A few Kegambara
inscriptions have been found in Gwalior also. These are fragmentary and do
not give much information.
Chittorgarh, like Khajuraho, was a stronghold of the Digambaras in the
12th and 13th century. This is proved by a number of Jain inscriptions
found there. Four of them57 are by one Shaha Jijaka. It was he who had
raised the famous Kirtistambha of Chittorgarh in 1300 AD Shaha Jijaka
claimed to belong to the Kundakundanvyaya. This proves that not only was
the tower raised by a Digambara merchant, but also that the practice of
claiming descent from the line of Kundakunda, a practice quite common in
South India, had spread to north by the 13th century.
However, the fact remains that it is difficult to build up a history of
Digambaras of north India on the basis of the available epigraphic
evidence. The number of inscriptions found so far are too few. In the five
volumes Jain Shila Lekha Sangraha, a Digambara collection, the number of
Digambara inscriptions recorded from north India after the 6th century
would no be more than 20.
There is a paucity of literary sources also. The Digambaras of North
India, unlike their counterparts in the South, composed very few works at
least up to the 17th century. In fact in the early medieval period there
was perhaps only one important Digambara writer in north India. Harisena
who wrote is quite informative about the social and religious condition of
India of this period. As mentioned earlier, the Shvetambara sect according
to Harisena originated in Valabhi.
In the absence of sufficient epigraphic and literary evidence, one has to
depend on the legendary materials for reconstructing the history of the
Digambaras of north India.
One thing immediately becomes clear. The Digambaras, unlike the
Svetambaras did not break up into large number of groups and sub-groups in
north India. Most of them belonged to the Bisapanthis sect. The origin of
this sect is not clearly known. "It probably originated in the 13th
century. Glasenapp remarks that one Vasantakirti held the view that so
long as the monks lived among the people, they should wear one garment.
The believers of this opinion were called Vishvapanthis. This was
corrupted into Bisapanthis. The monks of this pantha live in a cloister
under the headship of a Bhattaraka. They install the image of Tirthankaras
along with that of Kshetrapala deities such as the Bhairavas and others.
They worship the images by offering fruits, flowers and other
Whatever might be the origin of the Bisapanthis, the descrition of their
religious practices as given above is substantially correct. In fact the
majority of the Digambara Jains of northern India followed these
practices. As the days passed the Bhattarakas, who managed the properties
of the temples and monasteries became more and more powerful. The
popularity of the Kshetrapala deities (who for all practical purposes were
folk Gods) continued to increase. A protest against such laxity in the
Jain religion which by its nature is puritan was inevitable. Such a
movement started some time in the 17th century in the Agra region. One of
the leaders of this protest was Banarasidasa Jain. In course of time the
movement grew stronger, and it was named Terapantha. According to
Bakhtaram Shah, an 18th century author who was himself against this
movement, the Terapantha sect originated in Sanganer, near Jaipur,
sometimes in the early 18th century.
As it has always happened in the Jain reformist movements, the Terapanthis
did not try to introduce any change in the basic tenets of the Jain
religion. Their reforms were connected with small details of rituals only.
For instance, this sect believed that one should not worship in the
temples at night, that while worshipping one should be standing and not
sitting, that kesara (saffron) should not be offered to image, etc.
Starting from the Agra-Jaipur region the Terapantha movement spread among
all the Digambra Hainas of northern India. Those who did not accept the
views of this sect were called Bisapanthis. As to which is the original
sect and which the offshoot, remains a matter of perennial dispute.
In the 18th century, there was a learned Digambara Jain in Jaipur. His
name was Todarmal. He translated into Hindi prose all the voluminous
Prakrit works of Nemichandra (10th century) of Karnataka. In those days of
the infancy of Hindi prose, Todarmal�s writings show a refreshing clarity
and rhythm. Todarmal belonged to the Terapantha sect. His son Gumaniram
was very orthodox in his religious opinions; and he thought that
Terapantha had not gone back far enough to the original pristine Jain
religion. He, therefore started a new sect which was named after him as
Gumana- pantha. But as it happens with too puritan a sect, Gumana- pantha
never became popular. Its adherents were always few in number. Some
temples belonging to this sect in the Jaipur city and its neighborhood
prove that the sect still survives.
1. "Sisena ya Bhaddabahussa" - at the end of his work Bodhapahuda (quoted
by J. P. Jain, op. cit., p.121).
2. Schubring, op. cit., p. 63.
3. S. K. Rao, op. cit., p. 12.
4. See Appendix II.
5. The conjecture that Kundakunda lived in the first century AD was made
by Winternitz (op. Cit., p. 476) on the basis of Pattavalis. The earliest
inscription that mentions Kundakunda's anvaya is the Mercara cooper plate
inscription of S. 388 (AD 466). Since it is now believed that this plate
is a forgery of the 8th or 9th century, not much reliance can be placed on
this inscription. The plate mentions 6 persons in the anvaya of Kundakunda,
starting with Gunacandra-bhatara and ending with Chandranandi-bhatara. It
has been argued that even if this plate was a copy of a genuine 5th
century plate, and we assign 25 years to each person, Gunachandra, the
first person named would belong to early 4th century AD If he was a
disciple of Kundakunda himself, then Kundakunda also belonged to the some
period. (A.K. Chatterjee, Comprehensive History of Jainism, pp. 137, 139 &
324-25). All other inscriptions which mention the anvaya of Kundakunda
were inscribed after AD 900.
