Religious Studies Paper on Jainism
Jainism is an old Indian religion whose principal teaching is that individuals’ lives of renunciation (refraining from pursuit of material comforts) and harmlessness represent the ways to achieve liberation and bliss (happiness and pleasure). To achieve this, people have to eliminate all karma (logical way of judging evil and good, qualities of life, and morality without reference to a god) from the soul. The core emphasis of Jainism involves concern for the wellbeing and health of all beings in the universe, along with the universe itself. While Jains believe that there are no existing spiritual beings or gods to help human beings, they believe that plants, animals, and people have living souls that are equal in value to each other and ought to receive respectful and compassionate treatment based on dignity and sanctity. The religion identifies right belief, proper conduct, and accurate knowledge as the three vital principles (“jewels”) for followers.
At the foundation of Jainism are five mahavratas, or fundamental vows, which Jains have to observe. These are non-attachment to material things or possessions (including both inner possessions in terms of dislikes and likes and external possessions such as property), desisting from lying (truthfulness), avoiding stealing, exercising sexual restraint and chastity (with the ideal being celibacy), and committing to non-violence (non-injury). Jains recognize Mahavira, who was the last (24th) Jain Teaching God (Tirthankara), as the source of today’s Jainism. Gautama Swami, a chief disciple of the Teaching God (who was born in 599BC in India), compiled the God’s ethical principles and philosophy, which aimed at elevating the quality of life for all beings. The Teaching God considered the ultimate objectives for both individuals and societies as security, enlightenment, peace, and ways of life that minimize the use of world resources (such as a strict vegetarian lifestyle).