Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions






(3) Tirthankara Idols

          According to the Digambara tradition the idols of Tirthankaras are naked, unadorned and with down-cast eyes in the contemplative mood. But the Shvetambara tradition depicts the idols of Tirthankaras as wearing a loin-cloth, bedecked with jewels and with glass-eyes inserted in the marble.


(4) Food of Ascetics

          The Digambara monks take food standing and with the help of knotted upturned palms and in one house only where their `Sankalpa�, i.e., preconceived idea, is fulfilled. But the Shvetambara monks collect their food from different houses and eat food so collected at their place of shelter.


(5) Dress of Ascetics

          The Digambara monks of the ideal �Nirgrantha� type remain always naked. But the Shvetambara monks wear white clothes.


(6) Possessions of Ascetics

          The Digambara ascetic is allowed to have only two possessions, viz. a �Pichchhi�, i.e. a peacock-feather whiskbroom, and a �Kamandalu�, i.e. a wooden water-pot which is meant only for washing hands, etc. and not for drinking purposes. But the Shvetambara ascetic is permitted to have fourteen possessions like loin-cloth, shoulder-cloth, stick, begging bowl, etc.


(7) `Agama� Literature

          The Digambaras assert that the `Agamas�, i.e. scriptures containing the `Vira-Vani�, i.e. the actual sayings and teachings of Mahavira, were first brought into written form by Acharya Pushpadanta and Bhutabali during 683rd year after the Nirvana of Mahavira. But the Shvetambaras do not accept this tradition and believe that the `Agamas� were collected and modified at the Councils of Ascetics held at Pataliputra, Mathura and Valabhi during a span of nearly one thousand years after the Nirvana of Mahavira. As such both the Digambaras and the Shvetambaras have their separate Agama literature.



          The division of the Jaina religion into two sects was only the beginning of splitting the religious order into various sub-sects. Each of the two great sects, viz. the Digambara Sect and the Shvetambara Sect, got sub-divided into different major and minor sub-sects according to the differences in acknowledging or interpreting the religious texts and in the observance of religious practices. These major and minor sub-sects gradually sprang up for the most part on account of different interpretations the pontiffs put on the canonical texts from time to time and due to revolt or opposition by sections of people against the established religious authorities and the traditional religious rites and rituals.


          The Digambara Sect in recent, centuries has been divided into the following sub-sects:


(i)  Bisapantha,

(ii)   Terapantha, and

(iii) Taranapantha or Samaiyapantha.


          The Digambara Sect has been divided into two main sub-sects known as Terapantha and Bisapantha. It is really very pertinent to note that these two sub-sects entirely agree on the basic precepts pertaining to Tirthankaras, Scriptures and Ascetics. But there are some differences in their manner of worship. For example, the Bispanthis include fresh fruits and flowers in the worship of idols but the Terapanthis do not do so.


          The third sub-sect of Taranapantha came into existence in the 16th century and though it honours the traditional Digambara scriptures, it does not observe the practice of idol-worship. The followers of this sub-sect are very few in number and in fact are restricted only to certain districts in Central India.


          The Shvetambara Sect has also been split up into three main sub. sects, viz. the Murtipujaka Shvetambara, the Sthanakavasi Shvetambara and the Terapanthi Shvetambara. Among these sub-sects only the Murtipujaka Shvetambaras observe the practice of idol worship, while Sthanakavasi and Terapanthi Shvetambaras are quite opposed to idol-worship.