I. What is Jainism?
A. A religion of India that numbers around four million adherents.
B. A minority religion in India that has a big influence.
C. Overproportionately represented in positions of economic and political power.
II. History of Jainism
A. Jainism was founded by Mahavira (599–527 B.C.)
B. Mahavira lived around the time of Buddha. (Buddhist writings refer to him.)
C. Mahavira allegedly had a miraculous conception and birth.
D. At age 30 he became an ascetic and sought enlightenment for 12 years.
E. Without clothes or home he wandered.
F. He often stood still as a statue.
G. Was attacked by humans and animals.
H. At age 42 he experienced enlightenment.
I. He was then known as Jina. Jina means "conqueror."
J. Mahavira preached Jainism for 30 years.
K. His followers were divided into four groups:
L. He died around age 70.
M. Some say he died of voluntary starvation.
III. How Jainism Differs from Hinduism
A. Jainism denies the authority of the Vedas.
B. The deities of Jainism differ from Hinduism.
IV. Other aspects of Jainism
A. Tirthankaras – revered preachers of Jain doctrine.
1. Literally "prophets or founders of the path."
2. They are liberated souls who became free and perfect through their own efforts.
3. Offered salvation from the physical world and the cycle of rebirths.
4. Jain temples often have statues of 24 Tirthankaras.
5. Mahavira is the 24th Tirthankara.
B. There are two groups of Jain monks
a) Clothing an irrelevant issue.
b) Accepts nuns.
c) Women can become liberated.
a) Clothing represents a person's attachment to the physical world. Because salvation is through renouncing the physical world, they go "sky clad" – without clothes. (India accepts nudity for holy men.)
b) Digambaras deny women can become Tirthankaras. Only be being reborn as a man can a woman become a Tirthankara.
c) Prevent women from becoming nuns.
C. The Jain canon is called Agamas. It has three categories:
1. Purva (ancient texts)
2. Anga (teachings of Mahavira)
V. Worldview of Jainism
1. There is no creator god.
2. There are gods and spirits that influence world but Jainism pays little attention to these beings.
3. No god can help Jains. The gods cannot gain their own release until they are reincarnated and undertake the life of a monk.
B. The World
1. The universe was not created nor will it ever cease.
2. The universe is eternal but not unchangeable.
a) It passes through an endless series of swings. These upward or downward swings are called yugas.
b) The present world age is nearing completion of a downward swing.
c) When this downward swing is completed, Jainism itself will be lost in its entirety.
d) In the next upswing, the Jain religion will be rediscovered only to be lost again at the next downswing, and so on.
e) Thus, Jainism itself as a religion is cyclical.
3. Humans live in a Middle World
a) Hells are below
b) Above is where liberated souls live (Ishatpragbhara)
4. Two eternal co-existing categories:
a) Jiva – animate or living soul
b) Ajiva – inanimate; nonliving object
5. Karma is a sticky substance that binds jiva to nonjiva.
C. Humans Largely the same as Hinduism.
D. Problem for Humans
1. Life is suffering.
2. Our cravings and desires keep us in the cycle of rebirths.
3. Karmic debt hinders enlightenment.
E. Solution for Humans
1. Liberation from cycle of rebirths (moksha).
2. Salvation comes through the soul's work for its own release.
3. The soul climbs 14 steps until it achieves freedom.
4. Emphasis on human effort for moksha (liberation) not help from the gods.
5. Follow the teachings of Mahavira.
F. Community and ethics
a) Emphasis on individuals attaining enlightenment.
b) Dualistic society
(1) Monks who practice severe asceticism and try to make this life their last.
(2) Lay people strive for good deeds so they can have a better incarnation in their next life.
c) The Svetambaras believe in equality of the sexes.
d) Digambaras believe that women must reincarnate as men to attain moksha.
e) Digambaras exclude women from their monastic orders.
f) Svetambaras have convents for women.
a) Nonviolence -- against all forms of violence (a gentle religion).
b) Jainism is the most peaceful and pacifistic religion in the world.
c) Avoid killing any living thing.
d) Bad karma can come from accidentally killing a living thing.
e) Ahimsa – the doctrine of nonviolence.
f) A reverence for all living things.
(1) Some use a broom to avoid killing insects.
(2) Some use masks to avoid inhaling insects.
g) Jain ethics based upon:
(1) Reverence for soul
(2) Detachment from physical things.
h) Jainism calls for complete honesty in all relationships.
i) "Five Vows" of Jainism:
(a) Chastity means sex only in marriage.
(b) For monks it means celibacy.
j) Mohandas Gandhi attributed his nonviolent ways to the Jains.
G. Life after death
1. Reincarnation for most
2. Goal is final enlightenment
H. Interpretation of history — Cyclical
I. Other religions
1. Jainism is very peaceful and very tolerant of other religions.
2. It is similar to Hinduism in most ways.
3. Jains have coexisted in peace with Hindus and Buddhists.
4. There are between 60,000 and 100,000 Jains in North America.
5. Growth in U.S. began in mid-1960s.
J. Rituals and symbols
1. At temples people meditate on the lives of the Tirthankaras.
2. Jain symbol incorporates a swastika and a hand.
3. Everyday Jains bow their heads and say their universal prayer:
a) "I bow to the enlightened beings."
b) "I bow to the liberated souls."
c) "I bow to religious leaders."
d) "I bow to religious teachers."
e) "I bow to all ascetics of the world."