Taran Panth

The Taran Panth or Taran(a)panthi sect of Digambar Jainism was founded by Taran Svami in Bundelkhand in 1506 [Smarika, Sarva Dharma Sammelan, 1974, Taran Taran Samaj, Jabalpur] . Taran Svami is also referred to as Taran Taran, the one who can help the swimmers to the other side, i.e. towards nirvana.

During this time several reform movements arose in Jainism. Lonka Shah of Gujarat founded his Dhundhia order in Sam 1508 (1451 CE). The Terapantha (Adhyatma movement) among the Digambaras arose in Sam. 1683 in Agra. The main founders of this movement were Banarasidas of Agra and Amarachanda of Sanganer near Jaipur. [http://philtar.ucsm.ac.uk/encyclopedia/jainism/taran.html Taranpanthis]

The Digambara Terapantha movement was against the domination of the Bhattarakas. They opposed worship of various demi-gods and demi-goddesses, which was indulged in by the Bhattarakas. Some Terapanthi practices, like not using flowers in worship, gradually spread throughout North India among the Digambaras. In fact, today, Digambara Jainism in North India is Terapanthi whereas Digambara Jainism in Western (Gujarat) and Southern India (Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) is Bisapanthi.

The Taranpanthis on the other hand traditionally do not have idols in their shrines at all.

The birth name of Taran Svami is not known. He was born in Pushpavati (now Bilahari near Katni) in the Paravar Jain community. His father was a government official there. His uncle lived in Sironj, where a Bhattaraka institution of Balatkara Gana was present [ [http://www.navabharat.net/20071220/bha003.html Nava Bharat - Bhopal ] ] . When he was 8 years old, while accompanying his father to Sironj, he came across Bhattaraka Shrutakirti. The Bhattaraka persuaded the boy to start attending the lectures where "Samayasara" was discussed. Later Taran Svami organized his group and meditated and preached at Semalkheri, Sukha and Rakh. His chief disciples were Ruiaraman and Kamanavati. His samadhi is at Nisaiji in Dist Guna. A mystical account of his life, perhaps an autobiography, is given in Chadmastha Vani.

The language in his 14 books is a unique blend of Prakrit, Sanskrit and Apabhramsha. Note that at this time Jains had not been using Prakrit for several centuries. His language was perhaps influenced by his reading of the books of Acarya Kundakunda.

Commentaries on six of the main texts composed by Taran Svami were written by Brahmacari Shitala Prasad in the 1930s. Commentaries on other texts have also been done recently. Osho (Rajnish), who was born into a Taranpanthi family, has included Shunya Svabhava and Siddhi Svabhava as among the books that influenced him most [http://osho.nl/New-Osho-NL/EnglBooks/BooksIHave.htm Books I have Loved] .

The number of Taranpanthis is very small. Their shrines are called Caityalaya (or sometimes Nisai/Nasia). At the altar (vimana) they have a book instead of an idol. The Taranpanthis were originally from 6 communities. These days they are gradually merging with other Jains in the area.

ee also

* Jainism in Bundelkhand
* Paravar


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