|Doctrines|| ||Shvetambara means 'white-clad,' that is they wear white, in contrast to the 'sky-clad' naked Digambaras. However, the practice of nudity has always been optional for the Shvetambara monks. The schism between Shvetambaras and Digambaras did not arise because of issues in fundamental doctrine or philosophy as it did with the Theravada/Mahayana split in Buddhism. It was to do with ascetic discipline, mainly whether Jain monks should wear clothes.|
Arguments continued for centuries. Though Mahavira and his monks were naked, the Shvetambaras believe that at his renunciation he put on a deva-dusya, divine cloth, given by Sakra, king of the gods, which he wore for thirteen months, after which it caught on a thorn bush and pulled off. Mahavira was not aware of this or neglected to pick it up, but in any case it was later carried off by a brahman. Abhayadeva Suri, an eleventh century canonical commentator, said that all monks were metaphorically naked if they were pure in spirit. Clothes assist in the religious life by protecting from cold, otherwise a fire might be made, which is forbidden to Jain ascetics. Naked monks live in the forest and there they destroy life forms in the grass and branches of trees.
Another dispute was over alms-bowls. The Digambaras use cupped hands instead. In the seventeenth century a Shvetambara writer named Yashovijaya stated that not using an alms-bowl could destroy life forms because particles of food drop between the fingers and attract insects which are then trodden on.
Such simple points of practice are important to Jains, for the close link between knowledge and practice means incorrect practice shows ignorance of the nature of the working of the world.
The Shvetambara canon is not recognised by Digambaras. It is called agama, tradition, or siddhanta, doctrine, and consists of forty-five texts (the Sthanakvasis only recognise thirty-two). Originally there were sixty texts divided into three groups known as Purva, Anga, and Angabahaya, written in the ancient Magadhan language, Ardhamagadhi. The fourteen Purvas, 'Old Texts,' dating back it is said to Jina Parsva, no longer exist but it is claimed that later literature briefly describes them as including the earliest Jain speculations on the nature of the cosmos and doctrines of the bondage of the soul by matter. The Angas, 'Limbs,' were originally twelve texts but the last one, Drstivada, is lost. These are concerned with ecclesiastical law, the examination of false views, doctrine, and narratives written for the laity. The Angabahaya, 'Subsidiary Canon,' consists of thirty-four miscellaneous texts, including stories of Mahavira, ascetic dialogues, salutations to Jinas, cosmology, legends of Rishabha as the first law-giver and originator of the caste-system, monastic rules, lectures on conduct, ceremonial hymns, and descriptions of ritual. The canon ranges widely in age, origin, and importance, being a complete subculture. The oldest books are in Prakrit with a Ganges region idiom, while the later books are from western India. In addition, there is an enormous amount of commentary, first written in Prakrit and then in Sanskrit starting with Haribhadra in the mid-eighth century. The Digambaras rely on prakaranas written in Prakrit in the first century CE by Vattakera, Kundakunda, and Sivarya. This literary genre was also followed by the Shvetambaras, and one of the fundamental treatises is Umasvati's Tattvarthadhigama Sutra, Sutra for Attaining the Meaning of the Principles, which is a doctrinal synthesis of 350 Sanskrit aphorisms that is also recognised by the Digambaras.
Most Shvetambaras are murtipujakas, image-worshippers. The main exceptions are the Sthanakvasis and Shvetambara Terapanthis.
|History|| ||The Digambara story of the origin of the Shvetambaras is that when the migration to South India took place, those that remained in the North became lax and started to wear clothes. Though this story was written centuries later, it does seem likely that the separation in the Jain community may originate from as early as 360 BCE with this migration to South India to avoid a famine. It is said that when the naked ascetics returned to the North there was a bitter debate with those ascetics wearing clothes which resulted in the separation taking place in 79 CE.|
One of the disciples of Mahavira was Sudharman who is said to have taught his own disciple Jambu the words spoken by Mahavira. This became a continuous lineage through lines of acaryas, great teachers, so that the canon of the Shvetambaras can be traced right back to Sudharman.
Further preservation of the sacred texts took place two centuries after Mahavira in a council at Pataliputra (Patna), which some Jain sources see as the start of the schism in Jainism. But the Purvas and Drstivada Anga were already lost. The Shvetambaras later held other councils. The second council at Mathura in the fourth century CE was organised concurrently with a separate council at Valabhi in Gujarat, indicating that by this time a substantial number of Jains had moved west. The most important council was at Valabhi in 453 or 466 CE when the leader of the council, Devardhigani Ksamasramana, completed the final redaction of the existing canon and numerous manuscripts were copied and widely distributed. The Digambaras did not attend this council and certain Jain sources see the final split between the Shvetambaras and Digambaras as taking place then. At Valabhi those monks wearing a single loincloth were required by King Lokapala to become fully clothed in white garments, and so this group became known as Svetapata or Shvetambaras.
Digambaras and Shvetambaras should not be seen only as adversaries. In the medieval period there is evidence of both groups going on large pilgrimages together. In regions where both sects are found, they have lived in harmony but without serious social or religious contact. But there has been a long history of disputes over the ownership of holy places. The best example of this is Mount Girnar, eventually ceded in debate by the Digambaras to the Shvetambaras, though it is still holy to the Digambaras.
Hindu-style dancing in front of the image by young women was prevalent in Shvetambara shrines controlled by temple-dwelling monks in the eleventh and twelth centuries, but was criticised by reforming sects such as the Kharatara Gaccha and is no longer practised.
