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Kundakunda, also known as Acharya Kundkund is the most revered Digambara Jain Acharya, who lived in around 1st century B.C. He authored many Jain texts such as: Samayasara, Niyamasara, Panchastikayasara, Pravachansara, Atthapahuda and Barasanuvekkha. He occupies the highest place in the tradition of the Jain acharyas.
He belonged to the Mula Sangh order. His proper name was Padmanandi, he is popularly referred to as Kundakunda because he was born in a place named Kaundakunda in south India. He is closely associated with the Digambara sect, also in recent decades, his books have become popular among Svetambaras also. He was known also as:
For Digambaras, his name has auspicious significance and occupies third place after Bhagavan Mahavira and Gautama Ganadhara in the sacred litany. Kundakunda's singular contribution consists in his compiling a number of liturgical tracts and creating several masterly doctrinal works of his own, which provided a parallel canon for the Digambara tradition. This earned him the everlasting gratitude of the Digambaras, who have for centuries invoked his name together with that of Mahavira and his chief ganadhara Indrabhuti Gautama, placing him ahead even of Bhadrabahu, Visakha, and some forty other elders (sthaviras ) in the lineage, thus making him virtually the founder of the Digambara sect.
The works attributed to Kundakunda, all of them in Prakrit, can be divided in three groups. The first group is a collection of ten bhaktis (devotional prayers), short compositions in praise of the acaryas (Acaryabhakti ), the scriptures (Srutabhakti ), the mendicant conduct (Caritrabhakti ), and so forth. They form the standard liturgical texts used by the Digambaras in their daily rituals and bear close resemblance to similar texts employed by the Svetambaras, suggesting the possibility of their origin in the canonical period prior to the division of the community. The second group comprises four original works described as "The Essence" (sara )— namely, the Niyamasara (The Essence of the Restraint, or the mendicant discipline, in 187 verses), the Panchastikayasara (The Essence of the Five Existents, in 153 verses), the Samayasara (The Essence of Self-Realization, in 439 verses), and the Pravachanasara (The Essence of the Teaching, in 275 verses), all of which, because of their nonconventional or absolute (nischayanaya ) approach, have exerted a tremendous influence not only on the Digambara psyche but, as will be seen in Chapter VI, even on some of the leading members of the Shvetambara community, both old and new. The last group consists of eight short texts called Prabhrta (Pkt. pahuda, i.e., a gift or a treatise), probably compilations from some older sources, on such topics as the right view (Darsanaprabhrta, in 36 verses), right conduct (Caritraprabhrta, in 44 verses), the scripture (Sutraprabhrta, in 27 verses), and so forth. Dr. A. N. Upadhye in his critical edition of the Pravachansara has examined at great length the problems concerning the date and author-ship of these and other works attributed to Kundakunda and has placed him in the middle of the 2nd century AD.
Kundakunda wrote in Shauraseni Prakrit. Amongst the modern followers of Kundakunda, three names are remarkable, Banarasidas, a 16th-century lay poet from Agra who began his spiritual quest after reading kundakunda's "Samayasara"; Srimad Rajchandra, the Gujarati merchant who trod famously on the spiritual path highlighted by Acharya Kundakunda; and Kanji Swami who converted from Shwetambar Monk to a Digamabar follower and preached Kundkund's "Samaysara" and other books passionately for fifty years.
It has been written in various Jain literature that Aacharya Kundkund has written '84 Pahurs' but most of them are missing time by time. The most famous of them is 'Samaya Pahur' also known as 'SamayaSaar'. Other than this are Pravachanpahur, Ashtapahur, Lingpahur, Sheelpahur, Niyampahur etc.
|Samayasara||True self (soul)|
|Niyamasär||Rules of conduct|
|Panchästikäya||Five Universal substances|
Shri Ponnur Hills, Kund Kund Nagar, Tamilnadu The Ponnur Hills Tapo Bhumi Nilayam Teerth Kshetra is more then 2000 years ancient Kshetra, situated in Tiruvannamalai District of Tamilnadu State and is surrounded by natural beauty. This place is Tapo Bhumi of great & brilliant Digamber Jain ‘Acharya Bhagawat Kund Kund Dev’. This is the only sacred place where Acharya Kund Kund practiced for penance, practiced for self-recognition & purification. From here Acharya Kund Kund went to ‘Videh Kshetra’ in Samavsharana of present ‘Teerthankar Bhagwan Simandhar’. They stayed there up to seven days & nights and got benefits of spiritual precepts (Divya Dhwani). After returning from there, they wrote ‘Panch Paramagamas’ called as “Dwiteeya Shruta Skandha”, this includes the great texts of real philosophy of world named: – ‘Samay Sara’, ‘Pravachan Sara’, ‘Niyam Sara’, ‘Ashta Pahud’ & ‘Panchastikaya Samgraha’. The first three of five are also known as “Prabhrit Trayee”. This is said that these Pancha Paramagamas were written at Ponnur Hills. Innate Disposition (Nature) of matter & soul, inter relationship & reality of such relations between two matters and path of salvation has been described logically & thoroughly in these texts. First of all these texts gives the knowledge of reality of worldly relations, uniqueness & pureness of soul and about infinite characteristics & qualities of soul. These texts motivates the reader to accept ‘Ratna Traya’ (Right Faith, Right Knowledge & Right Conduct) in his life and thus to follow the path of salvation.
