Jain Ascetic Sects and Schools
53. Arising new sects and schools in religious and philosophical
spheres is the natural phenomenon. They come out of the main stream by
expressing unhappiness and unwillingness towards the existing norms and tenets
of asceticism the schism usually occurs owing to social needs, personality
cults, and differences on some points, which require the reconsideration over
the dogmas in the light of social requirements.
54. Jainism is not an exception. The Majjhimanikaya (vol. 2,p.117) refers to an
event taken place immediately after Mahavira's Parinirvana. But there was no
split in Jain order. Later on, it is started with two divergent narratives of
one event and caused to split into two traditions, Digambara and Svetambara. It
is said that about a hundred years after Mahavira's Parinirvana, the terrible
famine in the northern region took place for twelve years. Therefore, Bhadrabahu
First sent the part of the Sangha (Order) to Southern India, particularly
Karnataka where Jainas were very powerful under the leadership of Visakhacarya,
the Maurya emperor Candragupta who followed the severe conduct of asceticism of
Mahavira in Toto. Another group of the Church went to the Sindh region under the
leadership of Sthulabhadra who found the need to relax the traditional
practices. Both the groups came back to Magadha as soon as the disastrous famine
came to an end. Bhadrabahu himself passed away before any return of the Sanghas
was possible. The former Sangha, who stuck strictly to the regulation of nudity
and prescribed the methods of begging and eating food came to be known as "
Digambara" (the sky-robbed) while the latter one, who continued to live under
famine conditions and changed their ways accordingly became known as "Svetambara"
(the white �robbed). Thus the main cause for the schism in Jain order was the
attitude to traditional norms of conduct. Thus Jainism was spreader slowly in
South and the west from its original home Magadha region.
55. After Mahavira's Nirvana, According to Dhavala (pt. 1,p.66) and
Tiloyapannatti (4.1482-84), Kevali Indrabhuti Gautama Ganadhara became the head
of the Jain church for the next twelve years, followed by Sudharma or Loharya
(l1 years), Jambu (39 years), Srutakevalins - Visnukumara (Nandi)- (14 years),
Nandimitra (16 years), Aparajita (22 years), Govardhana (19 years), and
Bhadrabahu first (29 years). The total number of years comes to 162 (62 +100).
But the Sthaviravali enumerates it as 215 years. The main reason behind this
discrepancy is that Acarya Hemacandra slipped to add the 60 years administration
period of king Palaka. Then the difference becomes negligible. The Svetambara
tradition submits the total period 580 years of Kevalis, Srutakevalis and
Dasapurvadharis while the Digambara tradition in the Dhavala makes it 683 years.
After this period, Ekangadhari Acaryas Gunadhara composed the Kasayapahuda on
the basis of fifth Jnanapravada Purva and Puspadanta and Bhutavali on the basis
of second Agrayaniya Purva composed the Satkhandagama.This was the migrated Jain
ascetic order to Southern part of India called Digambara (naked or sky-clad)
sect, which was afterwards claimed to be as belonging to the Mulasangha (the
original order). The other section of ascetics was named as Svetambara as they
had started to cover their bodies partly with the piece of white cloth (Ardhaphalaka).
This section stayed in Magadha even during the famine period. Afterwards they
too had emigrated to Gujarat and Saurashtra in the third or second century B.C.
The schism in the Jain order was thus complete in first century A.D. Bhadrabahu
First is only Aratiya Acarya who is regarded by both the traditions. But the
Svetambara tradition is started with Sambhutivijaya Sthavira while the Digambara
tradition is related with Bhadrabahu. Some more versions contrary to each other
are available in Jain literature in this regard.
56. The Thanangasutta (Sutra 587) of Svetambara tradition termed Ninhava to such
schism or difference of opinion occurred in the Jain order. It enumerates seven
types of Ninhavas, which deal with Jain principles from one or other standpoint.
But there was no schism taken place in Jainism due to such differences.
Afterwards, Jinabhadragani Ksamasramana in his Visesavasyakabhasya (Gatha, 2308-
32) added one more Ninhava and termed it as Botika (corrupted) originated from
Sivabhuti event. This event is not in fact related with Digambaras but it is
related with Yapaniya sect.
57. This third section of the Jain ascetic order named Yapaniya reached Southern
part of India via Mathura of the Saurasena region and tried for centuries to
reconcile between the two divergent sects together, though without success in
about third century B.C. They preached the conduct of Digambaras and favored the
progressive attitude of Svetambaras. They used to live naked, worship nude
images, and adore Mayurapiccha, according to Digambara tradition, whereas they
believed in Strimukti, Kevalikavalahara and Savastramukti, which resemble to the
Svetambara tradition. During this period, Mathura became the prominent center of
Jainism where Jain Stupa was built in about first c. A.D. The archaeologists
through their excavations supported that all the three sects were in existence
there up to about tenth c. A.D. After that Yapaniya sect merged into Digambaras.
