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One Text, Two Titles, Three Sects, Eleven Languages: Jain Cosmopolitanism and Multiple Language Use

01.25.2023 07:00 PM

Event Summary

IMAGE: Jain Monk with Disciple and Two Laymen, Two Nuns, and a Laywoman: Detail of Folio 22 (recto), from a Yoga-shastra of Hemachandra, c. 1275. Gum tempera and ink on palm leaf; overall: 7.5 x 31.1 cm (2 15/16 x 12 1/4 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1971.129.a

This talk followed the trail of one Jain textual tradition, that of the thirteenth-century Prakrit Ṣaṣṭi Śataka (Saṭṭisaya; “One-hundred Sixty”) by the Śvetāmbara Kharatara Gaccha Jain layman Nemicandra Bhaṇḍārī. This text has been translated into and commented on in nine different languages over the seven centuries since Nemicandra composed it. Investigating the authors of the translations and commentaries we find that most of them wrote in multiple languages, some as many as four. This talk argued that the Ṣaṣṭi Śataka text tradition shows that to be a Jain cosmopolitan author was to be able to write in multiple languages, not just Sanskrit.

John E. Cort
is Professor Emeritus of Religion at Denison University. He is the author of many books and articles on religion, history, society, literature and visual culture of the Jains in Gujarat and Rajasthan. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Neubauer Collegium.

This event was organized by the Entanglements of the Indian Past research project at the Neubauer Collegium.