Addressing some misconceptions w.r.t. the Shwetambar sect of Jainism

Recently, after a few discussions with some of my non-Shwetambar friends and even reputed well-known scholars, I realized that there were a lot of pre-conceived notions and misconceptions with respect to the Shwetambar sect of Jainism and some of its practices. Although, most of these had already been addressed in my various blogs, I thought to make them more comprehensive and compile them in one place to provide easy answers to some ‘controversial’ and/or ‘difficult’ questions which even some Shwetambars are unaware of. 

Note: The author would like to inform the readers that this post doesn't claim the superiority of any sect over the other and the intent is not to injure any matter/ practice/ belief of tradition or faith. The only intent is to give rational and meaningful explanations to misconceptions which have come up with respect to the Shwetambar tradition based on philological and archaeological evidences. References for the same have been provided at the end of the post.

The author is also thankful to Dr. Renuka J. Porwal for her path breaking research on Kankali Tila Stupa at Mathura. References from her book, "The Jaina Stupa at Mathura" have been used in this article to address a few misconceptions.  

Misconception 1- Shwetambar sect emerged out of the original Nirgranth tradition as they started wearing white robes.

There is a misconception that only the naked Jain monks were a part of the Jain sangh established by the Tirthankars and the Shwetambar sect was a reformist tradition, which was created after Acharya Bhadrabahu migrated south. In brief, the non-Shwetambar version states that, Shwetambars branched off after the time of Acharya Bhadrabahu who migrated with his disciples to the southern parts of India due to a twelve-year famine in the Magadh region. Acharya Sthulibhadra and his disciples who stayed back in the north started wearing "white clothes" which lead to the formation of the Shwetambar sect. This story accepted among the non- Shwetambars and some western scholars also agree with it. However, this is not entirely true as Lord Mahavir’s Sangh had both cloth wearing as well as naked monks. The same can be derived not only from the Shwetambar Jain Agams but also from Buddhist scriptures and archaeological evidences.

1. Buddhist Scriptures - 

Saṃyutta Nikāya[1] and Majjhima Nikāya[2] from the Buddhist Pali Canon mention that there were monks in Lord Mahavir’s sangh who were known as Eksatakas (i.e. who wore one garment) apart from Achelaks (who were naked). Both these scriptures were composed in Pre-Sectarian Buddhist period (i.e. 250 BC) and were put into writing in 1st Century BC.

The Aṅguttara Nikāya also states that Jain monks (Nirgrantha’s) wore one single garment whereas Ajivikas were naked ascetics. Its commentary, Manoratha-purani, also states that Ajivikas were naked ascetics whereas Nirgranthas covered their frontal parts.

The Dhammapada Aṭṭhakathā (Theravadin Buddhist commentaries) states that monks of the Nirgranth (Jain) tradition covered their frontal nudity with cloth whereas the monks of the Ajivika tradition were completely naked.[3] This scripture was composed in 6th Century AD.

The Samantapāsādikā (which is a commentary on Vinaya Pitaka) uses the term “Setapata Ardhapalaka Niganthato represent monks who used a single piece of white cloth to cover their nudity[4]. This scripture was composed in 5th Century AD.

Sumangalanivasini, which is Buddhaghosa's commentary on Digha Nikaya states that Nirgrantha's were Ekasataka's (one cloth bearer monks)

The Udana Atthakatha also states that Nirgarntha's wore white clothes

2. Hathigumpha Inscription - The famous Hathigumpha inscription in Kalinga (Odisha) records that in 156 BC (i.e. during the 13th year of his reign) Emperor Kharavel offered white clothes to the Jain monks who by their austerities had extinguished the round of lives.[4a]

Translation of Hathigumpha inscription by ASI placed outside the cave

Translation of Hathigumpha inscription by ASI placed outside the cave
Translation of Hathigumpha inscription by ASI placed outside the cave

3. Shwetambar Jain Agams - Although the authority of Shwetambar Agams is not accepted among the non Shwetambar sects (barring the Yapaniya tradition) there are some references from the Acharang Sutra and the Uttaradhyayan Sutra which match the description of monks in Buddhist scriptures as well as from the archaeological evidences.

The 23rd chapter of Uttaradhyayan Sutra specifically states that the monks belonging to the tradition of Lord Parshwanath were clothed[5] and the earliest dated Agam, Acharang Sutra (~5th Century BCE) classifies three types of monks based on their clothing preferences[6] [7]-

1. Achel – Who did not wear clothes (i.e. Jinkalpi’s)
2. EksatakaWho wore one piece of cloth (or a loin cloth)
3. SantrottarWho wore two or three pieces of cloth and/or with a blanket

Further, Acharang Sutra also states that a physically fit young monk should keep only one cloth[8] and those monks who can win over shyness/ shame (lajja) and can bear the cold, heat and insect bites etc. should remain naked[9]. Those monks who cannot win over shyness and cannot bear the cold, heat and insect bites etc. should use one piece of cloth (Cholpatta)[10]

4. Archaeological evidences – The description of Jain monks in the Acharang Sutra as well as the Buddhist Pali canon matches exactly with the depiction of monks seen from the Jain images excavated from the Kankali Tila Stupa at Mathura. The excavations have revealed Jain Tirthankar images dating back to the 2nd century BC to 3rd Century AD from the early period. The pedestals of these idols show images of Jain monks wearing no clothes or one piece of cloth or a loin cloth or even two pieces of cloth. The belongings used by these monks – i.e. Rajoharan, Patra, Jholi, Mukhvastrika etc. were also represented on the carvings which are even used today by Shwetambar Jain monks. Interestingly, the inscriptions give the names of the Kula-Gana-Shakha of the monks which match exactly with the Kalpasutra Sthaviravali which prove that these images were of Shwetambar Jain monks[11]

