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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.