Jaina or Jina means the conqueror, Jainas do not believe in the Vedas, but they admit the existence of a soul. They also agree with the orthodox tradition, that suffering can be stopped by controlling the mind and by seeking the right knowledge and perception and by observing the right conduct.
The Jaina Philosophy was first propounded by the first Tirthankara Rishabha Deva. The names of Ajit Nath and Aristanemi are also mentioned with Rishabha Deva. There were 24 tirthankaras, who actually established the Jaina Darshan.
The first Tirthankara realized that the source of Jaina philosophy was Adinath. The 24th and the last Tirthankara was Vardhaman Mahavira, who gave a great impetus to Jainism. Mahavira was born in 599 BC. He left worldly life at the age of 30 and led a very hard life to gain true knowledge. After he had attained the truth, he was called Mahavira. He strongly believed in the importance of celibacy or called Brahmacharya.
The path of Dharma (meaning truth, teaching) that mahavira advocated was one of strict asceticism, renunciation and moral cultivation. He instructed his followers to cultivate the three Jewels
1. Right belief 2. Right Knowledge 3.Right Conduct
Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness) , Asteya (Non-stealing), Aparigraha(Non-acquisition),Brahmacharya (Chaste living)
There are two forms of the five vows.
Mahavrata: The five great vows followed by Jaina monks and nuns.
Anuvrata: The lesser vows followed by Jaina lay people. These are the less strict version of the great vows.
According to Jainism, the destiny of every being Is a consequence of his action. Souls are unborn and uncreated. They are also eternal and equal. They exist in both animate and inanimate objects of existence. They all are capable of becoming free or attaining moksha, through their personal efforts. The liberation of each soul depends upon its own Karma and purity of effort.
According to Jaina beliefs, the universe was never created, nor will it ever cease to exist. Therefore, history of the universe is shaswat. It has no beginning or end, but time is cyclical in nature with progressive and regressive spirituality phases. The Jainas divided-time into Utsarpinis and Avsarpinis. An Utsarpini and an Avsarpini constituted one time cycle. Every Utsarpini and Avasrpini was divided into Aras or unequal periods, which are follows.
It is central to Jaina belief. Compassion towards all fellow living beings (along with humans) is central to Jaina belief. Jainism is the only religion where in all the followers, both monks and the practicing lay persons of all the sects and traditions are required to be vegetarian.
It is one of the foundation pillars of Jaina philosophy. Anekantavada is defined as a (multiplicity of views and stresses and looking at things from other person’s perspective.
It is the theory of conditioned prediction. It states that, since reality is complex, no single proposition can express the nature of reality fully. Thus the term syat meaning (may be) should be prefixed before each proposition giving it a conditional point of view and thus, removing any dogmatism in the statement.
It is the theory of partial standpoints or viewpoints. It says that an object has infinite aspects to it, but when we describe it in practice, we describe only the relevant ones and ignore the others. The standpoints we adopt are thus, an outcome of the purpose that we are pursuing. Jaina Philosophy is based upon eternal, universal truths, according to its followers.
During the first and two last Aras, these truths lapse among humanity and then reappear through the teachings of the enlightened humans, those who have reached enlightenment or total knowledge (Kevala Jnana), during the 3rd and the 4th (Jain Councils) Aras.
Traditionally, in our universe and in our time, lord Rishabha is regarded as the first to realize the truth. Lord Vardhamana Mahavira was the last Tirthankara to attain enlightenment. The Sacred texts of Jainism are known as Agamas and are based on Mahavira’s teachings.
The Kalpa Sutra is a Jainism sacred text, which describes the biography of the Tirthankaras, mainly Parshvanath and Mahavira.
Jain Theory of Reality
The Jainas believe that the natural and supernatural things of the universe can be traced back to 9 fundamental elements namely.
1. Jiva (Soul or living beings)
2. Ajivaa (Non-living substances)
3. Asrava (Cause of the influx of Karma)
4. Astikaya (Bondage of Karma)
5. Samvara ( A mest of the influx of Karma)
6. Nirjana (Exhaustion of the accumulated Karma)
7. Moksha (Total liberation from Karma)
8. Punya (virtue)
9. Paap (Sin)
When life ends, the body dies, but not the soul. The Soul moves from life-to-life until it attains Moksha or Nirvana. In order to achieve Nirvana, Jainism explains the Law of Karma and shows the path of Moksha.
Sects of Jainism
There are two main sects in Jainism. The followers of the 23rd Tirthankara Parsvanath, Bhadrabahu were known as Svetambaras, while those following Mahavira came to be called as Digambaras. Svetambaras and Digambaras agree on most of the basic principles of Jainism and disagree on the following.
Digambarasas stress one the practice of nudity as an absolute pre-requisite to the mendicant’s path and to the attainment of salvation, the Svetamberas assert that the practice of complete nudity is not essential to attain liberation.
Digambaras believe that a women lacks the adamantine body necessary to attain Moksha. i.e. liberation and hence, must be reborn as a man before such an attainment is possible. But, the Svetambaras hold the contrary view and maintain that women are capable in the present life time itself of the same spiritual accomplishments as men.
According to the Digambaras, once a saint becomes Kevali or Kevala-jnani, i.e. omniscient, he need no morsel of food. But this view is not acceptable to the Svetambaras.
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