Jainism: A Religious Movement of 6th Century BCE

As we have read in the previous post that in the period of Second Urbanisation i.e. 6th Century BCE. It was the period in which many new religious reformers started their campaign in against to the staunch Brahmanical Religion. We have discussed Buddhism in a brief, and now in this post we are going to have a look on the Jainism.

Religious Movement: Jainism

Origin and Last Tirthankara

According to Jaina texts, the origin of Jainism goes back to the very ancient times. And the text says that there were 24 Tirthankaras or Religious teachers. The first Tirthankara was Rishabhadeva and the twenty-fourth was Vardhaman Mahaveer or commonly known as Mahaveer Swami.

Mahaveera Swami was contemporary of Gautam Buddha. He too was a prince of Jnatrika Kshatriya clan. He was born in 540 BCE in a village Kundagrama. His father Siddhartha was head of the clan. And the mother was the princess of Lichchhavi Dynasty. Her name was Trishala, and she was the sister of Lichchhavai Chief Chetaka.

In the whole one can see the same background of the two legendary religious reformers of the 6th Century BCE. So, in a common way, one can find that the luxuries of the Royal system did not give joy to the Gautam Buddha and Mahaveer Swami. They were seeking the path that can provide humanity with a real and permanent peace.

After the 12 years of meditation in the thirteenth year, Mahaveer Swami attained Kaivalya i.e. Jnan. So, he conquered misery and happiness. And after this, he started his campaign just like Gautama Buddha to help other people to get rid of misery. He got Nirvana (passed away) in Pavapuri (Bihar) at the age of 72.

Philosophy of Jainism

Jainism Philosophy
Jainism Philosophy

Jainism talks about five types of knowledge.

  • Mati: Knowledge gained by senses.
  • Shruti: Knowledge gained by listening.
  • Awadhi: Knowledge gained in time.
  • Manprayay: By the above three knowledge one can acquire this Manprayay, which means telepathy.
  • Kaivalya: It is the state after the Manprayay. It is the state when someone acquires supreme knowledge.

The five doctrines of Jainism are,

  • Ahimsa: Do not commit violence.
  • Satya: Do not speak a lie.
  • Asteya: Do not steal.
  • Brahmacharya: Observe Continence.
  • Aparigraha: Do not acquire property.

Sects of Jainism

After Mahaveer Swami the Jainas got divided into three sects. It was mainly due to the Famine that occurred in the Magadha region during the reign of Mauryan Ruler Chandragupta Maurya. So, some people from the Magadha went to the south under the leadership of the Bhadrabahu. We call them as Digamber Jaina.

Those who did not leave their places and lived in Magadha during famine got the leadership of Sthalabahu. We call them as Shwetamber Jaina.

One more sect of Jainism was there for some time, it was Yapaniya sect. Yapaniya sect was a Tantric Sect of Jainism. The Goddess of this sect is Padmavati and Javalmalini.

Jaina Texts

Jaina Texts were composed in dialect Prakrit, Ardhamagadhi group of language. Agamas i.e. Jaina Scriptures compiled in the 6th Century CE at a great Jaina Council held at Valabhi, Gujarat. Some important Jain works are

  • 14 Parvas.
  • 12 Angas/Upangas.
  • Prakirnas and Sutras.
  • Kalpasutra: by Bhadrabahu.
  • Bhagwatisutra.
  • Marutunga.
  • Parisistatiparvan: by Hemachandra.
  • Uttaradhyayana.
  • Sthaviravali.

These were the all important Jaina texts which contain important historical data on Jainism. So, these texts also mention the political, social, religious and economic system of that time. Also, mention important monarchs like Bimbisara, Ajatshatru, Mahapadma Nanda, Chandragupta Maurya etc.

So, this was a brief about Jainism. In the next coming post, we will be going to attend Buddhist and Jaina Councils. 🙂

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