The Ganavacchedin~ was one who
controlled a part of a Gana as her male counterpart the
Ganavacchedaka did. No details regarding her academic qualifications
or administrative duties can be had.
Similar is the case of the ahisega.
The Brhatkalpabhasya (III, 2410, comm.) sometimes identifies
her with the ganini, whereas sometimes she is taken to be fit to
occupy the office of the pravartin (IV, 4339, comm.).
The theri, though not clearly
evaluated, possibly had the same qualifications as the Thera. Since
these designations follow closely the pattern of the monk-order, it would
not be wrong to presume that the same categories like the jai-theri,
pariyaya-theri; so on and so forth, were possibly current.
The mahattariya mentioned in the
Gacchayara (V, 118) was possibly a nun who was respected due to her
learning and moral integrity. She is not mentioned in any of the earlier
texts. As for her duties, we have no information.
The khuddiya possibly denoted the
nun confirmed. She is explained as 'bala' in the
Brhatkalpa-bhasya (IV, 4339).
The Digambaras texts like
Mulacara, Pravacanasara, and others do not differ much in giving the
list of the officers of the church hierarchy. They refer to sahu, Thera,
uvajjhaya, airiya, Ganahara, suri and pavatta (Pry. III,
47-52; Mull 7, 10; 4, 195, etc.). The term indicative of a senior monk
is referred to in the Anagaradharmamrita (8, 50) and is the same as
However, in none of the texts referred
to above further details regarding the academic qualifications and the
nature of duties of these officers can be had. It is more than likely that
the duties and nature of qualifications of these various officers was
probably the same for the Digambaras and Svetambaras texts.
The Problems of Seniority and Succession
Thus the main qualifications of the
officers of the Jaina church hierarchy consisted of moral integrity and
the knowledge and proper practice of the rules of monastic conduct.
It would be wrong, however, to
suppose that the organizers of the church hierarchy were indifferent to
other considerations. This is evidenced by the several rules and
regulations that guided the considerations of seniority and succession.
These considerations were essentially important for the proper working of
the monastic order as also to keep up the morale of the juniors and the
seniors. For if nepotism, and favoritism succeed in an ill, or had entered
in house holding again. But in order to have no occasion for favoritism by
which there was a chance of unfit persons stepping into office, the rest
of the monks were given supreme powers to ask the newly appointed
successor to quit office if they thought that he was unfit for the post.
If he relinquished the office, well and good; then he was not to undergo
any punishment.... But, if in spite of the request of the rest of the
monks, he persisted to hold on, then that person had to undergo cut in
seniority or isolation. Thus it may be said that the working of the Church
was based on purely democratic lines even in the modern sense of the
Similar rules guided the seniority and
succession in the order of nuns. As in the case of monks, the nuns also
had a right to ask the unfit nominee of a pravartin to withdraw
from office (Vav. V, 13-14). The appointment to office after
re-learning the texts, expulsion and debarring due to offenses done while
holding office and holding allegiance to the nun of senior standing by the
disciples of one of less standing,� all these rules tally ad verbatim
with those in force for the monks.
The Units or Church Groups
The various officers and juniors bound
by these rules of academic and moral qualifications and the laws of
seniority and succession, resolved themselves in different groups which
conformed generally to the rules of monastic jurisprudence as a whole but
were guided by their own rules of internal working.
These groups facilitated the supervision of
the systematic working of monastic discipline as also the development of
solidarity and the furtherance of the proper study of texts by a group.
To start with, these groups served the
purpose very well. But later on with an enormous growth in the Gacchas,
it seems to have resulted in differentiation of
Monastic practices as also a sort of
isolationism, which are not good for the homogeneity of any church.
Be that as it may, the early texts of
the canoes refer to various units or formations of monks under a senior.
The first and the foremost was the
Gana which is said to have consisted of three kulas (Bhag. coma.,
p. 382b). Some texts do not give this specific number but say that a
Gana is a group of kulas. On the other hand, the
Brhatkalpa says that a Gana was formed of several sambhogas
(IV, 18-20). The Digambaras text Miblacara explains the
Gana as a group of three monks (traipqlrusiko Ganah, Mill.
10, 92; comm. p. 193).
Whatever it may be, the formation of a
Gana under a senior officer took place for the express purpose of
gaining higher knowledge or to practice a more rigorous mode of
discipline, etc. Thus considerations of purely academic and monastic
discipline seem to have led to the formation of a Gana (Than., p.
Nobody was allowed to change his Gana
often. This was taken to be a major fault. However, the change of
Gana after some period was allowed for several reasons For instance,
for the obtainment of alms jointly With the members of the other Gana,
and for the sake of making an advanced study of a particular text
known to those who belonged to another Gana, a monk or an officer
was allowed to change his Gana with the express permission of his
senior and after laying down office in the present Gana. (Sm,v.
39ab, 40b; Kalp. IV, 18-24, V, 5).