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Lecture 1

RELS 131 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Jain Cosmology, Lie, Sand Art And Play


Department
Religious Studies
Course Code
RELS 131
Professor
Aditi Sen- Chowdhury
Lecture
1

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January 25, 2015: RELS 131: Week 4 Lecture 1
Buddhism Recap
Links of Dependent Origination
Theravada and Mahayana (have to remember- main divisions of Buddhism)
Creation of the Tripitaka canon
Role of Sangha
Ashoka and the spread of Buddhism (260 BC—Buddhist canon gets created almost 500
years after Buddha’s death. Ashoka’s time Buddhism has no forced conversion but he
gives donations to Buddhist charities (Buddhism believed in teachings and giving back)
Buddhism and Women
Buddhism allowed women to enter their fold (women were equals to men)
Nuns were called Theris
Story of Amrapali (collections of writing by women authors known as Therigatha’s and
appears in the Buddhist context)
The first women authored text appears in Buddhism called the Therigatha (Stories of
nuns)
Later the nunnery is abolished—accusations against the women are equal ideas (sex
scandals, gossip)
Married women, rich women joined the Therigatha, gave women a refuge to come
outside the marriage to let women have a voice within the writings
Never defined women as the property of men
Women did not have educational privileges—less educated than monks
Few quick points about Buddhism
Buddhist idea of rebirth—Hindus soul is indestructible but for Buddhists rebirth there is
no soul or identity only energy prevails
oEnergy is primary and form is secondary (imprints, my unhappiness may
take a different form)
oBody gets destroyed but the energy stays on—striving to stop the cycle
you are in so the energy is changed
o5 Skandhas “heaps”
Karma is not simply an action but it eventually shapes your consciousness
oBelieve Karma is forming your consciousness
oEach action you do leads to your consciousness but accidents are not
karma—if I hurt someone that is not karma
oBelief in intention and action leads to consciousness
Involuntary actions are NOT a part of karma
The Appeal of non-violence (healing religion)
Economically advantageous for both the king and the people
Vegetarianism—Buddhists
Lessened the political control of the priests
Encouraged trade. Buddhism is directly linked to growth of Indo-Roman trade.
Sending peace missions is way more effective than war.
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Buddhists send peace missions (political stability) because of trade “golden age”
Minority religion that just survives in South Asia
Jainism
Renunciation (Not-doing)
Withdrawal from the world
23 Tirthankaras or Jinas (Bridge-Builders)
Mahavira (founder of Jainism) born around the time of the Buddha
Has a much less influence than Buddhism
Mahavira is considered the last of the bridge builders who guide people to understand the
path of renunciation- renunciation is non action (no karma, not doing action)
Sectarian Split
Digambaras: Naked. “Sky” clad
oDigambaras are less accepting of women they say that women cannot be
liberated until they are born again as man (women= menstruation and
women’s body is violent)
oMonks of the sky clad reject clothing (nudity—rejects sexual desires)
oWomen cannot take vows
oNo possessions—can’t have possessions to be a true Monk
oBelieve in scriptures
Svetambara: White clad—wear basic clothing (white clothes)
Both believe in renunciation
Non-violence is the path of liberation
The split is not very marked
oSectarian Split with two divisions—non action seizes to do anything
oOne sect believes you do not need any action
oOther believes (white clad) wear white clothes (basic clothing)
Jain Sangha: Four-fold community
1. Monks
2 Nuns
3. Lay Men
4. Lay Women
Preservation of the Jain canon
Agamas (Purva, Anga, Anabahya)
Loss of some oral teachings
oTeachings divided in 3 groups
oPurva is the prelude, Anga is the body of the teaching, Anabahya is the common
tree)
oOrganized religion
Key concepts
Non violence
Every being (even invisible ones) possess eternal soul
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