Portal:Jainism

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Jainism

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

Jainism (/ˈnɪzəm/), traditionally known as Jain Dharma, is an ancient Indian religion. Followers of Jainism are called "Jains", a word derived from the Sanskrit word jina (victor) and connoting the path of victory in crossing over life's stream of rebirths through an ethical and spiritual life. Jains trace their history through a succession of twenty-four victorious saviours and teachers known as tirthankaras, with the first being Rishabhanatha, who is believed to have lived millions of years ago in Jain tradition, and twenty-fourth being the Mahāvīra around 500 BCE. Jains believe that Jainism is an eternal dharma with the tirthankaras guiding every cycle of the Jain cosmology.

The main religious premises of Jainism are ahiṃsā ("non-violence"), anekāntavāda ("many-sidedness"), aparigraha ("non-attachment") and asceticism. Jain monastics, renunciants, and devout householders take five main vows known as vratas, outlined in their oldest surviving text, the Acaranga Sūtra: ahiṃsā ("non-violence"), satya ("truth"), asteya ("not stealing"), brahmacharya ("celibacy or chastity"), and aparigraha ("non-attachment"). These principles have impacted Jain culture in many ways, such as leading to a predominantly vegetarian lifestyle that avoids harm to animals and their life cycles. Parasparopagraho Jīvānām ("the function of souls is to help one another") is the motto of Jainism. Ṇamōkāra mantra is the most common and basic prayer in Jainism.

Jainism has two major ancient sub-traditions, Digambaras and Śvētāmbaras; and several smaller sub-traditions that emerged in the 2nd millennium CE. The Digambaras and Śvētāmbaras have different views on ascetic practices, gender and which Jain texts can be considered canonical. Jain mendicants are found in all Jain sub-traditions, with laypersons (śrāvakas) supporting the mendicants' spiritual pursuits with resources.

Jainism has between four and five million followers, with most Jains residing in India. Outside India, some of the largest Jain communities are present in Canada, Europe, Kenya, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Suriname, Fiji, and the United States. Major Jain festivals include Paryushana and Daslakshana, Mahavir Jayanti, and Diwali. Read more...

Selected article

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.

Selected biography

Nathuram Premi (in Hindi - नाथूराम प्रेमी) was a writer, publisher, poet, editor, linguist and an intellectual giant in the field of Jainism as well as Hindi literature. A budding poet, he wrote under the nom de plume of "Premi". Although belonging to the Digambara sect of Jainism, he adopted a non-sectarian attitude and published and translated many Digambara as well as Śvetāmbara works. Working as a clerk in a firm in Mumbai he rose to establish his own publishing house and bookstore Hindi Granth Ratnākar Kāryālay which published works of many of the biggest names in Indian literature, including Munshi Premchand, Hajariprasad Dvivedi, Jainendrakumar, Yashpal, Sharatchandra Chatterjee and Rabindranath Tagore. The bookshop and publishing house now called Hindi Granth Karyalay is now being managed by his grandson and great-grandson 100 years after its establishment.

Born on 26 November, 1881 in Deori, in the district of Sagar in Bundelkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Nāthūrām Premī was the eldest child of Tundelal Modi, a travelling merchant of modest means, belonging to the Paravāra community of Digambara Jains hailing from Bundelkhand. He studied in grammar school and was the monitor of his class. He cleared his pre-high school exams in 1898 and became a schoolteacher nearby at Rehli. In the late 1890s, he married Rama Devi, who was from the nearby village of Sarkheda, in the district of Sagar.

Selected picture

Stella depicting Śhrut Jnāna, or complete scriptural knowledge

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Stella depicting Śhrut Jnāna, or complete scriptural knowledge as per Jainism.

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  1. ^ Nayanar (2005b), p.190, Gāthā 10.310
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