SOAS University of London

Centre of Jaina Studies

20th Anniversary Jaina Studies Workshop: History and Current State of Jaina Studies

Jaina Workshop 2018 Image

Date: 24 March 2018Time: 9:00 AM

Finishes: 24 March 2018Time: 6:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Workshop


First Session: History of Digambara Literature and Philosophy

9.00 Tea and Coffee

9.15     Hampana Nagarajaiah (Bangalore, India)

Current Debates on the Influence of Jainism on Early Kannada Literature

9.45     Nalini Balbir (University of Paris, Sorbonne III)

Digambara Books of Discipline: A Study in Progress

10.15   Piotr Balcerowicz (University of Warsaw)

A Note on the Oeuvre of the ‘Collective Thinker’ Kundakunda. The Case of the Pañcâstikāya-saṅgraha (Paṁc’atthiya-saṁgaha)

10.45 Tea & Coffee

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First Session: History of Digambara Literature and Philosophy

Second Session: Braj Bhāṣā, Science and Technology in Jaina Studies

11.15  Adrian Plau (SOAS)

Rāmcand Bālak's Sītācarit – A 'New' Jain Rāmāyaṇa in Brajbhāṣā

11.45   Himal Trikha (University of Vienna)

Digital Corpus of Vidyānandin’s Works

12.15   Peter Flügel (SOAS)

The Jaina-Prosopography Database

12.40   Nalini Balbir & Peter Flügel

Book Launch: Jaina Studies. Select Papers from the Panel at Bangkok and Kyoto (Proceedings of the 16th World Sanskrit Conference, Bangkok 2015).

12.45   Group Photo

13.00   Lunch: Brunei Gallery Suite

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Second Session: Braj Bhāṣā, Science and Technology in Jaina Studies

Award Ceremony

14.00   International Prakrit Jñānabhāratī Award 2017, Shravanabelagola

Third Session: Brill’s Encyclopaedia of Jainism

14.15   Roundtable Discussion

John Cort, Paul Dundas, Kristi Wiley

Jayandra Soni (chair), Christine Chojnacki (discussant)

15.00   Tea & Coffee

Fourth Session: Jaina Studies and the Jaina Community
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Session 4: Jaina Studies and the Jaina Community

15.30   Shin Fujinaga (Miyakonojo, Miyazaki, Japan)

Paṇḍits and Monks in Jain Studies

16.00   Steven Vose (Florida International University, USA)

From Jainology to Jain Studies…and Back? Toward a Dialogic Approach to Scholarly Engagement with Jain Communities

16.30   Short Break

Fifth Session: Current State of Jaina Studies and Future Prospects

16.45   Roundtable Discussion

Hampana Nagarajaiah, Samaṇī Pratibhāprajñā, Olle Qvarnström, Jayandra Soni, Christine Chojnackib, Shin Fujinaga

John E. Cort (chair), Paul Dundas (discussant)

18.00   Final Remarks

Book of Abstracts

Digambara Books of Discipline: A Study in Progress

Nalini Balbir, Sorbonne III, University of Paris, France

While the canonical Śvetāmbara Chedasūtras have been the starting point of increased scholarship in the last decades, their Digambara counterparts are still very little-known. The present paper will explore these texts known as Chedapiṇḍa and Chedaśāstra written in Jain Śaurasenī Prakrit (edited by Pandit Pannalal Soni, published in MDJG 18.1921 under the collective title Prāyaścittasaṃgraha).

A Note on the Oeuvre of the ‘Collective Thinker’ Kundakunda. The Case of the Pañcâstikāya-saṅgraha (Paṃc’atthiya-saṃgaha)

Piotr Balcerowicz, University of Warsaw, Poland

After a brief sketch of methodology applied to analyse the contents and structural/historical layers of works ascribed to Kundakunda, the paper takes as an example the Paṃc’atthiya-saṃgaha. The examination reveals that the text is a compilation of three small works, each of which consisting of a number of historical layers spanning over a few centuries. The same approach can be applied to other works ascribed to Kundakunda, who should be taken as a collective author ‘Kundakunda’. The most probable compiler of the works which came to form the Paṃc’atthiya-saṃgaha was Amṛtacandra-sūri. Further, the paper discusses possible historical reasons beyond the popularity of ‘Kundakunda’ in Jainism.

