|Doctrines|| ||The name Jainism comes from jina, meaning conqueror or liberator. The Jinas are spiritual victors who became kevalins, individuals who have attained omniscience, and who then teach how to gain moksha(liberation from all karma, the effects of past actions) and thus deliverance from rebirth. The final goal of a Jain is the same as that of a Hindu or a Buddhist. The Jains believe in twenty-four Jinas, also known as tirthankaras, fordmakers, who make the ford from samsara, the phenomenal world, across the ocean of suffering to moksha, liberation. The path to liberation involves austere ascetic practices and meditation, following the path of a Jina in fact.|
Jain doctrine has been remarkably stable over the centuries and there has not been any serious change. This stability is largely due to Umasvati's Tattvarthasutra, 'Mnemonic Rules on the Meaning of the Reals,' a collection of aphorisms in sutra form written in the fourth or fifth century CE. Umasvati codified epistemological, metaphysical, cosmological, ethical, and practical elements of Jainism that were to be found dispersed throughout the texts. This work was written before the schism between the Shvetambaras and Digambaras became final and is accepted by both branches of Jainism. The Tattvarthasutra starts with the statement that "The way to deliverance is right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct," which became the Three Jewels, comparable with the Three Jewels of Buddhism.
Jains believe that within every living entity of any size, even the tiniest, there is a jiva, an indestructible, immaterial, and immortal soul or life-monad which is endowed with consciousness and initiating action. The jiva is one of five ontological categories called astikeya. The other four are collectively grouped as ajiva, non-soul, and are dharma, motion, adharma, rest, pudgala, atoms or matter, and akasha, space. The Digambaras added time as a sixth category. In seeing reality made up of two principles, jiva and ajiva, living and non-living, Jainism corresponds with purusha and prakriti, spirit and matter, of that branch of Indian philosophy known as Samkhya.
Jivas are either sthavara, stationary such as plants, or trasa, moving such as insects, animals, humans, gods and demons. There is a hierarchy of life forms depending on the number of senses, ranging from nigoda, one-sensed microscopic forms in plants and in earth, air, water, and fire, to two-sensed forms such as worms, three-sensed forms such as ants, four-sensed forms such as flies, and five-sensed forms such as humans. To a Jain ascetic, all forms are essentially alike. The jiva expands and contracts depending on the size of the body it inhabits, so the jiva of an insect and an elephant are the same size. Jainism believes in the spiritual perfectibility of plants. Predatory animals can have spiritual motivation to take up fasting and lead gentler lives. Madame Blavatsky tells of visiting a Jain sanctuary for animals where there was a vegetarian tiger.
The concept of karma, the effect of past actions, has been called the keystone of Jain doctrine. To the Jains karma is a real substance that attaches to the jiva. It is also described as flowing or pouring into the jiva, a process called asrava. However, this idea was unknown to the earliest Jain thought. Gradually the relationship between the jiva and action as being material was developed and Umasvati drew on texts to show that physical, mental, and verbal activity, termed yoga by the Jains, causes the flowing in of karmic particles. The binding of the particles to the jiva is then effected by kashaya, the passions, and negative characteristics such as false belief, lack of discipline, and carelessness. Kashaya also means a resin or stickiness which glues the karma to the jiva. Calm passions mean the karma does not stick to the jiva, and tapas, the internal heat of asceticism burns away the attached karma. There are eight categories of karma in two groups of four, the harming karmas and the non-harming karmas. By destroying the main harming karma, which is mohaniya, delusory, the other karmas can be destroyed too. Karma is seen as colouring the jiva, with violent actions darkening it and gentle actions lightening it. There is a colour classification of the jiva. At death the jiva instantaneously goes to its next rebirth. It is only with the release of all karma that moksha, spiritual deliverance, is achieved.