Some of the non Shwetambars have also argued that that these idols depict the Digambar "Kshullaks" and "Ailaks" (junior monks who wear two / one piece of cloth) and not the munis (fully ordained monks). However, the names of these monks as found in the inscriptions have the words "Acharya" and "Muni" which specifically proves that they cannot be "Ailaks" and "Kshullaks"

Depiction of a Shwetambar Jain monk with one piece of clothing and Rajoharan at Kankali Tila Jain Stupa, Mathura (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Monk with two pieces of cloth (extreme left) with monks using one piece of cloth with the Rajoharan and Mukhvastrika at Kankali Tila Jain Stupa, Mathura

Ayagapatta depicting monks wearing a loin cloth at Kankali Tila Jain Stupa, Mathura

Depiction of a Shwetambar Jain monk with one piece of clothing at Kankali Tila Jain Stupa, Mathura

Depiction of a Shwetambar Jain monk with one piece of clothing and Rajoharan at Kankali Tila Jain Stupa, Mathura 

Naked Shwetambar monk (right) with Jholi (to carry alms bowls) and nun (left) with Patra (alms bowl)  

4. Refutation of the Migration theory – The Shwetambar scriptures record a detailed biography of Acharya Bhadrabahu, but nowhere do they mention that he migrated to the southern regions with Chandragupta Maurya. The scriptures record that Acharya Bhadrabahu was in Nepal for a 12-year penitential vow for practicing the Mahaprana Dhyan when the Pataliputra conference took place in 3rd century BC[12]. The Himavant Sthaviravali composed in ~2-3rd Century AD also states that Acharya Bhadrabahu Swami attained Kaldharma by practicing Anshan of 15 days of fasting without even consuming water at Kumari Parvat (Udaygiri-Khandgiri) in Odisha[13].

On the other hand, the Digambar accounts of Acharya Bhadrabahu Swami and Chandragupta Maurya migrating to the south first appear from 10th century AD onwards, which were written more than 1,200 years after Chandragupta's death. This incident is recorded in texts such as Bhadrabāhu Charita (1450 CE) of Ratnanandi, Munivaṃsa bhyudaya (1680 CE) and Rajavali Kathe[14] [15] [16]. Further, several late Digambar Jain inscriptions dating from the 7th–15th century refer to Bhadrabahu and a Prabhacandra or Samprati Chandragupta migrating south - which are inconsistent with each other. The later Digambar tradition has identified the Prabhacandra as Chandragupta, therefore some scholars call it misidentification of different individuals with the same names: Bhadrabahu, Prabhacandra, and Chandragupta[17] [18] [19]. Several of the Digambar inscriptions and texts in Karnataka, state the journey started from Ujjain and not Patliputra (as stated in some Digambar texts). In the epigraphical versions in Digambar literature (Brihakathā Kośa (931 CE) of Harishena Acharya and Aradhana Kathakosh by Nemidatt), Acharya Bhadrabahu never came to Shravanabelagola and he attained Kaldharma near Ujjain. Before his own death, he sent other Jain monks to south India.[20] [21]





Date of composition

Place of Sallekhana of Acharya Bhadrabahu


Himavant Theravali

Acharya Himavant Kshamashraman


~2nd – 3rd Century AD

Kumari Parvat (Udaygiri-Khandgiri- Odisha).


Brihakatha Kosa

Acharya Harisena


931 AD

Near Vidisha (current Ujjain)


Katha Kosa

Muni Srichandra


11th CE AD



Bhadrabahu Charita

Acharya Ratnanandi


1450 AD

Shravanabelagola* with Chandragupta


Aradhana Kathakosh

Brahmachari Shri Nemidatt


1518 AD


Oldest available reference of Acharya Bhadrabahu's sallekhana at Kumari Parvat and not Shravanabelagola

5. Inconsistencies in the Digambar Scriptures w.r.t. emergence of Shwetambar sect- The Digambar scriptures and beliefs are not consistent with each other on the emergence of Shwetambar sect. While most Digambars believe that the Shwetambar sect was emerged after Bhadrabahu Swami migrated south, a Digambar scripture named "Darshanasar" by Acharya Devsen states that the Shwetambar sect emerged 136 years after the death of Vikramaditya, in Vallabhipur town of Saurashtra by a monk named Jinchandra. Inconsistent details as below-

On the other hand the Shwetambar scriptures do not have any inconsistencies wr.t. to emergence of the Digambar sect. Shri Avashyak Bhashya by Acharya Jinbhadragani Kshamashraman, (composed in ~3rd CE AD and written down in 466 AD) states that the a monk named Shivbhuti started the Digambar sect in 82 AD. The scripture states that there was a person named Shivbhuti in the city of Rathavirapur near Mathura 609 years after nirvan of Prabhu Mahavir. He was employed by King Sinharath. He had successfully fought many battles on behalf of the king and had won laurels. Consequently, he turned to be very proud and used to come home very late in the night. On the complaint of his wife, one night his mother did not open the door and asked him to go elsewhere to teach him a lesson. Shivbhuti left his home and entered in a dwelling which was incidentally a Jain upasraya where Arya Krishnasuri was present. He repented for his sins and requested the Acharya to give him shelter and intitate him as a monk. The Acharya initiated him the next day. Shivbhuti started wandering as a monk with others. After some time, he came to his native place. When the king was informed of his arrival, he sent a precious shawl (ratna kambal) to him as a gift. Possession of such a precious article by a monk was protested by Acharya but Shivbhuti did not pay any heed to his advice. Acharya then tore off the shawl.  Shivbhuti did not agree with this and said that keeping the precious shawl was a possession then wearing clothes was also a possession and asserted that a follower of Jinakalp should strictly observe the principle of austerity including nudity. He gave up all clothing and was joined by Kaundinya and Kottavira as his disciples. His sister also joined him and remained nude but ordinary people thought of her as a prostitute. Therefore Shivbhuti forbade her from observing nudity.

