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                                        Digambar Jain  Literature and Agams

  Thirthankars and Baghavan Mahavir's preaching and  knowledge was orally transferred from acharyas  the disciples over the course of about one thousand years. Around 500A.D.,  after Lord Mahavir's nirvana , Jain acharyas realized that it was very difficult to keep memorizing the entire Jain literature . In several years , significant knowledge was already lost and the rest was polluted with modifications and errors. Hence, they decided to document the Jain literature as known to them. In this time period two major sects, namely Digambar and Swetambar, were already in existence. A thousand years later (1500 A.D.), the Swetambar sect divided into three subsects known as Swetambar Murtipujak, Sthanakvasi, and Terapanthi. Differences exist among these sects in their acceptance of the validity of the documented Jain scriptures and literature. Jain literature is classified into two major categories:

  • Agam Literature
    This consists of original scriptures complied by Gandharas and Srut-kevalis. They are written in the Prakrit language.

  • Non-agam Literature
    This consists of commentary and explanation of Agam   literature and independent works, complied mostly  by elder monks, nuns, and scholars. They are written in many languages such as Prakrit, Sanskrit, Old Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannad, Tamil, German, and English. 

         Agam literature is also divided into two groups:

  • Ang-agams or Ang-pravista-agams
    These texts contain the direct preaching of Lord Mahavir. They were complied by Ganadharas.
  • Ang-bahya-agams (outside of Ang-agams)
    These texts are expansions of Ang-agams. They were complied by Srut-kevalis.

Agam Literature: Lord Mahavir's preaching was methodically compiled by his followers into many texts. These texts are collectively known as Agams, the sacred books of the Jain religion. Hence, the Jain religion does not have one sacred book , but  has many books complied by many followers. 
Ang-agams:  Lord Mahavir's immediate disciples were known as Ganadharas. All Ganadharas possessed perfect knowledge (keval-jnan). They orally complied the direct preaching of Lord Mahavir into twelve main texts (sutras). These texts are known as Ang-agams. Hence the Ang-agams are the oldest religious scriptures and the back bone of Jain literature.
  The twelfth Ang-agam is called Drastivad. The Drastivad consists of fourteen Purva texts, also known as Purvas or Purva-agams. Among Ang-agams, Purvas were the oldest sacred texts. All Jain sects believe that knowledge of the Purvas (Drastivad) were gradually lost starting two hundred years after Baghwan Mahavir's nirvan. However, the subject matter of the Purvas has been referenced by other Jain scriptures and literature. The Digambar Jain sect also believes that the remaining eleven Ang-agams were gradually lost. All Swetambar Jains believe that the proper meaning and the original intent of the eleven Ang-agams survived and were properly documented by elder monks one thousand years after Baghwan Mahavir's nirvan.

Sect Number of Ang-agams Aceepted  Present Status
Digambar 11    All are lost
Swetambar Murtipujak 11    Available
Swetabar Stahankvasi 11    Available
Swetabar Terapantji 11     Available

  Monks who had knowledge of a minimum of ten Purvas were known as Srut-kevlis. The Srut-kevlis wrote many texts (sutras) expanding the subject matter defined in the Ang-agams. Collectively these texts are called Ang-bahya-agams meaning outside of Ang-agams.
The different Jain sects accept different numbers of Ang-bahya texts. However the Digambar  sect believes that they were also gradually lost starting about two hundred years after Baghwan Mahavir's Nirvan.
Sects Number of Ang-bahya-agams Accepted Present Status
Digambar 14 All are lost
Swetambar Murtipujak 34 Available
Swetambar Sthanakvasi 21 Available
Swetambar Terapanthi 21 Available

  Digambar Jain Literature: 
  The Digambar sect believes that there were 25 Agam-sutras (11 Ang-agams + 14 Ang-bahya-agams) complied from the original preaching of Baghwan Mahavir. However, they were gradually lost starting about two hundred years after Lord Mahavir's nirvana. Hence the existing Agam-sutras (which are accepted by the Swetambar sects) are not accepted by them as authentic scriptures.
In the absence of authentic scriptures, Digambars  use the following literature as the basis for their religious practice. These scriptures were written by great Acharyas  from 100 to 800 A.D. and are based on the original Agam Sutras.

  • Two Main Texts:
    • Shatkhand-agam
    • Kasay-pahud
  • Four Anuyogas:
    • Pratham-anuyoga (Dharma-kath-anuyoga) - Religious Stories
    • Charn-anuyoga - Conduct
    • Karan-anuyoga (Ganit-anuyoga) - Description of the Universe
    • Dravy-anuyoga - Philosophy


This Digambar scripture is also known as Maha-kammapayadi-pahuda or Maha-karma prabhrut. It was written by two Acharyas; Pushpadant and Bhutabali around 160 A.D. The second Purva-agam named Agraya-niya was used as the basis for this scripture. The scripture contains six volumes. Acharya Virsen wrote two commentary texts, known as Dhaval-tika on the first five volumes and Maha-dhaval-tika on the sixth volume of this scripture, around 780 A.D.
Kashay-pahud (Kashay Prabhrut)
: This scripture was written by Achar Gunadhara.  The fifth Purva-agam named Jnan-pravad was used as a basis for this scripture. Acharya Virsen and his disciple, Jinsen, wrote a commentary text known as Jaya-dhaval-tika around 780 A.D.
Four Anuyogas:
   1. Pratham-anuyoga (Dharma-kath-anuyoga) - Religious Stories
This anuyoga consists of the following texts which contain religious stories, art, literature, history, poetry, and like literature.      
Name Author Time
Padma-puran Ravisen 650 A.D.
Harivamsa-puran Jinsen II 783 A.D.
Adi-puran Jinsen II 783 A.D.
Uttar-puran Gunabhadra 879 A.D.
 2. Charn-anuyoga - Conduct

    This anuyoga consists of the following texts which contain principles of observances, conduct, behavior, and like literature. 

Mulachar Vattaura 600 A.D.
Trivarnachar Vattaura 600 A.D.
Ratna-karanda-shravak-achar Samantabhadra 600 A.D.
  3 Karan-anuyoga (Ganit-anuyog) - Description of the Universe
    This anuyoga consists of the following texts which contain geography, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, and like literature.
Surya-prajnapti Unknown -
Chandra-prajnapti Unknown -
Jaya-dhaval-tika Virsen/Jinsen 780 A.D.
Gommat-sar Nemichandra Siddhant Chakravarti 1000 A.D.

  4 Dravy-anuyog - Philosophy
  This anuyoga consists of the following texts which contain philosophical doctrine, theories, Tattvajnan, and like literature.

Niyamasar Kunda-kunda 100 A.D.
Panchastikaya Kunda-kunda 100 A.D.
Pravachanasar Kunda-kunda 100 A.D.
Samaya-sara Kunda-kunda 100 A.D.
Tattvartha-sutra Umaswami 200 A.D.
commentary by Samantabhadra 600 A.D.
commentary by Pujyapad 700 A.D.
commentary by Akalank 750 A.D.
commentary by Vidyanand 800 A.D.
Aptamimamsa Samantabhadra 600 A.D.
commentary by Akalank 750 A.D.
commentary by Vidyanand 800 A.D.


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