SOAS University of London

Centre of Jaina Studies

International Journal of Jaina Studies

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Nāth and Dādūpanthī Critique of Jains

Author: Monika Horstmann

Year: 2017

ISSN: 1748-1074

International Journal of Jaina Studies (Online) Vol. 13, No. 1 (2017) 1-72

In sixteenth- und seventeenth-century Rajasthan, Nāth and Sant authors of vernacular compositions were ardent critics of beliefs and practices that did not share their form of monism averring the interior unity of Self and self and consequently rejecting iconic worship. Amongst many others, invariably Jains qualified as their target. Their critique focused particularly on the figure of the yati, the Śvetāmbara ascetic. Underlying this were ancient clichés that kept being updated so that it is to be cautioned against attempting to extrapolate from these to reality. Nonetheless it can be argued the particularly the Sant critique of the Jains was bitter because Jain ascetics relied on  merchant-caste patrons whose attention was also courted by Sant monks. Two critiques are analyzed in this essay, one by the Nāth Siddha Prithīnāth (second half of the 16th cent.) and the other by the Dādupanthī Rajab (17th cent.).

The persistence of the polemic stance against Jains as it forms a literary convention may obfuscate that a more conciliatory stance prevailed in reality. This is illustrated by the fact that from the Sant spectrum Dādūpanthīs and Nirañjanīs engaged with the writings of the Jain merchant-caste intellectual Banārsīdās. This is testified to by manuscripts from the turn of the 18th century on. A social trajectory of Sant interest in Banārsīdās may have been formed by the merchant-caste patrons of both these groups.

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