A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 1

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1922 | 212,082 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

This page describes the philosophy of some general characteristics of the jains: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the fourth part in the series called the “the jaina philosophy”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

Part 4 - Some General Characteristics of the Jains

The Jains exist only in India and their number is a little less than a million and a half. The Digambaras are found chiefly in Southern India but also in the North, in the North-western provinces, Eastern Rājputāna and the Punjab. The head-quarters of the Śvetāmbaras are in Gujarat and Western Rājputāna, but they are to be found also all over Northern and Central India.

The outfit of a monk, as Jacobi describes it, is restricted to bare necessaries,and these hemust beg—clothes,a blanket,analms-bowl, a stick, a broom to sweep the ground, a piece of cloth to cover his mouth when speaking lest insects should enter it[1]. The outfit of nuns is the same except that they have additional clothes. The Digambaras have a similar outfit, but keep no clothes, use brooms of peacock’s feathers or hairs of the tail of a cow (cāmara)[2]. The monks shave the head or remove the hair by plucking it out. The latter method of getting rid of the hair is to be preferred, and is regarded sometimes as an essential rite. The duties of monks are very hard. They should sleep only three hours and spend the rest of the time in repenting of and expiating sins, meditating, studying, begging alms (in the afternoon), and careful inspection of their clothes and other things for the removal of insects.

The laymen should try to approach the ideal of conduct of the monks by taking upon themselves particular vows, and the monks are required to deliver sermons and explain the sacred texts in the upāśrayas (separate buildings for monks like the Buddhist vihāras). The principle of extreme carefulness not to destroy any living being has been in monastic life carried out to its very last consequences, and has shaped the conduct of the laity in a great measure. No layman will intentionally kill any living being, not even an insect, however troublesome. He will remove it carefully without hurting it. The principle of not hurting any living being thus bars them from many professions such as agriculture, etc., and has thrust them into commerce[3].

Footnotes and references:


See Jacobi, loc. cit.


See Ṣaḍdarśanasamuccaya , chapter iv.


See Jacobi’s article on Jainism, E. R. E.

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