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Flügel, Peter (2020) 'Present Lord: Sīmandhara Svāmī and the Akram Vijñān Movement.' In: Flügel, Peter, (ed.), Contributions to Jaina Studies: Jaina Schools and Sects. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, pp. 448-488.

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Most textbooks present Jainism as a religion which survives in a pristine state virtually unchanged from the time of its last prophet, Mahāvīra, some 2500 years ago. Walther Schubring, for instance, wrote in his classical work The Doctrine Of The Jainas: Described After The Old Sources that the "teaching proper" of Jainism, which propagates monastic asceticism as the principal means of salvation, was "scarcely affected" by exterior changes: "The new formations which developed to remain", he writes, "are nearly exclusively concerned with formalities." This view was reiterated by Robert Williams, in his book Jaina Yoga, which describes the textual prescriptions for the traditional rituals of lay Jainism, though he emphasized that the "changelessness of Jainism is no more than a myth": "Admittedly there have been no spectacular changes in basic assumptions such as there were, for example, in Mahāyāna Buddhism. At most there have been variations in emphasis. Had Jainism, as at one time must have seemed possible, become a majority religion in southern India something akin to a Digambara Mahāyāna might, with continuing favourable circumstances, have emerged. But all that can be detected today are the traces of aborted developments." In his influential work The Jaina Path of Purification, P. S. Jaini detailed examples of the continual 'erosive' influence of Hindu devotionalism on almost every aspect of popular Jainism from the 5th century onwards, but restated Williams' view: "No movement towards a more catholic viewpoint or liberalized discipline, no "Jaina Mahayana," was ever allowed to develop among either the Digambaras or the Śvetāmbaras." In this chapter I will present at least one case not only of a doctrine or isolated features but of a new syncretistic religious movement which, I would argue, can legitimately be called 'Jaina Mahāyāna', i.e. a primarily devotional form of Jainism, visibly different from the ascetic path outlined in the canonical and classical Jain scriptures, which congenially combines Kundakunda's 'Digambara Mahāyāna' soteriology (which is in many ways closer to Śaṅkara's Advaita Vedānta), Sāṃkhya ontology and classical Jain cosmology with a ritual idiom that is largely derived from popular Vaiṣṇava devotionalism and Tantric miracle cults.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Keywords: Akram Vijñān Mārg, Modern Religious Reform Movement, Jaina-Hindu Syncretism, Jaina Mahāyāna, Sīmandhara Svāmī, Dādā Bhagavān, Ambalāl Mūljībhāī Paṭel, Kanubhāī Paṭel, Nīrubahen Amīn, Kundakuṇḍa, Śrīmad Rājacandra, Kānjī Svāmī, W. Schubring, R. Williams, P.S. Jaini, W. Johnson
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
ISBN: 9788194243830
Copyright Statement: All rights with the author
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2020 11:41

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