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Introduction
02 Feb 2021

India has been a land or spirituality, morality and faith. Many religions have thrived in India during same era. Even today people from different faiths and cults live together in India. Major religions in India are:

  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Buddhism
  • Jainism

Other religions in India are:

  • Sikhism
  • Christianity
  • Zoroastrianism
  • Judaism

Founders of Jainism

The word Jain is derived from jina or jina which means the conqueror. Jainism is believed to be comprised of people who have managed to control and conquer their desires.

Founders of Jainism

  • The founder of the Jainism was Vardhamana Mahavira.
  • He was born at Kundalgram in Vaishali to King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala around 540 BC.
  • When he reached the town of Pava near Patna, he found the truth of life, Kevalya.
  • He was given the title of Mahavira, Jitendriya and Nirgrantha.

It has 24 Trithankars:

  • The first Trithankar was Adinathar: Rishabdeva.
  • The 24th Trithankar was Vardhman, also called Jana i.e. conqueror.
  • He asked his followers to follow Ahimsa.
  • Mahavira died at Pavapuri.

Jaina Teaching and Philosophy

Jainism rejects the authority of Vedas. Unlike Buddhism, it believes in the existence of soul (atma).

Jainism believes in right path or Dharma and it does not recommend strict asceticism or renunciation of world. Rather, it professes to live a morally correct life and not to harm any living thing.

The three gems of Triratna are:

  • Right knowledge (sanyakjnana)
  • Right belief (sanyakdarshana)
  • Right action (samyakcharita)

The 5 Doctrines of Jainism given by Parshavnath (23rd Trithankar) are:

  • Amisa (non-violence)
  • Satya (truthfulness)
  • Asatya (not stealing)
  • Aparigraha (Non-Possession)
  • Brahmacharya (Chaste living) (it was added by 24th Trithankar)

The philosophy of Jainism is:

  • Against superstitions, rituals and caste discrimination.
  • Jainism called for strict rules and severe non-violence.

The Core beliefs of Jainas are:

  • Everything has soul, even stones.
  • They do not believe in deity
  • The world is created by Universal Law and not God.
  • It has rejected Vedas
  • It believes in the Karma and soul i.e. second birth.
  • The ultimate aim of a human is Nirvana.
  • It believes in the principle of pluralism i.e. Anketawad i.e. multiplicity of viewpoints i.e. no single truth is ultimate truth.

The Jains believed in 8 symbols:

Symbol

Meaning

Swastik

Peace and well being of humans

Bhadrasana

throne sanctified by the feet of Jaina

Minayugal

A couple of fish signifying conquest over sexual urges

Shrivasta

A mark on chest of Jaina signify pure soul

Varhmanaka

Shallow dish used as lamp which shows the increase in the wealth and merit

Kalasha

A pot filled with pure water

Darpana

Mirror which reflects inner self

Nandyavartya

A large swastika with nine end points

Jainism Literature

The contribution of Jains to Tamil Literature includes:

  • Sillapathiguram
  • Chivagachitamani
  • Vallayapathi
  • Soodanai

The Literature and grammar Works of Jainism:

  • Nannol
  • Neminatham
  • Naladiar
  • Agaporulvillakam
  • Thinaimalai

Major sects in Jainism

The division of the followers of Jainsm during later period into two sects, namely:

Shvetambara

  • They follow the preachings of Prasvanatha i.e. they believe in only four restraints and not in Brahmacharya
  • They are the white-clad Jains i.e. they wear simple white clothing.
  • They are mostly found in North India.
  • They were guided by the Sthulbhadra.
  • The five etenal substances in existence according to them are:
    • Soul
    • Matter
    • Space
    • Motion
    • Rest

Digambaras

  • Bhadrabahu was an exponent of this sect.
  • They are the wearer of sky ad do not wear clothes.
  • They believe in non-possession of things, even clothes.
  • The women wear white sarees and cannot attain moksha but according to Shweta, they can. Female are called Aryikas.
  • Kalpa Sutra is the holy book of Digambaras.
  • The monastery established by Jain is Sthanaks.
  • Suttapahuda text mentions the beliefs of Digambara sect.