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Jain Philosophy Essay

1722 words - 7 pages

Jainism is not the biggest of the Indian religions, but it is significant in todays world. Jain philosophy embodies the ideas that all beings have a soul, multiple aspects and non-attachment. Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism have significant differences in their belief of the universe in regrades to karma. Understanding these differences in these religions concerning karma allows one to distinguish the individuality of Jainism from other Indian religions prominent today. As well as knowing the contrasts understanding the similarities between Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism also help us understand the common beliefs and ideals about karma and the universe held by these faiths.
Jainism is considered one of three major Indian religions, also including Buddhism and Hinduism. Unlike Buddhism and Hinduism though, Jainism has never had the same amount of attention directed towards it (Skoog 1). Jainism is a 3,000 year old faith that has no commandments nor any unconditional tenants (Pepper 1). The main Jain teacher of its time was Mahavira, was a noble who forsook his caste. Mahavira then fasted, meditated, and lived in silence for twelve years when he found liberation and perfection (Fisher 121). Mahavira then spread his teachings, and was considered the twenty-fourth Tirhankara (Fisher 122). Tirhankara’s are individuals who have gained universal truths through enlightenment (“Faith speaks” 2). Ahimsa, or nonviolence towards all living things no matter how small is one of the Jain’s main beliefs (Pepper 1). Jains, believe that the entire universe is alive, even rocks and plants. These ideals are heavily stressed in Jainism, due to the ramifications that can accrue through karma (Avasthi, Kate, and Grover 3). Jains believe in the equality of all souls, and that ones condition and conduct are their own (Pepper 1). Jain’s also believe in Anekantvad or the multiplicity of viewpoints (Pepper 1). This idea is applies to many aspects of a Jain’s life. This relates to the value of the universe has no creator with no beginning nor with any end (“Faith speaks” 2). This non-absolutism also applies to Jainism with the idea that Jains should remain openminded and see partial truth in all viewpoints. Along with these values Jains are not to be drawn to anger or judgment (Fisher 128). The last ideal of Jainism is Aparigraha, or non-possessiveness of items or of people. This ideal is valued to Jains so that they are not attached to the material world, and can then be brought closer to liberation and perfection (Fisher 127). Jains believe that these ideals and actions reduce their karma, and lead them to be pure of body and spirt. In doing this Jains believe they will be set free from the cycle of reincarnation and be able to achieve Moksha (Avasthi, Kate, and Grover 3). Unfortunately Jainism is an ascetic religion so the people who prosper though these ideals are the monks and nuns of Jainism. There are two major divisions in the Jain faith one section of followers...

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