Jainism (/ˈdʒeɪnɪzəm/ or /ˈdʒaɪnɪzəm/), traditionally known as Jain dharma, belongs to the śramaṇa tradition and is one of the oldest Indian religions. It prescribes a path of non-injury (ahimsa) towards all living beings. Practitioners believe non-violence and self-control are the means to liberation. Followers of Jainism are called Jains and must observe five major vows: ahimsa, not lying, not stealing (asteya), chastity, and non-attachment. Self-discipline and asceticism are thus major focuses of Jainism. Parasparopagraho Jivanam ("The function of souls is to help one another") is the motto of Jainism.
Jainism rejects the idea of a creator or destroyer god and postulates an eternal universe. Jain cosmology divides worldly cycle of time into two parts or half-cycles, ascending (utsarpani) and descending (avasarpani). According to Jains, in every half-cycle of time, twenty-four tirthankaras (makers of the ford) grace this part of the Universe to teach the unchanging doctrine of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. Modern history records the existence of last tirthankara, Mahavira (6th century B.C.) and his predecessor Parsvanatha. (Wikipedia)
Jainism (pronounced jayn-izm), traditionally known as Jain Dharma, is a dharmic religion with its origins in the prehistory of India, still practiced today by several million people. Jainism has as its religious ideal the perfection of man’s nature. The universe is seen as being eternal—having no beginning and no end—precluding God from being a creator. Perfection of the individual is achieved through the practice of an ascetic life, without any divine assistance. Jain monastics and lay people follow the same fivefold path of nonviolence (ahinsa, or ahimsa); truth (satya); non-stealing (asteya); chastity (brahmacharya); and non-possession or non-possessiveness (aparigraha), but to different degrees.
Jain dharma teaches that every living thing is an individual and eternal soul, which is responsible for its own actions. Jains see their faith as teaching the individual to live, think and act in ways that respect and honor the spiritual nature of every living being. Jainism was the first religion to practice ahimsa (non-violence) as a rule of life. The primary figures of Jainism are the 24 Tirthankaras (prophets), the most recent of which was Mahavira (599–527 B.C.E.). (New World Encyclopedia)
The name Jainism derives from the Sanskrit verb ji, “to conquer.” It refers to the ascetic battle that, it is believed, Jain renunciants (monks and nuns) must fight against the passions and bodily senses to gain omniscience and purity of soul or enlightenment. The most illustrious of those few individuals who have achieved enlightenment are called Jina (literally, “Conqueror”), and the tradition’s monastic and lay adherents are called Jain (“Follower of the Conquerors”), or Jaina. This term came to replace a more ancient designation, Nirgrantha (“Bondless”), originally applied to renunciants only. (Encyclopædia Britannica)
Sculpture of Mahavira
Rock cut sculpture of Mahavira (Last Tirthankara) at Keezhakuyilkudi, Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Lord Rishabhdev in meditation
Depiction of meditation in Kayotsarga posture by Rishabhdeva (First Tirthankara).
Sculpture of Parshvanatha
18 feet (5.5 m) sculpture of Parshvanatha in the Parshvanatha basadi at Halebidu.
This photograph was taken by me at the Basadi (also spelt Basti, another name for a Jain temple) complex in Halebidu, Hassan district, Karnataka state, India.It is located close to the famous Hoysaleshwara temple. All the three Basadi in the complex are dated to the 12th century and were built by the kings of the Hoysala empire.
Nareli Jain Temple, Ajmer
The Jain flag
The Jain flag has five colours – red, yellow, white, green and black (or blue). The stripes of red, yellow, green and black are equal in breadth and the white stripe is double their breadth. The Swastika, in the center of the flag, is saffron in colour. The five colours symbolize the Five Worshipful Beings (Pañca-Parameṣṭhi)
The Jain emblem
The Jain emblem. The outline of the image represents the universe as per Jain cosmology.
This is the official symbol of Jainism, known as the Jain Prateek Chihna. This Jain symbol was agreed upon by all Jain sects in 1974
The hand with a wheel on the palm symbolizes Ahimsa in Jainism.
The hand with a wheel on the palm symbolizes Ahimsa in Jainism. The word in the middle is "ahiṃsā". The wheel represents the dharmachakra, which stands for the resolve to halt the saṃsāra through relentless pursuit of truth and nonviolence.
Mahāvīra explaining Jain philosophical concepts
Painting of Mahavira (Rajasthan Dated 1900)- Photograph taken by Jules Jai.
Mahāvīra employed anekānta extensively to explain Jain philosophical concepts.
Concept of soul (Ātman) in Jainism
Depiction of the concept of soul (Ātman) in Jainism. Golden color represents nokarma – the quasi-karmic matter, Cyan color depicts dravya karma – the subtle karmic matter, Orange the bhav karma – the psycho-physical karmic matter and White: sudhatma – pure consciousness
Image of a Siddha
Siddhas (the liberated beings), although they are formless, this is how they are depicted in Jain temples.
