The Svetambaras, as a distinctly separate church developed only after the Valabhi Council. This Council was held in the year 980 (or 993) after the death of Mahavira (about the middle of the 5th century AD) for the purpose of collecting the sacred texts and for reducing them to writing. It was presided over by Devarddhi Kshamasramna. An important work of this period was the completion of the Kalpa Sutra of Bhadrabahu. The whole of the Kalpa Sutra cannot be ascribed to Bhadrabahu who, had died 170 years after Mahavira. The Kalpa Sutra has three sections. The first section contains the Jinacaritra, "the biographies of the Jinas." The main portion in this section is the biography of Mahavira. The second section of the Kalpa Sutra consists of the Ther avali, i.e. the list of the pontiffs, and also the name of the schools (gana), their branches (sakha) and names of the heads of the school. This list contains names of the heads of the school. This list contains names of the pontiffs up to Devarddhi nearly 30 generations after Bhadrabayhu. Thus this list could not have been compiled by Bhadrabahu himself. The third section of the Kalpa Sutra contains the Samacari, or Rules for the ascetics, namely, the rules for the rainy season (Pajjusan). It has been conjectured that this, the oldest section of the Kalpa Sutra was the work of Bhadrabahu. Indeed the complete title of the Kalpa Sutra is Pajjosanakappa, though this name fits only the third section. The other two sections according to the tradition, were added later by Devarddhi.


     So far as an ordinary Shvetambara layman is concerned the Kalpa Sutra is his most important sacred text. It is revered almost in the same manner by him as the Bhagavadgita is revered by an ordinary Hindu. The Kalpa Sutra in the present form is also the first text of the Shvetambara Church, not accepted by the Digmabaras.


     In regard to the earlier literature of the Jains, i.e. the sayings of Mahavira and the principal Ganadharas, the Valabhi Council reduced to writing whatever the Council thought had been authentically handed down. These are the canonical books of the Svetambaras. They are called the Angas Upangas, etc. and number 45 in all. The Digambaras do not accept them as authentic and canonical, but do not reject them completely either.


     During the nearly 10 centuries that passed between the death of Mahavira and the Vallabhi Council, many scholars had written commentaries on these Angas, Upangas, etc.


     These commentaries are called Nijutis or Niryuktis. All these commentaries would necessarily be considered Shvetambara literature. Similar would be the position of all the other Jain literature considered not acceptable by the Digambaras. One such example would be the commentary by Umasvati or Umasvami on his own Tatvarthadigama-Sutra. While the text of this work is acceptable to both the sects, the commentary by the author himself is rejected by the Digambaras. Yet another method of identifying a Shvetamara work is by the name itself. This method is applicable to mythologies only. While the Svetambaras call the mythologies caryias or caritas the Digambara term for a mythology is Purana, Thus the Ram epic Pauma-cariya by Vimala Suri may be called a Shvetambara work. This was composed 530 years after Mahavira's death, that is, in or about AD 4. (However, except for occasional differences, the tales described in both sets of the epics are essentially the same. In other words, but for the name, it would be difficult to assign the epics to any one sect).


     The Shvetambara monks composed a large number of commentaries between the 6th and 9th century. These later commentaries were called churnis. One churni on the Nandi- Sutra called Mandichurni mentions that a council had been held in Mathura also. This churni was completed in Saka 598, that is, 676 AD, i.e., after the Vallabhi Council. The Mathura Council was presided over by Skandila. His name does not occur in the list of sthaviras of the Kalpa Sutra, but Jacobi2 notes in his translation of the Kalpa Sutra, that he might be the same as Sandilya mentioned 33rd in the list of the sthaviras.


     It is not clear what the results of this Mathura Council were. Probably the Council did not come to any final decision.


     Another important churni of this century is that of the Avashyaka-Sutra by Jinadasagani. This gives a long description of Mahavira's journeys during the 12 1/2 years that he wandered as an ascetic before attaining the kevalajnana. Jinadasagani must have obtained his facts from an earlier and reliable source, for his description of Mahavira's travels is considered more or less authentic.


