Samavayangasuttam: A Jaina Canonical Text (Text with English Translation, Variant Readings, Notes and Appendix)

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Item Code: NAH389
Author: Dr. Ashok Kumar Singh
Publisher: Bhogilal Leherchand Institute of Indology, Delhi
Language: Sanskrit and with English Translation
Edition: 2012
Pages: 486
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.5 inch x 7.5 inch
Weight 1 kg
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Book Description

About the Book


The ‘Samavayanga-sutta’ is the fourth in the series of the twelve most authentic and the earliest Canonical texts Cangas) composed in the Ardhmagadhi Prakrit. It is usually dated in the 5th to 4th c. BCE. ‘Samavaya’ means ‘a group’ ‘an aggregate’ or a ‘cluster’ of items, subjects or concepts usually associated with each other through certain common characteristics. The text is named as such because it follows the pattern of enlisting the subjects and themes related to Jain doctrine in a group form following numerical order in ascending manner. i.e. starting with 1 and going upto 100 in a regular way and then beyond in a faster pace, upto one crore. These subjects are then dealt with in a detailed and substantial manner unfolding their characteristics, a process during which important psychological and ontological aspects of Jain doctrine as well its cosmological beliefs come to fore. The text is thus an invaluable source of deriving information on various aspects of Jain philosophy and belief system.


It is the first ever English translation of the text embellished with critical and supplementary notes which is being issued for the sake of reaching a wider Jain and Non- Jain readership, especially researchers and scholars.


About the Author


Ashok Kumar Singh (Jan. 1956)

An alumnus of the Allahabad University having Master’s degrees both in Sanskrit and Philosophy. Acquired D.Phil. on ‘‘A critical study of the Prabandhakosha of Rajashekhara". Later he developed special interest for Prakrit as well as Jain Studies and has acquired proficiency in both of them.


Has independently edited 07 books and has been a co-editor of 3 works. Has participated and presented papers in more than a dozen national and International Conferences. Around 30 of his research articles ha e appeared in reputed journals.


He has been on the staff of B. L. Institute as Associate Professor looking after its teaching and research activities and at present he is on faculty of the Parshvanath Vidyapeeth, Varanasi.




Publisher’s Note


The B. L. Institute of Indology, Delhi has immense pleasure in publishing the English translation of Samvayangasutra in its Silver Jubilee Year 2009.


Dr. Ashok Kumar Singh, Associate Professor, has very carefully prepared this English translation of the ancient Ardamagadhi text Samvayangasutra, as accurate as possible. For this volume, he wrote a learned preface and introduction and appexed four appendices to add the further value to the work. On the occasion of the publication of this volume we congratulate and express our best compliments to the translator and editor.


Our sincere thanks are due to eminent scholars of Indology Prof. S. R. Banerjee & Prof. Piotr Balcerowicz, Poland. Both have been closely associated with this project. Prof. S. R. Banerjee at the initial stage and Prof. Piotr was generous in going through the draft of English translation and suggesting to include the text in the project. In fact the present final shape of this volume is the incorporation of his precious suggestions.


For the text of this volume our sincere obligation is also due to Mahavira Jaina Vidyalaya, Mumbai and its erudite editor Rev. Muni Jambuvijayaji.


It will be perfectly in place here to say some words about how the BLII was founded on the eve of its Silver Jubilee Year. The late Revered Jain Ach. Vijay Vailabh Surishwarji Maharaj is well-known throughout India for his humanism, his concern for the upliftment of the human race and his disciplined way of life.


To commemorate the teachings of the great visionary Ach. ‘a beautiful memorial (Smarak Complex) with a magnificent shrine has come up on the outskirts of Delhi. The Smarak is the brain-child of the late Mahattara Vidushi Sadhvisri Mrigavatiji, herself a great scholar of Jaina Canons and a true disciple of Ach. VijayVailabh Surishwarji Maharaj.


