Vallabhī Nagara in V.N. 980, inviting all the Śramaṇas from all over. Through the recession of Āgamas by the Śramaṇas, he rearranged the forgotten verses of the eleven Aṃgas, editing and compiling them in a systematic order. Besides, with the aim that the sacred texts should ever remain intact, without any loss, for the benefit of the future generations, he gave all the sacred texts a book form by making the Śramaṇas write all the Sūtras. The four-fold congregation of Lord Mahāvīra, which will survive up to the end of the fifth epoch (Araka), is greatly indebted to Devārdhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa for his excellent foresighted & unparallel service.

Devārdhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa, by birth was a Kṣatriya of Kāśyapa family lineage. He was known as Devārdhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa and Deva Vācaka too. He was enduring, resolute, noble and an ardent follower of austerities. He had the knowledge of one pūrva and was an efficient discourse-ācārya.

He was born at Vairāvala Pāṭaṇa in Saurastra. The then ruler of Saurastra was Aridamana. Devārddhi was born to virtuous parents namely, Kalāvatī and Kāmarddhi of Kṣatriya of Kāśyapa family lineage, an ordinary officer in Aridamana's court. In his previous birth, Devārddhi was a Hariṇagameṣī celestial deity. When he descended into the womb of Kalāvatī, she saw a wealthy and prosperous deity in her dream. So when he was born, they named him as Devārddhi. At the proper age, his parents sent him to an able teacher to attain knowledge. At a young age, he was married to two girls. Young Devārddhi because of bad company of his childhood developed deep interest in hunting. He used to go to the forest with his friends frequently for hunting.

A lot of efforts were made by the successor Hariṇagameṣī deity to bring Devārddhi on to the virtuous path. Ultimately, he arose from his long slumber and took initiation into Śramaṇa Dharma from Ācārya Lohitya.

Serving his Guru with utmost sincerity and constantly studying, he acquired the knowledge of the eleven Aṃgas and one Pūrva.

At first, he was appointed as group-ācārya and after Ārya Dūṣyagaṇī attained heavenly abode, he was nominated as discourse-ācārya. Some authors opine that he was the disciple and successor of discourse-ācārya dūṣyagaṇī; whereas others hold that he was the disciple and successor of Ārya Lohitya.

After a time lapse of 150 years of the two recessions-the Mathura and the Vallabhī recital organized under the auspices of Ācārya Skandila and Nāgārjuna respectively, Devārddhi noted that his disciples were not able to retain the knowledge in their memory. The lack of memory of scriptures resulted in lethargy and hesitation in repeated revision of the scriptural texts. Devārddhi realised that it is impossible to safeguard the sacred texts without recording them in a written form. By making them to write down the text, two goals will be met at the same time-apart from reading and learning, it develops the concentration and averts the risk of extinction of the scriptures and the knowledge passes on to the succeeding generations. Therefore, he gave the scriptures a textual form.

Thus, to save the congregation from the extinction of knowledge & from laziness, the monks decided to give it a written form. According to Jain tradition, it is believed that during the tenure of Ārya Rakṣita and Ārya Skandila, some portions of the scriptures were written and made into a text. However, the re-manifestation of the holy canons in a systematic order and in a fully written form was ascribed to Devārdhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇain Vallabhī.

With the permission of Jain congregation, Devārdhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa convened a meeting of a grand and of all the monks and ascetics in V.N. 980 in Vallabhī. He listened to the recitals of the Āgamas, whether complete or incomplete, whatever one could recollect, and recompiled all the available matter in a systematic order and eventually gave them a text form. The differences in the recitals were replaced by Nāgārjunīyā verses, and finally the holy scriptures were given the text form.  It is believed that because of his penance, self-discipline, austerities, and the services done to the sacred knowledge of the scriptures, deities & celestial beings like Cakreśwarī Devī, Gomukha & Kapardi yakṣa were always present in his service.

By analysing the writings of different authors and historians, it can be concluded that Devavācaka and Devārddhi were not two different ācāryas but were two different names of the same ācārya.

