13th Jaina Studies Workshop At SOAS ►Jain Narratives ►Abstracts

Posted: 20.06.2011
Updated on: 13.01.2015

Jaina Narratives

Date: 18 March 2011
Time: 9:00 AM

Finishes: 18 March 2011
Time: 6:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery
Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Workshop

Letter from the Chair

Dear Friends,

The theme of this year’s CoJS workshop, Jaina Narratives, proves to be popular across disciplines. Narratives are no longer the sole domain of philologists, but of growing interest to historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, art historians and scholars of religions. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the V&A Jaina Art Fund and by well wishers who prefer to remain anonymous, this year’s workshop promises to be another rewarding event for members of the Jaina community and the interested general public who, in increasing numbers, enjoy the convivial atmosphere of our educative annual present writer.

The present issue of Jaina Studies contains reports on the numerous international and national academic conferences in 2010 that were dedicated to the study of Jainism. Research papers on Jainism also featured at conferences with a wider thematic focus which due to the constraint of space are not reported in this volume. For example, there were three contributions on Jaina logic at the conference Modern Formalisms for Pre-Modern Indian Logic and Epistemology, held in Hamburg in June 2010, convened by the mathematician Professor Benedikt Löwe of the Universiteit van Amsterdam, reflecting the continuously increasing global interest in Jaina Studies

Volume 6 also offers information on new research, including the current AHRC funded project Jaina Rituals of Death at SOAS. Reports on Jaina art exhibitions and collections feature the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Library, and the UC Berkeley Art Museum. Notably, Jaina art was displayed for the first time in China, in Shanghai, as part of the exhibition India: The Art of the Temple. The exhibition was curated by Dr Michael Willis of the British Museum, whose recent translation of the inscription on the Ambikā sculpture at the British Museum, reported in this issue, offers new avenues for the study of Jaina culture in the history of central India. The range of these reports further evinces that Jaina Studies, once a minority subject, not only continues to attract many bright minds, but also begins to draw the attention of a global audience.

Just at the moment when Jaina Studies is expanding as never before, the traditions of the field are jeopardised by yet another wave of cuts in the higher education sector. When SOAS austerity plans threatened to terminate its courses in Jaina Prakrit, Dr Renate Söhnen-Thieme stepped selflessly forward and sponsored the SOAS Paul Thieme Lectureship in Prakrit 2010-11, dedicated to the memory of her late husband, the great Sanskrit scholar Paul Thieme. Such idealism and spirit of cooperation and collaboration not least between between academics and Jaina communities that makes working in the field of Jaina Studies such a pleasant experience for everyone, was publicly reflected in the conveyance of the Prākta Jñānabhāratī International Award 2010 to Professors Nalini Balbir, Rajaram Jain and Adelheid Mette, which rightly highlights the importance of the study of Prakrit for Jaina Studies. In the same spirit, the significance of studying the Sthānakavāsī traditions was highlighted by the International Pārvatī Jain Award 2010 being offered to the present writer.

Last, but not least, I would like to point you to the latest print volume of the IJJS Online Vol. 4-6, published for the CoJS by Hindi Granth Karyalay in Mumbai, and to the forthcoming issues of the CoJS Jaina Studies Series published by Routledge Advances in Jaina Studies. Numerous other new publications in Jaina Studies are listed on the CoJS Website.

Peter Flügel


Jinas-to-be and Bodhisattvas: Paths to Perfection in Jain and Buddhist Rebirth Narratives
Naomi Appleton, Cardiff University

In this paper I will explore stories of past births of jinas in com­parison with their Buddhist counterparts, focusing on the role of intentionality and karma in the attainment of jinahood and buddhahood. The path to buddhahood is well-defined, begin­ning with a vow and progressing through distinct stages, and the long path is illustrated by hundreds of jātaka stories. In contrast, the karma that guarantees jinahood is bound a mere two births before that attainment, and the person who attracts that karma cannot do so willfully, nor is he aware of its be­ing bound; as a consequence there is no Jain equivalent to the ubiquitous Buddhist jātaka literature. The few stories of past births of jinas that we do have emphasize the inescapability of karma, for example we discover that even potential jinas cannot escape birth as a woman or in hell. This contrasts with the Bud­dhist understanding that the bodhisattva path is self-directed to avoid negative births and pursue perfections. A careful explora­tion of the sources reveals that early Buddhist and Jain rebirth narratives reflect the traditions' differing attitudes towards the mechanisms of karma and the ability of a person to direct their actions towards spiritual goals. Whilst Buddhist narratives em­phasize the importance of carefully intentioned actions, Jain re­birth stories highlight the inescapability of impersonal karmic forces that make immediate renunciation the only reasonable ambition.

