We have all heard of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. But what about Jainism? And what about its religious rules and regulations? So, my dear friends, today, this article will help you to understand an ancient Indian religion that teaches the path to spiritual enlightenment.
Jainism, also known as Jain Dharma, is one of the oldest Indian religions that still exists in the world. It is a religion that teaches that the only method of acquiring spiritual knowledge and enlightenment is through extrasensory means, otherwise known as the sixth sense. It is also based on the importance of disciplined non-violence and that one should fight against the passions, desires and bodily senses to attain the soul’s purity.
The spiritual concepts of Jainism can be traced back to twenty-four leaders or Tirthankaras. According to the Jain Dharma, Tirthankaras refer to human beings who reached the path to spiritual purity and enlightenment through meditation and self-realization, which is when one attains the liberating knowledge of the true self. Hence, the Tirthankaras were considered as Gods of Jain.
The Jain law or Jaina Law comprises many rules and regulations for adoption, marriage, succession, and death of Jainism’s devotees. The sources of these laws are the Prakrit Śvetāmbara and Digambara scriptures.
There is said to be more than 100 rules concerning adoption in Jainism. For instance, the presence of a son in a household represents a source of happiness and prosperity. In the absence of a biological son, it is therefore recommended to adopt one. In verse 83, in the absence of her husband or her own child, a widow can adopt a boy and make him the owner of her property.
Jainism does not associate spirituality with marriage. Marriage is only seen as an institution that can maintain the continuity of the human civilisation. Marriage is only considered for its social benefits to the society and there is no religious or holy meaning attached to marriage. For instance, one function that marriage is believed to serve is when it provides an outlet for sexual desires and feelings and helps control sexual activities.
In the Hindu community, marriage is closely connected with the emancipation of the soul while the Jain religion considers marriage as a simple social act rather than a spiritual union. Jainism’s followers believe that one cannot attain salvation through marriage but can help the human race to survive by bringing righteous sons and daughters into the world. Moreover, the Jain law does not prescribe any requirements such as age, caste or race.
The laws of inheritance significantly differ between Hindu and Jain laws. In the Hindu community, a widow has no right to her deceased husband’s inheritance. However, in Jainism, even if a person who has a son dies, the widow becomes the property owner. Jain laws do not give any special privilege to a male heirs and widows are regarded as preferential heirs compared to their own sons.
Furthermore, in the case where twin sons are born in a household, the elder one has priority at the time of disbursement.
Jain Ethical Code
The Jain Ethical Code consists of some vows which are to be followed by all devotees.
- Non-violence /Ahimsa: Followers must do their best to avoid any intentional harm to living beings. For example, one should only use violence in self-defence. It is said that Jains must be vegetarians and not work in places that indirectly causes harm such as farming.
- Truth /Satya: Followers should always be honest even in their businesses.
- Non-stealing /Asteya: Not only should Jains not steal, but they should also be honest in paying taxes.
- Chastity /Brahmacharya: One should only have sex with their married partner and only if the latter consents. It is also recommended to give up on sexual activities once the marriage has produced a son.
- Non-possession /Aparigraha: One should live a simple life without possessing too many luxuries or resources.
What are your opinions about the ordinances of the Jain dharma? Please share your comments!