ABSTRACT

The Jains, can claim to be one of the few ancient religious communities still surviving in India, with a continuous history. This single fact alone would make a study of their social life interesting and instructive. But if we keep in mind that the Jains were, and to an extent even today are one of the most powerful economic groups in the country, their social history assumed special significance. Fortunately, paucity of sources does not hinder our study because the Jains themselves have left behind a large variety of materials containing useful information on the subject. Some of them have been published by voluntary Jain organizations but as yet, they have not been, with some exceptions, utilized by historians. The purpose of the present paper is to draw the attention of scholars to the importance of Vijnapatipatra or Vinantipatra as a source for depicting the social life of the Jains in the nineteenth century.