Jainism: A Guide for the Perplexed by Sherry Fohr

By Sherry Fohr

Jainism is arguably the main non-violent and austere faith on the earth. whereas lay Jains try and by no means damage people or animals, the stern non-violence via the hugely respected priests and nuns additionally proscribes damage to any residing being, even a microscopic organism. And whereas laywomen (and a couple of laymen) endure lengthy and tough fasts, the longest being for one month, renouncers' austerities additionally comprise pulling their hair out by way of the roots to 5 occasions a 12 months, strolling bare-foot all through India lots of the yr, and, in relation to a few clergymen, now not donning any garments in any respect.

Jainism: A advisor for the Perplexed is a transparent and thorough account of this attention-grabbing culture, explaining many easy Jain values, ideals and practices within the comparable means they're taught to Jains themselves, throughout the medium of sacred narratives. Drawing from Jainism's copious and influential narrative culture, the writer explores the inner-logic of ways renouncers' and laypeople's values and practices rely on an tricky Jain worldview.

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King Samprati was also in attendance, and when he caught sight of Suhastin he fainted. When the king was revived he remembered Suhastin from a previous life in which King Samprati had been a starving beggar whom Suhastin had initiated as a Jain monk. He realized that the karmic consequence of his previous initiation was that he had been reborn as a king in his current life, and so King Samprati thereafter became a devoted Jain layman focused on acts of charity and the support of the Jain religion.

Except during the four-month rainy season, the venerable Maha¯v¯ıra remained itinerant, staying in villages for only a single night and in towns for only five nights. He was indifferent to unpleasant odors and the pleasant smell of sandalwood, to straw and jewels, to dirt and gold, and to pleasure and pain. He was not attached to this world or to what is beyond it, to living or to dying. He stopped the accumulation of more karma to reach the other shore of samsa¯ra. ˙ The above excerpt describes how Maha¯v¯ıra’s behavior was in accordance with The Five Great Vows (maha¯vratas) of (1) nonviolence/ non-harming (ahimsa¯), (2) truth (satya), (3) non-stealing (asteya), (4) sexual restraint ˙(brahmacarya), and (5) non-possession/ non-attachment (aparigraha).

Although there is only one type of renouncer (whether male or female) in most S´veta¯mbara sub-sects, these renouncers are also organized according to hierarchies based on seniority as well as organizational or leadership positions. 5 Samans and ˙ saman¯ıs are lower in status than full ˙ ˙ ˙ renouncers of either gender because their asceticism is less strict, allowing them to minister to Jain communities abroad (see Chapter Two). Otherwise, all S´veta¯mbara monks are considered somewhat higher in status than nuns, although nuns are also highly respected.

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