Jain lives of haribhadra: An inquiry into the sources and logic of the legends [Book Review]

Journal of Indian Philosophy 17 (2):105-128 (1989)
Abstract
I have attempted here to trace the development of Haribhadra's biography. My contention throughout has been that there is a basic incongruity between what one can discern from the actual works about the author Haribhadra and the legends that came to be associated with him. I have argued that the legends initially came from elsewhere in part from the legends of the arrogant monk who challenges the schismatic Rohagutta, and in part from the stories told of Akalanka, who probably was Haribhadra's contemporary. The question must inevitably arise as to why these stories were attached to Haribhadra, when they so poorly match what we can clearly know to be the attitudes displayed by the writer of the works associated with his name. That is a question I cannot satisfactorily answer, although I suspect that in general the hostile attitude of the prabhadhas and related texts towards Buddhism is a late, deliberately contrived and very political stance.30 It would seem that these legends of Haribhadra and the stories told of others which are also replete with examples of Jain hostility to the Buddhists came to take shape around the 12th century A.D., during a period when Jainism was making significant Hindu conversions, particularly among royalty. We know that the prabandhas were primarily written for royal audiences or for ministers close to the kings. A natural question is then whether we can discern anything specific in the relationship between Buddhism and royal power during the 12th century in India that might have led Jain writers deliberately to cast the Buddhists in an unfavourable light and portray Jains as the extirpators of the Buddhist menace and thus as champions of the true faith. In fact the mid -12th century was a low period for the fortunes of Buddhism in its final stronghold in Bengal. Valāllasena of the Sena dynasty came to power c. 1158 A.D. His Dānas-agara was completed in 1169 A.D. and gives ample evidence of the strong emphasis on orthodox Hinduism and promotion of the cause of the Brahmins that historians have associated with the Senas.31 It is tempting to see in the prabandhas, which were addressed to the ruling class, and in the legends of Jain religious and intellectual leaders which emphasize the conflict between Jainism and Buddhism, a continued attempt to separate Jainism radically from Buddhism which was anathema to these kings in Bengal. Hindus had historically regarded Jains and Buddhists as equally outside the Hindu fold and outside the fold of civilization. That Jains in the 12th century devise biographies with a distinct emphasis on the Jain triumph over a Buddhist enemy requires some explanation. That the collections of these biographies were usually addressed to kings and their ministers suggests that courting the royal court may have had something to do with the tone of the biographies. The most obvious historical circumstance that suggests itself by way of explanation for the anti-Buddhist tone of medieval Jain biographies is the contemporary Hindu revival in Bengal with its decidedly anti-Buddhist stance. Perhaps Jain writers in seeking to win royal patronage for their faith and indeed royal converts felt the need to divorce Jainism from the religion with which it had been so closely associated and which became so obviously out of royal favour elsewhere in the country. I offer this only as a suggestion which must await further research for confirmation
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Paul Dundas (2002). Haribhadra on Giving. Journal of Indian Philosophy 30 (1):1-42.
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