Jain Dharm

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Himanshu Bhatt

The official Jain flag.

Jainism recognizes two fundamental principles. They are:

  1. The jiva tattva - It means living objects.
  2. The ajiva tattva - It means non-living objects

These two principles come into contact with one another and forge certain energies that bring forth birth, various experiences of life and death. There is a five-fold ethical code in Jainism. It is as follows:

  1. Ahiñsā - non-violence
  2. Satya - truth
  3. Asteya - non-stealing
  4. Brahmacharya - celibacy
  5. Aparigraha - non-acceptance of gifts

Jains consider themselves as Hindus,[1] and it was actually Dayanand Saraswati who had urged government legislation to have them recognized as distinct from the Hindu community.

"the kinship of the religions of India stems from the fact that Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs look back to Hinduism as their common mother."[2] - S. Vernon McCasland

Pan-Hindu monarchs, while being devout to a particular sect themselves were open to accepting and supporting their family members being of any other sect. King Kharvela the Jain king of Kalinga was called a "sarva pasanda pujaka"[3] and "sarva devayatana samskarana".[4][5] Line 17th of his Hatigumpha inscription also reveals that he repaired the temples of all the deities.[6][7]

Origin of Jainism

The origin of Jainism is such that it claims to be established by Rishabha, Kashyapa (perhaps refering to Rishabha), or in one case Gautama[8].

Jains have historically also been known as Nigranthas, Nagnas, and Kshapanakas.

Harmony of Jainism with other sects

Jain Dharma has been harmonious with other sects, including mainstream Hindu Dharma.

Haribhadra wrote of Shiva as Mahadeva and him being the jina free from all passions, on the cult, knowledge, renunciations, etc.[9]

Malli Reddi though a Jain of a Jain family is said to be the uplifter of four doctrines (Jain, Saiva, Vaisnava, and Bauddha.) He even built 21 temples to merit his ancestors up to 21 generations.[10]

Mandala Purusha's Suddmani Nigandu or Sulatnani Nigandu dictionary uses the same generic word to refer to deities of different doctrines whether for Jina, Brahman or Pangayan, Siva, or others.[11]

Asadhara composed the Jinasahasranama in the mid-13th century and it in the Jina is repeatedly compared with Mahadeva Sadasiva and Brahma.[12]

Ravisena identifies Rishabhadeva as Shiva and Swayambhu. In the Mahapurana of Jinasena-Gunabhadra, the Jina is called the creator and destroyer of the universe.

Jain Dharm
That which is formless is given a form (rupa.) He is the form of the universe, the Lord of the World. It is the embodiment (murti) of enlightenment (kevala-jnana), the one who has conquered all passions, the Jina lord. The embodiment of the Jina shows the teacher of the world as absorbed in The Ultimate (Brahma)."[13]
Jain Dharm

—Jaya Samhita

An inscription belonging to Saundatti town Ratta Dynasty's period reads[14]:

Jayanti yasyāvadato 'pi bhārati
Vibhutayas tirthakrto'pi...
Sivāya dhātre sugatāya visnave
jināya tasmai sakalātmane namah

This shows the belief that all Hindu religions, whether Shaivism, Buddhism, Vaishnavism, Jainism, or others, they are all valid.

A silasasana in Belur from 1380 CE declares that Lord Kesava of Belur is identical with "whomsoever the Vedāntins in their heart adore under the name of Brahm, or the Saivites under the name of Siva, or the Bauddhas under the Buddha, the Naiyāyikas skilled in the pramanas under the name of Kartā, whomsoever the Jains understand by Arhat, whomsoever the Mimāmsakas call Karma."[15]

A Jain inscription reads[16]:

Yo viṣvam vedavedyam jananajalanidher bhanginah pāradrṣvā
paurvāparyāviruddham vacanam anupamam niṣkalankam yadiyam
tam vande sādhuvandyam sakalagunanidhim dhvastadoṣadviṣantam
buddham vā vardhamānam ṣtadalinilayam keṣavam vā ṣivam vā

Celini, a Vaishnava of the Sinhdudesi royal family married Srenika the Jain, and the two stayed in their respective religions.[17]

