Digambar Terapanth

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Digambara Terapanth is a reformist sect of Digambara Jainism that formed out of strong aniconism and opposition to the religious domination of traditional religious leaders called bhattarakas who follow Moola Jain Dharma (Pivot of Jainism). They oppose the worship of various minor gods and goddesses. Some Terapanthi practices, like not using flowers in worship, gradually spread throughout most of North Indian Jainism as well.

Non-Terapanthi Digambara Jains are referred to as Bispanthi by Terapanthis.


The Terapanthi movement was born out of the Adhyatma movement that arose in 1626 AD (Vikram Samvat1683) in Agra. Its leading proponent was Banarasidas of Agra.[1] Adhyatma groups flourished during 1644-1726 in Agra, Lahore and Multan. The Adhyatma movement represented an interaction of the Digambara and Śvētāmbara branches of Jainism. While the movement was based on the books written by Kundakunda, most of its followers were Śvētāmbaras. The poet Dyanatrai was associated with the Adhyatma movement.

Amber Town, Jaipur

The Bispanth-Terapanth division among the Digambaras emerged in the 17th century in the Jaipur region: Sanganer, Amer and Jaipur itself.[2]

Terapanth was formally founded by Amra Bhaunsa Godika and his son Jodhraj Godika, prominent citizens in Sanganer, during 1664-1667. They expressed opposition to Bhattaraka Narendrakirti of Amber. Authors Daulatram Kasliwal [3] and Pandit Todarmal[4]) were associated with the Terapanth movement.

Bakhtaram in his "Mithyatva Khandan Natak" (1764) mentions that group that started it included 13 individuals who collectively built a new temple, thus giving it its name Terapanth, which literally means "thirteen-panthan". Alternatively, according to "Kavitta Terapanth kau" by Chanda Kavi, the movement was named Terapanth because it founders disagreed with the Bhattaraka on thirteen points. A letter of 1692 from Terapanthis at Kama to those at Sanganer mentions 13 rituals practices they rejected.

The Terapanthis reject these practices: Mentioned in Buddhivilas (1770) of Bakhtaram:

  • Authority of Bhattarakas
  • Use of flowers, cooked food or lamps
  • Abhisheka (panchamrita)
  • consecration of images without supervision by the representatives of Bhattarakas.

The letter by Tera Panthis at Kama also mentions:

  • Puja while seated
  • Puja at night
  • Using drums in the temple

Terapanth Khandan of Pandit Pannalal also mentions:

  1. Hukumchand Bharril, who started Todarmal Smarak Trust, and was instrumental in translation and study of many Digambara Jain Scriptures.

See also


  1. Ardhakathanaka: Half a tale, a Study in the Interrelationship between Autobiography and History, Mukunda Lath (trans. and ed.), Jaipur 2005. [ISBN 978-8129105660]
  2. John E. Cort "A Tale of Two Cities: On the Origins of Digambara Sectarianism in North India." L. A. Babb, V. Joshi, and M. W. Meister (eds.), Multiple Histories: Culture and Society in the Study of Rajasthan, 39-83. Jaipur: Rawat, 2002.
  3. Time log of Great Jain Shastras[dead link]
  4. "The Illuminator of the Path of Liberation) By Acharyakalp Pt. Todamalji, Jaipur". Atmadharma.com. Retrieved 2012-04-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>