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Jainism
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Sthanakvasi (स्थानकवासी) is a sect of Jainism originally founded by a merchant named Lavaji about 1653 CE [1] that believes that God is 'nirakar' (without form) and hence do not pray to any statue. The sect is essentially a reformation of the one founded on teachings of Lonka, himself a fifteenth-century Jainist reformer.

Their place of worship is 'Sthanak' which is only a temporary abode of visitors, both saints and followers. It is considered a sin to touch a person of other gender (except children) during the prayers offered at the sthanak. The Sthanakvasis reject all but thirty-two of the Svetambara canon, which leads to natural comparisons with the Terapanthis.

There are about half a million Sthanakvasis in North India, and Svetambars who are not Sthanakvasi are called Deravasi.

Saints

Monks belonging to Sthanakvasi sect of Jainism.

Saints (ascetic Sthanakvasis or Yati) wear white clothes and cover their mouths with a square white cloth called a muhapatti intended to minimize the risk of inhaling small insects or other airborne life forms, which Sthanakvasi see as a violation of ahimsa (non-violence). They eat food collected from followers' houses and do not save edibles beyond the next meal and water is not kept even for a single night. All eating and drinking has to be done between sunrise and sunset.

Saints do not stay at one place for too long except for four months of monsoon called "chaturmas". Saints are also called Dhundhiya (searchers) for their early practice of searching out and staying in abandoned or neglected structures. Saints own no possessions except for a few books, a couple sets of clothes and carrying utensils made of a special natural material.

The Sthanakvasis further underwent differences later on and a few more sects emerged from them, like the Terapanthis (which is an organized sect), and a rather unorganized sect called the Baissamprada or the Baistola (led by Hastmal ji Maharajsa, Nanalalji Maharajsa, and some others).

Even Children also are not allowed to touch opposite or neutral gender or animals during prayers. Saints ofcourse during their entire life do never touch other gender. Any tresspass or fault knowingly or unknowingly needs to be undone by taking penance.

References

  1. ^ Stevenson, S.: Heart of Jainism, p. 19
  • Flügel, Peter (2008) 'The Unknown Lonka: Tradition and the Cultural Unconscious.' In: Caillat, Colette and Balbir, Nalini, (eds.), Jaina Studies. Papers of the 12th World Sanskrit Conference Vol. 9. . Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, pp. 181-279.

There were 99 Aacharyas in Sthankvasi and with time being there were left only 22 Aachryas with their "sangh" and after that they are called "BAIS TOLA"[22 Tola(sect.)]. Today they are left less than 22 tola.

Mukhpati is worn to protect sub microscopic form of life while exhaling warm air. Ofcourse sub sub microscopic form of life cannt be even destroyed by fire and are so minute that they freely go thro even steel and can not be harmed. BTW inhaling most of the time is done thro nose which has hair and mucose to prevent any ingress of insects. May be Nose patti is never seen worn becauase of this very reason.
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