Jainism – a way of life




INDIAN philosophical books are a great source of ancient knowledge and wisdom. Vedic traditions are known because of Vedas, old books of hymns, written by sages and developed as Hindu philosophy. The shraman tradition is another philosophy. Their books mainly deal with the philosophy of non-violence and the theory of the cycle of transmigration.

The Vedic traditions have compiled scriptures about creation and the forces of nature and have also worshipped these forces. Shramans, however, chose to write about life and non-life (two main entities) and the relation between these two in the universe. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the philosophy of soul and karma is developed from these two main entities. This philosophy was later fully developed into a code of conduct together with whole science of the movement of the soul through various stages of time and space.

Jain holy books contain the preaching of Tirthankaras. The Main disciples of Tirthankaras used to hear and memorise the divine preachings. For this reason the holy books are also called ‘sruta’ (as heard).

Jains are mainly divided into two factions, Shvetāmbar and Digambara. Shvetāmbaras maintain that the original discourses are preserved in the books called Āgams. Digambaras believe that original preaching of Tirthankaras was lost and what we have got now cannot be called Āgams. Therefore we have two sets of compositions: Shvetāmbar Āgams and Digambara holy books.

In a conference held at Vallabhi, Gujarat, Shvetāmbar books (Āgams) were finally compiled and it was decided to write them down. What we have now got is the resultant work of this historic conference of AD 453. Let us see the important books

Shvetāmbar texts (Āgams)


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(Mainlimb) (Subsidiaries)

11 available 12 books 4 books 6 books 10 books

Plus two more books called in the names of the Nandisutra and the Anuyoga Dwar. These forty-five are Shvetamabar Moortipoojak sacred books. The List of these books is printed in appendix A

Digambaras classify their scriptures in four broader divisions:-

(1) Prathamānuyoga books:- These are simple books narrating stories of people and events. Any principles explained in a form of a story would be easier to grasp and therefore such books are quite popular amongst lay people.

(2) Karanānuyoga books:- These types of books deal with the science of the karma and soul. This includes knowledge of mathematics and astronomy. These types of books are more suited for scholars. (Examples- Gommattsār Jivkānd, Karmakānd, Triloksār)

(3) Chranāyoga books: – These types of books deal with code of conduct. They are easy to follow and provide complete guidelines for lay people as well as for monks. (Example-Ratnakarand Shrāvakachar, Purushrthasiddhi Upāy)

(4) Dravyānuyoga books:- These books describe the philosophy of life and matter, six substances and seven fundamentals etc. (Examples:- Samaysār, Dravyasangraha)

There is however one book, called the Tattavārtha Sutra which is recognised and revered by all Jains. This book was written in the first century AD by a monk called Umāswati (or Umaswāmi)

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