R440 Jaina Philosophy

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Religions and Philosophies

Module overview

The course introduces students to Jaina philosophy. Jaina thinkers have been unique in their focus on the soteriological significance of strictly non-violent practice, in mind, speech and action. Jaina literature offers a millennia old record of philosophical reflection on solutions for practical and theoretical dilemmas faced by individuals or groups intent on the implementation of the principle of non-violence, ahiṃsā, in everyday life. The existential orientation of Jaina philosophers also generated a set of fundamentally new philosophical questions in particular in the fields of ontology, ethics, epistemology, logic, mathematics, and the philosophy of consciousness. Based on the close reading of key texts in translation such as the canonical Āyāraṃga, the Tattvārthasūtra of Umāsvāti, and the Samayasāra of Kundakunda, the course familiarises students with the distinct contribution of Jaina philosophers to Indian philosophy, in particular to the development ethics of non-violence, ahiṃsā, and philosophical perspectivism, anekāntavāda.

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.
  • 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.


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