Stela depicting Jinvani
Stella depicting Śhrut Jnāna or complete scriptural knowledge
The Jains are followers of Vardhamana Mahavira (599–527 B.C.E.) who systematized the doctrine of the three tirthankaras: Rsabha, Ajitanatha and Aristanemi. Mahavira was not the founder of Jainism, but a monk who espoused the Jaina creed and became a seer and the last prophet (Tirthankara) of Jainism.
Mahavira, also known as Vardhamana, was the twenty-fourth and last tirthankara. In Jainism, a tirthankara (maker of the river crossing) is an omniscient teacher who preaches the dharma (righteous path) and builds a ford across the ocean of rebirth and transmigration. Twenty-four tirthankara grace each half of the cosmic time cycle. Mahavira was the last tirthankara of avasarpani (present descending phase). Mahavira was born into a royal family in what is now Bihar, India. At the age of 30, he left his home in pursuit of spiritual awakening. He abandoned all the worldly things including his clothes and became a Jain monk. For the next twelve and a half years, he practiced intense meditation and severe penance, after which he became omniscient. He traveled all over South Asia for the next thirty years to teach Jain philosophy. Mahavira died at the age of 72 and attained nirvana (final release) or moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death). Mahavira's philosophy has eight cardinal (law of trust) principles, three metaphysical (dravya, jiva and ajiva), and five ethical. The objective is to elevate the quality of life.
Mahavira Enlightenment (Attainment of omniscience kevalajñāna by Mahavira)
Lord Mahaveer attaining enlightment in squating/goduhasana posture.
Mahavira was born into the royal Kshatriya family of King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala (sister of King Chetaka of Vaishali). He was born on the thirteenth day of the rising moon of Chaitra in the Vira Nirvana Samvat calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, this date falls in March or April and is celebrated as Mahavir Jayanti. His Gotra was Kashyapa. Traditionally, Kundalapura in the ancient city of Vaishali is regarded as his birthplace; however, its location remains unidentified.
As the son of a king, Mahavira had all luxuries of life at his disposal. Both his parents were strict followers of Parshvanatha. Jain traditions are not unanimous about his marital state. According to Digambara tradition, Mahavira's parents desired that he should get married to Yashoda but Mahavira refused to marry. According to Svetambara tradition, he was married young to Yashoda and had one daughter, Priyadarshana.
At the age of 30, Mahavira abandoned all the comforts of royal life and left his home and family to live an ascetic life in the pursuit of spiritual awakening. He went into a park called Sandavana in the surroundings of Kundalpur. He underwent severe penances, meditated under the Ashoka tree and went without clothes. There is graphic description of hardships and humiliation he faced in the Acharanga Sutra. In the eastern part of Bengal he suffered great distress. Boys pelted him with stones, people often humiliated him.
According to Kalpa Sūtra, Mahavira spent forty-two monsoons of his ascetic life at Astikagrama, Champapuri, Prstichampa, Vaishali, Vanijagrama, Nalanda, Mithila, Bhadrika, Alabhika, Panitabhumi, Shravasti and Pawapuri.
According to Jainist tradition, the founder lived in the sixth century B.C., being either a contemporary or a precursor of Buddha. His family name was Jnatriputra (in Prakrit, Nattaputta), but, like Gotama, he was honoured with the laudatory names of Buddha, the enlightened, Mahavira, the great hero, and Jina, the conqueror. These last two epithets came to be his distinctive titles, while the name Buddha was associated almost exclusively with Gotama.
Like Buddha, Jina was the son of a local raja who held sway over a small district in the neighbourhood of Benares. While still a young man he felt the emptiness of a life of pleasure, and gave up his home and princely station to become an ardent follower of the Brahmin ascetics.
If we may trust the Jainist scriptures, he carried the principle of self-mortification to the extent that he went about naked, unsheltered from the sun, rain, and winds, and lived on the rudest vegetarian fare, practising incredible fasts.
Accepting the principle of the Brahmin ascetics, that salvation is by personal effort alone, he took the logical step of rejecting as useless the Vedas and the Vedic rites. For this attitude towards the Brahmin traditions he was repudiated as a heretic. He gathered eleven disciples around him, and went about preaching his doctrine of salvation. Like Buddha he made many converts, whom he organized under a monastic rule of life.
Associated with them were many who accepted his teaching in theory, but who in practice stopped short of the monastic life of extreme asceticism. These were the lay Jainists, who, like the lay Buddhists, contributed to the support of the monks.
