Nov 28, 2007


By Dinesh Vora

One who has conquered the delu-sion, attachment, aversion, all the five senses (Indriy-as), and has total control over his mind is called Jin. The follower of the teachings of lord Jin, also known as Arih-ant, Jinendra, is called Jain.

Jainism believes in eternal (beginning-less and endless) existence of the universe, and its contents, including souls. The Universe comprises of the six Dravyas (substances). These are the six fundamental realities, which form the basic structure of our cosmos, without which the cosmos can not have sustained orexisted as we see today.

The six substances are (1) Aatmaa (Soul) (2) Aakaasha (Space) (3) Dharma (Medium of motion) (4) Adharma (Medium of rest)(5) Kaala (Time) (6) Pudgala (Matter & also energy).
These six substances are grouped in two categories (1) Jiva category that is Soul or consciousness and (2) Ajiva category consisting of Aakaasha, Dharma, Adharma, Pudgala, and Kaala.

Jainism defines eternal time cycles, one after another, of enor-mously long period. Each time cycle has an upward (utsarpini), and a down-ward(avsarpini) going periods, like a wave,or a motion of a serpent. Each period produces twentyfourteerthankars in our human world. The last teerthankar, of the present time cycle, which is downgoing half, is Lord Mahavira. Teerthankara is one who establishes a teerth, a ford, a divine place through which, one can find a way to the Moksha, a state of ultimate free-dom, omniscience, omnipotence, omniperception, and infinite bliss.

In its philosophy, Jainism is the most logical, and scientific religion. In praise to the lord, lord Mahavira has been addressed, as "the greatest scientist of all ages this world has ever known." Jainism presented the marvels of Anekaantvaada (Multiple view points theory), and Syaadav-aada (Theory of relativity). Thesetheories, in its implementation, by the present political world, by the modern science, and by the genius as Albert Einstein, have been proven highly valuable, immensely progressive, and beneficial to the mankind.

In practice, Jainism lays strict rules of conduct,for those, who wish to achieve the ultimate freedom of the Soul, and be Siddha, or God. Jainism is the strictest of all religion when it comes to that final goal of Moksha.

Proper human, and soul conduct requires the Jain follower to take vows, and practice the five categories of conducts, which are:(1) Ahimsaa (Non-violence)(2) Satya (Truth)(3) Achaurya (Non-stealing)(4) Aparigraha (Non-possessiveness)(5) Brahmacharya (Celibacy)
Mahatma Gandhi, most beloved leader of India, changed the modern growing world of human race on our planet by advocating,and practicing the Jain principles of Non-violence (Ahimsa), and Satya (Truth). With one loin cloth on his body Gandhiji demonstrated Jain principle of Aparigraha (Non-possessiveness). Highly influencedby his mother, and spiritual guru Srimad Rajchandra, both Jains,Gandhiji is one of the brilliantly successful example of the Jain principles.
Non-violence is the fundamental principle of the Jainism. Jainism asks, that no violence of any kind, in any form be committed. Violence should not be committed in word, deed, or action. Violence should not be committed to any living kind, in anyform, animal, plant, bacteriological, human, and so on.

Jainism emphasizes the shape, form, beauty, of the internal that is soul, rather than what appears externally. Material pleasures are momentary, but spiritual jewels are for ever. The qualifications, achievements, knowledge, conduct, progress, etc. of spiritual values determines the individual's greatness. The Jainism thus enjoys the highest status, and respect in the spiritual dominated religions. Jainism is a humility intensive religion.

Jainism preaches Purushaartha, that is the conscious self-efforts, and self-help to achieve the desired spiritual goals, and ultimate moksha versus dependence on devotion(bhakti) to certain assumed supreme entity.

The Jainism presents the truth, absolute, as well as relative, as it prevails in our vast universe of unfathomable dimensions. Whether human being exists, or not, religion exists, or not, the truth never vanishes, and hence, Jainism is an eternal, permanent, always present religion.
The voice of the teerthankara is Divya-dhwani, or divine voice. The divya-dhwani, as recorded, by the eleven chief disciples of lord Mahavira, known as Ganadhara, led by chief disciple Gautam Indrabhuti Ganadhar, constitutes Jain holy scriptures called Aagama granthas (scriptures). The Tattvaartha-dhigama-shootra, also known as Moksha shaastra authored by acharya Umaswati has been the Jain bible.

No teerthankara, or Jain religious personality, ever personalized Jainism, after his name. Lord Mahavira, the twentyfourth teerthankara, preceded Gautam Buddha by some 40 years.
Any one, seeking Jainism as the religious faith, Jainism asks of the faith seeker, the Samyaktva. The Samyaktva, is the perfect faith. The samyaktva is the total faith in the seven Tattvas, or seven essential principles of the Jainism, namely,(1) Jiva (Soul)(2) Ajiva (Non-soul)(3) Aashrava (Influx of Karmas)(4) Bandha (Bondage of karmas)(5) Sthaavara (Stoppage of karmas)(6) Nirjara (Shedding of karmas) and(7) Moksha (Liberation).

Samyaktva, or the total faith in above tattvas is the starting point for any one who wants to be a Jain.

