Ana Bajželj

Hemacandra on Omniscience: Analysis of Pramāṇamīmāṃsā with Svopajñavṛtti

  • Time: Fri, 15 July 2016, 16:00
  • Venue: Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia, seminar room 2
  • Organisation: Marco Ferrante


It is since their early texts that Jains have been pronounced sarvajñavādins, since their whole tradition is based on the doctrine conveyed by omniscient teachers. What is more, omniscience (sarvajñatā) was never reserved for the chosen few. Although attainable only in human form, it has been understood as an innate potential of consciousness (cetanā), the defining and essential quality of every jīva. The Jain doctrine explains the limitations of ordinary cognition to be due to the fact that consciousness is clouded by destructive (ghātiyā) karman that inhibits its functioning. When this type of karman is completely removed, consciousness starts to function uninhibitedly and knows "all." Although Jain authors differ in their understanding of what exactly "all" means, the attainment of omniscience is generally recognized as a necessary step toward mokṣa. The person who attains it is guaranteed to reach mokṣa upon the completion of the particular life in which the attainment takes place. Omniscience being such a significant notion, it is not surprising that the Jain tradition, much like the Buddhist tradition, generated a series of great thinkers who promoted and defended the possibility of human omniscience against its critics as well as outlining the particular features that distinguish the Jain definition of omniscience from those of other schools of thought. This lecture will examine Hemacandra’s explanation and defense of omniscience in the broader epistemological context of his Pramāṇamīmāṃsā with Svopajñavṛtti.


Ana Bajželj's research focuses on Indian philosophies, particularly Jain ontology. She has worked as a research fellow at the University of Ljubljana and the University of Rajasthan. Her current research project, Being in Time: Analysis of the Jain Doctrine of Time and Temporality, is being conducted at the Polonsky Academy of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. She is the author of several articles and book chapters, the latest of which are "The Jain Ontological Model According to Kundakunda and Umāsvāti" (Asian Studies, 2013), "Nonviolence Toward One-Sensed Beings in Jainism" (Nonviolence: Practical Applications and Theoretical Foundations, ed. Predrag Cicovacki, forthcoming), and "When Earth Comes Alive: Earth-Bodied Beings in Jain Tradition" (Soulless Matter, Seats of Energy: Metals, Gems and Minerals in South Asian Religions and Culture, ed. Fabrizio Ferrari and Thomas Dähnhardt, forthcoming). Her forthcoming book Nature of Change in Jain Philosophy will be published by Ljubljana University Press. She has held invited lectures at Claremont Lincoln University, Freie Universität Berlin, Banaras Hindu University, Haifa University, and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.