The Five Great Vows (maha-vrata) of Jainism
The Five Vows of the monastics are called Great Vows (maha-vrata) and those of the laity are called Small Vows (anu-vrata). The Five Vows are:
1.Non-violence (ahinsa, or ahimsa)
2.Truth (satya )
5.Non-possession or Non-possessiveness (aparigrah)
Mahavira's teachings form the basis for Jain texts. Jain texts prescribe five major vows (vratas) that both ascetics and householders have to follow. These are five ethical principles that were preached by Mahavira:
Ahimsa (Non Violence) - Mahavira taught that every living being has sanctity and dignity of its own and it should be respected just like we expect our own sanctity and dignity to be respected. In simple words, we should show maximum possible kindness to every living being.
Satya or truthfulness which leads to harmony in society. One should speak truth and respect right of property of each other's in society. One should be true to his own thoughts, words and deeds to create mutual atmosphere of confidence in society.
Asteya or non-stealing which states that one should not take anything if not properly given.
Brahmacharya or chastity which stresses steady but determined restraint over yearning for sensual pleasures.
Aparigraha (Non-possession) - non-attachment to both inner possessions (like liking, disliking) and external possessions (like property).
Mahavira also taught that pursuit of pleasure is an endless game, so we should train our minds to curb individual cravings and passions. That way one does achieve equanimity of mind, mental poise and spiritual balance. One should voluntarily limit acquisition of property as a community virtue which results in social justice and fair distribution of utility commodities. The strong and the rich should not try to suppress the weak and the poor by acquiring limitless property which results in unfair distribution of wealth in society and hence poverty. Attempting to enforce these five qualities by an external and legal authority leads to hypocrisy or secret criminal tendencies. So the individual or society should exercise self-restraint to achieve social peace, security and an enlightened society.
Ahinsa Parmo Dharma
Painting depicting the Jainism's message: "Ahinsa Parmo Dharm" (Photo:Jain temple, Tijara Ji, Alwar, Rajasthan)
"Ahinsa Parmo Dharma" (non-injury is the supreme duty/virtue/religion)
The Jainist, like the Buddhist and the pantheistic Brahmin, takes for granted the doctrine of Karma and its implied rebirths. He, too, views every form of earthly, bodily existence as misery. Freedom from rebirth is thus the goal after which he aspires. But, while the pantheistic Brahmin and the primitive Buddhist looked for the realization of the end in the extinction of conscious, individual existence (absorption in Brahma, Nirvana), the Jainist has always tenaciously held to the primitive traditional belief in a final abode of bliss, where the soul, liberated from the necessity of rebirth on earth, enjoys forever a spiritual, conscious existence. To attain this end, the Jainist, like the Buddhist and the pantheistic Brahmin, holds that the traditional gods can aid but little. The existence of the gods is not denied, but their worship is held to be of no avail and is thus abandoned. Salvation is to be obtained by personal effort alone.
To reach the longed-for goal, it is necessary to purify the soul of all that binds it to a bodily existence, so that it shall aspire purely and solely after a spiritual life in heaven. This is accomplished by the life of severe mortification of which Jina set the example. Twelve years of ascetic life as a Jainist monk and eight rebirths are necessary to constitute the purgatorial preparation for the Jainist heaven. While the Jains are not worshippers of the Hindu gods, they erect imposing temples to Jina and other venerated teachers. The images of these Jainist saints are adorned with lights and flowers, and the faithful walk around them while reciting sacred mantras. Jainist worship is thus little more than a veneration of a few saints and heroes of the past.
Shape of Universe as told by Kevalins.
Jain beliefs postulate that the universe was never created, nor will it ever cease to exist. It is independent and self-sufficient, and does not require any superior power to govern it. Elaborate descriptions of the shape and function of the physical and metaphysical universe, and its constituents, are provided in the canonical Jain texts, in commentaries and in the writings of the Jain philosopher-monks. The early Jains contemplated the nature of the earth and universe and developed detailed hypotheses concerning various aspects of astronomy and cosmology.
According to the Jain texts, the universe is divided into three parts, the upper, middle, and lower worlds, called respectively urdhva loka, madhya loka, and adho loka. It is made up of six constituents: Jīva, the living entity; Pudgala, matter; Dharma tattva, the substance responsible for motion; Adharma tattva, the substance responsible for rest; Akāśa, space; and Kāla, time.[
The Jain world is eternal and uncreated. Its constituent elements, the five basics of reality (astikayas), are soul, matter, space, the principles of motion, and the arrest of motion; for the Digambaras there is a sixth substance, time. These elements are eternal and indestructible, but their conditions change constantly, manifesting three characteristics: arising, stability, and falling away. On this basis, Jainism claims to provide a more realistic analysis of the world and its complexities than Hinduism or Buddhism.
