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Important Features Of Svetambara Jainism Sampradaya

The important and main features of Svetambara Jainism Sampradaya are as follows:

  1. According to Svetambara Jain sect, teachings Tirthankara Mahavira were preserved in the form of Agamas.
  2. Women can directly attain moksha.
  3. Complete non-possessiveness in the form of nudity is not essential for moksha.
  4. There are also some differences over the life stories of other Tirthankaras.

Apart from these differences, no fundamental difference between the two traditions is seen on the philosophical level. The propagation of the main principles of Tirthankara Mahavira, like non-violence, vegetarianism and respect for other views (anekanta), are still on the common agenda to both the sampradayas.

Various sects of the Svetambara tradition are known as gacchas. Traditionally, these gacchas were eight in number. Nowadays, only three gacchas – Kharatara, Tapa, Ancalika – exist. Most of these sects worship deities. During the 15th century CE, a sect called Lonka is said to have come into existence. Saint Viraji, who term the sect as Sthanakavasi, further strengthened it. This sect of Svetambaras does not believe in idol worship and hence excludes the practices of worshiping in temples and pilgrimages. Instead of idol worship the adherents recite the ‘namo omkara’ mantra and adore the panca paramestis. The monks and nuns of this tradition always tie a piece of cloth to their mouth. A new subsect of Sthanakavasi called Terapanthis came into existence during the 18th century CE under the leadership of Acharya Bhikhanji. The best know acharya of his sub-sect is Acharya Tulasi. His disciple Acharya Mahaprajna made a significant contribution for the consolidation and advancement of the sect.