Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (4): Aṃcalagaccha, Other Name Acalagaccha

Published: 09.09.2016

The other name of Reformed path Aṃcalagaccha came to be called as Acalagaccha during the last days of Kumārapāla's reign. Merutuṃgiyā Paṭṭāvalī explains this in the following manner:

The Laity of different gacchas who was in favour of celebrating the 'Sāṃvatsarika' festive on Caturthī told Kumārapāla, "Your Majesty! You and we have been celebrating 'Sāṃvatsarika' on Caturthī. But in your kingdom there are some ascetics of other gacchas who support 'Sāṃvatsarika' celebration on Paṃcamī. 'The King of Festives 'Sāṃvatsarika' is approaching. These doctrinal differences regarding the date of a festive in your kingdom mar the fame of a devout Paramārhata king like you and the splendour of your reign.

Even King Kumārapāla too felt it improper to have different opinions about the celebration of an important festival. He announced his command, "Those ascetics who celebrate or are willing to celebrate 'Sāṃvatsarika' on Paṃcamī should not reside in my Pāṭaṇa. They should migrate to other some place today itself'".

Obeying the ordinance, ascetics of other gacchas, who wanted to celebrate 'Sāṃvatsarika' on Paṃcamī, left Pāṭaṇa and went to other places.

The great propagator and celebrated ācārya of Reformed path, Ācārya Jaya Siṃha Sūri camped in Pāṭaṇa during that time. He decided to celebrate 'Sāṃvatsarika' on Paṃcamī in Pāṭaṇa only. So he carved out a way with his sharp wit. He sent a message to the king through one of his disciples who was eloquent but talkative that, "Our preceptor will celebrate 'Sāṃvatsarika' on Paṃcamī only. Lately, he started explaining the meaning of Āvaśyaka Sūtra to the devotees. In the explanation he first analyses the Namaskāra Mantra. Meanwhile you have passed an ordinance asking those ascetics to leave Pāṭaṇa, who wish to celebrate the Parva on Paṃcamī. Our Guru ordered me to ask you whether he has to leave Paṭṭaṇa after completing his explanation on Namaskāra Mantra or now itself, leaving the explanation and analysis of Namaskāra Mantra mid-way."

King Kumārapāla became furious at once, but discernment awakened the next moment. He found himself caught in a dilemma. On one hand, the question of obeying the order issued by him and on the other the interruption in the explanation of great Mantra, a religious exigency. He approached Ācārya Hemacandra for resolving the dilemma and asked for a solution.

Ācārya Hemacandra Sūri advised him saying that Ācārya Jaya Siṃha Sūri of Reformed path was endowed with such sagacity that he could defeat even the pre-eminent debaters like Divākara with his eloquence and that he was a master in occult and mystic powers. Hence it is not advisable for anyone to provoke his wrath.

So Kumārapāla at once went to Ācārya Jaya Siṃha Sūri and explained the matter regarding the ordinance and pleaded forgiveness.

Thus, some of the ascetics who were to celebrate Sāṃvatsarika on Paṃcamī migrated to some other places. However, Jaya Siṃha Sūri with his unmatched wit and prudence stayed back inexorable like a mountain (Acala). Thus, it also came to be known as Acalagaccha.


Āgamikagaccha originated as an effort to bring in reforms. At the end of 12th and the commencement of Vikram 13th century when the perverted code and blasphemous tenets found place in Candra gaccha, Monk Śīlaguṇa Sūri approximately during the second decade of Vikram 13th century, propelling a religious reform, founded the Āgamikagaccha, the other branch of Reformed path. As he instituted the Āgamikagaccha, he was considered as the first ācārya of Āgamikagaccha. It was a branch of Candra gaccha. The list of ācāryas of this gaccha, in chronological order is given below:

  1. Śīlaguṇa Sūri: Life history of Śīlaguṇa Sūri, who originally belonged to Candra gaccha and who laid the foundation Āgamika gaccha is as follows:

In the eastern region, Bhaṭṭānika, the King of Kanauja had a son called Kumāra. He studied literature, prosody, rhetoric, archery, etc. befitting a royal prince. One day he went to the forest for hunting. He shot an arrow at a pregnant female deer. No sooner did the arrow pierce her body, the deer swooned, and gave birth to a fawn. It succumbed leaving the newly born to its fate.