     One important thing that happened during the fifth and sixth centuries, that is, during the Gupta period of Indian history was that the Jain iconography was standardized. This iconography is more or less same for both Digambaras and Svetambaras, except of course for the fact that the Digambara images of the Tirthankaras do not have any clothes or ornaments. Two postures were standardized for these images: one standing, called the Kayotasaras, and the other sitting in the yogasana pose. The Tirthankaras in northern India all had the srivatasa mark on their chests. They were also given distinguishing signs called Lanchanas and in addition each Tirthankara was given a pair of attendants, called yaksha and yakshini whose images are carved on the two sides of the Tirthankara.4


     At the time of Mahavira, the Yakshas as we have seen, were popular local divinities and there were yaksha temples in all the towns of Magadh. As the worship of Yakshas diminished, they became in the case of the Jains the attendants of the Tirthankaras. They however served a very useful purpose in Jain worship. A Tirthankara does not answer the prayer of a devotee, and therefore no worshipper when he performs a puja in a temple asks for any gift from him. But if an uninstructed Shvetambara does ask a gift, his prayer would be answered not by the Tirthankara (who as a matter of fact does not even hear it), but by the yaksha in attendance of the Tirthankara.


     A class of deities that became quite prominent during this period were the Vidyadevis. In the beginning there was perhaps only one Vidyadevi, viz., Sarasvati, the Goddess of Learning. A Sarasvati image has been found even in the Kankali-tila remains in Mathura. This can be dated latest to the end of the 3rd century (the year inscribed on the image is 54). Later, a new set of Vidyadevis were added to the Jain pantheon, and ultimately we have sixteen of them. Their names are Rohini, Prajnapti, Vajrashrinkhala, Vajrankusha, Apraticakra, Purushadatta, Kali, Mahakali, Gauri, Gandhari, Sarvastra-Mahajvala, Manavi, Vairotya, Achchhupta, Manasi and Mahamanasi. All these sixteen can be seen depicted, for instance, in the famous Dilvara temple at Abu. None of these sixteen Vidyadevis carried the usual attributes of the Goddess of learning, viz. A book and a vina (lute). Also from their names it appears that they were similar to the Buddhist5 and Hindu Tantrik Goddesses. It will also be noticed that the period when the Jain Vidyadevis evolved was the period of the heyday of the Tantrik movement in India.


From Haribhadra Suri to Hemachandra Suri and Onwards


     Haribhadra Suri laid the foundation of the Shvetambara intellectual movement, which culminated with Hemacandra Suri in the 12th century. "It is said that before Haribhadra's time only one-eighth of the whole Shvetambara literature available today, existed and to the remaining seven-eighths he was the greatest contributor and inspirer by example".6 It is said that he wrote 1,444 works, big and small. Of these 88 have so far been discovered and of them 26 are definitely known to be his creation.


     "Haribhadra, a pupil of Jinabhadra (or Jinabhata) and Jinadatta, from the Vidyadhara kula lived in the 8th century, probably between AD 705 and AD 775. He was born at Chitrakuta, the present-day Chittorgarh, as the son of a Brahman and was instructed in all branches of Brahmanic learning. Proud of his enormous erudition he declared that he would become the pupil of any man who could tell him a sentence the meaning of which he did not understand. This challenge was inscribed in a plate which he wore on his stomach; whilst another legend has it that he laid gold bands around his body to prevent his bursting owing to so much learning. One day he heard the Jain nun Yakini reciting a verse, the meaning of which he did not understand. He asked her to explain the meaning to him. She referred to a teacher Jinabhata, who promised to instruct him, if he would enter the Jain order. So Haribhadra became a monk, and thenceforth called himself the spiritual son dharmaputra of the nun Yakini. He soon became so well- versed in the sacred writings of the Jains, that he received the title of Suri (honorific epithet of learning Jain monks), and his teacher appointed him as his successor. In all probability he soon wandered away from his birthplace Chitrakuta, for his life as a monk was spent for the most part in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Apart from being thoroughly well-versed in Brahmanism, he had considerable knowledge of the Buddhist doctrines, which he secretly procured knowledge of Buddhism through his pupils and his nephews Hansa and Paramhansa, in order to be able to refute its doctrines thoroughly.


     Haribhadra wrote both in Sanskrit and Prakrit. Probably he was the first to write commentaries to the Canon in Sanskrit. While utilizing the ancient Prakrit commentaries, he retained the narratives (kathankhas) in their original Prakrit form.7


     Haribhadra also wrote a long Prakrit poem Samaraicca Kaha. It is a religious novel in which the heroes and the heroines are after all sorts of adventures and through various lives as human beings or animals, renounce the world at last, and enter the Jain Order.


