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Summary of Jain Agams


Ang agams: Ang-agams are the oldest religious scriptures and the backbone of Jain literature.

  1. Acharang Sutra (Aayarang): This agam describes the conduct and behavior of ascetic life. It also describes the penance of Lord Mahavir. This is the oldest agam from a linguistic point of view.
  2. Sutrakratang Sutra (Suyagdang): This agam describes nonviolence, Jain metaphysics, and the refutation of other religious theories such as Kriyavada, Akriyavada, Ajnanavada, and Vinayavada.
  3. Sthananga Sutra (Thanang): This agam defines and catalogues the main substances of the Jain metaphysics.
  4. Samavayanga Sutra: This agam defines and catalogues the main substances of the Jain religion from a different perspective than the Sthananga Sutra.
  5. Vhakhya Prajnapti or Bhagavati Sutra (Viyah Pannati): This agam explains the subtle knowledge of soul, matter, and other related subjects. Thirty-six thousands (36000) questions and answers are presented in discussion form. It is the largest of the eleven Ang agams.
  6. Jnata Dharma Kathanga Sutra (Nayadhammakahao): This agam explains Jain principles through examples and stories. This text is very useful in understanding the mode of Lord Mahavir's religious preaching.
  7. Upasaka Dashanga Sutra (Uvasagdasao): This agam explains the code of conduct of the ten lay followers (Shravaks) of Lord Mahavir. This agam is very useful for understanding the code and conduct of ordinary people (Shravaka Dharma) in the Jain religion.
  8. Antah Kradashanga Sutra (Anatagaddasao): This agam tells the stories of ten sacred monks attaining liberation (Moksha) by destroying their karmas.
  9. Anuttaroupa Patika Dashanga Sutra (Anuttarov Vaiya Dasao): This agam contains the stories of additional ten sacred monks who attained the top-most heaven, known as Anuttara heaven.
  10. Prashna Vyakrana Sutra (Panha Vagarnai): This agam describes the five great vows (mahavratas) and the five worst sins defined in the Jain religion.
  11. Vipaka Sutra (Vivagsuyam): This agam explains the results of good and bad karmas through several stories.
  12. Drastivada Sutra: The twelfth Ang-agam Drastivad is considered lost by all Jain Sects. The description, which is found in the other Jain Sutras relating to Drashtivada, indicates that this Ang-agam was the largest of all Agam Sutras. It was classified in five parts: (l) Parikarma (2) Sutra (3) Purvagata (4) Pratham-anuyoga and (5) Chulika. The third part, Purvagata contained 14 purvas. They contain the Jain religion's endless treasure of knowledge on every subject. Some scholars believe that it was so named, the knowledge, which existed before Lord Mahavira was called 'Purva'.
Upang Agams: The scriptures, which were created in relation to Ang-agams, are called Upang-agams. They provide further explanation of Ang-agams.
  1. Aupa Patika Sutra (Ovavaiya): This agam describes the splendid procession (view) of King Konika when he visited Lord Mahavir. It also explains how a person can attain heaven in the next life.
  2. Raja Prashniya Sutra (Raya Pasen Ijja): This agam describes the story of Monk Keshi. Monk Keshi was the Ganadhara of Lord Parshvanath. He removed the doubts of King Pradeshi regarding the existence and attributes of the soul. Monk Keshi made the king a follower of the Jain religion. After his death, the king was born in heaven as a deva. He appeared from heaven to shower Lord Mahavir with unprecedented pomp and splendor. The thirty two dramas (plays) described in this agam throw light upon the ancient dramatic art of India.
  3. Jivabhigama Sutra: This agam describes the universe and the subtle description of all living beings (souls) of the universe. It gives very important information to the scholars of biology and botany.
  4. Prajnapana Sutra (Pannavana): This agam describes the form and attributes of souls from a different perspective.
  5. Surya Prajnapti Sutra (Surya Pannti): This agam describes the Sun, the planets and the associated mathematics regarding their motion.
  6. Chandra Prajnapti Sutra: This agam describes the Moon, the planets and the associated, mathematics regarding their motion. Both of these upangas, the Chandra Prajnapti and Surya Prajnapati, are very important in understanding the astrology of olden times.
  7. Jambudveepa Prajnapti Sutra: This agam provides a description of Jambudveepa. Jambudeepa is a big island located in the center of the middle world as explained in the Jain geography. It also provides information on ancient kings.
  8. Nirayarvali Sutra: This agam describes the story of ten bother princes. All ten princes fought with King Chetaka of Vaishali in cooperation with king Konika. King Chetaka was the half brother of the ten princes. In the end all ten princes went to hell after dying in war.
  9. Kalpa Vatansika Sutra (Kappavadamsiao): This agam describes the story of King Konika's children. They did not fight with King Chetaka in the war. They renounced the world and became monks. After their death, they went to heaven.
  10. Pushpika Sutra (Puspiao): This agam describes the previous lives of certain devas (angels) who worshiped Lord Mahavir.
  11. Pushpa Chulika Sutra: This agam describes stories similar to those in the Pushpika.
  12. Vrashnidasha Sutra (Vanhidasao): This agam explains how Lord Neminath convinced ten kings in the Vrashni region to follow the Jain religion.

