Why The Swastika Is An Important Part Of Jainism

When many people think of the swastika, it is associated with Nazism and hate. The reality is that it is used in some cultures and religions and the meaning is not the same. In fact, this is an important symbol for those who practice Jainism.

As you can tell immediately from looking at it, there are four arms on a swastika. Each of them signifies something essential to those who follow this religion. There are four states of existence, and each arm represents a different state of being. These are:

1. Heavenly beings

2. Humans

3. Those who dwell in hell

4. Tiryancha, which are subhuman beings, like plants and animals.

Based on an individual level of karma, all beings will be classified into one of these four states. The goal is for people who follow this religion to achieve a heightened state of enrichment and enlightenment. The three tenets of this concept are faith, conduct and understanding. The three dots that are above the swastika are symbolic of these three ideals.

There is a crescent shape and an additional dot at the very top of the Jainism swastika symbol. This is there to symbolize the perfect state of liberation.

Another interpretation of the swastika would be the representation of the four columns of Jain Sangha. These are: sadhvis, sadhus, shravikas and sravakas. This represents monks, nuns, females and males, respectively.

It is also used to represent the four characteristics of the soul of a being. These are: infinite happiness, infinite knowledge, infinite energy and infinite perception.

This may seem like a great deal for one symbol to represent, but it encompasses all of these. If you are someone who is interested in this religion or one who is new to Jainism, it is understandable that trying to digest all of this will be pretty overwhelming.

Many who convert to Jainism find the symbol a bit disturbing because of what they were taught about it in other parts of their lives. While this is normal, over time you must let this go and learn to understand the swastika based on what it represents to you in the world of Jain. There is no way to reach the heightened state of being that you hope to until you let go of your prior thoughts on this symbol and learn what it means in this case.

Information On The Jain Pilgrimage Known As Tirtha

Jainism is founded on the belief of needing to achieve liberation as a soul.

This is done by achieving “Moksha” or liberation as described in the Sanskrit. Those who can do this can free themselves from the karmic bond and move on as a soul while those who don’t are trapped until they make changes. Due to this concept, the Jain Pilgrimage plays a major role in the path to liberation.

Here is more on the Jain Pilgrimage or “Tirtha” in Jainism.

Where Are These Pilgrimage Sites?

Tirthas or Jain Pilgrimage sites are spread across the nation of India.

They are present in few parts of Kansas City and all parts of India for believers of Jainism. For example, a person can find tirthas in South India (Gummileru, Humbaj, or Shravanabelagola). Believers are told where these sites are and each one has a religious context to it based on history.

These sites are named Tirtha because it stands for “a shallow body of water.”

Other examples of Tirthas in India include Jain Pilgrimage sites located in Ashtapada, Taxila, Pundravardhana, Siddhayatan, Muktagiri, and Mahudi to name a few. Overall, there are a combined 26 locations both in India and overseas.

Types of Tirthas

Not only are there Tirthas across India and the planet, but there are also various types of Tirthas a believer can go to in his lifetime.

Let’s take a look at what these types are.

1) Atishayakshetras
2) Puranakshetras
3) Siddhakshetras
4) Gyanakshetra

Starting with Atishayakshetras, these are Tirthas where divine events have taken place over the course of Jain history. Some of the sites include Ladnu and Shravanabelagola. The divine events taken place at these sites are written in religious texts illustrating their importance.

Moving onto Puranakshetras, these are Tirthas or pilgrimage sites where great men from Jain culture have lived such as Rajgir and Ayodhya to name a few. These are religious figures who have a prominent role in the religious texts and are looked up to by believers.

With Siddhakshetras, these are Tirthas where Tirthankaras have attained liberation or Moksha. Some of these sites include Champapuri, Ashtapada Hill, and Pawapuri.

The final type of Tirtha comes in the form of Gyanakshetra. These Tirthas are where acharyas were set up (centers of learning). These were places where Jainism is or was taught making them the educational backbone of the religion. An example of this type would be Shravanabelagola.

If you would like to learn more about the Tirtha, please watch the following video:

How Does The Concept Of Karma Work In Jainism?

The term “karma” has gained worldwide usage as time has gone on but it has a direct correlation with Jainism.

For Jainism, life revolves around the idea of karma and the karmic bond a person is put in until he/she liberates themselves. It is important for those who follow Jainism to understand what life means through the concept of karma. Let’s take a look at what the concept of karma means in Jainism and how it works.

Meaning of Life

To understand the principle of Karma through Jainism, it’s important to recognize how it ties in with the meaning of life.

In general, Jainism states a human being is trapped in the temporal world as a mortal due to a karmic bond that’s present. This bond keeps the person in a cycle of life and death until he/she liberates themselves. If this doesn’t take place, they remain in the bond.