Misconception 2- Archaeologically, no clothed (Shwetambar) Tirthankar idol before the period of 5th Century AD has been found, whereas naked Tirthankar idols can be found even prior to the beginning of the Christian era. Therefore, Shwetambar sect is a later tradition.

To understand this misconception, we have to go back to the history, which has changed its course in the passage of time. History shows us that all the Jain sects, viz. Shwetambars, Digambars and Yapaniya’s did not have different temples and used to worship the same idols. While many Shwetambars would not agree with me on this, but archaeologically and historically it can be proven that Shwetambars also worshipped unclothed and naked Tirthankar idols. The facts are as below-

1. The Tirthankar idols excavated from Mathura, Kankali Tila Jain Stupa dating from 1st century BC to 1st Century AD have no depiction of clothes. The idols in the sitting posture (Padmasan mudra) did not show nudity nor did they have any depiction of clothes (Katisutra/ Kandora) and those in the standing posture (Kayotsarg Mudra) specifically depicted the nude state. However, the inscriptions show that these idols have been installed by monks belonging to the Shwetambar sect as the names of their Kula-Gana-Shakha match exactly with the Kalpasutra Sthaviravali (Kottiya Gana, Varana Gana, Udhikiya Gana etc). [22] [23] [24] As discussed above, the monks have also been shown with their belongings i.e. Rajoharan, Patra, Jholi, Mukhvastrika etc used by Shwetambars and some inscriptions have specific reference of Shwetambar Mul Sangh and Shwetambar Mathuri Sangh[25]. Thus this is the prime evidence which shows that Shwetambar monks, installed unclothed idols of Tirthankars from the period of from 1st century BC to 1st Century AD.

Some of the Jain Tirthankar images excavated from Mathura Kankali Stupa

2. The second Kadamba inscription dating back to the late 5th Century shows that King Mrugeshvarman granted a village named Kālavaṅga in Karnataka for three purposes - One part was for the holy Arhat temple (which was used for worship by members of all the sects) and the second and third purposes were for the enjoyment of the sects of ascetics belonging to Shwetpaṭtas (Shwetambars) and Nirgranthas (Digambars) respectively[26] [27]. This shows that both the Shwetambars and the Digambars used to worship in the same temple[28] [29].

3. The “Pethad-tirth-yatra-dvay-prabandh” in the Sukrutsagar Granth by a Shwetambar monk known as Ratnamandan Ganivarya records an event of dispute over the ownership of Girnar hill between the Digambars and Shwetambars. Once, Pethadshah, a noted minister of Mandavgadh arrived with a pilgrimage sangh of Shwetambars to Girnar. On the same day, a nobleman close to Allaudin Khilji named Purnachandra Agarwal from Delhi arrived with a pilgrimage sangh of Digambars to Girnar. Both stopped each other’s convoy at the base of the hill and heated arguments followed. As the Mulnayak idol of Shri Neminath Bhagwan did not have the carvings of Katisutra and Kandora, both the Digambars and Shwetambars claimed ownership of the idol and the Tirth. As the dispute turned ugly, elders from both the sects asked Pethadshah and Purnachandra to stop arguing and provided a solution – ownership of the Tirth would be decided on who would bid the highest for the Indramala after offering their rituals to Lord Neminath.  The text specifically mentions that pilgrims from both sects ascended the hill and on reaching the temple of Lord Neminath, they conducted Janma Abhishek, Pujan, Dhwajaropan, Nrutya etc. on the mulnayak (main) idol. This again shows that not only the same idols were worshipped even the ritualistic practices were same for both the sects during the period. After making their offerings, the bids for the Indramal started and eventually Pethadshah won the bid by bidding a huge amount of 56 Ghadis of gold (1200 kilos)[30] [31]

4. A Shwetambar monk Upadhyay Shri Dharmasagarji Maharaja in his work Pravachanpariksha states that after the dispute regarding the ownership of Girnar Hill, it was decided that all idols Shwetambar idols would be made with a Katisutra-Kandora (carving of cloth) to avoid such disputes in the future.

This shows that there were no differences between the idols of the Shwetambar and the Digambar sect in the ancient era; However, to prevent future disputes it was decided to carve Katisutra-Kandora on Shwetambar idols. Therefore, nude idols of Tirthankars before the 5th century AD cannot only be attributed to the Digambars and Yapaniyas, some of them had been installed by the Shwetambars as well. 

Misconception 3- Shwetambars worship the princely state of the Tirthankars (Rajya-avastha) and not the Veetrag Avastha (completely detached state)

Barring the idols of Jivantswami’s which depict the princely state of a Tirthankar, all the other Shwetambar idols depict the phase of a Tirthankar after Kevalgyan (enlightenment). Secondly, to understand whether the idol is in the Veetarag avastha or not, we have to understand the real meaning of the word “Veetrag”. Veetrag is a title given to a Veetaragi, i.e. the one who has won over the bondages of Raag (attachment/ desires), Dvesh (hatred/ aversions) and Moh (fascination/ endearment). This means that all the Tirthankar’s are Veetaragi’s as they have no attachments, desires, hatred, aversions or endearment towards anything[32].

The Shwetambar tradition based on their Agam literature believes that during Diksha of any Tirthankar, the demi-god Indra places a divine cloth called “Dev-Dushya” on his shoulder, which is the only garment that he uses thereafter. Although none of the Tirthankars have any attachment towards any garment, it is only at the behest of Indra, (who, for his satisfaction that the cloth would protect the Lord from harsh weather and aboriginal tribals) that the Tirthankar drapes the Dev-dushya. This was also represented from the fact that Lord Mahavir (the 24th Tirthankar) gave away his Dev-Dushya to a poor Brahmin named Soma after 13 months of his initiation.

