The Śvētāmbara (/ʃwɛˈtʌmbərə/; Sanskrit: श्वेतांबर or श्वेतपट śvētapaṭa; also spelled Svetambar, Shvetambara, Shvetambar, Swetambar or Shwetambar) is one of the two main branches of Jainism, the other being the Digambara. Śvētāmbara "white-clad" is a term describing its ascetics' practice of wearing white clothes, which sets it apart from the Digambara "sky-clad" Jainas, whose ascetic practitioners go naked. Śvētāmbaras, unlike Digambaras, do not believe that ascetics must practice nudity.[1]

Śvētāmbaras also believe that women are able to obtain moksha. Śvētāmbaras maintain that the 19th Tirthankara, Māllīnātha, was a woman.


The Śvētāmbara tradition follows the lineage of Sthulabhadra. The Kalpa Sūtra mentions some of the lineages in ancient times. The Śvētāmbara monastic orders are branches of the Vrahada Order, which was founded in 937 CE. The most prominent among the classical orders today are the Kharatara (founded 1024 CE), the Tapa Gaccha (founded 1228 CE) and the Tristutik Gaccha.

A major dispute was initiated by Lonka Shaha, who started a movement opposed to idol worship in 1476. The Sthānakavāsī and Terapanth orders are branches of this movement.

Major reforms by Vijayananda Suri of the Tapa Order in 1880 led a movement to restore orders of wandering monks, which brought about the near-extinction of the Yati institutions. Rajendrasuri restored the śramaṇa organization of the Tristutik Gaccha.

Some Śvētāmbara monks and nuns cover their mouth with a white cloth or muhapatti to practise ahimsa even when they talk. By doing so they minimize the possibility of inhaling small organisms.


Tirth Pat on display at Prince of Wales museum, Mumbai

The Śvētāmbara sect was divided into different orders. First some saints left Śvētāmbara sect to form the Lonka sect in 1474,, which eventually led to forming of the Sthānakavāsī in 1653. In 1760, thirteen Saints started their own order called the Terapanth.[2]

So now at present there are three orders in the Śvētāmbara sect: Murtipujaka (Deravasi), Sthānakavāsī and Terapanth. The Sthānakavāsī believe in praying to Saints rather than to an idol in a temple, the same philosophy is carried on by the Terapanth. Other difference between Deravasi Jains and Sthānakavāsī Jains is that the saints (monks) of Deravasi do not wear a muhapatti near their mouth to cover it, they hold it in hand. Sthānakavāsī and Terapanthi saints wear muhapatti held in place by white cotton thread tied to their ears. They do not keep Idols in their Jain temples but pray and bow to the Pancha Mahamantar. The Murtipujakas keep idols of the tīrthaṅkaras at their temples and worship them.

See also


  1. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 45.
  2. ^ http://www.jainworld.com/jainbooks/antiquity/svetsubs.htm


  • Mary Pat Fisher, Living Religions (5th Edition) (2003), p. 130
  • Dundas, Paul (2002) [1992], The Jains (Second ed.), Routledge, ISBN 0-415-26605-X

External links


Ācharya Bhadrabahu (c. 367 - c. 298 BCE) was, according to the Digambara sect of Jainism, the last Shruta Kevalin (all knowing by hearsay, that is indirectly) in Jainism (the other sect, Śvētāmbara, believes the last Shruta Kevalin was Acharya Sthulabhadra, but was forbade by Bhadrabahu from disclosing it). He was the last acharya of the undivided Jain sangha. He was the last spiritual teacher of Chandragupta Maurya.According to the Digambara sect of Jainism, there were five Shruta Kevalins in Jainism - Govarddhana Mahamuni, Vishnu, Nandimitra, Aparajita and Bhadrabahu.


