Prof. A. Chakravarti



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A BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE ON

PROF. A. CHAKRAVARTI



Prof . A Chakravarti Nayanar (1880-1960) passed his M.A. with distinction, in 1905, from the Christian College, Madras, and took his L.T. in 1909 from the Teacher Collage, Madras. For a year or two he worked as a teacher in the Wesley Girl’s School and as a clerk in the Accountant General’s office Madras In 1906, he was appointed as Assistant Professor of Philosophy inn the Presidency Collage, Madras and thereafter he worked as such (having become a professor in 1917) in the Government Collage at Rajahmundry, Madras and Kumbkonm (of then Madras Presidency)from where he retired as principal in 1938. He was conferred upon the title of Rai Bahadur in the same year.
Prof. Chakravarti was well versed in the various schools of western philosophy. He brought his wide learning and deep scholarship to bear upon his study of Jaina philosophy. His introduction to the Pancastikaya(Arrah, 1920) is a valuable exposition of Jaina metaphysics and the path of moksa. In 1937 he delivered Principal Miller Lectures which published under the title ‘Humanism and Indian Thought’ He was a

stalwart Jaina sravaka of his times in Tamil Nadu. He was specially interested in Jaina Tamil literature on which he had written a monograph in English ( Arrah, 1941). He has edited a number of Tamil works by Jaina authors with their commentaries and, in some cases, with his learned exposition in English. For instance, Neelakesi, the text and the commentary of Samaya Divakara Muni, along with his elaborate Introduction in English (Madras 1936); Tirukkural by thevar, along with the Tamil commentary by Kaviraja Pandithar (Bharatiya Jnanpith Tamil Series, No. 1 with an English Introduction) and Tirukkural, with English translation and commentary and an exhaustive Introduction (Madras, 1949). He has also edited the Meru-mandara-puranam In Tamil. His exposition (described by M.S.H. Thompson, in the J.R.A. Society, London, 1925 as ‘an indispensable aid to the study of tirukkuram’) of the Tirukkuram has been hailed both in India and outside as a learned and liberal exposition of the Kural, the Tamil Bible. His ‘Religaon of Ahimsa’ is published by Shri Ratanchand Hirachand, Bombay (1975) It is a learned exposition in English of some aspects of Jainism.
Prof. Chakravarti, as an authority on his subject, contributed a number of essays And articles on Janisim, ahimsa and contemporary thought to various publication such As Cultural Heritage of India Philosophy of the East and West Jaina Gazette, Aryan path Tamil Academy. He wrote both in English and Tamil. Some of his papers are

Reprinted in the Yesterday and Today, Madras, 1946. He was a member of a number of Associations and Institutions in Madras.
As a pious Jaina and a deep scholar of Jainism, he wrote a commentary in English on the Samayasara of Kundakunda. He mainly follows the Sanskrit commentary of Amrtacandra. Still his exposition of the Samayasara and his evaluation of its contents clearly demonstrate how able he has expounded the principals of Kundakunda to make them intelligible to the modern world. This was published by the Bharatiya Jnanpith, and ascend edition of it is a lately issued.
Prof. Chakravarti was a well-wisher of the Jnanpith and he gave two of his work As noted above for publication in the Jnanpith Series. We are thankful to Thiru V. Jaya Vijiyam, B.E. (33, Pudupet Garden street, Roypeeth Madras) for a bio-data of Prof. Chakravarti. He is the grandson of the late Professor from his daughter Smt. V.C. Jothimala. (a.an.u.)
INTRODUCTION
THE HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION
The Age of Acarya Kundakunda or Elacarya
Sri Kundakundacarya, the author of your work, was a very famous Jaina philosopher and theologian. He was also a great organizer of religious institutions. His name is held in great veneration especially by the digambara sections of the Jainas. Many great religious teachers claimed it an honor to trace their lineage from the great teacher Kundakunda. Several inscriptions that are found in south India and Mysore relating to Jaina eateries begin with Kundakundanvaya---of the of Kundakunda. Students of Jaina literature are familiar with such phrases as the following: Sri-Kundakunda-gurupatta-paramparayam; Sri-Kundakunda-santnam; Sri-Kundakundakhya-munindraw-vamsa.
These are some of the phrases claimed by Jaina writers such as sakalabhusana, author of Upadesa-ratnmala, Vasunandin, author of Upasakadhyayana, Brahmanemidatta of Aradhana-kathakosa. Insances may be multiplied without number, for showing the important place occupied by our author in the hierarchy of Jaina teachers.
Some of the epithets employed to characterise him are also significant of his great importantance. Munindra, the India among the ascetics, municakravarti the emperor among the munis, kaundesa, Lord Kunda, are familiar designation of the great teacher.
The personality of this great teacher, as is generally the case with world famous individuals, is lost in obscurity and shrouded with traditions. We have to depend upon so many written and oral traditions to have a glimpse of this great person. The early history of India is but a string of speculations and even as such there are very many gaps. Under these circumstances, we have to be very cautions about the history of our author.
The one great landmark in the chronology of India Candragupta Maurya. This great emperor of Magdha is not only referred to in the various literary works of India but is also mentioned by foreign historians, especially the Greeks. The emperor Candragupta especially is of peculiar interest to the student of the early history of the Jainas.

