Jainism is also known as Jain Dharma. It is an ancient Indian religion. There are 24 Tirthankars (leaders) where the 1st is Rishabhnath and then 24th being Mahavir. The basic religious premises of Jainism include non-violence, many-sidedness, non-attachment, and asceticism (abstinence from sensual pleasures). Apart from that, there are 5 significant vows which include non-violence, truth, not stealing, sexual continence, non-possessiveness.
The most basic prayer of Jainism includes Namokar Mantra. There are two major sub-traditions in Jainism, which are Digambaras and Shwetambars based on different views of religious practices. There are approximately 40 to 50 lakh Jains across the world where the major proportion of them resides in India. In countries like Canada, Europe, United States, and Japan, the Jain population is seen increasing. About 5000 ethnic Japanese families have been converted into Jainism. Their major festivals include Mahavir Jayanti and Paryushana.
Jain motto is “Live and let live” (Jiyo or Jeene do). They stick to this motto strictly. This article will talk about their principles and the purpose behind them.
Simplifying the data for ease, there are the following sins in Jainism are:
Humans are the most advanced species so far. Killing humans by humans is considered the biggest sin amongst them. This also includes abortion. Jainism says that it is tremendously hard for a life to take birth on the Earth. By killing the fetus inside the mother’s womb is a very big sin under any circumstances. Even thinking to kill someone or wishing for its death is considered a curse.
The killing of animals and birds:
This majorly includes the hunting of animals. The killing of any of these animals for any purpose is considered a curse. This also includes the use of animal skin products, leather, or any other thinking made up by harming these animals. This also includes all the non-vegetarian foods which are generally consumed by humans which include chicken, cows, goat, sheep, etc. Consuming eggs too is considered a curse. Fishing is forbidden as well as consuming them.
The killing of microorganisms:
Eating of all vegetables which grow under the ground is forbidden, which includes potatoes, radish, onion, garlic, carrot, etc. According to them, those vegetables contain an infinite number of microorganisms. Some believe that they may not be visible with the present technology, but we may get to see them in the future. Apart from this, tiny life forms get injured or die while uprooting them out. This also kills the plant. Other vegetables that grow above the ground though consist of an uncountable number of microorganisms still they do not contain an infinite number of microorganisms, hence they are allowed.
Apart from this in vegetables growing above the ground, microorganism inside the soil does not get harmed as well as the plant does not die but grow again. Fruits and vegetables that contain seeds within them can be eaten, but if the seeds are outside, then the plant has the probability of growing into plants like root vegetables, strawberries, etc. Hence they are prohibited from consumption.
Perversions and Udumbara fruits:
According to some texts, a householder must not consume wine, flesh, butter, honey, and Gular, Anjeera, Banyan, Peepal, Pakar as well.
Small insects and tiny animals:
Bursting crackers even in Deepawali is not allowed because it involves the killing of small insects and animals due to the fire and smoke. Many do not use slippers and walk barefoot for religious trips. Many do not use vehicles because many organisms die in the combustion process as well as from the tire on the road. Many prefer not to use mosquito repellants, rat killers, etc.
Drinking filtered water only:
With filtering here does not mean using RO or modern filters and killing germs, here the filtering process does not involve the killing of microorganisms but saving them. Though this is difficult to implement in today’s life as we get water from pipes but traditionally, water was fetched out of the well. A cloth was used to filter it, and the same cloth was turned upside down, and a small amount of the filtered water is poured back. With these microorganisms again gets back to the water unharmed.
Beer, wines, alcohol, etc. are forbidden as they include fermentation which kills a lot of microorganisms. Many Jains are now moving towards veganism as a modern dairy product involves violence against farm animals.
During their important festivals, one of them is Paryushana many go for complete fasting for several days. Some may make it to a couple of months too. They live on boiled water or maybe without that. Some avoid eating green vegetables during this period.
Not eating food kept overnight:
Overnight kept food, as well as used vessels (unwashed after eating), contains a huge amount of bacteria and other organisms. Many Jains prefer to wash such vessels and not to use overnight kept food or platter.
Not cooking or eating during the night:
A huge amount of microorganisms join our food during the night in the absence of sunlight as believed by Jains. Hence it is forbidden to eat after the sun sets and before the Sun rises. Apart from this, according to modern research, it is good for the digestive system of the human body to take dinner earlier near the time of sunset.
The best thing about Jainism is everything that is mentioned above is not compulsory. Nobody is forced to do the above-mentioned things. They have said everything about all the curses one makes in his/her life. They have warned the people what can be the circumstances of breaking these rules (which are though not mentioned in this article). They do not force anyone to join. They do not force anyone to stay. They just say what a real Jain must do. Many do not follow as in today’s time, and it is difficult to follow everything as said above. For this Jainism have something more. They ask to whatever the best one can do. For example, if one has to travel for 20 kilometres, according to the rules, one must walk barefoot. In case it is urgent, a person can use a car or a motorcycle. In such cases, it is suggested to do minimum harm to organisms.
In such a case, the person must take a motorcycle. Apart from this at the end of the day, there is something called Bhaktambar Paath or Pratikaman which says sorry to god for all the curses made throughout the day knowingly or unknowingly. Jainism says If you recite this Paath, your curses may be forgiven depending upon the intensity and intentions of them. They strictly stick to their motto “Jiyo or Jeene do” which means “Live and Let Live”. Digambaras and Shwetambaras both follow the same principles when it comes to eating and drinking practices; the only thing changes between them are religious practices.
They sometimes do argue with each other regarding the religious practices, about how to worship the Lord, but this is because they give it a thought. They do not blindly agree to what their leaders have told them but work based on facts. Both sides argue with sensible facts, but when it comes to following principles, they are all together. These were the major principles of Jainism as well as the Purpose of Jainism. There are many more to this great religion.