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Digambar Jain

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Other Spellings : Digambara, Digamabar

Religion : Jainism

About Digambar Jains : Digambar is one of the two main sects of Jainism, the other being Svetambar. The modern Jainism is generally divided into two traditions, Digambar and Svetambar. Generally Digambar monks wear no clothes (dik ambar = space clad), Svetambar (swet ambar = white clad) monks usually wear white clothes, maintaining that nudity is no longer practicable.

Until the leadership of Acharya Bhadrabahu, there was no significant division. After that some divisions gradually arose. Senior Digambar monks wear no clothes, following the practice of Lord Mahavira. They do not consider themselves to be nude -- they are wearing the environment. Digambaras believe that this practice represents a refusal to give in to the body's demands for comfort and private property. It may be noted that only Digambara ascetics are required to forsake clothing. Digambara ascetics have only two possessions - a peacock feather broom and a water gourd. Of the estimated 6000 Jain nuns, just 1.5% are Digambaras.

Divisions : B In around 10th century Digambar tradition was divided into two main orders.

  • - Mula Sangh - includes Sena gana, Deshiya gana, Balatkara gana etc.
  • - Kashtha Sangh - includes Mathur gana, Lat-vagad gana, etc.

Acharya Shantisagar, the first Acharya of the 20th century, belonged to the tradition of Sena gana. Practically all the Digambara monks today, belong to the tradition of Acharya Shantisagar directly or indirectly. The Bhattarakas of Shravanbelgola and Mudbidri belong to Deshiya gana and Bhatttara of Humach belongs to Balatkara gana. Among the prominent Digambara Acharyas today are Acharya Vidyasagar and Acharya Vidyanand.

Other Communities : Digambara Jains have different communities under it such as Parwar, Saitwal, Lad, Khandelwal, Bagherwal, Aggarwal etc. Saitwal is a prominent and well-organized caste of Marathi speaking Jain community.

Spiritual Leaders :

Prominent Acharyas of the Digamber Jain tradition were:

  • - Acharya Kundakunda - author of Samayasar, etc.
  • - Acharya Virasena - author of Dhavala
  • - Acharya Aryanandi (monk)

Regional Spread : The native Jain communities of Maharashta, Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh / Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu are Digambaras. In north India, the Saravagis and the Agrawals are also Digambara Jains.

Traditional Occupation : The traditional occupation of Saitwals is tailoring. This is a well-educated community and has given several writers and scholars to the Jain community.

Founder : Acharya Bhadrabahu

Food Habits : Mostly vegetarian

Marriage Preference : Prefer marriage within their own community, though marriage alliance with members of other Jain communities is also common.