6. S.K. Rao, Jainism in South India, P.20.
7. Jain Siddhanta Kosha, Vol. II, P.126.
8. Jain Shila Lekha, Snagraha, Vol, I, pp. 197-98.
9. The discovery was made in the Epigraphic Report of the Southern circle
for 1916; p. 134 Saletore. Op, cit., p.571.
10. S. K. Rao, op. cit., p.21; also Winternitz, op. cit., p. 578.
11. Winternitz, op. cit., p578.
12. Ibid., p. 579.
13. Nathuram Premi, the Digambara Scholar, wanted to solve this difficulty
by maintaining that Umasvami was neither a Shvetambara nor a Digambara but
that he belonged to the third sect- the Yapaniyas ( vide his Jain Sahitya
aur Itihasa, p. 537); but there is nothing in Umasvami's writings to
14. Winternitz, op. cit., p. 580.
15. Winternitz places him in the first half of the 8th century AD (Ibid.,
16. e.g. Epigraph Carnatica II, No. 59.
17. P. B. Desai, Jainism in South India, pp. 9-10,
18. See Saletore, op. cit., pp. 10-11,
19. Rao, op. Cit., p. 25.
20. The number is that of the Jain Shila Lekha Sangraha, Vol. I.
21. Winternitz, op. Cit., pp. 580-81.
22. Some Jain technical words entered the Tamil language also. A list of
25 such words is given in the Comprehensive History of India, Vol. II, p.
23. A gist of the stories in these two works is given in A. L. Basham's
The Wonder that was India, pp. 471-477.
24. Saletore, Medieval Jainism, pp. 241-42.
26. Chakravarti, Jain Literature in Tamil, p. 139
27. Saletore, op. cit., p. 245.
28. Goetz. op. cit., p 790.
29. Lakshmi Narayan, "Jains of South India," in the Times of India dated
30. S. Krishnasvami Aiyangar, Some Contributions of South India to Indian
Culture, p. 238.
31. V. P. Johrapurkas, Bhattaraka Sampradaya, pp. 1-2.
32. Bhattaraka Sampradaya, p. 1.
33. We do not know when exactly the divisions started. According to the
Jain Siddhanta Kosa, they had started in the 1st century AD "The original
Mulasangha was allowed to break up by Acharya Arhadvali in 593 AV. and it
broke up into many sanghas, such as nandi, Vira, Aparajita, Sena, etc.
None of these sanghas exist today." (Vol. I, p. 340).
34. Bhattaraka Sampradaya, p. 211.
35. Schubring, op. cit., p. 62.
36. S. K. Rao, op, cit., p. 41.
37. A manuscript of this work was identified and first brought to general
notice in the Mysore Archaelogical Report, 1922. A detailed essay on this
work was published in the Bulletin of the Department of the History of
Medicine, Hyderabad, 1964, Vol. II, pp. 203ff.
38. Three incomplete manuscripts of this work were discovered by Professor
Rangacharya in 1912 in the Government Oriental Manuscript Library, Madras.
Sometime later a complete copy in Kannada script was found in the
Government Oriental Library, Mysore.
39. Like Brahmagupta, Mahavira also fails to mention that the formula was
applicable to cyclic quadrilaterals only.
40. Chatterjee, op. cit., pp. 186-190, gives the details about these
41. Schubring, op. cit., p. 55.
42. Op. cit., p. 174.
43. Ibid., p. 173.
44. S.K. Rao, op. cit., p 55.
45. Imperial Gazetteer, Vol. XV, p. 44.
46. Ibid., Vol. XXIV, p. 422.
47. S. K. Rao, op. cit., p. 56.
48. James Fergusson, History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, pp.
49. S.K. Rao. op. cit., p. 57.
50. Ibid., p. 31.
51. Saletore, op. cit., pp. 287-289.
52. Ibid., p. 280.
53. Ibid., p. 282.
54. N. R. Guseva, Jainism, p. 73.
55. N.R. Premi, Jain Sahitya aur Itihasa, pp. 504-506.
56. Fergusson, op. cit., p. 456. (Fergusson perhaps never saw the temples;
the comparison was made on the basis of Photographs. Ibid., p. 245n.).
57. Nos. 152-155 in the Jain Shila-Lekha Sangraha, Vol. V.
58. U.K. Jain, Jain Sects and Schools, p. 137.
59. Banarasidasa Jain is generally known as the writer of the
Ardhakathanaka, the first autobiography in an Indian language.