The Bhogilal Leherchand Institute of Indology (BLII) was started through the munificent donations provided by the trusts of the Bhogilal Leherchand family and through Atma Vallabh Jaina Smarak Shikshan Nidhi to sponsor and promote research in Indology and other aspects of Indian culture, objectives dear to Revered Acharyasriji. Ach. VijayVallabhji Maharaj was advised by his guru in his last sermon:


"Temples to God have been built. Now you must build temples to Sarasvati."


The academic programme of the Institute is to initiate, organise and give a fillip to research in Indological subjects in general and Jainology in particular.


Our thanks are also due to Sri Rajkumarji, General Secretary of Sri Atma Vallabh Jaina Smarak Shikshan Nidhi, for the keen interest shown in this publication.


We also thank to the staff of the BUI, for their assistance and cooperation in various ways, especially to Mr. Laxmi Kant, Computer Operator, BLII who has very sincerely accomplished the task of in corporating proof correction and type-setting. We wish that the work receives appreciation of scholars and proves incentive to the translator for bringing out similar works in future.




It is gratifying that Jaina canonical literature attracted the attention of scholars golbally. Since the publication of authentic translations of four canons, namely Acaranga, Sutrakrtanga, Uttaradhyayana and Kalpasutra, in the Sacred Books of the East Series and of few others outside, a number of commendable efforts have been made by Jaina Institutions- academic as well as religious, by scholars in India and abroad, to bring out the English translations of the, Svetambara Ardharnagadhi canons. With the result that few of these like Acaranga, Uttaradhyayana, Kalpasutra and Dasavaikalika have more than one English translations. But texts such as Samavayainga, Prajnapana are still waiting for the favour of scholars in this regard.


Prior to my arrival at BLII, this Institute has already undertaken the project of English translation of third Angasutra Sthananga, therefore, with the permission of the management I took the project of translating this fourth Anga text, Samavayangasutra. Because in content and style it bears close similarity with the third Anga. Both texts are encyclopaedic nature and are suppliment to each other. Though categories here exceed ten and continue by progression up to hundred and then far exceed hundred. Immediately following, but without any logical connection with this, is a detailed table of contents and extent of all the twelve Angas; then all sorts of statements which cannot be united into one class and which deal partly with doctrine, partly with hagiology and, if we may use the expression, history or legend.


Initially, at the pattern of SBE Series, it was intended to bring out only the English translation of this work and the text of Madhukar Muni edition published from Byavar was made as the base for the purpose. Subsequently, in the light of the suggestion of the Aademic Council of BLII, notes on translation was included in the original scheme. For including text with variant readings in the present project i.e. the text of critical edition of Mahavira Jaina Vidyalaya, Mumbai, Institute as well as the translator, is very much obliged to Prof. Piotr Balcerowicz, Poland. Ultimately, Introduction, three appendices Gatha Index, Classified Index of Proper Names, Glossary of Technical Terms, in addition to Bibliography and Word Index, present the composit whole of this project of the present edition.


The introduction, in brief, commences with the meaning of Agama, Sruta and other terms used to connote this genre of sacred literature. The relation between Piirva and Dvadasangi, date of composition of Ardhamagadhi canons, abridgement in Jaina canons and subject-matter of is dealt herein. The information on the editions of Samavayanga brought out till date also is given here. The text and variant readings of Mahavira Jaina Vidyalaya edition, published in the Jaina Agama Series, edited by Pujya Muni Jambuvijayaji, is reproduced in this volume, verbatum. Word index, also is based on that of this edition. For Classified Index of Proper Names the model given in the Ladnun Edition of Samavao has been adopted and changed according to the readings of Mahavira Jain Vidyalaya edition. For notes on the translation the editions of Byavar, Rajasthan and Ladnun editions have been utilized. The system of transliteration given in the Sanskrit-English Dictionary of Monier Williams has been adopted.


Now, I may take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to various persons who in various ways have helped me during the course of this project. First of all I offer my deep sense of gratitude to my guru Respected Prof. Suresh Chandra Pandey, Former Head, Sanskrit Department of Allahabad University, who inspired me for the study Of Jaina literature by suggesting me to take a Jaina text for research. I can not find suitable words to express my gratefulness to Prof. Jitendra B. Shah, Director, 1. D. Institute of Indology and Vice Chairman of BLII, in whom since 1984 I have found a well wisher. In fact, I solely owe to him for my arrival at BLII.


