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What is Jainism? At least 2500+ years old Followed by 3 - 4 million people mostly in India Life affirming but world-denying Seeks to release the soul from the round of rebirth, to liberate spirit from matter Ahimsa – non-violence – is the hallmark of this spiritual discipline

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what is jainism
What is Jainism?
  • At least 2500+ years old
  • Followed by 3 - 4 million people mostly in India
  • Life affirming but world-denying
  • Seeks to release the soul from the round of rebirth, to liberate spirit from matter
  • Ahimsa – non-violence – is the hallmark of this spiritual discipline
  • No creator god
  • Spiritual life is primarily moral rather than ritualistic
the founders of jainism
The founders of Jainism

24 Tirthankaras : great teachers

  • Going back thousands of years before recorded history
  • Mahavira (“great hero”) – the 24th and final Tirthankara – reformer of ancient Jainism
slide3
Mahavira ca. 599-527 BCE

Parallels Buddha’s life

Family wealth vs. poverty

Joined ascetics

Became far more extreme

Ahimsa yields true release

Ahimsa produces Jina (release from this life or conqueror over attachment, hence the name Jain)

slide4
Response to Hinduism and rejection of castes system
  • Their belief is the emphasis on the immediate consequences of one's behavior.
  • Follow the teachings of the 24 Jinas or Tirthankaras.
  • Have no God but not atheist.
  • Believe in the nature of things. 
  • Stress spiritual independence and equality of all life with particular emphasis on non-violence and self-control is vital for attaining ominscience. and eventually moksha or realization of the soul's true nature.
jain beliefs spiritual beings
Jain Beliefs: Spiritual Beings
  • Jina: (conqueror) an enlightened being who has conquered material existence and released the soul from the round of rebirth
  • Tirthankara: a jina who is a great spiritual teacher
  • Siddha: a liberated soul
  • The goal of Jainism: to become a Jina, thus freeing one’s soul from the material realm
    • we can all become “gods” but these gods do not intervene or respond to petitioner prayer
jain beliefs jiva ajiva
Jain Beliefs: Jiva & Ajiva
  • Jiva = life-giving spirit (soul)
  • Ajiva = inert/non-living matter
  • All living beings contain soul and are considered Jiva (soul trapped in matter):
    • Humans
    • Animals
    • Plants
    • Microscopic life-forms trapped in matter (water beings, rock beings, fire beings, air beings)
jain beliefs karma reincarnation
Jain Beliefs: Karma & Reincarnation
  • Karma: impurity of the soul that keeps the soul bound to the cycle of rebirth into matter
  • Karma is built-up through actions in this world: thoughts, words, deeds, attitudes
  • Reduce and eliminate karma so as to achieve moksha (nirvana)– release of the soul from the cycles of rebirth

How are we to do this?…

jain practices spiritual discipline
Jain practices: Spiritual Discipline
  • Ahimsa: non-violence to any and all life forms. Intent to do no harm. Strict vegans: (avoid all meat and animal products, including milk, eggs, fish and even avoid root vegetables).
  • Aparigraha: non-attachment
  • Anekantwad: non-hatred
  • Asceticism: to live a monastic life, detached from this world and society – a life of poverty and chastity
jain monastic s major sects
Jain Monastic's Major Sects
  • Svetambara (“white clad”)
    • Wear white robes
    • Live in community
    • Admit both men and women
    • Some wear face masks to protect minute life forms from harm
five monastic vows
Five Monastic Vows:
  • Ahimsa: non-violence (do not harm others)
  • Satya: truth (do not lie)
  • Achaurya: do not steal
  • Brahmacharya: celibacy & chastity
  • Aparigraha: renounce attachments (poverty)
lay jainism non monastic sect
Lay Jainism (non-monastic) Sect
  • Householders: marry and have children
  • A simple life but not ascetic (may take temporary monastic vows)
  • Modified vows (five plus seven more) to guide life in this world
  • Maintain Vegan diet
  • Do not expect to achieve moksha in this life (it takes full asceticism and monastic life to hope to become a Jina)
lay jainism religious practices
Lay Jainism: religious practices
  • Make pilgrimages to sacred sites (related to the lives of the Tirthankaras)
  • Attend temples
  • Revere the Tirthankaras
  • Observe holy days:
    • Mahavir Jayanti (April; commemorating the birth of Mahavira)
    • Paryushana Parva (Aug. – Sept.; a festival of fasting and forgiveness)
    • Mahavir Nirvan (Diwali) (Oct. – Nov.; commemorates the liberation [death] of Mahavira)