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Jainism: Beliefs

Page history last edited by Rachel Madigin 12 years, 1 month ago

Jainism: Beliefs


v  What is Jainism’s belief of a god(s)?

Jains do not believe in a single creator-god. They worship the twenty-four tirthankara of the present cycle of time. Mahavira is often thought of as the founder, or the rediscoverer, of the principles of Jainism. Twenty-four tirthankara are those who were able to achieve divine perfection and are worthy of worship. The twenty-four tirthankara are not belived to be creators of the world, laws, human, etc but more an inspiration. Since everyone, the ability to achieve perfection everyone is able to become a “god”. For the reason of the Jains not believing in a god they are sometimes considered atheist and not so much a religion but a philosophy of life.

v  What is main belief of the Jainism religion?

The main belief of the Jainism religion is that all creatures contain living souls and all deserve to be treated with respect. This is the reason that Jains believe in a completely nonviolent lifestyle. The goal of a Jain is to achieve a state of liberation and enlightenment, and to escape the cycle of birth and death or reincarnation.

v  What are the two divisions of Jainism?

The two divisions of Jainism are the Digambara (which means "sky-clad") and the Svetambara (meaning "white-clad"), Svetambara being the less strict division of Jainism. The main difference between the two divisions are as follows:

o    Digambaras believe that women much be reincarnated into men before they reach the stage of liberation, where as the Svetambaras do.

o    Digambaras think that the tirhankaras do not need food or have bodily functions, and do not carry out functions in the world.

o    Digambaras believe that you can only be freed from the cycle of reincarnation by completely giving up all worldly possessions, including clothes, dishes, and gifts that cannot be taken in the hand.


v  What are the Five Great Vows?

o    ahimsa, or not killing and not injuring all living things;

o    satya, or speaking only the truth;

o    asteya, or not taking, stealing, and being greedy;

o    brahmacharya, or celibacy (not having sex), and giving up all sensual pleasure;

o    aparigraha, or detachment and not being either delighted or disturbed by any outward experience.

These are the Five Great Vows and they apply to all monks and nuns. However, because not all followers are nuns or monks the “householders” adapt these vows to suite everyday life. Married Jains do not practice celibacy but avoid “physical passions” to rule their lives. As well as householders have personal possessions unlike monks and nuns they give to charities to balance the vow of nonattachment.


v  What are the Three Jewels?

Liberation is achieved through the Three Jewels these are:

o    Right faith (samyak darshana) – also meaning right perception, seeing clearly, avoiding superstition, discovering the truth

o    Right knowledge (samyak jnana) – understanding the universe

o    Right conduct (samyak charitra) – the way people live their lives, free from impure desires, attitudes, and thoughts



v  The two main prayers of the Jainism religion

The essential Jain prayer is called a the Namaskar, the purpose is not to ask for anything but to help the worshiper reach the state of detachment.



I bow down to those who have reached omniscience in the flesh and teach the road to everlasting life in the liberated state.

     I bow down to those who have attained perfect knowledge and liberated their souls of all karma.

     I bow down to those who have experienced self-realization of their souls through self-control and self-sacrifice.

     I bow down to those who understand the true nature of soul and teach the importance of the spiritual over the material.

     I bow down to those who strictly follow the five great vows of conduct and inspire us to live a virtuous life.

     To these five types of great souls I offer my praise.

     Such praise will help diminish my sins.

     Giving this praise is most auspicious.

     So auspicious as to bring happiness and bliss.


There is also the prayer for forgiveness, which is recited to ask for forgiveness, confess their sins, and ask for peace.


          I grant forgiveness to all living beings.

          May all the living beings please forgive me.     

          I have friendship with all the living beings.                    

          I have no hostility towards anyone.          


v  Jainism and Vegetarianism


     Jains and all vegetarians as they will not harm living things including using them for nourishment. Some Jains are more serious about being a vegan than others, as some will not even eat the roots because there may be organisms living there that we cannot see.


v  Jainism and Reincarnation


     According to the Jains when a person dies, their soul is reassigned to another body. This body can be of an animal, human. Depending on how the person lived determines how they will live in there reincarnated life, this is called karma. To the Jainism religion, karma is something that is attracted to the body and is present everywhere in the universe. There is non-harmful karma, which determines a person’s life span, social status, and feelings. There is harmful karma, which attracts characteristics such as greed, pride, and anger. A person that has been enlightened is free of all bad things and cannot do anything wrong, they live in a state of pure happiness and knowledge. The only way for a Jain to experience evil is that of which he/ she create for themselves, evil existence is created from failure of people to achieve perfection.


v  The Souls of the Jains



     The Jains believe that everything has a soul that lives forever, it is what experiences, and is responsible for the actions. There is to be believed of five different types of souls, which are:



1.    Ekendriya, or beings with just one sense, touch. These beings are generally thought of as inanimate. "Earth-bodied" beings include sand, metal, and clay. "Water-bodied" beings include ice, rain, and fog. "Fire-bodied" beings include lightning and fire. "Air-bodied" beings include gases and wind. Finally, "Plant-bodied" beings include trees, grass, and flowers.

2.    Beindriya are beings with two senses, touch, and taste. Included in this category are such creatures such as worms.

3.    Treindriya are those with three senses (smell, taste, and touch) and include such creatures such as moths, beetles, and ants.

4.    Chaurindriya have four senses, adding sight to touch, taste, and smell. These include somewhat higher creatures such as scorpions, locusts, and wasps.

5.    Panchendriya are beings with all five senses, adding hearing. Included in this category are higher animals, such as human beings, heavenly beings, and infernal beings, or souls that suffer in hell.

List of souls and description is copied from:

"JainismWorld Religions Reference LibraryEds. Michael O'Neal and J. Jones. Vol. 2. Detroit: UXL, 2007. 21 pp. 6 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. CLARINGTON PUBLIC LIBRARY (CELPLO). 22 Sept. 2008 






"JainismWorld Religions Reference LibraryEds. Michael O'Neal and J. Jones. Vol. 2. Detroit: UXL, 2007. 21 pp. 6 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. CLARINGTON PUBLIC LIBRARY (CELPLO). 22 Sept. 2008 



Fohr, Sherry. "JainismWorldmark Encyclopedia of Religious PracticesEd. Thomas Riggs. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 2006. 23 pp. 3 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. CLARINGTON PUBLIC LIBRARY (CELPLO). 22 Sept. 2008 



Bowker, John, ed. The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. New York: Oxford UP, 1999.


Deleon , Lucy R. World Religion Class.. 19 Sep. 2008 http://www.angelfire.com/realm3/lucyrdeleon/.

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