Acharya (Jainism)
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Acharya Jainism

Image of ?ch?rya Kundakunda (author of Pancastikayasara, Niyamasara)

?ch?rya (?c?rya) means the Head of an order of ascetics. Some of the famous ach?ryas are Bhadrabahu, Kundakunda, Samantabhadra, Umaswami, Sthulibhadra.

In Digambara Jainism, ?ch?rya has thirty-six primary attributes (m?la gu?a) consisting in:[1]

  • Twelve kinds of austerities (tapas);
  • Ten virtues (dasa-lak?a?a dharma);
  • Five kinds of observances in regard to faith, knowledge, conduct, austerities, and power.
  • Six essential duties (?ad?va?yaka); and
  • Gupti- Controlling the threefold activity of:[2]
    • the body;
    • the organ of speech; and
    • the mind.

According to Jain text, Dravyasamgraha,

Those who themselves practise the five-fold observances in regard to faith (dar?an?c?ra), knowledge (jñ?n?c?ra), power (v?ry?c?ra), conduct (c?ritr?c?ra), and austerities (tap?c?ra), and guide disciples to follow these observances, are the Chief Preceptors (?c?ryas), worthy of meditation." (52)

-- Dravyasamgraha (52)[3]

M?la Gu?a

Twelve kinds of austerities (tapas)

External austerities

The external austerities (b?hya tapas) are fasting (ana?ana), reduced diet (avamaudarya), special restrictions for begging food (vrttiparisamkhy?na), giving up stimulating and delicious dishes (rasaparity?ga), lonely habitation (vivikta?ayy?sana), and mortification of the body (k?yakle?a).[4]

Internal austerities

Expiation (pr?ya?citta), reverence (vinaya), service (vaiy?vrttya), study (sv?dhy?ya), renunciation (vyutsarga), and meditation (dhy?na) are the internal austerities (antarañg tapas).

Acharya Pujyapada's Sarv?rthasiddhi:

How are these internal? These are internal as the mind is restrained or subdued in these cases. The removal of sins committed by negligence or under the influence of passions is expiation. Reverence to the holy personages is 'vinaya'. Service is the help rendered to the saints in difficulty by bodily activity or with things. Contemplation of knowledge or giving up sloth or idleness is study. The giving up of the attitude of 'I' and 'mine' is renunciation. Checking the ramblings of the mind is meditation.[5]

Five kinds of observances

Five kinds of observances in regard to faith, knowledge, conduct, austerities, and power. These are:[6]

  1. Dar?an?c?ra- Believing that the pure Self is the only object belonging to the self and all other objects, including the karmic matter (dravya karma and no-karma) are alien; further, believing in the six substances (dravyas), seven Realities (tattvas) and veneration of Jina, Teachers, and the Scripture, is the observance in regard to faith (dar?an?).
  2. Jñ?n?c?ra- Reckoning that the pure Self has no delusion, is distinct from attachment and aversion, knowledge itself, and sticking to this notion always is the observance in regard to knowledge (jñ?n?).
  3. C?ritr?c?ra- Being free from attachment etc. is right conduct which gets obstructed by passions. In view of this, getting always engrossed in the pure Self, free from all corrupting dispositions, is the observance in regard to conduct (c?ritr?).
  4. Tap?c?ra- Performance of different kinds of austerities is essential to spiritual advancement. Performance of penances with due control of senses and desires constitutes the observance in regard to austerities (tap?).
  5. V?ry?c?ra- Carrying out the above mentioned four observances with full vigour and intensity, without digression and concealment of true strength, constitutes the observance in regard to power (v?ry?).

Six essential duties

Six essential duties (?ad?va?yaka) of the ?c?rya are:[7]

  1. samat? (s?m?yika) - Equanimity; the state of being without inclination or aversion towards birth or death, gain or loss, glee or pain, friend or foe, etc.
  2. vandan? - Adoration, salutation; of particular T?rthañkara, or Supreme Being (Parame?th?).
  3. stavan - Worshipping; making obeisance to the twenty-four T?rthañkaras or the five Supreme Beings (Pañca Parame?th?).
  4. pratikrama?a - Self-censure, repentance; to drive oneself away from the multitude of karmas, virtuous or wicked, done in the past.
  5. k?yotsarga - Non-attachment to the body; contemplating on the pure Self, thereby disregarding the body.
  6. sv?dhy?ya - Contemplation of knowledge; study of the Scripture, teaching, questioning, reflection, reciting, and preaching.

See also


  1. ^ Jain 2013, p. 189-191.
  2. ^ Jain 2013, p. 125.
  3. ^ Jain 2013, p. 189.
  4. ^ Jain, Vijay K. (2011). Acharya Umasvami's Tattv?rths?tra. Vikalp Printers. p. 133-134. ISBN 978-81-903639-2-1. Non-Copyright
  5. ^ Jain 1992, p. 263.
  6. ^ Jain 2013, p. 190.
  7. ^ Jain 2013, p. 190-191.


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