Brahm in Jainism

Although Jain scriptures normally focus on achieving the statehood of the Jina, rather than explain a Supreme Jina to which all Jinas belong, there latter does find mention. The notion of a Supreme above all is clear in some Jain scriptures. There has been association between Tirthankaras and Brahm (Brāhman) within the texts. The second, Tirthankar, Ajita in the Svayambhu Stotra[18] is described as "Brahma-nisṭha"[19] and is requested to bestow "Jinasri" on the devotee.[20] Later in the same scripture,[21] Brahmā is described of as being the highest principle, "ahiñsa bhutanam jagati viditam brahma paramair." There is also Jinesvara Suri's Gaharayanakoṣa scripture which begins first with a prayer to Jina, and then Brahman.[22]

The name Brahmā (not to be confused with Brāhma) has been used in Jainism also in titles conferred on both Jain scholars and temples. Hasmukhlal Dhirajlal Sankalia suggests that names like Brahmasaraṇu suggest the person has realized or is after Brahman [23] There were some great scholars who took this title and examples are Brahmachintamani, Brahmaguṇadasa, Brahmajinadasa, Brahmajinasagara, Brahmananka, Brahmapunyasagara and Brahmasantidas. Furthermore, the Parsvadeva Basadi, a temple of Parshvanatha of Tailangere is known as Brahma Jinalaya.

Some scholars make it clear that Brahman is an entity and Supreme Brahman and even compare it to personifications of God Almighty. The Jain Scholar Yogindu called Paramātma by many names including Brahman and Jinadeva.[24] He writes, "Jinadeva is present in all the temples of the body and man would be fool to seek him in temples." He compares the perfection of Jina to other names that the perfect entity is called. The body, etc. are not the highest self that is here known stainless (nirmala), timeless (niṛkala), pure, Jina, Śiva, Viṣṇu and peaceful.[25] He also says, "If the highest Brahman is not realized through great meditation one has to wander infinitely suffering the miseries of transmigration."

A few scholars have made it a required belief to believe in the Supreme Jina. Acārya Vijay Bhuvanbhanusuri writes, "If philosophers do not believe in the omniscient Jinendradeva as the reverend Supreme Lord, then there is no Jainatva[26] in them." A Jain scripture says one "should center one's mind, heart and soul in mastering intellectual recognition-perception of the Supreme Self through philosophic erudition and thus ultimately become himself the Lord of Lords namely the dispassionate Jinendradeva."[27]

In the Mahāpurāṇa of Jinasena-Guṇabhadra, the Jina is called the creator and destroyer of the universe. The following is an excerpt from a Jain scripture:

That which is formless is given a form.[28] He is the form of the universe, the lord of the world. It is the embodiment (murti) of enlightenment (kevala-jnāna), the one who has conquered all passions, the Jina lord. The embodiment of the Jina shows the teacher of the world as absorbed in the ultimate (Brahmā).[29]

Sureśvara was the chief disciple of Adi Shankar Acharya and he used the word ātmā to connote the Brahman at times and other times the jivatma.[30] Digambara Jain scholar Vijayananda in his Astasahasri quotes Suresvara's Brhadaranyakopanishad-bhasya-varttika.[31]

Many Jains, especially renowned scholars have denied that Jainism is atheist. Renowned Jain philosopher, Vijayasena Suri in the court of Akbar when accused of preaching atheism declared that Jainism's belief is not atheistic and is similar to the Sañkhya of Kapila.[32] Sañkhya advocates a Nirguṇa Atman[33] or a plurality of selves.[34]) Similar to this view, some advocated monism. The Ekavada or monism is discussed by some Jains. One commentator even refers to the Upaniṣadic idea of Brahman.[35] It corresponds to the Buddhist idea of Ekaccasassatavada mentioned in Brahmajala Sutta.

Jainism and Vedic scriptures

Jainism not nastika doctrine

Scholar Annāsaheba Latthe writes that Jainism cannot be called a nāstika doctrine because some its Tirthankaras are "worshiped and praised" in the Vedas.[36] Jains themselves have been branded nāstikas for not accepting the Vedas and they in turn have accused many non-Jains of being Nāstikas. According to Jainism, nastikavāda is a system of beliefs that are nāstika in nature. Jains assign the term nāstika to one who is ignorant of the meaning of the religious texts[37] or those who deny the existence of the soul.[38]

The Jains acharyas, Maṇibhadra and Haribhadra associated Jainism of āstika classification and associated the Lokayata (Charvaka) philosophy and pro-Vedic Vedānta with nāstika.[39]

Tirthankaras in Vedic scriptures

Some mainstream Hindu scriptures like the Purāṇas clearly mention the Tirthankaras. It is now accepted that Vedas and other Vedic scriptures do too.

