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Acharya Hemchandra Suri
Drawing of Hemchandra based on Vikram Samvat 1294 palm leaf
Name (official) Acharya Hemchandra Suri
Personal Information
Birth name Changadev
Born 1088 (see notes)
Died 1173 (see notes)
Anhilwad Patan
Parents Chachinga, Pahini
New name given Somchandra
Initiated by Devchandrasuri
Initiated at Khambhat
Initiated on see notes
After Initiation
Rank Acharya

Acharya Hemachandra was a Jain scholar, poet, and polymath who wrote on grammar, philosophy, prosody, and contemporary history. Noted as a prodigy by his contemporaries, he gained the title Kalikāl Sarvagya, "all-knowing of the Kali Yuga".

Early life[edit]

Hemachandra was born in Dhandhuka, in the modern day, west Indian state of Gujarat, on Kartika Sud Purnima (the full moon day of Kartika month). His date of birth differs according to sources but 1088 is generally accepted.[note 1][1] His father, Chachinga was a Modh Bania Vaishnav. His mother Pahini was a Jain.[2][3] Hemchandra's given name was Changadev. In his childhood, the Jain monk Devachandrasuri visited Dhandhuka and was impressed by young Hemchandra's intellect. His mother and maternal uncle concurred with Devachandrasuri, in opposition to his father, that Hemchandra be a disciple of his. Devchandrasuri and Hemchandra travelled to Khambhat, where he was initiated a Jain monk on Magha Sud Chauth (4th day of the bright half of Magha month) and was given a new name, Somchandra. Udaya Mehta or Udayan, the governor of Khambhat, helped Devchandrasuri in the ceremony.[2][3] He was trained in religious discourse, philosophy, logic and grammar and became well versed in Jain and non–Jain scriptures. At the age of 21, he was ordained Acharya of a Svetambara sect of Jainism at Nagaur in Rajasthan. He was named Acharya Hemachandra Suri.[2][3][4]

Hemchandra and Siddharaj[edit]

At the time, Gujarat was ruled by the Solanki dynasty from Anhilwad Patan. It is not certain when Hemachandra visited Anhilwad Patan first time. As the Jain monks do not stay at one place for eight months and stay at the one place on invitation by lay followers during four months of monsoon, Chaturmas. He started living at Anhilwad for long days and produced majority of his works there.[2][3]

Probably around 1125, he was introduced to Solanki king, Siddharaj Jaisinh (fl. 1092–1141) and he soon rose to prominence in his royal court. In 1135, when Siddharaj conquered Malwa, he brought the works of Bhoj[disambiguation needed] from Dhar along with other things. One day Siddhraj came across the manuscript of Saraswati Kanthabharan (also known as Lakshana Prakash), a treatise on Sanskrit grammar. He was so much impressed by it that he told the scholars in his court to produce such easy as well as lucid grammar. Hemchandra requested Siddharaj to find the eight best work of grammars from Kashmir. He studied them and produced new grammar work in the Asthadhyayi style of Panini. It was easier as well as more lucid than any other grammar work and was better than Saraswati Kanthabharan.[2][3] He named the grammar work, Siddha-Hem-Shabdanushashana after himself and the king. Siddharaj was so pleased with the work that he ordered it to be placed on the back of elephant and the procession was held on the streets of Anhilwad Patan.[5] He also composed Dvyashraya Kavya, the epic on history of Solanki dynasty, to illustrate whole grammar.[3]

Hemachandra and Kumarpal[edit]

According to Prabhachandra, there was an incident where Siddharaj wanted to kill his nephew Kumarpal because it was prophecised that the kingdom would meet its demise through Kumarpal hands. Hemachandra hid Kumarpal under a pile of manuscripts to save him.[2] However, such motifs are common in Indian folk literature, hence there is no guarantee that this was a historical event. Also, many sources differ on what were the motives of Siddharaj.[2] However, they are unanimous in claiming that Hemachandra was responsible to make Kumarpal the king and helped him run the kingdom according to Jain principles.[2][3]

He became the advisor to Kumarpal (1143–1173). During Kumarapal's reign, Gujarat became a reputed center of culture. Taking an approach of Anekantavada, Hemchandra is said to have displayed a broad-minded attitude, which pleased Kumarpal.[4] Kumarpal was the Shaiva, the follower of Shiva. He ordered to rebuild the Somnath temple at Prabhas Patan. Some people who were jealous of Hemachandra's rising popularity with the Kumarpal complained that Hemachandra was a very arrogant person, that he did not respect the Hindu gods and that he refused to bow down to Shiva. When called upon to visit the temple on the inauguration with Kumarpal, Hemachandra readily bowed before the linga of Shiva, but said:[4]

I am bowing down only to that god who has destroyed the passions like attachment and hatred which are the cause of worldly life, whether he is Brahma, Vishnu, or Jina.