One of the most interesting and individual Jain doctrines, which has made an important impact in many aspects of Jain life and thought, is that of Anekantavada, the doctrine of the many-sidedness of reality. This is formed of Syadvada, the doctrine of the Indefiniteness of Being or 'the doctrine of may be,' which is so important it has been used as a synonym for Jainism itself, and Nayavada, 'Viewpoints.' The doctrine of Syadvada has seven forms of metaphysical proposition, all with the word syat, 'may be.' This is known as sapta-bhangi-naya, the sevenfold application of syat. This is a conditional assertion, so that a statement about an object is valid not absolutely but under one of several conditions, and seven modes of assertion are distinguished. The Nayavada is supplementary to the Syadvada and defines seven main points of view to consider an object. This recognition of the complexity of being guards against extremes such as mayavada, illusionism, the basis of many Hindu sects, and has helped prevent any major doctrinal heresy appearing in Jainism over three thousand years. It has also enabled the Jains to coexist happily with Hindus and other faiths.
|History|| ||Renou has stated "...the Jaina movement presents evidence that is of great interest, both for the historical and comparative study of religion in ancient India and for the history of religion in general. Based on profoundly Indian elements, it is at the same time a highly original creation, containing very ancient material, more ancient than that of Buddhism, and yet more highly refined and elaborated" (Renou 1953, 133).|
It is believed by Jains that Jainism is eternal. There is a Jain legendary history of the world known as the 'Deeds of the Sixty-Three Illustrious Men,' which Western scholars term the Universal History. This describes the lives of the twenty-four Jinas and their contemporaries over a vast time-scale. Bharata, the first Jain universal emperor of this world-era, created temples and Jina-images millions of years ago (see History in Murtipujakas) as well as the Veda, the eternal Hindu scripture. It also reveals that Rama and Krishna were Jain laymen. After Mahavira, last of the Jinas, the tirtha, the Jain community, will last 21,000 years before the decline of the religion, stopped only in the next world-era. The concept of Kaliyuga, the Corrupt Age, which is common to Hindus also, accounts for the decline and explains the destruction of Jain temples in the medieval period, for example. Eras of time in Jainism are like the moving spokes of a wheel and during this movement the Jinas appear to activate the Three Jewels. The twenty-four Jinas have almost identical lives, born in a warrior caste, awakened by the gods to be spiritual teachers, and renouncing to wander as monks before fasting to death in meditation. The earlier Jinas are massive and live vast periods of time. Rishabha, the first Jina, lived 600,000 years and laid the foundation of civilisation before reaching moksha on the summit of Mount Kailasa. Malli, the nineteenth Jina, is believed to have been a woman by the Shvetambaras. The last two Jinas, Parsva and Mahavira, have more human dimensions and these are the only Jinas whose historicity is accepted. Vardhamana Mahavira (c. 599-527 BCE) was an elder contemporary of the Buddha. Mahavira is a title meaning 'Great Hero' given for his twelve and a half years living an austere ascetic life in the Ganges basin, when he was physically abused by men, attacked by wild animals, and fasted and meditated. He died in the town of Pava in Bihar. His predecessor, Parsva, is believed to have lived in the eighth century BCE. There is little evidence to support the historicity of the other Jinas. The Rg Veda mentions Rishabha and Arishtanemi, and the Yajur Veda includes these two and Ajitanatha.
Jainism has been called the only surviving non-Vedic tradition in India. Jain claims to antiquity seem firmly based and it appears that Parsva and Mahavira were reviving and restoring a religious tradition stretching back into pre-historic times. There are arguments that Jain origins go back to the Indus civilisation.
The Jains moved at an early date from the original Ganges region where Mahavira preached. They moved west in one direction and east in another to Orissa and down the eastern coast to South India. Tradition and inscriptions support a migration of Jains to South India from as early as 360 BCE to avoid a famine. The move west focused on the city of Mathura at a similar period and this was a holy city of Jainism until about 1,000 CE. However, by the fourth or fifth centuries CE large numbers had moved further west. Schisms in Jainism are recorded from the earliest times. The separation between the main two branches, Digambaras and Shvetambaras, was fixed by the first century CE. The Jains of the South are predominantly Digambaras, while the majority in the North-West are Shvetambaras.
Jain history is elusive and needs to be filled out by other sources such as stories, legends, sectarian traditions, and hagiographies. The Jains possess the oldest manuscript libraries in India, and the most important collections have only been catalogued this century. Access for scholars is very difficult, and full scholarly study has hardly begun.
Jainism grew in power and importance in the South during the first centuries CE but the Hindu Renaissance of the seventh to tenth centuries caused retraction of Jainism in the South, especially from Tamil Nadu, where only 30,000 Jains remain. In the North-West the Jains were centred in Gujarat and Rajasthan with great temple-cities built on the mountains of Satrunjaya, Girnar, and Abu, and here they suffered from the Muslim incursion. Jainism hung on tenaciously in both North and South, and temples, such as at Mount Abu, and the giant statue of Bahubali in Karnataka, were erected.
