#1 Jainism : Religious Faith In India

jainism

Introduction:

Jainism is a living faith in India.The followers of this religion are found all over the country; they are concentrated mainly in western India, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh. Historians have noted the fact that both Jainism and Buddhism originated with kshatriya belonging to the Ganasamghas; both were associated with non-orthodox thinking   that rejected Vedic authority. Brahamanical and caste orders are founded orders comprising bhikkus who renounced the world.

jainism

The Founding of Jainism

Jainism and Buddhism are fundamentally different from ancient Hinduism.Historically, jainism is older than Buddhism. The great phopet of Jainism, Mahavira, who was last in the great succession to give Jainism the altest form, was the older contemporary to Buddha. There are 24 great circle of the time believed in by the Jain, and in each circle, one great prophet comes to the world .

 According to Japanese traditions, these great photpets are known as thirkankaras. Mahavira is remembered as the last of the 24 great teachers of the thirkankaras, or “ford-makers,” of the Jains. Mahavira was a prince . He abandoned a comfortable life and became a wandering ascetic when he was about 30 years old.

 His father was a ruling Kshatriya and chief of the Nata clan. Mahavira grew up as a boy, as a youth, loving and dutiful to his parents, but ever in his heart was a vow that he would be the savior of the world. He renounced the world, after the death of his parents,He returned to the forest. For about 12 years, he practiced great austerities, straining to realize himself and to realise the nothingness of all things but the self. In the 13 years illumination came upon him and the light of self shone forty upon  him, the knowledge of the supreme became his own.

He shook the bonds of avidhya (ignorance) and came 4th as a teacher to the world, teaching for 42 years to perfect life. He spent the rest of his life teaching his philosophy in the gangetic kingdoms which were the site of buddha’s spiritual career also.

 He died of self starvation, an accepted way of ending an early existence among the jains. Mahavira indeed certain features to an earlier set of beliefs among the Nirgranths rather than creating a new body of teachings. Jainism is fundamentalyy atheistic , in that while not denying the existence of the gods, it doesnot give them any important part in theuniversal scheme. The world for the jain is not created maintained or destroyed by any person deity but functions only according to universal law.

Central doctrine of jainism

There are two main sects in jainism-the Digambra “sky-clad”(naked) and the svetambra,”white clad” by the tie of separation of these two sects, the doctrine had been fixed for the whole community; this accounts for fundamental agreement in the main tenents professed. By the Svetambars and Digambers.

One might almost sup up the central doctrine of jainism in one phrase that man by injuring no livingig creature reaches the nirvana which is Eternal peace. That is the phrase that seems to carry with it the whole thought of Jain is: peace between man and man, peace between map and animal, peace everwhere and in all things, a perfect brotherhood of all that lives.

The central doctrine to jainism is that all of nature is alive- everything from rocks to the minute insects have some form of a soul, called Jiva. The  archaic concept of the soul is carried to its extreme conclusionin this teaching. Jainism thus”spitualises even the material”. The souls have always been in existence in an eternal cosmicpool of souls and wew not created by any divine force. Like the atman(of Hinduism) all jivas are eternal but n contrast tp Upanishadic Hindu thought there is no infinite cosmic atman. However, the jains accept both karma nd purnajanm that determines the new embodiment of a being in accordance with earlier deeds.

Jiva’s “non-violence” notion is just as significant as its concept of “all things breathing, all things living, all things existing, all beings whatever should not be slain, or treated with violence, or insulted, or tortured, or driven away” according to Mahavira’s pure unchanging everlasting law. However, asceticism and self-mutilation were advised as ways to reach emancipation beyond all earthly attachments and passions, when existence melts into the impersonal universal whole. The cycle of rebirth comes to an end when this condition is reached. In reality, freedom could only come to the soul of the austere. This is evident from the title of Mahavira jina one who conquers. It was associated with victory over earthly feelings and possessed ascetic implications.

An important economic result of Jain non-violence was that even lay members of the community rejected agriculture for fear of ploughing under living things and turned instead to commerce and banking regarded as non- violent occupations.