Lewis Rice and Dr. F.W. Thomas have done considerable service to Indian history by cautiously interpreting several available facts, archeological and epigraphically, relating to that period. The early faith of Asoka and the migration of Bhadrabahu with Candragupta are now accepted facts of history. The tendency among European scholars to postdate the historical evens and person relating to India, is a just antidote to the phantastic and legendary notions of indigenous writers who generally measure time by millenniums. Nevertheless we have to point out that the orientalists have sometimes overreached their work. They generally proceed on the assumption that writing is a late acquisition in Indian civilization. The learned arguments put forward on Panini by Goldstucker to undermine this assumption have been before the learned public for some decades. The excavations of Jaina stupas at Mathura and Mr. K.P. Jayaswal’s discovery of Konika’s Statue with the inscriptions try to set back the pendulum of Indian chronology to an earlier period. Speaking about the Jaina Stupas Sir Vincent smith, writers as follows:
"The assumption has generally been made that all edifices in this Stupa form are Buddhist. when the inscription under discussion was executed not later than 157 A.D., the Vodva Stupa of the Jainas at Mathura was already so ancient that it was regarded as the work of the gods. it was probably therefore erected several centuries before the Christian era."
Again says he, "Assuming the ordinarily received date, B.C. 527, for the death of Mahavira to be correct, the attainment of perfection b that saint may be placed about B. C. 550. The restoration of the Stupa may be dated about 1300 years later or A.D. 150. Its original erection in brick in the time of Parsvanatha, the predecessr of Mahavira, would fall at about the beginning of the Christian era was believed to date from a period of mythical antiquity, the date B.C. 600 for its erection is not too early. probably therefore this Stupa of which Dr. Fuhrer exposed the foundations is the oldest known building in India."
When we take these historic discoveries with the Jaina traditions that a number of Tirthankaras preceded Lord Mahavira we may not be altogether worng in supposing that adherents of Jaina faith in some form or other must have existed even anterior to Mahavira and that Mahavira himself was more a reformer than the founder of the faith. if there were Jainas influential enough to build Stupas in hour of their saints even anterior to 600 B.C., will it be too much to suppose that the followers of this religion might have existed in south India even before Bhadrabahu's migration to the South? In fact it stands to reason to suppose that a large body of ascetics on account of a terrible famine in the North migrated to a country where they would be welcomed by their devoted coreligionists. if the South were instead of a friendly territory waiting to receive the Sangha of learned ascetics a lane populated with strangers and of alien faith, Bhadrababu would not have ventured to take with him into strange land a large body of ascetics who would depend entirely upon the genesis of the people. the Jaina tradition that the Panda king of the South was a Jaina from very early times and that Bhadrabahu expected his hospitality might have some historical background.
Upto the time of Bhadrabahu migration there was no split in the Jaina fold. That the schism of the Svetambers arose about the time of the Bhadrabahu-I on account of the hardships of the famine is more than probable. This fact is evidenced by the complete absence of svetambaras in the Deccan and South India. The Jainas in the South and Mysore aiways claim to be of Mula-sangha, the original congregation.
One other interesting fact is the migration of the Digambaras from the south to the north for the purpose of religious propagandist. One point of agreement comes out clearly and is note-worthy, i.e., the direction of the Digambara migration. It was from the south to the North, from Bhadalpur to Delhi and Jaipur. This agrees with the opinion that the Digambara separation originally took place as a result of the migration southwards under Bhadrabahu in consequence of a sever famine in Bihar, the original home of the undivided Jaina community”(Prof. A.,F . Rudolf Hoernle. Ind. Ant. Vol. XXI, ‘Three Further Pattavallis of the Digambaras”, pp.60 and 61).