Digambara (; "sky-clad") is one of the two major schools of Jainism, the other being Śvētāmbara (white-clad). The word Digambara (Sanskrit) is a combination of two words: dig (directions) and ambara (dress), referring to those whose garments are of the element that fills the four quarters of space. Digambara monks do not wear any clothes. The monks carry picchi, a broom made up of fallen peacock feathers (for clearing the place before walking or sitting), kamandalu (a water container made of wood), and shastra (scripture).

One of the most important scholar-monks of Digambara tradition was Kundakunda. He authored Prakrit texts such as the Samayasāra and the Pravacanasāra. Other prominent Acharyas of this tradition were, Virasena (author of a commentary on the Dhavala), Samantabhadra and Siddhasena Divakara. The Satkhandagama and Kasayapahuda have major significance in the Digambara tradition.

Jain Agamas

Agamas are texts of Jainism based on the discourses of the tirthankara.

The discourse delivered samavasarana (divine preaching hall) is called Śhrut Jnāna and comprises eleven angas and fourteen purvas. The discourse is recorded by Ganadharas (chief disciples), and is composed of twelve angas (departments). It is generally represented by a tree with twelve branches. This forms the basis of the Śvētāmbara Jaina Agamas or canons. These are believed to have originated from Rishabhanatha, the first tirthankara.The earliest versions of Jain Agamas known were composed in Ardhamagadhi Prakrit. Agama is a Sanskrit word which signifies the 'coming' of a body of doctrine by means of transmission through a lineage of authoritative teachers.

Jain monasticism

Jain monasticism refers to the order of monks and nuns in the Jain community. The term nirgrantha ("bondless") was used for Jain monks in the past. The monastic practices of two major sects (Digambara and Śvētāmbara) vary greatly, but the major principles of both are identical.

Jain schools and branches

Jainism is an Indian religion which is traditionally believed to be propagated by twenty-four spiritual teachers known as tirthankara. Broadly, Jainism is divided into two major schools of thought, Digambara and Svetambara. These are further divided into different sub-sects and traditions. While there are differences in practices, the core philosophy and main principles of each sect is same.


Jainism (), traditionally known as Jain Dharma, is an ancient, trans-theistic, universal, dharmic religion, with the worldview as described in Pravachanasara and Tattvartha Sutra. Followers of Jainism are called "Jains", a word derived from the Sanskrit word jina (victor) and connoting the path of victory in crossing over life's stream of rebirths through an ethical and spiritual life. Jains consider their religion to be eternal (sanatan), and trace their history through a succession of 24 victorious saviours and teachers known as tirthankaras, with the first in current time cycle being Rishabhanatha, who according to Jain tradition lived millions of years ago, twenty-third being Parshvanatha in 8th century BCE and twenty-fourth being the Mahāvīra around 500 BCE. Jains believe that Jainism is an eternal dharma with the tirthankaras guiding every cycle of the Jain cosmology.

The main religious premises of Jainism are ahiṃsā (non-violence), anekāntavāda (many-sidedness), aparigraha (non-attachment) and asceticism. Devout Jains take five main vows: ahiṃsā (non-violence), satya (truth), asteya (not stealing), brahmacharya (celibacy or chastity), and aparigraha (non-attachment). These principles have impacted Jain culture in many ways, such as leading to a predominantly vegetarian lifestyle that avoids harm to animals and their life cycles. Parasparopagraho Jīvānām (the function of souls is to help one another) is the motto of Jainism. Ṇamōkāra mantra is the most common and basic prayer in Jainism.Jainism has two major ancient sub-traditions, Digambaras and Śvētāmbaras; and several smaller sub-traditions that emerged in the 2nd millennium CE. The Digambaras and Śvētāmbaras have different views on ascetic practices, gender and which Jain texts can be considered canonical. Jain mendicants are found in all Jain sub-traditions except Kanji Panth sub-tradition, with laypersons (śrāvakas) supporting the mendicants' spiritual pursuits with resources.

Jainism has between four and five million followers, with most Jains residing in India. Outside India, some of the largest Jain communities are present in Canada, Europe, Kenya, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Suriname, Fiji, and the United States. Major Jain festivals include Paryushana and Daslakshana, Mahavir Jayanti, and Diwali.


