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Jainism: Simplified

I am introducing here world spread religion having 5.5 million followers, mainly in India and abroad like USA, UK, Canada, East Africa and many other countries in one of the six greatest religions. Word "Jain" is derived from "Jina" meaning conqueror. "Arihant" is one who has destroyed his inner enemies like anger, greed, passion and ego.


It has mainly two divisions:

1. "Digamber": One not wearing any cloth.
(a) Bisapanthi: Follows traditional views.
(b) Terapanthi: Follows reforms.
2. "Swetamber": wearing white clothes.
Of them, those not believing in idol worshipping are Sthanakvasi.

History:

24 Tirthankara and Mahavir:

"Tirthankara" who establishes following the fourfold order of religion.

1. Monk : Sadhu
2. Nun : Sadhvi
3. Layman : Shravak
4. Laywomen : Shravika

(a) Rishabha was the first of Tirthankara to initiate Jainism. Twenty-three followed him till Mahavir, to establish and enrich the Jainism.
(b) Arishatanem was the 22nd and cousin of Lord Krishna of Mahabharata. Parshvanatha, the 23rd lived in 9th century BC preached against the killing of animals for religious purposes.
(c) Bhagwan Mahavir also was known as Vardhman is 24th of Tirthankaras. He was born in 599 BC at Kundalagrama near Vaishali, Bihar as the son of Siddhartha and Trishala. He became a monk at 23 years of his age, donating all his wealth including clothes on the body to be Digambar and left his wife Yashoda and daughter Priyadarshana. After 12 years of hard life, got Real knowledge and got enlightened on Vaishakh tenth days under Shaltue at Jambak village. He preached for 30 years and got death in 573 BC at Pavapuri of Bihar. He emphasised on "Ahinsa" (Non-violence")

Navakar Mantra: (Everyday Prayer)

NAMO-ARIHAMTANAM: I bow to ever perfect.
NAMO-SIDDDHANAM: I bow to spiritual victors.
NAMO-AARIYANAM: I bow to leaders of Jain orders--Acharyas.
NAMO-UVAJAYANAM: I bow to learned perceptions.
NAMO-LOE SAVVSAHUNAM: I bow to all saints and sages in the world.
ESO PANCH NAMUKKARO: These five obeisances
SAVVPAV PANASANO: Erase all sins.
MANGALANAM YA SAVVASHIIM: Amongst all that is auspicious.
PADHAM HAVAI MANGALAM: This is the foremost.

Here, praying Jains receive the inspiration from five benevolent for the right path of true happiness and total freedom from the misery of life.

Teachings:

(a) Triple gems of Jainism:
Samyak Darshan: Right view
Samyak Jnana: Right knowledge
Samyak Charitra: Right Conduct
There is no supreme divine creator, owner, preserver or destroyer.
"The universe is self-regulated.
Together with above three will lead to the liberation of one's life."

(b) Five great vows:
(1) Ahinsa: Non-violence - not to cause harm to anyone.
(2) Satya: Truthfulness - speak harmless truth to all.
(3) Asteya: None stealing
(4) Brahmacharya: chastity - not to indulge in sensual pleasure
(5) Aparigraha: Non-attachment - Non-possession - complete detachment from people, places and material things.

(c) Nine fundamental principles:
1. Jiva - Souls:
The soul exists as a separate entity from the body that houses it. It has consciousness, knowledge and five perceptions.
2. Ajiva - Non-living substances:
Matter, Space, Matter of motion, the matter of rest and time.
3. Asrava - Influx of karma
Attached to the soul on account of vibrations created by the mind, speech and body.
4. Bandha
Binding or Bondage of Karma to consciousness (soul is called Bandha, it is mainly due to passion)
5. Papa: Spiritual demerit
6. Punya: Spiritual merit. They are of two types - Physical and mental.
7. Samvara - Stoppage of Karma
Self-control and freedom from attachment stop the inflow of karma.
8. Nirjara: Shredding or destruction of karma so that soul shines into its pure and transcendent form.
9. Moksha - Liberation, Salvation or emancipation of soul.
The blissful state of the soul free from bondage and free from the cycle of birth and death.

