I had never heard of this before the start of our class, so I wanted to look into it and see what it was all about…
Largely practiced and focused in India, the religion, Jainism began around 550BC. Jainism is derived from the word ji meaning, to conquer.
Jainism is has a similar goal to the philosophy of Buddhism in the way that they strive to live liberated lives and live harmoniously in nature. They believe in treating all creatures with equal consideration and care. Jainism is relatable to some aspects of Hinduism in the way that they believe in rebirth after death, or reincarnation. They strive to reach ultimate liberation (in Buddhism they would call it enlightenment) and releasing all karma from their soles. Unlike Hinduism, however, Jains do not believe in gods or goddesses and do not seek their help.
“The three jewels” or guides or laws to live by in Jainism is to find the right knowledge, the right belief, and the right conduct. And much like Buddhism, Jains refrain from attachment to possessions. They also must restrain from stealing, lying, and abstain from marriage and sex. Mahavira, the founder, if you will, gave teachings called the Agamas.
The two clans of Jainism are called the Digambara (sky clad) and the Svetambara (white clad). Mostly the differences are in the disagreeance of scripture and the life of Mahavira. This includes the status of women and which rituals to follow.