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Title: Prekṣā meditation : history and methods
Author: Pragya, Samani Pratibha
ISNI:       0000 0004 6422 1451
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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This study is an attempt to trace the history and development of prekṣā-dhyāna (perception meditation), developed in the last quarter of the twentieth century by Ācārya Mahāprajña (1920-2010), the tenth ācārya of the Jaina Śvetāmbara Terāpanth sect. Prekṣā-dhyāna represents a new synthesis of ancient Jaina ascetic techniques, classical ritualistic meditative elements, and modern science, aimed at an audience that is global and inclusive of Jainas and non-Jainas alike. The argument of the thesis is that prekṣā-dhyāna is an expression of Jaina modernism that has a firm foothold in the world of international meditative practices. The study uses textual sources to provide a historical overview of the Jaina meditative tradition in an area that has not yet been explored. It examines the theory and practice of prekṣā-dhyāna in detail. It demonstrates that Mahāprajña's construction of the prekṣā-dhyāna system integrates seven distinct sources: (i) Jaina textual accounts of meditative practices (ii) elements of Hindu yoga systems (iii) elements of Buddhist vipassanā meditation (iv) Āyurvedic concepts (v) Astronomical elements (vi) modern science and (vii) reflections on his own experiences and explorations. Finally, twentieth century Jaina meditative systems other than prekṣā-dhyāna, newly developed by mendicants from the Śvetāmbara Mūrtipūjaka and Sthānakavāsī traditions have been examined and their similarities and differences vis-à-vis prekṣā-dhyāna investigated. The reasons for the current proliferation of these new systems of meditation in the Jaina tradition have also been examined. This thesis demonstrates that Mahāprajña's innovative use of scientific concepts, which was not previously incorporated within Jaina meditation systems, is unique and represents an important step towards Jaina modernism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral