4 million in world, 75K in United States, many in U.K.


“Jain” = “a follower of a Jina.” 

Jina means victor or conqueror - one who has achieved complete victory over attachments and aversions.  A Jain is someone who reveres and follows these persons and regards their teachings as authoritative.


The word “Jina” tells us something about Jainism: Jainism’s emphasis on non-violence does not mean that they stress docility or meekness.  Jainism’s teaching are full of martial values.  The Jina is a conqueror - someone who might have been a conqueror of the world but instead transposed the war from the outer battlefield to the inner one.


Jinas also called “Tirthankaras” - “one who establishes a “tirth” (ford or crossing) across “the ocean of existence (as called by Hindus and Jains).


An infinity of Tirthankaras have come and gone in the universe -- even now there are Tirthankaras teaching in other parts of the cosmos.  In ours, 24 have come and gone in the present cosmic period.  The first (Risabha) lived for 8.4 million years.


The self is ensnared in repeating cycles of death and rebirth; liberation is escape from this cycle


Karma (with a Jain twist): Jains maintain that karma is an actual physical matter that is attracted to the soul by an individual’s actions; it adheres to the soul because of the individual’s desires and aversions.


Moksha: visualized as a process occurring in stages (though it can occur quickly in some extraordinary individuals)


The cosmos is envisioned as a colossal standing human figure:

At the base are the hells, populated by extremely wicked beings

The middle world is represented by a thin disc -- this is where humans live.  Here is where karma can be overcome.  Deities come and go, they too are not absolute

Top of the world is where perfected souls dwell - represented by a crescent moon or a kind of inverted umbrella.


The Life of Lay Persons

In Jain culture, lay persons cannot inflict harm on any form of life and are thus generally vegetarians.They are also expected to abstain from acts of violence and avoid any form of labor or activities where the destruction of life might occur.
Without practising the intense ascetism of nuns and monks, lay persons are nevertheless enjoined to live by vows known as the anuvratas or lesser vows which closely parallel the so-called greater vows taken by the nuns and monks.

Meditation also forms an integral part of Jain life. Jains practice a form of meditation known as Samayika which focus on establishing a peaceful state of mind.

Worship in the home as well as in temples also forms an important part of Jainism. Jain homes usually have wooden shrines that are modeled after the stone temples. Jain worship may involve the chanting of mantras or gazing upon an image of one of the gods known as the puja. There are also more elaborate rituals in Jain worship involving the decoration or anointing of images.




Jain images:  marked by tremendous restraint; holds nothing in the hands; elongated arms and broad shoulders; Jinas are almost indistinguishable from each other;








I.  Introductory Points



Exemplifies in extreme the path of action (works), karma

Coupled with idea of non-violence (ahimsa)

Ahimsa, non-violence.  Non-injury to any living being.  All living things have a soul > monks protect against


No God


Liberation (moksha) entails freeing the soul from the material fetters of karma, upon which it rising to the


While reading on Jainism, think about the different aspects described above, and compare with Hinduism, Buddhism.  Will do the same for Islam and Sikhism.


II. History


Jainism appeared in present form, about 2500 years ago

Speculative period: Upanishads, Buddhism


Orthodox / Heterodox


The followers of the victor


2 million Indian adherents, 4 million in world


Liberation through rigorous personal discipline and denial of the body



Ahimsa: non0injury of any living being




Appeared in present form about 2500 years ago -- formative period

            Non-Brahmanical, lay, unorthodox

            Rejected hereditary priesthood, sacrifices, many rituals


No split between mind and emotion

Desires, attachments, passions have the effect of binding the soul with karmic matter


The goal of religion: “moksha” -- liberation from all passions and desires, freedom from subtle bonds of matter


Tirthankaras (“ford finders”): 24 who corssoed over, transcended the river of life, found freedom from the clutches of matter.

Scholars believe that the first 22 Tirthankaras are mythic



Jiva: soul.  Main feature is awareness, consciousness

siddha: liberated jiva. no karma or rebirth, reside at uppermost part of universe (siddhashila); perfect knowledge andperception, infinite bliss


Jivas are found on earth, as well as in the water, air, and sky, and are
scattered all over the universe. Human beings, celestial beings,
infernal beings, animals, fish, birds, bugs, insects, plants, etc. are
the most common forms of Jiva with which we can easily relate. However,
Jain scriptures state that there are 8.4 million species of Jiva in
all.  They are known by the senses they possess. There are five senses
in all, namely those of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing.
Different types of Jivas possess one or more of these senses.  Based
upon the number of senses and mobility, Jivas are classified into two


Jains believe that time is infinite, without any beginning or end. Time
is divided into infinite equal time cycles (Kalchakras). Every time
cycle is further sub-divided in two equal halves. The first half is the
progressive cycle or ascending order, called Utsarpini.  The other half
is the regressive cycle or the descending order, called Avasarpini.
Every Utsarpini and Avasarpini is divided into six unequal periods
called Äräs.  During the Utsarpini half cycle, progress, development,
happiness, strength, age, body, religious trends, etc. go from the
worst conditions to the best. During the Avasarpini half cycle,
progress, development, happiness, strength, age, body, religious
trends, etc. go from the best conditions to the worst. Presently, we
are in the fifth Ara of the Avasarpini phase. When the Avasarpini phase
ends the Utsarpini phase begins. This kälchakra repeats again and
continues forever.





Maya (world as illusion) is rejected.  Mind and matter are eternally separate. The visible universe is continually in the process of change but indestructible.  Has its own internal prinicples.




sansari jiva: non-liberated jiva