     Haribhadra started a tradition of learning among the Svetambaras of Gujarat and the neighboring areas, mainly Rajasthan. UdyotanaSuri completed his Kubalayamala in AD 778 at Javalipura (Jalor in South west Rajasthan). About a century later, sometime between 862 and 872, Shilanka wrote his commentaries on the first two Angas. He translated all the Prakrit sources he had used, including the narratives, into Sanskrit. He also wrote a work on the Jain mythology in 869. This work is called Chaupannamahapurisachariyam. Shilanka, it appears also belonged to Gujarat. In the 9th century Jayasinha wrote his Dharmopadeshamala in Nagapura (Nagor in Rajasthan).


     It was the learning of Jain monks, that make their entry in to the court of the Chaulukya kings of Gujarat easy. The Jains flourished in the Chaulukya court and both the Chaulukyas and the Jains gained; Later the greatest of the Chaulukyas, Jayasinha Siddharaja, and the greatest of the Svetambaras pandits, Hemachandras were contemporaries and friends.


     Gujarat in the early 11th century was divided into a number of petty states. The Chaulukya king Durlabharaja 1002-1022 who admitted the Jain pandit Jineshvara Suri in his court was the ruler of Anahilavada (near modern Patan) and Kutch. His son Bhim succeeded him. By that time the Jains had started occupying important administrative posts in this kingdom. Bhima's minister Vimala Shaha built the famous Adinanth temple at Abu in 1032. It is quite apparent that Vimala Shaha must have been an immensely rich person.


     The Jain religion proved attractive to the mercantile community. This was perhaps because this rich class did not like to be placed in a position inferior to the Brahmans (quite often illiterate at that) who were placed higher than the merchants in the orthodox Hindu hierarchy. Many sub-castes of the mercantile community such as the Osavalas, the Poravalas, the Shrimalis and the Shri-Shrimalis were almost entirely converted to Jainism.


     Bhima's grandson Jayasinha Siddharaja (ruled 1094-1143) was the greatest king of Gujart. He conquered the whole of Gujarat and became its first emperor. In 1135 he invaded Dhara and returned at the end of his triumph to his capital in 1136. Among the citizens who went out to welcome him home was a delegation of learned people. The leader of this delegation was Hemachandra. It is said that it was the first time that Jayasinha saw Hemachandra.




     Hemachandra was born in 1089 in a place called Dhandhuka about 100 kilometers south west of Ahmedabad. His father's name was Chachiga and his mother was Pahini Devi. They were Vania by castes. The boy was named Changadeva. (The name Hemachandra was given to him much later, when he became a Suri). Hemachandra's father was most probably a Shiva by religion but his mother was a Jain. The boy was unusually intelligent.


     Once when Hemachandra was still a child, one Devachandra a Jain acharya came to Dhandhuka on his way to pilgrimage. He saw the boy and was struck by his precocity. He thought of bringing up the boy as a Jain monk, for he surmised that when he grew up he would prove to be an asset to the Jain religious community. So, accompanied by the local Jain merchants he went to the house of Chahiga but Chahiga had gone away to some other place. He, therefore, asked the mother to give him the boy so that he could be educated and brought up as a Jain monk. On the request of the acharya, and the merchants, the mother agreed to give away8 her son.


     Devachandra then took away the boy with him to some other town. Meanwhile Chachiga returned home and when he found that his son had been taken away, he went to search for him. He found the boy in the custody of Udayana who was the governor of Cambay, and Jain by religion. Udayana again requested Chahiga to allow Devachandra to keep the boy, and also offered a considerable sum of money to him as compensation. It is said that Chadhiga was at last persuaded to leave the boy with Devachandra, but he refused to accept the money.


     The boy Changadeva was ordained in 1097, and a new name Somachandra was given to him. His education was then started, and by the age of 21 he became so learned that the epithet of Suri was conferred on him, and he was also given a new name Hemachandra at this time for they said that his countenance shone like hema (gold).


     Hemachandra does not mention his guru often in his writings. In fact, there is only one instance known, in the tenth book of the Trishashtishalaka purusa-carita, where he definitely mentions his guru Devachandra. From this it has been surmised that his relations with his preceptor were perhaps not happy. In fact even the story of his life as given above is not accepted by everybody. There are some other versions of his life-story also.


     Only on one point there is unanimity, that is, that Hemachandra was one of the greatest polymaths of this country. He was called Kalikala-sarvajna - the Omniscient of the Kali-age. In the variety of his writings his only possible rival was Rafa Bhoja of Dhara, but many of the works that go by the name of Bhoja were probably ghost writings of his court-pandits.


