The canonical books of the Svetambaras (the Digambaras do not admit them to be genuine) are not works by Mahavira himself, but some of these are claimed to be the discourses delivered by Mahavira to Indrabhuti (also known as Gautama) and to Sudharman, and which the latter related to his own disciple Jambus-Vamin.
The Jains think that originally, that is, since the time of the first Tirthankara, there was two kinds of sacred books. These were the Purvas that numbered 14, and the Angas that numbered 11 The 14 Purvas were, however, reckoned to make up a 12th Anga. This was called the Drishtivada. The knowledge of the 14 Purvas continued down only to Sthulabhadra, the 8th patriarch after Mahavira. The next seven patriarchs down to Vajra knew only 14 Purvas, and after that the remaining Purvas were gradually lost, until, at the time when the canon was written down in the form of books (980 years after the Nirvana of Mahavira), all the Purvas had disappeared, and consequently the 12th Anga too. This is the Shvetambara tradition regarding the loss of the Purvas. (The Digambar tradion of the loss of the Purvas differs a little in detail, but in addition they contend that all the Angas were also gradually lost after nine more generations).
The eleven Angas are the oldest parts of the canon, which at present embraces 45 texts. The other 34 texts are:
twelve UvAngas (Upangas); ten Painnas (Prakirnas);
six Chheyasuttas (ChedaSutras); two independent texts, viz., Nandi-Sutra and Anuyogadvara; and four MulaSutras.
These are enumerated as follows :
I. The eleven Angas:
1 Ayaramga-Sutra (AcharAnga- Sutra):
11. Viva-gasuyam (Vipaka-Srutam). II. The twelve Uvamgas (Upangas) or "secondary limbs":
1. Uvavaiya (Aupaptika)
2. Rayapasenaijja or Rayasasenaiya ( Rajaprasniya)
4. Pannavana (Prajnapana)
6. Jambuddivapannati (Jambudvipa-Prajnapti)
10. Pupphiao (Puspikah)
11. Pupphachuliao (Pushpaculikah)
12. Vanhidasao (Vishidasah)
III. The ten Painnas (prakirnas, i.e., scattered pieces;
2. Aurepacchakkhana (Aturapratyakhyana)
3. Bhattaparinna (Bhaktaparijna)
4. Samthara (Sanstara)
5. Tamdulveyalia (Tandul avatalika)
7. Devimdatthaa (Devendrastava)
8. Ganivijja (Gani-Vidya)
10. Viratthaa (Virastava)
IV. The six cheya-suttas (Cdeya-Sutras):
1. Nisiha (Nisitha);
2. Mahanisiha (Maha-Nisitha);
3. Vavahara (Vyava- hara);
4. Ayaradasao (Acharadasah) or Dasasuyakk-handha (Dasasrutaskandha);
5. Kappa (BrihatKalpa); and
6. Pamchakappa (Pancha-Kalpa).
V. Individual texts;
l. Nandi or Nandi-Sutta (Nandi-Sutra);
2. Anuogadara (Anuyogadvara).
VI. The four Mula-suttas (Mula-Sutras):
1. Uttarajjhaya (Uttaradhyayah) or Uttarajjhayana (Uttaradhyayana);
2. Avassaya (Avashyaka);
3. Dashaveyaliya (Dashavai-kalika);
4. Pindanijjutti (Pinda-Niryukti). The third and the fourth Mula-suttas are also sometimes given as Ohanijjutti (Ogha- Niryukti) and Pakkhi (Paksika-Sutra) and sometimes the Pimdanijjutti and the Ohanijjuttiappear in the list of cheya-suttas.
Sacred Books of the Digambaras
The Digambaras maintain that the original Angas containing the teachings of the Tirthankaras including that of Mahavira have gradually been lost, because the acharyas who know them passed away without ensuring that their disciples had mastered them. There is thus no way now of reconstructing the original words in which Mahavira taught his disciples. The Digambaras, therefore, reject as canonical the works claimed as the original texts by the Svetambaras; and for religious literature they fall back upon the works that their early acharyas composed.
These early acrayas were
Most of these acharyas wrote in South India. The only known exception is Umasvami whose Tattvarthadhigama-Sutra is said to have been composed in Pataliputra.
However, there does not seem to be a unanimity of opinion as to which works should be considered the most sacred of sacred literature and in what manner they should be classified. Seventy years ago, when Winternitz,1 was writing, the usual custom was to put these works in four groups (they were also some-times called the four Vedas). The distribution then was as follows:
Legendary works to which belong the puranas:
The present practice is to divide the most sacred of the Digambara literature into two groups as follows:
Chapters on Karman" This is also called Shatkhandagama, and was composed by Pushpadanta and Bhutabali on the basis of the now lost Drishtivada, and is said to have been composed in the 7th century after Mahavira. A commentary on the first five books of Karmaprabhrita by Virasena (9th century AD) is equally respected .
2. Kashayaprabhrita "Chapters on passions". This work is by Gunadhara, and is also based on the Drstivada, and composed in the same age as the Karmaprabhrita. Its commentary by Virasena and his pupil Jinasena is also respected.