Professor Hoernle says that he has not been able to of Thiruppappuliyur or modern Cuddalore (Reports on the identify Bhadlpur. It is no other than pataliputra or Pataliputra which is the old name Archeological Survey of India,Vol.1906-07-Article on the Pallavas by V.Venkayya). Venkayya suggest that it is not the above place and identifies and remains. This is only a matter of detail. But still the reason given by V.venkayya is not quite sound. The fact that pathiripuliyar is mentioned in Devram as sacred to God Siva will not conflict with its being also the center of the Jainas.
Now this Bhadalpur or Pataliputra is associated with our author Sri Kunkunda as we shall show later on.
Before we proceed further, let us make sure about the age in which he lived and worked. For this we have clear evidence furnished in the several pattavalis preserved by the Jainas both Digambaras and Svetamabaras. After Mahavira there had been a succession of teachers as shown below.


I

Kevalins

Gautama ... 12

Sudharma ... 12

Jambu ... 38



Sidhartha ... 17

Dhrtisena ... 18

Vijaya .. 13

Buddhilinga ... 20

Deva-I ... 14

Dharmasena ... 16

II

Sruta-kevalins

Visnukumara ... 14

Nandimitra ... 16

Aparajita ... 22

Govardhana ... 19

Bhadrabahu I ... 29

IV

Eleven-Angins

Naksatra ... 18

Jaapalaka ... 20

Pandava ... 39

Dhruvasena ... 14

Kamsa ... 32

III

Ten-Purvins

Visakha ... 10

Prosthila ... 19

Ksatriya ... 17

Nagasena ... 18

Jayasena ... 21

V

Minor Angins ... 6

Subhadra ... 18

Yasobhadra

BhadrabahuII


In the year 2 after the Acarya Subhadra’s (accession to the pontificate), the birth of Vikrama took place; and in the year 4 of Vikrama’s reign Bhadrabahu –II took his seat on the pontifical chair. Further succession will be evident from the following table (Indian Antiquary Vols. XX and XXI. The several pattavalis examined by R. Hoernle).
Kundakunda line according to the Digambara Pattavallis as worked out by Prof. Hoernle.


[ TABLE PAGE NO. XIX ]
If we take this date, 8 B.C., as the reliable date of his accession to he pontifical chair then the date of his birth would be about 52. B.C. For, only in his forty-fourth year he became pontiff or on an Acarya.
What is his birthplace and scene of his activities? With regard to his birthplace we have no better evidence. Here also we have to depend upon tradition, oral and written. Le us see whether we can have any useful information form these traditions. In a work, called punyasravkaha, Sri Kundakundarya’s life cited as an example for Sastr-dana or gifts of Sastras. The account is as follows : In Bharata Khanda in Daksindesa there was a district called Pidatha Nadu. In a town called Kurumarai in this district there lived a wealthy Vaisya by name Karamunda. His wife was Srimati. They had a cowherd who tended their cattle. His name was Mativaran. One day, when he was driving his cattle to an adjoinging forest, he saw, to his great surprise, that the whole forest was consumed by forest fire except a few trees in the center, which reined the luxuriant green foliage. His roused his curiosity, and he went and inspected that place. There he found the dwelling place of some great muni and also a box containing the agamas or the Jaina Scriptures. Literate as he was, he attributed the safety of the spot to the presence of the agmas ina sanctified place of his master’s House and have an intelligent son, and the old and faithful servant would be born as the promised son of the house. The happy event came to pass and the sun born the family became a great philosopher and religious teacher. This was our author, Sri Kundakunda.