     The works of Hemachandra are said to number three crores (30 million). In other words they were many. Some of his works might have disappeared. Of these that exist the following are noteworthy:


1. Epic


     Hemachandra, like many other Jain authors wrote the life of the 63 great persons of Jain mythology. It is a huge work and is known as the Trishashtishalaka-purusha- carita. This work has standardized the Shvetambara version of the Jain mythology. What is more important is that Hemachandra wrote an appendix to this work. This appendix known as the Parishishtaparvam9 gives the history of the Jain Church for nearly 14 generations after Mahavira, and as stated earlier is one of the only two histories that the Jains have written of their Church after Mahavira.


2. Grammar


     Hemachandra's famous grammar Sidha-hema-shabda-nushasana is said to have been written at the instance of the ruler Jayasinha Siddharaja who wanted to make his capital as well known in the learned circles as Dhara the capital of Bhoja. (Bhoja had also written grammar, the Sarasvati-Kanthavarana.)


     Hemachandra's grammar has eight chapters. The first seven chapters deal with the grammar of the Sanskrit language, and the eighth with that of the Prakrit language. This eighth chapter is the earliest work10 of the Western school of Prakrit grammarians, and as such may be considered a pioneering work. Hemcandra deals with practically all varieties of Prakrit, viz. Maharashtri, Sauraseni, Magadhi, Ardha-Magadhi, Paishrachi, Chulika Paishachi: and also with Apabhransa.11


     In the first seven chapters that deal with the Sanskrit language, Hemchandra shows his acquaintance with nearly all the previous grammars of this language. His method is illicit and it is found that he made use of both the systems, Panini as well as Katantra equally,12 his object being, all the time, to make the grammar as easily understood by the reader as possible. It is altogether strange that Hemachandra's Sanskrit grammar never became popular outside Gujarat.


3. Kavya


     Hemachandra wrote a long poetical work called Kumarapala Caritra. It is a life of Kumarapala who succeeded Jayasinha as the ruler of Gujarat. The work is also called Dvayashraya Kavya, for it is not only written in two languages, Sanskrit and Prakrit, but it also serves two purposes: besides describing the life of Kumarapala, it also illustrates the rules of Hemachandra's grammar.


4. Lexicons


     Hemachandra compiled four lexicons: 1 Abhidhanachintamani a lexicon in the same style as the Amarakosa: 2. Anekarthasangraha, a dictionary of homonyms: 3. Nighantu, a dictionary of medicinal plants: 4. and Deshinamamala, and dictionary of (native) words not derivable by the rules of Sanskrit of Prakrit grammars.


     Besides these, Hemachandra also wrote on Poetics Kavyanushasana, Prosody (Chandonushasana) Naya, (Pramnamimansa). Yogashastra, etc. He also composed some devotional songs.


     Jayasinha, the ruler of Gujarata, did not have a son; and therefore, there was no direct heir to the throne of Gujarat. Until his last days, however, he hankered for a son. For this purpose he had once gone to the temple of Somanath on pilgrimage. Hemachandra had accompanied him to this temple. Hemachandra and the Jain ministers of Jayasinha wanted that in the absence of a son, Kumarapala who was a descendant of Jayasinha's father's step brother, should succeed him. All the Jain ministers and rich merchants were therefore secretly helping Kumarapala whom Jayasinha himself disliked. When on the death of Jayasinha (AD 1143) Kumarapala actually succeeded him, he was deeply grateful to the Jains.


     Hemachandra became a life long friend and adviser of Kumarapala. All the Jain historians of the period say that under his advice Kumarapala prohibited the killing of animals in his Kingdom, and became a Jain himself. It is quite apparent that he loved Jainism: but as K. M. Munshi says, "Kumarpala never foreswore his ancestral faith" and "all the epigraphical evidence describe him as a devotee of Shiv".14


     However, the fact remains that in northern India there have been few kings as friendly to the Jains as Kumarapala.


     Kumarapala died in 1173. Hemachandra had died six months before Kumarapala's death.


     The Jain influence has, however remained strong in Gujarat all these centuries. The Jains have produced not only many learned men, but they have also continued to build magnificent temples all over the state at such sites where the hand of the idol breakers would not easily reach.


     In Abu, Vimala Shaha, the minister of the Chaulukya ruler Bhima had built the famous temple of Rishavanatha in 1032. Exactly 200 years later, two brothers Vastupala and Tejapala, built the famous temple of Neminatha here in 1232 . The old temple of Neminatha at Girnar (3,000 ft) was restored in 1278. The Shatrunjaya hill (about 2000 ft.) at Palitana was covered by innumerable Jain temples throughout the ages. One of them, the Chaumukah temple of Adinatha was built in 1618.


