Murtipujaka: The original group of the Swetambaras is known as ‘Murtipujaka Swetambaras’ because they are the worshippers of idols. They worship and offer flowers, fruits, rice, incense sticks, saffron, etc. to their idols. They also adorn them with rich clothes and ornaments.
The monks keep their mouths covered with strips of cloth while speaking and at other times keep them in their hands. They stay in temples or in the especially reserved buildings known as ‘Upasrayas’. The monks collect food in their bowls from the sravakas or householders' houses and eat them where they stay.
Murtipujakas are also known as Deravasi, Caityavasi, Mandira-margi or Pujera. The Murtipujaka Swetambaras can be seen scattered all over India in large urban centres. However, maximum of them can be seen in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
Sthanakvasi: The Sthanakvasi did not arise directly from the Swetambaras, but from an older reforming sect, the Lonka sect of Jainism. This Lonka denomination was established in about 1460 AD by Lonka Shaha who was a rich and well-read merchant of Ahmedabad. The main principle of this denomination was not to practice idol-worship. However, later few members of the Lonka denomination disapproved of the ways of life of their monks. Viraji of Surat, a Lonka denomination layman received initiation as a Yati, i.e., an ascetic. He was highly appreciated for the strictness of his life. Hence, many people of the Lonka denomination joined this reformer and they took the name of Sthanakvasi.
The Sthanakvasi are also called by terms as Dhundhiya and Sadhu-margi. The Sthanakvasi differ from the Swetambara sect in idol-worship and also in observance of some religious practices. The Sthanakvasi do not have temples but only sthanakas, that is, prayer halls, where they carry on their religious fasting, festivals, practices, prayers, discourses, etc. Further, the monks of Sthanakvasi cover their mouths with strips of cloth for all the time. They do not use yellow cloth or any other colour instead they use white colour cloth. The Sthanakvasi admit the authenticity of only 31 of the Holy Scriptures of Swetambaras. Furthermore, the Sthanakvasi don't have faith in the places of pilgrimage and don't participate in the religious festivals of Murtipujaka Swetambaras.
Terapanthi: The Terapanthi sub-sect is derived from the Sthanakvasi; section. The Terapanthi sub-sect was established by Swami Bhikkanaji Maharaj. Under the initiation of Acharya Raghunatha, Swami Bhikkanaji became a Sthanakvasi saint. However, after some time Swami Bhikkanaji began having differences with his Guru on several aspects of religious practices of Sthanakvasi monks. Thus in the year 1760 AD he established Terapantha in the year 1760 AD.
As Acharya Bhikkanaji laid stress on the 13 religious tenets, namely, 5 Mahavratas (great vows), 5 samitis (regulations) and 3 Guptis (controls or restraints). Thus, his sub-sect was known as the ‘Terapantha’ meaning 13 sub-sects. The Terapanthis remain under the total direction of one Acharya, i.e., religious head.
One of the characteristic features of the Terapantha is its regulation under one Acharya. It had become an example for emulation by other Panthas. All the monks and nuns of the Terapantha meticulously follow the orders of their Acharya, preach under his guidance and carry out all religious activities according to his instructions. They are reformists who believe in simplicity. Their efforts are directed towards meditation and the literary work of translating and interpreting the scriptures. They also wear strips of cloth to cover their mouth. The Terapanthis have established ‘world peace’ and ‘non-violent actions’ organizations.