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Jain View Of Life: 2.01 Jainism

Published: 30.11.2011


Since ancient times, there have been two distinct cultures, Shramana and Brahman. Brahmana culture belongs to vedic tradition, whereas Shramana culture represents Jainism and Buddhism. There have been many common points between them. Jainism is older than Buddhism; Buddhist scriptures refers the Nirgrantha Nayaputta for Lord Mahavira. The Jain religion was previously known such as Nirgrantha Dharma, Shraman Dharma. After two hundred years of Lord Mahavira, the word Jain came into being in the time of Acharya Mahagiri. Afterwards, Nirgrantha religion was known as Jainism.

Jainism is the oldest living religion of India. It has been lively, progressive, and informative. The word Jain has been derived from jin which means conqueror. Jin is that enlightened man who has acquired infinite knowledge, infinite perception, infinite energy, and pure consciousness by vanquishing passions; anger, pride, intrigue, greed, etc. In Jina, the Sanskrit root word is Jin which means conquest over all bondage of birth and death. The Jains are their followers who practice the path set down by Jina and the religion is followed by those known as the Jain Religion.

Origin of Jainism

Jain religion is eternal, and it has been revealed again and again in every one of the endless succeeding periods of the world by innumerable Tirthankaras. The first in the series of twenty-four in the current cycle of time was Adinath Rishabhadeva. Jainism was founded and ex­pounded originally by Lord Rishabha. He inaugurated the age of action, the beginnings of human civilization, and the practice of religion. He also accorded inspiration of spiritual upliftment of mankind with multi-faceted develop­ment. The credit of the developing age goes to none else but Lord Rishabha.

Each Tirthankara reinstates the Jain order known as Jain Sangh. The twenty-fourth and last Tirthankar, Lord Mahavira, gave organizational shape to the present tradition about 2550 years ago. He established Tirth (a dock) consisting of monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen. Tirth is known as Sangha, which means the union of the four above mentioned components; Sadhus (male ascetic), Sadhvis (female ascetic), Shravakas (laymen), and finally, Shravikas (laywomen). Tirth stands for a ford that leads across this sea of worldliness and shows the passage across worldliness is called Tirthankar. The strength of monks and nuns in his order was 14,000 monks and 36,000 nuns.

Among the many contributions of the tradition Ahimsa (non-violence), Aparigraha (non-possession), and Anekanta (non-absolutism) are the most vital, the central, the most valuable, and the most relevant concepts of today just as it was in the ancient epoch.

Jain Community

The two principle communities of Jainism are the Digambar and Swetambar. The terms Digambar (Achelaka) and the Swetambar (Sachelaka) signify the same sense. Achelaka means without cloth, and Sachelaka implies with cloth. In Mahavira's order, there are two types of monks.


The literal meaning of the word is sky clad. Dig means sky and Ambara means dress. Sky is their dress. The open sky is their garment. That is why they are called Digambara. They regard that nudity is essential to get salvation. The male ascetic goes naked and possesses nothing except a peacock feather and a wooden jug for water. Later on, the Digambar sect also was subdivided into sub-sects such as Terahpantha, Beespantha, and Taranpantha.


Those belonging to the Swetambar group wear white cloth. The major sect is also divided into three sub-sects; Murtipujak, Sthankvasi and Terapantha. The former be­longs to idol worshippers and the latter two are non-idol worshippers. The Murtipujaks are elaborate in majority. The Lax monks used to stay in temples and therefore came to be known as Chaityvasi. The establishment of Chaityvasi occurred in the ninth century (850) after the salvation of Lord Mahavira. They lived in affluence with all the comforts of life.

The prominent pilgrimages of the Murtipujaks are Palitana, Sammet Shikhar, Girnar, Pawapuri, Ranakpur, Abu etc. There are many Gachchha such as Tapagachchha, Khataragachchha, etc.



The Sthankvasi sect came into being in the sixteenth century. Lonkashah started a campaign against the laxity of monks and disowned the worship of idols. The follower of Lonkashah established the new sect. The new sect was set against idol worshipping. The householders built buildings in which to perform religious activities. Later on, the buildings were reserved for monks and nuns. They stayed exclusively inside those buildings, and that is why they are known as Sthankvasi.


Acharya Bhikshu founded Terapantha in 1817 after Mahavira's Salvation. He was the disciple of Acharya Raghunathji who brought about a revolution against the discrepancy between practice and the actual texts. The fundamental convention of Terapantha is that there is one Acharya; all monks and nuns are his disciples. Acharya has supreme power. Acharya Bhikshu organized the monastic order in a more disciplined and systematic form. He was fully against the buildings being reserved for the monks as well as other issues. He made real interpretations of the concepts of piety and charity, etc., based on canonical literature.


Jain View Of Life

Publisher: Adarsh Sahitya Sangh Edition: 1st Edition 2000

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Bhikshu
  3. Adinath
  4. Ahimsa
  5. Anekanta
  6. Anger
  7. Aparigraha
  8. Beespantha
  9. Bhikshu
  10. Brahman
  11. Buddhism
  12. Consciousness
  13. Cycle of Time
  14. Dharma
  15. Digambar
  16. Digambara
  17. Gachchha
  18. Girnar
  19. Greed
  20. Jainism
  21. Jin
  22. Jina
  23. Mahavira
  24. Murtipujak
  25. Nirgrantha
  26. Non-absolutism
  27. Non-violence
  28. Palitana
  29. Pawapuri
  30. Pride
  31. Raghunathji
  32. Ranakpur
  33. Rishabha
  34. Sadhus
  35. Sadhvis
  36. Sammet Shikhar
  37. Sangh
  38. Sangha
  39. Sanskrit
  40. Shraman
  41. Shramana
  42. Shravakas
  43. Shravikas
  44. Sthankvasi
  45. Swetambar
  46. Taranpantha
  47. Terahpantha
  48. Terapantha
  49. Tirth
  50. Tirthankar
  51. Tirthankara
  52. Tirthankaras
  53. Vedic
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