The path to the ultimate liberation is the cultivation, development, and successful blending of Ratnatraya, the trio of spiritual jewels - Samyagdarshana (Right faith), Samyaggnaana (Right knowledge), and Samyagcharitra (Right conduct). These three must coexist any time.
(1) Samyagdarshana - (Right faith, or belief): To perceive the things right and to discriminate, and differentiate the right from wrong. The right faith then is total faith in seven Tattvas or the reality of the universe around us, true scriptures (Aagma), true preceptors.

(2) Samyaggnaana - (Right knowledge): The right knowledge is the knowledge free from any doubt, perversity, and indefiniteness. Right knowledge must be capable of revealing the absolute truth of things in the universe.

(3) Samyagcharitra - (Right conduct): The right conduct is the ethical code, rules, and disciplines which moksha aspirant is required to pursue. The right conduct are of two categories, one applicable to ascetics, and other to laity.

The path, envisages the salvation of all living beings, human and subhuman, and recognizes no barriers of sex, age, race, color, caste, creed, class, or status. The path offers a healthy, good, noble, peaceful, and happy life. Jainism treats men, and women equally. Term equal opportunity thus can find its roots inJainism.

The Karma theory of Jains is unique, rational,scientific, and complex. In simple form it means " As you sow, so you reap". The Karmas are ultra-ultra-fine material particles which associate with the soul by Yoga. The Yoga is the activity of mind,body, and speech. The attached, or bonded karmas, determine the nature of the travel of the soul in time, space and its interactions with other substances, and other souls. Jainism shows the way to stop the influx of karmas, and shed the karmas. The ultimate achievement of the karma-free state of the soul is called Moksha or liberation. Soul, in moksha state, has omnipotence, omniscience, ommniperception,infinite happiness or bliss. Soul in moksha state is called Siddha,Parmaatma, supreme Soul, or God.
One of the Great American personalities once said, "If I were to be reborn, and as human being, I like to be born as a Jain, since Jainism is the only religion which shows me the way to be a God."

The annual sacred religious period of the Jains is the Paryushan Parva, occurring around the beginning of the fall, for one week. This period is celebrated with fasting, religious reading, observing strict conduct specified by the religion, and under spiritual guidance of monks, preferably in holy atmosphere of temples. The process is designed to help one, to cleanse and purify, the soul of bondages of karma matters, and to achieve progress on the spiritual path to Moksha(liberation). On the eighth, and the last day called "Samvatshari", the festive period is climaxed with "Pratikramana", a humble, religious activity to counter the forces of evil enslaving soul to its miseries. The forces of evil are the kashaayas(passions) within the life form, like krodha(anger), maana(pride), maya(delusion), lobha ( greed). The most holy period is then concluded with the mutual, kindly, and cordial exchanges of expression of concern, and care, and exchange of "Michchhami Dukkadam".

"Michchhami Dukkadam" is a prayer of a Jain Saadhak (moksha seeking person), which when interpreted in english is explainable as "I grant forgiveness to all living beings, and may all living beings grant me forgiveness. No one is enemy to me, and I am enemy to none. My friendship is with all the living beings.Whatever wrong I may have done by my thought, word, or deed - I earnestly, and humbly ask forgiveness and absolution."

Jains constitute the elite and the prosperous section of the Indian community. Jains are occupied in business, Industry, banking, trade and commerce, learned educated professions, services and politics. Their means of livelihood have taken them all over the world including America. The literacy amongst the Jains is very high. Jains are very well known for philanthropy, establishing charitableinstitutions, providing food, education, shelter, clothes etc., contributions to the public welfare, providing refuge and rehabilitations to the animals. Jains are perfect vegetarians, and do not drink alcoholic liquors. They adopt such businesses and means of livelihood which do not involve violence and injury to other lives.They do not take food after sunset, they drink filtered water, milk and the like. By and large Jains are religious minded and pious. They worship before the images of Jina or Teerthankaras in their temple and/or in their home, read or recite their holy scriptures, respect and show devotion to their spiritual ascetic monks. The spiritually advanced and those who have adopted ascetic life, both male andfemale are on the whole saintly, very puritanical, selfless,possessionless, austere in the observance of their vows, and the rules of their order.

The contributions of Jains in developing the present human culture, forming the civilization from once bhogabhumi (enjoy effortless abundance, a period of Kamdhenu cow, and Kalpavraksha tree), to karmabhumi (survive by efforts, period of research and science) by first teerthankar of Jains, Lord Rishabhdeva are invaluable.

The literary and artistic contribution by the Jains to the Indian society has made India one of the proudest civilization on the face of the earth. The Jains are the foremost cultivators of the Apabhramsha, Kannada and Tamil languages. The fine arts like music and dancing, vocal and instrumental, painting and sculptures, have received the greatest contribution from the Jains.
In establishing architectural landmarks through the temples, Jains have no parallel. An eminent archaeologist noted that with any point in India you draw a circle of 12 miles radius, and you will surely find one, or more Jain places of worships. To mention a few from the inexhaustible list of Jain architectural creations are, Fifty seven feet high colossus of Gommatesha Bahubaly in Shravana-bel- gola, state of Mysore, the famous minor wonder of the world Delwaratemples on mount Abu, Sammedashikhara temples in Bihar, Shatrunjaya in Saurahstra, Girnara temples in Gujarat, Cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora, and many many more.

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