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Stela depicting Jinvani (Śhrut Jnāna) which forms the basis of Jain agamas

Agamas are texts of Digambara Jainism based on the discourses of the tirthankara. Pravachanasara, Samaysara, Niyamsara, Pancastikayasara, Ashtapahuda, Kasayapahuda and Shatkhandagama are considered Agamic Texts by Digambaras.


Gautamasvami is said to have compiled the most sacred canonical scriptures comprising twelve parts, also referred to as eleven Angas and fourteen Pūrvas, since the twelfth Anga comprises the fourteen Pūrvas. These scriptures are said to have contained the most comprehensive and accurate description of every branch of learning that one needs to know.[1] The knowledge contained in these scriptures was transmitted orally by the teachers to their disciple saints. Agamas were lost during the same famine that the purvas were lost in.[2] Āchārya Bhutabali was the last ascetic who had partial knowledge of the original canon. Later on, some learned Āchāryas started to restore, compile and put into written words the teachings of Lord Mahavira, that were the subject matter of Agamas.[3] Āchārya Dharasena, in first century CE, guided two Āchāryas, Āchārya Pushpadanta and Āchārya Bhutabali, to put these teachings in the written form. The two Āchāryas wrote, on palm leaves, Ṣaṭkhaṅḍāgama- among the oldest known Digambara Jaina texts. This was about 683 years after the nirvana of Mahavira. This set is also called first āgama or Pratham Shrut-Skandh

The Panch Paramāgama (Samaysara, Pravachanasara, Niyamsara, Pancastikayasara and Ashtapahuda) by Acharya Kundakunda which are sourced from both Mahavira and Living God are referred to as the second āgama or Dvitiya Shrut-Skandh.


Table showing Anga scriptures

The Shruta-Jnana is contained in twelve Angas (lit. limbs). These include, among other things, the rules of conduct for ascetics and the laypeople, as well as the Jain theory of soul, matter and other substances.[4]

Jain literatureEdit

Digambaras group texts into four literary categories called 'exposition' (anuyoga).[5] The 'first' (prathma) exposition contains Digambara versions of the Universal History; the 'calculation' (karana) exposition contains works on cosmology; the 'behaviour' (charana) exposition includes texts about proper behaviour for monks and lay people; The 'substance' (dravya) exposition includes texts about ontology of the universe and self.[5]


For Jains, their scriptures represent the literal words of Mahāvīra and the other fordmakers only to the extent that the Agama is a series of beginning-less, endless and fixed truths, a tradition without any origin, human or divine, which in this world age has been channelled through Sudharma, the last of Mahavira's disciples to survive.[6]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Vijay K. Jain 2012, p. xi.
  2. ^ Upinder Singh 2016, p. 444.
  3. ^ Vijay K. Jain 2012, p. xii.
  4. ^ Jaini 1927, pp. 12-14.
  5. ^ a b Dundas 2002, p. 80.
  6. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 61.


Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

  • Original Jain Scriptures (Shastras) with Translations into modern languages such as English, Hindi and Gujarati. Literature such as Kundkund Acharya's Samaysaar, Niyamsaar, Pravachansaar, Panchastikay, Ashtphaud and hundreds of others all in downloadable PDF format.
  • Jain Agams
  • Clay Sanskrit Library publishes classical Indian literature, including a number of works of Jain Literature, with facing-page text and translation. Also offers searchable corpus and downloadable materials.