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Digambara (/dɪˈɡʌmbərə/; Sanskrit "sky-clad") is one of the two major schools of Jainism, the other being Śvētāmbara (white-clad).[1] The word digambara is a combination of two words: dig (directions) and ambara (clothes). Those whose garments are the element that fills the four quarters of space are called digambara.[2] Monks in the Digambara tradition don't wear any clothes, as it is considered parigraha (possession) which ultimately leads to attachment.[3] The monks carry picchi, a broom made up of fallen peacock feathers (for clearing the place before walking or sitting), Kamandalu, a water gourd and shastra (scripture).[4]

Acharya Vidyasagar, a prominent Digambara monk

The Digambara sect of Jainism rejects the authority of the Jain Agamas compiled by Sthulabhadra.[5] They believe that by the time of Dharasena, the twenty-third teacher after Indrabhuti Gautama, knowledge of only one Anga was there. This was about 683 years after the Nirvana of Mahavira. After Dharasena's pupils Pushpadanta and Bhutabali, even that was lost.[6]

According to Digambara tradition, Mahavira, the last tirthankara, never married. He renounced the world at the age of thirty after taking permission of his parents.[7] The Digambaras maintain that after attaining Kevala Jnana, omniscient beings or arihant are free from human needs like hunger, thirst, and sleep.[8] One of the most important scholar-monks of Digambara tradition was Kundakunda. He authored Prakrit texts such as the Samayasāra and the Pravacanasāra. Other prominent Acharyas of this tradition were, Virasena (author of a commentary on the Dhavala),[9] Samantabhadra and Siddhasena Divakara.[10][11]

The Satkhandagama and Kasayapahuda have major significance in the Digambara tradition.[12]


Main article: Digambara monk

Every Digambara monk is required to follow 28 vows (vratas) compulsory.[13]

Head Vow Meaning
Five Great Vows[14]
1. Ahimsa Not to injure any living being in actions or thoughts
2. Truth To speak truth and good words only
3. Asteya Not to take anything if not given
4. Brahmacharya Celibacy in action, words & thoughts.[15]
5. Aparigraha renunciation of worldly things and foreign natures, external and internal[16]
Fivefold regulation of activities[17]
6. irya To walk carefully after viewing land equal to 4 hands
7. bhasha Not to criticise anyone or speak bad words
8. eshna To accept food from a sravaka if it is free from 46 faults
9. adan-nishep Care in lifting things
10. pratishtapan To dispose off the body waste at a place free from living beings
Panchindrinirodh 11–15 Strict control on five senses
Six Essential Duties[18] 16. Sämäyika Meditate for equanimity towards every living being
17. stuti Worship of Tirthankaras
18. vandan To pay obeisances to siddhas, arihantas and acharya
19. Pratikramana Repentance
20. Pratikhayan Renunciation
21. Kayotsarga Giving up attachment to the body and meditate on soul. (Posture: rigid and immobile, with arms held stiffly down, knees straight, and toes directly forward)[2]
Seven vows
22. adantdhavan Not to use tooth powder to clean teeth
23. bhushayan sleeping on hard ground[19]
24. Non-bathing[20]
25. stithi-bhojan Eat food in standing posture
26. ahara To consume food & water once in a day
27. kesh-lonch To pull out hairs by hand
28. nudity To be nude ('digambar)


See also: Pattavali
Acharya Gyansagar
Acharyas Time period Known for
Bhadrabahu 3rd century BC Chandragupta Maurya's spiritual teacher
Kundakunda 2nd century AD Author of Samayasāra, Niyamasara, Pravachansara, Barah anuvekkha
Umaswami 2nd century AD Author of Tattvartha Sutra (canon on science and ethics)
Pujyapada 5th century AD Author of Iṣṭopadeśa (Divine Sermons), a concise work of 51 verses
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.
Nemichandra 10th century AD Author of Dravyasamgraha and supervised the consecration of the Gomateshwara statue.
Shantisagar 20th century AD Reformer of digambara tradition.

Siribhoovalaya, a cryptographic work by the digambara monk, Kumudendu Muni is not yet deciphered completely.

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.[21]


Indus valley[edit]

Relics found from Harrapan excavations like seals depicting 'Kayotsarga' posture, idols in Padmasana and a nude bust of red limestone[22] give insight about the antiquity of the Digambara tradition.

In Literature[edit]

The presence of gymnosophists ("naked philosophers") 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.[2]


Adinatha image (Badami caves)

The Digambara Jains worship completely nude idols of tirthankaras (arihants) and siddha (liberated souls). The tirthankara is represented either seated in yoga posture or standing in the Kayotsarga posture.[23]

The truly "sky-clad" (digambara) Jaina statue expresses the perfect isolation of the one who has stripped off every bond. His is an absolute "abiding in itself," a strange but perfect aloofness, a nudity of chilling majesty, in its stony simplicity, rigid contours, and abstraction.



Digambaras group the texts into four literary categories called 'exposition' (anuyoga).[25] The 'first' (prathma) exposition contains Digambara versions of the Universal History; the 'calculation' (karana) exosition contains works on cosmology; the 'behaviour' (charana) exposition includes texts about proper behaviour for monks and lay people.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Singh 2008, p. 23
  2. ^ a b c Zimmer 1953, p. 210.
  3. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 45.
  4. ^ Singh 2008, p. 316
  5. ^ Singh 2008, p. 444
  6. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 79.
  7. ^ Singh 2008, p. 313
  8. ^ Singh 2008, p. 314
  9. ^ 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 978-81-86957-47-9
  10. ^ Singh 2008, p. 524.
  11. ^ Gender and Salvation: Jaina Debates on the Spiritual Liberation of Women - Padmanabh S. Jaini - Google Books. Books.google.com. January 1991. ISBN 978-0-520-06820-9. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  12. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 63–64.
  13. ^ Pramansagar 2008, p. 189–191.
  14. ^ Jain 2011, p. 93–100.
  15. ^ Shah, Pravin. "Five Great Vows (Maha-vratas) of Jainism".  Jainism Literature Center, Harvard University Archives (2009)
  16. ^ Jain 1926, p. 26.
  17. ^ Jain 2012, p. 144.
  18. ^ Jain 2012, p. 143.
  19. ^ Jain 1926, p. 47.
  20. ^ Jain 1926, p. 46.
  21. ^ Jaina Community: A Social Survey - Vilas Adinath Sangave - Google Books. Books.google.com. 1980. ISBN 978-0-317-12346-3. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  22. ^ Possehl, Gregory L. (2002). The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective. Rowman Altamira. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-7591-0172-2. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  23. ^ Zimmer 1953, p. 209–210.
  24. ^ Zimmer 1953, p. 213.
  25. ^ a b Dundas 2002, p. 80.


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