58. Digamma sect is said to have remained intact up to Lohacarya, 685 years
after Mahavira's Nirvana and was not divided into Ganas and Gacchas. Thereafter
came into existence the Aratiyas, the knower of part of Anga-Purvas. By that
time some changes had naturally taken place in the order according to social
needs and eventually these Sanghas arose up. Vanabasis became Caityavasi. The
monks who were in favor of stern penance started new movements against the
Caityavasis and other companions, the so- called Jainabhasas by Devasena. The
Aratiya Acarya Sivagupta created Ganas and Sanghas at the time of monks'
congregation held at Mahimanagari with the view to avoid relaxation of norms in
conduct or asceticism.
59. The Digambara sect was afterwards divided into several Ganas and Gacchasa
Like Nandisangha, Senasangha, Kundakundanvaya, Dravidasangha, Kasthasangha and
Bhattarkas etc. Vasatakirti started the Bhattarka (saffron-robed) tradition in
the 13th century A.D. at Mandapadurga (Rajasthan) who preached to keep one
garment and worship Ksetrapalas and Jinas with their follower deities. It made a
remarkable contribution to the development of Jainism and its protection but a
relaxation in conduct was not accepted by a section of order and ultimately
Banarasidasa in the 17th century A.D. started the new sect called "Vidhimarga"
or "Adhyatmi" around Agra and Jaipur. In spiritual language it is called "Terapantha"
(thy way). The Bhattarakas accepted this nomenclature in the mocking spirit and
called themselves " Visapanthi", the little higher than Terapanthi. These names
may also be kept after some sort of code of conduct also. Terapanthis observed
the thirteen types of Vratas, viz. five Anuvratas, five Samitis and three Guptis
while the Visapanthis might have added seven types of Vinayas (Jnana, Darsana,
Caritra, Mana, Vacana, Kaya, and Lokopacara) to the list. Taranaswami started
another sect named "Taranapantha " in the l5th- l6th c. A.D. who advocated
worshipping only the Agamas (scriptures), and not the idols.
60. The Svetambara sect too was divided into Ganas, Kulas, Gacchas and Sakhas.
Caityavasi sect stood up in 355 A.D. against the Vanavasis and preached that one
can stay in the temples and accept donations for his protection. They accept the
validity of 45 Agamas. Haribhadrasuri criticized their conduct severely in the
Sambodha Prakrana. Jinesvarasuri and Buddhisagarasuri debated with the
Caityavasis in l0th century A.D. and defeated them in Anahilpur Patan and got
the " Kharatara" name from Durlabhadeva. This was the background of
establishment of the Kharataragaccha. It was divided into nine types of Gacchas
like Ancalagaccha, Purnimagaccha, and Agamikagaccha etc. In 1228 A.D., due to
the observation of the Ayambila penance by Jagaccandrasuri, Jaitrasimha, the
king of Mewar named the Sangha " Tapogaccha" which became the separate sect.
Afterwards his pupil Vijayacandrasuri preached that the monk could accept the
number of clothes, ghrta, milk, vegetable, fruits and meals brought by nuns.
61. Then Lokashah, the resident of Ahmedabad of Gujarat province started the
Lokagaccha sect in 1451 A.D. against the Caityavasi tradition and recognized 32
Agamas as the main source of his sect. Then Labaji made an improvement in the
Lokagaccha tradition and started the Dhundhiya Pantha in l652 A.D. The followers
of Lokagaccha became the followers of this sect. They used to perform their all
rites and rituals in the Sthanakas and Upashrayas and not in the temples.
Therefore they were called Sthanakawasi.The Terapantha sect is derived from the
Sthanakavasi sect. Bhikkana founded it in l760 A.D. One who followed five
Mahavratas, five Samitis and three Guptis is called Terapanthi. Acharya Tulasi
`s disciple Mahaprajnaji is at present Head of the Terapantha. There was another
sect named Samvegi started in the same province by Vijayadevasuri in Sak. Sam.
62. There are so many controversial points between these two major sects of
Jainism. For instance, I) Digambaras recognize the practice of complete nudity
and non-possession as an absolute prerequisite condition for achieving salvation
while Svetambaras do not admit it as an obstacle to salvation, 2) An omniscient
in Digambara tradition does not involve in worldly activities. He preaches by
means of the magical divine sound (Divyadhvani) in Om form while the Svetambaras
are of view that he can be engaged in normal human activities simultaneously
enjoining omniscient cognition. 3) Digambara tradition does not find capacity
and capability in women to attain salvation due to their physical weakness while
Svetambaras oppose this view, 4) likewise, differences in begging and eating
habits. 5) Svetambaras worship the naked Jina-images marking their lips, eyes,
and torsos in decorated form while Digmbaras do not accept so.