Before we understand the meaning of the Jain dharma, it
is absolutely necessary that we should have a thorough knowledge of the
word, dharma or religion because for thousands of years, innumerable wrong
notions about dharma hace been nourished and held by people. Dharma or
religion is neither a cult nor a creed; nor it is a reserved ystem of any
community. Dharma is not entirely related either to an individual or to a
society; nor is it confined to any area. Dharma is the essential nature of
an individual or an object. Shramana Bhagawan Mahavir has explained the
meaning of dharma clearly thus:-
"Vatthu Sahavo Dhammo"
Dharma is nothing but the real nature of an object.
Just as the nature of fire is to burn and the nature of water is to
produce a cooling effect, in the same manner, the essential nature of the
soul is to seek self-realization and spiritual elevation.
If we examine the matter thus, we find that dharma
acquires different definitions in different contexts but here is a simplpe
and clear meaning of it; "Dharma is the name that can be given to all the
elaborate codes of conduct and ideologies that enable life to attain
nobility and spiritual exaltation". Dharma can be the only means to
understand and realize the true meaning of life. Dharma in its real sense
is that which leads the soul on the path of felicity, peace and spiritual
bliss; and impels it to be active and progressive. The great Jieshwaras
have defined dharma thus:-
Arhat dharma - the dharma of Ariantas or the
destroyers of the inner enemies namely Karmas.
Anekanta darshan - the ideology that is
comprehensive and is not limited to a single point of view.
Vitaraga marg - the dharma that has been
expounded by the Paramatma who is devoid of all attachments and
Thus, Jainism is known by various names.