Further, one of the earliest physical descriptions of a Tirthankar occurs in Aupapatik Sutra which states that every limb of the Tirthankar is radiant with light (equal to the radiance of a sun) and thus, his genitals are concealed, like those of a fine stallion (due to the bright glow). Even the Bhaktamar Stotra and Digambar scriptures like Samayasarakalasha describe the brilliant radiance of the Tirthankars.

A Shwetambar monk, Upadhyay Shri Meghavijayji in his text Yuktiprabodh argued that a naked idol of the Tirthankar wrongly depicts the Arihant because it could cause improper thoughts in the viewer. He argued that a woman, looking at the naked idol may have improper thoughts. Meghvijayji, in his text further recalls that one of the attributes of the Tirthankar’s body is that his every limb is radiant with light and his genitals are therefore concealed. Therefore, the Shwetambar sect does not show a naked idol of Tirthankars and represents them with carvings of a bottom garment[33]

A typical Shwetambar idol representing the Veetaragi state

By this discussion, we can understand that mere carvings of Katisutra-Kandora on the idols do not mean that the Tirthankar is shown with an attachment to the piece of cloth and thus not in the Veetragi state.

Misconception 4- Shwetambars decorate their idols (during Aangi). Therefore, they do not worship the the Veetrag Avastha (completely detached state) of the Lord.

The Shwetambar texts allow adorning the idol not only out of devotion, but also for the purpose that a layperson could reduce his affection for wealth. Not just Shwetambars, the Digambar text, Adipurana also describes the worship with jewelry and unguents as an act of deep devotion during the Janma-Abhishek (ritual bath by demi-gods at the time of birth) of the Tirthankar –“aviliptasugandhas tvam avibhūṣitasundaraḥ, bhaktair abhyarcito ‘smābhir bhūṣaṇaiḥ sānulepanaiḥ”. Translated, it would mean - “Though your body is naturally fragrant without the use of unguents and beautiful without the need for jewels, out of devotion we still worship you with jewels and fragrant substances.”

However, adorning the idol of the Tirthankars is not just an act of devotion but is also a representation of the true beauty of the Tirthankars. As per the Aupapatik Sutra (which was discussed earlier), every limb of the Tirthankar is radiant with light. Even the 37th verse of the Bhaktamar Stotra by Acharya Shri Mantung Suri states the beauty of the Tirthankar –“No one else has the splendor that you have, O Lord of the Jinas, as you teach the dharma. After all, how could the radiance of the sun, which destroys the darkness, be shared by even the brightest star?

The Digambar philosopher Shri Amuṛtchandra in his Samayasarakalasha, explicitly highlights the radiant beauty of the Tirthankar:“Praise be to the Jinas, who bear one thousand and eight auspicious marks! Truly worthy of our praise, they bathe the universe with their light; with their glorious radiance they surpass the light of even the brightest heavenly bodies. They steal the minds of the people with their physical beauty, while their divine words drip the nectar of immortality into the ears of all who hear them, bringing them joy.

Upadhyay Shri Meghvijayji in Yuktiprabodh mentions that a stone idol alone is not a sufficient representation of the glorious Tirthankar. The statement that a plain stone image is by itself radiantly beautiful and therefore able to lead the viewer to a religious experience is simply contradicted by perception. How can anyone upon seeing a bare stone idol visualize the glorious extraordinary body of the Tirthankar, which is said to be bright as a thousand suns? Given that the stone lacks any such shining luster, one has to assume that the viewer mentally supplies it in the form of gold and jewels that he mentally heaps on the stone image. The adorned idol, with light radiating from all the jewels, reflects most perfectly the Tirthankar himself and that seeing the image therefore leads the viewer to pious thoughts of the Lord’s greatness. 

An adorned image of Shri Dharmanath Bhagwan with jewels

Although it is a seeming paradox that the Tirthankar who is a renunciant is resplendent with jewels, but, it is a paradox that all Jain texts acknowledge. Bhupalastotra, a Digambar text celebrates the unfathomable greatness of the Jina, who though a renunciant, sits on a throne of precious gems, while the rays coming from the crest jewels of the worshipping gods add to the brilliant splendor of the Tirthankar – ūhātigas tvādṛśas sarvajñānadṛśaś caritramahimā lokeśa lokottaraḥ

The Digambar text Adipurana also states that the Tirthankar is the perfect exemple of someone who is without desire for worldly things at the same time as he possesses the splendor of the eight miraculous traits: prātihāryamāyīm bhūtim dadhāno py ananyagām/vītarāgo mahāṃścāsi jagaty etaj jinādbhutam

Therefore, decorating the idol during Aangi is done for a specific purpose to display the true radiance of Tirthankars and therefore, even when adorned, the idol represents the Veetrag avastha.

Misconception 5- Shwetambars worship the Tirthankar idols with open eyes whereas the Digambars worship the Tirthankar idols with semi-closed eyes representing the true detached meditative posture.

While this is true to some extent, one thumb rule cannot be made applicable for all. There are Shwetambar images with eyes in meditative posture and there are also Digambar images with eyes wide open. 

Shwetambar image with eyes in meditative posture - Kshatriyakund, Bihar

Shwetambar image with eyes in meditative posture - National Museum New Delhi

Shwetambar image with eyes in meditative posture - Pindwada Rajasthan (Vasantgarh)

As discussed earlier, the Shwetambar idols depict the phase of a Tirthankar after Kevalgyan (enlightenment). Therefore, while delivering a sermon in the Samavasaran, the Tirthankar is represented with open eyes (as he is not engrossed in meditation at that time). Further, the tradition of pasting Chakshu’s (external eyes) started because the Shwetambar sect believes that the open external eyes allow the worshipper, (through an act of meditative projection) to imagine that he/she is actually in the presence of the living Tirthanakar. The eyes provide a powerful “as if” experience, and thereby enhance the worshipper’s efforts to achieve the state of perfection similar to that of the Tirthankar.

