The Sramana traditions - Upanisads, Jainism

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Published on 9 Feb 2011
School
UTSG
Department
Religion
Course
RLG100Y1
World ReligionsDecember 6th-10th, 2010
The Sramana traditions: Upanisads, Jainism
Reading: Ch. 7 “The Jain Tradition,” pp. 353-375
Each teacher honoured as a tirthankara – one who creates a ford so that other can
make their way through a body of water on the other side
It is tirthankara who enable the faithful to cross through river of life to shore of
enlightenment
Tirthas – four components of Jain community: monks, nuns, laymen, and
laywomen
1st tirthankara, Rishabha, lived during decline of ideal city
To bring order in chaotic time, Rishabha and son Bharata (1st emperor of
subcontinent—‘Bharata varsha’) introduced basic elements of society, culture, and
values
Mahavira
Mahavira (title meaning ‘great hero’) most recent of the 24 jinas, born around 599
BCE near city Patna, N. India
Parents members of kshatriya (warrior) class, given name was Vardhamana (‘one
with increasing prosperity’)
Mahavira portrayed almost divine—birth associated with unusual omens: mother
Trisala said to have had 14 wonderful dreams before he was born
Accounts of his life differ due to schism amongst followers, 2 centuries after his
death—Digambara (‘sky-clad’) and Svetambara (‘white-clad’) Jains diverged in
several areas of doctrine and practice
Svetambara narrative: Mahavira marries and has daughter before renouncing
secular life
Digambara narratives: Mahavira never married
Mahavira embarks on quest for enlightenment age 30
His renunciation of the world: an event he marks by pulling out all his hair—
today, those who join Jain orders, monks and nuns, follow this; practice serves
double purpose: reminding novices of pain that others suffer while showing their
disregard for their own bodies
Some point, Mahavira also renounces clothes as sign of attachment to
modesty/shame and hence selfhood
Finally after 12 years of arduous and extreme ascetic practices, he achieves
enlightenment
Svetambara narrative: Mahavira gives 1st sermon on importance of on-violence ad
spends several seasons traveling and spreading teachings through N. India
Digambara narratives: Upon his enlightenment, Mahavira cases all worldly
activity, his body becomes like crystal, free o all impurities, he doesnt eat or
sleep, and instead of traveling/teaching, spends remainly 30 years life in kind of
celestial hall called the samavasarana (‘the refugee of all creatures’), where
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Document Summary

353-375: each teacher honoured as a tirthankara one who creates a ford so that other can make their way through a body of water on the other side. Mahavira: mahavira (title meaning great hero") most recent of the 24 jinas, born around 599. Bce near city patna, n. india: parents members of kshatriya (warrior) class, given name was vardhamana ( one with increasing prosperity", mahavira portrayed almost divine birth associated with unusual omens: mother. December 6th-10th, 2010 without speaking, he transmits his teachings in form of sacred sound resembling. Om": sound interpreted by chief discipline, indrabhuti, who then records his interpretation as sermons of mahavira, all jains agree that mahavira attained liberation/nirvana at age 71, in turn. Indrabhuti received enlightenment within few hrs of teacher"s death: celebrate mahavira attainment of nirvana on new moon that occurs b/w 15th. October and 14th november same new moon that begins deepavali (hindu festival celebrating victory of light over darkness and good over evil)