September 6, 2010

Digambar & Shwetambar

It is not necessary to go into the differences of the two sections of Jains- the Swetambars and the Digambars. Briefly speaking, the Swetambars believe in Sabastra Mukti, that women can attain salvation, recognize Sabastra Guru and hold that in the Kaivalya condition Mahavira had illness. The Swetambar Jains holds that Mahavira Swami married and ruled and had a daughter. They are also of the view that the 19th Tirthankara was a lady Mallahkumari.

But the Digambars believe in Diganibar Mukti and they do not admit that because of certain deformities peculiar to their sex, women call attain Mukti in the present life, but can do so in a future birth. However, they can, at the same time, observe the great vows and lead a true Jain life. The Digambar Jains does not recognize Sabastra Guru. They hold that Mahavira Swami was a Bal Brahmachari and he had never married, nor did he have any raj. They do not believe that in the Kaivalya condition Mahavira Swami had any illness. They hold that the 19th Tirthankara was a male and his name was Mallinath. The two sects also differ as to the birth-place of Mahavira Swami.

According to the Swetambars,Kundaligram in Monghyr district is the birth-place of Mahavira. According to the Digambars, Kundalipur near Nalanda is his birth-place. There is a third school of Jains who now claim Vaishali in Muzaffarpur district as the birth-place of Mahavira Swami. It appears that certain sections of both theSwetambar and the Digambar sects accept Vaishali to he the birth-place of Mahavira Swami. Incidentally, all these three places that are taken to be the birth-place of Mahavira, are in Bihar.

Many Jain images ill different parts of India are mistaken to be Buddhist images. It has been observed: "The Jain images are mostly either in padmasan or khadgasan mudras. They are also characterized by nasagrahadrishti and by veetaraga mudra. The gaze is fixed to the top of the nose and there is an air of sublime detachment. The Digambar Jain images are characterized by their nudity and the left palm is on right palm and no offerings of jewels or ornaments are made. The Swetambar Jain images are conspicuous by loin-cloth, the right palm being on left palm and offerings of jewels and ornaments are made.

Remarkable feature of Jainism is that, while the later orthodox Hindu preachers had assailed Buddhism and its philosophy, Jainism was hardly ever touched. Despite internal schism, the creed never died. Jainism is still a living cult in India and has its devotees in other countries as well. Probably, the sources of the strength and persistence of Jainism are in a continuous flow of active laity that has formed into a harmonious relationship with the preaching order.


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