He ensured that he remained true to tenets of Jainism, namely, that a Jain should bow down only to a passionless and detached God such as a Jina, and at the same time managed to please Kumarpal. Ultimately, the king became a devoted follower of Hemachandra and a champion of Jainism.[2][4] Starting in 1121, Hemachandra was involved in the construction of the Jain temple at Taranga. His influence on Kumarpal resulted in the Jainism becoming the official religion of Gujarat, and animal slaughter was banned in the state. The tradition of animal sacrifice in the name of religion was completely uprooted in Gujarat. A huge number of Rajputs, Kharwas, Vaishyas etc. took a vow to become completely vegetarian.[citation needed] As a result, even after almost 900 years after Hemchandrachrya Gujarat still continues to be a predominant vegetarian state despite of having an extensive coastline providing variety of good quality seafood.[2][3]


He announced about his death six months in advance and took to fast in his last days. He died at Anhilwad Patan. The year of death differs according to sources but 1173 is generally accepted.[1]


A prodigious writer, Hemachandra wrote grammars of Sanskrit and Prakrit, poetry, prosody, lexicons, texts on science and logic and practically all branches of Indian philosophy.



This Sanskrit grammar was written on the Ashtadhyayi style of Panini. It has seven chapters with each chapter having four section similar to that of Bhoj. It also included six Prakrit languages; Standard Prakrit (virtually Jain Maharashtri), Saurseni, Magadhi, Paishachi, Chulika-Paishachi and Apabhramsha (virtually Gurjar Apabhramsha, prevent in the area of Gujarat and Rajasthan at that time and the precursor of Old Gujarati language). He gave detailed grammar of Apabhramsha and also illustrated it with the folk literature of the time for better understanding. It is the only known Apabhramsha grammar.[3]


Dvyashraya Kavya[edit]

To illustrate the grammar, he produced the epic poetry Dvyashraya Kavya on the history of Solanki dynasty. It is an important source of history of region of the time.[3]


The epic poem Tri-shashthi-shalaka-purusha-charitra (Lives of Sixty-Three Great Men), is a hagiographical treatment of twenty four Tirthankaras and other important persons, collectively called Shalakapurusha, who were instrumental in defining the Jain philosophical position, their asceticism and eventual liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth, as well as the legendary spread of the Jain influence. It still serves as the standard synthesis of source material for the early history of Jainism.[3] The appendix to this work, Parishista-parvan, contains his own commentary and is in itself a treatise of considerable depth (translated into English as The Lives of the Jain Elders by Richard Fynes (Oxford University Press, 1998)).[3]


His Kavyanuprakasha follows the model of Kashmiri rhetorician Mammata's Kavya-prakasha. He quoted other scholars like Anandavardhana and Abhinavagupta in his works.[3]


Abhidhan-Chintamani is a lexicon while Anekarth Kosha is a lexicon of words bearing multiple meanings. Deshi-Shabda-Sangraho or Desi-nama-mala is the lexicon of local or non-Sanskrit origin. Niganthu Sesa is a botanical lexicon.[3]


Hemachandra, following the earlier Gopala, presented an earlier version of the Fibonacci sequence. It was presented around 1150, about fifty years before Fibonacci (1202). He was considering the number of cadences of length n, and showed that these could be formed by adding a short syllable to a cadence of length n − 1, or a long syllable to one of n − 2. This recursion relation F(n) = F(n − 1) + F(n − 2) is what defines the Fibonacci sequence.[6][7]

Other works[edit]

His other works are Chandanushasana (prosody), commentary in rhetoric work Alankara Chudamani, Abhidhana-chintamani, Yoga-Shastra (treatises on Yoga),[2] Pramana-mimansa (logic), Vitaraga-Stotra (prayers).[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The dates of birth and death differs according to sources. He was initiated at age of 21.
  • As per Dundas, (1089–??)[2]
  • As per Datta and Jain World, (1088–1173)[3][4]
  • As per Gujarat Gazetteers, Volume 18, (1887–1174)[8]
  • As per Indian Merchants and Entrepreneurs, (1089–1173)[9]


  1. ^ a b Dinkar Joshi (1 January 2005). Glimpses of Indian Culture. Star Publications. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-81-7650-190-3. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Paul Dundas (2002). The Jains. Psychology Press. pp. 134–135. ISBN 978-0-415-26606-2. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Amaresh Datta; various (1 January 2006). The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature (Volume One (A To Devo) 1. Sahitya Akademi. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-81-260-1803-1. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Hemacandra". Jain World. Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 6 May 2008. 
  5. ^ Jhaverchand Meghani (2003). A Noble Heritage: A Collection of Short Stories Based on the Folklore of Saurashtra. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. p. xviii. 
  6. ^ Thomas Koshy (2001). Fibonacci and Lucas numbers with applications. John Wiley & Sons. ... before Fibonacci proposed the problem; they were given by Virahanka (between 600 and 800 AD), Gopala (prior to 1 135 AD), ... 
  7. ^ Philip Tetlow (2007). The Web's awake: an introduction to the field of Web science and the concept. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-470-13794-0. This sequence was first described by the Indian mathematicians Gopala and Hemachandra in 1150, who were investigating the possible ways of exactly packing items of length 1 and 2 into containers. In the West it was first studied by ... 
  8. ^ Gujarat (India) (1984). Gazetteers. Directorate of Government Print., Stationery and Publications. p. 183. 
  9. ^ Makrand Mehta (1 January 1991). Indian Merchants and Entrepreneurs in Historical Perspective: With Special Reference to Shroffs of Gujarat, 17th to 19th Centuries. Academic Foundation. p. 65. ISBN 978-81-7188-017-1. 

External links[edit]