Acharanga Bhasyam ► Introduction ► Foreword ► (1) Classification Of 'Āgamas'

Posted: 03.09.2010

Āgamas are the most ancient works in Jaina-literature. We find two versions of Āgamas in Samavāyāṅga - Dvādaśāṅga (Gaṇipiṭaka)[1] and Caturdaśa Pūrva.[2] In the Nandῑ Sūtra we get two divisions of Āgamas - (i) Aṅgapraviṣṭa and (ii) Aṅgabāhya.[3]

All references about the course of studies for the Jaina monks and nuns, which are found in Āgama-literature, are related to the eleven Aṅgas and fourteen Pūrvas. In these references we find numbers of monks and nuns such as Gautama, Padmāvatῑ, Kālῑ, Atimuktaka Kumāra etc. Some of them are known to be the disciples of Ariṣṭanemi and some of them in the order of Mahāvῑra.

There were 350 Caturdaśapurvῑ monks in the order of Bhagavān Pārśvanātha[4] and 300 in the order of Lord Mahāvῑra.[5]

In Samavāyāṅga and 'Anuyogadvara’ we do not find any mention or a separate section for Aṅgapraviṣṭa and Aṅgabāhya. However, we find this in the Nandī which is the oldest reference. Aṅgabāhya is the creation of later sthaviras. Many Aṅgabāhya works were written prior to the Nandῑ and their authorship can be attributed to Caturdaśapurvῑ or Daśapurvῑ sthaviras and therefore, they have been in the Āgama category. That was the reason that Āgama literature was divided into two sections viz. (a) Aṅgapraviṣṭa (b) Aṅgabāhya. This bifurcation seems to have been made post-Anuyogadvāra (sixth century after Vῑra-nirvāṇa).

We find mention about that for the first time in the Nandῑ (Tenth century after Vῑra-nirvāṇa). By the time the Nandῑ was written, the Āgama literature had been divided into three sections - (i) Pūrva (ii) Aṅgapraviṣṭa (iii) Aṅgabāhya.

Today only the latter two are available to us, while the former is not tracable.

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