Paragraphs on Jainism (673 Words)

Paragraphs on Jainism!

The jina or Jaina means ‘the Conqueror’. According to Jain tradition their religion is quite old, even anterior to Aryan Brahmanism.


The Yajurveda mentions Rishabha, Ajinatha and Aristanemi. One of the Puranas describes Rishabha as an incarnation of Narayana.

Mahavira (6th century BC) is said to be the historical founder of Jainism. There were 23 Thirthankaras (prophets/ gurus who were all Kshatriya) before him, Rishabha being the first and Parshvanatha, the twenty-third. Mahavira was a Kshatriya, son of Siddhartha, the head of the Jnatrika clan, and Trishla, born in Kundagrama (in Muzaffarpur, Bihar).

At the age of 30, he renounced his family, became an ascetic and set out in search of truth. In the thirteenth year of his asceticism, on the tenth of Vaishakha, outside the town of Jrimbhikgrama, he attained enlightenment.

From that time onwards, he was called Jaina or jityendriya (conqueror of his senses), nirgrantha (free from all bonds) and mahavira (the brave) and his followers came to be known as Jain. At the age of 72 he attained kaivalya (moksha) at Pava, near Patna.


Jainism rejects the idea of a creator of the world as well as the authority of the Vedas, though it does not oppose the caste system. However, Mahavira said that humans may be good or bad according to their actions and not on account of their birth. The Jains believe in karma and in the transmigration of the soul.

Salvation or nirvana comes on getting rid of the cycle of birth and rebirth, and can be attained by leading a pure life guided by the three-fold path of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. Right conduct involves 5 abstinences, namely, non-injury (ahimsa), not to lie (satya), not to steal (asateya), non-possession (aparigraha) and control over the senses (brahmacharya). The teachings of the Thirthankaras were compiled in twelve Angas which were written down at Vallabhi in the fifth century AD.

The Jains believe that fasting is a means of austerity. It helps to control the demands of the body and helps to keep the mind focused on the upliftment of the soul. The Jains believe in eight symbols.

These are:

1. Swastika signifying peace and well-being;

2. Shrivatsa, a mark manifested on the centre of the Jina’s chest, signifying a pure soul;

3. Nandyavartya, a large swastika with nine corners;

4. Vardhamamka, a shallow earthen dish used as lamp, suggesting an increase in wealth, fame and merit due to a Jina’s grace;

5. Bhadrasana, or throne, which is considered auspicious because it is sanctified by the blessed Jina’s feet;

6. Kalasha, a pot filled with pure water signifying wisdom and completeness;

7. Minayugala, or a fish couple signifying victory over sexual desires; and

8. Darpana, the mirror that reflects one’s true self.

The Jains later split into two groups—the Digambaras (sky-clad or naked) and the Svetambaras (clothed in white). In belief, there is little difference between the two sects. Digambara monks do not wear clothes because they believe clothes, like other possessions, increase dependency and desire for material things. As women are not permitted to be nude, the Digambara sect female renunciates wear white and are referred to as Aryikas.

So it is the males who can have full monastic life and attain moksha. Svetambara monastics, on the other hand, wear white seamless clothes for practical reasor«, and believe that nothing in the scriptures speaks against wearing clothes.

Women are accorded full status as renimdates and are often called sadhvi. It is the belief of Svetambaras that women may attain liberation and that the Thirthankara Mallinath was female. While the Digambaras believe that Mahavira remained unmarried, the Svetambaras believe Mahavira married and a daughter was born to him. The Prakrit Suttapahuda of the Digambara mendicant Kundakunda (c. 2nd century AD) contains the earliest record of the beliefs of the Digambaras.

Indian culture has been deeply influenced by Jainism in ideas such as ahimsa, and in the development of language, literature, art and architecture.

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