Shvetambaras were especially successful in Gujarat, which is still the heart of Shvetambara Jainism. Hemacandra (1089-1172), one of their acaryas, religious leaders, was a minister of the Calukya king Kumarapala (1144-1173), and was able to have some Jain rules enforced in the kingdom. But after his death there was decline, speeded by Muslim invasion and destruction of temples. Valabhi was destroyed in 782, being the start of the Muslim incursion, to be followed by the destruction of a large number of Jain holy places in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Many great shrines are today only known by their names. It was also dangerous to make pilgrimages to the holy places of Gujarat because of Turkish raiders. But as with the decline in the South, the Jains hung on tenaciously and religious activities continued. The Dilwara temples at Mount Abu in Rajasthan were built, which are among the most beautiful and elaborate in Indian architecture. When temple sanctuaries were desecrated they were rebuilt and the images were replaced. Mount Satrunjaya has supposedly been renovated sixteen times by devotees.
Matters improved with Akbar who was interested in different religions and was in contact with the Shvetambaras from an early age. He had a library of Jain manuscripts given by the monk Padmasundara. From the eleventh century various Shvetambara sects had emerged. The Tapa Gaccha and the Kharatara Gaccha were the major ones, and their leaders played an important part in teaching Akbar and pacifying the Muslim onslaught on Jain temples (see Tapa Gaccha and Kharatara Gaccha). Jain influence was ephemeral though, for in 1645 Aurangzeb turned an elaborate Jain temple built by the richest merchant in Ahmedabad into a mosque.
The last two centuries has seen the movement of Shvetambara Jain merchants and businessmen from Gujarat and the Marwar region of Rajasthan to cities and rural areas in other parts of India. The Shvetambara community is more numerous and prosperous than the Digambaras and where the two sects come together there are many disputes over the ownership of holy sites. In 1992 there were some 134 disputes going on. Bahubali Hill near Kohlapur in south Maharashtra was the subject of a heated quarrel in the 1980s involving politicians and with Digambara monks becoming violent and going on fasts and peace marches.
In the 1890s large-scale migration of Shvetambara murtipujakas from Gujarat started to East Africa. Many of these moved to Britain from 1968 to the mid 1970's after political crises. In 1973 the Jain Samaj (Association) was set up in Leicester, leading to the European Jain Samaj in 1982.
|Symbols|| ||The temples on Shvetambara holy mountains are prolific in number and ornate and elaborate with symbolism. Mount Satrunjaya has nearly one thousand temples and shrines.|
The Shvetambara cultic image can have large enamel eyes on top of the carved ones, so that even those at the back of a crowded temple can personally interact with the image. Or the prominent eyeballs can be inlaid or painted. This is darsan, seeing the image of the Jina. The worshipper is in the actual presence of the Jina who witnesses the spiritual efforts of the worshipper. Many images are elaborately dressed in royal clothes and decorated with precious metals, stones, and jewellery, symbolising that the Jina is the true king of the world. Most Jina-images are seated in meditation, some are in the standing posture of abandoning the body, kayotsarga. There is a rich variety of images.
The central shrine of the temple is circumambulated three times by the devotee to symbolise the Three Jewels of right faith, right understanding, and right conduct. Hymns are sung or the universal Jain prayer, the Namaskara Mantra.
Lay people carry out pujas in temples themselves, decorating and anointing the image. Pujari, temple servants, clean up after the ritual, and take the offering food as their payment. If no Jain comes to the temple, they perform the puja.
In the eightfold offering, both men and women can enter the sanctum and touch the images. First, water is poured on the image, symbolising spiritual purity. Then dabs of sandalwood and saffron paste are applied to the image. Sandalwood cures fever and so cools the passions if karma is to be overcome. Saffron symbolises the sweet scent of the Jina's teachings, and as it is costly, also shows the sacrifice needed for the ritual. Third come scented perfect flowers symbolising unbroken faith in the Jina's teachings. Incense is waved before the image to symbolise the dispelling of the bad odour of ignorance and worldly desire. The fifth offering is a swinging butter-lamp to represent the disappearance of the darkness of ignorance with the coming of enlightenment. These five offerings are 'limb worship' as the image's limbs are touched. The devotee then goes back into the hall for the last three offerings of 'facing worship' as the image is faced. On a small platform a svastika is made with rice, symbolising the four states of being (human, celestial, infernal, and plant/animal), three dots for the Three Jewels, and a crescent moon to represent the place of liberation at the top of the universe. On this design fruit is placed to symbolise that spiritual benefit is the desired fruit of the ritual, food to symbolise the liberated state of not eating, and a coin to symbolise renunciation of money. In the ritual there is a gradual movement from matter to spirit to symbolise the spiritual path.
|Adherents|| ||Shvetambaras are concentrated in north west India, in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. In the 1981 Census the figures for these states were: Gujarat (467,768), Rajasthan (624,317), Madhya Pradesh (444,960). Though a sectarian breakdown is not obtainable, most of these are Shvetambaras. Jain merchants and businessmen of Shvetambara affiliation can be found all over India as well as overseas, especially in East Africa, England, and North America.|
The gaccha affiliation of Shvetambara image-worshipping ascetics was in 1986, 4,360 nuns and 1,330 monks (Cort 1989, 491-4, cited in Dundas 1992, 247, n. 72).
| ||Mount Satrunjaya, Palitana, Gujarat, India. |