However, there was a long period of decline. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are obscure but there is evidence of decline in the nineteenth century with many Jains becoming Vaishnavas. Starting at the end of the nineteenth century there was a Jain diaspora with emigration to Africa, and then since the 1970s to England and North America. Economic changes have meant that Jains have moved all over India as well. With Jain ascetics starting to travel, Jainism must increasingly be considered a world religion.
|Symbols|| ||It has been strongly argued that the religion of the Indus civilisation of 2,500 BCE may reflect Jain origins. The most frequent animal symbol on the Indus Valley seals is the hump-backed bull and the name of the first Jina, Rishabhanatha in full, means Lord (natha) Bull (rishabha) and his symbol is a bull. It is also claimed that the famous ithyphallic, three-faced, horned deity sitting in a yoga-like posture is not a proto-Shiva deity but one of the Jinas, probably Rishabha. Some of the Mohenjodaro seals depict standing male nudes in the kayotsarga posture, the body-abandoning posture which is characteristically Jain and particularly associated with Rishabha. The Indus scripts need deciphering to substantiate these claims.|
Most Jains worship in temples, which are lavish, elaborate, and ornate to serve as replicas of the samavasarana, the celestial assembly halls of the Jinas. Every inch in a Jain temple is carved with figures and mythological scenes. Jain temples are among the most elegant in the history of Indian architecture and splendid examples can be seen at Ranakpur and Mount Abu in Rajasthan, at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, and other temples in Karnataka. At Girnar and Mount Satrunjaya in Palitana there are cities of temples. Satrunjaya has nearly one thousand temples and shrines. There are also important carvings in caves at such sites as Ellora in Maharashtra, Khantagiri in Orissa, and Vallimalai in Andhra Pradesh.
In the first phase of Jain art, second century BCE to third century CE, the images are largely of Jinas. Most are naked. The clothed Shvetambara images are a later development. The Jina is shown in only padmasana, the lotus posture, or kayotsarga, the body-abandoning posture found only with Jainism - the Jina stands erect in motionless meditation with unnaturally long arms hanging slightly out from the body. The fifty-seven foot image of Bahubali, son of the Jina Rishabha, at Sravana Belgola, erected in 981, has jungle creepers twined around his arms and legs with anthills covering his lower legs and with snakes at his feet, these symbols showing the length of his meditation. It is extremely difficult to identify Jina images, only two of the twenty-four being visually distinguished from the others. Rishabha has long loose hair over his shoulders (see Symbols in Digambaras) but unusually his hair is shown in jatamukuta style, a crown-form associated with Shiva. Parsva has a snake canopy above his head. Jinas in South Indian Digambara images are typically meditating under a triple-tiered umbrella. Other symbols came to be used to identify a Jina. Examples of these marks of cognition are the bull for Rishabha, the conch for Neminatha, and the lion for Mahavira. The fifth Jina, Sumatinatha, has a red goose for the Digambaras and a cock for the Shvetambaras. There is a statue of Candraprabha, the eighth Jina, with seven heads that is unique in Jain art. The seven heads probably represent the sapta-bhangi, of Jain philosophy. In fact, the iconographic differences between Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist art are limited and seen mostly in the carvings of the Jinas. The translucent pure jiva is symbolised by the alabaster carvings of the Jinas in Jain temples, especially at Mount Abu, which show their spiritual transcendence and purification of karmic matter.
The ayagupta, tablet of homage, decorated with auspicious symbols, Jinas, and stupas, is important and is a precursor of samavasarana scenes, cosmological paintings, and mandalas found in later Jain art.
Sarasvati appears holding a sacred text and a lotus, and as the goddess of knowledge she presides over the teachings of the twenty-four Jinas. She is a powerful goddess also in Hinduism and Buddhism. The Jain god Baladeva can be identified with Balarama, elder foster-brother of the Vishnu incarnation Krishna. He is shown with snake-hood, a club or ploughshare or both, and a wine cup. Indra, or Sakra in many Jain texts, plays an important part in the lives of the Jinas as king of the gods.
Siddhapratima Yantra is a magical diagram depicting a Jina as a formless silhouette, symbolising his transcendence of corporeal form and its associated karma. Such a representation is one of the highest expressions of Jain spiritual detachment from desire.
