Posted: 08.05.2006
Updated on: 14.12.2012


Purvas, Pūrva

Literally, the Sanskrit for 'ancient’.

The term can mean either:

  1. a measurement of 84,000 x 84,000 years
  2. the scriptures of the 24 Jinas' preaching and long since lost.

The 14 Pūrvas held all the knowledge in the universe and the few who knew them were given the exalted status of śruta-kevalin - ‘scripturally omniscient person'. In line with the prophecy of the last Jina, Mahāvīra, knowledge of the Pūrvas died out within a thousand years of his liberation. Parts of the Pūrvas are said to form elements of later philosophy and scriptures.

However, a detailed table of contents of the Drstivada and the Pūrvas has survived in the fourth Anga, Samavāyānga and Nandīsūtra. Furthermore, certain portions of Drstivada and Pūrvas is said to have survived in Satkhandāgama and Kasāyaprabhrta, especially the doctrine of Karma.

      1. Utpaad Pūrva - Living (Jiv), non-living (Ajiv), and its modes (Paryāya);
      2. Agrayaniya Pūrva - Nine realities (Navtattva), six substances (Shad-dravya), etc.;
      3. Viryapravada Pūrva - Relating to energy of soul, non-living, etc.;
      4. Asti Nasti Pravada Pūrva - Multiplicity of views (Anekāntvād), Saptabhangi, etc.;
      5. Jnana Prāvada Pūrva - Five types of knowledge and three types of ignorance, etc.;
      6. Satya Pravada Pūrva - Relating to truth, restraint, silence (Maun), speech, etc.;
      7. Atma Pravada Pūrva - Analysis of soul from different view points (naya);
      8. Karma Pravada Pūrva - Theory of karma, its bondage, influx, its nature, fruition, shedding;
      9. Pratyakhyana Pūrva - Giving up (Pachchhakhān), restraint, vows, detachment, etc.;
      10. Vidyā Pravāda Pūrva - Expertise (vidyā), exceptional abilities, practice,;
      11. Kalyana Pravada Pūrva - Spiritual alertness (Apramād) and laziness (Pramād);
      12. Prana Pravada Pūrva - Ten types of life substances or vitalities (Prān), life span, etc.;
      13. Kriyā Visala Pūrva - Skills, 64 arts of women, 84 arts of men, etc.;
      14. Lokbindus ā Pūrva - Three parts of universe including heavens and hells, mathematics, etc.


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