Jains in the World presents a detailed fieldwork‐based study of Jainism, focusing on the Svetambar Murtipujak Jains of north Gujarat. The book explains the institutional structures that make up Jain society and gives a comprehensive exposition of the major facets of Jain practice.
Separate chapters present descriptions of temple worship and the connected Jain understandings of divinity, interactions between laity and mendicants (monks and nuns), involving both the lay gifting of food and relations based on lay devotion and mendicant grace, ascetic and dietary practices, and the many festivals and observances that make up the Jain religious year. The portrait of the Jains that emerges in this book is radically different from that found in earlier text‐based studies of the Jains.
The author invokes the concept of ideology to explain why the earlier portrait has been so consistent and seemingly unchanging, and also why it differs from the lived experience of Jainism. An ideology describes the way ideologues argue that the world should be, and so serves as a powerful normative guide to both conduct and thought.
Jains in the World explores the dynamic and creative interaction in Jainism between an explicit ideology of the path to liberation, with its denigration of worldly involvement, and an implicit, symbolically expressed realm of value the author terms ”well‐being” (similar to what other scholars of India have termed ”auspiciousness”), which emphasizes the worldly benefits that come from Jain practice.
- Every living being has a soul.
- Every soul is divine with innate, though typically unrealized, infinite knowledge, perception, power, and bliss.
- Every soul is born as a celestial, human, sub-human or hellish being according to its own karmas.
- Every soul is the architect of its own life, here or hereafter.
- When a soul is freed from karmas, it becomes free and God-conscious, experiencing infinite knowledge, perception, power, and bliss.
- Right View, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct provide the way to this realization. There is no supreme being, the divine creator, owner, preserver or destroyer.
- The universe is self-regulated and every soul has the potential to achieve the status of God-consciousness through one’s own efforts.
- Non-violence is compassion and forgiveness in thoughts, words and actions toward all living beings.
- Limit possessions and lead a pure life that is useful to yourself and others. Owning an object by itself is not possessiveness; however, attachment to an object is.
- Non-possessiveness is the balancing of needs and desires while staying detached from our possessions.
- Enjoy the company of the holy and better qualified, be merciful to those afflicted and tolerate the perversely inclined.
- Four things are difficult to attain by a soul: 1, human birth, 2, knowledge of the law, 3, faith in the law and 4, practising the right path