(d) Syadvada: a systematic methodology to explore real nature of reality and consider the problem in a non-violent way from DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES. Here each statement is expressed from seven different conditional and relative views.

Jain Diet and Fasting:

Jain diet is Eco-friendly and healthy. (Satvic Food.)

Exclusions are as follows:

(1) Only Vegetarian excluding onion, garlic, carrots, turnips, potato and other root vegetables.
(2) Non-violence demands avoiding any Non vegetarian food.
(3) Mushrooms, yeast, honey, Beans sprouts.
(4) Fermented food: Beer, wine, alcohol, vinegar.

Rules to be followed:

(1) Food must be prepared fresh daily.
(2) Keeping cooked food overnight is forbidden.
(3) Water filtered in three layer cotton cloth.

(I) Frequency of eating per day.

(1) Ekasana: To ear one meal a day. Between sunrise and sunset.
(2) Beasana: To eat two meals a day.
(3) Tivihar: One may drink boiled water even after sunset
(4) Chauvihar: to give up food as well as water between sunset to sunrise

(II) Duration of Fasting:

Upvas: to give up food only for whole day starting from sunset previous day to sunrise the other day. 36 hours.
Bela / Chath: Fasting for two days continuously
Tela / Aththam: Fasting for three days continuously
Aththai: Fasting for eight days continuously
Navai: Fasting for nine days continuously
Masakshaman: whole month
Varsitap: To eat on alternate days and fasting on the rest for whole year.
Santharo: Fast unto death: to give up food and water entirely. This leads to death. One undertakes this at will when all his / her duties are fulfilled and wishes to leave lord peacefully.

(III) Type of Fasting:

Unodar: eating less than you need leading to partial fasting.
Vruti Sankalp : limiting number of items eaten
Rasa : parityag : giving up favourite foods.

Festivals:

(1) Paryushana : Dashlakshan parva of Shravan - Bhadarvo of waning moon cycle - 18 days period starts on the 12th day and ends on the 14th day .
Monks visit temples and explains Jain philosophy.
Fasting and reduce normal activities.
At conclusion: Prati kraman is done and michchami dukdam is said for forgiveness to be asked and given.
(2) Mahavir Jayanti : Chaitra 13th day of waxing the cycle.
(3) Diwali
(4) Ashadh Chaturdashi
(5) Shrutha Pandha

Important Religious Centres:

(1) Samet Shikhar, Bihar.
(2) Pavapuri, Bihar.
(3) Girnar, Junagadh, Gujarat.
(4) Kumbhariyaji, Ranakpur, Rajasthan.
(5) Shankheshvar, Mahudi, Gujarat.
(6) Shatrunjaya Parvat, Gujarat.
(7) Delvada Temples, Abu, Rajasthan.
(8) Shravanbelagoda, Karnataka.

Take Home Message:
In Jainism "Ahinsa" was non - violence is the key point directing to abstain from hurting the feeling of or killing, wounding, torturing any living being or depriving it of food, water etc. intensely, carelessly or negligently by oneself or through some other person.

Mahavir asked to his lay aspirant to give up meat eating, drinking alcohol, gambling, robbing or thieving, lying or grabbing.

So to have compassion for all living beings and to respect them is Ahinsa - Non violence and that is Jainism.
Source of Information:

(1) Wikipedia.
(2) History of India for B. A. Students. Popular Prakashan, Surat, Gujarat.
(3) Sadhviji Maharaj Saheb Pushpadanta, Bilimora.
(4) Personal discussions with Mrs. Varsha S. Shah, Bhavesh Sanghvi & his mother Jashumatiben, Nilesh Shah & Dr. Kavin Shah (all from Bilimora).

Books on Jainism:

1. Kalpasutra
2. Aagam
3. Tatvarthasutra
4. Sanmati Prakaran

Compiled by:
Dr. Bharat M. Desai

Image Source: wikimedia.org

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