Acharya Kund Kund: Acharya Kund Kund were born at the place named – ‘Kond Kund Pur’ of south India. In early child hood they were too brilliant. Sentiments of affectionlessness were so powerful in them, that they accepted Muni Deeksha (Asceticism) in simply 12 years of age. They were reverenced as Acharya of Muni Sangha in the age of 44 years.
They were so great that later on all the Acharyas took their name with great faith & honor. In an invocatory prologue (Managlacharan) Acharya Kund Kund’s name is placed at 3rd number after Bhagwan Mahaveer & Gautam Ganadhara. English version of that prologue is as below: –
“Mangalam Bhagwan Veero, Mangalam Gautamo Gani |
Mangalam ‘Kund Kundaryo’, Jain Dharmostu Mangalam ||”
This shows the greatness & importance of Acharya Kund Kund among Jains. ‘Acharya Jin Chandra’ were the Deekshaguru of Acharya Kund Kund. Due to the greatness of Tapa (Penance) & asceticism Acharya Kund Kund got ‘Charan Riddhi’ (The power of moving in the sky / air over the earth). With the help of this Charan Riddhi, they went to ‘Videha Kshetra’ in the ‘Samavsharan’ of present ‘Teerthankar Bhagwan Simandhar’. After returning from there they wrote ‘Pancha Paramagamas’ – the great texts of real philosophy, describing the nature of soul & other matters, Ratna Traya & path of salvation. ‘Baras Anuvekkha’, ‘Parikarma’ (a commentary on ‘Shatkhandagama’ – the great text of ‘Karananuyoga’), ‘Bhakti Samgraha’ etc. are other creations of Acharya Kund Kund.
Acharya Kund Kund were famous by five names: – (i) Kund Kund, (ii) Padma Nandi, (iii) Elacharya, (iv) Griddhapichhacharya & (v) Vakragreevacharya. Once Acharya Kund Kund went on pilgrimage of Girinar Hill (the salvation place of Bhagwan Neminath & others) with their 594 scholars. At that time Swetambar Acharya Shri Shukla were also present there for pilgrimage. Both the Acharyas with their Sangha were keen to travel first than other. So they decided to debate and goddess Ambica was appointed as Judge. Debate between both Acharyas took place, argument & counter arguments were given, at the end. Goddess Ambica declared the truthness of Digambar Jain Dharma and after it, pilgrimage of Acharya Kund Kund with their 594 scholars took place first. From that very time Samgha of Acharya Kund Kund was called ‘Mool Sangha’. Up to today all Digambar Jain Acharyas & Munies feel proud in declaring themselves in the tradition of Acharya Kund Kund. Because of wisdom & great spiritual knowledge Acharya Kund Kund are also called ‘Kali Kal Sarvagya’ (Person having knowledge of all things of world related to all times – present, past, future). Acharya Kund Kund, at one hand described the real philosophy – way of one’s enlightenment (Aatmanubhooti) is their texts, on other hand he also apposed strictly the looseness in conduct of Munies (saints). ‘Shri Ashta Pahud’ is the text that described the right conduct of Munies.
‘Acharya Umaswami / Umaswati,’ the principal scholar of Acharya Kund Kund, were also great Acharya as per their Guru. They wrote the first text of Jain Literature in Sanskrit Language called – ‘Tattwartha Sootra’ or ‘Moksha Shastra’. Moksha Shastra is honored in both sects of Jains – Digambar & Shwetambar.
Later on various Acharyas & Scholars have remembered Acharya Kund Kund with great honor & faith for their work. Acharya Devsen, Acharya Shubha Chandra, great poet Vrindavandas, Gurudeo Shri Kahanji Swami and many more praised Acharya Kund Kund in their texts & precepts. Petrographs of Vindhya Giri & Chandra Giri Hills are the proofs of great repute and devotion of Jains in them.
Link for further information <http://jainteerth.com/tamilnadu-jain-teerth/shri-ponnur-hills-kund-kund-nagar-tamilnadu>
- Jaini, Padmanabh (1991). Gender and Salvation: Jaina Debates on the Spiritual Liberation of Women. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Jain, Vijay K. (2012), Acharya Kundkund's Samayasara, Vikalp Printers, ISBN 978-81-903639-3-8