ABC Of Jainism ► 03 The Religion (Dharma)

Posted: 26.10.2010

LESSON 3

The Religion (Dharma)

 

 

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Son

Ma, what is the religion?

Mother

Religion is a way of life. It teaches us to be a noble person.

Daughter

Ma, our religion is Jaina religion. So what is the meaning of Jaina?

Mother

The word "Jaina" is derived from the word "Jina" which means victor. One who conquers one's desires is known as "Jina". The followers of "Jina" are known as "Jainas" and the religion preached by "Jina" is the Jaina religion. Arihantas as well as Siddhas are Jinas.

Daughter

Ma, Bhagavāna Mahāvīra was the founder of Jainism. Is this true?

Mother

Jainism is eternal like the universe. Jainism has no beginning and no end. Thus, the question of any founder of Jainism does not arise. Every Tīrthankara only preaches the eternal religion.

Daughter

Ma, what are Jaina scriptures and who composed them?

Mother

We, Jainas believe that Tīrthankaras are omniscient. They preach the absolute truth about Reality. Gaṇadharas then compose it. Later, the scriptural knowledge was passed on by word of mouth from one generation of Ācāryas to the next. Ācāryas compose scriptures based on the existing principles of religion.

Son

What is the main language in which our scriptures are written?

Mother

Our scriptures are in PRAKṚTA, SANSKṚTA and APABHRANSA.

Daughter

What are our main spiritual books?

Mother

Our main spiritual books are ṢATKHANDĀGAMA, SAMAYASĀRA, TATTVĀRTHA-SŪTRA, MŪLĀCĀRA, RATANAKARANDA-ŚRĀVAKĀCARA, MAHĀPŪRAṆA, etc.

Daughter

Which are our holy places?

Mother

There are several holy places for worship. The most important amongst them are: Sammed-Shikharji, Girinārajī, Carnpāpurajī, Pāvāpurajl, Sri Mahāvīrajī, Sravanabelagola etc.

Daughter

Ma, what is the ideal behavior of a Jaina?

Mother

We, Jainas wish to have friendly feelings with all beings, delightful respect for the virtuous ones, utmost compassion for the afflicted beings and equanimity towards those whose views are contrary to the religion.

Daughter

Ma, please tell us what are the teachings of Jaina religion?

Mother

The teachings of Jaina religion are Ahimsa, Satya, Acaurya, Brahmācārya and Aprigraha.

Daughter

Ma, What is the concept of Ahimsa and how to practice it?

Mother

Practice of non-violence is Ahimsa. Ahimsa is the expression of compassion in every action. We should avoid mental and physical violence towards ourselves, towards our parents and other family members and also towards other human beings and animals. We should avoid bad feelings and thoughts. This is a violence of self. We should not smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs. These things are also bad for our health. This is also violence of self. We should trust that our parents always want the best for us. So, we should try to understand their viewpoint and value their advice. We should love our family members. We should not kill animals, birds, fish and insects for our food or for any other purpose. We Jainas are vegetarians.

Daughter

What is the concept of Satya?

Mother

Satya is neither to tell a lie nor cause others to tell. The speech should be for the welfare of others (Hita), to the point (Mita) and without causing violence and suffering to others (Priya).

Daughter

What is the concept of Acauraya?

Mother

Acauraya is non-theft or non-stealing. This would mean that we should not accept anything which is not given to us or does not belong to us.

Daughter

What is the concept of Brahmācārya?

Mother

Brahmācārya means chastity. This concept does not allow sexual relations at all. But as a partial vow, one could have sexual relations with one's spouse only.

Daughter

What is Aparigraha?

Mother

Parigraha means passionate attachment (MŪRCHA). SO, Aparigraha is the practice of non-attachment to worldly things and pleasures. The house-holder is incapable of renouncing all Parigraha. Therefore he should limit the Parigraha of wealth, buildings etc. This is Parigraha-Pariman­ Vrata. To achieve Aparigraha, we should limit our wants and control our desires. We should acquire only what we barely need. We should avoid waste.

Daughter

Ma, what is so unique about the teachings of Jaina religion?

Mother

First, the Jainism believes in the complete independence of each individual. It teaches that self-help is the only means to achieve such independence. Jainism is the religion which gives us independence even from God. We are responsible for our own lives. Every thing in our lives occur as a result of our own thoughts and actions. Second, our all knowledge is relative. So, we should be open minded and fair. We should understand others' view-point. This will enable us to get a proper and complete perspective of the events and situations. This is the unique principle of Anekānta. Third, according to Jainism, truth, non-stealing, chastity and non-attachment are manifestation of non­violence. Thus, non-violence is the supreme religion in Jainism. Jainism teaches us to minimize mental as well as physical violence.

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