An Introduction to Jainism

– Acharyashri Vijayabhuvanbhanu-soorishwarji

The Evidence Regarding the Ancient Origin of Jainism.
Jainism has been in existence from times immemorial and it is older than many religions of the world. This point is evident from the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas, and the opinions expressed by Indian and foreign scholars. In his preface to “Jain Dharm Ane Teni Prachinata” (in Gujarati) Pandit Ambalal writes, “Buddhism emerged only two thousand five hundred years ago. Buddha expirenced the impact of the Jain doctrines. This is more than evident. Not only this; it is also evident that Bhagwan Buddha gave currency to his famous Middle-path only after being fed up with the apogee of the wisdom that had been expounded in Jain doctrines and theories; and that Middle-path became disseminated under the name of Buddhism. This is an indisputable historical truth”.

The language and meaning of the Vedagranthas which constitute the Prime source of Hinduism, remain recondite and abstruse even to this day. Through the centuries several commentators have written commentaries on the Vedas in consonance with their respective philosophical outlooks, but some of the names that appear in the Vedas are suggestive of the names of the Jain Tirthankars. The same tradition is clearly discerni- ble even in the grantha, Shrimad Bhagavata. The author of Shrimad Bhagavata has tried to narrate clearly the story of Bhagwan Rishabhdev. He has been given a place in the twenty four Avataras (incarnations of God! of Hinduism. All these facts naturally point to the conclusion that the Jain Dharma  as a rich tradition has been in existence from times immemorial.  The twelve great “Ganadhars (Erudite disciples) of Bhagwan Mahavir and most of the great Acharyas that emerged later were brahmins who had attained an absolute mastery over the Vedic Shastras. Because those scholars found Diksha and became initiated into the “Charitradharma”. This ought to strengthen anyone’s faith in Jain Dharma.

The Jain Dharma has been in existence from times immemorial; and so, a collection of the opinions of the Western and the Oriental scholars has been given here. These opinions have been given not by ordinary scholars but by mighty scholars who made a comparative study of all the philosophies of the world and came to those conclusions.

Panyas Shri Sushilvijayji (at present, Acharyashri Sushil- sooriji) in his book “Jain Dharm Ane Teni Prachinata” says:

“There are many great religions in this world. The place of Jain Dharma among them is unique. It has been in existence from times immemorial”.

Some Dharmas in this world bear the names of individuals or individual Gods and are famous by those names. The Buddha Dharma is named after the Buddha. The Shaivism is named after, Lord Shiva. The Vaishnavadharma is named after Lord Vishnu. In the same manner, many other Dharmas in this world are named after individual prophets or Gods; and are famous by those names. But the Jain Dharma is not named after any individual exponent or prophet. It is not named as Rishabh Dharma after Rishabhdev; or Parshwa Dharma after Parshwanath; or Mahavir Dharma after Mahavir. Actually, the expression Jain Dharma signifies certain lofty virtues. “Anyone who has attained an absolute victory over the inner enemies such as attachments and hatred is called a Jin”. The Dharma that has been expounded by the Jins is called Jainism; and those who follow the Jin Dharma are called Jains.

Arhat darshan, Syadvad darshan, Anekant darshan. Vitrag darshan, Jain darshan, Jain Shasan, Jain Dharma are the other names of Jainism. The uniqueness and the excellence of the Jain dharma are well known throughout the world. Just as all things are absorbed by the ocean, the Jain dharma has absorbed all the other Dharmas and philosophies.  If each of the others take one particular Naya as the basis of its philosophy, the Jain Dharma takes the seven Nayas as the basis of its philosophy; and so it comprehends all the Nayas.  The great master of Nyaya (the science of logic) the Nyayacharya, Shrimad Yashovijayji says in his work, Adyatmasar “The Bauddha Dharma is based on the Rijusutra Naya  (The Naya that treats the object as the modification of the transient present); the Vedantic philosophy is based on the Sangrahanaya (The Naya that seeks unity in diversity). The case of the Sankhya philosophy also is the same. The Naiyayik  and the Vaisheshik philosophies are based on Naigam Naya (the Naya that seeks to synthesise the gene-rality and the particularity of an obiect) “.