Many other celestial creatures common to Indian mythology are found in Jain art. Yakshas and yakshis, male and female nature spirits, are guardians of the Jinas. Dharandendra shelters the Jina Parsva during his penance. Ambika, meaning "little mother," is the most popular yakshi, worshipped on behalf of mothers and children, and depicted with children and a mango tree, symbolising her fertility.
The Kalpasutra is the most esteemed canonical text of the Shvetambara Jains. Hundreds of illustrated manuscripts of this work exist and they are an excellent source for the study of Jain iconography.
The devapuja, worship of god, ritual varies among Jain sects and even from one locality to another within the same sect, especially when performed in a temple. For the symbolism of the puja, see Shvetambaras.
There is an extensive tradition of Jain paintings, which are called pata. The most spectacular are cosmological paintings depicting the structure of the Jain universe. The Jain cosmos is composed of three realms of virtually unfathomable proportions, upper/celestial, middle/mortal, and lower/infernal, which are shown together or separately in both abstract and personified representations. Personified representations are of lokapurusha, the Cosmic Man, whose fantastic body has the three realms. Other large paintings are of tantric deities or esoteric symbols and invocations used for meditation and initiation rituals. Colossal paintings of pilgrimage sites, especially Mount Satrunjaya, are in great detail and are displayed at Jain temples during a special festival at the end of the monsoon. These are powerful symbols, for the devotee who cannot undertake the pilgrimage receives the religious merit of visiting the sites simply by viewing their representations. Similarly, temples at pilgrimage sites often have paintings of other pilgrimage sites on the walls, so that the benefits of all the other holy places are there for the pilgrim. Texts mention how famous Jina-images travel miraculously and bring the power of a pilgrimage site to other places. Jain patrons donate Jinas from holy places to their towns and villages to ensure that devotees will acquire merit without having to travel to those particular holy places.
Gyanbazi is a game of chance with enlightenment as the goal that is the forerunner of the modern snakes-and-ladders. Jains like to play the game during paryushana, the ten-day period of fasting during the monsoon. From the game the players become aware of Jain morality and ethics. The board has either an architectural form or is superimposed on the image of a cosmic being.
The samavasarana, the celestial assembly hall where the Jina gives his final sermon for all sentient beings after his enlightenment, is a common theme in paintings (as well as being the blueprint for Jain temples, as we have seen), some of which are on a large scale. A remarkable form of this Hall of the Universal Sermon is a watercolour of c. 1800 from Rajasthan with unusual iconography and setting (In a private collection but see Pal 1994, 236-7).
|Adherents|| ||Figures for the population of Jains differ from just over three million to twelve million. There are difficulties of Jain identity, with Jains being seen as a Hindu sect, and some Jains considering themselves Hindus. Certain castes contain both Hindus and Jains.|
It is claimed by the Jains that the Census figures are a gross under-estimation because many Jains do not return Jainism as their religion on the census forms for various reasons, and that the population of Jains in India may amount to 10 million. During the 1981 Census, the Jains held a major advertising campaign urging Jains to register as such on their census forms.
The statement occasionally made that the worldwide Jain community numbers in the region of 12 million probably represents an attempt to achieve parity with the other major indigenous Indian religious minority, the Sikhs.
A current estimate is that there are six million Jains in the world (Pal 1994. 13).
The 1981 Census of India has 3.19 million Jains in India out of a total population of nearly 800 million. Though a tiny minority, the Jains are among the most prosperous and influential section of the population. The most populous Jain states are Gujarat (467,768), Karnataka (284,508), Madhya Pradesh (444,960), Maharashtra (939,392), and Rajasthan (624,317). Jains are found , however, all over India. A shifting demography of the Jain population has taken place in the last two centuries because of economic opportunity. The main movement has been the migration of Shvetambara merchants and businessmen from Gujarat and the Marwar region of Rajasthan to other parts of India and overseas.
There are about 70,000 Jains living outside India. There are an estimated 25,000 in Europe, mostly in England, of Gujarati origin. Many came to escape President Amin in Uganda in the 1970's, and settled mainly in London, Leicester, and Manchester. There are 21,000 Jains in Africa, mostly in East Africa, 20,000 plus in North America, and 5,000 in the rest of Asia (Cort 1989, 342, cited in Dundas 1992, 232).
| ||In India, for the Shvetambaras it is Mount Satrunjaya, for the Digambaras it is Sravana Belgola. Overseas it is Nairobi in Africa and Leicester for England and Europe.|