Spiritual Itineraries - Jain Religion

Jainism is the ancient and an independent religion of India. It is the path of the Jinas or the victors. This belief prescribes a way of peacefulness towards all living creatures of the world. The legend of Jain religion is associated with Vardhamana Mahavira (599-527 B.C.). The philosophy as well as practice of this faith emphasizes the requirement of self-effort to budge the soul in the direction of divine liberation and consciousness.

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Founder of Jainism:

Vardhamana Mahavira is the creator and the spreader of this religion. At his early 30, he renounced his luxurious lifestyle and devoted himself fully to self-mortification and fasting to get rid of impurities and purify his realization and explore the true meaning of life. Most of his time was spent in meditation and gradually he completely cut him off from worldly stuffs. By adopting the teachings of his mentor Parshvanatha (9th Century B.C.), he achieved enlightenment and devoted rest of his life in teaching a group of followers who created a monastic order by following his philosophy. At the last stage of his life he kept a final fast and moved onto heaven because of starvation.

Origin of Jainism:

The prehistoric belief structure of the Jainism rests on a concrete perception of Karma that makes an impact over the living soul and preaches about the distinctive actions and ways for soul’s release. The soul is considered the living structure constituting different types of inorganic matters and minute particles adhering to it that determine its destiny. The ultimate objective of Jainism is the release of self also called jiva from rebirth. The liberation can be attained by eliminating accumulated karma that can occur only through the nurturing of knowledge and control of physical obsession. When one effectively conquers the worldly passions and removes his wrong deeds then he becomes a victor means Jina.

Philosophy of Jain Religion:

The followers of Jainism strictly follow the path of ahimsa (Nonviolence), speak truth and detach themselves from worldly things. As being a part of disciplined as well as nonviolent lifestyle they also are considered the stern vegetarians and often stick on to onerous practice of peacefulness. This religion encourages the spiritual progression of through the fostering of one’s own individual wisdom as well as reliance on self-control through fasting and vows. There are triple gems of this religion that include: right knowledge, right view and right conduct. These three gems are the sure path of liberation.

Jain Community in India:

The Jain society during the first century A.D. evolved into two key divisions grounded on monastic discipline the Svetambara or ‘White-Clad’ monks as well as nuns who wear white robes plus carry bowls for bestowed food and the Digambara also called ‘Sky-Clad’ monks who put on no clothes, possess nothing, and gather donated foodstuff in their bare hands. The Digambara group doesn’t allow the possibility of women for achieving liberty, while Svetambara accepts. The Southern and Western India for many centuries, have been influenced by Jainism. During the mid-1990s, in Maharashtra there were a majority of Jain community living in this area out of about 7 million Jains, along with states like Rajasthan and Gujarat. Karnataka, conventionally a throttlehold of Digambaras, contains a considerable Jain community.

Jain Rituals and Traditions:

The Jain laymen engage in various customary activities that are similar to those of the Hindus living around them. The particular shrines and temples contain the Tirthankaras images that aren’t worshipped but revered and memorized. Daily rituals might comprise of bathing and meditation. The images are washed with clear water and then people offer flowers, foods and lighted lamps to those images. They also recite mantras Ardhamagadhi, which is an ancient language of northeastern India, associated to Sanskrit.

During the lifecycle rituals most of the Jains are engaged in sacramental ceremonies. These lifecycle rituals include taking of solid foodstuffs, marriage as well as death just like Hindu rituals. Jain community also worship the idols of local God and take part in Hindu as well as Muslim celebrations without giving up their basic devotion to the way of the Jinas. Jains celebrate five major celebrations symbolizing the various life events of Lord Mahavira such as conception, renunciation, birth, enlightenment and of course final liberation at death.

Most Popular Jain Pilgrimages:

The incredible land of India is dotted with a number of Jain pilgrimages. The architectural wonder of Shatrunjaya Hills also called Siddhagiri, in Gujarat is the most important Svetambara site that includes about 3,500 temples. This site also is famous for its richness in greatest architectural monuments dated back to 11th-13th centuries A.D. the hilltop of Sravana Belgola located in Karnataka is recognized for its colossal 17 meter high unclothed statue of Bhagwan Bahubali also called Gomateshvara, who according to his followers, was the first individual in the world to have achieved enlightenment. He was so deep in contemplation that creepers grew along and around his legs.

At this place, at an interval of 12 years, a most important gathering of Jain followers and laity take part in purification or decontamination ritual in which the figure of Bhagwan Bahubali is anointed from top to bottom.

Engraved and sculpted in 981, this sculpture is regarded as the holiest Jain temple. Besides its lavish benefaction of temples, the Jain society, with its extensive scriptural ritual and assets gained from trade, has for all time been recognized for its benevolence and particularly for its support of edification and knowledge. Major cities and towns feature prestigious Jain schools.

Most popular Jain Pilgrimage Destinations and Sites:

  • Ranakpur
  • Palitana
  • Sravanabelagola
  • Udaygiri Caves
  • Khandagiri Caves