There was no unanimity about the lineage of Gurus of Devārdhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa. Some agree with the Kalpasūtra Sthavirāvalī and ascertained that Devārddhi belonged to Suhastī branch and was the disciple of Ārya Śāṃdilya. Whereas, according to the Nandi Sūtra Sthavirāvalī, the Cūrṇi written by Jina Dāsa, Vŗttis of Hari Bhadra, Commentary of Malayagiri and Vicāraśreṇi of Merutuṃī, Devārddhi is considered as the disciple of Duṣyagaṇī. Still some others claim that Devarddhi was the disciple of Ārya Lohārya. However, from an objective perspective of historical facts and evidences it is appropriate to accept that Devārddhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa was a disciple of Duṣyagaṇī. Besides, the prefix 'gaṇi' in both the names like Duṣyagaṇī and Devārddhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa also indicates that both of them are teacher and disciple.

According to the commentator Ācārya Malayagiri, there will not be any controversy if Duṣyagaṇī is considered as the Guru who initiated Devārddhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa into monkhood, and Devārddhi was appointed as discourse-ācārya of Mahāgiri branch.

Attainment of heaven abode by Devārddhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa
& the loss of knowledge of Pūrvas

According to the traditional point of view, Devārddhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇawas considered as the last Pūrvadhara.

As mentioned in Bhagavatī Sūtra, 1000 years after the nirvāṇa of Lord Mahāvīra, the knowledge of Pūrvas will be lost. In such situation, it becomes apparent that Devārddhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa was the last Pūrvadhara and he went to heaven in 1000 V.N. Despite the above mentioned fact, some of the authors of Paṭṭāvalī claimed that epochalācārya Satyamitra', was the last Pūrvadhara, who attained salvation in V.N. 1000, whereas, Devārddhi attained his Samādhi 10 years prior to it, in 990 V.N.

In one of the stanzas of Tithogālīpainnā, an ascetic called Ārya Satyamitra was described as the last Daśa Pūrvadhara. It appears that the expressions narrated in Tithogālīpainnā for the last Daśapūrvadhara, Ārya Satyamitra were linked with 28th epochal- ācārya Satyamitra, due to the similarity in names and out of confusion, the authors of Paṭṭāvalī considered him as the last Pūrvadhara. Had Ārya Satyamitra who served as the 28th epochal- ācārya from V.N. 994 to 1001 been the last Pūrvadhara, then, the author of Tithogālīpainnā would not have mentioned the last descriptive-ācārya Devārddhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa as the last Pūrvadhara instead of Ārya Satyamitra.

Profound analysis of all these facts proves that by giving the Holy Scriptures a textual form, Devārddhi not only helped his contemporaries, but also helped millions of monks (male and female), votaries and devotees of past and future, i.e., right from 980 V.N. to the end of the 5th Araka i.e. 20020 years. After completing his extremely beneficial task, Devārddhi attained heavenly abode in 1000 V.N.

Political conditions during
Devārddhigaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa's time
Skand Gupta Vikramāditya of Gupta Dynasty (V.N. 982-994)

After the death of Kumāra Gupta in 982 V.N., his elder son Skaṃda Gupta inherited his vast kingdom. He reigned from 982 to 994 V.N. (455 – 467 A.D). He was a brave warrior and a valiant emperor. He was involved in wars throughout his life. Skaṃda Gupta, during the reign of his father, fought bravely against the huge army of Puṣyamitra, and protected the Gupta Empire, by inflicting a crushing defeat on them. As soon as he took the reins of Gupt Empire, to protect the motherland, Skaṃda Gupta waged war against the barbarous Hūṇa invaders who came from Central Asia.

Apart from a very huge army, the Hūṇas had skilled cavalry too. At the cost of their lives, with full force, they tried to move forward. Skaṃda Gupta, directing and guiding the Indian army, massacred the tyrannical Hūṇas and did not allow them to progress. Incurring great loss, both in men and money, the Hūṇa prince fled from the battlefield with his army. Skand Gupta, with his amazing valiance and chivalry defeated the indomitable Huns and protected India from a great disaster.

Despite the near-total loss, the Hūṇas repeatedly attacked India just to take revenge of their ignominious defeat. However, every time, Skaṃda Gupta suppressed them with an iron hand. After defeating the Hūṇas, Skaṃda Gupta appointed loyal and able governors in all the crucial places of his empire, so as to crush the enemy, the moment he rises in revolt.

