Review of Die Erlösungslehre der Jainas

Posted: 30.10.2010
Updated on: 11.03.2015

International Journal of Jaina Studies
(Online) Vol. 6, No. 3 (2010) 1-4



The article is a review of Adelheid Mette’s second, substantially enlarged, edition of her work on the doctrine of the Jains, Durch Entsagung zum Heil (1991), on the basis of German translations from the main texts and commentaries.


Review of Die Erlösungslehre der Jainas

Adelheid Mette. Die Erlösungslehre der Jainas. Legenden, Parabeln, Erzählungen. Berlin: Verlag der Weltreligionen im Insel Verlag. 2010. 452 p. € 34.

It is a pleasing experience that after some twenty years German readers have become enough interested in Jinism, the ancient Indian religion of non-violence, to enable a much enlarged edition of Mette's previous Durch Entsagung zum Heil (1991) to be published now. In agreement with the principles of the Series of the Verlag der Weltreligionen inside the Insel Verlag there is no foreword in which it could have been said that the work just mentioned has an introduction and commentary appended to the translations, and that there are exact references of the source of the translations in the commentary only, but not beside the respective translation itself, nor a subject index.

Mette's translations and commentary aim at describing the doctrine of the soul of the Jains. For that reason the present arrangement of the subject matter and the addition of other texts from the point of view of the relationship of soul and body, and the severance of the former from the latter, was decided upon. As the ideal of the soul's deliverance from the circle of rebirths is shown at the example of Mahāvīra's life, the first chapter is called "Exemplarisches Leben – Leib und Seele", Exemplary Life - Body and Soul.

The Śvetāmbara Jain doctrine is clearly documented by well-chosen translations from the canonical literature and prominent mediaeval commentators. Other than the redaction of the Series (see above) scholars will find it practical to have a list of the exact references in alphabetical order with the pages in M(ette) in brackets, as in Mette (1991: 189ff.):

Aupapātikasūtra, ed. Leumann § 168f(ollowing)., 178-189 (M 191f.)

ĀvaśyakaBhāṣyā 36f. (M 170)

ĀvaśyakaCūrṇī 181,4-13 (M 183f.)

do 382,14-384,1 (M 184,31-186,28)

do 386,14-387,14 (M 66f.)

do 389,7-390,7 (M 186-8)

do 465,7-466,9 (M 137-9)

ĀvaśyakaNiryukti 350-59 (M 170f.)

Āvaśyakasūtra 2 (M 189f.)

do 3 (M 169f.)

Āvaśyaka with Haribhadra's commentary 153,6-155,10 (M 170f.)

do 352a3-353a5 (M 137-9)

do 491a-510b (M 189f.)

do 546ab (M 169f.)

do 722a2-723a1 (M 177-9)

do 723a4-b4 (M 176f.)

do 799b5-800b4 (M 159f.)

Bṛhatkalpabhāṣya 295 with Malayagiri's commentary I 89,19-31 (M 123f.)

Dānâṣṭakakathā 159-161 (M 161-3)

Daśavaikālikasūtra I, 1-5 (M 168)

do III, 1-15 (M 166-8)

do VIII, 39 (M 74)

do VIII, 40cd (M 163)

DaśavCūrṇī p. 66f. (M 57)

DaśavNiryukti pp. 213-5 (M 56)

Haribhadra, see Samarâiccakahā

Jñātādharmakathāḥ 4 (M 163-5)

Kalpasūtra, Jinacaritra §§ 1-148 (M 11-55)

Kuvalayamālā 44,15 (M 74,24-27)

do 44,17-49,21 (M 75-81)

do 44,18f. (M 86,7-11)

do 44,29-32 (M 86,12-24)

do 49,22-56,10 (M 86-101)

do 56,12-64,13 (M 101-121)

do 64,14-26 (M 122f.)

do 88,30- 90,3 (M 70,25-74,10)

Lokaprajñapti 3,364-80 (M 58f.)

Lokaprakāśa 26, 849-90 (M 134-37)

Niśītha Cūrṇī and Bhāṣyā 1682-9 (M 172f.)

