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Jainism and the Western World: Jinmuktisūri and Georg Bühler and Other Early Encounters

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The article reconsiders the perceived coincidence of interests of the Jains and orientalist scholarship in the 19th and early 20th centuries on the basis of Georg Bühler’s (1837-1896) personal account of his visit to the famous Jain library in Jaisalmer in 1874, published in 1883 in German in the Österreichische Rundschau, and of other almost forgotten documents of early encounters between Jain and European scholars: notably by Moritz Winternitz (1863-1937), who in 1922 in Shivpuri attended the consecration of the death memorial (samādhi-mandira) of Vijayadharmasūri (1868-1922) the great supporter of European Jain scholarship, and by Jinavijaya, who visited Hermann Jacobi and other Jaina scholars in Europe in 1928. The analysis of Bühler’s tactics in gaining access and of Jain laity to gain permission to publish the original Jain manuscripts demonstrates the significance of conflicting interests within the Jain community, and the historical importance of the alliance of Indologists and proponents of Jain modernism, particularly Digambara Jain lawyers and reform-oriented Mūrtipūjaka Śvetāmbara monks, for the construction of Jain communal identity during the colonial period.

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