continued to worship the same daily.
Sometime after, a religious monk visited their house. He was offered bhiksha with great veneration by that wealthy Vaisya. Just then this cowherd also offered the agmas to he great rsi. On account of these gifts-fod from the Master, and the scripture from the servant the rsi was very much pleased and blessed them both. The Master of the house, since he had no children, was to

Have an intelligent son, and the old and faithful servent would be born as he promised son of the house. The happy event came to pass and the son born to the family became a great philosopher and religious teacher.
The story further `turns upon his religious tours. He mention of his name a the wisest of mortals in the samavasarana of Srimandharsvami in purva-videha, the visi of the two caranas to verify the fact, his supposed irreverence to them on account of his concentration, the return of the two caranas in disgust, the expiation of the misunderstood event, the reconciliation between the caranas and Sri Kundakunda and the letter’s visit of the samavasarana with the caranas are all incidents mentioned in detail. Further as the fruit of his previous gift of sastra he became a great leader of thought and organizer of institutions. Finally he secured the throne of Acarya and thus spent his life in usefulness and glory.
There is another account of his life given in Kundakundacarya-caritra, a pamphlet published in Digambara Jaina office, Surat. According to this, his birth-place is in the country of Malwa. His parents are mentioned as Kundassreshti and Kundalata. The young boy Kundakunda was apprenticed to religious teacher for purpose of education. Early in life he showed an ascetic disposion and therefore he was ordained as amonk and admitted into he sangha. The later part of the story is almost identical with that of the previous one.
Both these version appear to be quite legendary. He latter judged from the names of the parents is evidentially a later construction by some imaginative mind based upon the name of the hero Kundakunda. The places mentioned in the former story are not easily identifiable. The only reliable iformation there perhaps is that the author belongs to Daksin Desa. Waiving these two stories as of no material use we have to depend more upon circumstantial evidence belonged to Dravida Sangha.
“La communaute digambara le nom de mula sangha. Un synonyme de ce terme parait. Etre Dravilla sangha, quince signifies sans doubt rein de plus que” comminute “des pays Dravidien’s”. Le mula sangha comptaia pluseurs sects don’t la plus importunate Etait la Kundakunda anvaya.” (Introduction, Reportaire Epigraphic Jaina, p.42).

This suggestion of Guerinot’s based upon circumstance evidence is a useful clue for our purpose.

We have to collect further evidence if possible to corroborate the theory that our author belonged to the Dravidian country.

(i) In an unpublished manuscript treating about Mantra-laksana we have the following sloka:

