Shravanbelgola Gomateshvara miniature

Bahubali as a Digambar monk Sravanabelagola

Jain Muni or simply Muni is the term often used for Jain monks[1].

A Jain monk does not have a permanent home and does not have any possessions. He wanders barefoot from place to place except for the four months of the rainy season. A Jain monk is not a priest; rather he is himself a worshipped one.

A full Jain monk in either Svetambar or Digambar tradition[2] can belong to one of these ranks:

  • Acharya: leader of the order
  • Upadhyaya: a learned monk, who both teaches and studies himself
  • Muni: an ordinary monk

Thse three are mentioned is the three lines of the Namokar Mantra.

In the Digambar tradition, a junior monk can be a:

  • Ailak: they use one piece of cloth
  • Kshullak: they may use two pieces of cloth
Westindischer Maler um 1400 001

White-clothed Acharya Kalaka

The Svetambar Terapanthi sect has a new rank of junior monks who are called samana.

The nuns are called Aryikas in Digambar tradition and Sadhvi in the Svetambar tradition.

Famous historical Jain monks

Some of the famous Jain Acharyas in approximate chronological order, are:

Famous historical Jain nuns

  • Aryika Chandanbala
  • Sadhvi Yakini Mahattara

Famous modern Jain monks


Acharya Vidyasagar, Digambara Jain monk

Sthanakvasi monks

Sthanakvasi Jain monk

Some famous Jain monks currently living (sadhu or muni or maharaj) are as follows:

Famous Jain nuns of 20th Century

Chaturmas (VarshaYog) for Jain Monks

Chaturmas means the four months of the monsoon, a practice observed by both Digamber and Shwetamber Jain monks and nuns. Chaturmas is related to the staying of the Jain monks and nuns in one place during this period. Because during this time the Jain monks and nuns have settled in the city/town for a longer duration, it is a suitable time for the householders to have an annual renewal of the faith by listening to the statement of the Dharma and by meditation and vartas (self-control). And for the Jain monks, almost as importantly, staying in one place during the monsoon reduces the risk of causing accidental death to numerous insects and smaller forms of life that thrive during the rains.

See Chaturmas information of Jain Monks & Nuns 2008

See also


  1. Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India By John E. Cort, Published 2001 Oxford University Press US
  2. Vallely, Anne (2002). Guardians of the Transcendent: An Ethnography of a Jain Ascetic Community, University of Toronto Press, p. ???
  3. The Lives of the Jain Elders, Hemachandra, Trans. RCC Fynes, Oxford World's Classics, 1998.
  4. Aacharya Shri VidyaSagarJi Maharaj
  5. Acharya Shri Chandanaji (1937-), Founder, Chief Director

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