Kasayapahuda (Kāsāyapahuḍa) (also Kasayaprabhrta) is one of the oldest canonical text of the Digambara Jains. Another oldest canonical text, the Shatkhandagama was written about the same time. Both these texts are held in high esteem by the Digambaras. Kasaya (passions) form the subject matter of Kasayapahuda.

List of Jain monks

This is a list of Jain ascetics. The list include the names of ascetics who are known for their contributions to Jain philosophy and Jainism in general.

Indrabhuti Gautama

Bhadrabahu, c. 4th century BCE. Last acharya of undivided Jain sangha.

Kundakunda- 1st century BCE

Sudharma Swami

Umaswati- Author of the Jain text, Tattvarthsutra


Acharya Mahashraman (IAST: Ācārya Mahāśramaṇa) (born 13 May 1962) is the eleventh Acharya, supreme head of Jain Śvētāmbara Terapanth sect. Mahashraman ji heads all activities functioning under Terapanth organisation, most notably Anuvrat, Preksha Meditation, Jeevan Vigyan (Science Of Living). All the Terapanth sub-organisations, notably Jain Vishva Bharati, Terapanth Mahasabha, etc. are working under the guidance of Acharya Shri Mahashraman.He has five brothers and two sisters. His brothers names are Sujanmal Dugar, Amarchand Dugar, Keshrichand Dugar, Suraj Dugar, Shrichand Dugar and two sisters Ratnidevi Bothra and Surjidevi Nakhat.


Parshvanatha (Pārśvanātha), also known as Parshva (Pārśva) and Paras, was the 23rd of 24 tirthankaras (ford-makers or propagators of dharma) of Jainism. He is one of the earliest tirthankaras who are acknowledged as historical figures. Parshvanatha's biography is uncertain, with Jain sources placing him between the 9th and 8th centuries BCE and historians saying that he lived in the 8th or 7th century BCE (around 877 BCE). Parshvanatha was born 350 years before Mahavira. With Mahavira, Rishabhanatha and Neminatha, Parshvanatha is one of the four tirthankaras most worshiped by Jains. He is popularly seen as a ford-maker, who removes obstacles and can save. Parshvanatha died on Mount Sammeta (Madhuban, Jharkhand) in the Ganges basin, an important Jain pilgrimage site. His iconography is notable for the serpent hood over his head, and his worship often includes Dharanendra and Padmavati (Jainism's serpent god and goddess).

According to Jain texts, Parshvanatha was born in Benares (Varanasi), India. Renouncing worldly life, he founded an ascetic community. Texts of the two major Jain sects (Digambaras and Śvētāmbaras) differ on the teachings of Parshvanatha and Mahavira, and this is a foundation of the dispute between the two sects. The Digambaras believe that there was no difference between the teachings of Parshvanatha and Mahavira. According to the Śvētāmbaras, Mahavira expanded Parshvanatha's first four restraints with his ideas on ahimsa (non-violence) and added the fifth monastic vow (celibacy). Parshvanatha did not require celibacy, and allowed monks to wear simple outer garments. Digambaras disagree with Śvētāmbara interpretations. Śvētāmbara texts, such as section 2.15 of the Acharanga Sutra, say that Mahavira's parents were followers of Parshvanatha (linking Mahavira to a preexisting theology as a reformer of Jain mendicant tradition). But Digambar sect denies this. If Parshvanatha chose the path of celibacy then it is illogical to say he gave just four vows and Mahavira added a fifth.


Paryushana is the most important annual holy events for Jains and is usually celebrated in August or September in Hindi calendar Bhadrapad Month's Shukla Paksha. It lasts 8 days for Swetambara and 10 days for Digambara sect of Jains. Jains increase their level of spiritual intensity often using fasting and prayer/meditation to help. The five main vows are emphasized during this time. There are no set rules, and followers are encouraged to practice according to their ability and desires.

