By Paul Dundas
The Indian faith of Jainism, whose significant guideline contains non-violence to all creatures, is without doubt one of the world's oldest and least-understood faiths. Dundas appears to be like at Jainism in its social and doctrinal context, explaining its heritage, sects, scriptures and formality, and describing how the Jains have, over 2500 years, outlined themselves as a different non secular group. This revised and accelerated version takes account of recent study into Jainism.
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Additional resources for The Jains (2nd Edition) (The Library of Religious Beliefs and Practices)
Firstly, though, I will contextualise Mahåv⁄ra’s life by giving a broad and brief account of the rhythm of the current movement of time as described in the Universal History. 20 The Jains Eras of time are conventionally represented in Jainism as being a continual series of downward and upward motions of a wheel, called respectively avasarpin˝⁄ and utsarpin˝⁄. An avasarpin˝⁄ is divided into six spokes or ages, the ﬁrst three representing a golden age which inaugurates a gradual process of degeneration leading to the ﬁfth spoke, the duª‚amå or ‘uneven’ age, otherwise known as the Kaliyuga as we have already seen, followed by the sixth and ﬁnal spoke when the Jain doctrine dies out, whereupon the utsarpin˝⁄ commences with the six spokes occurring in reverse order.
The fordmakers and the ford In western-style histories of religions, Mahåv⁄ra is generally treated as being the founder of Jainism in the same way as Jesus is regarded as the founder of Christianity. For the Jains, however, Mahåv⁄ra is merely one of a chain of teachers who all communicate the same truths in broadly similar ways and his biography, rather than being discrete, has to be treated as part of the larger totality of the Universal History and as meshing, through the continuing dynamic of rebirth, with the lives of other participants within it.
Circumstantial evidence, including a description of his teachings in the ‘Sayings of the Seers’ (IBh 31), dictates that he can be viewed as a historical ﬁgure. 15), has led to the widespread scholarly conclusion that Mahåv⁄ra must have renounced within Pår¬va’s ascetic lineage. The question of the relationship between the two fordmakers hinges on the fact that Jain tradition holds that Pår¬va and his ascetic community followed a Fourfold Restraint (Pråkrit caujjåma). A deﬁnition of what this might be does not occur until about the second or third century CE when the Sthånån≥ga, one of the encyclopaedic texts of the ﬂvetåmbara canon, states that the fourfold vow involves abstention from violence, lying, taking what has not been given, and possession (Sth 266).