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Sanskrit Manuscripts : Prakīrṇakas, Prakīrṇaka

Sanskrit Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'> The <i>Prakīrṇakas</i> or ‘Miscellanies’ are a peripheral category of the Śvetāmbara canon which includes a collection of various texts in verse (mostly) or in prose and verse written in Jaina Māhārāṣṭrī Prakrit. In contrast with other groups of the canon, this one is characterized by its fluidity, having between 10 to 20 texts, including some disputed texts dubbed ‘supernumerary Prakīrṇakas’. Hence all Śvetāmbara Jains do not give the <i>Prakīrṇaka</i>s the same status and authority as the other categories in their canon of holy writings and even contemporary Jain monastic authorities admit that there is no fixed tradition about these texts. The Cambridge manuscript is a good evidence of this complex situation: It has <i>Dasapaiṇṇā-sūtra</i> ‘Sacred writing of ten miscellanies’ as its title, but contains in fact a collection of thirteen texts, showing that the standard number was somehow regarded as being ten, even though it was more symbolic than real. Out of these thirteen texts, twelve are well-known. They belong to the classical lists of <i>Prakīrṇaka</i>s and have been edited several times. But one of them, the <i>Ajīvakappa</i>, ‘Piece on non-living’, here specifically referring to objects belonging to the monastic equipment, belongs to the ‘supernumerary <i>Prakīrṇaka</i>s’ and has not yet been published. It is known from manuscripts in India (Anon. 1935, 17,1:324–325 and Velaṇakara 1944), but has not been traced so far in manuscript collections outside India. <p>The Cambridge manuscript is relatively recent, having been copied in the second part of the 19th century, just at the period when search for manuscripts in Western India started. It is rather faulty. In some cases it is clear that the mistakes come from a wrong interpretation of old forms of some Jaina Devanāgarī characters. In some respects the <i>Prakīrṇaka</i>s can be thought of as supplementary to the rest of the Śvetāmbara scriptures. Directed chiefly at monks and nuns, most of them expand on subjects mentioned in texts from the other classes of scripture. The most important topic they deal with is the practice of fasting to death (known under the terms <i>sallekhanā</i>, <i>bhaktaparijñā</i>, <i>saṃstāra</i>, <i>mahāpratyākhyāna</i>).</p></p>

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