Normally, Digambaras refer it as Das Lakshana Dharma while Śvētāmbaras refer to it as Paryushana ("abiding" or "coming together"). The duration of Paryushana is for eight days for Śvētāmbara Jains and ten days for Jains belonging to the Digambara sect. The festival ends with the celebration of Samvatsari or Kshamavani (forgiveness day).


Pratikramana (Sanskrit: प्रतिक्रमण; also spelled Pratikraman) (lit. "introspection"), is a ritual during which Jains repent (prayaschit) for their sins and non-meritorious activities committed knowingly or inadvertently during their daily life through thought, speech or action.

Pratikramana also refers to a combition of six avashyaks (essential rituals), being Samayik (state of total equanimity), Chauvisantho (honoring the 24 Tirthankars), Vandana – (offering salutations to sadhus (monks) and sadhvis (nuns)), Pratikramana (introspection and repentance), Kayotsarga (meditation of the soul) and Pratyakhyan (renunciation).

Although frequency of repenting varies, devout Jains often practice Pratikraman at least twice a day. It is one of the 28 primary attributes (mūla guņa) of both Śvētāmbara and Digambara monks.


According to the Jain cosmology, the śalākāpuruṣa (Sanskrit: शलाकपुरूष) "illustrious or worthy persons" are 63 illustrious beings who appear during each half-time cycle. They are also known as the triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣa (63 illustrious persons). The Jain universal or legendary history is a compilation of the deeds of these illustrious persons. Their life stories are said to be most inspiring.The śalākāpuruṣa comprise 24 Tirthankaras (Teaching Gods), twelve Chakravartin (universal monarchs, emperors of six continents), nine Balabhadras (gentle heroes), nine Narayanas (warrior heroes) and nine Prati-narayanas (anti-heroes). According to Jain cosmology, time is without beginning and eternal. The Kālacakra, the cosmic wheel of time, rotates ceaselessly. The wheel of time is divided into two half-rotations, Utsarpiṇī or ascending time cycle and Avasarpiṇī, the descending time cycle, occurring continuously after each other. Utsarpiṇī is a period of progressive prosperity and happiness where the time spans and ages are at an increasing scale while the Avasarpiṇī is a period of increasing sorrow and immorality with decline in time spans of the epochs. During each such time cycle, these 63 illustrious persons appear and establish the religion and order in society. According to Jain cosmology, since time is eternal, infinite kalacakras have elapsed and will occur in future and hence infinite sets of these 63 illustrious persons have appeared, and will appear, to establish order and religion in their respective eras.


Sthulabhadra (297–198 BCE) was a disciple of Bhadrabahu. The Śvētāmbara tradition of Jainism trace their lineage through Sthulabhadra.


Sthānakavāsī is a sect of Śvētāmbara Jainism founded by a merchant named Lavaji in 1653 AD. It believes that idol worship is not essential in the path of soul purification and attainment of Nirvana/Moksha. The sect is essentially a reformation of the one founded on teachings of Lonkashah, a fifteenth-century Jain reformer. Sthanakavasins accept thirty-two of the Jain Agamas, the Svetambara canon. Svetambarins who are not Sthanakavasins are mostly part of the Murtipujaka sect.

Tattvartha Sutra

Tattvartha Sutra (also known as Tattvarth-adhigama-sutra) is an ancient Jain text written by Acharya Umaswati, sometime between the 2nd- and 5th-century AD. It is the one of the Jain scriptures written in the Sanskrit language. Tattvartha Sutra is also known in Jainism as the Moksha-shastra (Scripture describing the path of liberation).

The Tattvartha Sutra is regarded as one of the earliest, most authoritative text in Jainism, and the only text authoritative in both the Digambara and Śvētāmbara sects. Its importance in Jainism is comparable with that of the Brahma Sutras and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in Hinduism. It is a text in sutra or aphorisms, and presents the complete Jainism philosophy in 350 sutras over 10 chapters. The term Tattvartha is composed of the Sanskrit words tattva which means "reality, truth" and artha which means "nature, meaning", together meaning "nature of reality".One of its sutras, Parasparopagraho Jivanam is the motto of Jainism. Its meaning is interpreted as "(The function) of souls is to help one another", or "Souls render service to one another".


