29 April 2010

Theory of Anekantavad

The Universe is a composite of groups consisting of adverse pairs like knowledge and ignorance, pleasure and sorrow, life and death and so on. Life depends on such adverse groups. All the groups have their own interests, which create clashes and conflicts in thinking among themselves. Religion is supposed to pacify these clashes through coexistence on socialistic pattern of society. The coexistence cannot be remained without relativity.

Jaina philosophy is based on the nature of reality, which is considered through non-absolutism (Anekantavada). According to this view, reality possesses infinite characteristics, which cannot be perceived or known at once by any ordinary man. Different people think about different aspects of the same reality and therefore their partial findings are contradictory to one another. Hence they indulge in debates claiming that each of them was completely true. The Jaina philosophers thought over this conflict and tried to reveal the whole truth. They established the theory of a Non-absolutist standpoint Anekantavada with its two wings, Nayavada and Syadvada. Proper understanding of the coexistence of mutually opposing groups through these principles rescues one from conflicts. Mutual co-operation is the Law of Nature.

Things are visible and invisible as well. We stand by visible objects and accept them as they surely are but do not recognise their invisible characteristics. Until and unless one does not recognise both these characters of an object, he cannot reach to the truth and justice. None is absolutely similar or dissimilar, friend or enemy, good or bad. As a matter of fact, every entity hides in itself the innumerable possibilities. Coal can be converted into the state of a diamond or coal is the first stage of diamond. This is the conception of Anekantavada. 

It should be remembered here that total impossibility of becoming is very rare. Rational cannot be irrational and irrational cannot be rational. On the contrary, it can be converted into some thing else. One becomes desperate, as he does not understand the theory of relativity. He forgets that the modes are not imperishable. They are to be changed. Sorrow can be converted into pleasure. Absoluteness has no meaning in any field. Substance cannot be fully explained without the assistance of Anekantavada. Life itself cannot be properly understood without this philosophical notion. Plurism, monotheism existence and non- existence, eternality and non-eternality and so on go together. These characters of an entity can be comprehended with the help of real standpoint (Niscayanaya) and Practical standpoint (Vyavaharanaya).

The Jaina believes that a substance is dynamic (Padnami) in character. It means a thing is eternal from real standpoint and momentary from practical standpoint. Causal efficiency is possible neither in a thing which is of the static nature (Kutasthanitya) nor in a thing, which is incongruous with the doctrine of momentariness (Ksanikavada), but it is possible only in a thing, which is permanent-in-change. (Parinamanastila).

According to Jainism, an entity has infinite characteristics, which are divided into two categories, viz. Universal and Particular. Just as different colours can exist in a lustrous gem without conflicting with each other, so the universal and particular elements could abide in a reality. Thus each and every reality is universalised-Cum-particularized along with substance with modes (Dravyaparyayatmaka). Here Dravya represents the Universal character and Paryaya represents the particular character of a thing. For example, a jar is made of gold, which can be changed into several modes, while preserving gold as a permanent substance. They are mutually inter-dependent, identical and separate from each other.

The nature of reality, according to this theory, is permanent-in- change. It possesses three common characteristics, such as Utpada (origination), Vyaya (destruction) and Dhrauvya (permanence through birth and decay). It also possesses the attributes (Gunas) called Anvayi, which coexist with substance (Dravya) and modifications (Paryaya) called Vyatireki, which succeed each other. Productivity and destructivity constitute the synarnic aspect of an entity and permanence is its enduring factor.

Nayavada (the theory of partial truth) is an integral part of the conception of Anekantavada, which is essential to conceive the sole nature of reality. It provides the scope for acceptance of different viewpoints on the basis that each reveals a partial truth about an object. It is, as a matter of fact, a way of approach and observation which is an imperative necessity to understand of one's different interests and inclinations in different lights on the basis that there could be a valid truth in each of them, and therefore requires their proper value and impartial estimation. Naya investigates analytically a particular standpoint of the problem in all respects in the context of the entire reality. But if anything is treated as the complete truth, it is not Naya, but Durnaya or Nayabhasa or Kunaya. For instance, "it is" is Naya, and "it is and is only" is Durnaya, while "it is relatively (Syat)" is an example of Syadvada.

