Dharmic Religions Contd : Buddhism
traditionally known as Jain Dharma, is a religion and
philosophy originating in Ancient India with the teachings
of Mahavira ( 6th century BC) Jainism stresses spiritual independence
and equality of all life with particular emphasis on non-violence.
Self-control is vital for attaining Keval Gyan and eventually
moksha, or realization of the soul's true nature. Jains
believe all souls are equal because they all possess the
potential of being liberated and attaining Moksha. Here Jain
Dharma is categorically different from Hinduism and many other
and Siddhas are role models only because they have attained
Moksha. Jains believe that every human is responsible for
his/her actions and all living beings have an eternal soul,
jiva. It insists that we live, think and act respectfully
and honor the spiritual nature of all life. Jains do not believe
in an omnipotent supreme being, creator or manager, but rather
in an eternal universe governed by natural laws and the interplay
of its attributes (gunas) and matter (dravya).
were written over a long period of time, but the most cited
is the Tattvartha Sutra, or Book of Reality written by the
monk-scholar, Umasvati almost 1800 years ago. The primary
figures are Tirthankars. There are two main sects called
Digambar and Shvetambar, and both believe in ahimsa, asceticism,
karma, sanskar, and jiva.
all life, human and non-human, is central to Jainism. Human
life is valued as a unique, rare opportunity to reach enlightenment:
to kill any person, no matter what crime he may have committed,
is considered unimaginably abhorrent. It is the only religion
that requires monks and laity, from all its sects and traditions,
to be vegetarian. Some Indian regions have been strongly influenced
by Jains and often the majority of the local non-Jain population
has also become vegetarian. History suggests that various
strains of Hinduism became vegetarian due to strong Jain influences.
In many towns, Jains run animal shelters. For example,
Delhi has a bird hospital run by a Jain derasar, or temple.
stance on nonviolence goes much beyond vegetarianism.
Jains refuse food obtained with unnecessary cruelty.
Many are vegan due to the violence of modern dairy farms.
The Jain diet excludes most root vegetables, as they
believe this destroys entire plants unnecessarily. Garlic
and onions are avoided as these are seen as creating
passion, meaning anger, hatred, and jealousy. Jains
are usually very welcoming and friendly toward other
faiths and often help with interfaith functions. Several
non-Jain temples in India are administered by Jains.
The Jain Heggade family has run the Hindu institutions
of Dharmasthala, including the Sri Manjunath Temple,
for eight centuries. Jain monks, like Acharya Tulsi
and Acharya Sushil Kumar, have actively promoted harmony
among sects to defuse tension.
History and Jain Cosmology
to Jain beliefs, the universe was never created, nor
will it ever cease to exist. Time is divided into Utsarpinis
(Progressive Time Cycle) and Avsarpinis (Regressive
Time Cycle). Every Utsarpini and Avsarpini is divided
into six unequal periods known as Aras.
During the Utsarpini
half cycle, ethics, progress, happiness, strength, age, body,
religion, etc., go from the worst conditions to the best.
During the Avsarpini half-cycle, these notions deteriorate
from the best to the worst. Jains believe we are currently
in the fifth Ara of the Avsarpini phase.
It is important
to note that the above description stands true "in our
universe and in our time" for Jains believe there have
been infinite sets of 24 Tirthankars, one for each half of
the time cycle, and this will continue in the future. Hence,
Jainism does not trace its origins to Rishabh Dev, the first,
or Mahavir, the twenty-fourth, Tirthankar.
religion places great emphasis on the theory of Karma.
Essentially, it means that all jivas reap what they sow. A
happy or miserable existence is influenced by actions in previous
births. These results may not occur in the same life, and
what we sow is not limited to physical actions. Physical,
verbal, and mental activities play a role in future situations..
The backbone of the
Jain philosophy, the nine Tattvas show how to attain salvation.
Without knowing them, one cannot progress towards liberation.
Jainism explains that Karma theory is intertwined with these
nine principles. They are:
1. Jiva - Souls
and living things
2. Ajiva - Non-living things
3. Punya - Good karma
4. Paap - Bad karma
5. Asrava - Influx of karma
6. Bandha - The bondage of karma
7. Samvara - The stoppage of influx of karma
8. Nirjara - Shedding of karma
9. Moksha - Liberation or Salvation
and Practices - Jain Religion
Jain monks practice
strict asceticism and strive to make this, or one of the coming
births, their last. Jains believe that Devas (angels or celestial
beings) cannot help jiva to obtain liberation. This must be
achieved by individuals through their own efforts. In fact,
devas themselves cannot achieve liberation until they reincarnate
as humans and undertake the difficult act of removing karma.
Their efforts to attain the exalted state of Siddha, the permanent
liberation of jiva from all involvement in worldly existence,
must be their own.Jain monks walk barefoot and sweep the ground
in front of them to avoid killing any insect. Human life is
deemed the highest and it is vital to never harm or upset
Fasting is common
among Jains and a part of Jain festivals. Most Jains fast
at special times, during festivals, and on holy days. Paryushan
is the most prominent festival, lasting eight days in Svetambara
Jain tradition and ten days in Digambar Jain tradition during
the monsoon. The monsoon is a time of fasting. However, a
Jain may fast at any time, especially if he or she feels some
error has been committed. Variations in fasts encourage Jains
to do whatever they can to maintain whatever self control
is possible for the individual.
Jain literature is in Shauraseni and Ardha-Magadhi Prakrit.
Many classical texts are in Sanskrit. Later Jain literature
was written in Hindi, Tamil, and Kannada.
and culture have been a major cultural, philosophical, social
and political force since the dawn of civilization in Asia,
and its ancient influence has been traced beyond the borders
of modern India into the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean
regions. At various times, Jainism was found all over South
Asia including Sri Lanka and what are now Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Myanmar and Afghanistan.
Dharmic Religions Contd : Sikhism,