Skaṃda Gupta carried out many activities for the public welfare. Spending a large amount of money, he renovated the Sudarsana Lake that was dug during the time of Maurya Candra Gupta around 227 V.N. Though Skaṃda Gupta was a Vaiṣṇavas, yet he showed good will towards other religions. The Buddhists, Jains, Śaivas enjoyed full freedom to propagate and expand their religions during his regime.

During his 12 years reign from V.N. 982 to 994, Skanda Gupta involved in many wars, defeated his enemies and took the title of 'Vikramāditya.' The reigning period from Samudra Gupta to Skanda Gupta, V.N. 862 994 was the golden age of the Gupta dynasty. After the death of Skanda Gupta, Gupta dynasty started to decline. As Skanda Gupta died heirless, his brother Puru Gupta succeeded to the throne.

In all probability, Puru Gupta's reign lasted only a year and a half. After his death in 896 V.N., his son Narasiṃha Gupta ascended to the throne of Ayodhyā. He died in 1000 V.N. and was succeeded by Kumāra Gupta-II.

The list of Gupta rulers and their tenure is given below in chronological order:

Name of the king Hypothetic al tenure of rule (V.N.) Name of the king Hypothetical tenure of rule (V.N.)
1. Śrīgupta 767 - 807 6. Kumāragupta (I) 941 - 982
2. Ghatotkaca 807 - 846 7.Skandagupta Vikramāditya 982 - 994
3. Caṃdragupta (I) 846 - 862 8. Purugupta 994 - 996
4.Samudragupta 862 - 902 9.Narasiṃhagup ta 996 - 1000
5.Caṃdragupta (II) Vikramāditya 902 - 941

Views of Digambara sect regarding ordinary Pūrvadhara Era

Though just like the dicots of a single green gram, or two sides of the same coin, Śvetāmbara & Digambara both sects belong to Lord Mahāvīra, yet there is a lot of difference in their traditions or opinions. With the times, the difference regarding the names of the Pūrvadharas, their numbers, and how long the knowledge of the Pūrvas existed, etc., kept increasing, between both the sects.  The same is explained by the following chart:

Subject As per Śvetāmbara Sect As per Digambara Sect
The existence of knowers of 14 Pūrvas V.N. 64 to 170, totaling 106 years V.N. 62  to 162, total 100 years
Number of knowers of 14 pūrvas 5. Except the last Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Bhadrabāhu, the names of the remaining 4 Pūrvadharas are different in both the sects
Tenure of ten pūrva knowers V.N. 170 to 584, about 414 years V.N. 162 to 345, i.e. 183 year
Number often pūrvas knowers 11 as per both the sects, but there are differences in the names.
Knowers of partial pūrvas V.N. 584 to 1000, i.e. 416 years. 10 ācāryas possessed knowledge of the Pūrvas, out of whom Ārya Rakṣita is a scholar of 9 ½ Pūrvas. Devārdhigaṇī the last knower of one pūrva. The knowledge of Pūrvas lost after V.N. 1000 After the demise of the last Pūrvadhara Dharmasena, in V.N. 345, the knowledge of Pūrvas was lost and only a fraction of it exists now.
There is a difference of 655 years on the existence of knowledge of Pūrvas in the opinion of both the sects, which is a matter of contemplation
Loss of knowledge of eleven aṃgas Because of the influence of time, the knowledge of Āgamas (Aṃgas and Upāṃgas etc.) steadily started becoming weaker & weaker.  Even then, up to the end of the Duṣamā kāla i.e. till the end of the forenoon of the 15th day of 8th month of V.N. 21003, though some part but in its pure form, the Āgmika knowledge will remain. Lost in V.N. 683.After that only one part was left over. No written evidence is available about the loss of the remaining knowledge like Aṃgabāhya  etc
The number of Āgamas There are 45 Āgamas in idol-worshipper sect, 32 in Sthānakavāsī and Terāpaṃthī ṢAṬKHAṆḌĀGAMA and Kaṣāya Pāhuḍa, etc are regarded as the best form of Āgamika scriptures.

Meticulous and unbiased comparative study of the scriptures of both these schools brings the fact to light that except in 84 small & big issues like 'Strī Mukti' (salvation of women), and 'Kevalī Bhukti' (taking food morsels of the omniscient), the rest of the expositions of the doctrines, explanation of metaphysics, etc are more or less the same.

