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RLGA01H3 Chapter Notes -Digambara, Dravya, Nonviolence

Course Code
Henry Shiu

of 8
Chapter 4
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,
Appeared sometime b/w 9th and 6th 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
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
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)
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 1st 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 4th cent. BCE
Dev’ped in isolation, thus differences in practice were
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
o Ascetic path more difficult as a result
Svetambaras say women can still be
initiated; they even say the 19th Jina was a
o Digambaras disagree completely
Say asceticism requires powerful bodies,
which women lack
They can however become noble women
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 his followers
o In our time cycle, the eternal teachings were 1st 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
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