     The Svetambaras of the neighboring area of Rajasthan also were great builders. The large and beautiful temple in Ranakpur near Sadri in the Pali district was built in 1439. It covers an area of over 4000 square meters. Dharanaka ordered to build it and is dedicated to Adinatha. In Osia (Jodhpur district) also they continued to build temples for many centuries. Osia is said to be the original home of the Osavala Shvetambara Jains.


5. Painting


     A school of miniature paintings flourished among the Jains of Gujarat from the 11th to the 16th century. It consisted mainly in the illumination of manuscripts. In the earlier centuries these manuscripts were on palm leaf, and later on paper. The most popular work for illumination was the Kalpa-Sutra. (Later the art was taken up by the non- Jains also and Krishnalila scenes became their favorite subjects. Near about the 16th century secular subjects, mainly love scenes, were also painted.)


     In the earlier period the backgrounds of the paintings were brick-red, but from the 15th century there was lavish use of blue and gold. The characteristics of the Jain paintings are: angular faces in 3/4th profile, pointed nose, eyes protruding beyond the facial line and abundance of ornamentation.


     (The Gujarat painters in still later centuries became the fore-runners of the Rajput school of Paintings.)


Hira Vijay Suri


     Among the Jain learned persons of the 17th century the greatest was Hira Vijay Suri of Gujarat. In Ain 30 of his Ain-i-Akbari, Abul Fazl gives a list of 140 learned persons of his time. Of these 140, he places 21 persons in the first class: "Such as understand the mysteries of both worlds." Nine of these 21 were non-muslims. They were15 1. Madhu Sarsuti 2. Madhusudan 3. Narayan Asram 4. Hariji Sur 5. Damudar Bhat 6. Ramtirth 7. Nar Sing 8. Parmindar 9. Adit. Thus Hira Vijaya Suri (name wrongly transliterated by Blochman as Hariji Sur) was recognized as one of the 21 most learned people in the Mughal empire.


     Akbar heard of him from some local Jains of Fathepur Sikri and was anxious to meet him. He sent orders to Sihabuddin Ahmad Khan, Governor of Gujarat that Hira Vijaya Suri should be sent to Fatehpur Sikri when it was possible, and all possible help such as escorts, and elephants and horses as conveyances should be provided to him.


     Hira Vijaya Suri16 was born in an Osavala family in Palanpur in Gujarat in 1527. His parents had died when he was still an infant, and he was brought up by his two elder sisters. He became the disciple of Vijayadana Suri in 1540 at the age of 13, and a new name Hira Harsh was given to him. He was taken to Devagiri- a center of Sanskrit learning in those days, for further education. He successively won the title of Pandit in 1550, Upadhyaya in 1552 and Suri in 1553. This last title he won at Sirohi. Hence-forth he was known as Hira Vijaya Suri. In 1556 when his guru died, the Shvetambara community of Gujarat selected him as their bhattaraka.


     There was a great rejoicing among the Jains of Ahmedabad, when the Emperor's order was received. Many other learned Jain sadhus decided to accompany the Suri to the capital. The Jain rules for the ascetics provide that they should live only on that much cooked food that a householder would give him out of the good cooked ordinarily for his household. But there would not be that many Jain households all along the way from Ahmedabad to Fatehpur Sikri to give alms to this large Group of sadhus (said to have been 67) accompanying Hira Vijaya Suri. Some householders therefore also traveled with this group. They would leave earlier than the sadhus in the morning, travel some distance and cook the daily food under a tree on the roadside, and wait for the party of sadhus to arrive there.


     Naturally, Hira Vijaya as a strict Jain ascetic did not avail of the elephants provided by the Governor of Gujarat but traveled on foot all the way.


