Oct 24, 2009

Kashtha Sangha Bhattarakas of Gwalior and Agrawal Shravakas (1)

Note: Additional information is available on Kashtha Sangha, which Iwill share later.
The Kashtha Sangh was eventually replaced by Mula Sangh in Gwaliorregion. The Agrawal Shravakas eventually mostly became ajain.
Yashwant Malaiya

-----From a text by Dr. K. C. Jain
Kashtha Sangha - Of the twin Sanghas working in Northern India duringour period Kashtha has been traced from the village Kashtha, nearDelhi, on the bank of the Jamuna. The early record of the activitiesof the Kashtha Sangha which originated from Mathura as a matter offact, is not available in regular sequence except in the existenceof metallic images of the Tomara period in, Gwalior in the eleventhcentury. Madhava Sena, pattadhara of Pratap Sena is said to, haveachieved victory in debate at the court of Alauddin Khilji. Earliestdate of a Kashtha Bhattarak, made available, is that of Vimalasena,the consecrator of two images of the fourteenth century A.D. tracedin Jaipur and Delhi dated 1357 and 1371 A.D. respectively. Names ofhis successors on the patta, yielded by the Kashtha Sangha Pattavali,are Dharmasena of Hissar.15 Bhavasena and Sahasrakirti until we cometo Gunakirti whose known date is V. 1460 = 1403 A.D. when PanditKhemal Khandelwal had presented a copy of the Uttarpurana ofPushpadanta to Gunakirti.

Gunakirti (1403-24) : With Gunakirti; we are on sure grounds aboutthe activities of the Kashtha Sangha in Gwalior for reasons whichapply equally to Bhattaraks of all Sanghas during this periodincluding the Mula Sangha which also flourished simultaneously inGwalior with exemplary fraternity16 during a period when its Kashthacounterpart of the Mathur gachchha had completely dominated thereligious life of the Jaina Samaj in the fifteenth century rule ofthe patronizing Tomaras in the background of the religio-literaryachievements of the Poet-Laureate, Mahakavi Raidhu. With thedisintegration of the Delhi Sultanate, the provincial kingdoms,independent in all respects, proved to be the best patrons of theJaina local culture as we have seen in the case of the neighbouringMandogarh ruled by the Turkish families of Ghoris and Khilchis.Simultaneously with Malwa, the Jaina Samaj of Gwalior not onlycultivated their time-honoured idolatry on a grand extensive scalebut a prolific devotee of Saraswati in Gwalior like Raidhu couldleave behind single handed the Mandn-Sangram-Punja trinity ofMandogarh in the realm of idolatrous literary production. The creditfor all this distinction and development in Gwalior goes to theKashthasanghi Bhataraks in general and to Gunakirti and his discipleyounger brother Yashahkirit in particular.

Gunakirti was distinguished equally well in learning, penance andresulting influence that he wielded on the local Rajput rulers of histimes and their senior ministers and treasurers of the Jaina Agrawalcommunity as per the tributes paid to his qualities of head and heartby Raidhu and the writer of the Kashtha Pattavali document.Extraordinary penance, practised by him, had reduced him to anemaciated being. The extensive carving of images, small andcolossal, accomplished with a vengeance during the reign of DungarSinha (1425 = 59 A.D.) was originally inspired by Gunakirti and hisdisciples.

Yashahakirti (1429-53) : Yashahakirit happens to be a younger brotherand disciple of Bhattarak Gunakirti - a writer of good hand andscholar of Prakrit, Sanskrit and Apabhransh in which last his fourworks from his pen are extant. He has been extolled in the pattavaliand by the poet Raidhu who regarded him as his 'mantra guru'. He isknown as the transcriber of the decayed and ragged fragment of thefamous Harivansha Purana of Mahakavi Swayambhudeva which he copiedout with the permission of his guru, sitting in a temple in thevicinity of Gwalior at Kumaranagar (now Khumharapura) on the bank ofthe river Murar (1521 = 1464), completing the missing portion of themanuscript with his own composition. This autograph transcript ofYashahakirti is preserved in the Bhandarkar Oriental ResearchInstitute, Poona.17 Himself the author of the four Apabhransha worksextant today, Yashahakirti encouraged Radihu to compose manyApabhransha Kavya and caused the Jaina Seths of Delhi and Hissar toget chiselled the colossal images of Gwalior fort by skilledhandicraftsmen.

After Yashahakirti Bh. Malayakirti (1453-68 A.D.) and Bh. Gunabhadra(1468-83) occupied the Kashtha gaddi of Gwalior of which the latteris the author of fifteen Apabhransha Kathas, preserved in thePanchayati Mandir of the Khajur Masjid, Delhi but written in aGwalior temple. The pattadhar of Gunabhadra. Bh. Bhanukirti was alsothe author of a Katha called Ravivrat Katha.

The pattavali of Gwalior gaddi referred to by Parmanand Shastri18seems to be incomplete. After Bhanukirti the name of Kamalkirti hasbeen introduced followed by names of Bhattaraks which seem to bethose of the Hissar patta of the Kashtha Sangha including the name ofKamala Kirti who was the 'diksha-guru' of Raidhu and who establishedthe Sonagiri patta of the Gwalior gaddi on which his discipleShubhachandra was seated as its first pattadhara (1449-73). In thenon-availability of further link in the personnel of the Bhattarakasof the Kashtha Sangha we have to stop here and take up the activityof the Kashtha Sangha which constitutes virtually the Golden Age ofthe Jaina Digambara Church in Gwalior under the Tomara rulersinspired by the Kashtha Bhattarakas and their Jaina Agrawal discipleswho dominated the Court of father and son viz. Dungar Singh (1425-59)and Kirti Singh (1459-80) with the Poet-Laureate Raidhu as theirmouthpiece and spokesman, a centenarian author of as many as thirtybooks, big and small of which two dozen are reported to be extanttoday. Verify the advent of the Hisar-Firuza-based Jaina Agrawals whofunctioned as the ministers and treasurers of the ruling family hadturned the Rajput State of Gwalior into a Digambara Jaina Centre parexcellence representing the culture of the Agrawal multi-millionnershravakas as sponsored by them. It was a great achievement of theKashtha Sanghi Bhattaraks in which they excelled their their MulaSanghi counterparts of the Dhilli 'patta, the shravakas leavingbehind their Svetambara rivals of Mandogarh in the literary fieldthanks to the single handed efforts of the long lived Mahakavi Raidhuas also in the realm of image carving in general and the chisellingof the calossal images of the Gwalior Fort in particular in which thecontribution of the two Tomara rulers between themselves has left arecord of constant activities spreading over a long period of thirty-three years.

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