Jainism is one of the oldest practicing religions, although, today Jainism appears in its present day form in the areas of Northeastern India, just as it did thousands of years ago. It’s a religion composed in arrangement so that it’s characteristic are associated with the religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. In the beginning, however, the Jains prayed to the Hindu gods mainly for earthly support like a male heir, long life, and prosperity. Jainism can be trace its beginnings to the Indus river valley civilization of three thousands B.C. Due to the reaction and demands of the Indian religion by the Hindu Brahmans and its Brahman priesthood, there arose two independent religions with who rejected the materialistic goals and bloody sacrifices of the Vedic of later Hinduism rituals. These two religions are still practiced today, one being Buddhism and the other Jainism. However, Jains survived the ups and downs of Buddhism and attacks from Islam and Hinduism. In the twelfth century, the fortunes of the Jains rose and fell due to the Muslins conquest of India. This led to the persecutions of all religions other than Islam.
Jainism has some similarities associated with two other religions called Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhism is similar to Jainism because the religions do not acknowledge that there is existences of God on the contrary do believe in gods who are much higher than the human beings. The gods by the Jainism terms are called Jinas or Kevalins. Buddhism gods are called Bodhisattvas. Buddhism takes care of the interests of the world and Jainism does not. Jainism recognize the presence of everything in the universe, even down to little micro organism in matter and the Buddhism do accept all things but not for everything in this world. Both accept Karma and the effects of the individual. Buddhism disappeared from the India territory but Jainism and Hinduism still remains.
Today, reform movements and the formation of new sectors have begun. Jainism has continued along with the economic power of its teachings has led the way. Jains are forbidden from having an occupation that causes the devastation of life. Example would be, hunting and fishing, eating meat, eggs, also to use any animal products including leather. However, they are bankers, scholars, traders, arts, farming, crafting, commerce, and other acceptable occupations are government work. At night they do not drink after sundown for fear of unknowly swallowing a gant. They are allowed no food or drink after sundown. This may cause some wonder since it is looked down to not limit one’s possessions, although they live in the world but not of the worldly things.
Jainism earliest descriptions were thought of being a self centered search for personal salvation without having a personal God. Jains do not believe in one creator or God. Heinrich Zimmer, an expert on Indian Philosophy, states, “Jainism is Tran theistic- it does not deny existence of God but that it goes beyond them.” (A 352) Others see it’s as a search for personal growth and a sense of higher personal ethics. Jainism is founded on the goal of overcoming the temporary cycle of earthly life in addition to be released from an endless cycle of existence. Human destiny was the center of Jain teaching. They were to rely on themselves to seek that which will save them from the domination of matter, this being moral elevation. Above all, Jainism is a religion of love and compassion, with an eternal universe. They have made significant contributions in logic, art, and architecture, grammar, mathematics, literature, philosophy, astronomy, and astrology.
Jainism was distinguished for their extreme practices, even to the severity of death by self starvation. They focus on asceticism or the mortification of the flesh and individuals, striving toward moral perfection by means of nonviolence. They especially avoid harming any living creature since every manifestation of nature has a soul. Jains have been known to cover their face with a mask to guard against breathing in and destroying insect life or sweep the path before them as to avoid stepping on any life form.
Jainism is thought to be based on the teachings of Vardhamana, who is known as Mahavira (Great Hero) and Jain (Victor). Mahavira was born near Panta during c. 599 BC. His father was a king. His disciples are called Jains or Janas which means “followers or children of Victor.” People shorten the word “Jainism” to “Jain” and that what they call themselves. Jain means conqueror. Jains claim Mahvira was the founder of Jainism but was said that it had been traced back to the Tirthankaras in prehistoric times where there were twenty-four Tirthankaras. Tirthankaras means makers of the river crossing or finders of the ford. Those who went beyond the gods found a way to save humanity. They are revered as models of spiritual victory that found their way across the river of life and won release from the external cycle of Karma. The law of Karma determines as human destiny. They remain faithful to an archaic form of realism based on a common sense acceptance of the surrounding world. It was given the name by the twenty-four teachers, which are called Tirthankaras. Rsabha was the first of the twenty-four Tirthankaras. Mallinatha was the ninety Tirthankaras that was said to have been a woman.
Today’s scholars believe the biographies of the first twenty-two are mythological. Parsvas and Majhavira were the only two thought to be historical figures. The most famous of them all was Varahanaba Mahavira. He was born in north-east India, where the present day Punta is located. There are two stories on how he began to discover the nature of the universe. Some would say that he was a lifelong bachelor, but he did married. He left his wife, Yashoda, and daughter, Anaja, to search for the core universe. Other would say that at the age of thirty, he gave up his life and become a mendicant.
For about twelve or more years, he committed himself to renunciation and separation from all material things around the world. Nudity for monks is a sign of devotion, renunciation of all worldly possessions. Eventually, he reached a point of complete understanding and absolute separation from the worldly wishes; he found what he was looking for and started teaching others. Mahavira added a fifth vow of poverty to the original four vows. It was at this time, his jealous brother, tried to have him killed. He was unsuccessful. Fir seventy years he wondered India gathering disciples and teaching them the four vows: not to take life, not to lie, not to steal, and not to own property.
During the time he was alive, he led nearly thousands and thousands of people into the Jainism religion. He was said to have reached Karma and achieved liberation on Mount Sammeda in Bengal, known today as the hill of Parsvanatha. He died at the age of seventy-two. After he died, he left eleven chief followers in charge. Also after his death, his teachings were preserved in oral form but were not written down until about 300 B.C.
