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What is Jainism?

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Jainism What is Jainism? One of the oldest religions in the world Jainism is centred on the search for infinite knowledge and ultimate enlightenment. Practiced through 3 basic principals Jainism is founded upon Non-Violence, Penance and Self Control. The name "Jainism" derives from the Sanskrit word meaning "follower of the Jina, or conqueror". Established in our era by Lord Mahavir ("the Great Hero") in the sixth century BCE who is considered to be the last in a list of 24 "Tirthankaras". What is a Tirthankara? A prophet of Jainism who has conquered all the desires and has obtained infinite knowledge and wisdom, they lay down the path for the spiritual uplift of humanity. There are 24 Tirthankaras: first known is Rushabhdev and Lord Mahavira Svami being the last, born 2,500 years ago. Born in 599 BC, Mahavir was a prince who left his worldly belongings and at the age 30 became a monk, he then spent 12 years in meditation. He established a monastic community into four groups: Sadhu (monk), Sadvi (nun), Shravak (layman) and Shravika (laywoman) this community being the oldest continually surviving monastic community in the world. ...read more.


The two main sects of Jains are divided into Digambara and Svetambara, both claiming that authority for the most ancient texts derives from Mahavir, that was in turn enunciating sacred truths passed onto him from Tirthankaras before him. Handed down orally in the monastic communities, the sacred literature was not written down until about 500 CE. The main differences between these two traditions of Jainism are that Digambaras believe that humans engage in no bodily functions or worldly activity, preaching by divine sound. Svetambaras see the Jina as engaging in normal bodily functions and activity whilst at the same time enjoying omniscient recognition. The Digambaras stress absolute nudity resulting in women unable to attain purity, as they are unable to live completely naked, they can only aspire to a Siddha by being re born as a man. Svetambaras emphasise optional nature of nudity, wearing a simple white robe being permitted, and enabling women to conquer purity. Jainism stresses that each person is responsible for his or her own destiny. Man is born individually and dies the same, he alone can help himself by his own effort, and through right knowledge and right vision and right conduct he can attain ultimate state of emancipation. ...read more.


Navka Mantra 1. Salutations to the victors - ARHATS, the Arhat is the living being of the highest goal in Jainism. 2. Salutations to the SIDDHA, Siddhas are the liberated soul, free from the cycle of birth and death. 3. Salutations to the head spiritual teachers called Acharyas. 4. Salutations to the teachers. 5. Salutations to the monks. The writing in the centre of the palm is the word Ahimsa. The hand signifies friendly re-assurance. Namaskar Mantra: Namo Arithantanam - I bow to the arithantas - the ever-perfect spiritual victors. Namo Siddhanam - I bow to the Siddhas - the liberated souls Namo Ayraiyanam - I bow to the ayraiyanam - the leaders of the Jain order. Namo Uvajjhayanam - I bow to the upadhyayas - the learned preceptors. Namo Loe SavvaSahunam- I bow to all the saints and sages everywhere in the world. Eso Panch Namukkaro - These five obeisances. Savva Pavappanasano - Erase all sins. Manglalananch Savvesim - Amongst all that is auspicious. Padhamam Havai Mangalam - This is the foremost. In the above prayer, Jains do not ask for any favours or material benefits from the Tirthankaras, monks or nuns. By saluting them, Jains receive the inspiration from the five benevolent for the right path of true happiness and total freedom from the misery of life. ...read more.

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