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Acharya Vidyasagar, a prominent Digambara Jain monk.

Digambara (/dɪˈɡʌmbərə/; Sanskrit: दिगंबर, "sky-clad") is a sect of Jainism with nudist adherents that distinguished itself from the white-clad Śvētāmbara in about the 3rd century AD.[1] The Digambar sect of Jainism rejects the authority of the Jain Agama compiled by Sthulabhadra.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] The Digambara believe that after attaining enlightenment, Mahavira was free from human activities like hunger, thirst, and sleep.[5] Monks in the Digambar tradition do not wear any clothes. They carry only a broom made up of fallen peacock feathers and a water gourd.[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]

Digambara Monk (Animation)

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

# 28 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 To be nude (digambara)
23 To consume food & water once in a day
24 Not to use tooth powder to clean teeth
25 Not to take bath
26 Eat food only in standing posture
27 Sleeping on the ground
28 To pull out hair by hand

Five great vows[edit]


Vows of Vigilance[edit]

Five vows of vigilance are control of speech, control of thought, regulation of movement, care in lifting things, and examining food and drink before consuming.[11]

Six Essential Duties[edit]

Pratikramana, Sämäyika, Devapujä (Worship of 24 Tirthankaras), Vandanä, Kayotsarga, Pratyakhyan.[12]

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." These are in conformity with the conduct of a digambara monk.[17]

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 original Sramāna practice.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Singh 2008, p. 23
  2. ^ Singh 2008, p. 444
  3. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 79
  4. ^ Singh 2008, p. 313
  5. ^ Singh 2008, p. 314
  6. ^ Singh 2008, p. 316
  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. ^ Pramansagar 2008, p. 189-191.
  11. ^ Jain 2011, p. 93–96.
  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. ISBN 978-81-71418664. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 


External links[edit]