I will always be indebted to Prof. M. A. Dhaky, a profound scholar of international repute whose unparalled knowledge of Jaina religion, literature, art and architecture, makes him a natural role model for those in this area. I have the fortune to interact with his writings and in person from the very start of my career. His blessings have always been with me. I express my deep sense of gratitude to Prof. Satya Ranjan Banerjje, Quondam Professor at Kolkata University, a great Savant of Prakrit and Jaina Studies, who was associated with this project from its inception. He has enriched this project by his invaluable suggestions, during his stay at BLII for Summer School of Prakrit and as the member of the Academic Council of BLII.




The scriptures or canons, English equivalent for agama or sruta, are officially recognized sets of sacred texts, pertaining to any religious, philosophical, scientific and other systems. Lexically, the term canon connotes: (a) authentic laws of religion, spirituality, thoughts and behaviours, (b) a list or collection of authoritative books or writings, containing the above laws’. Webster’s Encyclopaedic Unabridged Dictionary", mentions its meanings as : (i) an ecclesiastical rule or law enacted by a council or other competent authority, (ii) the body of ecclesiastical law etc. According to Oxford English Dictionary", this term denotes any set of sacred books. Thus, canons are the basic literature of a system - religious, philosophical, scientific and others, regulating their working, following and progress.


Etymologically, the term sruta stands, in general, for reading, teaching and preservation of learning by successive and traditional teacher-taught hearings and memorised communications, in olden days. Its derivative meaning referred only the heard words and their meanings but comprehended other methods also, leading to knowledge and ultimately, all the instrumental causes leading to produce sruta’, However, in Jaina tradition, it stands for the knowledge, dealing with the spiritual and moral upliftment of living beings. The term agama, a specific and later form of stuta, denoting form of general knowledge, implies valid and consistent one, imparted by the direct knower.


Besides, sruta and agama, a number of other words are mentioned in Jaina texts. Anuyogadvarasutra" and Tattvarthadhigamasutra", mention ten and eight, respectively. With three in common, thus, total fifteen. The term sastra, also frequently used, makes the total sixteen, connoting all-purpose utilitarian meaning implying: (i) those containing rules governing the society and individuals and (ii) those preserving the culture of the community. The synonyms for sruta and agama may be put as follows: sruta: heard from the attained or his disciples.

1. sruta: heard from the attained or his disciples.

2. upadesa: instructions to learn about good or bad.

3. agama: traditional doctrines or sacred canons containing them.

4. sutra: abbreviated indicators, aphorisms or sacred collections.

5. grantha: treatises of sermons, collections, connecting or stringing together of sermons.

6. siddhanta: tenets or established truths.

7. sasana: authentic controlling instructions on disciplines.

8. ajna: commandments.

9. vacana: sermons in the form of spoken words.

10. prajnapana: communication of sermons.

11. jinavacana: precepts of the Jinas.

12. pravacana: special sermons.

13. aptavacana: instructions of the attained.

14. aitihya: traditional preachings .

15. amnaya: sacred traditions.

16. sastra: teaching, awakening and discipline about constraints and preservation of culture".


The great Jaina scholars Revered Muni Punyavijaya and Pt. Dalsukh Malvania also deliberated, in detail, on the meaning and synonyms of the word ‘agama’ as occurred in canonical literature. To quote their words, "From the use of the word ‘agama’ in the scriptures at various places we gather that the intention there is to convey the meaning jnana (knowledge) by the term ‘agama’. ‘Agametta anavejja is translated into Sanskrit as ‘jnatva ajnapayet’ i.e. ‘may order after having known’.


Ach. Bhadrabahu says that ‘pravacana’, ‘sutra’ and ‘artha’ .are synonyms". But how ‘sutra’ and ‘artha’ can be synonymous with ‘pravacana’ because ‘pravacana’ constitutes the genus while sutra and artha constitute its species and also because sutra and artha are not mutually identical. Jinabhadra" solves the difficulty by suggesting that even sutra and artha could be considered to be synonymous v ith ‘pravacana’ if we view genus and its species mutually identical. Thus, Jaina literature contains a number of terms prevalent for the sacred literature Jainas.



