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RLGA01H3 (29)
Henry Shiu (21)


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University of Toronto Scarborough
Henry Shiu

Chapter 4 Jainism Overview  Jainism teaches restraint o Happiness lies in detaching oneself from the world  Jina: ‘victors’ or ‘conquerors’; the 24 ascetic-prophets o Most recent = Mahavira o Jainism expresses itself through the respect and emulation of the Jinas; these ppl also known as Tirthankaras, builders of bridges across the ocean of birth and death, or samsara o The Jina conquers the world by turning his back on it  Highest possible value = nonviolence o Jainism expressed as:’ahimsa paramo dharma’: ‘nonviolence is the supreme path’ o Nonviolence refers to the total renunciation of worldly activities  All life forms possess jiva, an eternal soul o Harm to even the tiniest life forms earns karma o Even unintentional harm earns SOME bad karma  Attachment to this world causes us to lose the ability of knowing our true Self o The Self has nothing to do w/ this world o It’s easy to ignore our soul w/ this world’s many distractions o Recognition of this self known as samyak darshan – ‘right faith’ or ‘correct intuition’ into the workings of the world; this is the starting pt of Jainism o Liberation can only be attained as a human  One path to liberation: the path of self-discipline and non-harm. o Yet, many different interpretations and practices  2 Jaina sects: o Digambara – naked or ‘sky-clad’ o Svetambara (white-clad)  This split occurred some 200 yrs after the death of Mahavira o They share the commitment to renunciation and non-violence, however  NON-VIOLENCE IS THE ONLY WAY TO LIBERATION Origins  Appeared sometime b/w 9 and 6 cent. BCE  Shramana – ‘world-renouncing’ o Followers of a spiritual guru/teacher o Rejected brahmimism o Denied existence of a god o Saw the universe as a purposeless place of suffering that must be transcended  Mahavira (‘Great Hero’) born to a ruling family in Nepal – northeastern India. o Accounts of his life reenacted and retold throughout the year, but especially during the festival known to Svetambara Jainas as Paryushana and to Digambara Jainas as Daslakshana  Jainas believe in a cycle of generation (utsarpini) and degeneration (avasarpini) o Mahavira’s NOT the founder of Jainism; rather, he’s the final Jina of the current degenerate time period o There will be another cycle of generation, and another 24 Jinas will appear, preaching wisdom; then there will be a period of degeneration, where another 24 Jinas will appear, and so on  Jains believe there was no beginning of the universe  Jainism concerned w/ restraint o Restraint, and thus the rewards of restraining,, are only accessible to human incarnations who reside in certain regions of the cosmos (the karmabhumi, or realms of action) Crystallization  Mahavira established Jainism as a 4-fold community (caturvidhyasangha) o Monks o Nuns o Laymen o Laywomen; noteworthy since the shramana gp.s generally regarded women as ‘objects of desire’, and should be avoided lest they distract male ascetics from their path  Jaina scriptures suggest a mistrust of women o However, women were always present in large #’s, and played an integral pt in the sangha’s (community’s) operations  For its 1 thirthy yrs, the sangha was held together by Mahavira, the Jina o At age 72, he attained liberation (moksha)  Moksha to Jainas is a state of complete detachment from the world; liberated souls cannot communicate w/ those still in the cycle of samsara o After his death, two gps of Jainas split; one stayed in the N, and the other moved S; occurred around the 4 cent. BCE  Dev’ped in isolation, thus differences in practice were inevitable  Northerners abandoned Mahavira’s principle of nudity, and started wearing white robes; this was seen as an abomination to the southerners because nudity was among the most basic expressions of non-attachment and non-violence  Eventually, northerners became known as the Svetambara (white-clad) and the southerners were the Digambara (sky- clad or naked).  Disagreements about women being initiated into the order  The Digambaras req’d nudity o This meant women were a priori, disqualified from taking the vows of renunciation  The Svetambara imposed no such condition, thus women were permitted to join them  Both gp.s regarded women as inferior and weaker than men o Ascetic path more difficult as a result  Svetambaras say women can still be th initiated; they even say the 19 Jina was a woman o Digambaras disagree completely  Say asceticism requires powerful bodies, which women lack  They can however become noble women (aryikas)  Contention arose regarding the omniscience of a Jina o Digambaras say one who’s omniscient must have already transcended bodily functions, etc. thus the Jina does not need to do normal bodily things, such as sleep, eat, etc. They also communicate through divine, supernatural sound o Svetambaras believe Jinas DO have bodily fns and therefore the omniscient Jina eats, sleeps, and communicates through spoken words Sacred Literature  Jainas believe their sacred scripture/lit. did not originate from the Jina Mahavira; it was only transmitted from Mahavira to histfollowers o In our time cycle, the eternal teachings were 1 put forward by the Jina Rsabha and the promoted by ea. succeeding prophet o Mahavira’s teachings were memorized by his disciples  Mainly oral tradition passed down gen. to gen.  Thus, the Jaina canon (Agama) for many years existed as a purely oral tradition  Agama consists of 3 main branches: o Purva (‘the ancient’); concerned w/ metaphysics, cosmology, and philosophy o Anga (‘the limbs’); talks about beggar conduct, doctrine, karma, and religious narratives o Angabahya (‘ancillary limbs’); additional collection of commentaries on the above topics  This canon was preserved and transmitted from gen-gen within the ascetic orders for >200 yrs  In early 4 cent., there as a famine in N India for 12 yrs, and ascetics and the householders whom the ascetics depended on for sustenance struggled to survive; the canon was almost lost altogether as a result  Along w/ the Agamas, other post-canonical writings were produced by the learned acharyas (mendicant scholars) of both the Svetambara and Digambara sects o These writings known collectively as Anuyogas (‘branches of scripture’) o Writings achieved canonical status and are celebrated works of ancient and medieval Indian philosophy  Both sects have common beliefs, such as: o Ideas on the nature of the soul o Karma o Non-violence o The cosmos  Tatthvartha Surtra of Umasvati is a comprehensive text of the fundamentals of Jaina traditions mentioned above Cosmology  Jainas believe the cosmos (loka) is made up of 6 eternal substances (dravya) o Knowledge of these dravya is an imp. step towards self-perfection
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