Growth of Jainism

In a short span of time Jainism spread over to various parts of India. Initially, the followers of Jainism lived mainly in the ancient Kingdoms of Videha, Magadha and Anga in east India and westward as far as Kasi (modem Varanasi) and Kosala.

In a short span of time Jainism spread over to various parts of India. Initially, the followers of Jainism lived mainly in the ancient Kingdoms of Videha, Magadha and Anga in east India and westward as far as Kasi (modem Varanasi) and Kosala.

Three jewels

  • Right knowledge                     Understanding of religious principles
  • Right Faith/Liberation              Belief in Jinas
  • Right Action/Conduct              Observance of 5 vows (Anuvratas/ Mahavratas)

Jaina philosophy

  • Rejected the authority of the Vedas and the Vedic rituals
  • Advocated an austere and simple life.
  • Did not believe in the existence of God.
  • Believed in Karma and the transmigration of soul
  • Opposed the caste system
  • Gods are lower than Jina
  • World not created, maintained and destroyed by a personal God but by a universal law.
  • Cycle of birth and death is due to Karma, atomic layer on the soul because of the past actions.
  • Annihilation of karma through practicing extreme asceticism and prevention of inflow and fixation of karma by disciplined conduct. Soul thus liberated rises to the top of the universe and stays in bliss.
  • Monastic life is essential for salvation.
  • Extreme non-violence
  • Anekantawada: The doctrine which suggests that an object of knowledge is of infinite characteristics.
  • Nyayavada: The philosophy which postulates that an individual understands an objected of knowledge through a particular point of view.
  • Saptbhangi Nyaya: According to it there are seven point of view to understand an object of knowledge.
  • Syadvada: According to it understanding of an object of knowledge is conditional and true in a way so one should be cautious and use syat before any statement.

Brief Difference Between Jainism And Buddhism

Both Buddhism and Jainism originated and developed as distinct religions in the same geographical area comprising the present day Binar and adjoining states, at a time when the Vedic religion was yet to penetrate deep into the Gangetic valley.

The assertion of the priestly classes’ superiority and the overt efforts to bar others from studying the scriptures, practicing the religion, or studying it sparked a strong backlash among the intellectuals of the day, particularly those from the ruling classes, which included both the Buddha and Mahavira. It led to a churning of religious ideas and the emergence of many rival Both Buddhism and Jainism originated and developed as distinct religions in the same geographical area comprising the present day Bihar and adjoining states, at a time when the Vedic religion was yet to penetrate deep into the Gangetic valley.

Many intellectuals of the time were strongly influenced by its self-proclaimed priestly class superiority and its shameless attempts to keep many people out of the study of the scriptures, practices, or religion, especially those from the ruling classes, which included both the Buddha and Mahavira.. II: led to a churning of religious ideas and the emergence of many rival traditions that vied with each other for support and fellowship.Only Jainism and Buddhism were able to continue existing as distinct religions among the few that survived; the others were appropriately modified and absorbed into Vedic religion.

Once upon a time, the two religions controlled India’s religious landscape, displacing its shared rival to a clear third. Under the patronage of Asoka, Buddhism crossed the frontiers of Indian subcontinent and went to Nepal, China, Tibet (which is now part of China), far eastern countries, central Asia, Sri Lanka and Japan, while Jainism remained mostly confined to the land of its origin, in course of time, both religions also suffered from schism resulting in sectarian movements.

For very long Buddhism kept its distinct stance against Hinduism, while Jainism maintained a more cordial and tolerant attitude, employing Brahmin priests in temple rituals and letting its beliefs andCertain customs, such vegetarianism, transmigration of souls, incarnation of pure creatures, ahimsa, or non-injury, Maya and Karma, and so forth, are incorporated into the opposing tradition. By contrast,

Jainism’s notion of karma made life tough for the weak, the hypocritical, and the worldly-minded. As a result, it was less popular than Buddhism. Many people were deterred from joining by its emphasis on extreme asceticism and inner purity.

It’s interesting to note that Buddhism ultimately experienced an identity problem as it faded in India and was supplanted by Hinduism. In contrast, during the very early phases of India’s religious growth, Jainism lost the majority of its adherents to its adversaries. But it survived till the end as a separate religion a with a committed following of its own.

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