Area, Founder, and Date
Jainism is an ancient religion practiced in India (Flugel 199). This religion advocates for the love towards other beings and the practice of non-violence. The religion of Jainism can be traced to the emergence of 24 teachers who believed that the humans need to exist peacefully and love one another. The history of Jainism can be traced to the 6century BC during the period of social and political change in ancient India.
Vardhamana is believed to be the founder of Jainism after he became disappointed with the social and political occurrences within his environment (Talbot 64). Despite being born a prince in Kshatriyas castle, he could now withstand the social conflicts, inequalities, and warfare in ancient India. In response to this, he gave up his royal privileges and kingdom to pursue real satisfaction through fasting and meditation. After wandering around for 12 years, he became the hero (also known as Jaina) and founded the Jainism religion.
Jains view the world as a stream full of misery and sufferings and they have to navigate through it. In this regard, their view is to build a bridge that would help them navigate through the unfair stream of life (Aukland 126). Through this, they help others to cross the stream without facing the wrath of the stream. Jains believe that everything, including the gods, humans, and the animals have a soul and should thus be protected.
The Jain literature is mostly contained in the collection known as the Jain Agmas. It contains the basic tenets of Jainism and their canons. These texts contain a collection of the teachings of Mahivara that needs to be memorized and passed from one generation to the other. Most of the teachings had to me memorized to increase the knowledge of the Jain monks and nuns. Since the monks and the nuns were not allowed to write, most of the Jain literature has been lost. Currently, a Jain should read the Chahdhala, Ratnakarandak, and Prathamanuyod. These three scriptures contain the basic tenets of Jainism, their conduct, and the morals they need to follow. Therefore, these scriptures encourage ethics and moral behavior of the Jains throughout their religious life.
Unlike Christianity, Jainism does not believe in the superior being called God. However, they believe that the human beings and other living organisms in the world are entitled to eternity with no time limits (Talbot 65). To cope with the changing times, the living things change and modify their forms from one nature to another. Also, the Jainism believes that the cosmic law applies and that nothing can be destroyed nor created. Therefore, Jainism does not believe that God is the creator, destroyer, and the controller of the universe. However, Jains believe that every human being has the potential to become God, provided they receive some form of liberation after their Karma is destroyed. Since every living being has the potential to become God, Jains have several Gods who have received liberation. The number of Gods among the Jains continuously increase as more beings become liberated.
Salvation, Afterlife, and Key Idea
Jains does not believe in salvation that leads to eternal life. However, the Jains believe that people become liberated once they are done with all the Karmas. The liberated being then lives in a perfect state of peace and tranquility where he possesses infinite knowledge, power, and vision. On the other hand, the Jains does not believe in the end of life, but they believe in the transformation of life from one form to another. Therefore, the key idea of this religion is to live a harmless and peaceful life in their attempts to attain liberation. Therefore, the aim of the Jains is to be relieved from the Karmas and achieve a liberated soul and a godly nature
Aukland, Knut. “Understanding Possession in Jainism: A Study of Oracular Possession in Nakoda.” Modern Asian Studies 47.1 (2013): 109-34. ProQuest. Web. 10 Sep. 2016.
Flügel, Peter. “Jainism and Society.” Internationales Asien Forum.International Quarterly for Asian Studies 37.1 (2006): 198-202. ProQuest. Web. 10 Sep. 2016.
Talbot, Cynthia. “Open Boundaries: Jain Communities and Cultures in Indian History.” The Journal of Asian Studies 59.4 (2000): 1064-5. ProQuest. Web. 10 Sep. 2016.