Chhed Sutra Aagams:The subject matter described in the Chhed sutras is for ascetics and not for lay people. It provides the rule of conduct, punishment, and repentance for ascetics. It also explains how they can repent for their sins and mistakes.

  1. Nisheetha Sutra (Nisiha): This agam explains the procedure of repentance (Prayashchitta) in the form of punishment for the monks and nuns who have violated the rules of ascetics.
  2. Vrahat Kalpa Sutra: This agam explains which of the ten kinds of repentance (Prayashchittas) is appropriate for a particular wrongdoing done by monks and nuns. It also defines the acceptable conduct of monks and nuns.
  3. Vyavahara Sutra*: This agam describes the system of confession for monks and nuns who fall from proper conduct. It explains the qualifications of the listening monk or nun and with what sort of feeling the confession should be made. It also explains what sort of repentance (Prayashchitta) the monk should perform. There are several other indications of the limits of ascetic life.
  4. Dasha Shruta Skandha Sutra (Achardasha): There are ten chapters in this Sutra. It contains the following information:

Chapter Subject

1 20 places of Asamadhi

2 21 major faults bringing weakness in conduct

3 33 Ashatanas of Guru

4 8 Sampadas of Acharyas and their kinds

5 10 places of Chitta Samadhi

6 11 Pratimas of layperson

7 Pratimas of ascetics (monks and nuns)

8 KALPASUTRA   (recited during the Paryushanas)

9 30 places of bondage of Mohniya karma

10 9 Nida nas (Niyane)

  1. Panch Kalpa Sutra*: This sutra explains the daily rituals the monks and nuns have to perform. Only scattered chapters of this agam are now available. However, the commentaries (Bhashya and Churni) written about this agam by some elder monks are available.
  2. Mahanisheetha Sutra: This agam explains the process of confession and repentance (Prayashchitta) for monks and nuns. It explains the magnitude of pain one has to suffer if he or she breaks the fourth vow (chastity). It also describes and explains the conduct of good and bad monks.

Mool-sutras: The scriptures, which are essential for monks and nuns to study in the early stages of their ascetic life, are called Mool sutras.
  1. Avashyaka Sutra: The daily rituals or routines, which it is necessary to perform during the day and night for the purification of soul, are called Avashyaka. A description of the six routines (Avashyakas) is explained in this agam. The six routines are; Samayika, Chaturvinshatistava, Vandanaka, Pratikramana, Kayotsarga, and Pratyakhyana.
  2. Dasha Vaikalika Sutra: This agam briefly describes and explains the conduct of ascetic life.
  3. Uttaradhyayana Sutra: This agam has the same place in Jain literature as the Dhammapada in Buddhism and the Geeta in the Hindu religion. It contains preaching regarding religious principles and practices, and many stories, dialogues, and examples based on such principles and practices.
  4. Ogha Niryukti or Pinda Niryukti Sutra*: This agam explains certain rules and procedures for monks with respect to travelling, staying, and accepting food and other necessities from lay people.

Chulika sutras: The scriptures, which enhance or decorate the meaning of Ang agams are known as Chulika sutras or some times known as Sutras.
  1. Nandi Sutra: This agam contains an elaborate description of Tirthankaras, Ganadharas, and five types of Knowledge (Jnan); Mati, Shrut, Avadhi, Manaparyay, and Keval-Jnan.
  2. Anuyogadvara Sutra: This agam provides the description of many rights regarding the mode of preaching.

Prakirna agams:The scriptures, which describe independent or miscellaneous subjects of the Jain religion, are known as Prakirna sutra.
  1. Chatuh Sharana*: This agam contains prayers to the four benevolent beings:

Arihant   God in the form of perfect human being

Siddha   God in the form of pure consciousness

Sadhu - Ascetics

Dharma   Religion

  1. Aatur Pratyakhyana (Aayur Pachakhana)*: This agam explains differences in the death of children, youths, adults, and old people. It also describes the types of vows a wise person should take during various states of illness and how he should beg the pardon of all living beings in the universe.
  2. Bhakti Parijna (Bhatta parinna)*: This agam describes the process of fasting and how one should reflect at the time of death.
  3. Sanstaraka (Santhara)*: This agam describes the process of dying by one's own desire and its glory.
  4. Tandulavaitalika*: This agam describes the state of pregnancy and provides knowledge about the human body.
  5. Chandra Vedhyaka*: This agam describes the method of concentrated meditation (Dhyana) that one should observe through the description of Radhavedha.
  6. Devendra Stava*: This agam describes the names, positions, and residences of Devas (angels) that live in heaven. It also provides a description of the moon, sun, planets, and stars.
  7. Ganita Vidya*: This agam describes palmistry and how it is used to predict the future (Nimitta).
  8. Mahapratyakhyana*: This agam explains how to completely give up the worst sins and how to repent these sins.
  9. Veerastava*: This agam is considered lost. However, it appears from literature referencing this agam that it contained prayers of Lord Mahavir.

Note: * These 13 Agams are not recognized by the Sthanakvasi and Terapanthi Jain sects.

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