Misconception 6- There is no Shwetambar history in South India. 

It is generally believed that the southern region was a stronghold of Digambar sect and there was no Shwetambar presence; however, it is not entirely true. References in literary treatises suggest that the Mauryan emperor Samprati sent emissaries to the region [34] and even settled some Shwetambar followers in Paithan also known as Malkhed in Deccan. The penetration of the Shwetambar sect deeper into the south is attested by an inscription recording the grant of a village made by Kadamba king Mrigeshvarma in 488 AD which was discussed earlier. However, post this period the presence of Shwetambar sect declined in the south. Various ancient Shwetambar Jain tirths in Andhra Pradesh/ Telangana belt (Kulpakji, Gudivada and Peddatumbalam) also highlight it's antiquity.


[1] Nalini Balbir, Journal of the Pali Text Society Volume XXVI, Pg. 13
[2] Dr. Renuka J Porwal, The Jaina Stupa at Mathura: Art & Icons Pg. 105
[3] ajivako ti nagga-pabbajito, nigantho ti purima-bhaga- patichanno (MP III 334 off. on A III 276 – Quoted by Schlingloff, op.cit. Pg. 71)
[4] Nalini Balbir, Journal of the Pali Text Society Volume XXVI, Pg. 15 
[5] Jaina Sutras, Part II (SBE45), tr. by Hermann Jacobi, [1895]
[6] Dr. Renuka J Porwal, The Jaina Stupa at Mathura: Art & Icons Pg. 103
[7] Dr. Sagarmal Jain, Sagarmal Jain Abhinandan Granth, Pg. 584
[8] Ayarchula 5/1/2
[9] Prof. Ravjibhai Devraj, Acharanga Sutra, Shlok 434
[10] Prof. Ravjibhai Devraj, Acharanga Sutra, Shlok 433
[11] Dr. Renuka J Porwal, The Jaina Stupa at Mathura: Art & Icons Pg. 103-108
[12] Paul Dundas, The Jains, Pg, 46–49, 67–69
[13] Jain Tirth Sarva Sangrah, Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi, Part II - Pg. 504
[14] Mookerji, Radha Kumud Chandragupta Maurya and his times (4th ed.), Pg. 39-40
[15] Samuel, Geoffrey, The Origins of Yoga and Tantra. Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century; Pg. 60
[16] Romila Thapar, Early India: From the Origins to A.D. 1300, Pg. 178
[17] Dikshitar, V. R. Ramachandra, The Mauryan Polity, Pg. 264–266.
[18] Wiley, Kristi L., The A to Z of Jainism, Pg. 50-52
[19] Fleet, J.F., Bhadrabahu, Chandragupta and Shravanabelagola (Indian Antiquary), Pg. 156–162.
[20] Wiley, Kristi L., The A to Z of Jainism, Pg. 50-52
[21] Fleet, J.F., Bhadrabahu, Chandragupta and Shravanabelagola (Indian Antiquary), Pg. 156–162
[22] Dr. Renuka J Porwal, The Jaina Stupa at Mathura: Art & Icons
[23] Dr. Sagarmal Jain, Jin Pratima ka Prachin Swarup ;
[24] Jain Tirth Sarva Sangrah, Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi, Part II - Pg. 411
[25] Dr. Renuka J Porwal, The Jaina Stupa at Mathura: Art & Icons Pg. 160
[26] Indian Antiquary Vol VII, Pg. 38
[27] Vibha Tayal, Royal Patronage of Jainism under the Kadambas of Banavāsi: c. Fifth and Sixth Centuries CE
[28] Dr. Sagarmal Jain, Jin Pratima ka Prachin Swarup Pg. 66
[29] Nathuram Premi, Jain Sahitya aur Itihas Pg. 477
[30] Ratnamandan gani virachit Sukrutsagar, by Jain Atmanand Sabha Bhavnagar, Pg. 105
[31] Nathuram Premi, Jain Sahitya aur Itihas Pg. 471
[32] Acharya Siddhasendiwakarsuri Virachit Vardhaman Shakarastav; Sadhvi Padmalatashriji Pg. 41
[33] The perfect body of the Jina and his imperfect image by Phyllis Granoff
[34] Jain Tirth Sarva Sangrah, Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi, Part II - Pg. 373 


  1. Very nicely written with apt examples for everything 👍

    1. Thank you maalik, for ur inputs as well:)

  2. Some of Jain sects other than Shwetambar Murtipujak critisize and deprecate KESAR POOJA and use words like "some pretender started the custom of KESAR POOJA for pretence".
    I request you to write a article Specialy on Keasr pooja, not to oppose any one but to enhance knowledge and purpose behind the custom followed by shwetambar Murti pujak sangh.

  3. Ohh Dear Friend... You write in such a details... This writing in English will help the new generation. Thanks.

  4. I am impressed with your blog.

  5. Really good work!!

    Need to propagate this to many

    1. Thank you ! Sure please share with as many as possible

  6. Jai Jinendra, This is really amazing. Shows the hardword it would have taken to collect and represent the facts in the right way. Keep posting sir !!

