Tattvartha Sutra

Tattvartha Sutra
(c. 200 C.E.)
   The Tattvartha Sutra was composed by the great Jain Acarya (Saint) Umasvami (or Umasvati). It is the first text of JAINISM written in SANSKRIT (the ear-lier ones, which are no longer extant, were written in Prakrit, the vernacular tongue that developed from Sanskrit). The Tattvartha Sutra is the first extant text of the Jains, and it systematizes the canonical teachings into an integrated philosophi-cal school. It is written in the concise aphoristic style typical of Indian texts designated as SUTRAS.
   The Tattvartha Sutra plays a similar authorita-tive role in Jain tradition as the VEDANTA SUTRA of BADARAYANA or the YOGA SUTRA of PATANJALI in orthodox Hindu culture. In approximately 350 short verses, Umasvami surveys basic Jain doc-trine. He discusses salvation; states of the soul; the human, celestial, and infernal realms; insentient reality; the nature of KARMA, karmic bondage, and the acquisition and removal of karma. The Tat-tvartha Sutra is the only Jain text that is accepted by both of the two main sects, the SHVETAMBARA and the DIGAMBARA.
   Further reading: P. S. Jaini, Jaina Path of Purification (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1990); Nathmal Tatia, trans., That Which Is: Tattvartha Sutra by Umasvami: With the Combined Commentaries of Umasvami, Pujya-pada and Siddhasenagani (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1994).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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