Jainism and the Rāmāyaṇa

Eva de Clercq, University of Gent, Belgium

The Rāmāyaṇa is without a doubt one of the most influential stories in the history of the South Asian subcontinent. Jains too engaged with the story and composed their own versions of it. In view of the conference theme, this lecture will focus on different aspects of these Jain Rāmāyaṇas, and reflect on their significance for the history of Jain studies, on the one hand, and of Rāmāyaṇa studies, on the other, and on their intersection.

Roundtable Discussion on Brill’s Encyclopaedia of Jainism

John Cort (Denison University, USA), Paul Dundas (University of Edinburgh), Kristi Wiley (Berkeley, USA)

In their opening remarks, Cort, Dundas and Wiley, the three associate editors for the forthcoming Brill's Encyclopedia of Jainism, will address what the state of the field of Jain Studies looks like from their perspective of working on BEJ.

The Jaina-Prosopography Database

Peter Flügel, SOAS

One of the main desiderata in Jaina Studies is the investigation of the social history of the Jaina tradition. The Jaina mendicant tradition exerted a lasting influence on Indian culture and society. It emerged in Magadha some two and a half thousand years ago, and spread to most parts of South Asia. In the process, it segmented into numerous competing schools, sects, and lineages, in complex interaction with local social and political configurations. Some of these traditions have been short-lived, while others still exist today. Since the inception of Jaina Studies as an academic field in the 19th century, considerable advances have been made towards the reconstruction of the history of these mendicant traditions, particularly through the analysis of monastic chronicles and inscriptions. The social history of Jainism remains, however, imperfectly understood.  This is because the principal sources, a vast corpus of unpublished and published bio-bibliographical data, extracted from manuscripts and inscriptions, still await systematic investigation.

The need for interlinking the available, but scattered information on the itinerant Jaina ascetics, their lineages, networks, and relationships to followers and patrons has long been felt. A great number of catalogues and conspectuses of relevant primary sources have and are being produced in pursuit of this aim.  Yet, the only attempt systematically to pull together data from different published sources to date remains Johannes Klatt’s (2016) belatedly published Jaina-Onomasticon. Klatt’s work offers a comprehensive compilation of the information available up to 1892, but makes no attempt at cross-referencing and interlinking the assembled data through indexes, since the onomasticon itself is a kind of index. The links are also too numerous, and would have required the creation of a second, supplementary volume, which, as far as one can tell, was not planned. Klatt was mainly interested in producing a bio-bibliographical directory of individual names of persons, places, organisations, and literary works. His encyclopaedic list of proper names is accurately described as an Onomasticon. Due to the colossal amount of detailed information presented in this way, the work serves equally as a source book for Jaina collective biography as well as a proto-prosopography. 

The usefulness of meta-catalogues and meta-indexes, such as Klatt’s, for prosopographical research has only recently become apparent after the introduction of modern computer technology to Jaina Studies.  With the help of computers, the social and geographical contexts in which monastic lineages and support networks were formed, texts composed, temples and halls constructed, and socio-religious events arranged, can for the first time be systematically mapped out, and studied from different points of view, on the basis of already published meta-data, such as those collated by Klatt and subsequently produced catalogues of Jaina manuscripts and inscriptions, as well as the sizable biographical literature of the Jainas. A fresh look at this body of published data with the help of the new tool boxes of Digital Humanities has not been attempted as yet, though promising new analytical strategies abound.

In February 2017, a Leverhulme Trust Research Grant supported research project of the Centre of Jaina Studies at SOAS, Jaina-Prosopography: Monastic Lineages, Networks, and Patronage, commenced to explore the relationships between Jaina mendicant lineages and their supporters, focusing on the nexus of monastic recruitment, geographical circulation of monks and nuns, their biographies, literary works, and patterns of householder support and patronage of mendicant inspired religious ventures. The project is inspired by the overall vision to produce a comprehensive prosopographical database for the reconstruction of the social-history of the Jaina tradition. Electronic databases will permit the introduction of novel quantitative and qualitative sociological approaches to Jaina Studies, for instance for sociological analyses of the conjunction between monastic lineages and their social support networks, as documented in donative inscription and colophons of manuscripts, using network analysis, statistical methods, advanced digital technology and visualization techniques. It can be expected that computer-assisted prosopographical investigations will become an essential part of most future research in the socio-religious history of the Jaina tradition, once reliable and sufficiently populated databases have been produced.