  7. I can understand still that
    What do svetamber belive
    Tirthanker were naked,
    Or tirthanker were clothed

    Some people says they wore a peice of cloth,
    I dont understand why they would had "moh" for a piece of cloth
    I may be biased but i think our tirthankers must be digamber(i mean clothless)
    Then only they could be tru veetragi

  8. अभी मैं हाथीगुम्फा अभिलेख तक पढ़ सका। मैं बहुत पॉज़िटिव होकर इस पूरी ब्लॉग को पढ़ रहा हूँ।
    मेरा एक प्रश्न है- हाथीगुम्फा अभिलेख 150 ईपू के हैं।

    जबकि non श्वेताम्बर के अनुसार श्वेताम्बर साधुओं का अस्तित्व 300 ईपू के पहले था ही नहीं। 12वर्षीय अकाल और इसके फलस्वरूप हुए जैन संघ के विभाजन यानी 3वीं सदी ईपू के बाद ही श्वेताम्बर परम्परा शुरू हुई।
    इसे झूठ सिद्ध करने के लिए जरूरी है कि इस विभाजन के पहले के काल में लिखे शिलालेख में shwetambr साधु की उपस्थिति दिख जाए। चूंकि हाथीगुम्फा अभिलेख इस घटना के बाद के हैं, तो खारवेल के इस अभिलेख में श्वेत वस्त्र दान का उल्लेख कुछ सिद्ध नहीं करता।

    1. बौद्ध ग्रंथो के उल्लेख को गौण क्यों कर रहे हैं ?

  9. इसी तरह मथुरा के कंकाली टीला खुदाई से मिली वस्तुएं भी अगर 3rd सदी ईपू के बाद की होने की वजह से कुछ सिद्ध नहीं करतीं।

  10. Good blog but very much incomplete. You should consider facts from both the sides or shouldn't post these blogs. We are already very low in number and trust between communities can only bind us not these blogs.

    1. Thank you but the blog is very much complete. If you want to provide more information please feel free to share on my email id. If useful, would surely add value to my blog post.

  11. Scarcity of food and water due to drought mentioned in Jataka tales (300 B.C - 200 A.D). So how can I discard the story of Acharya Bhadrabahu migrating to South due to famine and rise of new Jain sect. Although I don't deny the existence of Shwetambar in South India but its only after 3rd BC.

    1. The famine (drought as you have mentioned) is also mentioned in Shvetambar Scriptures, leave alone Buddhist texts. There is no disputing the fact. However as per Shwetambar sources, Acharya Bhadrabahu Swami was in Nepal practicing the Mahapran Dhyan.
      Shwetambars emerging due to migration of Acharya Bhadrabahu is itself discarded in the Digambar text Darshanasar wherein its mentioned that the Shwetambar sect emerged in Vallabhipur in 1st CE AD.
      Various Digambar scriptures themselves deny Acharya Bhadrabahu migrating south as mentioned in the post and it was very late references dating 10th CE onwards which start claiming that Acharya migrated south

  12. There are enough inscription found in shravanbelagola to prove that Acharya Bhadrabahu migrating to South India is true story.
    Note: I respect Shewtamber sect from core of my heart.🙏

    1. I heartily appreciate your respect for Shwetambar tradition, but would also like to point out that the incriptions on Shravanabelagola appear from 9th CE onwards, i.e. 1000 years after the incident, if it actually occured. The earliest inscription mentions Bhadrabahu & Prabhachandra and not Chandragupta Maurya. After examining the Rajavali-kathe more carefully, Dr. J.F. Fleet highlighted some important differences between the text and the inscription: "And, when we examine it [Rajavali-kathe], we find that it really indicates, not Chandragupta, the grandfather of Asoka, but an otherwise unknown Chandragupta, son of Asoka's alleged son Kunala; that he abdicated in favour of an otherwise unknown son named Simhasena and that the Bhadrabahu who figures in it is not the Sruta-Kevalin of that name, but quite a different person, probably the Pontiff Bhadrabahu II

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. I really appreciate your work. Khub khub anumodhna

  14. Hello Arpit Bhai!!
    Your Researchs are really mind blowing.
    In the academic study of ancient history, A famine in Magadh, migration of Bhadrabahu Swami and Sthulabhadracharya 's changes Was Responsible For split into Jain Sangh.
    As a Shwetambar, I was feeling down to believe that our sect has come into existence very late and a way of prabhu Mahavir's teaching is Digambar.
    But By Your Article, I am satisfying that our shwetambar sect is Shashwat and is also dates back to Mahavir Swami.
    Thank You for breaking illusion
    Jai Jinendra🙏

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. अर्पित भाई काफी खींचतान करके आपने बातोंको साबीत करनेका प्रयास किया है परंतू क्षमा करना कुछ तर्क तो काफी हास्यास्पद है। कल कुछ प्रश्न उपस्थित करनेका प्रयास करूंगा। पता नहि समय मिलेगा या नहि।

  16. सादर जय जिनेंद्र,

    श्वेतांबर बंधू अर्पित शाह (निवासी कोलकाता) आपने जो लेख लिखा है जिसने तीर्थांकरोंके समय श्वेतांबर पंथ अस्तित्वमे था| तो उससे संबंधित मेरे कुछ प्रश्न|

    १) कुछ बुद्धिस्ट एवं श्वेतांबरी ग्रंथोमे उल्लेख मिलता है कि तीर्थांकरोंके संघ मे कुछ साधू नग्न थे तथा कुछ वस्त्रधारी| और आपने उन वस्त्रधारी मुनिओयोंको सीधा श्वेतांबरी घोषित कर दिया तो आज भी दिगंबर संघमें कुछ साधु नग्न होते है तथा कुछ वस्त्रधारी जैसे की क्षुल्लक, एलक, तेरापंथी, भट्टारक| आपके लॉजिकसे क्या उन्हें श्वेताम्बरी कहना चाहिए?