Tirthankara Translation Passage Veda
Riṣabha But Riṣabha went on, unperturbed by anything till he became sin-free like a conch that takes no black dot, without obstruction ... which is the epithet of the First World-teacher, may become the destroyer of enemies Ṛgveda[40]
Riṣabha Om namo arhato Rsabho, om Rsabhah pavitram.
Om trataramindram Rshabham vadanti amrtaramindram
Ariśtanemi So asmakam Aristanemi svaha Arhan vibharsi sayakani dhanvarhanistam yajatam visvarupam arhannidam dayase Ṛgveda[41]
Ariśtanemi Om svasti na indro vrddhasravah
svasti nah pIZsa vis'vavedrih
svasti na sta'rksyo Aristanemih
svasti no brhaspatir dadha'tu
anena svastikena bhagavad durgciya'h
Ṛgveda[42] /
Sāmaveda[43] a/
Kaivalya Upaniṣad[44]

The Ṛgveda mentions Ṛṣabha the 1st Tirthankara and Ariśtanemi the 22nd. The Yajurveda mentions both of them and then Ajitanatha and Suparshva too, in cantos 25 and 92. Below are documented sections of scripture that reference one or more of the 24 Jinas venerated in Jainism:

Jain interpretation of Vedas

As mainstream Hindu scriptures don't declare the Vedas themselves fundamental to achieving Mokṣa but as holy texts, so too many Jains view them as sacred but not fundamental for Mokṣa. Vaṣiṣṭha Ṛṣi for instance, in his Dharmasutra[55] declared, "acharahinam na punanti vedah".[56]

Some historical Jain scholars have believed the Vedas actually represent metaphorical sacrifices, a claim which the Upaniṣads also endorse! In this view, the sacrifices are seen as proper human behavior to destroy desire. The Uttaradhyayana Sutra outlines the story of Jain Brahmin Jayagosha confronting a staunch orthodox Vedic sage and when the sage asks Jayagosha to tell him the meaning of Vedas, the latter supplies the Jain view.[57]

Orthodox Vedic Sage: Tell us the most essential subject in the Vedas, and tell us what is most essential in the sacrifice; tell us the first of the heavenly bodies, and tell us the best of dharmas.
Jayagosha: The most essential subject in the Vedas is the agnihotra, and that of the sacrifice is the purpose of the sacrifice; the first of the heavenly bodies is the moon, and the best of dharmas is that of Kaśyapa (e.g., Riśabha).
Jayagosha: The beautiful (gods) with joined hands praise and worship the highest Lord (i.e. the Tirthankara) as the planets, &c., (praise) the moon.

According to the Dipika commentary of Uttaradhyayana Sutra by Harshakula, the "sacrifice" here means the ten virtues: truth, penance, content, patience, right conduct, simplicity, faith, constancy, not injuring anything and Samvara.

In the Uttaradhyayana Sutra, Harikeśa states:

Austerity is my agni, the soul is fire place, meditation is offering-ladle, the body is the dried cow-dung as fuel and actions are the kindling wooden-sticks;.[58]

Renowned scholar Vimalasuri in Ussesa[59] in another scripture interprets the Vedic sacrifices as metaphorical to sacrifice the animals within and that this true way is the Arṣa-Veda (Veda of Ṛṣis)[60] or the Vedas:[61][62]

"Body is the altar, mind is the fire blazing with the ghee of knowledge. This fire consumes or destroys completely the heap of sacrificial sticks of sins produced by the tree of karman.
Anger, pride, deceit, greed, attachment, hatred, and delusion-these passions along with the senses, are the sacrificed animals which are to be killed. Truth, forgiveness, nonviolence are the adequate sacrificial fee which is to be paid. Right faith, conduct, self-control, celibacy, etc., are the gods (to be propitiated). This is the true sacrifice as laid down in the venerable Vedas and expounded by the venerable Jinas. This sacrifice, when performed with complete contemplation or profound meditation, brings the reward, not heaven, but the highest nirvana (=mokṣa) liberation.
Those, however, who perform sacrifices by actually slaughtering animals go to hell just like hunters."

This "Arsa-Veda" spoken of by Vimalasuri is also spoken of by some other scholars such as MadhavaTemplate:Dn and Aurobindo.[63] So then some scholars believe that originally both the Samanic and mainstream Hindu sects had the same Vedas.

