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Jain World
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Jaina Monastic Jurisprudence
The Background to Monastic Jurisprudence
The Custodians of Monastic Discipline
Laws of Jurisprudence and Their Working
Transgressions and Punishments
  Church Affairs
  Moral Discipline and Self Control
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THE CUSTODIANS OF MONASTIC DISCIPLINE


 

 

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).

 

Digambaras Hierarchy:

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 'ratnika'.

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.

 

III. 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 term."

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.

 

IV. 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. 381a).

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).