    २) वैसेभी उन वस्त्रधारी मुनियोका वर्णन दिगंबर एलक, क्षुल्लक साधुओंसे मिलता है आपके आजके श्वेतांबर साधुओंसे नहीं मिलता| लंगोट में रहनेवाले श्वेतांबर साधु नहीं होते दिगंबर (ऐलक) होते है|

    ३) आप कहते हो की इन वस्त्रधारी साधुओंको मुनि और आचार्य कहा गया है| पहली बात तो इसके समकालीन प्रमाण मिलना संभव नहीं है क्यूंकि तीर्थंकरोके संघ में जो साधु थे उनका विस्तृत वर्णन उपलब्ध नहीं है तो उनको मुनि या आचार्य कहा गया इसका समकालीन प्रमाण क्या आपके पास है? (आपने मथुरा के फोटोज प्रस्तुत किये है वो समकालीन नहीं है और उसमेभी मुख्य मूर्ति दिगंबर ही है)

    ४) श्वेतांबर ग्रन्थ में वस्त्रधारी मुनियोके दो प्रकार बताये है| एक वस्त्रवाले और दो वस्त्रवाले| अगर ये साधु श्वेतांबर होते तो सिर्फ नग्न और वस्त्रधारी ऐसे दो ही प्रकार होने चाहिए थे| आपने तो तीन बताये. श्वेतांबर पन्थियोमे साधु की एकही वेशभूषा होती है २ तरह के वस्त्रधारी साधु श्वेतांबर पंथ में नहीं होते जो की दिगम्बर में होते है| इसपर आपका क्या कहना है?

    ५) आपने जिन बौद्ध ग्रंथोंका प्रमाण दिया है उसमे मज़्ज़िमा निकया ग्रंथ में स्पष्ट रूपसे दिया गया है की भागवान बुद्ध ने भी जैन दिगंबर चर्या धारण कर तप किया था जिन्होंने पारसनाथ भगवान का पंथ अनुकरण किया था| पारसनाथ दिगंबर थे इसीलिए उन्होंने अनुकरण किया होगा ना? और ये बात आपने क्यों छिपाई?

    ६) एक जगह आप खुद बताते हो की जो साधु मानसिक और शारीरिक रूपसे कमजोर थे वह वस्त्र धारण करते थे और जो सामर्थ्यवान थे वह नग्न रहते थे| श्वेतांबर दिगंबर ये दो Philosophies है| तो फर्क philosophy का नहीं बल्कि शारीरिक और मानसिक सामर्थ्यका था तो आपने उन्हे श्वेतांबर किस आधार पर कह दिया?

    ७) धार्मिक ग्रंथोंसे भी ज्यादा प्रभावशाली प्रमाण है अतिप्राचीन शिल्पकला जिसमे सारी मुर्तिया दिगंबर अवस्थामेही मिलती है| तो आपने रास्ता निकला की श्वेताम्बर भी दिगंबर मूर्ति पूजते थे, दिगंबर मंदिर जाते थे| उससे जुड़े कुछ प्रश्न|

    अ) श्वेतांबर भलेही दिगंबर मंदिर जाते हो लेकिन मंदिर और मूर्ति अगर दिगंबर है उसका सीधा अर्थ होता है की तीर्थंकर दिगंबरहि थे| और तीर्थंकर अगर नग्न थे तो एकही संघ में दो Philosophies (श्वेतांबर\दिगंबर) कैसे हो सकती है? अर्थात दिगंबर पंथसेही शुरुवात हुई ये बात स्पष्ट है|

    क) श्वेताम्बर अगर दिगंबर मूर्तियोंकाही पूजन करते थे उनको श्वेताम्बर होने का क्या मतलब? वैसे एक कांजी पंथ आजभी है लेकिन वो दिगंबरहि कहलाते है|

    ड) आप कहते हो की बाद में श्वेतांबरी मूर्तियोंपर कंदोरा तथा कटिसूत्र बनाने की बात तय हुई तो पद्मासन प्रतिमा पर आप कंदोरा तथा कटिसूत्र बनाओगे पर खड्गासन (standing ) मूर्तिपर आप बादमे कंदोरा कटिसूत्र कैसे बनाएंगे? और जब आप दिगंबर मुर्तिया पूज सकते हो और तीर्थंकर नग्न ही थे तो उसे बनाने की जरुरत ही क्या?

    इ) अगर श्वेताम्बरियोंको दिगंबर मूर्ति पूजनीय है तो उसीको जारी रखकर दोनों पन्थोंका मिलन करने आप सामने क्यों नहीं आते? शिरपुर का मसला चुटकी हल हो जायेगा|

    1. 1 & 2 The Digambar tradition does not consider Ailaks, Khullaks and Bhattaraks as monks at all. The Buddhist sources on the other hand show that Nirgranthas wore one piece of garment while it was the Ajivikas who remained naked.
      3. The pedestals and inscriptions specifically mention their titles as Acharya, Arya & Muni
      4. Ancient Shwetambar Agams have classified monks on 3 levels. Only Jinkalpi monks remained nude and did not venture in public.
      5. Please refer my work “Prabhu tamara pagle pagle” which mentions the passage on Buddha practicing Jain tradition
      6. The Acharang Sutra also states that a physically fit young monk should keep only one cloth and those monks who can win over shyness/ shame (lajja) and can bear the cold, heat and insect bites etc. should remain naked. Those monks who cannot win over shyness and cannot bear the cold, heat and insect bites etc. should use one piece of cloth (Cholpatta)
      7. यह जानना आवश्यक है कि पूर्व काल मे पूर्व में जिनप्रतिमा दोनों प्रकार से बनती थी: वस्त्र सहित और वस्त्र रहित। श्री प्रवचनपरीक्षा ग्रन्थमें उपाध्याय श्री धर्मसागरजीने बताया है की दिगंबरों और श्वेतांबरों के बीच गिरनार पर्वत के स्वामित्व को ले कर जो विवाद उठा उसके बाद आचार्य श्री बप्पभट्टीसूरिशवरजी महाराज के आदेश अनुसार अभी से निर्माण होने वाली श्वेतांबर परंपरा की प्रतिमाओं में वस्त्र चिह्न बनाना अनिवार्य हुआ ताकि भविष्य में कोई श्वेतांबर प्रतिमा के स्वामित्व का गलत दावा न कर पाए.