     Hira Vijaya Suri entered Fatehpur Sikri on Jyestha Krishna 12, in AD 1582. "The weary traveler was received with all the pomp of imperial pageantry, and was made over to the care of Abul Fazl until the sovereign found leisure to converse with him. After much talk upon the problem of religion and philosophy, first with Abul Fazl and then with Akbar, the Suri paid a visit to Agra. At the close of the rainy season he returned to Fatepur Sikri, and persuaded the emperor to release prisoners and caged birds, and to prohibit killing of animals on certain days. In the following year (1583) those orders were extended, and disobedience to them was made a capital offense. Akbar renounced his much loved hunting and restricted the practice of fishing. The Suri, who was granted title of Jagad-Guru or world teacher returned in 1584 to Gujarat by way of Agra and Allahabad.".17


     One of the learned persons who had accompanied Hira Vijaya Suri to Fatehpur Sikri remained at court. His name was Bhanu Chandra. It may be mentioned, that Bhanu Chandra (as Bhan Chand) and an other Jain Vijayasena Suri (as Bijai Sen Sur) are included in Abul Fazl's list of "The learned Men of the Time". He placed them in the fifth class. "The fifth class are bigoted, and cannot pass beyond the narrow sphere of revealed testimony." In other words, Bhanu Chandra and Vijya Sena were learned in the Jain Shvetambara texts, but did not have the width of vision which the learned men of the first class like Hira Vijaya Suri had.


Abul Fasl has quite a long18 and detailed chapter about the Jain religion in his Ain-i-Akbari. He might have received much of this knowledge from Bhanu Chandra. He wrote "The writer has met with no one who had personal knowledge of both orders and his account of the Digambaras has been written as it were in the dark, but having some acquaintance with the learned of the Shvetambara order, who are also known as the Sewra he has been able to supply a tolerably full notice."19


     It is noteworthy that until the beginning of the 17th century we do not hear of any learned Digambaras in northern India. Learned Jains had been working in the court of Delhi even before the Mughals also. One Thakkar Pheru was the assayer of the treasury of Alauddin Khalji (1316) and later became mint-master during the reign of Qutubuddin Mubarak (1320). He wrote a treatise on astrolabes, the Yantra Raja. Writing his commentary on this book Mahendra Suri's disciple Malayendu Suri said, "The book was written by Mahendra Suri who was Chief Astronomer (Astrologer) of Firuz" (Shah Tughluq, 1351-88).

     Both Thakkara Pheru and Mahendra Suri appear to have been Svetambaras.


Minor Divisions and Sub-Divisions of the Svetambaras


     From about a century prior to the advent of Hemchandra, we find evidence of Shvetambara sect being divided into various groups. These groups, called gachchhas were formed by a number of group leaders, who were generally important monks. The process of forming these gachchhas continued from the 11th to the 13th century, and ultimately it is said that altogether 84 gachchhas were thus formed.20 However it is likely that most of the gachchha did not survive their founders and perhaps got amalgamated with other gachchhas. At the present time most of the Svetambaras of Gujarat and Rajasthan belong to one of the following three gachchhas;


1. Kharatargahchhas.

2. Tapagachchha.

3. Anchala gachchha.


     If any other gachchhas still survive, they are not well known. An important point about these various gachchhas is that there is no recognizable doctrinal difference among them. What differentiates one gachchha from another is that each of them has its own temples, and also its own holy men. The gachchhas have not however, frozen into castes, in the sense that they are not necessarily endogamous. In fact it is difficult to specify what purpose this division serves. At one point no doubt, a gachchha meant the group following a particular monk, which is no longer so.




     There is also no authentic history of the formation of these gachchhas, but there is one method by which we can determine the latest period by which the gachchhas had been formed. It is the general rule among the Jains that they mention their gachchhas on a stone inscription when they donate a temple or other religious building. By the evidence of such inscriptions (in so far as they are authentic ) we know that the Kharataragachchha had been formed before AD 1090, for the first epigraph which mentions this gachchha is dated 1147 in the corresponding Samvat year.


     The legend about the formation of the gachchhas vary. One legend had it that one Jinesvara Suri defeated the Chaityavasins. (Monks who lived in temples) in a religious debate in the court of king Durlabharaja of Anahilavada in AD 1090, for the first epigraph that mentions this gachchha is dated 1147 in the corresponding Samvat year.


     The legends about the formation of the gachchhas vary. One legend had it that one Jinesvara Suri defeated the Chaityavasins. (Monks who lived in temples) in a religious debate in the court of king Durlabharaja of Anahilavada in AD 1022 and won the title of Kharatara (a man of bold character) from him.21 His disciples were called Kharataragachchhyas. Another legend says that this gachchha was started by Jinadatta Suri in AD 1147. Yet another belief is that it was started by Jinavallabha Suri.


