What Is Sallekhana?

In Jainism, there is an ethical code of content which consists of many vows. One of the vows found in the code of conduct is the vow of Sallekhana, which is the vow of volunteering to fast to death.

This vow can only be done at the end of a person’s life. The person vows to fast to death by gradually reducing the intake of food and liquids. Jains consider this a pure death because it is voluntary, panned, undertaken with calmness and peace. While fasting, the person continually recites the Namokar Mantra to keep his mind focused.

Jains believe that withering of the body and focusing the mind on spiritual matters will end something known as the “rebirth cycle” because the body is withdrawing from all physical and mental capabilities and removing the human passions of the body.

Elderly Jains choose to voluntarily face death through fasting coincides with the Jain belief of Ahimsa or non-violence.

This practice has been dated back to 5th Century BCE and can be found even in today’s Jain communities. According to Jitendra Shah, the Director of L D Institute of Indology in Ahmedabad, an average of about 240 Jains practice Sallekhana each year in India.

According to Jain religious text, every time a soul is reborn it accumulates karma. In order to achieve spiritual enlightenment, it must not have any negative karma attached to it. A pious death, according to criminal defense, reduces any negative karma attached to the soul.

Many modern scholars debate on whether or not the vow of Sallekhana is a form of suicide. According to Jains, the difference lies between the intention. Suicide is not death in the “proper way” because it is done in anger, desire or delusion. India has a history of criminalizing suicide but Jains argued that preventing the vow of Sallekhana is a violation of their freedom of religion.

Where Are The Biggest Jain Communities?

Jainism is noteworthy for being one of the most pacifist religions in the world. It’s not something they preach endlessly without practicing. They follow through. They make up less than a half of one percent of India’s population, where their biggest community thrives. There are also a number of Jains who identify mostly as Hindu, which makes the actual figures harder to find. Where are the biggest Jain communities?

In India, the biggest communities can be found in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh, which also have populations of Jains that exceed ten percent. Karnataka falls just under ten percent, while Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Tamil Nadu all fall below five percent.

If you needed more reason to respect the Jain religion, here’s a big one: they’re great for the economy and humanitarian efforts. They make more money than any other community in India, much of which is shared or donated to charity. They also enjoy one of the highest literacy rates in the country, which leads to more highest graduates.

Jains have a major community in Karnataka called Jain Bunt.

Another smaller community called Jain Komati can be found in South and Central India. These followers have their own Jain institutions.
Another community called Saraks is located throughout Bihar, Bengal, Jharkhand, and Orissa. The followers who make up this community have believed for thousands of years.

Navnat is an umbrella term for several Jain communities in East Africa.

There is a community of about 70,000 who practice in Kenya, most of whom live near big cities.

About 80,000 practice in the United States. Alongside Kenya, these followers make up about half of all who practice outside of India. Most arrived in the 1970s.
Around 17,000 live in the United Kingdom, where they arrived in the 1800s. Although the number of Jains who live there is small, they have a big “presence.” There is a Jain library that was built in 1930 by Champat Rai Jain. He was a scholar who studied law there in the late 19th century.

Smaller communities of Jains still live and thrive in Canada (over 12,000), Tanzania (over 9,000), Nepal (just under 7,000), and then Uganda, Burma, and Malaysia with just over 2,000 people each. Considering the religion’s impact, it’s a wonder it hasn’t spread further around the world!

How The Doctrines of Jainism Are Still Relevant In Today’s Society

The traditions and teachings of Jainism have been around since the second century BCE. Although Jainism is close to  Buddhism and Hinduism and all three religions mutual respect each other, Jainism is a religion who’s doctrines preach non-violence, looking at the world from many points of view, and non-attachment to worldly possessions. And although these ancient texts were written thousands of years ago, what they teach us about human nature and how to behave is enlightening especially in today’s society.

In Jainism, the first Tirthankara or spirit teacher Rishabhanatha believed that peace should be achieved through non-violence. In today’s world where this growing violence and hatred, there’s something to be gained attempting to achieve peace through non-violence. Similar tactics were used by Gandhi when Indian was trying to gain Independence from the United Kingdom. Violent crimes are not the answer to helping to achieve peace.

Another important Jain doctrine is the concept of the three jewels; Samyak Darshan (right perception), Samya Jnana (right knowledge) and Samya Acharan (right conduct). In today’s world, with some much hatred and violence that is being conducted in the name of religion, Jainism has the opposite approach. Jainism emphasizes compassion for all creatures (which is why most Jains are vegans).

