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Hemachandra Surī (Sanskrit: हेमचन्द्र सूरी) (1089–1172) was an Indian Jain scholar, poet, and polymath who wrote on grammar, philosophy, prosody, and contemporary history. Noted as a prodigy by his contemporaries, he gained the title Kalikāl Sarvagya, (all-knowing of the Kali age).

He was born in Dhandhuka, Gujarat about 100 km south west of Ahmadabad), to Chachadev (father) and Pahini Devi (mother). They named him Chandradev. The Jain temple of Modhera Tirtha is located at his birthplace. As a young man, Chandradev was initiated as a monk at a Jain temple, and he took the name Somachandra (Somachandra). He was trained in religious discourse, philosophy, logic and grammar. In 1110, at the age of 21 he was ordained as an Acharya of the Shvetambara sect of Jainism and was given the name Acharya Somchandra and popularly as Hemachandra. [1]

At the time, Gujarat was ruled by the Solanki dynasty. Hemachandra rose to prominence under the reign of Siddharaj Jaysinh I, and was an advisor to his successor Kumarapala (1143–1173). During Kumarapala's reign, Gujarat became a reputed center of culture. Starting in 1121, Hemachandra was involved in the construction of the Jain temple at Taranga. His influence on Kumarapala resulted in the Jain religion becoming the official religion of Gujarat, and animal slaughter was banned.

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Hemachandra and Kumarapala

Taking an approach of Anekāntavāda, Ācārya Hemacandra is said to have displayed a broad minded attitude and pleased Kumarapala, the king of Gujarat.[2] Certain Brahmins who were jealous of Hemacandra's rising popularity with the king complained that Hemacandra was a very arrogant person, that he did not respect the Hindu gods, and that he refused to bow down to Lord Śiva. When called upon to visit the temple of Śiva with the king, Hemacandra readily bowed before the idol of Śiva, but said:[2] "I am bowing down only to that god who has destroyed the passions like attachment and hatred which are the cause of worldly life, whether he is Brahmā, Viṣṇu, or Jina." He ensured that he remained true to tenets of Jainism, namely, that a Jain should bow down only to a passionless and detached God such as a Jina, and at the same time managed to please the king. Ultimately, the king became a devoted follower of Hemacandra and a champion of Jainism.[2]

Works

A prodigious writer, Hemchandra wrote grammars of Sanskrit and Prakrit, texts on science and logic and practically all branches of Indian philosophy.

His best known work, the epic poem Tri-shashthi-shalaka-purusha-charitra (Lives of Sixty-Three Great Men), is a hagiographical treatment of the sequence of teachers and their pupils who were instrumental in defining the Jaina philosophical position, their ascetisicism and eventual liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth, as well as the legendary spread of the Jaina influence. It still serves as the standard synthesis of source material for the early history of Jainism. The appendix to this work, Parishista-parvan, contains his own commentary and is in itself a treatise of considerable depth (translated into English as The Lives of the Jain Elders by Richard Fynes (Oxford University Press, 1998)).

He also wrote:

  • Kavyanushasana: poetics or hand book of poetry/manual of poetry.
  • Desinamamala: a list of words of local origin
  • Siddha-haima-shabdanushasana: Prakrit and Apabhramsha grammars
  • Abhidhana-chintamani
  • Dvyashraya-Mahakavya

Hemachandra, following the earlier Gopala, presented what is now called the Fibonacci sequence around 1150, about fifty years before Fibonacci (1202). He was considering the number of cadences of length n, and showed that these could be formed by adding a short syllable to a cadence of length (n−1), or a long syllable to one of (n−2). This recursion relation F(n) = F(n−1) + F(n−2) is what defines the Fibonacci sequence.

See also

References

External links

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