The Marīci-Episode in the Āvaśyaka-Niryukti
Bansidhar Bhatt, University of Münster

We have to analyse here the Āv.Nir. vss. 146-450 with mūla-bhāsya vss. 1-45. It is a huge multi-structural block of 350 vers­es containing a mish-mash of various themes; e.g. descriptions of the kulakaras etc. in vss. 149-185, of the Rsabha-legend scattered in vss. 186-434 with additional themes like loka-sthiti ('world-condition'), description of 1-14 Jinas with some given topics (vss. 341-365), Bharata's questions and their replies by Rsabha (vss. 366-429 including interpolated sub-blocks of vss. 1-17 and vss. 416-421), etc. All such interpolated verses are interwoven in the Rsabha-legend (out of 350 vss. about 95 vss.) including the Marīci-episode (out of 350 vss. about 35 vss.)! The Marīci-episode is also scattered in the Rsabha-legend (vss. 186-434). We analyse the episode in its various contexts; e.g. Marīci as a previous existence of the 24th Jina, Mahāvīra; as a grandchild of the 1st Jina, Rsabha. We also discuss the aims of introducing the Rsabha-legend and the Marīci-episode, and a few interpolations in the latter; e.g. Marīci's heresy (vss. 350­361), etc. We also wish to show what part the legend and the episode play in some later biographical compositions of the Jainas.

From the Purānic Corpus to the Comic Strip: Narrative and Heroic Transformations in the Diwakar Chitra Katha (Jain Picture Stories) Series
Bradley M. Boileau, University of Ottawa

Written by Ācārya Hemacandra in the twelfth century CE, the Trisasfiśalākāpurusacaritra (TPC) is one of the most popular purānas (universal histories) and is still widely referenced to­day by Jains of both sects. This text from the Śvetāmbara cor­pus, the only one of its kind with an English translation, de­tails the lives of sixty-three mytho-historical individuals—the 24 Jinas (Spiritual Conquerors), 12 Cakravartins (Emperors), 9 Baladevas (Pious Laymen), 9 Vāsudevas (Half-Emperors), and 9 Prati-Vāsudevas (Half-Emperors and Adversaries of the Vāsudevas). While the last group of personages stand out as counter exemplars, each of these great men are praised for the particular heroics and virtues akin to their station and roles in this grand narrative and Jain tradition itself. Alongside these, the TPC is host to stories of the Mahāsatīs, i.e. great, virtuous women famed for their piety, chastity, and extraordinary feats of marital devotion. These characters, all together, represent a compendium of virtues (and anti-virtues) that serve as epitomic guidelines for contemporary lay and ascetic behaviour alike.

At present, the role of narrative education in the lives of Jains has been transformed through the use of newer and more acces­sible mediums, such as the western-styled comic book. The Di­wakar Chitra Katha (DCK), a 60-piece 'picture story' (comic book) series produced by the Mahavir Seva Trust in Mumbai, is a testament to the success of twentieth-century Jains in trans­figuring scriptural, purānic, and other kathā literature into this contemporary format. However, given the limited space and structure of the comic book medium, the stories present in them naturally appropriate traditional narratives in ways that accen­tuate certain episodes and omit others. Citing the TPC as the source for many of the volumes, the DCK series represents an opportunity to analyze how the Mahavir Seva Trust as a con­temporary Jain organization frames and re-constructs the narra­tives that comprise Hemacandra's famous work. This paper will draw on select narratives in both the TPC and DCK in answer­ing how these modern narrative transformations necessarily in­volve a reconfiguration of the heroic values represented by the main figures. It will do so by focusing on the narratives of the following four types of individuals: (1) Jinas, (2) Cakravartins, (3) Vāsudevas, and, finally, (4) Mahāsatīs.