Jains divide the inhabited universe into five parts. The lower world (adholoka) is subdivided into seven tiers of hells, each one darker and more painful than the one above it. The middle world (madhyaloka) comprises a vast number of concentric continents separated by seas. At the centre is the continent of Jambudvipa. Human beings occupy Jambudvipa, the second continent contiguous to it, and half of the third. The focus of Jain activity, however, is Jambudvipa, the only continent on which it is possible for the soul to achieve liberation. The celestial world (urdhvaloka) consists of two categories of heaven: one for the souls of those who may or may not have entered the Jain path and another for those who are far along on the path, close to their emancipation. At the apex of the occupied universe is the siddhashila, the crescent-shaped abode of liberated souls (siddhas). Finally, there are some areas inhabited solely by ekendriyas, single-sense organisms that permeate the occupied universe.
Division of time as envisaged by Jains.
Time, according to the Jains, is eternal and formless. It is understood as a wheel with 12 spokes (ara), the equivalent of ages, six of which form an ascending arc and six a descending one. In the ascending arc (utsarpini), humans progress in knowledge, age, stature, and happiness, while in the descending arc (avasarpini) they deteriorate. The two cycles joined together make one rotation of the wheel of time, which is called a kalpa. These kalpas repeat themselves without beginning or end.
The six Aras of Avasarpini This trend will start reversing at the onset of utsarpinī kāl.
According to Jainism, time is beginningless and eternal; the cosmic wheel of time, called kālachakra, rotates ceaselessly. It is divided into halves, called utsarpiṇī and avasarpiṇī. Utsarpiṇī is a period of progressive prosperity, where happiness increases, while avasarpiṇī is a period of increasing sorrow and immorality.
According to Jain cosmology, currently we are in the 5th ara, Duḥṣama (read as Dukhma). As of 2015, exactly 2,539 years have elapsed and 18,461 years are still left. It is an age of sorrow and misery. The maximum age a person can live to in this ara is not more than 200 years. The average height of people in this ara is six feet tall. No liberation is possible, although people practise religion in lax and diluted form. At the end of this ara, even the Jain religion will disappear, only to appear again with the advent of 1st Tirthankara in the next cycle.
Idol of Rishabhadev (8-9th century CE, Uttar Pradesh,India)
Rishabhanatha (Sanskrit Ṛṣabha, lit. "bull"), also known as Adinatha (Ādinātha), is said to be the first Tirthankara of the present half cycle of time (as per Jain cosmology). Rishabhanatha is known by many names like Adinatha (the first world teacher), Adish Jina (first Jina or conqueror), Adi Purush (first perfect man), Ikshvaku, Vidhata and Srista.
Idol of Rishabhanatha (first tīrthaṅkara of the present Avsarpini era) at Kundalpur pilgrimage site in Madhya Pradesh, India
Kundalpur is a place full of natural attractive beauty. It is famous for the miraculous colossus of Bade Baba (Adinath) in sitting (Padmasana) posture. It is 15 feet in height. This is also the place of salvation of Antim Kevali Shridhar Kevali. There are 63 temples of various types, among them 22nd temple is famous for Bade Baba Bhagwan Adinath the principal deity and 49th is called Jal Mandir, an attractive temple situated in the middle of beautiful pond Vardhaman Sagar. Acharya Vidyasagarji has been the main source of inspiration for the construction, development and renovation of the main temple and various structures at Kundalpur. He is often referred as Chhote baba also by his disciples.
Jina Parshvanatha, Deccan, India, (1100-1300).
Parshvanatha (Pārśvanātha), also known as Parshva (Pārśva) was the twenty-third Tirthankara of Jainism. He is the earliest Jain leader (c. 872 – c. 772 BCE) for whom there is reasonable evidence of having been a historical figure.
Parshvanatha was born on the tenth day of the dark half of the month of Paush to King Asvasena and Queen Vama of Varanasi. He belonged to the Ikshvaku dynasty. He assumed and began to practice the twelve basic vows of the adult Jain householder when he reached the age of eight.
Prabhavati was the daughter of King Prasenjit of Kushasthal. She wanted to marry Parshvanatha. Yavan, a powerful ruler of Kalinga, wanted to marry Prabhavati. So he attacked Kushasthal but was defeated by Parshvanath. King Prasenjit, then, offered Prabhavati's hand for marriage to Parshva in reward.
He lived as formal prince of Varanasi and at the age of thirty, he renounced the world to become a monk. He meditated for eighty-four days before attaining Kevala Jnana. He achieved moksha at the age of one hundred atop Shikharji, which is known today as "the Parasnath Hills" after him. Pārśva was called purisādāṇīya "beloved of men", a name which shows that he must have been a genial personality. He remains beloved among Jains.
Ancient sculpture depicting Parshvanatha at Thirakoil, Tamil Nadu.
Parsva and Dharnendra
Parsva endures torments from evil God Kamatha and is protected by serpent god Dharnendra and his consort Padmavati devi. Folio 60 from Kalpasutra series, loose leaf manuscript, Patan, Gujarat. c. 1472.