November 2023

4:30 PM - 6:00 PM (IST)

Room 300, School of Arts and Sciences
Central Campus, Ahmedabad University


Jain Book History: Nineteenth Century Arguments over whether or not to print the Sacred Scriptures

Seminar and Lecture Series
John E. Cort Speaker at Ahmedabad University

John E. Cort

Emeritus Professor, Asian and Comparative Religions
Denison University

The Jains came to print rather late compared to other religious communities in South Asia. The earliest known Jain books date from the middle of the nineteenth century, and the first sustained print undertakings date from the 1870s. The first two sustained Śvetāmbar Mūrtipūjak Jain print projects were the four-volume Prakaraṇ Ratnākar published by Bhīmsingh Māṇak (Māṇek) in Bombay between 1876 and 1881, and the twenty-three books of the Āgama Saṅgrah sponsored by Rāy Dhanpatisingh Bahādur of Murshidabad and printed in Calcutta, Bombay, Ahmedabad, Banaras and Murshidabad between 1874 and 1900. Both projects faced opposition from more conservative elements in Jain society, and so the two publishers engaged in sustained defenses of committing Jain religious texts to print. In this talk, John Cort presents details of the two publication series, and analyzes the publishers’ arguments in defense of the use of mechanical print to publish Jain religious texts.


John E. Cort

John E. Cort taught in the East Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, and International Studies Programs. He is the author of Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India (2001) and Framing the Jina: Narratives of Icons and Idols in Jain History (2010), as well as the coauthor with Lawrence A. Babb and Michael W. Meister of Desert Temples: Sacred Centers of Rajasthan in Historical, Art-Historical and Social Contexts (2008). He is co-editor of three collections of studies of the Jains: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Jainism (2020, with Paul Dundas, Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristi L. Wiley); Cooperation, Contribution and Contestation: The Jain Community, Colonialism and Jainological Scholarship, 1800-1950 (2020, with Andrea LuithleHardenberg and Leslie C. Orr); and Marcus Banks, Jainism as Social and Visual Practice: Anthropological Perspectives (forthcoming, with Chihab El Khachab and David Zeitlyn).