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Digambar (दिगंबर) (sky-clad in Sanskrit) (alternate orthographies: Digambara), has many different meaning and associations throughout Dharmic traditions. Many representations of deities within these traditions are depicted as sky-clad, eg. Samantabhadra/Samantabhadri in yab-yum. Certain traditions and lineages also practice Digambar as a lifelong vow as evidenced by numerous sadhus throughout India.


In the iconography of the Indian religions, Digambar may be understood as enveloped by the quintessential investiture of akasha, space or ether.

Distinctives of Digambar

Digambara is one of the two main sects of Jainism, the other being Svetambar.

Until the leadership of Acharya Bhadrabahu, there was no significant division. After that some divisions gradually arose. Generally Digambar monks wear no clothes (dig ambar = sky clad) whereas Svetambar (svet ambar = white clad) monks usually wear white clothes.

Although Senior Digambar monks wear no clothes, following the practice of Lord Mahavira, they do not consider themselves to be nude. Rather, they are wearing the environment, that is the quintessential, akasha or space. Digambaras believe that this practice represents a refusal to give in to the demands of the body for comfort and private property. Only Digambara ascetics are required to forsake clothing and not the laity. Digambara ascetics have only two possessions: a peacock feather broom and a water gourd. Conversely, Svetambara monks usually wear white maintaining that nudism is no longer practicable. While there are some differences in some practices, the main principles of each sect such as Mahavratas, Anuvratas and so forth are the same.

Digambara Jain communities in India

The native Jain communities of Rajasthanmarker,Madhya Pradeshmarker, Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradeshmarker, Southern Maharashtramarker, Karnatakamarker, Tamil Nadumarker are all Digambaras. In north India, the Saravagis and the Agrawals are also Digambaras. In Gujarat the majority of Jains follow the Svetambara tradition, although some Jain communities of these regions, like the Humad, narsinghpura are also Digambaras.

Digambara also has different communities under it such as Saitwal, Lad, Khandelwal, Bagherwal, Aggarwal, Visa Mewada etc. Chatutath, Pancham, Bogar, Kasar,

Patni, Sethi, Tongia, Kasliwal, Badjatiya, Patwa etc belonging to Khandelwal sub-community are maily from Rajasthan. Their ancestories have been engaged in business and have attain great riches. Lot of jain temples and havelis made in jaislmer, udaipur, jodhpur region have been built by them.

Parwarmarker mainly come from Bundelkhand. They are one of the most learned amongst Jains. Most Pandits and Scholars of tirthakshetras are Parwars.

Digambara monasticism

The prominent Acharyas of the Digambar tradition were:

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 Mathura 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 Shravanabelagolamarker and Mudbidrimarker belong to Deshiya gana and Bhattara of Humbaj belongs to Balatkara gana.

Among the prominent Digambara Acharyas today are Acharya Vidyasagar, Acharya Vidyanand, Acharya Pushpadant and Acharya Devanandji and Acharya Abhinandan Sagar Ji.Acharya Abhinandan Sagar Ji is the current pattacharya of Acharya Shantisagar Ji.

Sub-sects of Digambara

Those following the Terapanth reforms are called Terapanth and others following more traditional practices are called Bisapanthai.In practice, the Bisapantha / Terapanth division is not important, and separate institutions do not exist.

Among the Digambaras, the Taran Panthi follow Taran Swami and Kanji Panthi follow Kanji Swami.

See also


External links

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