Remodeling Jain Novels in Medieval Times: Means and Motivations
Christine Chojnacki, University of Lyon

Jains are well known for their composition, from the 8th Centu­ry onwards, of huge novels which testify that their authors were mastering Classical Indian poetical treatises as well as literary works, and were expert at using all the themes and means of the kavya genre. These works, which not only competed with the most renown works of the Hindu Literature such as Kādambari, but also made Jains stand out as a minority group, were very much admired inside the Jain community and their transmission was taken care of to such an extent that now nearly exclusively Jain novels attest the ongoing creativity in Indian Literature for the period spanning the 9th to12th centuries CE. However, at the same time that these works were transmitted (as shown by the dates of the manuscripts) some of the most famous novels of the past were summarized by a seemingly organized board of monks. In this paper, we intend to see how the authors pro­ceeded to write these shorter versions, and which motivations were underlying this movement.

Rejecting and Appropriating Epic Lore
Eva De Clercq, University of Ghent

At least from the fifth century onwards Jaina poets began to compose their own versions of the Rāmāyana and the Mahābhārata/Harivamśa in their purānas, some of which later attained pseudo-canonical status. Parallel to this, texts such as Haribhadra's Dhuttakkhāna and Amitagati's Dharmapariksā were composed, which centered around rejecting the falsities of "popular" beliefs, in particular those found in the Brahmani-cal epics and purānas. An interesting feature of some of the Jaina purānas, especially those about Rāma, are explicit criti­cisms, similar in style to those of Haribhadra and Amitagati, of certain episodes from the better-known "false" versions of the stories. There does not exist a single uniform version of the Jaina Rāmāyana or MahābhāratalHarivamśa. Moreover, there are several cases where explicit rejections in one text, appear to be disregarded in the actual narrative of another. This paper will provide an overview of these criticisms of the epics, explore whether these authors were "original" in their rejections, or in­stead drew from a standard list of Jaina rejections. Comparison to the Jaina versions of the epics will reveal to what degree these authors were aware of each other's writings, and whether the problematic rejections were accidental or intentional, il­lustrating doctrinal strife within different branches of the Jaina community.

Some Śvetāmbara Narrative Collections from the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries: Possible Research Trajectories
Paul Dundas, University of Edinburgh

The eleventh and twelfth centuries saw major upheaval amongst the Śvetāmbaras of Gujarat in respect to the emergence of re-nunciant lineages and competition for patronage. This presenta­tion will examine some hitherto unstudied narrative collections to see what light they might throw on this period.

Dialogical Narratives and Narrated Dialogues: Forms of Doctrinal Communication in Jain Narrative Literature
Anna Aurelia Esposito, University of Wurzburg

The transmission of true doctrine is much more stressed in Jain-ism than in most other religious traditions - because only deep knowledge of true doctrine leads to right conduct and eventu­ally to the path of salvation. In this context it is of foremost importance to the dialogical transmission of doctrinal contents: dialogue does not only make didactic communication more viv­id, but also leads the audience to emotional identification and to a more conscious way of embracing doctrinal contents.

Furthermore, dialogues are often used in Old Indian litera­ture to lead the reader - or listener - back to former conversa­tions in which other discussions are embedded which again in­clude further stories etc. This accumulation of narrative layers through dialogues is well known from the epic and narrative literature of the Hindus, but is carried to extremes in Jain nar­rative literature. In my paper I will focus not only on the way these narrative layers are positioned in the various dialogues, but also, above all, on the most conspicuous feature of Jain nar­rative literature, namely the communication of doctrine.

Narrative Paradigms for Jaina Mortuary Rituals? The Mythologies of the Worship of the Relics of the Jinas by the Gods
Peter Flugel, SOAS

From a doctrinal point of view, all Jaina post-mortem rituals, whether performed by mendicants or laity, represent rites of passage only for the bereaved and not for the deceased, who are already reborn. Post-mortem rituals are only relevant for socio-psychological adjustment and merit-making for some. The only textual paradigms which closely resemble currently observable practice are the legendary narrative accounts of the funerals of selected Jinas in the Āvaśyaka literature and early universal his­tories of the middle and late-canonical periods. In current prac­tice, these narratives are never explicitly invoked as ritual blue­prints. Funerals are said to be based on custom, not on textual prescriptions. Moreover, the narrated practices of relic worship contradict Jaina doctrine. This paper offers interpretations of the symbolism of the mythological depictions of the worship of the relics of the Jinas by the gods, from a comparative perspec­tive, and assesses its impact on Jaina funerary practices.