     Unlike the Digambaras who generally start the genealogy of their pontiffs from either Bhadraahu II or Kundakunda, the Svetambaras start their genealogy from Mahavira himself. In one such genealogy22 belonging to the Brihat- kharataragachchha it is mentioned that the Jain sangha (the Svetambaras ignore the existence of Digambaras) broke up into two after the 37th pontiff, Udyotana. This Udyotana had two disciples: Vardhamana and Sarvadeva. The Kharataragachchha, and the tapagachchha originated with these two disciples respectively. In any case, nothing definite can be said to-day about the originators of the gachchhas. Kharataragahchcha is the most popular gachchha nowadays in Gujarat, Kathiawad and Rajasthan.




     The legend about the origin of this gachchha is that one Jagachchhandra Suri had been given the epithet Tapa, in view of his severe penances, by king Jaitrasinha of Mewar Samvat, 1285 (AD 1228).23 Hence the line of his disciples is called Tapagachchha. The members of this gachchha are found all over India, but are mainly concentrated in the Punjab and Haryana. They run a number of educational and religious institutions. The S.A. Jain College, Ambala City, an old institution of Haryana, is one of them.




     The earlier name of this gachchha was Vidhipaksha. The term means "to uphold the sacred rites." The monks of this group use a piece of cloth (anchala) in place of a full Mukhpatti to cover their mouth at the time of pratikramna which gave them th name of Ancalagachchha. Vidhipaksha is said to have been formed in AD 1156, but the earliest inscription recording the name of this gachchha are found from the 15th century onwards, from practically all over northern India.




     This is the most important protestant movement among the Svetambaras. Later movements of a similar nature, that is Bijamata, Sthanakavasi, and Terapantha are all offshoots of Lonkagachchha. The originator of this first protestant movement was Lonka-Shaha, after whom the gachchha is named.


     Lonka Shaha lived in the middle of the 15th century. This century is important in the religious history of northern India. A fresh wind had started blowing at that time. Kabir, Nanak, etc., established their sects or religions whose main principle was devotion to an attributeless God, or what is known in Hindi as nirguna upasana. (Obviously this was the result of Islamic influence, but the exact extent of this influence is a matter of debate). This atmosphere of anti-image worship appears to have affected Jainism also.


     Lonka24 lived in Ahmedabad, but some people say that his original home was in Kathiawad. He was a government servant under the Muslim rulers of Gujarat. One day he saw some Muslim hunters killing birds with a trap called Chida. He was so hurt when he saw this cruel act that he gave up his job under the Muslims, and started earning his living by copying Jain religious manuscripts.


     Once when a Jain layman gave him the Dashavaikalika Sutra for copying, he took it home and started reading it. Much impressed by it, he got two copies made with the help of his widowed daughter, and retained one copy for himself for further study. Thereafter, he became a keen student of Jain scriptures. He discovered to his amazement that though the worship of images was very popular among the Jains of his time, there was no mention of image worship in the scriptures.25


     He then started preaching what according to him was the authentic Jain religion which did not ordain image worship. His manners were so charming that he easily attracted sizeable audiences. All this infuriated the established monks, for Lonka after all was only a layman, and had no right to preach.


     At about that time a sangha (a group of pilgrims) arrived in Ahmedabad. The chief pilgrim among them was one Sambhuji. His grand-daughter Mohabai was a child widow. Both Sambhuji and this girl were greatly attracted by the teachings of Lonka. Other lay members of this group also started listening to Lonka's preachings. This enraged the monks accompanying the sangha, and they left it in a huff. About 45 lay members of the sangha, however, stayed on in Ahmedabad and became the disciples of Lonka by formally accepting Diksha from him. This happened on Jaishtha Sukla 5, V. 1531 or AD 1474. Some say that it happened in AD 1476.


     Lonka did not become a monk, but remained a lay preacher throughout his life; but a number of his disciples became munis. Among them Muni Sarvaj, Muni Bhanaji, Muni Munaji, Muni Jagmalji became well-known preachers in later times. Lonka himself though a layman was called Muni Dayadharma by the people and sometimes the sect he had founded was called Dayagachchha.


Lonka was followed by his disciple Rupa Rishi whom he had ordained in Surat. The next hand of this group was Jiva Rishi, but by that time subgroups had already started forming. One Bija started the Bijamata in 1513. The main Lonkagachchha was perhaps later called Sthanakavasi. It is also said that the Sthanakavasi was a new group started in 1652 by Lavaji who belonged to the Lonkgachchha and was a resident of Surat. The origin of the name Sthanakavasi is not clear. It might be due to the fact that Stanakavasi monks were resident at one place (Sthanaka). Or again as Schubring says, "By this name such Jains are designated as practice their religious duties not in the temple but exclusively at some profane place (sthanaka) i.e. in a upasraya. Another name of this group is Battisi (the 32- ists) for though they call themselves Svetambaras, they repudiate 13 of the 45 Shvetamara texts, including the Mahanisiha, for their attitude towards the images, Sthanakavasis are also called Dhundhiya or Dhundhak, meaning the futile "seekers" in the script.


