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Jainism is a religion in India which emerged in 6th century BCE – the same time as Buddhism. Today, there are over 4 million Jains, or adherents, around the world. Their highest goal is to achieve and teach moksha, or liberation of the soul.
See the fact file below for more information on the Jainism or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Jainism worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
HISTORY OF JAINISM
- Jainism has no single founder. The Jains called their founders tirthankaras, which means a teacher who makes a way. They believe that about 24 tirthankaras existed who reached and taught the way to liberation, or moksha.
- Unlike many religions, these teachers are not an incarnation of God, but rather ordinary souls who achieved the highest goal of existence through meditation, penance, and equanimity. Therefore, a tirthankara is the ultimate developed state of a soul.
- Like Buddhism, tirthankaras are teachers, not god-incarnates. The present age tirthankaras are Adinatha, Ajita, Sambhava, Abhinandana, Sumati, Padmaprabha, Suparshva, Chandraprabha, Suvidhi, Shital, Shreyansa, Vasupujya, Vimala, Ananta, Dharma, Shanti, Kunthu, Ara, Malli, Muni Suvrata, Nami, Nemi, Parshva, and Mahavira.
- There are two Jain sects: the Digambara, meaning sky clad, and the Svetambara, or the white clad. Both have the same basic teachings and principles of Jainism, but differ in beliefs regarding the life of Mahavira, spiritual roles, status of women, wearing of clothes for monks, rituals, and texts.
- They believe that women cannot achieve liberation and be a tirthankara unless they were first born a man.
- They live completely naked and have no worldly possessions.
- Images of tirthankaras have downcast eyes and are always presented naked.
- Tirthankaras can be both men and women.
- Monks wear simple white clothing and possess reading and writing materials.
- Images have prominent eyes and are always overly decorated.
BELIEFS, CUSTOMS, AND TRADITIONS
- Among the basic principles of Jainism is to live without violence. They believe that their jiva, or soul, should not experience karma. Karma dictates the moral quality of a person’s life. They believe that to be able to attain liberation, a person should get rid of all their karma. Karma can be both destructive and non-destructive.
- Mahavira particularly advocated strict asceticism and moral cultivation to attain the path to Dharma, or truth. His followers believe they can do so with the cultivation of the three jewels: right belief, right knowledge, and right conduct.
- In order to attain the three jewels, every Jain should vow to five abstinences, including ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (no stealing), aparigraha (non-acquisition), and brahmacharya (chaste living).
- These five vows are divided into two forms. The Mahavrata, which is followed by Jain monks and nuns, and the Anuvrata, which is followed by lay people, which is the less strict version.
- Jains do not believe in any god. Furthermore, they suggest that there is no god to maintain the universe, make judgement, rule, demand worship, or help the people.
- During festivals and holy days, Jains fast as part of attaining spirituality. It is an act of penance for monks and nuns. There are 5 forms of fasting, which include complete fasting, partial fasting, Vruti Sankshepa, Rasa Parityaga, and Santhara.
- There are no compulsory pilgrimages for Jains, but monks and nuns do this spiritual activity as part of understanding the life and deeds of tirthankaras.
- The holy place for Jains is called tirtha, which means a ford across a river. Despite the etymology of the term, most sacred places in Jainism are situated on top of hills or mountains, unlike in Hinduism, which is linked with bodies of water. Among their prominent places is Mount Shatrunjaya in Gujarat.
- Jains believe in the existence of multiple universes which consists of two classes: jivas, or living souls, and ajivas, or non living objects.
- For them, the universe is divided into five parts: (siddhashila) supreme abode, (devlok) upper world, (manushya lok) middle world, (naraka) lower world, and the base.
- Siddhashila is the abode of the liberated beings.
- Lokakash is equated with space.
- Devlok is the abode of demigods.
- The middle level is were humans and animals live.
- Naraka is the abode of hellish beings tormented by demons.
- Aloka is the space outside the universe.
- The lowest form of life live at the base.
- The raised hand in the center means stop. It is inscribed with a wheel called ahimsa, which means non-violence.
- Above is the four arms of the swastika which represents the cycles of birth and death, and the possibilities of being born in one of the four destinies. The four destinies include the heavenly beings, human beings, animal beings, and hellish beings.
- The four pillars of Jain Sangh symbolized through the swastika include sadhus, sadhvis, shravaks, and sharavikas.
- Jains’ goal is to achieve liberation and not rebirth.
- Above the swastika are the three jewels: Samyak Darshan (Right Faith), Samyak Jnana (Right Knowledge), and Samyak Charitra (Right Conduct) represented by three dots.
- The final arch above is the abode of liberated souls known as Siddhashila. The dot in the middle stands for a siddha.
- Among the foremost festivals celebrated by Jains is Diwali, the celebration of the life of Lord Mahavira and attaining nirvana. Another large festival is Paryushan, or self purification festival.
- Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is among the most popular celebrations in India. In Jain Dharma, this is a celebration of the life of Lord Mahavira, the last of the 24 tirthankaras.
- This festival is usually celebrated during the month of Kartik, in October or November. Jains observe three days of fasting, singing, and chanting of hymns, and recitation of verses and prayers pertaining to the teachings of Mahavira.
- Jain temples are decorated with bright lamps which stand for removal of ignorance and attainment of knowledge.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Jainism across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Jainism worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Jainism which is a religion in India which emerged in 6th century BCE – the same time as Buddhism. Today, there are over 4 million Jains, or adherents, around the world. Their highest goal is to achieve and teach moksha, or liberation of the soul.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Jainism Facts
- Making Meaning
- Religions in India
- The Jain World
- Cycle of Life
- Jain Universe
- Jainism in Letters
- Let’s Play Bingo!
- In Two Forms
- Celebrating Diwali!
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