Narratives in the Agama-Commentaries of Malayagiri
Sin Fujinaga, Miyakonojê Kêsen, Japan

Jain monks have developed many kinds of commentaries in dif­ferent languages to explain their doctrine to common follow­ers or junior disciples. Of the commentaries, those in Sanskrit are widely used to understand the meanings of difficult parts in original texts. Such commentaries are a treasure house for the study on narrative. The ways to use narrative, however, are not the same in all the commentaries. Those on philosophical texts, for example, contain less narrative while the canon on conduct requires many examples in commentary on it. Malaya-giri in the twelfth century is known as having commented upon more than ten Śvetāmbara canon or semi-canonical works. In this paper we make a case study of the variety of usage of nar­rative in commentaries. Works examined here are: Nandī-sūtra, Jīvābhigama, Ksetra-samāsa, and Brhatsamgrahanī.

Anandghan and the Narratologists
Richard Fynes, De Montfort University, Leicester

Can narrative theories help us to understand the works of Ānandghan and his milieu or are the insights provided by those who are committed to the use of narrative theory nothing more than tautologies or statements of the obvious? The seventeenth-century Jain poet and hymnist Ānandghan, best known for two collections of his poems, the Bāhāttari and the Caubīsī, appears to have eschewed grand narrative, both in his life and his works. Ānandghan eludes categorisation. He seems to have avoided a close association with any particular ascetic lineage, preferring to wander freely while developing his meditational practice and writing his poems. The language of his poems is emphati­cally colloquial, and cannot be categorised as a formal literary language. His poems are short and avoid structured narrative. Nevertheless, they are rich in allusions, at times enigmatic, to a universe of narrative in which they are situated. Narratologists give the name 'index stories' to such allusions. This paper will seek to explore Ānandghan's universe of allusion using some of the techniques of narrative theory.

Nārada, Non-Violence and False Avatāras in Hindu and Jaina Purānas
Jonathan Geen, King's University College, Canada

During the period of composition and/or compilation of the Hindu purānas, i.e. circa 250 to 1500 CE, the Jainas were com­posing purānas of their own. Unlike their Hindu counterparts, however, the Jaina purānas can generally be assigned to a sin­gle author, and often can be dated with some accuracy and as­signed to a specific geographical region. In terms of content, there is much that is unique in the Jaina purānas, but there are also significant areas which overlap with the Hindu epics and purānas. Where such overlap exists, we might expect to find fertile ground for textual interaction between the Hindu and Jai-na traditions. This paper will examine one example of a shared character, the sage Nārada, and will argue for a very probable case of textual interaction between Hindu and Jaina purānic texts. The main focus of the paper is the literary use of Nārada to expound a message of non-violence.

Narrating the Female Body in Śvetāmbar Jainism: Pregnancy Stories of the Jinamātās
M. Whitney Kelting, Northeastern University, Boston

The Jinamātās - mothers of the twenty-four Jinas - are central characters in Śvetāmbar Jain ritual and devotional literature. These mothers are human queens and Jain laywomen who become pregnant with the Jinas. The Jinamātā's pregnancies are the focus of much of the Śvetāmbar vernacular devotional literature about the Jinas' lives. The story of Mahāvīr's con­ception and birth serves as the central narrative of the Kalpa Sūtra. The veneration and ritual reenactments of narratives of Jinas' births make pregnancy - at least pregnancy with a Jina - a holy state. This paper explores what Jinamātā narratives tell us about Jain discourse on pregnancy and ideal women's bod­ies. Significantly, this discourse on women's bodies is closely linked to the articulation of a Śvetāmbar narrative tradition. In addition to the shared features of all Jinas' births, there are two episodes - the embryo transfer and Mahāvīr's in utero decision to postpone his renunciation - unique to Śvetāmbar versions of Mahāvīr's story that shape some features of Jain discourse on pregnancy and the Jinamātā. Interestingly the two stories are particular markers of the Śvetāmbar tellings of Mahāvīr's birth indicating the way that Triśalā's pregnancy serves as a site for asserting Śvetāmbar identity.