Those who can understand how karma works recognize the importance of liberating themselves by achieving good karma.

What Is Karma?

Karma is the idea of a psycho-cosmology that weighs good vs. evil actions.

For example, a person that lies might be attracting negative karma, and that has an impact on a person’s path to liberation in Jainism. Those who continue to sin or get lost in the vices of mortality give into this karmic bond and trap themselves. While those who don’t continue to progress through the various stages of Moksha.

Karma is a way to illustrate each decision a person makes has an overarching impact on his/her life. It is not lost in the moment.

A person who does a good deed can be rewarded for it later on whether it’s in the temporal world or on the path to liberation. While those who commit a harmful act will be hurt in the temporal world or their journey to Moksha.

Karma is used to understand why human beings have to go through suffering on a day-to-day basis. Whether it is murders, rapes, or a simple case of corruption, it is karma that is playing a role for all involved parties. A person who commits a bad deed now will pay for it due to the overarching psycho-cosmology.

It is also used as a way to illustrate why a person is put into this world and what’s expected of him/her moving forward.

The Jain Festival Of Diwali

There is a very important occasion celebrated by people all over India. This is known as the Festival of Diwali and it is an integral part of the culture. While it is celebrated by those who are Sikhs, Hindus and Jains, each of them has different reasons for celebrating and their own methods of commemorating the day.

One thing that makes it unique as far as Jainism goes is the meaning. For them, this is a celebration of the day that Mahavira achieved Nirvana and gave his final teaching. This is an extremely symbolic time for Jains and this festival gives them the opportunity to express that.

Those who are very religious like to be literal when it comes to showing respect to Mahavira. The way that they do this is by fasting for two days. This is what he did and they feel that following his lead is a sign of reverence. Keep in mind that all Jains do not do this. It is typically done by those who are very religious and focused on being as traditional in their beliefs as possible.

Once he achieved his state of Nirvana, other gods marked this occasion by lighting lamps to illuminate the area. For this reason, people all over India light lamps during the festival. This occasion is five days long and people tend to keep their lamps lit the entire time. Allowing them to burn out and stay unlit is considered by some to be a sign of disrespect.

This is a day that Jains go to the temple in order to learn more about the teachings of Mahavira. Once they have completed this they carry pictures and representations of him through the streets. Parents also take this time to hand out candy to all of the children.

Once Diwali has concluded, there is a festival that follows. This is known as Kartak Purnima. Jains usually use this time to plan trips to one or more of the holy sites.

As you were told earlier, this festival is not celebrated the same by people of all religions, especially if they are an attorney. This was written to give you some insight on how the Jains celebrate. You will have to do a bit more research if you would like to know how Hindus and Sikhs commemorate the day. While the spirituality may be similar, there are several things that make it very different.

If you would like to learn more about Diwali, please watch the following video:

All About The Festival Of Paryushana

The festival known as Paryushana (also called Daslakshana) is a Jain religious observance and is one of the most important holy events for Jains no matter where they live. Typically celebrated in August or September according to the Jain calendar, the festival lasts between 8 and 10 days, though the exact date and length is based on different interpretations of Jain scripture used by different Jain sects. During this festival, believers emphasize the five main vows of Jainism, and while there are no set rules that absolutely must be adhered to, Jain are encouraged to practice the five vows according to their ability and desires.

Recitation of the Tattvartha Sutra is a regular ritual during Paryushana, while other sects have other, more personalized ritual as well. The recitation of the Tattvartha Sutra happens across each day of the festival. Faithful Jains are encouraged to fast during the festival if they can manage to do so. However there is little stigma for a person who has a great deal of reason to not fast, traditionally pregnant women and young children. As medical science advances, other reasons have emerged, such as regaining weight after cancer treatments or during treatments to try and increase a dangerously low weight.

The purpose of Daslakshana is so that the lay people in Jainism, ordinary believers who do not hold a position as a religious cleric of some kind, known as the Sravakas, can ritually increase their spiritual intensity. In addition to fasting and recitation of scripture, Jain also work towards prayer and meditation intended to help them strengthen their spirits against karmic taint that can afflict all souls through wrong deeds.

The festival is focused heavily on the concept of forgiveness and the last day of any Paryushana festival is known as Kshamavani, which roughly translates to “forgiveness day”. Though as with most translations of different langauges across very different cultures, nuances are often lost in translation. During Kshamavani, believers speak the words “Micchami Dukkadam” a Jain phrase that is long and complex, but at its simplest is asking one’s neighbors for forgiveness for any offense committed during the previous year, whether it was known at the time or not.

In India, the birthplace of Jainism, a number of slaughter houses are shut down during the festival in recognition of the holy period. Official closures of slaughter houses by law were recently ruled to be legal in the Supreme Court of India.

What Is The Process Of Pratikramana?

Pratikramana is a form of Jainism in which people focus on introspection. It is a process that someone will go through, repenting of sins. They do this on a continual basis, reminding themselves of what they have done so they do not make the same mistakes. The amount of repentance that is done will vary, but it typically occurs twice a day. There are many aspects to practicing this form of self reflection. This includes Samayika, the practice of maintaining your composure and temper in a perpetual state of calm this. They will also pray to what are called the Five Supremes, and a series of other deity like figures who work together.

What Is The Purpose Of Pratikramana?

There are several objectives with this form of Jainism. The first of which has already been mentioned. You are trying to reflect upon your present and past actions. Your goal is to learn from your mistakes in real time, making sure that you don’t make the same once again, but it also focuses on detachment from the body. It is thought that our attachment to our body, and the way we are influenced by our environment, will contribute to the mistakes that we make. It also requires people to make resolutions, decisions not to make mistakes in this life, and if you do return, not to make them in the next life either.

Why Is This So Different From Other Forms Of Jainism?

The reason that this is so different is that the main focus is not on the physical body. It’s on the decisions that you make. It is believed that our ability to correct our choices, and learn from them, is the key to breaking out of the Wheel of Samsara. The basic theme behind Jainism is a type of self perfection, with a primary goal of remaining on the other side. It is that goal which precludes all forms of Jainism to some degree, and through the recapitulation process that people go through with Pratikramana, they have a very strong chance of, at the very least, becoming better people.

Pratikramana is a way of improving the self, one that many people follow. It is less taxing than many of the other forms of Jainism designed to achieve the same goal. The theory behind this way of living is to always be mindful of every decision that you make understanding that every choice has the potential for helping you achieve freedom.

If you are interested in meditating, watch the following video!

Understanding Jainism: The Six Essential Duties

In Jainism, there are six essential duties that are considered fundamental for householders. Here is a brief overview for anyone who is trying to gain a better understanding.

1. The first of the essential duties involves worship of Panca-Paramesthi. These are the five supreme beings of the religions. They are:

– Arhat

– Acarya

– Siddha

– Upadhyaya

– Muni

One way to fulfill this duty would be to mention each of these beings while you are performing meditation rituals.

2. You must follow the preachings of the Jain saints. There is no way to regard yourself as a true follower if you don’t make it a point to adhere to this golden rule. Keep in mind that this is not something that can be forced and one should have a sincere desire to follow this.

3. One must study Jain scriptures as much as possible. This does not mean that you have to consume yourself with these teachings during every waking moment, but it should certainly be a part of your daily activities. The scriptures are available in many languages, including English, Sanskrit, Tamil and Hindi.

4. Samayika is the next step toward fulfilling all of your duties. This involves meditating and achieving a true state of serenity. Householders should practice this duty at least three times each day. This takes about 48 minutes daily, so do what you can to fit this into your schedule, regardless of how busy you might be.

5. While living life, it is important for one to remain disciplined. This is part of many religions, but it is crucial when it comes to Jainism. This is applicable to all areas of life, including work, school and home.

6. Charity is a non-negotiable part of Jainism. In fact, there are four types that need to be performed:

– The giving of knowledge to others.

– Donating medicine

– Offering food to those who need it, including animals.

– Saving the life of any kind of living being and protecting those who are at risk.

Whether you are merely curious or you are a new follower of this religion, you should now have a great deal of insight about what is expected of householders. These six duties are an integral part of showing your dedication. Again, these are essential and a must for those who are faithful followers of this religion.

The History of Neminatha in the Jain Religion

Neminatha is the name of the 22nd Tirthankara in the Jain religion. He also goes by the name of Nemi, or Aristanemi. There are four Tirthankaras that are considered the most important to many Jains, and Neminatha is one of those four, and attracts devoted worship. The other four are Mahavira, Rishabhanatha and Parshvanatha.

The Jain beliefs state that Neminatha lived 84,000 years before the next ford-maker, Parshvanatha. He reputedly lived for 1,000 years, and was the youngest son of Sumudravijaya and Shivadevi. He is also reportedly the cousin of Krishna, the Hindu god, and he was born at Sauriura.

Neminatha grew up herding cattle, and had a lot of fondness for animals as a result. On his wedding day, he heard the animals that were being killed for the upcoming feast crying out, and he was moved to renounce the world because of their sorrow. Now, the Jainism religion encourages vegetarianism.

The name Neminatha is made up of Nemi, which means ‘thunderbold’, or ‘rim of a wheel’, and Natha, which means ‘patron, protector or lord’. The Jina are thought of as the rim of the wheel of dharma. Interestingly, the 21st Tirthankara was called Naminatha, which is a similar spelling. Neminatha was the next Tirthankara, and there was a gap of 500,000 years between them.

