The Yogaśāstra and its voluminous auto-commentary, the Svopajnavrtti, is the most comprehensive treatise on Śvetāmbara Jainism. Written in the twelfth century by the polymath Hemacandra, it was instrumental in the survival and growth of Jainism in India as well as in the spreading of Sanskrit culture within Jaina circles. Its influence extended far beyond confessional and geographical borders and it came to serve as a handbook for the Jain community in Gujarat and overseas.
It is a systematic presentation of a set of ideas and practices originally belonging to the Śvetāmbara canonical scriptures and traditions molded into a coherent whole with the help of a long row of scholastic thinkers. Hemacandra integrates innovations of his own as well as non-Jain elements of pan-Indian and Saiva provenance, attesting to a strong Tantric influence on medieval Jainism. Some of these elements came to be perpetually included within Śvetāmbara orthopraxy and orthodoxy due to the normative status acquired by the Yogaśāstra.
The present translation is the first of its kind in a Western language.
Olle Qvarnström is Professor in the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Lund, Sweden.
Harvard University Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies