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

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