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Digambara

Digambara (Skt., ‘clothed in air’).
1. A Hindu sādhu who goes about naked, having left sexual identity and desire far behind; a title, therefore, of Śiva in his naked asceticism.

2. One of two major divisions among Jains, the other being Śvetāmbara. The major divisions between the two are not mainly doctrinal, and it was often Digambara Jains who took the lead on behalf of both in controverting Hindu and Buddhist opponents (e.g. Akalanka, 8th cent. CE). They can live harmoniously in close proximity, though serious disputes arise over the ownership of, and access to, holy places (e.g. Bahubali, in S. Maharashtra; over 130 places are currently in dispute).

The origins of the split are obscure. The division appears to have been formalized at the Assembly of Valabhi (453 or 466 CE), which only Ś. attended, making an attempt to agree on what would count as scripture—a concept rejected by the D. in any case.

There are five major issues between them: (i) Ś. monks and nuns wear clothes, D. monks do not; (ii) Ś. use a bowl for begging and for eating, D. do not; (iii) according to Ś., the kevalin (fully omniscient being) requires food, according to D., not so; (iv) according to Ś., women can attain deliverance, according to D., they must first be reborn as men; (v) Ś. accept ancient writings as āgama/siddhanta (scripture), D. believe that scripture has been lost in the age of decline.

On (v), both groups believe that, from the tīrthaṅkaras' preaching, the most fundamental texts, the Purvas, are now lost. But D. believe that what remains of the tīrthaṅkaras' preaching is a kind of resonating echo, transmitted orally by successions of disciples, whereas the Ś. have a ‘45-text canon’ (though actually they give equal respect to texts outside that boundary). However, the D. have sacred texts of their own (e.g. Satkhandāgama, ‘Āgama of Six Parts’ and Kasayapahuda, ‘Treatise on the Passions’), and both D. and Ś. revere some texts in common, e.g. Tattvārtha Sūtra, by a disciple of the D. Kundakunda.

There remain some differences concerning Māhavīra: Ś. hold that he was born with a miraculous change of wombs, D. do not; Ś. that he was a pleasure-loving prince who experienced sudden conversion, D. that he was always full of insight, but that he respected his parents' wishes, until they died, not to renounce the world; Ś. that he was married, D. that he was not.

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Digambara

Digambara a member of one of two principal sects of Jainism, which was formed as a result of doctrinal schism in about ad 80 and continues today in parts of southern India. The sect's adherents reject property ownership and usually do not wear clothes.

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