What is Jainism? Main Points

What is Jainism? Main Points

Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes pacifism and a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state of supreme being is called Jina (Conqueror or Victor). Jainism is also referred to as Shraman (self-reliant) Dharma or the religion of Nirgantha (who does not have attachments and aversions) by ancient texts. Jainism is commonly referred to as Jain Dharma in Hindi and Samanam in Tamil.

Jainism is a religion originally from India that teaches that “all the events in the universe are self-caused, random, fixed and are independent of previous events or external causes or god”: Jain philosophy is the oldest philosophy of India that distinguishes body (matter) from the soul (consciousness) completely. It teaches that the universe is eternal and that every living being has a soul which has the power to become all-knowing(observer of all the random events). A soul which has won over its inner enemies like attachment, greed, pride, etc. is called jina which means conqueror or victor(over ignorance). The holy book of Jainism is Pravachansara.

Main points:

  1. Every living being has a soul.
  2. Every soul is potentially divine, with innate qualities of infinite knowledge, perception, power, and bliss (masked by its karmas).
  3. The universe is self-regulated, with all the events self-caused, and every soul has the potential to achieve divine consciousness (siddha) through its own efforts.
  4. There is no supreme divine creator, owner, preserver or destroyer.
  5. Therefore, Jainists think of every living being as themselves, harming no one and being kind to all living beings.
  6. Every soul is born as a celestial, human, sub-human or hellish being according to its own karmas.
  7. Every soul is the architect of its own life, here or hereafter.
  8. When a soul is freed from karmas, it becomes free and attains divine consciousness, experiencing infinite knowledge, perception, power, and bliss.
  9. Right View, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct (triple gems of Jainism) provide the way to this realization.
  10. Navakar Mantra is the fundamental prayer in Jainism and can be recited at any time of the day. Praying by reciting this mantra, the devotee bows with respect to liberated souls still in human form (Arihantas), fully liberated souls (Siddhas), spiritual leaders (Acharyas), teachers (Upadyayas) and all the monks. By saluting them, Jains receive inspiration from them to follow their path to achieve true bliss and total freedom from the karmas binding their souls. In this main prayer, Jains do not ask for any favors or material benefits. This mantra serves as a simple gesture of deep respect towards beings who are more spiritually advanced. The mantra also reminds followers of the ultimate goal, nirvana or moksha.
  11. Jainism stresses on the importance of controlling the senses including the mind, as they can drag one far away from true nature of the soul.
  12. Limit possessions and lead a pure life that is useful to yourself and others. Owning an object by itself is not possessiveness; however attachment to an object is. Non-possessiveness is the balancing of needs and desires while staying detached from our possessions.
  13. Enjoy the company of the holy and better qualified, be merciful to those afflicted souls and tolerate the perversely inclined.
  14. It is important not to waste human life in evil ways. Rather, strive to rise on the ladder of spiritual evolution.
  15. The goal of Jainism is liberation of the soul from the negative effects of unenlightened thoughts, speech and action. This goal is achieved through clearance of karmic obstructions by following the triple gems of Jainism.
  16. Jains mainly worship idols of Jinas, Arihants and Tirthankars, who have conquered the inner passions and attained divine consciousness. Jainism acknowledges the existence of powerful heavenly souls (Yaksha and Yakshini) that look after the well beings of Thirthankarars. Usually, they are found in pair around the idols of Jinas as male (yaksha) and female (yakshini) guardian deities. Even though they have supernatural powers, they are also wandering through the cycles of births and deaths just like most other souls.

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