Seeing harrowing plight of the deer, the prince was benumbed and perturbed. He felt immense remorse. He condemned and cursed himself. King Bhaṭṭānika consoling his son arranged for the golden idols of the deer and fawn to be made and as an act of contrition, fragmented the idols and distributed the gold among Brahmins. In spite of this, Kumāra was not convinced. Guilt was eating away his conscience. In the middle of the night, disguising himself, he silently and stealthily walked bare foot, out of the palace towards the jungle without informing anyone.

After many days, he reached a city called 'Koḍamaghūrṭaka' in Sthalavatī. Under the instructions of a lay devotee, he went to a ācārya called 'Siddhasiṃha'. He got enlightened listening to his sermons and took initiation into asceticism. After initiation he diligently studied scriptures under his preceptor. He mastered other supernatural powers, along with scriptures within a short time. He was considered as an outstanding scholar of his times, in scriptures.

One day Kumāra Monk asked his guru Siddhasiṃha Sūri inquisitively, "Lord! The scripture based pure code of conduct promulgated by Omniscient is presently not seen anywhere. What is the reason for it?"

The ācārya was perplexed listening to the sudden query of his disciple. He replied, "Son! Owing to the inauspicious effect of Duṣamākāla, activities cannot be performed as prescribed in the scriptures.

Kumāra Monk asked, "Ācāryadeva! Then, is the ascetic who practices and performs such perverted austerities a worshipper (ārādhaka) or a heretic (virādhaka)?"

Ācārya Siddhasiṃha: Son! The truth is that the eremite who performs the rituals and austerities propounded in scriptures and strictly adheres to self-restraint is a worshipper, a true ascetic; on the contrary the coenobite, who does not follow the scripture based pure code of conduct and who scorns at scriptural doctrines and violates the religious regulations and conduct is a heretic.

Fascinated by the true meaning of worshipper after listening to his Guru's explanation, and despising heresy, Kumāra Monk sought permission of his guru to lead the ascetic life of a worshipper.

Ācārya blessed him granting permission, "Son! Model your life as a true worshipper and rejuvenate the propriety and conduct of an ascetic as promulgated in scriptures."

Receiving his guru's permission and blessings and taking a vow that he would abide by the scriptural tenets, Kumāra Monk left the lodgings of his Guru for carrying out religious peregrination and uninterruptedly he observed the pure code of conduct of Śramaṇas. In his wanderings he preached the procedures and doctrines of scriptures at all the places and propagated Jina order elucidating its solemnity and magnificence.

In those days, listening to the preaching of Devabhadra Sūri, a noble person Yaśodeva got enlightened. In Vikram 1196, Yaśodeva took initiation from Devabhadra Sūri and studied all the subjects assiduously and became an erudite scholar. One day, Yaśodeva Monk too like Kumāra Monk, asked his preceptor, "Lord! Why is heresy on the rampage now? Devabhadra Sūri answered, "Son, under the influence of inauspicious times when the number of heretics increases, naturally lax conduct substitutes the pure, after which it becomes very difficult to revert back to the scripture based code of conduct."

After listening to his guru, Monk Yaśodeva decided to lead a pure ascetic life as laid down in scriptures. In Vikram 1212, taking the permission of his Guru he started wandering independently. In Vikram 1214, he established the Āgama gaccha. And then disseminating the doctrine of Āgama, which was based on the original tenets, he proselytized and guided many noble souls on to the original spiritual path.

One day at a certain place he met Kumāra gaṇi. Both of them had an amiable conversation on the methods and rituals of scriptures. Ācārya Yaśodeva was immensely impressed by the pious life style and exemplary scriptural knowledge of Kumāra gaṇi. He was senior to Yaśodeva in monkhood. So he ordained Kumāra gaṇi as ācārya and gave him the ascetic name - Śīlaguṇa Sūri. Thereupon, both of them together started itinerant preaching of scriptural based tenets and conduct.

