Jainism begins with a
serious concern for the human soul in its relationship with the
laws governing existence in the universe,with other living beings, and to its own
future state in eternity. First and foremost, it is a religion of the heart: the golden
rule is Ahimsa or nonviolence in all parts of a person-- mental,verbal, and physical.
Jains have deep compassion for all forms of life
Jainism offers a quiet, overwhelmingly serious way of life, a cultural insistence on
compassion, a society of ethics that has dramatically changed the world and will
continue to effect change. Jainism is an ecologically responsible way of life which is
nonviolent in thought, action, and deed.
Jina and the Soul
The "Jains" are the followers of the Jinas. "Jina" literally means "Conqueror." He
who has conquered love and hate, pleasure and pain, attachment and aversion, and
has thereby freed `his' soul from the karmas obscuring knowledge, perception,
truth, and ability, is a Jina. The Jains refer to the Jina as God.
Origins of Jainism
Originating on the Indian subcontinent, Jainism -- or, more properly, the Jain
Dharma -- is one of the oldest religions of its homeland and indeed of the world.
Jainism has prehistoric origins dating before 3000 BC, and before the beginning of
Jain religion is unique in that, during its existence of over 5000 years, it has never
compromised on the concept of nonviolence either in principle or practice. It
upholds nonviolence as the supreme religion (Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah) and has
insisted upon its observance in thought, word, and deed at the individual as well as
social levels. The holy text Tattvartha Sutra sums it up in the phrase
"Parasparopagraho Jivanam" (all life is mutually supportive). Jain religion presents a
truly enlightened perspective of equality of souls, irrespective of differing physical
forms, ranging from human beings to animals and microscopic living organisms.
Humans, alone among living beings, are endowed with all the six senses of seeing,
hearing, tasting smelling, touching, and thinking; thus humans are expected to act
responsibly towards all life by being compassionate, egoless,fearless, forgiving, and
The Jain Code of Conduct
In short, the code of conduct is made up of the following five vows, and all of their
logical conclusions: Ahimsa, Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Aparigraha
(non-possessiveness), and Brahmacharya (chastity). Jain religion focuses much
attention on Aparigraha, non-possessiveness towards material things through
self-control, self-imposed penance, abstinence from over-indulgence, voluntary
curtailment of one's needs, and the consequent subsiding of the aggressive urge.
Vegetarianism is a way of life for a Jain, taking its origin in the concept of
compassion for living beings, Jiva Daya. The practice of vegetarianism is seen as an
instrument for the practice of nonviolence and peaceful, cooperative coexistence.
Jains are strict vegetarians, consuming only one-sensed beings, primarily from the
plant kingdom. While the Jain diet does, of course, involve harm to plants, it is
regarded as a means of survival which involves the bare minimum amount of
violence towards living beings. (Many forms of plant material, including roots and
certain fruits, are also excluded from the Jain diet due to the greater number of
living beings they contain owing to the environment in which they develop.)
FOR MORE JAIN INFO:
World Religions at Mount Union College