Looking at the early history of Jainism, from 6th century BCE onwards, this book focuses on one of the 24 Jinas that are identified as the main religious leaders of Jainism. It is a commonly accepted hypothesis that Parsvanatha, the 23rd Jina, is an historical figure whose values were modified by Mahavira, the 24th Jina. The book challenges this hypothesis by analysing a wide range of textual sources, some of which have never been examined in the context of the 23rd Jina.
History of the Jaina Tradition discusses how the sources can be interpreted to reflect a Jain reform movement in the 3rd to 2nd BCE, and it shows how the values associated with Parsvanatha are the result of a construction after the doctrine of Mahavira. The book argues that this therefore goes against the idea that Parsvanatha lived prior to him. Presenting an innovative analysis and a new interpretation of Jaina sources, this book is a valuable contribution to studies of South Asian History and Religion.
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Bansidhar Bhatt was Professor for Indology at the University of Munster, Germany.
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