Evolving Patterns in Jain Narrative Literature: Stylistic and Structural Influence of Medieval Theatre on Storytelling
Basile Leclere, University of Lyon

Among the wide corpus of Jain narrative literature are many stories which, on account of their popularity, have been reused from century to century, be they integrated in the frame of larger stories like the Jina biographies or collected in so-called treas­ures of stories. If the evolution of some of these tales regarding their style and contents has been already studied, scholars have mainly focused on their narrative versions and rather neglected their adaptations in other literary genres. Yet the genuine plots that Jain medieval dramatists derived from traditional stories might have reversely influenced later narrative rewritings. The present paper seeks to check the impact of theatre on style and structure of storytelling by comparing a few medieval Jain plays with preceding and following narrative versions of the stories which inspired their authors.

The Curious Geography of Tamil Jain Narrative
Anne E. Monius, Harvard Divinity School

In the polyglossic literary cultures of pre-colonial South Asia, choosing to write in a language other than Sanskrit or Prakrit often signals a focus on the regional, a poetic desire to link the landscapes, cities, rulers, deities, and narratives of pan-Indic lore to the contours and values of more immediate locales. In Tamil, for example, the Śaiva poet-saints transfer their lord's mighty purānic battles from the Himalayas and celestial heav­ens to the great temple cities of the South; Vaisnava poets like­wise sing of Visnu as both heavenly and local king, and even Tamil-speaking Buddhists re-center their world from Magadha to Kāñcīpuram. Yet Jain monastic authors - contributing sub­stantially to Tamil literary production for over a millennium -curiously never participate in the poetic effort of raising up the Tamil-speaking region as the center of the religious world. In one long poetic narrative after another - from the eighth-cen­tury Peruñkatai attributed to Koñkuvēlir to the fifteenth-century Śrīpurānam - Jain poets working in Tamil consistently focus their literary and religious landscapes in the north, in scenes of Ujjain and Madhyadeśa, Rājapura and Bharatakanda. Why do Tamil Jain poets seemingly have no interest in 'localizing' pan-Indic narratives in the manner of their Hindu and Buddhist counterparts? This paper examines this striking aspect of Tamil Jain literature and explores several possible reasons for this uniquely Jain narrative technique.

New Discoveries from Old Finds: The Sculpture of Ambikā in the British Museum and its Relationship to Jain Narrative in Medieval India
Michael Willis, The British Museum, London

This paper examines a sculpture of Ambikā in the British Mu­seum and presents a new reading of the inscription on the ped­estal. The inscription is dated 1034 in the reign of King Bhoja, the celebrated ruler of the Paramāra dynasty. The sculpture was recovered from the site of the old city palace at Dhār in 1875 by William Kincaid and entered the collection of the British Museum in the 1880s. Attempts to understand the inscription culminated in the 1980s with the reading of H. C. Bhayani, the well-known Sanskrit and Prakrit scholar. He showed that the in­scription records the creation of an image of Ambikā. Interest­ingly, the inscription also records the making of three Jinas and Vāgdevī (i.e. Sarasvatī) prior to the Ambikā. This shows that the Sarasvatī of King Bhoja at Dhār was, in fact, a Jain form of the goddess. This is confirmed by the testimony of Merutuñga. A fresh examination of the British Museum inscription has shown that the donor's name is given in the inscription as Var-aruci. There are a number of Vararucis in the history of Indian literature, the most famous being the author of the first Prakrit grammar. In the eleventh century, Vararuci appears in a number of narrative contexts, from the Kathāsaritsāgara to Hemacan-dra's Pariśisfaparvan. These narratives were composed in a dialectical environment, a reconstruction of which shows that the Vararuci mentioned in the British Museum inscription was probably a courtly pseudonym for Dhanapāla, the author of the Tilakamañjarī. He converted to Jainism and served as a minis­ter in the court of King Bhoja.

Jaina Religion and Literary Imagination in 16th-Century Karnātaka: The Poet Ratnākaravarni
Robert Zydenbos, University of München

The writings of the Kannada poet Ratnākaravarni, supple­mented with the folklore around his person, present a picture of Jainism that hardly fits the austere stereotype of this religious tradition. His literary masterpiece, the Bharatēśavaibhava, is an illustration of what freedoms poets have allowed themselves with traditional narrative materials, and the controversy around this work shows which limits the religious public would like to impose on their poets.



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