Portal:Jainism

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Jainism

The Jain symbol that was agreed upon by all Jain sects in 1975.

Jainism /ˈnɪzəm/ is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul toward divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state of supreme being is called a jina ("conqueror" or "victor"). The ultimate status of these perfect souls is called siddha. Ancient texts also refer to Jainism as shraman dharma (self-reliant) or the "path of the nirganthas" (those without attachments or aversions).

The core principle of Jainism is non-violence. Among the five great vows taken by Jain ascetics, non-violence is the first and foremost. Jains believe in reincarnation; the soul is trapped in the cycle of birth and death (samsara) due to the actions of karmic particles. They emphasize that liberation can be achieved through the three jewels of Right View, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct. According to Jains, reality is multifaceted, and humans can grasp only a partial understanding of reality. This has led to the development of doctrines like Anekantavada (theory of multiple viewpoints), Syadvada (theory of conditional predication) and Nayavada (theory of partial viewpoint). Jains follow the teaching of 24 Tirthankara (ford-makers). Contemporary Jainism is divided into two major sects, Digambara and Svetambara.

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Image of a Siddha: the soul who attains Moksa; although the Siddhas (the liberated beings) are formless and without a body, this is how the Jain temples often depict the Siddhas.

Jainism does not support belief in a creator deity. According to Jain doctrine, the universe and its constituents - soul, matter, space, time, and principles of motion have always existed (a static universe similar to that of Epicureanism and steady state cosmological model). All the constituents and actions are governed by universal natural laws. It is not possible to create matter out of nothing and hence the sum total of matter in the universe remains the same (similar to law of conservation of mass). Similarly, the soul of each living being is unique and uncreated and has existed since beginningless time.[a][1]

The Jain theory of causation holds that a cause and its effect are always identical in nature and hence a conscious and immaterial entity like God cannot create a material entity like the universe. Furthermore, according to the Jain concept of divinity, any soul who destroys its karmas and desires, achieves liberation. A soul who destroys all its passions and desires has no desire to interfere in the working of the universe. Moral rewards and sufferings are not the work of a divine being, but a result of an innate moral order in the cosmos; a self-regulating mechanism whereby the individual reaps the fruits of his own actions through the workings of the karmas.

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Idol of Lord Mahavir

Mahāvīra (Sanskrit: महावीर "Great Hero", Kannada: ಮಹಾವೀರ Mahāvīra, Malayalam: മഹാവീരൻ Mahāvīran and Tamil: அருகன் Arukaṉ) is the name most commonly used to refer to the Indian sage Vardhamāna (Sanskrit: वर्धमान; traditionally 599–527 BCE[2]) who established what are today considered to be the central tenets of Jainism. According to Jain tradition, he was the 24th and the last Tirthankara. In Tamil, he is referred to as Arukaṉ or Arukadevan. He is also known in texts as Vira or Viraprabhu, Sanmati, Ativira,and Gnatputra. In the Buddhist Pali Canon, he is referred to as Nigantha Nātaputta.

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  1. ^ Nayanar (2005b), p.190, Gāthā 10.310
  2. ^ "Mahavira." Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2006. Answers.com 28 Nov. 2009. http://www.answers.com/topic/mahavira
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