Syadvada investigates them into a constant and comprehensive synthesis. The prefix "Syat" in the Syadvada represents the existence of these characteristics, which, though not perceived at the moment, are present in reality. The word "Syat" is an in- declinable and stands for multiplicity or multiple character (Anekanta). It reveals certainly regarding any problem and not merely the possibility or probability. It is unique contribution of Jainism to Indian philosophy. There is a word Kathancit in Sanskrit literature, which is used as a substitute for "Syat" by Jains as well as non-Jaina philosophers. In English it may be translated with the word "relatively".

Syadvada is connected with relative expression   about the nature of reality. It makes an effort to respect other doctrines by warning us against allowing the use of "eva" or "only" to proceed beyond its prescribed limits and penetrates the truth patiently and non-violently. It is a humble attitude of tolerance and justice and to pay respect for other's views. This view can be understood by Saptabhangi or the theory of seven-fold prediction, which is a method of cognition to comprehend the correct nature of reality through a sevenfold relative dialectic method. It is treated as complementary to the Syadvada doctrine. Akalanka thinks of it as a way, which considers reality in a positive (Vidhimukhena) and a negative (Nisedhamukhena) manner without incompatibility in a certain context.
Source: Internet

18 April 2010

Graphical Sections of Jain Sangh.

Jain Section Image : From United Jain Sangha To current state.

Source: Internet

15 April 2010

Section in Jain Order : Shwetambar Terapanth (Part 4/4)

