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The Ritual Circle of the Terāpanth Śvetāmbara Jains

Flügel, Peter (1996) 'The Ritual Circle of the Terāpanth Śvetāmbara Jains.' Bulletin D' Études Indiennes, 13 . pp. 117-176.

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Abstract

The article investigates the history, doctrine, organisation and the annual ritual circle of the Terāpanth Śvetāmbara Jains. It analyses for the first time the relationship between a particular Jain monastic order and its lay following, together forming a 'four-fold' Jain sub-sect. Śvetāmbara Mendicants are organised in form of independent monastic orders. In aniconic Jain sects such as the Terāpanth the mendicants are the sole focus of the religious life of the laity. Image-veneration and temples which furnish an alternative organisational focus in the Mūrtipūjaka and Digambara traditions are rejected, as is the concept of religious property in general. The regional and supra-regional networks of Jain mendicants and laity are coordinated through the annual intinerary (vihāra) of the mendicants whose varying pattern is determined by the ācārya, the leader of the monastic order. At the annual assembly of the Terāpanth mendicants, the maryādā mahotsava, this is done in response to a process of competitive invitations by local Terāpanth lay communities. Based on both textual sources and fieldwork, the article describes in detail the strict Terāpanth distinction between religious (lokottara) and social (laukika) values, informing the vihāra and concepts and practices of gift-giving, compassion, merit and wellbeing which are quite distinct from competing Sthānakavāsī, Mūrtipūjaka and Digambara Jaina traditions. The case of the Terāpanth demonstrates that the theory of two levels of Jain values, 'liberation and wellbeing' defining an ambiguous intermediary 'socio-religious' realm, is not a universally accepted doctrine within the Jain tradition. The investigation of the relationship between religion and economics in the Terāpanth community further shows that socio-religious and economic status do not necessarily overlap. Social status can only be converted into economic credit in the context of monopoly markets. The empirical findings are discussed with reference to the theory of communicative action providing an alternative analytical framework to both Neo-Kantian theories of value and Foucaultian theories of power currently dominating the academic discourse on contemporary Jainism.

Item Type: Articles
Keywords: Terāpanth, Śvetāmbara, Jains, gift giving, laukika, lokottara, maryādā mahotsava, monasticism, pilgrimage, religious network, ritual, power, status, vihāra, Cort, Derrida, Habermas, Laidlaw, Luhmann, Mauss & Beuchat, Weber
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of the Study of Religions > Centre of Jaina Studies
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of the Study of Religions
ISSN: 07613156
Copyright Statement: With permission of the editor.
Depositing User: Peter Flugel
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2008 09:49
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/4482

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