The Buddhist Suttanipata makes a reference to "the Vedas of the Samanas as well as those of the Brahmins."[64] There are Jains even in modern time that believe the Jainism originates from the Veda. An example is given by scholar T.N. Dhar who visited Mathura and met with a Swami Vijayananda of the Digambara sect that made this claim.[65]

Another scholar that claimed to have the compassionate message of the true Vedas is Thiruvalluvar, who is believed by many scholars to have been a Jain. His parentage is from a Brahmin father and he was addressed "Aravalianthanan" (Brahmin who possesses the wheel of dharma.[66]) Many writers have written of him and in one quote is a relationship made between him and the message of the Vedas, "Of him It is no other than Ayan (Brahma) himself, seated on the beautiful lotus-flower, who, assuming the form of Valluvar, has given to the world the truths of the Vedas, that they may shine without being mixed up with falsehood."[67] Silappadikaram quotes a verse from it. Nikakesi too quotes from it a few times, and whenever it does it proclaims of the Kural, "as is mentioned in our scripture".[68]

Further, Jain Sage Jinabhadra in his Visesavasyakabhasya cites a number of passages from the Vedic Upanishads.[69] Even many of the Vedic sages are honored by Jain scholars, for their asceticism. Sages like Yajnavalkya, Rajaputra, Nara, Nārada, Gautama, Apastamba, Angirasa, and Romapada are also mentioned in the Yasastilaka for their austerities.[70] Somadeva, author of the Yasastilaka goes on to honor the priest craft of Pingala, Matanga, Marichi and Gautama chanting the Sāman and quotes some Vedic authorities like Mānu, Vyāsa, Vasistha and others.[71]

Jains partaking in Vedic ceremonies

Historically Vedic ceremonies have been a part of several members of the Jain laity. Some Jain royal families of southern Kanara had Somanatha as their monarchy's official deity and even conducted worship ceremonies officiated by Jain priests.[72] The pattabhiseka ceremony for the Jain king of Vandar was performed by a Vedic Srauta priest.

Spreading of Jainism beyond India

See also: History of Ancient Geography

That Jainism existed outside of India, even within Central Asia, Uyghurstan, Indochina, and Indonesia can be seen in both Jain and Buddhist writings. The term 'Jina' was popularly used by Buddhists[73] in Indonesia. Even a temple called 'Jina Dharma' with a Manjusri icon built by Aryyawangsadhirajana in 1343 СЕ (1265 Saka) is mentioned.

Jain scriptures write of 20 Tirthankaras in Bhadrasva-varṣa (Uyghurstan), who were of that region, just as India had its own 24.

Lin-i-a was a kingdom on the southeastern coast of modern Vietnam[74], and records of contact from Southern Ch'i and Liang writings due to an expedition by the Chinese Sung Dynasty reveals that a golden statue belonging to "the Nigrantha (Jain) cult" was seized and melted down, providing enormous quantity of previous metal.[75] This theft though unholy and greedy reveals that Jainism existed in Indochina.

The earliest mention of the Pallava Dynasty's presence in Indonesia is inscribed in the Jain Lokavibhaga, which it dates to Ṣaka 380 or 458 CE in the 22nd regnal year of the Pallava king Simha Varman.[76]


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  4. P. 109 Jain Journal, Volume 39 By Jain Bhawan
  5. It means builder of temples for all sects.
  6. It means "Sava devayatana sanakara karako."
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  18. Svayambhu Stotra sloka 10
  19. It means engrossed in Self.
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  25. It means Śānta.
  26. It refers to Jainhood.
  27. P. 64 Samadhi shatak: a century of verses on concentration or self-absorption By Devanandi
  28. Form means rupa.
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  41. Ṛgveda Astak 2, Varga 7
  42. Ṛgveda 1.89.6a
  43. Sāmaveda 2.1225
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  46. Yajurveda 25, 19 and 9, 25
  47. Sāmaveda (4, 1)
  48. Atharvaveda 20, 143, 10
  49. Aitareya Brāhmana 20, 2
  50. Yasknirutka 10, 12
  51. Śayana Bhāsya P. 678
  52. Skanda Purāṇa 16, 96
  53. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 2, 7, 10
  54. Markandeya Purāṇa 50, 39-41
  55. Dharmasutra VI, 3
  56. It means "Vedas do not purify one."
  57. Uttaradhyayana Sutra, Chapter 25
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