Digambara Jains

Digambara (dik=directions, ambara=cloths. The one who wears nothing but sky) is one of the two major Jainism sects, the other being Swetambara (sweta=white, ambara=cloths, the one who wears white cloths). mahavir-bhagwanji-rajasthanDigambara monks do not wear any clothes as it is considered to be parigraha (possession), which ultimately leads to attachment, they carry picchi, a broom made up of fallen peacock feathers (for clearing the place before walking or sitting), kamandal (a water jug), and shastra (scripture).2-jain-symbol

  • The scriptures Satkhandagama and Kasayapahuda have major significance in the Digambara
  • Prominent Digambara monks: Kundakunda (who authored Prakrit), Acharya Vidyasagar, Acharya Gyansagar
  • Kundakunda authored Prakrit texts such as the Samayasaara and the Pravachanasaara.
  • The head of all monastics is called Āchārya, while Upadhyaaya is the saintly preceptor of saints.
  • The Āchārya has 36 primary attributes (mula guna) in addition to the 28 mula gunas required for monks.
  • The monks perform kayotsarga (give up one’s physical comfort and body movements, thus staying steady in yogic or standing posture and concentrating upon the true nature of the soul) daily, in a rigid and immobile posture, with the arms held stiffly down, knees straight, and toes directed forward.
  • Female monastics in Digambara tradition are known as aryikas.
  • Worship completely nude idols of tirthankaras and siddha
  • Collection of Jain scriptures are called Agamas.

A Digambara monk must possess 28 mula gunas (primary attributes).

  • Five mahavratas (supreme vows)
  • Five samitis (regulations)
  • Panchendriya nirodha (five-fold control of the senses)
  • Sadavasyakas (six essential duties)
  • Seven niyamas (rules or restrictions).
Category Vow Meaning
Five Great Vows
1. Ahimsa Not to injure any living being through actions or thoughts
2. Truth To speak only the truth and good words
3. Asteya Not to take anything unless given
4. Brahmacharya Celibacy in action, words and thoughts
5. Aparigraha Renunciation of worldly things
Fivefold regulation of activities
6. irya To walk carefully after viewing land to the extent of 2 yards.
7. bhasha Not to criticise anyone or speak bad words
8. eshna To accept food from a sravaka (householder) if it is free from 46 faults
9. adan-nishep Carefulness in the handling of whatever the saint possess.
10. pratishṭapan To dispose off the body waste at a place free from living beings.
Panchindrinirodh 11–15. Fivefold control of the senses Shedding all attachment and aversion towards the sense objects pertaining to touch, taste , smell, sight, and hearing
Six Essential Duties 16. Samayika Meditate for equanimity towards every living being
17. stuti Worship of the Tirthankaras
18. vandan To pay obeisances to siddhas, arihantas and acharyas
19. Pratikramana Self-censure, repentance; to drive oneself away from the multitude of karmas, virtuous or wicked, done in the past.
20. Pratikhayan Renunciation
21. Kayotsarga Giving up attachment to the body and meditate on soul.
Seven rules
22. adantdhavan Not to use tooth powder to clean teeth
23. bhushayan Sleeping on hard ground
24. asnana Non-bathing
25. stithi-bhojan Eating food in standing posture
26. ahara To consume food and water once a day
27. kesa-lonch To pluck hair on the head and face by hand.
28. nudity To be nude (digambara)

Spiritual lineage (Pattavali)

According to Digambara texts, after liberation of the Lord Mahavira, three Anubaddha Kevalis attained Kevalajnana sequentially – Gautama Gaņadhara, Acharya Sudharma, and Jambusvami in next 62 years. During the next hundred years, five Āchāryas had complete knowledge of the scriptures, as such, called Sruta Kevalis, the last of them being Acharya Bhadrabahu.

Acharyas Time period Known for / Authors of
Bhadrabahu 3c BC Last Shruta Kevalin
Kundakunda 1c AD Samayasāra, Niyamasara, Pravachansara, Barah anuvekkha
Umaswami 2c AD Tattvartha Sutra
Samantabhadra 2c AD Ratnakaranda śrāvakāchāra, Aptamimamsa
Siddhasena Divakara 5c AD Sanmatitarka
Pujyapada 5c  AD Iṣṭopadeśa (Divine Sermons)
Manatunga 6c AD Bhaktamara Stotra
Virasena 8c AD Dhavala
Jinasena 9c AD Mahapurana and Harivamsha Purana.
Nemichandra 10c AD Dravyasamgraha and supervised the consecration of the Gomateshwara statue.


Ṣaṭkhandagama is the teachings of Mahavira, the oldest known Digambara texts written on palm leaves by Acharya Dharasena, Pushpadanta and Bhutabali after 683 years after the nirvana of Mahavirajain-scriptures-agamas

Digambaras group the texts into four literary categories called

  • Anuyoga (exposition).
  • Prathmanuyoga (first exposition) contains the universal history,
  • Karananuyoga (calculation exposition) contains works on cosmology
  • Charananuyoga (behaviour exposition) includes texts about proper behaviour for monks and Sravakas.

Digambar Jains are divided into sub-sects like Terapanthi, Bispanthi etc.

Terapanthi: Worship the idols with ashta-drava viz. jal (water), chandan (sandal), akshata (sacred rice), pushp (yellow rice), deep (yellow dry coconut), dhup (kapoor or cloves) and fal (almonds). They oppose the worship of minor gods and goddesses. No use of flowers in worship,

Bispanthi: Besides tirthankaras, Bispanthi also worship Yaksha and Yakshini like Bhairava and Kshetrapala. Their religious practices include aarti and offerings of flowers, fruits and prasad. Bhattarakas are their dharma-guru.

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