Overview• Began by a man—later called Mahavira by his disciples—as a protest within Hinduism in the 6th century BC• Mahavira was believed to be the last “Tirthankara” (bridge builder between life and nirvana)• Grew unhappy with his life of wealth and privilege, left his family, tore out his hair by hand, and joined the ascetics
Overview• The ascetics he found were not severe enough, so he became more rigorous – Never stayed more than one night in any one place – As an adherent of “Ahimsa” (non-injury to life), he stayed off the road in rainy season to avoid stepping on insects. During the dry season he swept the road before him for the same reason – Strained all water to keep from swallowing insects – Begged for food, refused to eat raw food, and preferred what was left over from someone else’s meal – When dogs were set on him, he allowed himself to be bitten – Always went about naked
Overview• After 12 years of this lifestyle, he achieved moksha• Regarded by his followers as a “Jain” (conqueror) because he heroically conquered the forces of life. Died at the age of 72• “Agamas”, or precepts, (Jain Scriptures) are believed to be the actual sermons of Mahavira• By 80 AD there was division over true meaning of Jainism – Svetambra (white clad) reject nudity, believe women can find moksha and allow them into monasteries – Gigambara (sky clad) conservative, accept nudity (total nudity reserved for most holy), women cannot achieve moksha and cannot enter temples or monasteries. Mostly found in southern India
Overview Basic Philosophical World View Dualism. All souls are encased in matter. Aslong as the soul is so encased, it is in bondage. The goal is to liberate the soul from matter.Because the world is a dualism, we must avoidthe flesh. This must be done by the individual, so gods are of little consequence. Prayer and worship are useless.
Five Vows of Jain Monks• Non-injury to all life, “Ahimsa” (vegetarian and avoid leather)• Always speak the truth (often their search for truth leads to the view that truth is relative rather than absolute)• Take nothing that does not belong to them• Renounce all sexual pleasures (Mahavira renounced women altogether)• Renounce all attachments (true Jains must renounce their families)
Five Vows of Jain Monks All five vows must be kept bymonks. First three must be kept by all Jains. A Jain layperson may marry and have a family,understanding that this is not theideal life, and moksha will not be experienced this time around.