About a year ago i read a wonderful book called “Nine Lives”, which speaks of the living link between past and present in religious terms in Indian society. Hence was born my curiosity on Jainism which is considered one of the oldest religions in the world. Jainism arose from the same environments heterodox Indian classical, in the plain of the Ganges in the first century BC; and is slightly older than the Buddhism but very similar. Is defined ad as the “pre-Buddhism”, but in fact is much more demanding and extreme.
Said the cardinal principle of Jainism aparigraha ; and believing that every link cause suffering; this implies the obligation of celibacy and chastity or hen parties. Is obligatory to leave the family and donate all their belongings; and do not accept or handle money in any way. The Jain faith is summed up in three foundations said “jewels”: true faith, true knowledge, right conduct. The distinctive character of Jainism is non-violence (the ahims a), thought of as action towards all living beings. This is brought up to the extreme limits, how to cover your nose and mouth with cloth masks so as not to ingest, and therefore inadvertently kill microorganisms, small insects and germs, all carriers of soul, as in a primordial state of development. Or walk sweeping the road ahead, not to crush even the smallest ant.
In the monsoon period the Jain monks are forbidden to walk in order not to kill the invisible beings that inhabit the puddles.
Unlike Buddhism, Jains believe in not only the presence of a soul in all living beings, as invisible, but also in all the elements of the earth such as water, wind or fire. Buddhist monks beg for food; Jains accept only the food that is offered to them without which they so request. Can practice gochari ( term used for the grazing of cattle), and signal that they are hungry bending the right arm over his shoulder. If you do not receive the food before it gets at night, they have to go to sleep hungry.
For the Jain monks is usual reshoot each bite of food in search of a hair, a winged insect, an ant, or any other living thing that could be done with the meal, making it impure.
In oldest India the Jain monks were famous for their refusal to wash: like the monks comptto in Egypt, they identified the neglect of the outward appearance with inner purity. An ancient inscription refers to Sravanabelgola in eulogistic terms of monk so messy that “seemed to be wearing a close-fitting black armor”. Today the monks’ allowed rub with a damp cloth, and wash his clothes from time to time; but bathing in a pond or running water is still strictly forbidden, as well as use the soap. Obviously, the Jain are strictly vegetarian, to the extreme of excluding from their diet even tubers and bulbs as both the consumer that the collection are considered to be a moral and material damage.
Buddhist ascetics shave their hair as a sign of humility; Jains if they tear at the root.
In the year 82 AC the faith suffered a schism that led to the creation of two different currents. The question involved in practice, and concerns today, nudism.The faithful voted to monasticism in the southern parts of India came to the extreme to consider the need to achieve perfection of abstinence from all forms of ownership, including as far as possible the food and of course the clothes.
For the culmination of Jain ascetics and ascetic life the ritual fasting (sallekhana) until his death. First, fasting one day a week, then it feeds on alternate days. With the passage of time you give up one by one the various types of food. Eliminating rice and fruit and vegetables and so on. At the end there is only food for water, which subsequently vine taken on alternate days. Finally when you are ready you give up even to this. The body cools down, allowing you to focus on the soul introspectively, to clear all karma negativo. It’s was everyone is looking for, they aspire to a better life as the Nirvana. Suicide is a grave sin, is the result of despair. Embracing the sallekhana is a triumph over death as an expression of hope, because they do not believe that death is not the end, and that life and death are complementary, and how to move from one room to another.
Unlike Buddhism, the religion jana not ever spread outside India, and though at one time it was a strong faith in the subcontinent, patronized by the rulers of different dynasties of the Deccan, remain today only four million Jains, limited mainly in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.Outside of India, religion is almost non-existent and, unlike Buddhism, is almost unknown in the West; the Jain community is among the most wealthy and influential of the country and its members have always been an important presence in Indian culture, contributing decisively over the centuries in all the arts, the sciences, philosophy and politics.
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