Another principle “Ahimsa Paramodharma” which translates to non-violence is the highest moral value isn’t just about abstaining from violence but also indicates caring for human beings.

In regards to climate change, Jainism also has a principle that applies, “Aparigraha” which means not taking what is more than essential to live. With the overconsumption of food and energy, deforestation, and other exploitation of nature in today’s society, ancient principles of Jainism show an alternative way of living.

What Is The Jain Diet?

Jainism is a pacifist religion based on the premise that all living things should live in peace and harmony because they are interconnected. If you have a soul, you are part of an eternal cycle of reincarnation as you seek to liberate that soul. It should come as no surprise that the Jains have an extremely strict diet. Some believe it is the strictest diet followed in India today, where the majority of Jains continue to live and practice. These are some of the rules and restrictions that Jains follow.

Jains are restricted from eating a number of foods, including: potatoes, garlic, onions, green vegetables, and other vegetables that grow underground. Why these and not others? Followers do not eat meat or fish either, but the reasoning is easier to follow.

Many vegetarians don’t believe in the slaughter of animals for food. Not only are many farmed animals treated poorly, but some vegetarians think we have enough other sources of sustenance that there is simply no need to continue this cruelty. The Jain way of life runs parallel to this pacifist idea. Jains believe that the killing of animals for any reason is no different than the killing of humans. Murder is murder, and these are the kinds of acts that result in bad karma.

This idea doesn’t just concern larger animals. Smaller insects and microorganisms are a part of it. Because farming underground vegetables can harm these tiny forms of life, Jains are barred from eating them. The same reasoning applies to drinking or eating fermented foods (which have a large number of living organisms in them). That means many types of alcohol are off-limits.

This practice is often taken to extremes. Many traditional Jains abstain from nighttime eating because light attracts insects. Many refuse to eat foods that have been left out at night because doing so would kill more microorganisms that have multiplied on food surfaces.

Jains practice lacto-vegetarianism, which means that in addition to meat they cannot eat eggs. They are still allowed dairy products, but some scholars and followers prefer a vegan diet because even animals that are farmed for milk must still face cruelty.

Before tap water became available, Jains filtered their water. Some still do the same thing today as a matter of tradition.

Many Indian foods were developed over the centuries with Jain practices in mind. Some Jains own vegetarian restaurants in order to provide other Jains with more options.

What You Need To Know About Paryushan In Jainism

Paryushana is a festival that involves reflection in Jainism where the Jains seek to be forgiven for sins. This festival is known as Das Lakshana Dharma by the Digambar Jains, while the Svetambara call this festival Paryushana. The Jains celebrate the festival by observing a fast as well as partaking in a number of spiritually enlightening meditation sessions. Paryushana is observed in the way of reciting the 10 chapters of the Tattvartha Sutra for the Digambara Jains, along with organizing several processions. The Svetambaras celebrate this festival by reciting Kalpa Sutra which is in Jain text.

The Significance And Purpose Of Paryushan

The true significance and real purpose associated with this particular festival involves repenting and asking for forgiveness against all sins committed, according to New Jersey Employment Attorneys. As the participants observe fasting, they forget about the needs of the body and focus on enriching their souls and their minds. They atone for any sins and take vows to avoid doing wrongs in the future. The fasting is what helps to purify the body and the mind, while the actual festival offers opportunities for introspection and reflection.

The Jains believe that Ratna-Tray, which stands for the 3-jewels of Jainism which translates into right conduct, right faith, and right knowledge is essentially important facets of the religion. To achieve these goals, the Jains are encouraged to always be truthful, non-violent, non-stealing, renouncing all attachments and to be celibate. While many of the Jains find it hard to follow the tenets throughout the year, they focus on following these directives to the best of their abilities during Paryushan.

When Is Paryushana Festival Celebrated?

The festival occurs in the rainy seasons where it becomes difficult for the Jain monks and nuns to go outside barefoot. Chaturmas is the holy period which is held over a period of four months over the rainy seasons. The wandering monks will take up a temporary residence in one spot for these 4 months, while Paryushana is regarded as the most vital part of Chaturmas. It is during these periods where the monks are residing in a specific place, they become accessible, where they are made available to people who seek instructions or the guidance which is set in place by the 24 Tirthankars or the teachers of Jainism.

Rituals Practiced During Paryushan

Fasting forms an important part of this festival. Some of the Jains will fast over the entire celebration while others will fast on the 1st and the last day. On these days, the Jains will eat before the sun goes down and then only drink purified or boiled water. They will avoid eating any leafy and green vegetables. They will also read holy Jain scriptures and books, while meditating and praying to God. The Jains will also listen to lectures and speeches by the Jain monks, along with singing devotional songs.

