The followers of this religion believe that its roots within India are even
older than the Brahmanism (Hinduism) which they believe came with the people (
the Aryans ) migrating from other parts of the world (near the Caspian Sea ).
The naked statues resembling the Jain monks amongst the remains of the Indus
Valley Civilization, do substantiate some of the claims. However, there is no
conclusive evidence that most of the concepts in Hinduism came from outside
India. In fact, even the Aryan invasion theory has not yet been proven . In
those days, people from other parts of the world came to India in a gradual
manner. India offered milder climatic conditions and where, agriculture was
better developed than several other places in the neighbouring countries.
Gradually, these people adopted the life style prevalent in India and that is
how, it is a country made up of different kinds of people and in real sense, it
is a melting pot.
Jainism lays heavy emphasis on non-violence (ahimsa) and the believers of
this religion, whether a monk or a householder, follow a very strict, well
disciplined life. In fact, the householders are supposed to evolve to the
monkhood in the later stages of life as was the case with the Hinduism in the
The first Tirthankar, Rishabhdev flourished prior to the Indus Valley
Civilization and has been referred to as Lord Vishnu in the Puraanas. This name
is also mentioned in the Vedas. This shows the inseparability of the two
religions in the earlier times. His sons, Bharat and Bahubali (his 57 feet high
statue at Shravanabelgo in Karnataka is quite famous) are well known in the
The ancient Indian script, Braahmi, is believed to be named after his
(Rishabhdev's) daughter. He was followed by 23 other Tirthankars who did not
necessarily follow in a continuous manner, one after another. Their names are:
3. Sambhava ------- --------------------------------------------
6. Padmaprabha-------The Jains believe that the Indus Valley
7. Supaarshva------------Civilization flourished during the times
8. Chandraprabha----------between the third and the ninth
9. Pushpadanta------------------- Tirthankaras
10. Shitalnatha--------- The Aryans arrived into India
19. Mallinaatha-------The Aryanization of India complete
The birth places of the 13th, 19 - 21, and 24th Tirthankaras were in Bihar ;
and on the hills of Parasnath (Shikharjee), 20 out of 24 Tirthankaras obtained
nirvana. Lord Mahavira obtained nirvana at Pawapuri in Bihar.
Magadha was the center of Jainism in the written history of India. Starting
with Bimbisar, the kings of the Nanda dynasty and the early Maurya dynasty were
believers of Jainism, according to the Jain literature.The Hindus consider them
to be the believers in the Hinduism. Lord Mahavira gave his first sermon on the
Vipula Peak at Rajgir. He was born at Vaishali in a noble family. They practised
democracy in Vaishali, and some of the remains of the glories of those days, is
still preserved in a museum there. It includes, potteries, coins,
and other pieces of art. The 23rd and the 24th Tirthankaras had tremendous
impact on Hinduism which had degenerated because of (a) the practice of the
untouchability of the shudras, (b) the animal sacrifices in the yajnas, and (c)
the dominance by the brahmin caste in the religious matters. Both these
Tirthankaras were kshatrias and were princes. Lord Mahavira was given a name -
Vardhamana, which means rising or growing, by his parents because the family saw
its prosperity after his birth. They were strict followers of the 23rd
Tirthankara who had lived around 250 years before Lord Mahavira. Vardhamana
renounced the world at the age of 30, became ascetic and then spiritually
advanced through the stages of Arhat to Kevalin or Jina (conqueror of the self).
In the Pali Buddhist texts, he is referred to as the Niggantha Nataputta. After
leaving home, for twelve years, he devoted himself to self discipline and
practised severest penance and austerities. He preached for the next 30 years,
i.e. until the age of 72 when he obtained nirvana. His first sermon was at Mount
Vipula, one of the five hills surrounding Rajgir. His first disciple was
Indrabhuti Gautama. The female ascetics of the order were headed by Chandana and
the male laity, by Shrenika also called Bimbisara, the emperor of Magadha. In
his teachings, women had equal role to play. They were not looked down upon.
JAINISM IN INDIA AFTER LORD MAHAVIRA
This religion flourished in Magadha and elsewhere because of the strong
rulers at Pataliputra. At the time of Alexander the Great's invasion on the
borders of the Magadha Empire, it was the Jain rulers who were in firm control
at Pataliputra. Alexander's forces were tired and did not advance any further to
challenge this empire.
