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Demographic Trends in Jaina Monasticism

Flügel, Peter (2006) 'Demographic Trends in Jaina Monasticism.' In: Flügel, Peter, (ed.), Studies in Jaina History and Culture: Disputes and Dialogues. London and New York: Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group), pp. 312-398. (Routledge Advances in Jaina Studies)

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Abstract

The study of Jainism as a lived religion is still hampered by a lack of reliable sociological and demographic information both on the Jain laity and Jain mendicants. Most empirical studies to date have been thematically oriented or were of an exploratory nature, based on the methods advanced by the classical anthropological village studies or on small surveys of a non-representative nature. In both cases, the units of investigation were defined in terms of observer categories which were often created ad hoc in the field due to the advantages of snowball sampling under conditions of limited resources. Despite the pioneering studies of Vilas Sangave (1959/1980) on the social divisions of the Jain lay community and of Muni Uttam Kamal Jain (1975) on the pre-modern history of the religious divisions of the Jain mendicants, most students of Jainism, and indeed most Jains, have still no way of knowing how many independent mendicant orders exist today and how they are organised. The aim of this article is to fill this gap and to provide a brief overview of the present schools, orders and sects within both the Śvetāmbara- and the Digambara-denomination by bringing together the available demographic data on the current Jain monastic traditions with a synopsis of their schismogenesis and an analysis of the principal dimensions of social organisation. It is argued that the reinvention of the tradition of the naked Digambara munis in the early twentieth century and the increasing level of education of Jain women together with organisational reforms of the Śvetāmbara orders are amongst several decisive causal factors informing the current exponential increase of the number of Jain mendicants. The most interesting result of this study is the emerging, nearly complete, pattern of the group structure of the current Jain mendicant traditions, including the Digambara traditions whose modern history is described for the first time. A comprehensive analysis of the Jain lay movements is beyond the scope of this article.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Keywords: Jainism, monasticism, schools, orders, sects, history, organisation, demography, reasons for renunciation
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of the Study of Religions > Centre of Jaina Studies
ISBN: ISBN10: 0-415-36099-4 (hbk)
Copyright Statement: E-print with permission of the publishers.
Depositing User: Peter Flugel
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2009 09:39
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/6242

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