Uttaradhyayana or Uttaradhyayana Sutra is a Śvētāmbara text said to be one of the final set lectures given by Lord Mahavira before his liberation. The Uttaradhyayana points to the fact that nudity distinguished Mahavira's monks from those of Parshvanatha (UttS 23).


Vyākhyāprajñapti (Sanskrit: व्याख्याप्रज्ञप्ति "Exposition of Explanations"), commonly known as the Bhagavati Sūtra (भगवतीसूत्र), is the fifth of the 12 Jain Agamas said to be promulgated by Mahāvīra. The Vyākhyāprajñapti is said to have been composed by Sudharmaswami by the Śvētāmbara school of Jainism; it is written in Jain Prakrit. It is the largest text of the canon, said to contain 36,000 questions answered by Mahavira. The subject matter of the answers ranges from doctrine to rules of ascetic behaviour.

Śvētāmbara Terapanth

Terapanth is a religious sect of Śhewtāmbara Jainism. It was founded by Muni Bhikhan (Bhikshu Swami), who later became Acharya Bhikshu. Bhikshu was originally a member of the Sthānakavāsī order and was initiated by Acharya Raghunatha. But he had differences with his guru on several aspects of religious practices of the Sthanakvasi order and left it.He stressed on Agam principles and started the practice on his own with 5 monks On Vikram Samvat 1817 (28 June 1760) at Kelwa, a small town in Udaipur district of Rajasthan state, he founded the new Śvētāmbara Terapanthi order.

The Terapanthi order is strongly aniconic and has lakhs of followers in many parts of the world.Bhikshu stressed 13 religious principles, namely, (i) five Mahavratas (great vows), (ii) five samitis (regulations) and (iii) three Guptis (controls or restraints). His order was therefore known as the Terapantha or "thirteen-panthan". He wrote his Letter of Conduct in Rajasthani and it remains the central organising doctrine of the Terapanthi. Bhikshu did tapasya in family house of Maniklalji Somavath in his last breath at Siriyari Rajasthan. Somavatha family retains the place even today.

The practice of one leader regulating the entire order is a unique feature Terapanthi Jainism. The current leader is the eleventh, Acharya Mahasharman.

The Terapantha regularly observes a festival known as Maryada Mahotasava "Festival of Conduct". This distinctive festival is celebrated every year on the 7th day of the bright half of the month of Magha by ascetics and śrāvakas (layfolk).

The following is the chronological list of Acharyas of Śvētāmbara Terapanth

(1760-1803) Acharya Bhikshu

(1803-1821) Acharya Bharmal

(1821-1851) Acharya Raichand

(1851-1881) Acharya Jeetmal

(1881-1892) Acharya Maghraj

(1892-1897) Acharya Manaklal

(1897-1909) Acharya Dalchand

(1909-1936) Acharya Kalugani

(1936-1996) Acharya Tulsi

(1996-2010) Acharya Mahapragya Acharya mahapragya smadhi in sardarshahr (churu)

(2010- Now) Acharya MahashramanThe following is the chronological list of Head Nuns of Śvētāmbara Terapanth

(V.S. 1910-1927) Sadhvi Pramukha Sardaraji

(V.S. 1927-1942) Sadhvi Pramukha Gulabaji

(V.S. 1942-1954) Sadhvi Pramukha Navlaji

(V.S. 1954-1981) Sadhvi Pramukha Jethanji

(V.S. 1981-1993) Sadhvi Pramukha Kankunvarji

(V.S. 1993-2003) Sadhvi Pramukha Jhamkuji

(V.S. 2003-2027) Sadhvi Pramukha Ladaji

(V.S. 2028- Now) Sadhvi Pramukha Kanakprabhaji

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