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Acharya Kundkunda

The great spiritual saint Kund kundacharyadeo occupies the highest place in the tradition of the Jain acharyas. Jain monks feel honoured in being included in the tradition of Kundkundacharya. Devasenacharya in V. S. 990 in his Darshansar, has referred to about this as below :-

"If Padma Nandi Nath (Kundkundacharyadeo) had not distributed the divine sentience obtained from Seemandhar Bhagwan amongst the Sadhus, how could they realize the real path of liberation ?"

His real name is Padma Nandi and is known as Kundkundacharya being a resident of Kundkundpur. Following works of Kundkundacharyadeo are available:-
Samaysar, Pravachansar, Panchastikaya, Niyamsar, Asta Pahud, Dwadshanu-preksha and Dash Bhakti. Rayansar and Moolachar are also said to be his works. It is said that he wrote eighty-four pahuds. It is also said that he wrote a commentary named Parikarma on the first three parts of Shat-khandagam, which is not available.

Acharya Kunkunda Samaysar is the great unique treatise of Jain spiritualism. Pravachansar and Panchastikaya have detailed description of the Jain principles. The above three are also known as Natak Trayi, Prabhrit Trayi and Kundkund Trayi. Acharya Amritchandra has written elaborate commentaries on the three in the Sanskrit language. Commentaries of Acharya Jaisen in Sanskrit are also available.

In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, atop a hill known as Ponnur Malai, on a large stone under a certain champa tree pilgrims may come across an engraved pair of stylized footprints (charan). These footprints are symbolic of a thinker who, nearly tow millennia ago composed some of the most influential philosophical books in

Among the most famous of all Jain acharyas, Kundkunda, the celebrated author of the four renowned books Samaya Sara (Treatise of the True Self), Pravachana Sara (Treatise of Lectures), Niyama Sara (Treatise on Pure Rules), Panchastikaya Sara (Treatise on Five Universal Components) and Ashta Pahuda (Eight Steps), which is a collection eight texts. All his works are written in a Jain dialect known as Shourseni Prakrit. The organization of Jain ideas into certain relationships and structures taken for granted in more recent centuries was ultimately a product of his genius. Such has been his fame since early items, that many other books actually written by his pupils and others are popularly ascribed to him. In the Digambar tradition he is named immediately after Lord Mahavira and the preceptor Indrabhuti Goutam in the Mangalacharana (auspicious blessing) prayer, and Jains of the Digambar tradition dub their tradition Kundakund-anvaya (the order of Kund kunda). However, scholars of all sects study his books with deep veneration.

He was born around the beginning of the first century AD in South India in a place becoming a Jain monk was Padmanandi, but he is better known by the place of his origin.

Kundkunda mentions that he was an intellectual descendant of Bhadrabahu I, the last Shrut Kevalin. Kundkunda belonged to an ancient order called the Nandi Sangha, wherein most monks assumed names ending in ‘nandi’. The Punyashrava Katha Kosh mentions that in his previous life, Kundkunda was a cow-herder who had found and preserved ancient texts and was blessed by a wandering monk. Acharya Kundkunda’s intense learning and moral character attracted royal disciples such as King Shivakumar. The story of Kundkunda is also surrounded buy legend- it is even said he could walk in air. Kundkunda’s influence extends far beyond Jainism. India has always been a land where philosophical debate is a standard feature of intellectual life.

The concise and systematized aphorismic forms he brought to Jain literature and the literary structures in which he explained Jainism’s most advanced scientific principles relating to such area as atomic structure, cosmic dimensions, the cosmic ethers, and psychology, rivaled anything produced up to that time anywhere in the world. Hindu and Buddhist thinkers were put to the task of finding ways to respond to his explications of Jain philosophy and conduct, and he thus set unprecedented levels of erudition and rationalism in India’s overall philosophical discourse which would last through modern times. Out of enthusiastic respect, Acharya Kundkunda has been called “Light of this Dark Age”. Several commentaries on his Samaya Sara have been written in Sanskrit and modern languages.