JAIN LITERATURE AGAMA & THE ACHARYA'S CONTRIBUTION
The Jain Scriptures are called Agamas. Just as the Vedas have an important places in the Vedic tradition,the Tripitakas in the Buddhist tradition: the Gurugranthasahib in the Sikh tradition, the Torah in Judaism and the Bible in Christianity, the Agmas likewise are the main canonical text in the Jain tradition. They have been divided into five parts.
1. Anga-pravista (Anga)
2. Ananga - pravista (Upanga).
3. Muala Sutra
4. Chedda Sutras.
5. Avasyaka (which forms part of the Chedda Sutras)
It is generally believed that whatever knowledge Lord Mahavira delivered to his disciples after attaining omniscience was compiled by the Ganadharas (chief disciples) in twelve Angas. They are collectively known as Dwadas ang ï or Ganipitaka. Thus, the twelve Angas are the oldest and original part of the canonical literature. The following is a brief description of each Anga.
(i) Acharanga - The Acharanga primarily deals with Jain ethics and the rules of conduct for the ascetics. Mahavir's life and philosophy is also narrated here.
(ii) Sutrakritanga - The Sutrakritanga discusses the drawbacks of contemporary other philosophers, due to their religious one-sidedness regarding rites and rituals.It deals with the doctrines of the 363 different heretical sects.
(iii) Sthananga - The Sthananga deals with the classification of Jiva soul, matter and other objects from a numerical point of viewt, e.g. in the first chapter we find the description of Jiva.In the second chpter,Jiva is classified in two parts.In the third one,it is categorized in three parts.In this way,the classification of Jiva continues reaching up to ten parts.
(iv) Samavayanga - The Samavayanga also deals with miscellaneous topics form a numerical point of view.
(v) Bhagavati ( Vyakhayaprajnapti) - The Bhagavati is the most important Jain canon, dealing with 60000 questions asked by Gautama (chief disciple), the first Ganadhara, and answers given by Lord Mahavira.
(vi) Jnatadharma Katha - The Jnatadharma Katha contains stories and parables given by Lord Mahavira and expounds on various philosophical topics.
(vii) Upa sakadas a - The Upasakadasa elaborates the code of conduct for the lay followers. It gives the biographies of ten principal shravaks (lay disciples) of Mahavira.
(viii) Antakritdasa-The Antakritdasa narrates the biographies of many Saints who attained emancipation in the present birth through austerities and penances.
(ix) Anuttaropap atikadasa - The Anuttaropa a tikadas a gives an account of the ascetics who were reborn in one the five supreme heavans.
(x) Prasnavya karana - The Prasnavyakarana deals with the ethical aspects of Jain philosophy, especially the causes of the in flux of karma and its inhibition. It gives answers as they pertain to the present, past and future; concerning gain and loss, life and death etc. It also recounts four types of narratives, viz. A kasepani, Vikhsepani, Samvejini and Nirvejini.
(xi) Vipaka Sutra - The Vipaka Sutra explains the bondage, operation and fruition of meritorious and demeritorious karmas.
(xii) Dristivada – However from other literary sources it is gathered that no part of the Dristivada remains today; it has been completely lost. It was divided into five parts, viz.
(5) Chulika . Constitutents of the fourth part, the Purvgata. This Dwadasangi (the above twelve canonical texts) occupy a prominent place in the Jain canonical literature.Even though Dristivada has been long lost, the contents of this Agama has been refered and explained in Nandi and Samavayanga Sutra. By studying them,we come to the conclusion that Dristivada was a prominant voluminous scripture which contains fourteen Purvas.Validity is inherent in its nature,it is considered to be'self-valid'.
The Upangas were composed by different Acharyas. They are:
(i) A upapatika - The Aupapatika contains lectures of Lord Mahavira on the birth of twenty- two different types of souls in addition to a variety of other religious subjects.
(ii) Rajprashniya -- The Rajprashniya contains the dialogue between the Ascetic keshi and King Pradesh i .
(iii) Jivabhigama- The Jivabhigama contains lectures on the Jivas, Ajivas and their classification.
(iv) Prajnapana - The Prajn a pan a completely describes the Jain ontology and metaphysics.
(v) Jambudwipa-Prajnapti - The Jambudwipa-prajnapti provides the cosmographical description of Jambudwipa (e.g., accounts of mountains, rivers etc.)
(vi) Chandra-Prajnapati - The Chandra-Prajnapati contains a description of the moon,
(vii) Surya-Prajnapati - The Surya-Prajnapati contains a description of the sun and other celestial bodies.
(viii) to (xii) The last five Upangas viz. Kalpika, Kalpavatansika, Pushpika, Pushpachoolika", Vrsnidasa. These upangas contain descriptions of heaven and hell, battles of kings etc.
3. Mula Sutra
The Mula Sutras are four in number:
(i) Dasvaikalika - The Dasvaikalika was written by Acharya Shayambhava. It contains the description of complete of conduct for the ascetics.
(ii). Uttaradhyayana - The Uttaradhyayana concerns various subjects such as leshya(psychic coloration), karma, soul etc. and includes a number of fascinating stories.
(iii). Nandi - Nandi is a scripture of Jain epistemology. It discusses the nature and types of knowledge.
