Jainism's Origin, History, Scripture, Belief, Festivals, Founder of Jainism Religion



Introduction:

           Jainism is a religion of India that teaches a path to spiritual purity and enlightenment through a disciplined way of living life. Rishabhdev was the first Tirthankara of Jain religion. Jainism is an Indian religion that emphasizes complete non- violence and simplicity. There are about 4 million jains worldwide. The name Jainism derives from the Sanskrit verb “to conquer”.

           Jinas are the spiritual conquerors who have achieved liberation and perfection. The path practiced and preached by Jinas is Jainism, and the followers of the path are called Jains. The 24 spiritual leaders called “ford makers” or tirthankaras are there in Jain Dharma. The 24th tirthankara was Mahavira, who gave Jainism its present day form. The aim of the Jain life is to achieve liberation of the soul.

           Parasparopagraho Jivanam (“The function of souls is to help one another”) is the motto of Jainism. Jainism is divided into two major sects Digambara (meaning “sky clad”) and Svetambara (“white clad”) sects.

The 5 mahavratas (the 5 great vows) are:

  1. Ahimsa – To protect all life (non violence)


  2. Satya – To speak truth


  3. Asteya – To not steal


  4. Brahmacharya – To not commit adultery


  5. Aparigraha – To limit one’s possessions
      The three guiding principles of Jainism, the ‘three jewels’, are right belief, right knowledge and right conduct.

             


Belief:

  • Jains believe that all living beings are really soul, intrinsically perfect and immortal.
  • Ahimsa (non violence) and self control are said to be the means of liberation.
  • Jainism integrates the traditional Hindu concepts of karma and reincarnation, but rejects the Veda scriptures, castes and the idea of a creator god.
  • Jains believe in simplicity. They are strict vegetarians and live in a way that minimizes their use of the world’s resources.
  • According to them liberation can be achieved by eliminating all karma from the soul.
  • There are no gods or spiritual beings that will help human beings.

The main Jainism scriptures are:

Jinvani
             In Jainism, Jinvani means the message or the teachings of the Jina (arihant). It is made up of two words Jina (arihant) and Vani (voice).

Agamas
             Agamas are original texts of Jainism based on the discourse of the tirthankara. The discourse delivered in a samavasarana (divine preaching hall) is called Shrut Jnana and comprises eleven angas (departments). It is generally represented by a tree with twelve branches. This forms the basis of the Jaina Agamas or canons. These are believed to have originated from Rishabhanatha, the first tirthankara. Agama is a Sanskrit word which signifies the ‘coming’ of a body of doctrine by means of transmission through a linage of authoritative teachers.


Festivals:

• Paryushana
             This is very significant Jain festival celebrated in the month of August or September. It is celebrated by both the sects differently. Svetambaras refer to it as Paryushana, while Digambaras refer it as Das Lakshana. The duration of Paryushana is for eight days for Swetambar jains and ten days for jains belonging to the Digambara sect.
             Paryusana is a time when the laity takes on vows of study and fasting with a spiritual intensity similar to temporary monasticism.

• Mahavir Jayanti
             The birth anniversary of Mahavir is celebrated as Mahavir Jayanti among the Jain community. On this day, followers of Jainism bring home statues of Mahavir and give it a ceremonial bath traditionally called as Abhisheka. They celebrate this day with lots of enthusiasm. Jain temples are packed with the devotees of the Lord who wish to seek blessings of Mahavira for prosperity.

• Diwali
             For Jainism, Diwali marks the anniversary of Nirvana (final release) or liberation of Mahavira’s soul. It is celebrated at the same time as the Hindu festival of Diwali. Diwali symbolizes the New Year for the Jain group and memorizes for their 24th tirthankar mahavira and his achievement of moksha.

Worship

             The goal of life in Jainism is to reach liberation by a life of purification, discipline and nonviolence as taught by the tirthankaras. Jain rituals center on sacred images and mantras. Jains don’t worship their tirthankaras as person, what they worship is the ideal of perfection that the tirthankara have achieved. The worshipper concentrates on the virtues of the tirthankaras and other pure souls, in order to help them follow their example.


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