Even the legends contained in the canon are not narrated in a lively manner. A characteristic peculiarity of many of them is that there are many repetitions in them, and expressions which are too clich‚. There are similar clich‚s for the descriptions of the places, persons, etc. These descriptions are 14 "Varnakas" and are written in a broad poetical style. They are clearly distinguished from the basic tone of text by use of compound words of gigantic size and there is heaping up of explanatory attributes, etc. The canonical works cannot claim great appreciation, if they are considered from the literary viewpoint. Not only the didact, but also the narrative parts often suffer and only seldom does the language rise to a pathos which may be able to carry away the reader.
According to the information given by Swetambaras themselves, the individual canonical works originate from quite different periods. While the Angas, Upangas other books trace back to the Ganadharas, particularly to Sudharma, who gave literary form to Mahaviras words, other works are attributed to later author thus. Canons are not thought of a definite period but the work is on many generations.
The Angas are considered as the oldest parts of the Canon; but they are not fully preserved, since the 12th Anga containing the 14 Purvas was lost very early. There is, of course, no reason to doubt that the 12th Anga did exist because not only all information hold the same view in this respect, but even quotations from it exist and many works are considered as based upon it. It probably contained things which were partially of no interest to later generation like the controversies with the opposing sects which do not exist any more, etc. partially they were explained in a better and more lucid way in other works so that it was not studied any more and was gradually forgotten.
Digambaras mention that the whole Swetambara-canon is apocryphal suggests that these changes must have been really quite considerable.
(Last Updated on : 25-05-2010)
|More Articles in Canonical Literature of Jainism (3)|