Relation Between Purva & Drstiviula: The Samavayangsutra deals elaborately with the sections and sub- sections of twelfth Anga canon Drstivada. Purva, here is enumerated as its third of five sections, others being Parikarma, Sutra, Anuyogo and Culika in respective order. The content of this twelfth Anga is also described in Sthanangasutra (c.3rd cent. B.C.), Nandisutra of Devavacaka (c. mid 5th cent. ), Tattvarthavartika of Akalanka, Dhavala of Virasena, Jaidhavala of Jayasena and Angaprajnapti. Against the background that Drstivada is taken to be extinct and Purva represented the literature prior to Mahavira era, this description becomes significant. The relation between purva literature and Angas in general and twelfth Anga Drstivada, in particular has been haunting the scholars since long and last word on it has yet to come. Some considered Purva literature as explicitly denoting the literature prior to Mahavira while to some it formed the part of 12th anga Drstivada. To them, the fourteen Purvas formed the part of twelth Anga Drstivada and belonged to Sudharma. In consequence of this the six patriarchs viz. Prabhava, Sayyam- bhava, Yasobhadra, Sambhutivijaya, Bhadrabahu and Sthulabhadra had the epithet of srutekvalin or caturdasapurvi (knower of fourteen Purvas).


The following seven patriarchs: Mahagiri, Suhasti to Vajra knew only ten Purvas. As tradition maintains that with Sthulabhadra, the knowledge of the last four Purvas (11-14) ceased to exist, hence Mahagiri etc. are called dasapurvi. In Anuyogadvara there is also mention of the navapurvi, a grade lower than dasapurvi alongwith dasapurvi and caturdasapurvi. From that point the knowledge of the Purva decreased gradually and ultimately, in the time of Devarddhigani, 980 years after Vira (463 AD); only one Purva remained.


On the basis of mention in the Samavayanga etc. the content of the whole Drstivada including the fourteen purvas, Drstivada appears to be still extant at the time of these texts and moreover, to be still intact, since there is no mention of any imperfection.’


Abridegment in Canons

The tradition to abridge the text was in vogue due to learning of stuta by heart and facilitate the scribing. Pt. Bechardas Doshi observed, "The traditional Jaina monks considered the tendency to write and get written as sinful activities. They, nevertheless, adopted this path as an exception to safeguard the scriptures. The less writing, the better. They adopted a method to reduce the sinful activity to the least for the safeguard of the scriptures. With the help of two novel words ‘vanno’ and ‘java’ they could abridge thousands of gathas, hundreds of sentences and their beginning was shortened as well as no deficiency occurred in understanding the meaning of the scripture."


Three reasons- the system to learn the sruta by heart, convenience by the scribe and intention to write briefly- are probable causes leading to the abridgement of the text. It undoubtedly caused no deficiency in the meaning, but it marred the charm of the text. The monks, having learnt the whole canonical literature by heart, can make out the antecedents and precedent referred to by the words ‘vanno’ and ‘java’ but the class of monks learning with the help of the manuscripts cannot do. The text, having the references of ‘vannao’ and ‘java’ has not proved much beneficial to them.


According to Pt. Bechardas Doshi, the text abridgement was done by Devarddhigani Ksamasramana. He writes Devarddhigani Ksamasramana while putting the agamas into writing, kept some important points in mind. Wherever he found similar reading, he avoided the later one by using the words, e.g. jaha uvavaie, jaha pannavanae etc. to denote the omitted text. When some statement occurred repeatedly in a text, he used the word ‘java’ and wrote the last word of it refraining from the repetition.


Modem scholars held the view that the process of abridgement might have been started by Devarddhigani, but it developed in the later period. In the specimens, available at present, the abridged text is not uniform. A sutra has been abridged in one specimen but written in its full version in the other. The commentators also mentioned" it in many places.

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