The reason why fasting is so important over this period, is that it offers the opportunity to eliminate any bad karma. It also helps to develop self-control, patience and discipline. Repentance and forgiveness are some of the most important aspects about Paryuhsna. Every day of the festival will focus on the elimination of several impurities such as greed, deceit, pride and anger along with building up of good virtues.

What Are The Three Jewels of Jainism? What is Ratnatraya?

One of the central tenets of Jainism is emphasizing the concept of Ratnatray roughly translating to the triple gems or three jewels. The three things that they emphasize are the right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct and that these three concepts will lead to liberation or the soul will move up spiritually. Let’s examine each of these jewels more closely.

Right Faith 

Jain’s have a specific philosophy that is comprised of seven fundamental concepts. These include the soul, the non-soul, evil karma, the mixing of karma and the soul, preventing evil karma into the soul, separating the soul and evil karma and ultimately liberation.

In Jainism, a person has the right faith has spiritual calmness and the desire for soul liberation. They will also disregard earthly possessions, be kind and believe in endless birth-life-death south cycle.

Right Knowledge

In Jainism, there are five types of knowledge: sensory knowledge, spiritual knowledge, clairvoyance, telepathy, and omniscience. The theory of knowledge is based on the belief that reality can be viewed from many different viewpoints. The main viewpoints in Jainism include:

  1. In some ways it is
  2. In some ways it is not
  3. In some ways it is and is not
  4. In some ways it is and it is indescribable
  5. In some ways it is not and it is indescribable
  6. In some ways it is, it is not and it is indescribable
  7. In some ways it is indescribable

Right Conduct 

Right conduct refers to the application of the knowledge learned and to control our inner desires in an effort to reach liberation. The fire principles of right conduct include mental calmness in tough situations, penalties (like fasting when losing mental calmness), refraining from injury, control of passions and contemplation of one’s own soul.

Other right conduct refers to the 5 major vows:

  1. Not to hurt living beings by actions or thoughts
  2. Not to lie
  3. Not to steal
  4. Chastity and celibacy
  5. Detachment of personal property

For those who believe in Jainism by following these three jewels, there’s a chance that their soul can reach spiritual enlightenment.

Jain Temples and Customs

Jains are people who follow Jainism, and they pray at places known as Jain temples. The temples that are in Gujarat and in Southern Rajasthan are known as Derasar. Temples or shrines in Karnataka are known as Basadi. In Sanskrit, the word Vasati is used, to imply an institution which includes scholars that live in places attached to the shrines.

Jain temples have distinctive appearances. The ones in North India look rather different to the ones that are located in South India, and the ones in West India differ again. Some temples follow the Shikar-bandhi style, which features a dome. Some follow the Ghar style, which does not have the dome, and is more of a ‘house temple.

The shikar-bandhi temples boast marble pillars, and have beautiful demi-god carvings. The Derasar also has a carving of the main deity, which is called the mulnayak. The main part of the temple, or the Gambhara, is where there is a God idol carved of stone. It is forbidden to enter the Gambhara without bathing and then donning special worship clothes, or ‘puja’.

Some Jain temples are more than 100 years old and are known as pilgrimage centers. These are often termed Tirtha. There is often a pillar constructed in the front of the Jain temples, which has four stone figures of the main god from that temple. These are called ‘Moortis’. Each pillar faces in a different direction (North, South, East, and West).

People who visit a temple are asked to bathe and wear freshly washed clothes. The clothes that one wears inside the temple must not have been worn while the person ate food or visited a washroom. It is permitted to drink water while wearing the clothes. It is forbidden to take leather items into the temple, and footwear (including socks) is also forbidden. It is not allowed to chew gum or eat mints inside the temple, or to put anything inside your mouth. Visitors are asked to be as silent as possible, and to turn off their mobile phones.

The traditional customs of worship and idols should be followed. These vary between Jain sects, so visitors should ask what the particular worship customs are, and do their best to abide by them and to respect the wishes of the Jains in the area. If in doubt, it is best to remain silent and simply wait for guidance from a Jain.

Countries with the Largest Jain Populations

Jainism is an Indian religion that can be traced back to ancient times. Although the majority of Jains live in India, people practice this religion in other parts of the world as well including NYC. If you’re interested in finding the countries with the largest Jain population, there are a few things you’ll need to do.

