Jaina philosophy

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-F005-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 23, 2024, from

5. Other notable philosophers

A host of philosophers, some already referred to, have followed Kundakunda, Umāsvati and Siddhasena. Suffice it to make a few remarks on the contribution of five further thinkers, to cover the period until the seventeenth century. Haribhadra, perhaps of the eighth century, belongs to the Śvetāmbara sect and is praised as a great teacher of Jainism. Apart from works on classical yoga as a system of meditational practice, which he applies in the Jaina context, he is famous for his compendium of six systems, the Ṣaḍdarśanasamuccaya, in which he includes Jaina philosophy together with Buddhism and four Hindu systems. He evinces a trait common among Jaina thinkers and evident already in Akalaṅka, namely an excellent acquaintance with other systems of Indian thought so as to enter into authentic debate with them. Some scholars (notably Halbfass 1981) have seen a connection between this and the emergence of the theory of manifoldness which became the hallmark of Jainism.

There is a relative consensus about the dates of the polyhistor Hemacandra (1089–1172), whose contribution lies especially in systematizing and upholding the Śvetāmbara tradition of Jainism. Although his influence is stronger in the field of Jaina literature, insightful attacks on other philosophical views are also evident, for example, in his Anyayogavyavacchedikā(Critique of Other Schools). His treatise on yoga (Yogaśāstra), dealing with Jaina ethics, is still an exemplary work.

Abhayadeva, active in the eleventh century, needs to be mentioned for his commentaries on the Jaina canonical works. The value of the commentary literature in India lies not only in the explication and clarification of basic texts, but also in the fact that commentators often present views which they might not otherwise have found occasion to express. In his commentary on the Sthānāṅgasūtra, for example, a canonical text which is a compendium of Jaina doctrine, ethics and cosmology, Abhayadeva takes the opportunity to discuss epistemological issues.

Vādidevasūri (twelfth century) is not only famous as a Śvetāmbara thinker who defeated in a public debate the Digambara thinker Kumudacandra, but for his excellent Syādvādaratnākara (The Ocean of Manifoldness). This is a commentary on his own work on knowledge and standpoints, inspired by the work of the ninth-century Digambara thinker Māṇikyanandin.

Yaśovijaya (1624–88) is perhaps the last intellectual giant of Jainism, praised not only for his acumen as a logician, but also for his vast knowledge of Jainism and other traditions. This erudite Śvetāmbara scholar is credited with up to a hundred works, including an attack on the great logician of Navya-Nyāya, Raghunātha Śiromaṇi (early sixteenth century), and a commentary on a work by Vidyānandin.

Jaina philosophy never really took the centre of the philosophical stage in India, but that does not reduce its significance. Royal patronage from Mahāvīra’s time till about the sixteenth century, especially in Gujarat and Karnataka, and the architectural masterpieces of its temples bear witness to the social impact it has had throughout its history. Jaina monasteries were and are centres of learning, and research undertaken since the early 1980s is gradually reaping the benefit of the Jaina virtue of collecting and copying manuscripts of all disciplines for the sake of acquiring religious merit. It is thanks to this that a Jaina scholar, Sukhlalji Sanghvi, was able to publish in 1940 an original eighth-century work on Indian materialism by one Jayarāśi, based on the only extant manuscript. Further, the European Indologist Erich Frauwallner, in a posthumously published work (Frauwallner 1984), convincingly proves the original atheistic beginnings of the Vaiśeṣika system on the basis of the information about it from Haribhadra. The Jaina libraries contain a wealth of information relevant not only to philosophy but also to various aspects of Indian studies which have yet to be researched. Unfortunately, studies in Jainism suffer from a lack of published texts, though an earnest attempt has been made in the West and by the various Jaina institutions in India to make available critical editions, translations and studies. Clearly this has important implications for the study of the history of Indian philosophy.

Citing this article:
Soni, Jayandra. Other notable philosophers. Jaina philosophy, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-F005-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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