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Lecture

RELIG ST 2QQ3 lec 5

3 Pages
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Department
Religious Studies
Course Code
RELIGST 2QQ3
Professor
Robin K Cameron

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Lecture 5 Jainism • A religion of asceticism • Exemplifies the “way of works” (karmamarga) • Closely related to the principle of “non-violence” (ahimsa) • Arose in reaction to changing conditions of Indian life and religious systems. • The sixth century CE in India saw a rising class of merchants and property owners. • Also a period of great social and intellectual ferment • Traditional religious beliefs and practices were questioned • Many began to question the efficacy of the Vedic tradition, with new elites coming into power with no access to Vedic means • New religious and philosophical groups surfaced, rejecting the basic claims of the Vedic tradition, while asserting what they saw as reality of the universe can be attained by human beings of any caste through meditation. • These groups were known as the sramana (lit. “strivers”). • They abandoned the family and strict orthopraxy (rules of ritually proper behaviour), giving up normal works and social status to live as mendicants. • Jainism and Buddhism are traditions of this sramana movement. • The hereditary priesthood, along with its sacrifices and other rituals, was rejected. • Compared with Hinduism, Jainism has been more discipline and systematic. • It has been described as an ethical religion or sometimes as a philosophy, but not a theology for there is no belief in God. • “karmic matter” • Jains believe karma to be material in nature. • Intention is import to determine the quality of karma. • The transformative path to attain moksa is believed by the Jains to have been laid out by the “tirthankaras” • The tirthankaras or “ford finders” are those who transcended the ocean of samsara and found moksa from matter’s clutches • According to Jains, there were 24 tirthankaras in all, beginning with Rsabha. • The nineteenth tirthankaras is believed by some Jains to have been a woman. rd th • Modern scholars believe the 23 and 24 tirthankaras, Parsva and Mahavira, as historical while others are mythic figures. • Rsabha is believed to have lived in the Jambudvipa • Established the world order with is son Bharata, believed to the first emperor of India • Rsabha became a monk and practiced for 600 000 years before he attained “release” • Gods cannot help others toward freedom. • One must attain liberation oneself • The Jains practice austerity, including meditation, fasting, emotion-control, and other forms of ascetic practices. • Emphasis on “ahimsa” • Strict vegetarianism • Also refuse to use leather • Hence, the f
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