Jain > Shwetambar > Terapanthi

  • Terapanthi: Terapantha got originated from the Sthanakvasi sect. Acharya Bhikshu (Formerly known as Muni Bhikanji) was formerly a Sthanakwasi saint and had initiation from his Guru, by name Acharya Raghunatha. Acharya Bhikshu had differences with his Guru on several aspects of religious practices of Sthanakwasi ascetics and when these took a serious turn, he founded Terapanth on the full-moon day in the month of Asadha in the year Vikram Samvat 1817, i.e., 1760 A.D.
    • Nomenclature of "Terapantha" One day, thirteen Shravakas (lay followers) were performing samayika 13 in a spacious shop in the middle of the market at Jodhpur. Fatechandji, the Divan (the chief minster of Jodhpur-state), passing by the market, saw this strange scene people performing religious rites in a shop! Greatly surprised, he asked the lay followers, "Why are you performing your samayika here in a shop, instead of in a sthanaka?" The Shravakas narrated the whole event of how Muni Bhikhanji had separated from Acharya Raghunathaji. Having heard the explanation and the cause of events, the Divana appreciated Bhikanji's stand. He asked, "How many followers of his new path are there? They replied "Sir! we are thirteen in number." The Divan further inquired about the number of monks supporting Bhikanji. The followers replied, "Monks are also thirteen in number!" The Divan said, "It is a wonderful coincidence that the number of both the monks and the lay followers is thirteen!" 
    • At that time, a poet, belonging to the sevaka caste, was standing nearby. He instantly composed a verse 
Sadha sadha ro gilo karai, te to apa aparo mania, Sunajyo re shahar ra loka, ai terapanthi tanta.
    • In this way, the new group became popular as 'Terapantha' literally meaning a sect of 13 (monks). When Acharya Bhikshu came to know about this couplet, he interpreted it in a different way. At once, he descended from his seat, sat down in the posture of obeisance, and paying his obeisance to Lord Mahavira, he proclaimed with joy. "O Lord! It is thy (tera) path (panth). I am only a follower of it. 
    • Thus Acharya Bhikshu interpreted the Terapantha to mean "the Lord's path" and also bestowed it with deeper religious significance. 
    • The Terapanthis are non-idolatrous and are very finely organized under the complete direction of one Acharya, that is, religious head. In its history of little more than 200 years, the Terapantha had a succession of only 9 Acharyas from the founder Acharya Bhikshu as the First Acharya to the present Acharya Tulsi as the 9th Acharya. 
    • This practice of regulating the entire Pantha by one Acharya only has become a characteristic feature of the Terapantha and an example for emulation by other Panthas. It is noteworthy that all monks and nuns of the Terapantha scrupulously follow the orders of their Acharya, preach under his guidance and carry out all religious activities in accordance with his instructions.
    • Further, the Terapantha regularly observes a remarkable festival known as Maryada Mahotasava. This distinctive festival is celebrated every year on the 7th day of the bright half of the month of Magha when all ascetics and lay disciples, male and female, meet together at one predetermined place and discuss the various problems of Terapanthis.
    • The penance of Terapanthis is considered to be very severe. The dress of Terapanthi monks and nuns is akin to that of Sthanakwasi monks and nuns. But there is a difference in the length of muhapatti, i.e., a piece of white cloth kept always on the mouth. The Terapanthis believe that idolatry does not provide deliverance and attach importance to the practice of meditation.
    • Further, it may be stressed that the Terapantha is known for its disciplined organization characterized by one Acharya (i.e., religious head), one code of conduct and one line of thought. The Terapanthis are considered reformists as they emphasize simplicity in religion.
    • Recently their religious head, Acharya Tulsi, had started the Anuvrata Andolana, that is, the small vow movement. which attempts to utilize the spiritual doctrines of the Jains for moral uplift of the masses in India.
    • The activities of learning and studying in Terapantha order are given utmost importance. In the early years, stress was laid on studying the original canonical literature, and many monks and nuns engaged themselves in this activity. 
    • Many books in Rajasthani language were written by Acharya Bhikshu and Jayacharya (the fourth Acharya) for the monks and nuns who were the students and that tradition continued for a long time. During the period of Jayacharya, the study of Sanskrit was phased in. 
    • Jayacharya himself studied and also made his successor, Maghava, to adopt studies in Sanskrit. Venerable Kalugani (the eighth Acharya) focused his attention on the study of both Prakrit and Sanskrit. 
    • Acharya Tulsi (the ninth Acharya) promoted the same tradition with the result that a great number of monks and nuns became proficient in Prakrit and Sanskrit. Later on, in addition to the ancient languages, the ascetics started studying such contemporary languages as Hindi, Gujarati and English. Some of them became experts in "Avadhana" vidya i. e. a technique of extra-ordinary memory. 
    • They also started studying Indian and Western Philosophies. In the beginning, the classical form of study for ascetics was in miscelleneous form study of which remained confined to that between the guru and the disciples. However under the leadership of Acharya Tulsi, systematic graded courses with syllabi of several subjects were initiated. The courses were respectively called Yogya (which is equal to Matric), Yogyatara (equivalent to B.A.), and Yogyatama (equivalent to M. A.). Completion of all the there degrees required a minimum of seven years. 
    • A Ph.D was awarded to those who wrote an original dissertation. 
    • At present, a number of monks and nuns have joined courses in university studies at the Jain Vishva Bharati Institute which is a Deemed University at Ladnun (Rajasthan). However the older courses are also in vogue. 
    • The Terapantha order has made important contribution to the field of not only religious literature but also to that of other kinds of books. Acharya Bhikshu himself composed literature about 38,000 verses in Rajasthani language and Jayacharya created a new record by composing three hundred thousand verses. 
    • Under the patronage of Acharya Shri Tulsi, the work of producing critical editions of the Jain Agamas was started and many monks and nuns actively engaged in this work.The Terapantha is well-known for its valuable contribution to the field of art and craft. 
    • Even foreigners are surprised by seeing the beautiful articles made by the ascetics. The Sangha has excelled in the spheres of drawing, painting, calligraphy, needlework, handicraft and the creation of miniature manuscripts which are considered unique.

The rise of Terapantha is the last big schism in the Swetambara sect and this Pantha is becoming popular. The Terapanthis are still limited in number and even though they are noticed in different cities in India, they are concentrated mainly in Bikaner, Jodhpur and Mewar areas of Rajasthan.

