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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 - Jaina Traditions.docx
Chapter 4 - Jaina Traditions.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
David Perley

1 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. Overview  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.  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
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