Maneka Gandhi

One of the mysteries of India: What is Jainism?

One of the mysteries of India: What is Jainism?

SID’S QUERY:

I am looking for information on Jainism. Any help you can give me would be great.

THE RELIGION GUY’S RESPONSE:

Jainism is an ancient religion of India that’s relatively unknown in the West. Though with only 4 million or so adherents it is considered a major world faith, alongside others with followers that number in the mere millions like Baha’i, Confucianism, Shinto, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.

This is a remarkably rigoristic and ascetic creed, not only for monks nd nuns but lay followers (“householders”). Though the beliefs are otherworldly, Jains in secular vocations are notably successful because of the thrift and discipline their faith inculcates. This culture has made singular contributions over centuries to the literature, art, and architecture of India.

Both Jainism and Buddhism emerged from Hinduism in the 6th Century B.C.E. to become distinct, separate religions. Buddhism spread across Asia and is far larger while Jainism is limited geographically to India and small populations of Indian emigrants elsewhere. The Buddha was unquestionably the founder of his religion, whereas Jains do not regard his contemporary Mahavira (“Great Hero”) in the same sense.

Instead, Mahavira is considered the successor to 23 prior jinas (spiritual “conquerors”) whose heritage extends back to the distant past. His career does, however, mark the beginning of Jainism’s recoverable history. As John Noss writes, it was Mahavira who defined a monastic movement with the “ethical strength” and “doctrinal clarity” that carried it forward.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Oh yes, there are sacred cows in news reporting about India

Oh yes, there are sacred cows in news reporting about India

India’s minister for women and child development, Maneka Gandhi, has grasped the third rail of Indian politics, launching a sectarian attack on Muslims and Christians for their treatment of cows.

Or has she? India’s press has not quite made up its mind as to whether Ms. Gandhi is pushing animal rights, corruption, terrorism or religion. And, from what has been printed so far in the major dailies, the press does not want to find out.
 
In the political jargon of the Anglosphere, the “third rail” of politics is THE issue politicians avoid discussing. In America the third rail (named for the high voltage power line that provides power for trains and subway cars) is social-security reform. For Australia it is asylum seekers, while in Britain the big three (Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats) do not discuss Muslim immigration and multiculturalism.
 
In India the third rail is religion in public life, or looked at from a different perspective, the secular state. 

Please respect our Commenting Policy