Many centuries later, there was a famine in Magadha and it led to mass
migration of the population to South India (present day Karnataka) and after
some time, another migration took place to Gujarat (Girnar). The first group was
called Svetambars because they started wearing white clothes, whereas the other
ones (Digambars). These were strict and not willing to change. A third
influential group developed after migration from Bihar to near Mathura, which
tried to patch up between these two groups for a long time. Udaygiri (Orrisa)
was also, one of the important Jain centres. In the olden days, this religion
was also practised in Sri Lanka. All of this happened approximately 2000 years
THE JAIN DOCTRINE
Since it is very old religion, it has a well developed doctrinal basis
comprising of (a) metaphysics and ontology, (b) cosmology and cosmography, (c)
theology and mythology, and (d) ethics, etc. It discourages superstition and
blind faith and encourages free and rational thinking.
1. Metaphysics and Ontology - It starts with the axiom that nothing is
destructible i.e. nothing can be created out of nothing - which is also common
to the Samkhya system. The cosmos or universe is uncreated and real by virtue of
its being existential. Therefore it is eternal, everlasting, without a beginning
and without an end. It differs from Vedantic concept or proof of the Creator.
Jiva (living beings) are infinite number of souls (spirit units). The non
living (Ajiva) belong to five categories (a) matter (pudgala), (b) medium of
motion (dharma), (c) medium of rest (adharma), (d) space (akasha), and (e) time
2. Classes of Jivas (souls) - They are of two kinds, ( a ) the liberated
(mukta) and ( b ) the mundane or embodied (Samsari). The second kind are mobile
and immobile. The souls embodied in earth, water, fire, air and vegetation are
immobile kind and have, one sense organ. There is marked difference between the
Hinduism and this religion here because, even for those Hindus who believe in
the duality - air or water, etc., the inert substances , are not considered to
have embodied souls.
Among the mobile living beings there are different kinds. There are some
which have between two to five sense organs, and only a few of the five sensed
beings are equipped with mind and intelligence; others do not have this faculty.
The mundane Jivas go through the cycles of birth and death until they attain
3. The Karma Doctrine - It is quite different from those of the Hindus. Here
karma is a subtle matter which flows into the soul when the latter comes under
the influence of attachment (raga) or aversion (dvesa). The mundane soul has to
go through the cycle of birth and death unless it frees itself from the karmic
matter which clings to it and which can be of two types (a) bhava karmas
(involving feelings, emotions, passions) and (b) dravya karmas (material forms).
To get the soul free, one has to basically perform all satvik actions, even
in Jainism. The difference here is that there is no merger of this soul with the
Parmatman because It does not exist for the Jains as it does for the Hindus .
The Jainist Theory of Karma is founded on simple law of cause and effect. No
effect is without a cause. One has to bear, sooner or later, the consequences of
one's actions; it is not possible to escape from them. The diversities in the
physical and mental conditions, etc. at the birth of human beings or other
living beings, can easily be explained by this theory. With its help, one can
also prove the Theory of the Transmigration of Souls. It shows that the human
beings themselves are the preserver or dispenser of justice. It inspires persons
to get their souls free of the karmic forces by developing will power and proper
4. Divinity - The Jain concept of divinity is unique. Here each of the
souls, after freeing the karmic material becomes 'svambhu' and is transformed
into divinity. It is a state of highest spiritual evolution. The Siddhas and
Arhatas represent two types of divinities; the former are absolutely liberated
and the latter, those obtained emancipation (Jivan Mukta) from life. These (the
latter ones) are also called Kevalins or Jinas.
Jainism believes in Godhood but does not believe God to be the First Cause
as in the Advait philosophy. There are large pantheon of godlings, celestials or
angels who are superhuman in this religion just like the Hindu gods. These
beings are also considered mortal just like humans.
5. Pragmatic Optimism - This world is looked upon as `Vale of Tears'. It
involves suffering, struggle, anxiety, etc. One reaches the end of journey after
6. The Jains believe in Idol Worship just like the Hindus.
THE TEACHINGS OF LORD MAHAVIRA
Lord Mahavira was born on March 30, 599 B.C. and attained the nirvana in the
year 527 B.C. at the age of 72. He was a contemporary of Lord Buddha. He was the
24th and the last of the Tirthankars. The present form of Jainism was shaped by
The cardinal principles of Jainism are:
1. Ahimsa (non-violence)
2. Anekantvada (multiplicity of views)
3. Aparigraha (non-possessiveness)
The first and the third are quite simple to understand but the second one
needs some explanation. It is dealt under 'Multiplicity of Viewpoints and
Relativism (Syadavada)', in the Jain literature. Difference of view points,
quite often, add to the knowledge and one should infer, only after hearing
diverse views on any subject. If it is not done, then the conclusions
reached could be biased or incorrect. It provides for the tolerance for the
views of the others. One can have a better perception only after hearing others.
