Jaina Studies Section of the 15th World Sanskrit Conference

Posted: 09.05.2017
Updated on: 05.06.2017

Centre of Jaina Studies Newsletter: SOAS - University of London


The International Association of Sanskrit Studies (IASS) has been organising a World Sanskrit Conference (WSC) almost every 3 years since 1972 when it was first held in Delhi. These conferences cover the spectrum of Sanskrit matters in its many areas of the written and spoken language. The 15th WSC was held in India again (for the fourth time) from 5–10 January 2012, jointly organised with the deemed university Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Delhi.

It was a huge assembly of pandits,  grammarians and philologists, Sanskrit writers and scholars whose research language is Sanskrit. More than a 1,000 delegates came to the conference and about 500 speakers delivered papers in 20 topically differentiated  sections, such as grammar, linguistics, Buddhist Studies, Jaina Studies, philosophy, and modern Sanskrit Studies. Apart from this there were 12 individual panels, such as models and theories in Sanskrit grammar and linguistics, Tāntric/Āgamic traditions, and Yoga in Indian philosophy.1 Many papers were read and discussed in Sanskrit, thus demonstrating that Sanskrit is indeed an actual way of expressing, conveying and exchanging ideas, a form of thinking and thus a 'form of life'.

This lively presence of Sanskrit at the conference was also clearly evident in the six Jaina sessions of the section called Jainavidyā, chaired by Jayandra Soni, Jitendra B. Shah, Peter Flügel and Nalini Balbir. Especially the papers read in Sanskrit evoked very animated discussions in Sanskrit itself. On the whole, it was remarkable how the audience participated actively in the discourse. A great variety of topics, ranging from logic to world peace were approached and discussed. Some papers dealt with rather general aspects, and some were surveys and overviews. Detailed analyses and comparative research in the field of literature, philosophy and ritual enriched the actual state of research in Jaina Studies. In all there were no less than 17 presentations on Jaina topics, which are briefly described as follows.

Dharmendra Jain (Jaina-Paramparāyāṃ RāṣṭraBhāvanā-Tattvam) reflected on the traditional Jaina rules of conduct with respect to the welfare of society.

Rajnish Shukla (Non-violence and World Peace of Mahāvīra) and Anekant Kumar Jain (World Peace and Non-violence with Special Reference to Prākṛta and Sanskrit Jaina Literature) related the central postulate of ahiṃsā to global conditions and the human predicament.

Dharm Chand Jain (Jodhpur)

Anita Jain (Jaina-darśanānusāraṃ Manaḥ-stairyaprabandham) discussed the postulate of the 'firmness of the mind', stressed its  significance in the materialistic world and pointed out that prekṣā meditation could be a means of achieving this mental state.

Roopa Chavda (Kṛṣṇa-carita in Jaina Tradition) traced the place and role of the Vāsudeva myths in Jaina 'world-history' and drew some comparisons to the features of the Kṛṣṇa myths in the other Indian religious traditions.

Eva De Clercq (The Jaina Perception of Kalki) drew extensively from different literary accounts of the Kalki myth, and focussed on a type of myth-absorption contrary to that of the Kṛṣṇa myths. The avatāra Kalki stands for destructive tyrants who are responsible for the persecution of Jaina munis and are symptomatic for the decline of the Jaina teachings and the community in the Jaina Kali-yuga.

Pratik Dutta (The Mīmāṃsaka and the Naiyāyika Critique on the Theory of Sarvajña of Jaina Philosophy) explained the Jaina replies to arguments against the Jaina concept of the omniscient one, criticised by the Bhāṭṭamīmāṃsakas based on a discussion of inference and by the Naiyāyikas on a speculation about eternal liberation.

Dharm Chand Jain delineated in his presentation (Concept of Śrutajñāna) the cognition based on 'hearing the word', the various kinds of scriptural knowledge and their differentiation from the types of matijñāna.

