A study of the philosophy of Jainism

by Deepa Baruah | 2017 | 46,858 words

This page describes the Religious and philosophical literature of the Jainas from the study of the philosophy of Jainism: one of the oldest religions in India having its own metaphysics, philosophy and ethics. Jainism is regarded as an ethical system where non-violence features as an important ethical value.

Chapter I.e - Religious and philosophical literature of the Jainas

The Jaina literature is found in two different languages, mostly in Prākrit and some in Sanskrit. Most of the early literature is not available now. There is a difference between the Śvetāmbaras and Digambaras regarding their canonical literature. The Śvetāmbaras hold that there were originally two kind of sacred books, viz., the fourteen Pūrvas and the twelve Aṅgas. Besides the twelve Aṅgas, there are twelve Upāṅgas, ten Prakīrṇas, six Chedasūtras, two Cūlikāsūtras, and four Mūlasūtras.

The fourteen Pūrvas are: (i) Utpāda, (ii) Agrāyaṇī, (iii) Vīryāpravāda,(iv) Astināstipravāda, (v) Jñānapravāda, (vi) Ṣaṭapravāda, (vii) Ātmapravāda, (viii) Karmapravāda, (ix)Pratyākhyāna, (x) Vidyānuvāda, (xi) Kalyāṇavāda, (xii) Prāṇavāda, (xiii) Kṛiyāvāda and (xiv) Trilokabindusāra.

The twelve Aṅgasare: (i) Ācāra, (ii) Sūtrakṛta, (iii) Sthāna, (iv) Samavāya, (v) Bhagavatī, (vi) Jñātādharmakathā, (vii) Upāsakadaśā, (viii) Antakṛddaśā, (ix) Anuttaraupapātikadśā, (x) Praśnavyākaraṇa, (xi) Vipākaśruta and (xii) Dṛṣṭivāda.

The twelve Upāṅgas are (i) Aupapātika, (ii) Rājapraśnīya, (iii) Jīvābhigama, (iv) Prajñāpanā, (v) Jambūdvīpaprajñapti (vi) Candraprajñapti, (vii) Sūryaprajñapti, (viii) Kalpikā, (ix) kalpāvataṃsikā, (x) Puṣpikā, (xi) Puṣpacūlikā and (xii) Vṛṣṇidaśā.

The ten Prakīrṇas are: (i) Catuḥśaraṇa, (ii) Saṃstāraka, (iii) Āturapratyākhyāna, (iv) Bhaktaparijñā, (v) Tandulavaicārika, (vi) Candravedhyaka, (vii) Devendrastava, (viii) Gaṇiviyā, (ix) Mahāpratyākhyāna and (x) Vīrastava.

The six Chedasutras are: (i) Niśītha, (ii) Mahāniśītha, (iii) Vyavahāra (iv) Daśāśrutaskandha, (v) Bṛhatkalpa and (vi) Pañcakalpa.

The two Cūlikāsūtras are: (i) Nandi and (ii) Anuyogadvāra.

The four Mūlasūtras are: (i) Uttaradhyāna, (ii) Āvaśyaka, (iii) Daśavaikālika and (iv) Piṇḍaniryukti.

It is not easy to give an account of the canonical works of the Digambaras. The canonical literature of the Digambaras is divided into two groups, viz., Aṅgapraviṣṭa and Aṅgabāhya. The Aṅgapraviṣṭa is of twelve kinds which are similar to the twelve Aṅgas of the Śvetāmbaras. They also recognize the fourteen Pūrvas. The Aṅgabāhya texts are those which do not belong to the Aṅgas.

The Aṅgabāhya is of fourteen kinds. Such texts are: (i) Sāmāyika, (ii) Vandanā, (iii) Samstava, (iv)Pratikramaṇa, (v) Vinaya, (vi) Kṛtikarama, (vii) Daśavaikālika, (viii) Uttarādhyāyana, (ix) kalpavyavahāra, (x) Kalpākalpa, (xi) Mahākalpa-sanjñāka, (xii) Puṇḍarīka, (xiii) Mahāpuṇḍarīka and(xiv) Niṣiddhika.

As the works belonging to the canons are of different origin and age, they differ greatly in character. Some are chiefly in prose, some in verse, and some in both prose and verse. A large number of commentaries have grown up round the sacred texts. And besides these, the Jainas also possess a secular literature of their own in poetry and prose, both in Sanskrit and Prākrit. The oldest Prākrit poem, the Paumacariya, is a Jaina version of the Rāmāyaṇa. There are also many Jaina moral tales and dramas. The Jaina authors have also contributed many works, original treatises as well as commentaries, to the scientific literature of India in its various branches, viz., grammar, biography, poetics, philosophy etc. It may here be mentioned that the Jainism also possesses a many works on Jaina logic. There are many writers who wrote their works on Jaina logic. The name of Kundakunda comes first in this respect, who was a great ācārya and a prolific writer. He lived in the 1 century AD. Kundakunda wrote mostly in Prākrit.The Pravacanasāra, Pañcāstikāyasāra, Samayasāra and Niyamasāra etc. are his valuable works.

The most celebrated ācārya among the Digambarasafter Kundakunda was Umāsvāmī. Umāsvāmī was also a prolific writer and is said to have written about 500 books. Very few of these are available today. His greatest work is the Tattvārthādhigamasūtra which is a manual for understanding the true nature of the things. It deals with Jaina logic, epistemology, ethics etc. There are many commentaries on Tattvārthādhigamasūtra.

Among them the following are worthy of special mention:

  1. Sarvārthasiddhi of Pujyapāda, belonging to in 5 century A.D.
  2. Tattvārtharājavārttika of Akalaṅka (7 century A.D.)
  3. Tattvārthaślokvārttika of Vidyānanda (9th century A.D.)

Siddhasena Divākara is also one of the noted Jaina philosophers. His valuable works are: Sanmatitarka, Nyāyavatāra etc. The Nyāyavatāra is the earliest Jaina work on pure logic. He has made a valuable contribution to Jaina philosophical literature.

Another author Samantabhadra was a Digambara and he wrote a commentary on Umāsvāmī’s Tattvārthādhigamasūtra. The main part of the commentary is no longer extant but the introductory part of the commentary exists.

It is known as Āptamīmāṃsā. On this work, Akalaṅkadeva wrote a commentary entitled Aṣṭaśatī. Vidyānanda also wrote a commentary on Aṣṭaśatī entitled Aṣṭaśāhasrī. Yuktyanuśāsana is another important work of Samantabhadra.

Akalaṅkadeva, the great Jaina writer developed the subject of Jaina logic elaborately in his works like Tattvārtharājavārttika, Aṣṭaśatī, Loghīyastraya, Pramāṇasaṅgraha etc.

Parīkṣāmukhasūtra is one of the famous works on Jaina logic. Māṇikyanandi is the author of this famous book. It is written in sūtra (aphorism) style. One of the famous commentaries on Parīkṣāmukhasūtra is Prameyakamalamārtaṇḍa of Prabhācandra.

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