(iv) Anuyogadvara - The Anuyogadvara is a compendium of technical terms. In addition there are incidental references to Pramana (valid knowledge) and Naya (partial view-points) as well as other principles of Jain logic.
4. Chheda Sutras
The four Chedda Sutras contain explanations and regulations of ascetic life. They are
(iv) Dasasrutaskandha –This is last Sutra contains the Avasyaka (or Pratikarmana sutra),which is the 32nd Agama.
The eleven Angas are considered to be the original canon of the Jains while the other twenty one books mentioned above are also considered to be authentic because their account are consistent with the truths formulated in the Anga literature.
The Jain Agamas are replete with exhaustive knowledge on almost all subjects. The fourth section of the twelfth Anga, the Drstivada, which has been lost-is believed to contain the knowledge of the fourteen Purvas, viz. the
i. Utpaad Purva ;
ii. Agrayaniya Purva;
iii. Viryapravada Purva ;
iv. Asti Nasti Pravada Purva;
v. Jnana Pravada Purva;
vi. Satya Pravada Purva;
vii. Atma pavada Purva;
viii. Karma Pravada Purva;
ix. Pratyakhyana Purva;
x. Vidya Pravada Purva;
xi. Kalyana Pravada Purva;
xii. Prana Pravada Purva;
xiii. Kriya Visala Purva;
xiv. Lokbindus a Purva.
"The contents of these works provided detailed information about six kinds of substances, all kinds of living creatures, the things which were to exist for eternal time, those which were to come into existence for a transient time and their time of extinction, five kinds of knowledge, truth, soul, karma, mantra, benefits of austerities, the lifestyle of ascetics and householders, birth, death and a detailed description of the whole universe. The knowledge of the Purvas was so great that all efforts to describe it in words are in vain. All the Agamas were written in Ardhamagadhi which was the language of themasses in the region where Lord Mahavir sojourned during his life."
The Synods to Revive the Agamas Approximately one hundred and sixty years after Lord Mahavir's nirvana(emancipation), there occurred a very severe famine that lasted for twelve years. During that period of shortage and scarcity, it was extremely difficult for Jain monks and nuns to observe the code of conduct laid down by the Lord. It was impossible for them to retain the extensive lore of the Agamas in their memories, and since there was no tradition of writing the Agamas down, varying and incomplete versions remained. Because of this, a convention was called at Patliputra under the leadership of the venerable Sthulbhadra. In that synod, a uniform version of all the Agamas was prepared. In the Jain historical tradition, this is known as the first Vachana (Synod) of Agamas.
The second attempt to save the Agamas was made during the period between Mahavira's Nirvana Era from year 827 to 840. Two conventions (Vachanas) were held during this period - one at Mathura ,and the other at Valiabhi. The convention at Mathura was presided over by Acharya Skandila and the convention at Vallabhi was presided over by Acharya Nagarjuna. These V a chan a s have been referred to as Mathuri Vachana and Vallabhi Vachana. Both vachanas respectively were held at different places at the same time. During this period A gamas were collected and compiled and later on made to writing.
Up to that time, the A gamas were not yet in text forms They remained orally transmitted. Yet another convention was held in Vallabhi after Vira Nirvana year 980 under the guidance of Devardhigani Ksamasramana. By this time, large portions of the S u tras which had been passed down through the generations by the oral tradition were now forgotten. What could be revived by memory was written down and was systematically organised and presented in the form of Agmic Text.
Commentary Literature The Jain Sutras have four forms of commentary, viz. the Niryukti, Bh a shya, Churni and Tika (VrTi). The Niryukti is written in Prakrit language in a form of verse called gathas. Acharya Bhadrabahu (Vira Nirvana Era 5 th -6 th century) is considered to be the most renowned writer of Niryukti. Bhasya is written in Prakrit in a form of verse called Slokas. Jinbhadragani (Vira Nirvana Era 7 th Century) and Sanghd a sagani (Vira Nirvana Era 6 th Century) are the most famous writers of Bh a syas, Ch u rni is written as prose in mixture of both Prakrit and Sanskrit. Jind a sagani (Vikram Era 8 th Century) and Agastya Singh are considered the most authentic authors of Churni. Tika is a form of commentary written exclusively in Sanskrit and explains all Prakrit words as Aagama in Sanskrit, Acharya Abhayadeva was one of the greatest Tika writers of A gamas. He wrote commentaries on nine Angas. Acharya Malayagiri Haribhadra (Vikram Era 8 th century) and Maldhari Hemchandra were also well known writers of this form of, commentary. Other renowned Jain scholars are
(iii) Siddhasen and
They were philosophers by training but also wrote extensively on grammar, geography and a variety of other subjects.
Acharya Haribhadra (Vikram Era 12 th Century) a Brahmin by birth who, later converted to the Jain faith,composed 1444 Prakaranas (short treatises) on various subjects. Yogavimsika,Yogasataka, Yogadrstisamuccaya and Yogbindu Prakarana are some examples of his works.
1. Vira Nirvana Era refers to the period after Mahavira`s emancipation.(B.C.527 or before Vikram 470)
2. Vikram Era 3 rd century.
3. Vikram Era 4 th century.
4. Vikram Era 5 th century.
5. Vikram Era 12 th century.