Jaina Philosophy in Comparative Perspective

Key information

Module not running
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Religions and Philosophies

Module overview

The course introduces students to Jaina philosophy in comparative perspective. By situating Jaina philosophy within its social and philosophical contexts it will demonstrate the ways in which religious ideas and social forces influence the logical structure of thought. Motivated by their commitment to ontological dualism and the soteriological practice of non-violence, in mind, speech and action, Jaina thinkers generated a specific new set of questions for philosophical exploration, and made lasting contributions to the fields of ontology, epistemology, logic and mathematics, ethics and law, and the philosophy of consciousness. From the point of view of comparative philosophy the course will look at the Jaina contribution to the ethics of non-violence and vegetarianism, and the development of epistemological perspectivism and logic, and its impact on contemporary world philosophy. It is based on key texts in translation, selected from the Jaina philosophical literature. The course requires no knowledge of Indian languages.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with the history of and principal contributors to Jaina philosophy
  • Situate Jaina ontology and epistemology within the wider context of Indian philosophy
  • Be able to discriminate the distinguishing features of canonical, classical and mystical variants of Jaina philosophy in the main Jain denominations
  • Explain the crucial role of the ethics of non-violence and perspectivism in Jaina philosophy and soteriology from a comparative perspective


20 contact hours total (2 hours per week)

Scope and syllabus

Lecture 1: History of Jaina Philosophy

Lecture 2: The Beginnings of Jaina Philosophy In the Ācārāṅga

Lecture 3: Classical Jaina Philosophy

Lecture 4: Jaina Cosmology and Cosmography

Lecture 5: Classical Jaina Karman Theory

Lecture 6: Liberation Through Self-Knowledge: Jaina Mysticism

Lecture 7: Jaina Philosophy and Sāmkhya Philosophy

Lecture 8: Epistemological Foundations of the Doctrine of Omniscience

Lecture 9: Jaina Perspectivism and the Logic of Non-One-Sidedness

Lecture 10: The Jaina Philosophy of the Emotions

Method of assessment

Students will complete one essay of 3,000 words (100%)

Suggested reading

Core suggested reading

  • Jacobi, Hermann (tr.). Jaina Sūtras I-II. Sacred Books of the East Vol. 22 & 45. Ed. M. Müller. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1884, 1895. http://www.sacred-texts.com/jai/index.htm
  • Johnson, W. Harmless Souls: Karmic Bondage and Religious Change in Early Jainism with Special Reference to Umāsvāti and Kundakunda. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, 1995.
  • Kundakunda. Samayasāra. Translated by A. Chakravarti. New Delhi: Bharatiya Jnanpith, 1989.
  • Soni, J. Jaina Epistemology: Including the Jaina Theory of Error. New Delhi, Aditya Prakashan, 2018.
  • Umāsvāti. Tattvārtha-Sūtra. Translated by N. Tatia as That Which Is. New York: Harper Collins, 1994.

Further suggested reading

  • Folkert, K.W. Scripture and Community, Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993.
  • Bhattacharyya, N.N. Jain Philosophy: Historical Outline. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1976.
  • Daśavaikālika Sūtra. Translation and Notes by K.C. Lalwani. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, 1973.
  • Dixit, K.K. Jaina Ontology. Ahmedabad: L. D. Institute of Indology, 1971.
  • Frauwallner, E. History of Indian Philosophy I-II. Tr. V.M. Bedekar. Delhi: Motilal. Banarsidas, 1953/1973
  • Ganeri, J. Philosophy in Classical India. London: Routledge, 2001.
  • Leumann, E. An Outline of the Āvaśyaka Literature. Translated from the German by George Baumann with an Introductory Essay by Nalini Balbir. Ahmedabad: L. D. Institute, 2010.
  • Nyayavijaya, Muni. Jaina Philosophy and Religion. English Translation of Jaina Darśana by Nagin J. Shah. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, 1938/1998.
  • Viyāhapannatti (Bhagavaī). The Fifth Anga of the Jaina Canon. Introduction, Critical Analysis, Commentary & Indexes by Jozef Deleu. Brugge: Rijksuniversiteit de Gent, 1970.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules