Understanding Religions in the World – Part 11: Jainism Basic Beliefs

Dear readers, how are you doing? I’m Clark, and here we continue with the next part of the “Understanding Religions” series. Today we explore Jainism basic beliefs, including a bit of its history and how it is being practiced at present. I hope you enjoy reading about this not-so-well-known religion (you never heard of Jainism before this series, have you?) as much as I enjoyed learning and then writing about it here.

Anyway, here’s part 10 of the series if you missed it. Without further ado, let’s go on to

Jainism Main Beliefs

It is Jains’ belief that all living things, including animals and plants, have a soul. They believe in reincarnation, that when a living thing dies its soul is reborn in another body. By living a good life, one will have a better rebirth. The aim of Jains is to free the soul of bad karma and become a perfect soul with pure consciousness, power and bliss. When one becomes a perfect soul, one will also be free from the cycle of reincarnation.

Jains believe in five great vows that will lead to a perfect soul:

  1. Ahimsa, the supreme vow – Non-violence, including mental violence like harsh words.  Hence, Jains are strict vegetarians and won’t walk in fields where it is possible for them to step on insects. The reason that Ahimsa is known as the supreme vow is that every living thing has a soul and therefore should not be harmed.
  2. Asteya – Don’t steal, and this include not taking more than the minimum required when accepting help from somebody, else it would be considered theft.
  3. Brahmacharya – Sexual restraint, including limiting sexual relationship with one’s own spouse. For Jains, sexual pleasure distracts one from the aim of becoming a perfect soul.
  4. Satya – Speak the truth if it is pleasant but remain silent if it is painful for others
  5. Aparigraha – Don’t be attached to any of your possessions because it might result in greed, jealousy and/or other negative traits

Its History…

Jainism began around 3,000 B.C. in India. It is said that during a period of decline in which human and natural conditions become worse, weaker and more corrupt, 24 special people, called Crossing Makers, are born for the improvement of all living beings. They were to gain enlightenment and become known as Conquerors, after that their job was to teach people how to follow the path of Jainism and show the way to perfection.

Mahavira was the last Crossing Maker. Born into the warrior caste, he left home when just a young man to become a monk. After meditating for 12 years, he gained enlightenment.

Read: Do you meditate properly?

Jainism Today

Today there are about 10 million Jains mostly in India.

Jains worship in Jain temples. In each temple, there would be 24 statues of the Crossing Makers or Conquerors. Jains would stand in front of each statue, bow and pray. Then they will pour milk, yogurt, butter, sugar and flowers over the statues as an offering.

Stay Tuned, Gals and Guys!

This is it for part 11. Please share if you enjoyed it, and subscribe to my emails! Come back often to my website. Just leave any questions or comments that you may have below, and I’ll get back to you ASAP. Thanks a lot!

Part 12: Confucianism

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