  17. ८) तीर्थंकरोंके संघमें दोनों तरहके साधु होते थे इसके प्रमाण आपने सादर किये पर तीर्थंकर खुद वस्त्रधारी थे इसके प्रमाण आपने नहीं दिए| बहोत बाद लिखे गए ग्रन्थ प्रमाण नहीं माने जा सकते| साधु नग्न और वस्त्रधारी थे ये आप कहते हो इसका अर्थ तीर्थंकर निश्चितही दिगंबर थे क्यूंकि उनमे नग्न रहनेका मानसिक और शारीरिक सामर्थ्य निश्चितही था| ऐसा संभव नहीं की संघप्रमुख वस्त्रधारी हो उनके कुछ शिष्य नग्न चर्या करेंगे| आज श्वेतांबर समाजमे नग्न चर्या मान्य नहीं है| तीर्थंकर अगर श्वेतांबर होते और मोक्ष के लिए वस्त्र त्याग की आवश्यकता नहीं होती तो बाकि साधु क्या मुर्ख थे जो निर्वस्त्र रहते थे? क्या लॉजिक बनेगा? (भगवान पारसनाथभी नग्न थे इसके प्रमाणभी बुद्धिज्म में है)

    तात्पर्य - तीर्थंकरोंके संघमे कुछ साधु अगर वस्त्र धारण करते थे और आगे चलकर उन्होंने श्वेताम्बर पंथ स्थापन किया होगा तो भी जबतक वह दिगंबर संघप्रमुख के नेतृत्वमे थे तब तक उन्हें दिगंबर ही कहा जायेगा. क्युकी तबतक फिलोसोफी चेंज नहीं हुई थी|

    ९) एक प्रश्न शिरपुरसे जुड़ा हुआ. आप कहते हो की मूर्ति मुनिसुव्रतनाथ भागवान के ज़माने की है जिस ज़माने पारसनाथ भगवान का जनम भी नहीं हुआ था| फिर आप कहते है की ये भविष्यकालीन तीर्थंकरकी मूर्ति उन्होंने बनायीं| तो कमठ उपसर्ग के कारन उनके सरपर नागफना दिखाया जाता है| तो पारसनाथ भगवान पे कमठ उपसर्ग करेगा और धरणेन्द्र पद्मावती उनकी रक्षा करेंगे ये भी आपको पहलेसे पता था क्या? मूर्तिमे नागफना कहा से आया?

    जय जिनेंद्र

    1. 8. Acharang Sutra mentions the passage of acceptance Devdushya by Lord Mahavir. All scholars are unanimous that it is the oldest Jain scripture available today.
      9. दिगंबर सम्प्रदाय के अनुसार हनुमानजी की माता अंजना द्वारा श्री मुनिसुव्रत स्वामी के शासनकाल में महाराष्ट्र के अंजनेरी गुफा में बिराजमान श्री पार्श्वनाथ भगवान की सर्पफण युक्त प्रतिमा का निर्माण किया गया था । उसी प्रकार रावण के बहनोई विद्याधर राजा खर द्वारा अंतरिक्ष पार्श्वनाथ भगवान का निर्माण भी किया गया था। जिस तरह वर्तमान में दिगम्बर समाज त्रिकाल चौबीसी में भविष्य में होने वाले तीर्थंकरो की पूजा करता है उसी तरह २० वे तीर्थंकर श्री मुनिसुव्रत स्वामी भगवान के काल मे ७२ कला के ज्ञाता विद्याधर राजा खर द्वारा मूर्ति का निर्माण और पूजन हुआ। श्री तत्वार्थ सूत्र में भी इस तरह के अवधिज्ञान के बारे में लिखा है.

  18. You have literally not shown any evidences from digamber sect, if you do not want to be bias atleast show both sides this can lead to misinformation to some, please review, I have respect for both the sect but anyone should not be afraid of what is actually shown in books of both sides rather than showing only evidences from a single sect only.

    1. Detailed facts from both the sides have been shown. If you have further facts, please share on Would love to enrich the article further.

  19. Jai Jinendra! i would like to know whether Shwetambarr Jains worship Bahubali Bhagwan? are there any Shwetambar sect Pratimaji / pictures of Lord Bahubali Bhagwan? If so please share details.

    1. Yes. Shwetambar Jains also worship Bahubaliji. Will email the pictures. Kindly share your email id

  20. The one cloth depicting saints only cover their genetical part as may be the earlier depiction of Digambar kshulk or elak while the fully covered monks are not shown anywhere except swetambar texts. So how can you verify that one price of cloth wearing monks are swetambar. Even for two clothes monk they can be Digambar bhattarak tradition which emerged after the reasons given by youblike improper thoughts but nowhere tirthankars are depicted wearing clothes, Angi, kandora and kachota.

    1. Dear Reader, I believe you have missed out the reply to your query which already forms a part of the writeup above - "Some of the non Shwetambars have also argued that that these idols depict the Digambar "Kshullaks" and "Ailaks" (junior monks who wear two / one piece of cloth) and not the munis (fully ordained monks). However, the names of these monks as found in the inscriptions have the words "Acharya" and "Muni" which specifically proves that they cannot be "Ailaks" and "Kshullaks"
      Further, thee belongings used by these monks – i.e. Rajoharan, Patra, Jholi, Mukhvastrika etc. were also represented on the carvings which are even used today by Shwetambar Jain monks. Interestingly, the inscriptions give the names of the Kula-Gana-Shakha of the monks which match exactly with the Kalpasutra Sthaviravali which prove that these images were of Shwetambar Jain monks


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