Sapna Jain (Theory of Matter in Jaina Philosophy) gave an overview of the Jaina notion of parts and their relations with regard to the constitution of the material world.

Kuldip Kumar (Jaina-darśane Pramāṇa-vicāraḥ) dealt with the direct and indirect means of knowledge (pratyakṣa and parokṣa) which are basic to Jaina epistemology, drawing from the systematic expositions of Umāsvāti, Samantabhadra, Akalaṅka and Māṇikyanandin.

Nalini Balbir (Paris)

Jayandra Soni (Marburg)

Himal Trikha (Competing World Views: Perspectivism and Polemics in the Satya-śāsana-parīkṣā and Other Jain Works) acclaimed the epistemic pluralism of the Jainas with special reference to Vidyānandin who established a method of falsification. This method systematically refutes inappropriate perspectives in order to arrive at appropriate perspectives, e.g. manifold different views.

Kamlesh Kumar Jain (Jaina-darśane śabdasya Paudgalikatva-pratipādanam) discussed the central position of the concept of 'word' in the different schools as well as in Jaina thought. He analysed its 'materiality' from the Jaina point of view, insofar as 'word' is related to ākāśa or space.

Pramod Kumar Siṃha (Jaina-darśane Pramāṇasvarūpam) began with the definition of pramāṇa in Samantabhadra's Āptamīmāṃsā and elaborated the point that in Jainism a valid means of right knowledge is knowledge that is non-contradictory (avisaṃvādisamyag-jñānam) and a knowledge of things as they are (yathārtha).

Jagat Ram Bhattacharyya (An Introduction to the Original Praśna-vyākaraṇa) talked about the original manuscript of the Praśna-vyākaraṇa, the discovery of which was announced in 2007 by Divakar Acharya. This manuscript, which may in fact be the original 10th Aṅga of the Jaina canon, reveals quite different themes from those known through existing editions. The manuscript shows that it contains what the title suggests, namely queries asked in divination sessions.

Marie-Hélène Gorisse (Specifying Rules of Use for Universal Concomitance from Prabhācandra's Characterisation of Inference) imparted her research findings regarding logical concerns in the processes of inference, which is seen as a science of relations propounded by Prabhācandra. In combining ancient Indian epistemology with present day western logic, she formulated rules for the inferential process; Prabhācandra's analysis was proposed as a way of gaining new knowledge.

Peter Flügel (Karmic and Natural Causality in Jaina Philosophy) examined the ontological status of dead matter in connection with the veneration of bone relics. On the basis of Jaina doctrinal evidence on pariṇāma he suggested that the value of venerated bone relics lies, if at all, in their unique physical attributes, and not, as cultural science generally holds, in the presumed presence of the deceased.

Shalin Jain (Piety, Laity and Royalty in Early Medieval India) drew on rich sources of literature, epigraphy, ritual and art, in particular of the Kharataragaccha, in order to show the interrelatedness and the interactions of regional urban Jaina communities with their respective early medieval states. He stressed the mutual dependence of all social, cultural and religious expressions and their strong significance in the political realm.

The Jaina sessions were embedded in an optimal surrounding, since the venue, Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi, is well equipped for such a huge undertaking. The wider frame of an encompassing World Sanskrit Conference made it possible to meet scholars of other areas. The legendary Indian hospitality was indeed very real, in as far as not only tea but also lunch and dinner were provided every day. The tight schedule, punctuality, the regular delicious meals and the daily cultural programmes kept most people together for almost a week and facilitated communication as such in an exceptional way.

Gītagovindam in Maṇipurī Rāsa One programme in the five-day festival of Sanskrit theatre, organized by the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, concurrent with the Conference

Luitgard Soni has a PhD from the University of Salzburg, and studied Sanskrit,  Indian Philosophy and Hindi at the Banaras Hindu University. She has been affiliated to the Department of Indology at the Universitiy of Marburg since 1992, teaching and researching mainly Jaina literature.

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CoJS Newsletter • March 2012 • Issue 7