What is Jainism? <br />Jainism an ancient religion from India that prescribes a path of non-violence for all forms of living beings in this world. <br />Its philosophy and practice relies mainly on self effort in progressing the soul on the spiritual ladder to God consciousness. <br />Jainism is often referred to as Jain Dharma.<br />In the modern world, it is a small but influential religious minority with as many as 4 million followers in India and else where around the world. <br />Jains have sustained the ancient Shraman or ascetic religion and have significantly influenced other religious, ethical, political, and economic spheres in India.<br />Jains have an ancient tradition of scholarship and have the highest degree of literacy in India.<br />Jain libraries are the oldest in the country.<br />
What is Jainism?<br />Jainism differs from other religions in its concept of God. Jainism regards every living soul as potentially divine. When the soul sheds its karmic bonds completely, it attains God-consciousness. It prescribes a path of non-violence to progress the soul to this ultimate goal.<br />
What is Jainism?<br />True spirituality, according to enlightened Jains, starts when one attains Samyakdarshana, or true perception. Such souls are on the path to moksha, striving to remain in the nature of the soul. This is characterized by knowing and observing only all worldly affairs, without raag (attachment) and dwesh (repulsion), a state of pure knowledge and bliss. Attachment to worldly life collects new karmas, and traps one in birth, death, and suffering. Worldly life has a dual nature (for example, love and hate, suffering and pleasure, etc.), for the perception of one state cannot exist without the contrasting perception of the other.<br />Jain Dharma shares some beliefs with Hinduism. Both believe in karma and reincarnation. However, the Jain version of the Ramayana and Mahabharatais different from Hindu beliefs, for example. Generally, Hindus believe that Rama was a reincarnation of God, whereas Jains believe he attained moksha (liberation) because they are free from any belief in a creator god.<br />Along with the Five Vows, Jains avoid harboring ill will and practice forgiveness. They believe that atma(soul) can lead one to becoming parmatma (liberated soul) and this must come from one's inner self. Jains refrain from all violence (Ahimsa) and recommend that sinful activities be avoided.<br />
Jain Division <br />It is generally believed that the Jain religion divided into two major sects, Digambar and Svetambar, about 200 years after Mahāvīra's nirvana.<br />The differences between are basically minor (until women are involved). <br />Digambar Jain monks do not wear clothes. They believe clothes, like other possessions, increase dependency and desire for material things. <br />In the Jain religion the desire for anything ultimately leads to sorrow. <br />Svetambar Jain monks, wear white, seamless clothes for practical reasons.<br /> They believe there is nothing in Jain scripture that condemns wearing clothes. <br />Sadhvis (nuns) of both sects wear white. <br />
Views on Women <br />In the time of Mahavira, Jainism brought a more enlightened attitude to Indian religious culture.<br />Jainism is a religion of equality<br />Jainism is a religion of religious equality, devoted to recognising the rights of all living creatures, so not surprisingly it accepts that women are able to play their part on the road to liberation.<br />But although Jainism is in many ways dedicated to equality, for some Jains a woman's very femaleness creates spiritual inequality.<br />The sectarian divide<br />The Digambara Jain sect believes that women cannot achieve liberation without being reborn as men first. The Svetambara sect disagrees.<br />Nakedness<br />DigambaraJains hold this view because they believe that nakedness is an essential element of the road to liberation.<br />Mahavira himself, whose life shows Jains the way to liberation, set an example of total nudity that Digambaras believe monks should follow. Since women are not allowed to be naked in public they cannot achieve liberation directly, and so are seen as second-class citizens.<br />This ban on female nakedness is partly intended to protect both men and women:<br />If women went around naked it would cause men to experience sexual desire and the desire produced would hinder the man's progress to liberation.<br />Naked women would feel ashamed of being naked and the feeling of shame would hinder their progress to liberation.<br />It's also intended to prevent the disruptive consequences of allowing women to walk around naked.<br />
Views on Women<br />Ahimsa and women<br />Digambaras also believe that women are basically harmful. This comes partly from a belief that menstrual blood kills micro-organisms living in the female body.<br />The killing of the micro-organisms is said to show that a female body is less non-violent than a male body - although that idea doesn't have any scientific support and isn't found in modern Jain thinking.<br />Impurity<br />Some Jain texts say that menstrual blood is a sign of impurity.<br />But the idea that women are spiritually impure because of menstruation is a rather odd basis for a Jain argument, since Jainism usually concerns itself with thinking, speaking, and acting rightly - there isn't any other area where Jainism says that involuntary bodily functions are a spiritual obstacle.<br />Attachment<br />Another argument is that because a woman's nature is to care for children and other dependants, she will find it much more difficult to break free from these earthly attachments, and unless she does this, she cannot achieve liberation.<br />As per Jainism both men and women are supposed to play their common roles of helping each other, working for the common welfare of all humanity, and protecting the environment.<br />
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