Source: Internet

14 April 2010

Section in Jain Order : Shwetambar Sthanakwasi (Part 3/4)

Jain > Shwetambar > Sthanakwasi

  • Sthanakwasi : The Sthanakwasi arose not directly from the Shwetambars but as reformers of an older reforming sect, viz., the Lonka sect of Jainism. This Lonka sect was founded in about 1474 A.D. by Lonkashah, a rich and well-read merchant of Ahmedabad. 
    • The main principle of this sect was not to practice idol-worship. Later on, some of the members of the Lonka sect disapproved of the ways of life of their ascetics, declaring that they lived less strictly than Mahavira would have wished. A Lonka sect layman, Viraji of Surat, received initiation as a Yati, i.e., an ascetic, and won great admiration on account of the strictness of his life. Many people of the Lonka sect joined this reformer and they took the name of Sthanakwasi, meaning those who do not have their religious activities in temples but carry on their religious duties in places known as Sthanakas which are like prayer-halls. 
    • The Sthanakwasi are also called by terms as 
      • (a) Dhundhiya (searchers) and 
      • (b)Sadhumargi (followers of Sadhus, i.e., ascetics).
    • Except on the crucial point of idol-worship, Sthanakwasi do not differ much from other Shwetambar Jains and hence now-a-days they invariably call themselves as Shwetambar Sthanakwasi. However, there are some differences between the Sthanakwasi; and the Murtipujak Shwetambars in the observance of some religious practices. The Sthanakwasi do not believe in idol-worship at all. As such they do not have temples but only sthanakas, that is, prayer halls, where they carry on their religious fasts, festivals, practices, prayers, discourses, etc. 
    • Further, the ascetics of Sthanakwasi cover their mouths with strips of cloth for all the time and they do not use the cloth of yellow or any other color (of course, except white). 
    • Moreover, the Sthanakwasi admit the authenticity of only 31 of the scriptures of Shwetambars. Furthermore, the Sthanakwasi do not have faith in the places of pilgrimage and do not participate in the religious festivals of Murtipujak Shwetambars.

  • Various unorganized sub-sects in Shwetambar Sthankawasi order 
    • Shraman sangh / Baaees sampraday led by Acharya Dr. Shiv Muni
    • Sadhu Margi Sampraday led by P.P. Hukmichandji Maharaj saheb
    • Gyan Gachchha Sampraday led by P.P.Gachchhadhipati Prakashmuniji M.S.
    • Ratna Vansh Sampraday founded by P.P. Acharya Shri Hastimalji M.S
    • Ajaramar Sampraday
    • Gondal Sampraday
    • Dariyapuri Sampraday
    • Khambhat Sampraday
    • Kachcha 8 Koti Sampraday
    • Kachchha 9 Koti Sampraday
    • Barvala Sampraday
    • Limbadi Gopal Sampraday
    • and few more.
  • The Shwetambar Sthanakwasi are also spread in different business centers in India but they are found mainly in Gujarat, Punjab, Harayana and Rajasthan.

It is interesting to note that the two non-idolatrous sub-sects, viz., Taranapanthis among the Digambars and Sthanakwasi among the Shwetambars, came very late in the history of the Jain. 

About 1474 A.D. the Lonka sect, the first of the non-idolatrous Jain sects, arose and was followed by the Dhundhiya or Sthanakwasi sect about 1653 A.D. dates which coincide strikingly with the Lutheran and Puritan movements in Europe.

Source: Internet

11 April 2010

Section in Jain Order : Swetambar Murtipujak (Part 2/4)

The Swetambar Sect
Like the Digambar sect, the Swetambar sect has also been split into three main sub-sects:
  • Murtipujak
  • Sthanakwasi
  • Terapanthi
Swetambar sect is divided into two sub-sects, those practitioners who worship images in temples, known as the Murtipujak ("image-worshiping") or Mandirmargi ("temple-going"), and those who do not, the reformist sub-sects of the Sthanakwasis and the Terapanthis.

