What Is Jainism?

Jainism is nature in the purest and truest form. Jainism is as old as nature, which has neither beginning nor any end. The mission of Jainism is the mission of nature, which is to work for the welfare of one and all, to rise from the pitfall of ignorance and inaction to the spiritual climax of infinite bliss and perfect knowledge. I.e. absolute freedom.

A brief definition:
Jainism is defined as a human centered religion having, as its goal, the liberation of humans. The focus is on the ethics of the individual, and it represents a spiritual denial of the world. In its totality, it possesses all the typical characteristics of an Indian religion, viz. the Doctrine of Karma, Rebirth and Moksha. Even the concepts of hell and a world of men and Gods, the idea of regular cycles of world history and the periodic appearance of harbingers of liberation reveal its proximity to Buddhism and Hinduism.

The word “JAIN” is derived from the generic term “Jina”. A person who conquers his own inner enemies such as: anger, greed, hatred and achieves the state of Supreme Being is called Jain. The path to achieve salvation is called “Jainism”.

There are three jewel of Jainism to attain salvation:
(1) Choosing the right Faith
(2) Acquiring the right Knowledge
(3) Observing the right Conduct

Jainism rests on four pillars that are Non-violence, Theory of multiplicity of viewpoints, life is sacred, irrespective of not only caste, color, creed, on nationality but also species at all levels right down to the tiny ant. Non –violence in Jainism also means not to hurt someone by speech or thought.

Lord Mahavir is the last prophet (Tirhankara) in this era. According to Mahavir, life is dear to all. Pain and pleasure are equal experienced by all. No one likes pain, injury or violence. He emphasized on showing equal regards for all forms of life. Jainism believes that each soul has the potential of reaching the highest state. Jain philosophy states that a soul, once free of all karmas, is free forever. Once a year, all Jains get together in the temple for forgiveness. This is the Holiest day of the year, known as ‘Day of Forgiveness’ for all Jains. They ask pardon from all living creatures.

Jains consume pure Vegetarian food. Alcohol, eggs, fish, chicken, or any type of meat is not allowed for any Jain residing in the Universe. There are approximately 5 million Jains in India and about 100,000 currently live in USA. Jains from all over the world are regarded as caring and peace loving people who believe in non-violence and have great respect for the environment.

Jainism is a religion based on cosmic principles, eternal principles on which this colossal machinery runs without any mistake or even a single momentary halt. The principles of modern science are true and temporary in particular context of space and time only, but the principles of Jainism are true for all time, for all space, for everybody and everything. Jainism throws light on the colossal structure of universe, its shape, size, origin, purpose and mechanism. It deals in perfect details with six reels out of which the universe is made. Everything that happens in the universe is according to the fixed pattern of eternal laws, which are unshakable and infallible. Jainism does not belong to any particular sect or fixed dogmas. Jainism does not say that some particular class will be given freedom and the others will remain in bondage, it is a perfect form of democracy. It emphasizes equality of opportunities to achieve perfect freedom and spiritual perfection, be it a highborn or any backward class member, even the lowest form of life. Each one has the potentiality of reaching the highest state. It believes that every soul has immense power, which can be released like the nuclear energy. Jainism believes there are two kinds of energies, one is the energy of mechanism and the other is the energy of intelligence. In technical terms they are called Matter and Life, (Jada and Chetana). Energies of gravitation, magnetism and electricity are believed to be three scientific forces, which sustain the universe. But the subtle forces of silence and solitude of surrender and prayer, of love and sympathy, of dedication and determination these subtle forces etc., are manifestation of the energies of intelligence. It is a rule in nature that subtle forces of Yoga- (The activities of mind, speech and body are more powerful than the gross forces of material science). Jainism is the path to achieve this state and is often referred to as Jain Dharma or the religion of Nirgantha.

Jainism was revived by a lineage of 24 enlightened ascetics called Tirthankars culminating with Parshvnath (9th century BCE) and Mahavir (6th century BCE). Jains have sustained the ancient Shraman or ascetic religion and have significantly influenced other religious, ethical, political and economic spheres in India.

Jainism is sacred life-style, which liberates mankind from all the actions causing grief and leads mankind to the path of civilization, affection, gentleness, and divinity for the progress of the soul. It is a sacred code of conduct to liberate oneself from sins and to end all kinds of sorrows forever. It is ideology given by Jineshwar Bhagavantas which includes Syadvad (Jain Philosophy which holds that there are more than one side to every question and all are right when viewed from different angles) to understand all the matter, substance and principles. Jainism makes life and actions as far as possible more and more innocent, sacred and non-violent. It is a science proved religion which leads one to path of peace which ultimately reaches Liberation (Moksha). One must always do mental recitation of the Navkar Mantra for the acts of Violence, give up eating of prohibited food-roots and also eating at night. One must do Samvatsari Pratikraman at least once, must try for virtues such as gentleness etc. Samayika, do obeisance to the gurus, visit to holy places and study the basics of the religion. These are the rules. By strictly following them one can become a genuine Jain.

Senior most (greatest) in Jainism?
Tirthankars (twenty four promoters of Jainism) are considered to be the senior most. In their absence Ganadhar Bhagavantas; in their absence Acharya Bhagavantas, have been ascribed the status of King of 'Jain regime' and chief of 4 kinds of Sharamanas (Jain Sadhus) of leaders of society are considered to be the senior most.
 
What does one get by following Jain religion?
Jainism is a living religion. As the proportion of its following increases the followers achieve all the following things.

From the physical point of view good health; from the point of view family one gets harmlessness (innocence) love, harmony and peace. In the social field one gets social status, prestige, success inner happiness and prosperity; from the point of view of the spiritual field, one's progress gradually increases and one becomes full of infinite bliss and liberated from all actions.