Daskina desa malya Hemarame munir mahatmasit,

Elacaryo namna dravilaganadhiso dhiman

This sloka is interesting to us. The work treats about a female disciple of Elacarya, who was possessed of a Brahma Raksasa. This possessed disciple was not doubt well-versed in stares but would get up on the summit of small hill called Nilagiri by the side of the village, Hemargima, in which Elacarya lived and would laugh and weep alternately with all hysterical violence. She is said to have been cured by Elacarya with the help of Jvalamakim Mantra. Fortunately we are able to identify all the places mentioned in the above sloka.
Malaya is the name of that part of the Madras Presidency comprised by portions of North Arcot and South Arcot traversed by the Eastern ghats. The talukas of Kalla Kurichi, Tiruvannamali and Wandewash perhaps from the central tract of this Malaya. Hemagrama which is the Sanskritised from of Ponnur which is a village near Wandeswash. Close to this village there is a hillock by the name Nilagiri. On the top of this hillock on a rock there are even now the foot prints of Elacarya who is said to have performed his taps thereon. Even now pilgrims frequent this village once in a year, to perform puja to the foot prints. Further the sloka mentions Elacarya to be Dravida ganadhisa. We know very well that Elacarya is another well-known name or Kundakunda.
Now this Elacarya is, according to Jaina tradition the author of the great Tamil classic Thirukkural. This is written on the old indigenous Venba metre of Tamil language. According to the Jaina tradition, this work was composed by Elacarya and a given away to his decibel Thiruvalluvar who Introduced it to the Madura sangha. This version is not altogether improbable. Because even the non-Jaina tradition about the author of Thirukkural appears to be merely another version of this one. The Hindu tradition makes Thrivalluvar himself the author of the work. He his claimed to be Thirumayla or Mylapuri or the modern Mylapore, the southern part of the city of Madras. The work was composed under the patronage of one Elala Singh who was evidently the literary patron of Thiruvaluar.
This Elala Singh of the Hindu tradition may be merely a variation of Elacarya. Thiruvalluer figures both the tradition, in the one as author and in the other the introducer before the sangha. That Mylapuri had a famous Jaina temple dedicated to Neminatha (vide Tamil work Tirunuar Runanthi) and that it was a seat of a Jaina culture is well evidence by literary remains and antiquarian facts preserved in south India. Through the work is claimed by different religionists, Salivates Budhistas and Jains, through there is no authentic recorded as to the exact faith of the author still an unbiased study of the work itself with the special view as to the technical terms employed in the couplets and the doctrines religious and moral, embodied in the work will constrain one to conclude that it is a treatise evidently based upon the Moral principle of vitarga the corner stone of Janisam. The praise of agriculture as the noblest occupation is cosisitant with the tradition of the vellalas, the landed aristocracy of south India, who were evidently the earliest adherents to Jaina faith in this part of the country.
This identification of Elacarya, the author of kural, with Elacarya or Kundakunda would place the Tamil work in the 1st century of the Christen era. This is not together improbable. Dr. G.U. Pope would it bring down to a period later than 8th century. There is no sufficient historic evidence for his belief. He his actuated by his personal bias that such a sublime work embodying highest moral ideals could not be due to the indigenous Draidian culture alone, but must have been infuence3d by Christianity brought here by the early Christian Missionaries. The tradition about St. Thomas lends weight to the supposition. There is nothing to show form the internal evidence that the author of the work was aware of Christianity. The doctrines treated therein are found widely scattered in Tamil literature especially in those works composed by Jainas such as Naladiyar, Aranericharm Pazamozi Elate, etc. One who is acquainted with Tamil literature will not grudge the authorship of kural to purely Dravidian scholars and moralists who are uninfluenced by forgeion culture. Hence we may believe with very great probability that Elacarya the author of kural was, identical with Kundakunda, the author of Prabhrta-traya and that he lived about the beginning of the 1st century A.D.
This identification of Elacarya the author of kural with the Kundakunda brings an another important point of historical interest. It is an acknowledged fact that kural is anterior to Silppadilkaram and Manimekhalai. The former was written by Ilangovadifgal the younger brother of Singuttuman Seran, the Chera king Vangi. The later work which is merely the continuation of the story of Silappadilarami was written by ‘Kulavanika Sattanar’ a contemporary and friend of Ilangovadi. During the pratisha of Devi temple (Silappadikaram ) Gajabahu I of Ceylon was present; according to Mahavamsa he reigned about 113 A.D. The kural therefore must be anterior to this date; so this also goes to corroborate the age of Elacarya or Kundakunda.

All these scattered facts of traditions and literary remains produce cumulative evidence to establish that our author was of Dravidian origin, that he was the leader of the Dradidian sasngha and that he was evidently highly cultured in more than one language. This use of the world Dradia in the Dradia sangha must have a specific reference to the Jainas of South India the Vellalas of the ancient Tamil literature who strictly followed Kolavatam or Ahimsa dharma; and it is further evidenced by the popular use of the word in the compound. Dradia Brahmins are strict vegetarians as contrasted with Gauda Brahimns. It is a well-known fact that the strict vegetarianism in dasily life of south Indian Brahmins who nevertheless perform yagas involving animal sacrifice is a heritage from early Jaina culture in south India.


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