A Treatise On Jainism
Shri Jayatilal S. Sanghvi
Jainism
2:31 h
Jain philosophy is the oldest Indian philosophy that separates body (matter) from the soul (consciousness) completely. Jain philosophy deals with reality, cosmology, epistemology (study of knowledge) and Vitalism. It attempts to explain the rationale of being and existence, the nature of the Universe and its constituents, the nature of soul's bondage with body and the means to achieve liberation.

A Treatise on Jainism

by

Shri Jayatilal S. Sanghvi

CHAPTER I

The Jain Religion

The religion which enjoins adoration and worship of Jinas or the religion which is propounded by Jinas is knows as the Jain religion.

Jina means one who has conquered the internal enemies and impurities of the soul like attachment (raga) and hatred (dwesha). He is known as Parmatma (the great soul), Sarvajna (omniscient), and Savadarshee (omnipotent). Such Jinas have been in existence from times immemorial. No beginning can be traced for them, and the Jain Religion has also no beginning. It is a very ancient religion. It teaches us to become Jina and those who follow it are called Jains.

According to Jain conception the period of time consists of two cycles, ascending (utsarpinee) and descending (avasarpini). In each of these two cycles, twenty-four Tirthankaras (Jinas) came into existence. They are called Tirthankaras because they are to become the propounders of the sacred order of religion. The last Tirthankar was Lord Mahavir. Some say that Lord Mahavir was the founder of Jainism, but this is incorrect. Twenty-three Tirthankaras existed before Lord Mahavir flourished. In their times Jainism also flourished and before that also Jainism existed. By their extraordinary perception and knowledge, Tirthankaras who come from time to time, bring the fundamental principles into light again. They preach them, propound them, and also spread them.

The souls of Tirthankaras, from the very moment of their births, are gifted with superb knowledge and are very highly meritorious. They renounce their kingly status, cast aside their riches and worldly pleasures, and adopt asceticism. By the performance of extremely severe penances, they destroy all sins accumulated during their past births, burn all karmas, inculcate a spirit of equanimity towards friends and foes both, attain the status of Vitaraga i.e, where there is no attachment or hatred towards anyone, and gain omniscient knowledge.

Those souls (atmas) who have thus become Parmatmas are of two kinds, Jeevanmukta and Videhmukta. Those who have destroyed the four Ghati Karmas are called Jeevanmukta.

Jnana-varaniya, Darsana-varniya, Mohaniya, and Antaraya

Those who have destroyed the four further Karmas, known as Aghati Karmas are called Videhmukta or Siddha.

Nama, Gotra, Ayushya, and Vedniya

Jeevanmukta Parmatmas, Arhats, or Arihants impart their rare and unprecedented teachings to all to realize true happiness and ultimately attain the eternal bliss of the final beatitude (Moksha). The principles of Jain religion having been propounded by Veetraga (souls with no attachment or hatred) and Sarvajna (Omniscient) are universally wide and based on truth and for that very reason their universal beneficence can be said to be established and proved.

Ahimsa Parmo Dharma (nonviolence is the paramount religion) epitomize the true essence of Jainism. This suggests that one should bear love towards all living beings, as they are considered potentially divine in whatever form they exist. All of them have the capacity to be liberated from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth and attain eternal bliss. Attainment of the purity and liberation of the soul are achieved by the means of Right Faith, the Right Knowledge and the Right Conduct.

Jainism allows full freedom to all human beings to observe the vows and practice self-discipline. The vows to be observed by monks and nuns are stricter than those for lay people. The Jain religion preaches that even the smallest of the small living beings (jivas) should be given protection and should not be hurt. It is the teaching of Jainism that all living beings in the world desire to live. Death is not desired by anyone. All beings desire happiness, and dislike misery.

There is life (Jiva) even in earth, water, fire, air, and vegetables. The soul in all worldly living beings is potentially like the soul in us. There is no difference in the soul of an ant and that of an elephant, though the very same soul (Atma) takes the form of an ant as well as that of an elephant.

Contraction and expansion are its characteristic attributes and due to the bondage of karmas a soul finds itself born in any one of the eighty-four lack of forms of existence.

If any living being is ill disposed towards us, even so we must love and give protection to it, whether it is an animal or man. This is the magnanimity of Jain Religion. What a height of eminence! What a noble sentiment for universal welfare!

The Jain Religion preaches the Doctrines of Ahimsa (nonviolence), Satya (truth), Asteya (nonstealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy) and Aparigraha (nonattachment).