Jainism Versus Judaism Essay

2664 words - 11 pages

It is human nature to question, research, and be in awe of our surroundings and environment. We live on a planet within a galaxy made up of multiple galaxies; it is no wonder we question our place in the universe. In questioning our world and how it works it is only natural to wonder why? Why do we exist? What is our purpose here and what happens to us when we die? Although science attempts to answers our questions, faith in religion has generated a much more soul oriented and gratifying answer. Religion is a system of beliefs, values, and world views that attempt to connect mankind to the spiritual realm. In making these connections, religions around the world have developed their own creation stories and ideas about the afterlife. Jainism and Judaism are two established worldly religions that attempt to answer existential questions and questions regarding an afterlife. These attempts are made through their doctrine, stories, way of life, and beliefs. Jainism, thought to have originated in India, is a polytheistic religion believing in an innumerable number of Gods. Jainism is a religion known for practicing nonviolence (ahisma) and deep ecology (respect for nature). Judaism is a monotheistic, Abrahamic, religion. Judaism teaches that there is one true God, whom revealed himself to Abraham. They refer to god as Yahweh. Jews are taught to live lives through the word of the Bible, Torah, and the Talmud. Both Jainism and Judaism have their own theories as to why humans exist here on earth and whether or not there is an afterlife for them to look forward to. These theories differ accordingly to their religious beliefs and written doctrine.
Jainism is one of the oldest religions founded in India (“History of Jainism”). Jainism holds beliefs of karma, reincarnation, and a tradition of non-violence. Followers of Jainism are referred to as Jains. Jains believe our universe is eternal; meaning they believe that everything is just because it is; it was never created and it will never cease subsist. Jainism views the universe as an independent entity being self-sufficient. It is made up of “a series of layers, both heavens and hells” (Robinson). Although Jainism lacks, or doesn’t believe in, a creation story, its principles and teachings emphasize the human existence and purpose on earth. Their principles explain how their actions affect their personal lives as well as how it affects nature and the universe. Jains believe that each soul, known as Jiva, is eternal and that your soul’s destiny is dependent on your actions in this life, known to Jains as karma. Jains believe that karma is the force or weight that accumulates and determines your soul’s reincarnation. They believe that all karma, good or bad, can accumulate and weigh your soul down deterring it from ascending into a celestial heaven. “When the body dies, the Jiva seeks out a new site depending upon the proclivities of karma generated and occurred during the previous lifetime” (Chapple). Jains...

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