Naked Devotion Digambar Jain Literature in Early Modern North India

Convener: Imre Bangha

Speaker: John E. Cort (Denison University)

In the three centuries between 1600 and 1900, Digambar Jain authors in North India created a rich multilingual literary culture that reflects much of the literary ferment of the early modern period in North India. These authors were almost exclusively laymen, which marked a radical innovation in Jain literary production. They wrote thousands of short verse texts (pad) and hundreds of longer texts. The texts covered every aspect of Jainism and also included Jain variants of themes widely found in non-Jain literature of the time. While most of these texts were composed in the vernacular (Bhasha), many of the authors were well-trained in Sanskrit and engaged in extensive translation of Sanskrit, Prakrit and Apabhramsha texts. The talk will discuss how Digambar Jain literary production engaged with early modern intellectual culture, Hindi literature, and Jain history and society.