A Story of Acharya Uma Svami

Published: 29.10.2010
Updated: 02.07.2015

A Story of Acharya Umā Svāmi (Umāsvāti)

Umā Svāmi is held in high estimation by the two main sections of the Jainas. Each section gives a different account of the life of the author of his great work. Umasvami wrote most sacred literature on jainism mainly Tattvārthādhigama Sūtra and Tattvārthā Sūtra. A Sloka found in Tattvārthā Sūtra at the end confirms that Umasvami was the author of the above books.

According to the Digambara tradition his name is Umā Svāmi and he is the most famous disciple of the revered saint Sri Kundakundācrya. He is known as Gridhapichchha in consequence of his preceptor being so designated. This is borne out by a verse found in one of the manuscripts of Tattvārthādhigama Sūtra He renounced the world at the age of 19, led the life of an ascetic for 25 years and subsequently became the head of the ascetics and discharged his duties in that capacity for about 40 years.

According to Śvetāmbaras sect the name of the name of Umā Svāmi was Umāsvāti. Umāsvāti was born in the city of Nyagrodhikā. The name of his father was Svāti, while that of his mother Umā. From this it appears that his name is a combination of the names of his parents, a fact inversely reflected in the case of Śri Bappabhattisuri, the author of Chaturvimsatikā, who was so named after his father’s and mother’s name Bappa and Bhatti. The Gotra or the lineage of his father and consequently of the author was Kaubhishani, while that of his mother, Vātsi.

As very little is known even about the exact period of his life, it is but natural that one cannot precisely say when he entered the order of the saints by cutting asunder the ties that bound him to world. It is, however, suggested in the colophon given at the end Bhāshya that he composed great work dealing with almost every doctrine or dogma of the Jainas either explicitly expressed or implied in the city of Kusumapura (modern Patna in Bihar and Orissa), after he had renounced the world. He was a pupil of Śri Ghohanandi who was the grand disciple (Praśishya) of Śivaśrī the Vāchakamukhya Umāsvāti too, has this appellation of Vāchaka added to his name. Even Mādhavāchārya, the author of Sarvadarś-ana-sangraha, who calls him Umāsvāti Vāchakāchārya, corroborates that Umāsvāti has composed 32 Sambandha-Kārikās or the connective verses as an introduction to the Sūtras he composed. Over and above this he has elucidated these Sūtras by composing the Bhāshya or the gloss therein.Furthermore, he is the author of Praśamarati, Śrāvakaprajnapti etc., the number of these work known as Prakaranas being 500.

Different stories are told about the composition of Tattvārthādhigama Sūtra: One of these is given as follows in the introduction to its commentary composed in Karnātakiya language:

There lived in Kathiawar a pious Jaina layman named Dvaipāyana. As he was proficient in the Jaina sacred literature, he desired to compile a great work, but his attempt was not being crowned with success owing to some worldly troubles. Therefore he took a vow not to take his meals until he had composed at least one Sūtra. He did not wait to practice his vow; so on that very day he composed the first Sūtra, selecting salvation as the subject of his work. In order that he might not forget it he transcribed it on a side of a pillar in his house. Next day he happened to go out on some business. In his absence a saint visited his house that was warmly received and entertained by his wife. By chance his eyes fell upon this Sūtra. He pondered over it and left the place after adding the word Samyag before it.

When Dvaipāyana returned home he saw the aphorism so proverbially corrected and consequently questioned his wife, who suggested that the saint must have done this. He ran at once to find out the saint who had obliged him making such an invaluable and fundamental correction. On the outskirts of the city he came across an order of monks in the midst of whom he found the head of the order seated in the peaceful posture befitting him. He guessed that must be the very saint he had run after and so he fell at his feet and requested him to complete the work undertaken by him as it was far above his ordinary ability. The saint was moved by the compassion and entreaty, so he finished the work. This saint was no other than our revered author Umāsvāmi and the book completed Tattvārthādhigama Sūtra, it being an expansion of the various aspects, details and developments of the foremost, fundamental and all-embracing Sūtra of Jainism.

A brief sketch of date in Acharya Uma Svamis life:


Year A.V

Saka era










Became Pontiff









Compiled by PK

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Bihar
  3. Digambara
  4. Gotra
  5. JAINA
  6. Jaina
  7. Jainism
  8. Orissa
  9. PK
  10. Patna
  11. Sloka
  12. Sūtra
  13. Umasvami
  14. Umāsvāti
  15. Śvetāmbaras
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