The Śvētāmbara ( Sanskrit: श्वेतांबर or श्वेतपट śvētapaṭa; also spelled Svetambar, Shvetambara, Shvetambar,Swetambar or Shwetambar) is one of the two main sects of Jainism, the other being the Digambara.
Śvētāmbara "white-clad" is a term describing its ascetics' practice of wearing white clothes, which sets it apart from the Digambara "sky-clad" Jainas, whose ascetic practitioners go naked. Śvētāmbaras, unlike Digambaras, do not believe that ascetics must practice nudity.
Śvētāmbaras also believe that women are able to obtain moksha. Śvētāmbaras maintain that the 19th Tirthankara, Mallinath, was a woman.
The Śvētāmbara tradition follows the lineage of Acharya Sthulibhadra Suri. The Kalpa Sūtra mentions some of the lineages in ancient times. The Śvētāmbara monastic orders are branches of the Vrahada Order, which was founded in 937 AD. The most prominent among the classical orders today are the Kharatara (founded 1024 AD), the Tapa (founded 1228 AD) and the Tristutik.
A major dispute was initiated by Lonka Shaha, who started a movement opposed to idol worship in 1476. The Sthanakvasi and Terapanthi orders are branches of this movement.
Major reforms by Vijayananda Suri of the Tapa Order in 1880 led a movement to restore orders of wandering monks, which brought about the near-extinction of the Yati institutions. Acharya Rajendrasuri restored the shramana organization in the Tristutik Order.
Some Śvētāmbara monks and nuns cover their mouth with a white cloth or muhapatti to practise ahimsa even when they talk. By doing so they minimize the possibility of inhaling small organisms.
The Śvētāmbara sect was divided into different panths. First some saints left Śvētāmbara sect to form Lonka sect in 1474 AD,, which eventually lead to forming of Sthānakavāsī in 1653 AD. In 1760 AD 13 Saints started their own panth called "Terapanth".
So now at present there are 3 panths in the Śvētāmbara sect: Murtipujaka (Deravasi), Sthānakavāsī and Terapanth. The Sthānakavāsī believe in praying to Saints than to an idol in temple, the same philosophy is carried on by "Terapanth". Other difference between Deravasi Jains and Sthānakavāsī Jains is that the saints (monks) of Deravasi do not wear white cloth (white cloth called as muhapatti) near their mouth to cover it, they hold it in hand. While Sthānakavāsī and Terapanthi saints wear muhapatti through white cotton thread tied to their ears. They do not keep Idols in Worship place called Sthanak or Derasar. They pray and bow to Panch Mahamantar. While Murtipujaka people keep an idol of Tirthankar at their derasar and they worship them.