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RLG100Y1 Study Guide - Final Guide: Pudgala, Digambara, Jiva

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Andre Maintenay
Study Guide

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- Jainism confronts us with a simple yet extraordinary message
- The path to happiness, truth, and self realization is the path f restraint
- Happiness is the product not of doing but of not doing, not of embracing the world but
of disengaging from it
- It is this emphasis on restraint that gives Jainism its foothold with regard to its ascetic
- However, the Jaina tradition cannot be contained within such narrow bounds
- For one thing, the Jaina community is well known for its business acumen, worldly
success, and strong social identity, in other words, for its effective dynamic engagement
with the world
- Outsiders often perceive a paradoxial disjutio etee Jaias’ this-worldly
achievement and their other-worldly ethos
- But this seeming paradox reflects the principle that the path of renunciation is a path of
transformative power
- The power of renunciation lies not in opposing worldly power but in transcending and
subsuming it
- Some of the most interesting dimensions of Jainism can be traced to this interplay
between the worldly and otherworldy lifes
- Ultimately the Jaina path leads away from the world, not just from its sorrows but also
from the ephemeral joys from family and community, desires and pride, and even from
oe’s o ody
- Conquering our attachment to the world is the most difficult of all battles but for Jainas
it is the only battle worth engaging.
- Such is the message of the Jinas (conquerors) (also known as Tirthankaras builders of
bridges across the ocean of birth and death, or samsara) - 24 ascetic prophets
o Most recent is Mahavira from whom Jainas take their name
o Jaina is a tradition that expresses itself ritually through the veneration and
emulation of Jinas
o The Jina is the highest expression of the Jaina ideal and the focus o fthe Jaina
devotional apparatus
o A commanding figure who could just as easily have been a worldly chakravartin
ideal benevolent ruler endowed with everything the world has to offer, the
Jina conquers the world by turning his back on it
o Indeed, the Jina is venerated in both his potentialities
Regal chakravartin, crowned
Unadorned Arhat perfected being, detatched from worldy concerns
World renouncer and world conqueror through antithetical in
their orientations, both trace their beginnings to the good karma
accrued through a life of non violence
Restraint, self discipline, and commitment not to harm are the
starting points for the Jina and chakravartin alike
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- To grasp the vigorous character of Jainism, we need to keep in mind that the Jaina path
of renunciation is not one of retreat from the harshness of the world but of triumph
over it
o The world surrenders is bounty spontaneously to those who conquer it through
detachment though of course the true renouncer is indifferent to such rewards
- Ahimsa (non violence)
o Jainas commonly express the essence of their tradition in the three words
ahisa paao dhaa
Non violence is the supreme path
o In a universe where every life exists only at the expense of others, such a
commitment would be futile, furthermore, all engagement with the world only
causes us to sink deeper into its depths, generating ever more karma to fasten to
our souls
Rather, the Jaina commitment to non violence is a commitment to radical
non interference
Jainas equate non violence with renunciation because it is only through
the toal cessation of activity, mind, speech, and body, that one can truly
avoid harming others and consequently oneself
o There are countless life forms, many of which are invisible to the eyes
All possess an eternal soul (jiva) and none desires to be harmed
Yet their omnipresence means that we cannot perform any action
without causing them harm
In doing so, we harm ourselves, for every act of violence we commit
increase the negative karma attached to our souls
Lack of intention to commit harm is an important mitigating factor, but
even an intended harm still increases karmic bondage
However, this karma is less heavy and dark than that created with
intentional harm
- Jainism tells us that attachment to the world and worlly self comes at the expense of
knowing the true Self that has nothing to do with this world
o Our worldly social selves are no more than elaborate sand castles washed away
with each wave of the ocean of samsara
o The true Self is fundamentally other
Its deep silent tranquility is indifferent to the cacophony of the world
And precisely because it does not lobby for the attention of our
consciousness, its presence is easy to ignore amidst the endless
distractions created by the demands of the body
Nevertheless, the soul is luminous, radiating peace, and on very rare
occasions our conscious minds may catch a glimpse of it (samyak
dharshan [right faith or correct intuition])
This is the staring point of Jainism
- According to Jainas, there is only one path to emancipation, that of self discipline and
non harm
o Yet this singular path leads to a remarkable variety fo Jaaina communities
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The most fundamental distinction is the one between the Digambaras
(naked or sky clad) and Svetambara (white clad)
Split occurred 200 years after the death of Mahavira and was the
product of enduring differences regarding
o Ascetic practice
o Woe’s spiitual apaity
o Nature of the Jina
Other issues that divide Jainas include
The worship of images or idols
Use of living beings such ass flowers, water, and fire in worship
All Jainas share the commitment to renunciation and non violence
Renunciation is embodied by the sky clad ascetics, but is also
present in the beliefs and practices of lay Jainas including those
who live in a context of plenty
Out of the diversity of Jainas expression emerges the unvarying
message that non violence is the only path to liberation
The Sramana Revolution
- Jainism appeared on the historical scene sometime between the 9th and 6th centuries
BCE as part of the same Sramana movment that gave rise to Buddhism
Sramana = world renouncing
o The later date is the more commonly accepted because the historicity of
Mahavira has been widely established
o The earlier date is associated with the life of the twenty third Tirthankara,
Parsavanath, for which the only evidence is the occasional scriptural reference
- The followers of Mahavira like the followers of the Buddha rejected the Brahminical
orthodoxy of the day
o As the ae iplies, the old eoues osideed the Bahis’
preoccupation with cosmic and social order to be fundamentally flawed
o All the elements that went into maintaining that order were anathema to the
renouncers. These included
Heirarchical caste system
Elaborate liturgy
The cult of animal sacrifice
- The sramanas also held similar views regarding the need for salvation from a
meaningless cosmos
o All regarded the cosmic order not as the creation of a transcendent god, the
existence of which they denied, but as a purposeless place of suffering that must
be transcended
o Finally each Sramana group claimed a unique insight into the attainment of
moksha liberation or nirvana
Despite their similarities therefore, various Sramana groups developed as
distinct traditions and even rivals
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