Nyāyâvatāra 31 (M 55)

PiṇḍaNiryukti with Malayagiri's commentary 139ab (M 171f.)

Samarâiccakahā, ed. Jacobi 107,2-109,11 (M 139-41)

do 154,5-160,10 (M 149-153)

do 160.11-161,5 (M 153f.)

do 161,5-162,8 (M 154f.)

do 162,8-15 (M 155f.)

do 162,16-167,4 (M 156-59)

do 165,2-9 (M 55)

do 389,16-391,6 (M 141f.)

do 391,10-395,6 (M 127-130)

do 793,17-802,11 (M 193-98)

Sūyagaḍa II 6,4 with Śīlâṅka's commentary (M 188f.)

Uttarâdhyayana I 13 with Devendra's commentary (M 174-6)

do X 1-3 (M 63)

do XII 1 with Śāntisūri's commentary (M 145f.)

do XIII 10; 21-25; 30-2; 34 (M 63-65)

do XXIII 45-48 (M 65)

Vasudevahiṇḍi 8,4-29 (M 68f.)

do 15,7-14 (M 57)

do 15,17-24 (M 70)

Viśeṣâvaśyaka-vṛtti of Hemacandra Maladhārin 608f. (M 142-4)

Vyākhyāprajñapti 15 §§ 60-71 (M 131-33)

Unlike its predecessor, themes of this book such as cosmic man, the soul in saṃsāra and Jinas, esp. Mallinātha, the female one, are illustrated by beautiful colour reproductions from manuscripts to which there is an extensive explanation on pp. 392- 411.

Different is also the addition of a Stellenkommentar, that is, 150 pages of notes on the translations. As these are in German, the Jain community will regrettably not take note of, e.g., 421 BCE as the plausible year of Mahāvīra's birth, when M. reminds the reader of this calculation in Jacobi's Kalpasūtra, though the latter author wrote 1879 in English. Some notes show the interestingness of the text such as when on p. 319f. the voyage of the parable of the man in the well from India via Syria and Georgia to Europe is depicted.

Other issues could have been further clarified, e.g., the meaning of fire in myths on p. 258, where a reference to Adalbert Kuhn's treatise Die Herabkunft des Feuers und des Göttertranks (Gütersloh, 1886; München, 1990) and to Mātariśvan as the Indian Prometheus would be welcome.

Further, the function of udumbari figs on p. 324 ad 72,2f. would require a reference to their many seeds, the germs of new life; and, in that connection, Prajāpati, the divinity presiding over procreation and protector of life, must be mentioned, who in the Vedic text Śatapathabrāhmaṇa 7,4,1,39 owns his vitality to the udumbara; see also J. J. Meyer's Trilogie altindischer Mächte und Feste der Vegetation. Zürich, 1937: I 154, that storehouse of not only Indological knowledge, which is still awaiting an English edition with a bibliography of the editions quoted. When women embrace figs they may become blessed with a child, as in Mahābhārata cr. ed. XIII 4,27 ṛtu-snātā ca sâśvatthaṃ tvaṃ ca vṛkṣaṃ udumbaram / pariṣvajethāḥ kalyāṇi tata iṣṭam avāpsyathaḥ //. The male tree acts here as a man. This passage could also serve M. (p. 325 ad 74,27) when "at watering the roots of rebirth" she says: "the poet thinks of a tree". Another reference for the association of a man with a tree is Hemacandra, Pariśiṣṭaparvan I 107, where a mother says of her son that he may thrive like a forest tree. Moreover, Sigmund Freud wrote about the man-tree relationship in his Zur Psychopathologie des Alltagslebens (Fischer Tb 68; 1954) Ch. III, p. 26.

As to the Glossar (pp. 424-26), reviewer would have preferred an exhaustive subject index in order to show the rich content of the book which instead is closed by another, more extensive, table of contents (p. 449f.) than the one on p. 7. As to this, once more the ideas of the authoress and of the publisher were at variance.

Books, too, as Horace told us long ago, have their fate. For unknown reasons Mette's work was printed without the authoress' imprimatur with the result that many printing errors remained. A list of errata can be found under Mette as Lehrbeauftragte in

© The Editor. International Journal of Jaina Studies 2010

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