The paper will present a work in progress report on the current development and future requirements of the Jaina-Prosopography Database, a new open access tool for anyone interested in Jaina Studies.

Paṇḍits and Monks in Jain Studies

Shin Fujinaga, Miyakonojo, Miyazaki, Japan

Activities of Jains began to be known to scholars in Europe and other parts of the world in the middle of 19th century. At the beginning of the following century Jaina Studies in India started to bloom and this has continued for ten decades. This flourishing of scholarship was brought about mainly through contributions of paṇḍits and monks. The fruits yielded by their endeavours were articles mainly written in Indian vernaculars and finely edited Sanskrit and Prakrit texts, published in numerous series. Some of them will be highlighted, namely, the paṇḍits M. K. Jain and D. D. Malvania, and Muni Jambūvijaya. The main aim of this paper is to explore how and why they were able to accomplish their brilliant and lasting achievements in various fields of Indology.

Current Debates on the Influence of Jainism on Early Kannada Literature

Hampana Nagarajaiah, Bangalore, India

Kannada, a Dravidian language, is one of the ancient and important literary languages in India. It has a script of its own. The history of Kannada language and literature is long and fascinating. The earliest cultivators of Kannada language were Jains. The oldest works of any extent and value that have come down to us are all from the pen of Jains. The period of Jains' predominance in the literary field may justly be called the 'Augustan Age of Kannada literature.'

Not surprisingly, for Kannada, Tamil and Telugu, the three major Dravidian south-Indian languages, the earliest known writers are Jains. In the history of Tamil language, among 89 earliest extant inscriptions from 3rd century BC to 3rd century CE, 85 are Jain records. Most of them are not long, and all of them speak of Jain monks and nuns. In fact some of the ascetics were familiar with Kannada and Karnataka. These details go to establish the hectic activities of Jaina elites who had started writing in the vernacular, from third and second century BC. In Kerala and Andhra also early records confirm Jaina vestiges. We cannot afford to be blind to a chain of instances supporting the early literary activities were led by Jaina literates. One of the earliest Marathi inscriptions, datable to 981CE, is found at the feet of 58.8 feet tall Bahubali colossus on the summit of bigger hill at Shravanabelagola.

But regrettably the importance of Kannada literature was not properly and systematically introduced outside the Kannada world. Such an objective account remained a desideratum for a long time. Some attempts were made by Rev. Ferdinand Kittel, E.P. Rice, and B.L. Rice in the first phase. Albeit, E.P. Rice failed to grasp the sap of Kannada poetry and literary tradition. He mislead non-Kannada readers into underestimating the mastery, originality and genius of Kannada literature. His contemporaries - B.L. Rice, Rev. Kittel etc., compensated for the void to an extent. However, the need to objectively assess the salient features and rarity of Kannada literature remained incomplete.

Admiringly overcoming the lacuna, Sheldon Pollock has remarkably narrated the history and described the core characteristics of Kannada literature. His insightful and absorbing rather graphic picture of Kannada literary world is extraordinary. He has successfully accomplished the task that was long due. The glory and singularity of the Kannada world - language, literature, culture, polity, religion, geography, royal dynasties, land and people in brief - was never presented and projected in this manner. The author has cast a floodlight eminently and done justice to Kannada and Karnataka. This will facilitate subsequent researchers. His vast and thorough study of classics and its political background needs no exaggeration.

This paper mainly deals with the subject with special reference to Sheldon Pollock's book ' Language of Gods in the World of Men'. The grandeur objective of this magnum opus is mainly the historical reconstruction of language, culture and polity across southern Asia where Sanskrit language spread with breath-taking rapidity and had its sway over vernaculars. In the process, SP has sketched out the vernacular revolution in the southern Asian world during the medieval period. His attempt to trace an undercurrent of a pan-Indian, quasi-global phenomenon in the historical and literary cultural development of South-Asian vernaculars in general and Karnataka in particular is obvious. He has almost chronologically outlined the literary-cultural transformation during the first millennium and following centuries in Karnataka. It is a stupendous task to cover local complexities. Sheldon Pollock's significant and seminal contribution needs no exaggeration. Albeit, some of his observations are debatable. This critique will focus on the issue.

