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File:Acharya KundaKunda.jpg
Idol of Acharya KundaKunda, Karnataka
Official name Kundakunda Swami
Sect Digambara
Born 2nd century BC
Senior posting
Rank Acharya
Religious career
Initiation by Acharya Jin Chandra[citation needed]

Acharya Kundakunda is the most revered Digambara Jain monk, who lived in around 1st century B.C.[1] He authored many Jain texts such as: Samayasara, Niyamasara, Pancastikayasara, Pravachanasara, Atthapahuda and Barasanuvekkha. He occupies the highest place in the tradition of the Jain acharyas.


He belonged to the Mula Sangh order. His proper name was Padmanandi, he is popularly referred to as Kundakunda possibly because the modern village of Kondakunde in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh might represent his native home.[2] He is closely associated with the Digambara sect, also in recent decades, his books have become popular among Śvētāmbaras also. He was known also as Padmanandi, Elacarya, Vakragriva, Grddhapiccha.

For Digambaras, his name has auspicious significance and occupies third place after Lord Mahavira and Gautama Ganadhara in the sacred litany. Kundakunda's singular contribution consists in his compiling a number of liturgical tracts and creating several masterly doctrinal works of his own, which provided a parallel canon for the Digambara tradition. This earned him the everlasting gratitude of the Digambaras, who have for centuries invoked his name together with that of Mahavira and his Ganadhara, Gautama, placing him ahead even of Bhadrabahu, Visakha, and some forty other elders (sthaviras) in the lineage, thus making him virtually the founder of the Digambara sect.[3]

Dr. A.N. Upadhye in his critical edition of the Pravachansara has examined at great length the problems concerning the date and author-ship of these and other works attributed to Kundakunda and has placed him in the middle of the 2nd century AD.[4]


The Digambara Shruta tradition

The works attributed to Kundakunda, all of them in Prakrit,[2] can be divided in three groups.

The first group is a collection of ten bhaktis (devotional prayers), short compositions in praise of the acharya (Acharyabhakti), the scriptures (Srutabhakti), the mendicant conduct (Charitrabhakti), and so forth. They form the standard liturgical texts used by the Digambara in their daily rituals and bear close resemblance to similar texts employed by the Śvētāmbara, suggesting the possibility of their origin in the canonical period prior to the division of the community.

The second group comprises four original works described as "The Essence" (sara)— namely, the Niyamasara (The Essence of the Restraint, or the mendicant discipline, in 187 verses), the Pancastikayasara (The Essence of the Five Existents, in 153 verses), the Samayasara (The Essence of Self-Realization, in 439 verses), and the Pravachanasara (The Essence of the Teaching, in 275 verses), all of which, because of their non-conventional or absolute (nischayanaya) approach, have exerted a tremendous influence not only on the Digambara psyche but, as will be seen in Chapter VI, even on some of the leading members of the Śvētāmbara community, both old and new.

The last group consists of eight short texts called Prabhrta (Pkt. pahuda, i.e., a gift or a treatise), probably compilations from some older sources, on such topics as the right view (Darsanaprabhrta, in 36 verses), right conduct (Charitraprabhrta, in 44 verses), the scripture (Sutraprabhrta, in 27 verses), and so forth.

Kundakunda wrote in Shauraseni Prakrit. Amongst the modern followers of Kundakunda, three names are remarkable, Banarasidas, a 16th-century lay poet from Agra who began his spiritual quest after reading kundakunda's "Samayasara"; Srimad Rajchandra, the Gujarati merchant who trod famously on the spiritual path highlighted by Acharya Kundakunda; and Kanji Swami who converted from Shwetambar Monk to a Digamabar follower and preached Kundkund's "Samaysara" and other books passionately for fifty years.

It has been written in various Jain literature that Aacharya Kundkund has written '84 Pahurs' but most of them are missing time by time. The most famous of them is 'Samaya Pahur' also known as 'SamayaSaar'. Other than this are Pravachanpahur, Ashtapahur, Lingpahur, Sheelpahur, Niyampahur etc.

Work Subject
Samayasara True self (soul)
Pravachanasara Preachings
Niyamasara Rules of conduct
Pancastikayasara Five Universal substances
Ashta-Pähuda Eight texts

See also


  1. Jain 2012, p. v.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Upinder Singh 2008, p. 524.
  3. Jaini 1991, p. 32.
  4. Jaini 1991, p. 32–33.


External links