The Mimamsa philosophy originates from the Shabhanaya.  (This Naya seeks to determine the exact meaning of the word in its context). The Jain Dharma comprises all the Nayas.  (Naya  means a way of comprehending an object). It comprises such doctrines as the subtle and intricate philosophy of karma;  the subtler interpretative exposition; and the beautiful conception of the Navtatva (the nine principles); the incomparable exposition of the four Anuyogas or inquiries; the delightful description of the four Nikshepas (dialectical processes of understanding the nature of things). The seven types of Naya; the speciality of the Syadvad and the Anekantvad, the excellent theory of Non-violence; the sublime nature of Tapas (spiritual austerity); the endeavours relating to Yoga and the undertaking and observance of ordinary vows and extraordinary vows.  In this respect, the Jain Dharma is great. Not only this; thousands of scientists and philosophers spending crores of billions, causing violence to the six kinds of jivas could not realize their objective of discovering the truth even with the help of countless sophisticated machines and equipments.-Inspite of all this, a lot of research has gone on and the result is the acceptance of the soundness of the atomic theory of the Jain philosophy. It is for this reason that the greatest scientists-and philosophers have praised the Jain philosophy without any reservation. The Jain Dharma is complete and comprehensive in all respects. If there are ways by which the nations of the world that are heading towards disastrous wars, can be brought back to the path of peace and prosperity one is found in the Jain doctrine. Many western scholars and others have written books and published articles in newspapers and magazines expressing the view that the Jain Dharma is a branch or development of some other religion; but now scholars and thinkers are free from this false notion; yet the history text books used in schools and colleges continue to encourage that false notion; but it is defi- nitely not acceptable and has to be discarded. The truth has to be stated.

Evidence in support of the theory that Jain Dharma is an ancient religion:
The Jain Dharma existed even before the emergence of the Vedas and the Puranas which are said to be ancient. This point is proved by what is said in the following stanza.

Sanskrit verse from Shivpuran
Lord Rishabhdev Jineshwar the omniscient and the all- pervasive incarnated himself on the magnificent Kailas (Ashtapad Mountain).

Sanskrit verse from Brahmandpuran
Nabhiraja and Marudevi gave birth to a son named Rishabhdev, the greatest of Kshatriyas and the first ancestor of all Kshatriyas.  Mahadev Rishabhdev was born to Nabhiraja and Marudevi, in the Ikshvaku dynasty; assumed the ten kinds of Dharma; and after attaining Kevaljnan (the supreme knowledge) disseminated it.

Sanskrit verse from Prabhaspuran
Lord Neminath abides on Raivatadri (Girnar) and Lord Adinath abides on Vimalachal (Shatrunjay- Siddhagiri). These mountains enable people to pursue the path of Moksha since the ashrams of great Rishis (sages) were located there.

Sanskrit verse from Skandpuran
Man will not have punarvajanma (he will be free from the cycle of birth and death ) if he touches Shatrunjay Tirth; if he bows to Girnar; and if he bathes in Gajapandkund. All meditate upon Maharishi(sage) Rishabhdev , who has an ideal form ; who inspires enthusiasm in men; who is a pure soul having attained kevaljnyan(supreme knowledge); who is spotless and formless.

Sanskrit Verse from Nagpuran
The fruit that can be attained by visiting the sixty eight holy places, can be attained by meditating on Lord Adinath. (Lord Adinath is the other name of Rishabhdev)

Sanskrit Verse from Nagpuran
The word Arhan begins with  (a) and ends with  (ha).
Above and below it has has the crescent moon shaped curves
with Nadbindhus(dots or drops of sound). Oh Goddess!
This word signifies the supreme truth. Those who realise this truth cut off the bondage of the sansar and attain moksha (salvation).

Sanskrit verse from Agnipuran
Rishabh was born to Marudevi. Bharat was born to Rishabh.
Bharat (India arose from Bharat and Sumati arose from Bharat).

Sanskrit verse from Rigveda
The Arihant is the foremost in carrying out the noble action of rendering benevolence to others and he is absolutely heroic. In the same manner, make sacrificial offerings to the worthy Gods.

Sanskrit verse from Manusmriti
Marudevi was the sixth founder of lineage and Nabhi  was the seventh. Rishabh who possessed wide feet was born to Marudevi and Nabhi, the eighth fouder of lineage. He was a guide to heroic men. He was venerated by Gods and demons. He expounded and taught the three great ethics. He became the Jin in the biginning of the yuga (millenium).

Sanskrit verse from Yogvashisht
I am not Rama. I do not have any desire. I am not interested in my objects. Just as the Jin is firm in his serenity , I too wish to live in absolute serenity.


Post Author: JHC