Rāmcand Bālak's Sītācarit – A 'New' Jain Rāmāyaṇa in Brajbhāṣā

Adrian Plau, SOAS

The Sītācarit is a mid-17th century retelling in Brajbāṣā of the Jain Rāmāyaṇa composed by Rāmcand Bālak, a Digambar about whom we know next to nothing. Yet the manuscript evidence indicates that his Sītācarit was popular; multiple manuscripts from the 18th and 19th centuries are found in Digambara temple libraries across Western and Central India. The text itself is innovative in its reordering of the familiar Rāmāyaṇa narrative to emphasise Sītā' standing as a devout Jain laywoman, a mahāsatī, aesthetically daring in its free-flowing combination of metres and its embrace of everyday vernacular language usage, and arguably a significant epic narrative of early modern Hindi literature.

Yet like other larger Jain narratives in Brajbhāṣā, the Sītācarit has received little to no interest in the modern era and has till now never been available outside of the manuscript format. In this talk, I will draw on my forthcoming critical edition of the Sītācarit to highlight some of the composition's remarkable features and address what I perceive to be some of the cultural and historical assumptions that may have led to the lacking recognition of the position of Jain literature in Brajbhāṣā in both the Jain literary canon and in early modern Indian literature in general.

Digital Corpus of Vidyānandin’s Works

Himal Trikha, University of Vienna, Austria

The Digital Corpus of Vidyānandin's Works is a web application that provides digital resources for the study of the Sanskrit works of the 10th century Digambara philosopher Vidyānandin. In the current stage of development, the application can be used to search through the text of editions of these works, which add up to 1200 pages in Devanāgari script. In my presentation, I will first introduce central features of the search function of the application. I will then talk about future developments and their requirements. These include the identification and documentation of lemmata, quotations and parallel texts.

From Jainology to Jain Studies…and Back? Toward a Dialogic Approach to Scholarly Engagement with Jain Communities

Steven M. Vose, Florida International University, Miami, USA

“Lived religions” approaches have reshaped “Jainology” into “Jain Studies” over the last 30 years in the American academy. Focusing on the practices, statements, texts and objects which Jains themselves engage in and use, scholars argued these approaches better describe what it means to be Jain than previous studies that investigated doctrines, philosophies, etc. as found in canonical scriptures and intellectual works. Anthropological and historical studies of Jains have sought to describe the Jain traditions in ways recognizable to Jains themselves. However, some groups of Jains, especially those in the diaspora, have expressed uneasiness about the state and nature of this style of scholarship, expressing a preference for scholars to study Jainism rather than Jains themselves. That is, they would prefer scholars focus on the study of abstract doctrines and philosophies, especially as they may address contemporary global issues. This presents scholars of the “lived religions” approach with the ethical challenge of how to address the changing dynamics within Jain communities and between communities and scholars. Is it possible to do justice both to the demands of historicist and phenomenological studies while engaging with Jain community interests in scriptural and philosophical studies, which may be far from the everyday experiences of many other Jains? Attending to the problems of doing so may help scholars to recognize latent forms of Orientalism in our work, including ways that the lived religions approach remains predicated on a “world religions” epistemological model that has been heavily critiqued in recent studies. By refiguring the lived religions approach toward a dialogical model of writing and speaking, we may begin to develop an academic platform for engaging Jain communities’ interests in tenets, doctrines and philosophies as new forms of praxis. Such re-centering may help scholars of Jainism become more responsive to new gender and class dynamics that exist within Jain communities in India and in the diaspora, as we continue to ask the vital question of who has the power to represent Jains and Jainism. Such an approach could also help scholars to make concerns about gender and class audible and sensible to Jain communities looking to connect their tradition to cosmopolitan and diasporic contexts.

Free and open to all! Please register here.

Further information can be found on the SOAS Centre of Jaina Studies webpage.

Organiser: Dr Peter Flügel

Contact email:

Sponsor: JVB London, Shravanabelagola Matha and JivDaya Foundation (Dallas)