In their wayfaring, they reached Aṇahillapura Paṭṭaṇa. They went to Lord Ariṣṭanemi's temple to pay obeisance. King Kumārapāla was also present there along with Hemacandra Sūri at that time. The King observed Yaśodeva and Śīlaguṇa Sūri offering venerations in three stutis. He was awestruck and asked his ācārya, "Lord! What type of veneration is this? Is it appropriate?"

Hemacandra Sūri replied, "Your Majesty! This is scriptural method, i.e. a method professed in scriptures."

From then onwards Reformed path of Śīlaguṇa Sūri and Yaśodeva gaṇi came to be called as 'Āgamika gaccha. This evinces the fact that as Ācārya Hemacandra explained to King Kumārapāla that their veneration was scriptural (Āgamika) method, their gaccha became famous as 'Āgamika gaccha'.

Śīlaguṇa Sūri spent his life strictly cleaving to scriptural mode of asceticism and propagating Jain doctrine in different places and ultimately left his mortal body in Samādhi. Devabhadra Sūri succeeded him as ācāryaof Āgamika gaccha.

  1. Devabhadra Sūri: The second ācārya of Āgamika gaccha, Devabhadra Sūri was an exemplary scholar in scriptures, an efficient promulgator of Reformed Path and Jina Order and an erudite scholar of his times. He was succeeded by Dharma Ghoṣa Sūri (third ācārya), who in turn by Ācārya Yaśobhadra Sūri (4th ācārya). After him, three superior monks were concurrently appointed as ācāryas. They were - Sarvānanda Sūri, Abhayadeva Sūri and Vajrasena Sūri (5th ācāryas). After their long tenure, Jinacandra Sūri became the 6th ācārya. His style of delivering discourse, wear full of the nine virtues of speech. Charmed by his style and sagacity "Mokharā" the King of Guhilavāḍa bestowed him with the title 'Navarasāvatāra Taraṃgiṇī'.

Probably owing to weakness in thighs, Jinacandra Sūri stayed in 'Līliyāṇaka', the capital of Guhilavāḍa for a long time. He enjoyed the full grace of goddess Saraswatī. He was honoured and respected by the king and the commoners alike.

Once, a scholar called Dāmodara came to the city along with 8 scholarly paṇḍitas of Yājṅika. He arranged for a 'Vājapeyī sacrifice' in Līliyāṇaka in which expenses for the performance of the sacrifice were estimated as one lakh silver coins. Precious and expensive materials and 32 goats to be offered as sacrifice were brought to the place where the sacrificial worship (yajṅa) was to be performed. The people were piqued, when they came to know that goats were meant for sacrifice, as they had assimilated the principle of non-violence. In order to prevent the sacrifice, ācārya made the king pass an order that a spiritual dialogue on the sacrifice of animals in yajṅa, would be held between Ācārya Jinacandra Sūri and the priests of sacrifice, wherein the winner would decide whether to sacrifice the animals or not. The spiritual discourse lasted for 18 days in the court of Mokharā Guhila. On the concluding day ācārya with his perspicuous and sagacious argument silenced the opponents. The king gave him the epistle of victory and let off the goats uninjured.

Thus, Jinacandra Sūri carried out great service to Jina Order by propagating the true tenets of pure Jainism.

After him the successor ācāryas were 7th Vijayasiṃha Sūri, 8th Abhayasiṃha Sūri and 9th Amarasiṃha Sūri. They were all well-versed in scriptures, balanced debaters and propagators of Jina Order.


Title: Jain Legend: Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (4)
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. Body
  2. Brahmins
  3. Candra
  4. Dharma
  5. Gaccha
  6. Guru
  7. Hemacandra
  8. Jainism
  9. Jaya
  10. Jina
  11. Lakh
  12. Mantra
  13. Namaskāra Mantra
  14. Non-violence
  15. Omniscient
  16. Parva
  17. Sūtra
  18. The Splendour
  19. samādhi
  20. Ācārya
  21. Āgama
  22. Āvaśyaka
  23. Āvaśyaka Sūtra
  24. ācāryas
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