Murtipujak : The original stock of the Swetambars is known as Murtipujak Swetambars since they are the thorough worshippers of idols. They offer flowers, fruits, saffron, etc. to their idols and invariably adorn them with rich clothes and jeweled ornaments.

Their ascetics cover their mouth with strips of cloth while speaking, otherwise they keep them in their hands. They stay in temples or in the specially reserved buildings known as upasrayas. They collect food in their bowls from the sravakas(Layman) or householders' houses and eat at their place of stay - Upasrayas.

The Murtipujaka sub-sect is also known by terms like 
(i) Pujera (worshippers), 
(ii) Deravasi (temple residents). 
(iii) Chaityavasi (temple residents) and 
(iv) Mandir-margi (temple goers)

Murtipujak, headed by various Acharyas as their sect and sub-sects.
In the Murtipujak sect there are 4 main sub-sects as follows:
  • Tapa gachchh: In Tapa Gachchh there are 21 sub-sects headed by different Acharya
    1. Shri Vijay Prem-Ramchandra Suri (total monks and nuns 1412)
    2. Shri Vijay Prem-Bhuvan Bhanu suri (total monks and nuns 880)
    3. Shri Anandsagar suri (Sagarji) (total monks and nuns 1032)
    4. Shri Vijay Nemi suri (Shasan Samrat) (total monks and nuns 607)
    5. Shri Vijay Kanak suri (vagad)(total monks and nuns 560)
    6. Shri Vijay Niti Suri total (monks and nuns 452)
    7. Shri Vijay Siddhi suri (Bapji M)(total monks and nuns 415)
    8. Shri VIjay Dharma Vijayji-Abhaydev suri (Dahela vala) (total monks and nuns 325)
    9. Shri Vijay Bhakti Suri total (monks and nuns 272)
    10. Shri Vijay Labdhi Suri total (monks and nuns 256)
    11. Shri Vijay Vallabh Suri-1(Acharya Ratnakar Suri) (total monks and nuns 181)
    12. Shri Vijay Vallabh Suri-2(Acharya Nityanand Suri) (total monks and nuns 108)
    13. Shri Vijay Keshar Suri (total monks and nuns 228)
    14. Shri Vijay Dharma Suri-Kanakratna Suri (total monks and nuns 237)
    15. Shri Vijay Himachal Suri (total monks and nuns 60)
    16. Shri Buddhi Sagar Suri (total monks and nuns 135)
    17. Shri Vijay Shantichandra Suri Ist (total monks and nuns 220)
    18. Shri Vijay Shantichandta Suri 2nd (total monks and nuns 197)
    19. Shri Mohanlalaji (total monks and nuns 42)
    20. Shri Vijay Amrat Suri (total monks and nuns 35)
    21. Shri Vimal Gachchh (total monks and nuns 45)
    22. Shri Tristutika Gachchh 1st(Acharya Shri Jayantsain suri) (total monks and nuns 146)
    23. Shri Tristutika Gachchh 2nd (Acharya shri Hemendra suri) (total monks and nuns 89)
    24. Shri Tristutika Gachchh 3rd (Acharya Shri Labdhichandra Suri) (total monks and nuns NIL)
    25. Shri Tristutika Gachchh 4th(Muni Jayanandvijay) (total monks and nuns 8)

  • Achal gachchh currently led by Acharya Sri Gunoyadayasagar suri Ji.
  • Khartar gachchh, currently led by Acharya Sri JinKailash sagar suri Ji.
  • Parshwachandra gachchh, currently led by Mahopadhyaya Sri BhuvanChandra Ji.
The Murtipujak Swetambaras are found scattered all over India for business purposes in large urban centers, still they are concentrated mostly in Gujarat.

