May 10, 2008

The Yapaniyas

A. K. Roy

Apart from the Digambaras and the Svetambaras there was, in the past, another sect of the Jainas. This sect, know as the Yapaniyas existed in Karnataka at least from the 5th to the 14th century. This we know from epigraphic evidence. The first and the last inscription which mention them and which have been discovered so far, belong to these centuries respectively and all the inscriptions which mention them have been found in Karnataka only.
The first inscription which mentions the Yapaniyas is by Mrigesavarman (A.D. 475-490) a Kadamba king Palasika. The Kadambas themselves were Brahamanas, but this King erected a Jaina temple in the city of Palasika, and made a grant to the sects of Yapaniyas, Nirgranthas, and the Kurchakas. (The Nirgranthas were, of course the Digambara, but who the Kurchakas were is not clear).
The last inscription which mentions the Yapaniyas was found in the Tuluva country - southwest Karnataka. It is dated Saka 1316 (A.D. 1394).
Thus we know that the sect existed for atleast a thousand years. We can also make the guess that the sect was ultimately absorbed in the Digambara community. The Yapaniyas worshipped nude images which still exist and the people who worship in these temples now a days are Digambaras. The Yapaniya monks themselves also used to remain nude. There was perhaps, therefore, not much absorption, specially if the sect ultimately dwindled to small number.
Nothing authentic is known about how the Yapaniya sect originated. Devasena records a tradition in his Darshanasara (mid 11th century that the yapaniya-sangha was started by a Shvetambara monk in the year 205 after the death of King Vikrama. Since however, the tradition is very late, not much reliance can be placed on it. However one thing is clear. The Digambaras believed that the original affiliation of the Yapaniyas was with the Shvetambaras and the Digambara author Indranandi counted them as one of the five improper or false sects of the Jainas. The five includes the Shvetambaras also.
The Shvetambaras author Gunaratna on the other hand makes the definite statement that the Digambaras were divided into four snaghas namely, Kastha, Mula, Mathura, and Gopya or Yapaniya. These last i.e. the Gopya or the Yapaniyas differ form the other three sects in three matters : they allowed women to find salvation. The net result was that neither the Digambaras not the Shvetambaras wanted to own the Yapaniyas . Indeed this is how Monier Williams would derive the word "yapaniya" from the root ya meaning expelled : the yapaniyas were perhaps those who wandered away after being expelled by both the communities.
It is not clear whether the Yapaniyas had any separate sacred texts of their own. There is some reference to Yapaniyatantra by the Dingambara author Haribhadra. But no such tantra is found at present. Perhaps for religious purposes the Yapaniyas used the Shvetambara sacred texts, for there is nothing against their principal dogmas in these works.
The Yapaniyas are a matter of only historical curiosity now. Indeed, except for their one great grammarian, Shakatayana, there is no reason to remember them. That shakatayana who was a contemporary of the Rashtrakuta king Amoghvarsa (c. 817-877), was a yapaniya we know from the note by Malayagiri in his commentary on the Nandisutra.
All the available commentaries on the Shubdanushasana (grammar) Shakatayana are by Digambara authors who appear to have taken this grammar for their own. On the other hand two other works the Stri-mukti-prakarana and the Kevali- bhukti prakarana which are also said to be by Shakatayana are found only in the Shvetambara collections. Thus while one work of Shakatayana is accepted by the Digambaras, his two other works are accepted by the Shvetambaras only. It will be recalled that the position is some what similar in the case of Umaswami or Umaswati also. While both the main sects of the Jainas accept his great work the Tattvarthadhigama - sutra the author's own commentary on this work is acceptable to the Shvetambaras only. It is on this analogy that Nathrfuam Premi has conjectured that Umasvami was Yapaniya, for there is nothing else to support Premi's conjecture.

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