For example, we are all familiar with the story of the eight blind men and an
elephant. There the views expressed about the elephant by each of the blind men
were correct but only partial knowledge could be obtained from any one view. The
total knowledge about the elephant could be had only by listening to all of
An object can, on occasions, be described by two completely opposite
statements, i.e. it is (ASTI) and it is not (NASTI). These two statements can be
made referring to (1) substance, (2) place, (3) time, and (4) form. Let us take
an example of a piece of furniture. A piece of furniture made of jungle wood is
not made of sandal wood. Similarly, it could be located in a given room but not
in other rooms. Thus, it can be specified in either way which seem to be
opposite to each other. This way of specification is called ASTI - NASTI - VADA.
Another set of logic lines has been developed by the Jain thinkers which
postulate that there can be as many as seven modes of prediction in a given
case. This introduces an element of uncertainty in the predictions and therefore
introduces the concept of probability. This is called Syadavada or the doctrine
of `may be '.
If we consider the Jainist and the Vedantic philosophies, we will find that
both are correct in their own ways. They do not contradict each other. The Jain
philosophy does not go into the depth of the process of creation as does the
Vedantism and therefore it ( Vedantism ) arrives at the conclusion of The God as
the First Cause. On the other hand, the Jainism comes up with the understanding
of the complexity of the universe for the common humans and proposes the
Syadavada which is a marvellous concept of accommodation which is necessary for
the correct evaluation of anything. The Jainism defines life in almost
everything, and therefore, preaches non-violence of extreme degree.
In summary, the Jains consider the highest ideal - Tirthankara who possesses
infinite knowledge, infinite bliss and infinite power. This blissful state is
similar to that of Vedantic `Chitananda'. Jainism makes distinction between
Arhat and Siddha which are analogous to the Vedantic Jivan Mukta (free form
life) and Videha Mukta ( free from body ). A Jivan Mukta might also be a Videha
Mukta as in the case of King Janaka. Tirthankaras are those Siddhas who profound
the truth during their life time which is a higher thing. The Jains have Arhats,
the Siddhas, and the Tirthankaras who in the simpler terms and in the
corresponding manner are: those who deserve, those who accomplish, and those who
sanctify. It is possible for every man to attain the highest state. Tirthankaras
take the place of God in the Jain philosophy.
VAISHALI, THE FIRST KNOWN REPUBLIC
IN THE WORLD
The history of Vaishali dates back to pre-historic ages. The name of the
King Vishala is mentioned in Puraanas like Varaha, Narada, Markandeya and
At the time of Lord Mahavira it was a famous religious center of Jainism.
Lord Mahavira was born when this place was at the peak of prosperity and it was
encompassed within three walls with their separate gates and watch towers. There
were variety of structures, houses and palaces. The chiefs were elected by the
citizens ( men and women ).
When Lord Buddha renounced this world, and became a monk, he came here in
search of a guru. It is believed that Alara Kalama was his first teacher. Uddaka
was another guru. Lord Buddha went through Jain method of self discipline but he
found that the Jainists practised extreme penance and austerity. So he left
Vaishali and went south towards Rajgriha (Rajgir) and then to Gaya. He made
several trips to Vaishali during his life time.
Vaishali maintained its position for several centuries in the Indian
History. There were matrimonial relationships between the Lichhavi princesses of
Vaishali and several kings of the Magadha Empire. The second Buddhist Council
was held here. Therefore, it is an important place for the Hindus, Jains, and
MOUNT VIPUL AT RAJGIR
Lord Mahavira obtained enlightenment on Mount Vipul at Rajgir. This mountain
is in front of Hot Springs at Rajgir . The author took the photographs below in
February 19, 2009. The sequence of photographs are in the order as we enter the
mountain area to the top where there is the main temple showing Lord
Mahavira’s statues ( four in total; pointing in four cardinal directions.
Nearby, on the top, there two other temples which includes one for
Sheetalnath. The photographs on the top also show the beautiful views of
surrounding mountains. The Jain Pilgrims walk on foot climbing up and down
on these high mountains. One can not see the top of Mount Vipul from the
base or the foot of the mountains. It has a tedious climb.