Determination of Time of Ācāryas of Digambara Sect

In the perspective of the historical facts, after the nirvāṇa of Lord Mahāvīra, right from Gautama to Arhadbali, the names and tenure of Digambara ācāryas given below are indubitable:

Name Tradition of scriptures Duration
Indrabhūti Gautama Kevalī 12 years
Sudharmā (Lauhārya) Kevalī 12 years
Jambū Kevalī 38 (40) years
Later, omniscient knowledge disintegrated 62 (64)
Viṣṇū (Nandī) Śrutakevalī Total duration of 100 years
Nandimitra Śrutakevalī
Aparājita Śrutakevalī
Govardhana Śrutakevalī
Bhadrabāhu Śrutakevalī
Later, the knowledge of last four pūrvas disintegrated
Viśākha Ekādaśāṃga and Daśa Pūrvadhara Total duration of 183 years
Proṣṭhila Ekādaśāṃga and Daśa Pūrvadhara
Kṣatriya Ekādaśāṃga and Daśa Pūrvadhara
Jaya Ekādaśāṃga and Daśa Pūrvadhara
Nāga Ekādaśāṃga and Daśa Pūrvadhara
Siddhārtha Ekādaśāṃga and Daśa Pūrvadhara
Dhŗtiṣeṇa Ekādaśāṃga and Daśa Pūrvadhara
Vijaya Ekādaśāṃga and Daśa Pūrvadhara
Buddhila Ekādaśāṃga and Daśa Pūrvadhara
Gaṃgadeva Ekādaśāṃga and Daśa Pūrvadhara
Dharmasena (V.N. 345) Ekādaśāṃga and Daśa Pūrvadhara
Later, the knowledge of Pūrvas was lost
Nakṣatra Ekādaśāṃgadhara(Scholar in 11Aṃgas) Total duration of 220 years
Yasapāla Ekādaśāṃgadhara
Pāṇdu Ekādaśāṃgadhara
Dhruvasena Ekādaśāṃgadhara
Kaṃsācārya (V.N. 565)
Later, only Ācārāṃga was left
Subhadrā Ācārāṃgadhara (Scholar in Ācārāṃga) Total duration of 118 years
Yaśobhadra Ācārāṃgadhara
Yaśobāhu Ācārāṃgadhara
Lohārya (V.N. 565) Ācārāṃgadhara
Later, Ekādaśāṃgī was lost
Vinayaṃdhara Scholar in one part of AṃgaPūrva Approximately 20-20 years
Guptaŗṣi Scholar in one part of AṃgaPūrva
Guptaśruti Scholar in one part of AṃgaPūrva
Śiva gupta Scholar in one part of AṃgaPūrva
Arhadbali Scholar in one part of AṃgaPūrva
Yoga 100 years
Purna Yoga: 62 + 100 + 183 + 220 + 118 + 100 = 783 years
After Arhadbali, the succession and duration of ācāryas
Name of the ācārya Duration
Māghanandī(Ācārya of Nandī congregation) 21 years
Dharasena 19 years
Puṣpadaṃta (Author of ṢAṬKHAṆḌĀGAMA) 30 years
Bhūtabali (the Author of ṢAṬKHAṆḌĀGAMA) 10 years
Total: 90 years
Grand Total 873 years


Title: Jain Legend: Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (2)
Acharya Hasti Mala
Shugan C. Jain
Publisher: Samyakjnana Pracaraka Mandala, Jaipur
Edition: 2011
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Aparājita
  2. Ayodhyā
  3. Bhadra
  4. Bhagavatī Sūtra
  5. Candra
  6. Concentration
  7. Contemplation
  8. Cūrṇi
  9. Deva
  10. Dharma
  11. Digambara
  12. Gautama
  13. Gaṇa
  14. Guru
  15. Jaya
  16. Jina
  17. Kaṣāya
  18. Kevalī
  19. Kāla
  20. Mahāvīra
  21. Mathura
  22. Nakṣatra
  23. Nandī
  24. Nirvāṇa
  25. Omniscient
  26. Pūrva
  27. Pūrvadhara
  28. Sthānakavāsī
  29. Sūtra
  30. Vācanā
  31. Yakṣa
  32. Yoga
  33. samādhi
  34. Ācārya
  35. Ācāryas
  36. Āgamas
  37. ācāryas
  38. Śrutakevalī
  39. Śvetāmbara
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