Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Jainism  -  Respect For All Life

The birth of Jainism
Mahavira the Path-Maker
The Enlightenment
The Rise of Jainism
  The Two Sects
  The Scriptures
  Rise and Fall
  Jain Beliefs-The Universe
  The Soul
  Karma and Rebirth
  The way of Salvation
  The Everyday Life of a Jain
  The Life of an Ascetic
  Ways of Worship
  Temples and Domestic Shrines
  Ninian Smart




The most important festival of Jainism is held at Pajjusana, the solemn season which closes the Jain year.  For eight days or longer, during the wet monsoon period, usually in August, devout Jains fast and attend special services.  All householders are urged to live a monk�s life for at least twenty-four hours, living in a monastery, meditating and fasting.  On the closing day of the festival, every Jain abstains from food and water.  At the close of the temple gathering, he performs an act of penitence in which he asks forgiveness of his neighbors for any inadvertent offense and determines to carry no grudge or quarrel over into the next year.

The second most important festival is Divali, the great Hindu festival in honor of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, which Jains have adapted in honor of Mahavira�s liberation.

Jains also observe fasts at full moon, and great excitement is found in going on pilgrimages to Jain holy places.

Jainism is a religion of austerities.  Its goal, �passionless

detachment�, is reached only through the most severe and

disciplined of life-styles, culminating ideally in death by

voluntary self-starvation.  And the aim is to achieve it solely

by self-effort, without the help of God or gods,

Yet self-imposed austerities often benefit others.  And Jains have long been active in promoting public welfare.  They are known especially for their endowment of schools, also of hospitals�for both people and animals.

The great statues of south India best convey the Jain ideal.  This is a description of the sixty- foot-high stone replica of the hero Gomatesvara at Sravarna Belgola:

`[He rises] huge, stony and naked.  So rigid is his stance, so austere his stillness, that creepers are growing up his legs.  On his lips is an expression of total impassivity.  His nudity of course symbolizes possessionlessness.  It is a sign of indifference to the good things of his world.  It is not even a matter of laying up treasures in heaven.

The Jain saint should be indifferent even to those.  Any sort of treasure binds us to this world, and even the heavenly world should be transcended.  Karma which weighs us down, like weights which depress balloons, must be got rid of, destroyed.  This is a supremely hard task.  The saint is the culmination of a struggle which has continued over many, many lives.  He gazes, unseeing, over the dry south Indian landscape, a spiritual Gulliver among dark- skinned Lilliputians.

Every twelve years, the Jain faithful have a great festival in

which innumerable pots of milk and curds and sandal paste are

poured over the head of the stone hero,

The faith celebrates those who have through heroism and insight gained liberation and thus shown the path to others.