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Acharanga Sutra – Jaina Text

Acharanga Sutra is a Jaina text on code of conduct. Acharanga Sutra contains axioms laid down by Mahavira, and compiled by his ganadhara (principal disciple) Sudharma. There are nine chapters in this text and it is composed in both poetry and prose. The language of Jain agama literature is Ardha Magadhi, and this is used in this text. It was transmitted orally for a long time. Acharanga  (code of conduct) is complicated subject not easily understood by everyone. Hence, a number of commentaries were written on it from time to time in different languages and forms. These are niryuktis (commentaries written in Prakrit language in poetry form) ad curni (commentaries in Sanskrit with explanatory notes).

The first scholar who wrote a commentary in Sanskrit, Tattvaditya was Acharya Silanka, also known as Silacharya. He is said to have lived in the 9th and 10th century CE. Later commentaries in Sanskrit are based on Silanka’s work. Hermann Jakobi translated it into English and wrote a scholarly preface to it. In the 20th century, a commentary in Gujarati was written by Ravajibhai Devaraj and Gopal Das Jiwabhai Patel. Acharya Amolak Rishi, Pandit Ratna Saubhgyamaljiand Acharya Samra Atmaramji wrote on Acharanga Sutra in Hindi. A commentary (only on the first part) in Bangala was published by Hirakumari Jain. Several editions of all these works have been published, but among them the one edited by Muni Punyavijyaji is considered the best.

Some Teachings From Acharanga Sutra

  • That which you consider worth destroying is (like) yourself. That which you consider worth disciplining is (like) yourself. That which you consider worth subjugating is (like) yourself. That which you consider worth killing is (like) yourself.
  • The result of actions by you has to be borne by you, so do not destroy anything.
  •  This truth, propagated by the self-knowing omniscients, after understanding all there is in universe, is pure, undefileable, and eternal.
  • In support of this Truth, I ask you a question – "Is sorrow or pain desirable to you ?" If you say "yes it is", it would be a lie. If you say, "No, It is not" you will be expressing the truth. What I want to add to the truth expressed by you is that, as sorrow or pain is not desirable to you, so it is to all which breath, exist, live or have any essence of life. To you and all, it is undesirable, and painful, and repugnant.

Acharanga Sutra describes lack of clothes as being in full conformity with Jain doctrine. 

Acharya Umasvati has briefly dealt with the subject matter of the nine chapters of the Acharanga Sutra. They are:

  1. Self-restraint in respect of the six kinds of living beings.
  2. Abandoning of ego over worldly things.
  3. Conquest over trials and tribulations of life.
  4. Unshakable perception about righteousness.
  5. Detachment towards worldly affairs.
  6. The process to decay or destroy the karmas.
  7. Service towards elders.
  8. Penance and austerities.
  9. Renunciation of attachment to sexual objects