Key Terms on Jainism

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8 Apr 2011
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Key Terms for the lecture on Jainism:
1. Karmamarga - Exemplifies the “way of works
2. Ahimsa - Closely related to the principle of “non-violence”
3. Sramanas - lit.strivers
4. karma (in the context of Jainism) - Jains believe karma to be material in nature. Intention
is important to determine the quality of karma.
5. Tirthankaras literally Ford maker. Epithet for the 24 Jinas who through their teachings
created a ford across the ocean of Samsara. 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.
6. Moksa - 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.
7. Rsabha the 1
st
tirthankara of our current time cycle aka adinath. Rsabha is believed to
have lived in the Jambudvipa. According to Jains, there were 24 tirthankaras in all,
beginning with Rsabha.
8. Mahavira literally great hero. Epithet of the 24
th
and final Jina of our time cycle born
Vardhamana Jnatrpura in the 6
th
C BCE. Modern scholars believe the 23
rd
and 24
th
tirthankaras, Parsva and Mahavira, as historical, while others are mythic figures.
Scholars believe that Jainism was given its present form by Mahavira (“Great Hero”).
Mahavira was preceded by Parsva, believed to have born in about 872 BCE. At the age of
30, he renounced worldly pleasures and began his life of austerity. Wandered throughout
India, gathered disciples and asked them to observe the four vows: Not to take life, Not to
lie, Not to steal, Not to own property. Some accounts for the life of Mahavira note that he
tear out his hair by the roots. 200 years after the death of Mahavira, the Jain community
had a schism between the Svetambaras (“white-clad”) and the Digambaras (“sky-clad”).
9. Jina literally conqueror and epithet for the 24 prophets who conquered the world of
desire and suffing and taught the path to eternal happiness. Alternately called
Tirthankara. Mahavira was referred to as the jina (the victorious one) after he attained
his enlightenment.
10. Parsva - Modern scholars believe the 23
rd
and 24
th
tirthankaras, Parsva and Mahavira, as
historical, while others are mythic figures. Mahavira was preceded by Parsva, believed to
have born in about 872 BCE.
11. Svetambaras 1 of the 2 early sectarian nodes within Jainism. Mendicants wear simple
white robes. 200 years after the death of Mahavira, the Jain community had a schism
between the Svetambaras (“white-clad”) and the Digambaras (“sky-clad”).
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