Jainism religion is one of these oldest religions in the world that have survived to date with a huge following in Asia especially in the Indian subcontinent (Roy, 1984). Jainism has undergone numerous transformations with the most recent based on the influence of the western religion and colonization in the southern Asia region where it was mainly practiced. This paper explores the Jainism religion on the mythical, ritual, moral, doctrinal, organizational, material and experimental dimensions.
Mythical dimensions of Jainism
Religion is a system of belief in spiritual beings and practices observed by a group of people, institutions, churches, codes related to sacred things (Horton, 1960). The world has numerous religions with different set of beliefs and perspective. Majority of these religions are centuries old and have a wide following in different parts of the world depending on their origin. Jainism religion is one of the oldest religions in India estimated to be over 2500 years (Flügel, 2012). Many of the aspects of the religion have remained unchanged for this time and greatly influenced the religions life of its followers. The followers of the religions are expected to observe a non-violence life. In addition, they are required to evolve to monks in their later stages of their life. This practice is similar to other religions, which originated from India like Hinduism. The religion was founded by Jin (Arhat) as Christianity was founded by Jesus and Buddhism was founded by Buddha. The followers of the religion are known as Jain. The religion does not believe in the worship of the individual but rather of the souls that have achieved the Jin state. The Jainism religion is based on the teachings of 24 Tirthankars. The non-violence doctrine practiced by Jains was first interpreted by lord Rishabh and lord Mahavir who are regarded as the founders of the religion. Lord Rishabh was the last of the Tirthankars and rejuvenated the faith of the religion by laying the simple dharma foundation. He also taught the Indians followers of the religion on developing artwork cottage industries, which were in very high demand during that period. He is also connected with teaching the followers of the religion the principle of honesty.
Ritual dimensions of Jainism Religion
Jainism religion has six rituals that are believed to help their followers to live a healthier life both physically and spiritually. They six rituals are the samayik, chaturvimsati, Vandan, pratikraman, kayotsarg and prtyakhana. The samayik ritual requires Followers to observe it with devotion and it is meant to purify the soul. During the ritual, the followers of the Jainism religion are required to make a vow for 48 minutes to keep away from any activity, which creates or leads to violence (Flügel, 2012). The ritual requires perfection through practice for one to achieve peace and stability of the soul.
Another ritual performed by the Jains is the chaturvimsati. It requires one to recite the Loggassa, which was established by the fourteen Tirthankars known as Shurta-Kavali. The Loggassa is made of four verses and helps the followers of the Jainism achieve a karma free state. The Vandan ritual is based on humility and humbleness. The main aim of the ritual is to show respect to Guru-Bhangwat and guru-Vandan. The pratikraman ritual is used to purify the heart and turn back from the shortcoming of the error. The ritual is very important in the spirituality of the Jainism followers to overcome the impurities of the karma. The fifth ritual, kayotsarg is done repeatedly and it is a remembrance to the twenty-four Tirthankars who have overcome death, disease and old age.
The Jainism religion is base on the principle and doctrine of non-violence. The principle makes it wrong for a Jaine follower to hurt any living being by the body, the speech or the mind. It prohibits any intentions and activities that perpetrate violence. The religion believes non-violence is a step in creating a healthy society. This principle was prescribed by lord Mahavir. The religion also believes that the desire to possess drives people to commit violence and therefore preaches the principle of non-possession. This principle discourages the craving or greed for acquiring more things to avoid engaging in violence. The Jainism religion also promotes tolerance to contrary opinions on matters of their religion because they belief that reality can be examined from various standpoints.
The Jainism religion believes on the rebirth of a soul from its previous life. According to the religion, every new birth is connected to the previous birth cycle. The attainment of purity of the life of a Jain follower depends on these rebirths. The soul remains free from birth for some time after attaining purity. The Jain followers also believe that the activity of the mind, the speech and the body is responsible for attracting impurity to the soul (Flügel, 2012). This activity is called the asrava. The Jain religion teaches its followers non-violence, which prohibits causing harm to nay living being, animals or plants. The other is Truthfulness, which restricts the Jain followers to speak the truth only. Non-stealing requiring Jain followers to detest from taking another persons possessions unless when given and chastity that requires Jains to detach from material things. These doctrines are taught to the followers of the religion are meant to be held dear at the heart of the followers.
The Supreme Being in the Jain religion is the Tirthankara. Twenty-four Tirthankars exist in the Jain religions that were born as humans but achieved perfection and enlightenment through mediation and self-realization. The four-fold order of the Jain religion is established by the Tirthankars and they are the layman/woman nun and monk. The monks and nuns instruct the people into practicing self-control. They are the teachers offering spiritual guidance and practices to the followers of the religion and strictly follow the five vows to attain liberation. The followers are classified as Sravaks and Sravikas who are taught the requirements of the religion by the monks. The lay followers are required to detach from the thinks and pleasures of the world and live an honest and pure life. The followers are guided by the twelve vows, which include the five great vows followed by the monks and the nuns, merit vows and disciplinary vows (Flügel, 2006). The merit vows are known as Guna Vrats and include activity limits vow, the consumable and non-consumable items use vows and the vow to avoid sins. The disciplinary vows are vows on mediating at a given duration, the vows of mediating at a limited space. Other vows include charity and limited duration. The limitations on violence include avoiding attacking someone unknowingly, avoiding intentional violence and avoiding violence when committing daily activities.
The Agamas is the sacred book of the Jainism religion. The scripture was written by lord Mahavir and his disciples. The sacred book was written in the Prakrit and Ardhamagdhi language in the 5th century and discuses various matters culture, morality, religion and philosophy of the Jainism religion. The Jainism worships an idol with eight folds offering to destroy 89 karmas. The objects used for this worship include water, which is an ocean symbolizing living beings that have passed through birth, life, death and Misery Ocean. This is important because it reminds the Jainism followers that they exercise compassion, honesty, truthfulness and love with every living being. Other objects used for the worship include sandalwood, which symbolizes knowledge, flowers symbolizing fragrance, incense symbolizing ascetic life, candles symbolizing pure consciousness and rice, fruits and sweets which symbolize life achievements.
The objective of the Jain religion teaching is to achieve spiritual perfection or enlightenment. Jainism religion teaches its followers on how to achieve liberation of freedom from pain and misery of life from the cycle of birth and death. This process is known as nirvana or Moksha (Bhandari, 2009). According to the Jainism religion, every soul is in the bondage or the influence of the karma that result from good deeds or bad deeds in life. The Jains worship of the 24 Tirthankara idols represent the virtues and qualities of the gods of the jain religion and e very good work and prayers must begin with the prayers and worship saluting them.
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