SOC 3110 Lecture Notes - Orthopraxy, Nonviolence, Jain Philosophy
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•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
•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
•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.
•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.
•Modern scholars believe the 23rd and 24th 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
•Rsabha became a monk and practiced for 600 000 years before he attained
•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”
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