School of History, Religions and Philosophies & Centre of Jaina Studies

Kānjī Svāmī: History, Teachings, Community

The Centre of Jaina Studies has launched a new research project on the impact of the 20th century Jaina philosopher Kānjī Svāmī and his followers. The project was made possible by generous donations of members of the global Kānjī Svāmī community.


The project centres upon the teachings of Kānjī Svāmī (1890–1980), a Digambara Jain lay reformer active in mid-20th century Gujarat, and has since attracted a global following with established centres in India and among diaspora communities across Australia, Belgium, Kenya, Singapore, Uganda, the UK, and the USA. The research aims to provide a detailed overview of the history, philosophy, religious practices, and organisation of this recently developed Jaina school.

Kānjī Svāmī had much influence in India during his lifetime, attracting significant numbers of followers across the country, inspiring many to take vows of celibacy (brahmacarya) whilst still retaining the status of a householder - an indication of his overall rejection of institutionalised forms of monasticism and asceticism in favour of individual efforts to gain spiritual liberation through the self-experience of the soul (ātman).

Although the existing scholarship makes references to Kānjī Svāmī, to date there have been no academic studies dedicated to him or his followers in English, despite the global reach and the enduring appeal of the teachings he promulgated. Therefore it is the intention of the research to fill this gap in the scholarly literature and contribute to the wider, ongoing academic project at the CoJS of delineating the particularities of the different Jain schools, and sects, especially those of the Amūrtipūjaka Śvetāmbara traditions and of Jaina lay movements Digambara groups which have been neglected in the academic field of Jaina Studies.

The research will involve interviews and the collection of oral histories, observations, archival work, and textual analysis of primary sources to bring to light the nature and scope of Kānjī Svāmī’s philosophy and his legacy, in both philosophical and practical terms, for his followers and the wider Jaina tradition.

Further information



Start date: 01/10/2020. End date: 31/09/2023

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