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Acharya Kundakunda (Animation)

Digambara (/dɪˈɡʌmbərə/; Sanskrit: दिगंबर, "sky-clad") is a sect of Jainism, which distinguished itself from the white-clad Śvētāmbara in about the 3rd century AD.[1] Monks in the Digambar tradition don't wear any clothes, as it is considered parigrah (possession). They carry only a broom made up of fallen peacock feathers (to follow the principle of Ahiṃsā) and a water gourd.[2]

The Digambar sect of Jainism rejects the authority of the Jain Agama compiled by Sthulabhadra.[3] They believe that by the time of Dharasena, the twenty-third teacher after Gandhara Indrabhuti Gautama, knowledge of only one Anga was there. This was about 683 years after the Nirvāṇa of Mahavir. After Dharasena's pupils Puspadant and Bhutabali, even that was lost.[4]

According to Digambar tradition, Mahavira, the last jain tirthankara, never married. He renounced the world at the age of thirty after taking permission of his parents.[5] The Digambara believe that after attaining enlightenment, Mahavira (Kevalin) was free from human needs like hunger, thirst, and sleep.[6] One of the most important scholar-monks of Digambara tradition was Acharya Kundakunda. He authored Prakrit texts such as Samayasar and Pravachansar. Samantabhadra and Siddhasena Divakara were other important monks of this tradition.[7]

The scriptures Shatkhand-agama and Kasay-pahuda are regarded to be of major significance in the Digambara tradition.[8]

Monk conduct[edit]

Every Digambara monk is required to follow 28 vows (vrats) compulsory.

Number Vows of Digambara Monk
1-5 Five great vows (Mahavrat)
6-10 Five vows of vigilance
11-15 Strict Control on five senses
16-21 Performing six essential duties
22 Not to take bath
23 Not to use tooth powder to clean teeth
24 To take rest only on earth or wood pallet
25 Eat food in standing posture
26 To consume food & water once in a day
27 To pull out hair by hand
28 To be nude (digambara)

Five great vows[edit]

  1. Ahiṃsā - Not to hurt any living being by actions and thoughts.
  2. Satya - Not to lie in any circumstances.
  3. Asteya - Not to take anything if not given.
  4. Brahmacharya - Celibacy in action, words & thoughts.[9]
  5. Aparigraha - Non-possession, complete detachment from material property.

Vows of Vigilance[edit]

  1. Control of speech - Not to criticise anyone.
  2. Control of thought
  3. Regulation of movement - To prevent killing of small living beings.
  4. Care in lifting things
  5. Examining food and drink before consuming.

[10] [11]

Six Essential Duties[edit]

  1. Sämäyika - Meditate to become neutral towards every living being
  2. Devapujä - To worship qualities of 24 Tirthankaras
  3. Vandanä - To bow down to the Arihants, Siddhas and Acharyas
  4. Pratyakhyan - To renounce unneeded things
  5. Pratikramana
  6. Kayotsarga



Acharya Vidyasagar, a prominent Digambara Jain monk.

Digambara Jain acharyas have contributed richly to Indian society through their valuable literary works.

Acharyas Time period Contribution
Bhadrabahu 3rd century BC Chandragupta Maurya's spritual teacher
Kundakunda 2nd century CE Author of Samayasāra, Niyamasara, Pravachansara, Barah anuvekkha.
Umaswami 2nd century CE Author of Tattvartha Sutra
Manatunga 6th century AD Creator of famous Bhaktamara Stotra
Virasena 8th-century AD Mathematician and author of Dhavala.
Jinasena 9th century AD Author of Mahapurana (major Jain text) and Harivamsha Purana.
Shantisagar 20th century AD Reformer of digambara tradition.

Digambar monasticism[edit]

Stela at Marhiaji mentioning Jain acharyas

In words of Heinrich Zimmer,[13] digambara means -

The prominent Acharyas of the Digambar tradition were Kundakunda (author of Samayasar and other works),[14] Virasena (author of a commentary on the Dhavala).[15]

In the 10th century, Digambar tradition was divided into two main orders.

  • Mula Sangh, which includes Sena gana, Deshiya gana and Balatkara gana traditions
  • Kashtha Sangh, which includes the Mathura gana and Lat-vagad gana traditions

Shantisagar, belonged to the tradition of Sena gana. Practically all the Digambara monks today belong to his tradition, either directly or indirectly. The Bhattarakas of Shravanabelagola and Mudbidri belong to Deshiya gana and the Bhattaraka of Humbaj belongs to the Balatkara gana.[16]


In Majjhima Nikaya, Buddha tells "Thus far, SariPutta, did I go in my penance? I went without clothes. I licked my food from my hands. I took no food that was brought or meant especially for me. I accepted no invitation to a meal."[17] These being in conformity with the conduct of a digambara monk, it is possible that Buddha started his ascetic life as a digambara.[18]

The presence of gymnosophists in Greek records as early as the fourth century B.C., supports the claim of the Digambaras that they have preserved the ancient Sramāna practice.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Singh 2008, p. 23
  2. ^ Singh 2008, p. 316
  3. ^ Singh 2008, p. 444
  4. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 79
  5. ^ Singh 2008, p. 313
  6. ^ Singh 2008, p. 314
  7. ^ Singh 2008, p. 524
  8. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 63-64.
  9. ^ Pravin Shah, Five Great Vows (Maha-vratas) of Jainism Jainism Literature Center, Harvard University Archives (2009)
  10. ^ Jain 2011, p. 93–96.
  11. ^ Pramansagar 2008, p. 189-191.
  12. ^ http://www.digambarjainonline.com/dharma/mahagun.htm
  13. ^ a b Zimmer 1953, p. 210.
  14. ^ Gender and Salvation: Jaina Debates on the Spiritual Liberation of Women - Padmanabh S. Jaini - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  15. ^ Satkhandagama : Dhaval (Jivasthana) Satparupana-I (Enunciation of Existence-I) An English Translation of Part 1 of the Dhavala Commentary on the Satkhandagama of Acarya Pushpadanta & Bhutabali Dhavala commentary by Acarya Virasena English tr. by Prof. Nandlal Jain, Ed. by Prof. Ashok Jain ISBN : 8186957472, 9788186957479
  16. ^ Jaina Community: A Social Survey - Vilas Adinath Sangave - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  17. ^ Pruthi, R.K. (2004). Buddhism and Indian Civilization. Discovery Publishing House. p. 197-203. ISBN 978-81-71418664. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  18. ^ http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~pluralsm/affiliates/jainism/article/antiquity.htm


External links[edit]