This religion spread after his death to north-eastern and north-western population cities. It was helped spread by princes also of that time. During this time, the monks began to argue, causing a split. This religion split into two different communities or churches. They are the Digambaras and the Savetambara. The split between the two became final and exists to the present day. Both sectors have their own scared books and commentaries.
The Digambara took vows of nudity. They are also known as the naked religion. The people of this religion rejected clothing, even in public. The Digambaras were anti-feminist and rejected theories that the ninth Tirthankaras had been a woman. Women were condemned as the world’s greatest temptation and the cause of all sinful acts. Women could not practice unity. The only way for them to obtain release was to be born again as a man. However, a man could also be reborn as a woman. Digambaras insist that the true monk must be naked. They predominate in the north and west areas of India. The Svetambara practiced predominated in the south. They are known as the white-clad. They believe in wearing white that you can be pure without taking off your clothes. After the two churches were split, it split into branches called Sakhas. Then it broke down even further into families or schools called Kulas. Sometimes in the fifth century, the Jain culture began to fall. By the twelfth century, Jainism disappeared in a city called Karnataka. Even though the Jain community did not disappear completely, the religion did not become as popular as before. Jain is still active in India and as well as Canada.
The main areas of contentment between the Svetambaras and the Dogambaras were related to the clothing aspect. The ancient text had been hesitant as to whether the monks are naked in token of their total renunciation of worldliness or wear white robes.
The Jains have a fertility goddess in the Indian religious sector the stylized the attitude and expression of the figure representing a goddess who is not divine child, but the mother of all living things, a universe forced both human and not human.
The Indian sub-continent has a vast number of scared sites which Hindus, Buddhist, Jains and other visit as often as circumstances permit. The monastic community is managed by a Cayuga who decides disciplinary and doctrinal matters. A monastic spends their days and nights divided by requesting Alma eating, teaching, reading, studying, meditation, confessing faults, and mortifying the body. They are easily noticed for their shaved head. They are encouraged to take twelve vows after professing their faith to their religion of Tirthankaras. They must renounce all other religions and faiths except the reality of Karma and not to associate with hypocrites.
The twelve vows:
1.Never take life or destroy a soul.
2.Never lie or exaggerate.
4.Never be unfaithful or think untainted thoughts.
5.Limit the acquisition of wealth and give away all extra possessions.
6.Limit or impose on travel.
7.Limit the person possessions.
8.Guard against unnecessary evil.
9.Observe special periods of limitation
10.Spend time living as a monastic
11.Give alms to a monastic community
A Jain passes though five stages of knowledge begging with the right perception, knowledge of the scriptures, supernatural knowledge, the knowledge of the thoughts of others, and ends with the highest form having universal or complete knowledge.
The Jains are suppose to take a vow of non-attachedment and dispose of all earthly goods while fasting when they feel death approaching. At death they can obtain liberation. Jains normal do not produce relics or statues; however they do have a symbol.
This is their symbol:
Half Moon stands for liberation
Dots stand for the three jewels of Jainism
Arms symbolize birth
Jain ceremonies are similar to the Christian one ceremony making an important event of conception, birth, to death. The Jain ways are the great vows of Mahavratas. These are nonviolence, speaking the truth, abstaining from sexually activities, not taking anything not given and detachment from person, places, or things. A sixth was added later: abstaining from eating after dark. Jains do not acknowledge the cast system. The existing written scared text, a canon, of forty-five were later reconstructed by other monks.
Jains believe by doing the path of meditation austerity, make self denial and above all the principals of a himsa from him say that their souls move though all fourteen steps to the top of the universe where it is free from Karma and remains forever free of suffering. Jainism believes the universe has three realms with the lowest realms having seven levels containing 8.4 million hells. Also they believe that this universe is made up of steps. This is heaven and hell. The layers are the Supreme Abode, Upper World, Middle World, Nether World, Nigoda, Universe Space, and the Space beyond. The Supreme Abode is the top of all the layers. This is where Sidaha lives. The Upper World consists of the thirty heavens. It is this celestial vault or heavenly realm. The heavenly realm is where the gods live but this is not the ultimate goal. It is meant to reach a release from the world. The middle world would be where the earth and the rest of the universe are located. We would be thought of being here in the realm of human life. It is made up of non-living and unlimited number of living substances. The nether world is where the seven hells are located. Within this layer approaches many punishments. The universe space is made up of clouds that surround the upper world. The space beyond is where never-ending soul, matter, time, motion, and rest is to be found.
The Jaivas houses the person soul’s containing of what animate them and mingled with particles of their Karma. Karmic matters add colors to people lives, momadas, with six colors.
Black is the worst indicating unmerciful creatures that kill or harm other beings.
Blue is selfish and erotic.
Grey indicates angry and thoughtfulness.
Red is color of honest and genially souls.
Yellow, however, is the color of souls who are completely unemotional unbiased.
Jain path to release passes thought five stages of knowledge. They are called Mati, Sruta, Manahparyaya, and lastly Kavala. Siddhas are those who obtain Kelvala. They have reached the top of the universe where they are forever free of Karma.
Peoples’ action, good or bad, produced particles of Karma that weigh them down and connect to an endless existence. Jains believe that traveling by the path traced by the makers of the river crossing a person soul ascend and free itself from Karma. It’s there that the soul rises to the top of the universe where it remains forever free of suffering.
Jains believe in recantation, and it may take several attempts in order to reach the final liberation. This religion believes in selfness and surrounding everything however if you really look at it all, they are doing it for selfness reasoning so they may reach liberation and be free from the universe.