Digambara Terapanth

Digambara Terapanth is one of the sects of Digambara Jainism, the other being the Bispanthi sect. It formed out of strong opposition to the religious domination of traditional religious leaders called bhattarakas during the 12-16th century A.D, for the bhattarakas starting deviating from the original/Mula jain customs. They oppose the worship of various minor gods and goddesses. Some Terapanthi practices, like not using flowers in worship, gradually spread throughout most of North Indian Jainism as well.

The Terapanthi movement was born out of the Adhyatma movement that arose in 1626 AD (V.S. 1683) in Agra. Its leading proponent was Banarasidas of Agra.[1]

The Bispanth-Terapanth division among the Digambaras emerged in the 17th century in the Jaipur region: Sanganer, Amer and Jaipur itself.[2]

Terapanth was formally founded by Amra Bhaunsa Godika and his son Jodhraj Godika, prominent citizens in Sanganer, during 1664-1667. They expressed opposition to Bhattaraka Narendrakirti of Amber. Authors Daulatram Kasliwal [3] and Pandit Todarmal[4] were associated with the Terapanth movement.

Bakhtaram in his "Mithyatva Khandan Natak" (1764) mentions that group that started it included 13 individuals who collectively built a new temple, thus giving it its name Terapanth, which literally means "thirteen-panthan". Alternatively, according to "Kavitta Terapanth kau" by Chanda Kavi, the movement was named Terapanth because it founders disagreed with the Bhattaraka on thirteen points. A letter of 1692 from Terapanthis at Kama to those at Sanganer mentions 13 rituals practices they rejected.

The Terapanthis reject these practices: Mentioned in Buddhivilas (1770) of Bakhtaram:[5]

  • Authority of Bhattarakas
  • Use of flowers, cooked food or lamps
  • Abhisheka (panchamrita)
  • consecration of images without supervision by the representatives of Bhattarakas.

The letter by Tera Panthis at Kama also mentions:[2]

  • Puja while seated
  • Puja at night
  • Using drums in the temple

Terapanth Khandan of Pandit Pannalal also mentions:[2]



  1. Ardhakathanaka: Half a tale, a Study in the Interrelationship between Autobiography and History, Mukunda Lath (trans. and ed.), Jaipur 2005. ISBN 978-8129105660
  2. 1 2 3 Cort 2002, pp. 39-83.
  3. Time log of Great Jain Shastras Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. "The Illuminator of the Path of Liberation) By Acharyakalp Pt. Todamalji, Jaipur". Atmadharma.com. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
  5. Bakhtram Sah Krit Buddhivilas, Rajsthan Oriental Research Institute, Ed. Padma Dhar Pathak, 1964


  • Cort, John E. (2002), "A Tale of Two Cities: On the Origins of Digambara Sectarianism in North India", in Babb, L. A.; Joshi, V.; Meister, M. W., Multiple Histories: Culture and Society in the Study of Rajasthan, Jaipur: Rawat 
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