Neminatha was a shy but handsome man, and according to the legend, he was taunted by Krishna’s wife, Satyabhama, and was not an attorney. He picked up Krishna’s conch, and blew it, astounding them as no-one could lift the conch except for Krishna. After this, Neminatha was challenged to a duel by Krishna to test his strength, and Neminatha defeated him handily. When Krishna went to war against Jarasandha, Neminatha was alongside him.

Neminatha is seen by historians as a legendary character. There are many references to him in literature, and there are lots of examples of his iconography in the forms of carvings and sculptures dating back to the sixth century. There are differences in his skin color and other characteristics, depending on the region that the iconography comes from. The overall idea is the same, however, with the konch often playing an important part in any setting, and he is often depicted with it.

There are many temples devoted to Neminatha and to his history, and his story makes an integral part of the Jain religion and to their vows.

If you would like to learn more about Jainism, please watch the following video:

Who Is Parshvanatha In Hindu Mythology?

When you look at Hindu mythology, specifically at the Tirthankaras or teachers, there is one called Parshvanatha. The second to last of all 24 of these ford-makers in Jainism, he is generally acknowledged but there is very little on his biography. It is thought that he was born around the eighth century BC. Others will argue that it was a century later. Like many of these masters, they renounced their life, and began to follow asceticism. In this particular master is credited with what is called the four fold restraint. It is simply for things you should not do which include never own property, lie, steal, and do not kill your fellow man.

Why He Was Omniscient And His Death

It was at the age of 30 that he was able to attain a form of enlightenment. He was under what was called the Dhaataki tree. He performed asceticism, but he also meditated for 84 days which is what allowed him to achieve Kevala Jnana. After learning all of this, he began to teach people. He did so for 70 years. It was at the age of 100 that he died, and his name is said to mean beloved of the people because of all of the things he had done for people in his land.

Previous Births And Disciples

According to the Jain mythologies, Parshvanatha was said to have had several rebirth’s which included coming back as an animal and a human. He was always moving toward inner harmony, and came back as many different people including the prime minister of King Aravinda, an elephant, and even a sage. He had many disciples that are discussed in the Jain texts. After his death, his disciple Subhadatta became the leader. The teachings were very similar to many of the others taught in the Jain traditions with the four fold restraint teachings being the one that sets him apart from the others.

Parshvanatha is one of the few Tirthankaras that does not have a very detailed history. Despite that, there are many accounts of how he was able to reach enlightenment, teach the people, and how he did have disciples. It was even stated that he had given up close, and added celibacy to the monistic vows. You will definitely know that you are looking at artwork or statues of Parshvanatha because he is depicted with a serpent hood that is over his head.

What is Sallekhana in Jainism?

Sallekhana is a type of vow that people take in Jainism, a type of ethical code that must be followed. It is a form of starvation, where a person will gradually consume less food and water, literally fasting to death. According to those that follow Jainism, it is a way of reducing human passions, and at the same time, reducing the body in size. It is thought to be a way of destroying the possibility of karma causing us to be reborn. The goal is to remove oneself from as many mental and physical activities as possible. According to those that practice Jainism, this is not suicide. They deem suicide to be an act of passion, whereas this is not. It is simply a way of breaking the cycle of rebirth.

Who Takes The Sallekhana Vow?

It is a vow that is taken by Jain ascetics, and is very uncommon in modern cities like Staten Island. It has actually led to people debating on whether or not this is defying a person’s right to live, contrasting that with religious freedom. There was actually a court case in 2015 where this practice was banned because it was considered an act of suicide. However, the Supreme Court of India at the final say where they lifted the ban, allowing people to pursue this thou in an attempt to purify their body and mind.

What Are The Conditions Of Taking The Sallekhana Vow?

Today, those that take the vow do so when conditions are appropriate. For example, if someone has a terminal illness, they can undertake this vow because their death is inevitable. It is one of five valves that you can take which also includes celibacy, and the duration of time can be a few weeks to several years. Archaeologists have actually found memorial statues to commemorate those that died using this ritual vow, one that actually translates to attaining enlightenment through wasting away.

Although this is not the first choice that many people make us they are pursuing enlightenment, it is a vow that is open to those that follow Jainism. In today’s society, it is often a measure of last resort, a vow that people will take to improve themselves in regard to the cycle of life and death. Although it is not considered to be suicide, it is an act that will certainly lead to the end of your life. This might be an ongoing debate for many decades to come in regard to its relationship to suicide, but for the devout, it is seen as a way of improving their soul and preventing rebirth once again.

If you would like to learn more, please watch the following video: