Sthanakvasi (स्थानकवासी) is a sect of
Jainismoriginally founded by a merchant named Lavaji about 1653 CE [Stevenson, S.: Heart of Jainism, p. 19] that believes that God is 'nirakar' (without form) and hence do not pray to any statue. The sect is essentially a reformation of the one founded on teachings of Lonka, himself a fifteenth-century Jainist reformer.
Their place of worship is '
Sthanak' which is only a temporary abode of visitors, both saints and followers. It is considered a sin to touch a person of other gender (except children) during the prayers offered at the sthanak. The Sthanakvasis reject all but thirty-two of the Svetambaracanon, which leads to natural comparisons with the Terapanthis.
There are about half a million Sthanakvasis in
North India, and Svetambars who are not Sthanakvasi are called Deravasi.
Saints (ascetic Sthanakvasis or "Yati") wear white clothes and cover their mouths with a square white cloth called a
muhapattiintended to minimize the risk of inhaling small insects or other airborne life forms, which Sthanakvasi see as a violation of ahimsa(non-violence). They eat food collected from followers' houses and do not save edibles beyond the next meal and water is not kept even for a single night. All eating and drinking has to be done between sunrise and sunset.
Saints do not stay at one place for too long except for four months of monsoon called "chaturmas". Saints are also called "Dhundhiya" (searchers) for their early practice of searching out and staying in abandoned or neglected structures. Saints own no possessions except for a few books, a couple sets of clothes and carrying utensils made of a special natural material.
The sthanakwasis further underwent differences later on and a few more sects emerged from them like the terapanthis(which is an organized sect) and a rather unorganized sect calleed the baissamprada or the baistola (lead by Hastmal ji maharajsa ,nanalalji maharajsa and some others)
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