Source : Internet

07 April 2010

Section in Jain Order : Digambar (Part 1/4)

Jainism order is divided into two major sects.
  • The Digamabar Sect
  • The Shwetambars Sect

The Digambar sect, in recent centuries, has been divided into the following major sub-sects:
  1. Beespanth / Bispanthi
  2. Terapanth
  3. Taranpanth or Samaiyapanth
  • Beespanth : The followers of Bisapantha support the Dharma-gurus, that is, religious authorities known as Bhattarakas who are also the heads of Jain Mathas, that is. religious monasteries. The Bisapanthas, in their temples, worship the idols of Tirthankaras and also the idols of Kshetrapal, Padmavati and other deities. They worship these idols with saffron, flowers, fruits, sweets, scented 'agara-battis', i.e., incense sticks, etc. While performing these worships. the Bisapanthis sit on the ground and do not stand. They perform Arati, i.e., waving of lights over the idol, in the temple even at night and distribute prasad, i.e., sweet things offered to the idols. The Bisapantha, according to some, is the original form of the Digambara sect and today practically all Digambar Jains from Maharashtra, Karnataka and South India and a large number of Digambara Jains from Rajasthan and Gujarat are the followers of Bisapanth.
  • Terapanth : Terapanth arose in North India in the year 1683 of the Vikram Era as a revolt against the domination and conduct of the Bhattarakas. i.e. religious authorities, of the Digambar Jains. As a result in this sub-sect, the institution of Bhattarakas lost respect in North India, however in South India the Bhattarakas continue to play an importent role. In their temples, the Terapanthis install the idols of Tirthankars and not of Kshetrapal, Padmavati and other deities. 
    • Further. they worship the idols not with flowers, fruits and other green vegetables (known as sachitta things), but with sacred rice called 'Aksata', cloves, sandal, almonds, dry coconuts, dates, etc. As a rule they do not perform Arathi or distribute Prasad in their temples. Again, while worshipping they stand and do not sit.
    • From these differences with the Bisapanthis it is clear that the Terapanthis appear to be reformers. They are opposed to various religious practices. As according to them these are not real Jain practices. The Terapanth had performed a valuable task of rescuing the Digambars from the clutches of wayward Bhattarakas and hence the Terapanthis occupy a peculiar position in the Digambar Jain community. The Terapanthis are more numerous in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
    • It is pertinent to note that even though the name Terapanth sub-sect appears both among the Digambar and the Svetambar sects. Still the two Terapanthis are entirely different from each other. While the Digambara Terapanthis believe in nudity and idol-worship, the Svetambar Terapanthis are quite opposed to both.
  • Taranpanth : The sub-sect Taranapanth is known after its founder Taran-Swami(1448-1515 A.D.). This sub-sect is also called Samaiyapanth because its followers worship Sarnaya, i.e., sacred books and not the idols. Taran-Swami died at Malharagarh, in former Gwalior State in Madhya Pradesh, and this is the central place of pilgrimage of Taranapanthis. 
    • The Taranapanthis strongly refute idolatry but they have their own temples in which they keep their sacred books for worship. They do not offer articles like fruits and flowers at the time of worship. Besides the sacred books of the Digambars, they also worship the fourteen sacred books written by their founder Taran-Swami. Further, Taranapanthis give more importance to spiritual values and the study of sacred literature. That is why we find a complete absence of outward religious practices among them. Moreover, Taran-Swami; was firmly against the caste-distinctions and in fact threw open the doors of his sub-sect even to Muslims and low-caste people. 
    • There are three main traits of the Taranapanthis:
      • The aversion to idol worship
      • The absence of outward religious practices
      • The ban on caste distinctions
    • They were evolved as a revolt against the religious beliefs and practices prevailing in the Digambar Jain sect, and it appears that Taran-Swami might have formulated these principles under the direct influence of Islamic doctrines and the teachings of Lonkashaha, the founder of the non-idolatrous Sthanakvasi sub-sect of the Swetambara sect. 
    • The Taranapanthis are few in number and they are mostly confined to Bundelkhand, Malwa area of Madhya Pradesh and Khandesh area of Maharashtra.
Source:: Internet

04 April 2010

Acharya Shrimad Rajendra Suri

Abhidhana-Rajendra Kosh (Encyclopedia) was a outstanding achievement of the 19th century. It has become an inspiration and an example for Jain encyclopedia efforts in our time. This text is widely consulted by Jain scholars. Ordinary Jains may not come across it, but it has significantly influenced study of Jainism.

The author, Rajendra Suri, belonged to the Tristutik (or Agamik) sect of the  Swetambaras, originated by Shilaguna and Devabhadra Suri in 1193 AD.  It is a small sect that is opposed to worship of minor gods etc.

He was born as Ratna Raj Parakh on Vikram Samvat 1833 (3rd December, 1827) in Bharatpur.  He became a trader with his brother and lived in Srilanka for a while. He became a yati under Hemavijayaji at Udaipur in 1846 (vikram samvat 1925). He became a reformer against the traditional life of many yatis then (use of chanwar, palkhi etc )and gave up the "daftari" title.

He finished his Abhidhan-Rajendra Kosh, in vikram samvat 1960. It was published in 9200 pages in 7 volumes. It took 13 years to write and 21 years to publish. He also wrote 13 other major texts. He passed away in Mohankhera (Rajagarha) in vikram samvat 1963, on the same thithi  he was born (paush shukla 7th). This day is celebrated as Guru Saptami by the Tristutik sect.

Mohankheda has become a tirtha because of the presence of  Acharya Shrimad Rajendra Suriji since vikram samvat 1940. He was also associated with Mandava, Swarnagiri, Talanapur tirthas.

Source: Internet

01 April 2010

Taran-swami and his Taran-panth

The 15-16th century was an age of transition in India. During this time several reform movements arose in Jainism. Lonkashah of Gujarat founded his Dhundhia order in Samvat 1508 (1451 AD), The Terapanth (Atyadhma movement) among the Digambaras arose in Samvat 1683 in Agra. The main founders of this movement were Banarasi Das of Agra and Amarchand of Sanganer. Taran-swami in Bundelkhand founded his Taranpanth sect of the Digambaras in Samvat 1563 (1506).

The Digambar Terapanth movement was against the domination of the Bhattarakas. They opposed worship of various minor gods and goddesses. Some Terapanthi practices, like not using flowers in worship, gradually spread throughout North India among the Digambars. The Taran-panthis on the other hand, traditionally do not have idols in their shrines at all. 

Taranswami was a remarkable philosopher and author. He was born in Pushpavati (now Bilahari near Katni). His father was a government official there. His mama(uncle) lived in Sironj, where a Bhattaraka institution was present. When he was 8 years old, while accompanying his father to Sironj, he came across Bhattarak Shruta-kirti. The Bhattarak persuaded the boy to start attending the lectures where "Samayasar"was discussed. Later Taran-swami organized his group , meditated and preached at Semalkheri, Sukha and Rakh. His samadhi is at Nisaiji in Dist Guna.

He wrote 14 books. His language is very unique, being a blend of Prakrit, Sanskrit and Apabhransha. Note that at this time Jains have not been using Prakit for several centuries. His language was perhaps influenced by his reading of the books of Acharya kundakunda. Copies of his books are very hard to obtain. Mostly Kanjiswami has some lectures based on Taranswami's books.

The number of Taranpanthis is very small. Their shrinesare called Chaityalya (or some times Nisai/Nasia). At the altar (vimana) they have a book instead of an idol. The Taranpanthis were originally from 6 communities. These days they are gradually merging with other Jain in the area. In recent past, some of them have been followers of Kanjiswami of Songarh.

One interesting note. Rajneesh/Osho was born in a Taranpanthi family.


[1] Bundelkhand region is Lalitpur (UP), Guna, Sagar, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Damoh districts and nearby region. The Taranpanthis are mainly found here. 
[2] This Shrutakirti may be the same one who wrote Dharma-Pariksha, arivansha-purana and Parameshthisarin Apabhramsha. His teacher's teacher was Devendrakirti who originated from Gujarat and had placed his students at the Bhattarak seats of Surat as well as Chanderi in Bundelkhand region. 
[3] The term Nasia for a temple may have been derived from the practice of saying "Jay jay jay,nisahi, nisahi, nisahi" when one enters a temple.

Source: Internet