Wednesday, October 17 , 2012
RLG100Y1 – World Religions
Chapter 4 – Jaina Traditions
Textbook (pg. 145-151)
Darshana = When followers gather to pay homage to their guru ad receive his blessing.
Sallekhana = A ritual fast to death undertaken voluntarily, usually in old age or illness. Voluntary death is the
most radical statement possible of detachment from the body and the world.
Jainism’s primary tenet is that happiness and triumph can be achieved by disengaging from the world,
contrasting the beliefs of other religions. This includes withdrawing from joys, sorrows, family, community,
desire, and pride.
- However, ironically, the Jaina community is also known for its business expertise, social identity, and worldly
success (active engagement with the world). In fact, diversity is one of the distinguishing characteristics of
Jainism is distinctly ascetic; the path of renunciation is a path of transformative power and lies in transcending
and subsuming worldly power
Jinas = Literally, “conqueror”; an epithet for the 24 ascetic prophets who conquered the world of desire and
suffering, an taught the path to eternal happiness; alternatively called Tirthankara.
- Tirthankaras = Literally, “ford-maker”; epithet for the 24 Jinas who, through their teachings, created a ford
across the ocean of samsara.
- Mahavira = Literally, “Great Hero”; epithet of the 24 and final Jina of our time cycle, born Vardhamana
Jnatrpura in the sixth century BCE (most recent).
- Chakravartin (the ideal benevolent ruler)
The Jina is the highest expression of the Jaina ideal, which has two antithetical aspects: the chakravartin (the
ideal benevolent ruler) and the arhat (meditated, utterly detached from world concerns)
Restraint, self-discipline, and commitment not to harm are starting points for the Jina
For Jainas, the highest possible value is nonviolence, basically radical non-interference, expressed in three
words: “ahimsa paramo dharma” (non-violence is the supreme path). It is only through the total cessation of
activity (mind, speech, and body) that one can truly avoid harming others and oneself
We are surrounded by countless living beings, which all possess a jiva
- Jiva = Eternal soul/consciousness; all living beings are endowed with jiva.
- Basically, we can’t perform any action without causing them harm, which in turn causes us harm because it
increases our negative karma (even if its unintended harm), impeding our ability to know our true