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Flügel, Peter (2012) Askese und Devotion: Das rituelle System der Terāpanth Śvetāmbara Jains. London: Centre of Jaina Studies.

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Historical-philological investigations of Jaina scriptures have a more than two hundred year history. Yet, even today not much is known about the lifestyle of the Jainas or Jains. Since almost two thousand years Jinism or Jainism is split into the two denominations of Digambara and Śvetāmbara, which are internally divided into numerous independent sects and sub-sects. The classical form of the Jaina sect is the fourfold community of a mendicant order of monks (sādhu) and nuns (sādhvī) and male and female lay-followers (śrāvaka & śrāvikā). The regionally or trans-regionally organised mendicant orders around which lay communities have formed are the effective social units within the Śvetāmbara tradition. Almost nothing is known about the history, the specific doctrines, forms of organisation and rituals of these groups. The present study shows that within the Śvetāmbara tradition currently three main traditions exist: Mūrtipūjaka, Sthānakavāsī and Terāpanth. These are divided in about 57 independent orders. An understanding of Jinism as a lived religion is only possible through an investigation of these units. As a research programme this was first formulated by Kendall Folkert in a paper which was published posthumously in 1993. In the present study, completed in 1994 but published only now, this research strategy, independently devised by the author, is applied for the first time. The work is conceived as a multi-perspective historical ethnography of a single Jaina sub-sect. It offers a comprehensive overview of the lifestyle and organisation of the itinerant ascetics of the Terāpanth and its followers. The study is based on intermittent fieldwork in India between 1988-1992 as well as archival and literary sources. As a comparative historical study of the currently observable practices within a particular tradition, it offers a new picture of Jinism. It shows that the specific ritual system of the Terāpanth developed from 1760 onward through a series of cumulative reforms and is still constantly changing. The study of the doctrine, monastic law and the prescriptive rituals of the Terāpanth illustrates in exemplary form in which ways the presumably ‘static’ Jaina tradition evolves and changes. Transmitted canonical and post-canonical texts do not determine conduct, but serve as a pool of authoritative sources which are selectively invoked and expanded in view of particular situations. In this way the mainly liturgical rituals and sect-specific rules of conduct of the Terāpanth have been modified again and again and adapted to changing contexts. In order to account for these new data, the study proposes to replace the Anthropological and Indological standard model of the interaction of text and practice qua value-realisation with a theory of the function of religious value-differentials, texts, discourse and ritual in time.

Item Type: Monographs and Working Papers (Working Paper)
Additional Information: Working Papers of the Centre of Jaina Studies 1
Keywords: Terāpanth, Jaina mendicant order, historical ethnography, theory of social systems, theory of communicative action
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of Religions & Philosophies
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of the Study of Religions > Centre of Jaina Studies
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2012 14:18

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