Analysis of History and the Core Principles of the Ancient Indian Religion: Jainism

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The world comprises of very many religions like Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, etc. All in all, there are around 4,300 religions of the world while 80% of the world’s population is influenced by only one of the top five religions namely Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. A same religion may carry two different meanings for two different people, cultures or countries. Religions are not only about sacrifice but much more and much deeper. It’s the way you practice your morals and behaviors, ethics and humanity also nevertheless your world views.

An age-old religion that brings you the idea of living rather than just a social-cultural system! Founded in India during the 6th century BC, Jainism is a nontheistic religion by Vardhamana in order to preach the teachings of salvation, non-violence, enlightenment and much more.

Many people don’t understand the significance of Jainism. Jainism isn’t about sacrificing your life by not eating food or wearing clothes or going for a tour. It’s about making sure not a single living being has to sacrifice their lives because of us. Vardhamana also know as Mahavira like lord Buddha belong to a caste of warrior. Jainism is as old as Buddhism and preaches some what similar as per my perspective. Jainism is more ascetic in beliefs than Buddhism. Jains prefer to live a simpler life that abstains them from normal pleasures of life in order to not cause harm to other beings and free themselves from the material satisfaction of this world.

In addition to the ascetic lifestyle, Jainism has 5 core principles and they are Ahimsa meaning non-violence, Satya meaning truthfulness, Aparigraha meaning non-possession, non -stealing and lastly Bhramacharya meaning celibacy. Ahimsa the first core of Jainism is a Sanskrit word. Ahimsa turns enemies into friends. It is referred as the attitude of mind and not just the body. Jains will go out of their way not to cause harm in any way to any person, animal, insect, plant, etc.

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The second principle Satya also is a Sanskrit word for truth. It is self-explanatory that Jains follow the virtue of being true to one’s action, speech or thought.

The third core of Jainism is formed by Aparigraha. Aparigraha is simply the opposite of Parigraha. Parigraha means to me attached to this material world, showing greed and possession to worldly things and wanting to keep more than one’s need. At any given stage of a person’s life, he/ she needs only so much of everything depending on the context. Showing the desire and greed for grasping everything and beyond one’s usefulness is against the law of Jainism. The practice of fourth principle that is Asteya meaning non-stealing is not only a virtue of Jainism but also Hinduism. It is a mode to help individuals not steal or have any intent of stealing other people’s property by action, thought or even speech.

Last but not the least is the principle of Bhramacharya where one follows the path of not indulging in any kind of sexual activity. The benefits of being a Bhramacharya are many but certainly won’t be agreed upon by modern 21st century individuals. It fetches you the everlasting power of mental and physical well being as explained in the centuries ago. It is said that celibacy also increases self esteem and individual’s empathic abilities.

Next, Jainism constitutes of 2 sub categories that is Shvetember and Digamber. Digamber monks tend to sacrifice clothes for life and generally include only men in their community. Shvetember Jains are poles apart from the Digamber Jains. Shvetember have their gods all dressed up and decorated with flowers and ornaments. Their monks wear clothes unlike the former and women are generally accepted in the community.

Like every religion is incomplete without the celebrations of festivals so is Jainism. Religious festivals play a very crucial role for the Jain community. One of these festivals is Mahavir Jayanti. As the name suggests it’s the birth anniversary (kalnayaka) of Lord Mahavir. People parade on streets and have celebration at Jain temples with so much joy. It is said that mother Trishala had 14 dreams at 4am when Mahavir was born. Yet another significant festival the Jains celebrate for 8 days is Paryushan. Paryushan is the time when Jains observe fasts and take vows to restrict and put themselves through hardships. On the 8th day is the day where people recite Michaami Dukkadam meaning asking for forgiveness for their misdeeds.

All in all, each of these elements play an integral and importance part in shaping the essence of Jainism. Each of these elements stream an individual towards the path of ethical and spiritual journey.

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