Jainism is one of the oldest religions
and its origins
lie in the country of India.
Theologians often classify Jainism as a
a way of living life, rather than a
GENERAL FACTS ABOUT JAINISM
The biggest event in the Jain calendar is the holy week (8-10
days) of Paryushan where Jains reflect upon their actions throughout the
past year. The week takes place in August or September and is concluded by a
three hour prayer called Pratikraman.
- The origins of Jainism can be traced back to the Indus River valley civilization of 3000
- Jains believe that there were 24 great teachers the last of whom was
Lord Mahavira who lived during 6th century B.C. These twenty-four
teachers are called Tirthankaras-people who had attained all knowledge
while living (Moksha) and preached it to the people. Thus, there is not
one all-powerful supreme being that controls all.
- Jains believe in reincarnation. Their souls, which are believed
to be a unique substance in the universe, take different living forms in the cycle of birth, death,
and rebirth. This cycle has been going on forever, the universe has no
beginning or end, it has always been and always will be. The ultimate
goal is to get rid of one's karma on their soul so that they may end this
cycle. Once this goal is reached their soul has attained all knowledge
and it rests in the heavens forever (Nirvana).
- Karma theory is about actions and the results they bring to the soul's
path. It is the simply the law of cause and effect with respect to the soul.
E.G. One's actions for today will effect what will happen to them in
this or their future lives.
- The way to get rid of one's karma is to follow certain rules of
doing good somewhat similar to the ten commandments. These include the
- Ahimsa - To protect all life (non-violence)
- Satya - To speak truth
- Asteya - To not steal
- Brahmacharya - To not commit adultery
- Aparigraha - To limit one's possessions
- Jains uphold these principles by practicing vegetarianism,
non-violence in thought, deed, and action.
- Jains perform their sacred rituals at the temple or Derasar. Some
of these rituals are:
- Puja - Concentrating on one's soul through intense prayer sometimes
in the presence of sculptures of the teachers to serve as an example of
how to attain Moksha.
- Samayik - Forty-eight minute ritual that asks for forgiveness for
- Namokar Mantra - A short prayer that can be said at any time that
shows obeisance to the perfect souls that have achieved Nirvana.
Taken from the flyer we pepared for Diversity Days Program, Religion
Day-Febuary 10, 1997-UMJains
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