Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies


P. Granoff




The purpose of this thesis is to examine Jain attitudes toward renunciation in the final two books of the Trisastisalakapurusacaritra, the Parsvanathacaritra and the Mahaviracaritra, through the creation of a typology of the stories of male renunciation. I argue that tensions exist between the two distinct models of renunciation found in the text - spontaneous renunciation early in life, and late, stage of life based renunciation. Such tensions also exist between the models of renunciation advocated by the heterodox and orthodox traditions of India. The early time renunciation is consistent with the model of renunciation presented by heterodox traditions, while the late time of renunciation parallels the orthodox asrama system's model of renunciation.

The forty-nine stories discussed in this thesis are organized according to a tripartite typology based on the social position of the renunciant, the time of renunciation, and the cause of renunciation. The stories are initially divided into three groups according to the social position of the renunciant-ordinary individuals, kings, and princes. Each group is then discussed according to the remaining two aspects of the typology. Stories of ordinary individuals portray spontaneous, early renunciation, while stories of kings predominantly portray renunciation late in life, based on a particular stage. The stories of princes reveal that renouncing immediately upon experiencing the desire to do so is not always the most effective time to renounce. As such, the text clearly shows that a homogenous model of renunciation does not exist in the text and reveals flexibility on the proper time of renunciation.

Although the time of renunciation is the focus of this thesis, other aspects of Jain attitudes toward renunciation are discussed, such as the importance of a personal and catalytic experience in bringing about firm resolve in renouncing.

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