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The Rise of a Modern Jain Community:19th-century Legal Cases of a Sacred Site

Hawon Ku 1

1한국외국어대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Śatruñjaya, located in Gujarat, India, is one of the most significant pilgrimage sites for Śvetāmbara Mūrtipūjak Jains, who comprise the majority of Jains in western India. However, several aspects of the site, including the historiography, patronage, architecture, and painted maps that depict Śatruñjaya, suggest that the site acquired its current form only during the 19th century. In this paper, I argue that these changes can be linked to a series of legal cases related to the ownership of Śatruñjaya, which continued from 1820 to 1926. Due to the extremely public nature of the disputes, these legal cases played a pivotal role in the formation of the Śvetāmbara Mūrtipūjak Jain community in western India. Especially, as the legal cases quickly shifted their focus to the definition and rights of ownership of Śatruñjaya, British concepts of ownership and rights were gradually accepted and appropriated by the Jain patrons throughout the 19th century. However, these concepts were part of an inherently contradictory foreign framework, based on a Western understanding of property, history, and religion. The acceptance of this alien framework caused severe changes in the ways that the Jains viewed Śatruñjaya and their own religion. New investigations and studies were made of their religion as well as their traditional site, and this was led by a trust of Jain merchants who had managed Śatruñjaya. As a result, in spite of the diversity among Jains in India, Śatruñjaya provided a locus through which this community could express its own identity. This reflects the active role of the Jains during the colonial period in building their community, as well as the appropriation of Western concepts of religion and society in the re-formation of a religious identity.

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