SOAS University of London

Centre of Jaina Studies

International Journal of Jaina Studies (IJJS) Archive 2005

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The Invention of Jainism: A Short History of Jaina Studies

Author: Peter Flügel
Year: 2005
Re-published with minor changes with permission of the editors of The Journal of Jaina Studies (Kyoto) Vol. 11; 1-19. 2005


The article provides a short summary of the institutional history of the new field of 'Jain Studies' in its historical and political context. It shows that the Sanskrit term 'Jaina' used as a self-designation (rather than as the designation of a doctrine or in the sense of 'pertaining to the Jina') is based on the vernacular precursor 'Jain' which became prevalent from the early modern period onwards - most likely as an internalised observer category. The words 'Jain' and 'Jainism' became widely used only in the context of 19th communal movements in colonial India. At the same time the Jain scriptures were published to back the identity claims of the Jaina law movement and modern 'Jainism' as a disembodied text-based set of idea-ologies or dogmas from which one can pick and chose was born.

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