The Terapanthis


     Whatever be its name, the original Lonkagachchha or Stanakavasi sect survived nearly intact up to 1760. In that year was started the most important of the reform movements in the Shvetamara community in the recent years. One Bhikhanji, an Osavala sakhu belonging to the Marwar area started the Terapanthi sect out of the Sthanakavasis. Many legends are current about the origin of the name Terapanthi. The one that the Terapan this themselves like is that this sect believes firmly in the observance of the 13 principal tenets of Jainism, viz., the 5 Mahavratas (vows), the 5 Samitis (rule of Conduct) and the 3 Guptis (control of mind, body, and speech).


     The Sthanakavasis who did not accept the Terapanthi reforms were known as Va-is-tola.


     Terapanthism is still a vigorous movement. One reason for its strength is the rule laid down by the founder Bhikhanji that there should be only acharya (leader) of the sect. This has reduced the chances of schisms. The present acharya Tulsiramji (b. 1914) is the ninth acharya of the sect.






1. Winternitz, op. cit., p. 464.


2. Sacred Books of The East Vol. XXII, p. 294n.


3. For the lanchanas and the names of Yakshas and Yakshinis, See, appendix III.


4. M. Stevenson, in Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethies, Vol. XIII, pp. 124-25.


5.      Vajrsharinkhala and Vajrankushi are the names of two Vajrayana (a tantrik from of Mahayana Buddhism) Goddesses.


6. In Anekanta, III, 4, p. 289, quoted by J. P. Jain, op. cit., p. 190.


7. Winternitz, op. cit., 470-481.


8. Buhler has hinted that she might have sold her son to the acharya due to her poverty. (life of Hemachandracharya, Hindi translation, p. 13).


9. It has been quoted extensively in Chapter V, supra.


10. D.C. Sircar, A Grammar of the Prakrit Language, p.3.


11. Ibid., p. 5.


12.      N. C. Shastri, A Critical Study of Siddha Hema Shabdanushasana (in Hindi), p. 92.


13.      Munshi says that there is no epigraphical evidence for this. Glory that was Gurjara Desa, p. 341.


14. Ibid., p. 352.


15. Ain-i-Akbari, Blochman's translation, p. 608.


16.      Most of the facts about Hira Vijaya Suri have been extracted from "Samrat Akbar O Jaincharyagana" by Amritalal Shil in the Bengali Magazine "Pravasi" of Jyestha 1923.


17. Vincent Smith, Akbar the Great Mogul, p. 119.


18.      24 pages in the translation of Vol. III of the Ain-i- Akbari.


19. Ibid., p. 222.


20.      Muni Uttar Kamal Jain in his Jain Sects and Schools gives lists of names of the Gachchhas. The total number of Gachchhas listed by him is 117. Much of the information about gachchhas given here is taken from this book.


21.      According to K. M. Munshi, it was on this occasion that the Jains first got admission to the Court of Gujarat.


22. Reproduced in Appendix VI.


23. The first epigraphical evidence of this sect bears the same date. It is likely therefore that the gachchha was formed some-time earlier.


24. Much of the information about Lonka Shaha is taken from Kshiti Mohan Sen, "Jain Dharmer Pranashakti in the bengali Journal Pravasi of Vaishakha, 1934.


25. In this matter he was wrong. Schubring has pointed out that there is not only a clear mention of the images of Tirthankaras in the canonical literature, but the method of their worship is also described there. "It may be noted here that the effigies of the Jains (Jina-Padima) are spoken of in the canon Nayadhammakahao (Anga Vi) 210b ; Rayapasenaijja (Upanga II) 87b, 94a, etc. In the course of its most detailed description of a Godly residence, the Rayapasenaijja refers to four sitting Jina Figures (Usabha, Vaddhamana, Chandanana, Varisena ) of natural size surrounding a stupa towards which they turn their faces, adding that a special building Siddhayayana contains 108 Jinapadima. Their cult on the part of the God equals that of today consisting in that attendance of the figures by uttering devotional formulae". Schubring, op. cit., p. 49.


26. Schubring, op. cit., p. 65.