Research The Subject

Start learning everything you can about Jainism. If you develop a deeper understanding of this religion, you’ll be able to spot the countries that have the most substantial Jain populations in the world.

As mentioned above, the largest concentration of Jains can be found in India. However, if you learn more about Jainism, you’ll be able to see how this religion has spread. This will allow you to see where the Jains of the world have migrated to. You’ll be able to find areas where many people choose to practice Jainism.

Talk To Other People That Practice Jainism

If you know someone that is a Jain, you should talk to them about their religious beliefs. Let them know that you would like to learn more about Jainism. They should be able to provide you with a lot of useful information.

Even if you don’t know anyone that believes in Janism, you should try to connect with Jains in your area. Many people will be happy to speak with you on this subject. If you take the time to talk to people about Jainism, you’ll gain a lot of valuable insight and a perspective you’ve never considered before.

Keep Learning More

Religious demographics are constantly changing. As religions spread, the countries with the largest populations of Jains might start to change. That’s why you should continue to study this religion if you’re curious about the subject. You’ll be able to see how Jainism changes going forward.

Because Jainism is an ancient religion, you shouldn’t expect the religion to change too radically. With that said, every religion of the world has changed at one point or another. Don’t assume that you know everything there is to know about Jainism. There are always going to be opportunities for you to learn more.

Jainism may bring you the peace you have been looking for. It may be the answer to a stressful life or coping with a tough time, like a loved one’s death or injury. If you’re interested in finding the countries that have the largest Jain populations, you should follow the advice that is listed above. These suggestions will allow you to find regions in which many people practice Jainism. It’s easy than ever to learn more about Jains.


Design Elements Of The Shikhara Temple

In Sanskrit, the word Shikhara means “mountain peak” which is how these beautiful temples with extremely tall towers of spires earned their name. This temple architecture is very common in Texas and in both Hindu temples as well as Jain temples.

Jain Shikhara

When referring to Jain Shikhara temples, there are three types of shikharas, the Latina, Sekhari, and Bhumija. One thing that they all have in common is the fact that the temples contain a deity enshrined within the temple.

The Latina shikhara has four different faces and each face will often have projections. All of the design elements curve towards the top and the structure has a uniform look.

The Sekhari shikhara has spires and spirelets that reinforce the main design. The spires will cover the entire face. The spires can come in multiple sizes and there are often spirelets on the corners of the temple. This highly decorative temple style is ornate.

The Bhumija style tower has many small spires that go both horizontally and vertically. The spires go all the way to the top and this effect makes the tower look like a grid. The shape isn’t round and it looks more like a pyramid than anything else. You will find this style often in West India.

Hindo Shikhara

The shikhara style is found in Hindu temples and these temples also have their own unique styles of shikharas; Nagara, Vesara and Dravidian.

The Nagara style is often found in North India. This type of shikhara has a curved shape that is very high.

The Vesara style has more of a conical shape and it features a lot of very intricate carvings.

The Dravidian style is often found in Southern India. It has four sides and has a shape like a pyramid with pavilions that get progressively smaller as they get to the top. This straight structure is detailed and ornate.

Common Design Elements 

Every type of shikhara structure is going to have an urn at the peak which is used for offerings. If you are going to be in India you are definitely going to want to spend some time visiting these temples as they are fascinating to look at. Each temple has a storied history and they are very impressive.

The temples are inspiring and they have so much history. They are beautiful and you feel a sense of awe when you look at them. Knowing the design elements of the temples helps you to understand them more.

History of The Swastika

It’s a shame that such a symbol was so perversely tainted by Nazi Germany by the end of World War II. To the western world, it was originally known as a symbol of good luck and fortune. Although the west now views it as a symbol of the most egregious evils ever committed, the swastika is still used with its original meaning in mind in many parts of India, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. There, the swastika is sacred. It is an important symbol to the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Believe it or not, historians aren’t entirely certain about the origins of the swastika. That’s because it definitely appeared during the Neolithic period which began as early as 10,200 BC. The Neolithic period was sometimes called The New Stone Age, and ran parallel to the end of the hunting-gathering way of life and beginning of the agricultural revolution. It ended when metal tools were devised. By this time, the swastika was everywhere. It’s difficult to imagine this was only the beginning since written records and art from before this period were so scarce.

The swastika may indeed have been conceived earlier than that. There are rough swastika-like designs on mammoth ivory carved into the shape of a bird, a object that is at least 15,000 years old. Such objects are known to be of Jain origin, a religion which believes that the pattern could symbolize fertility. Others believe that this interpretation of the aforementioned bird could be wishful thinking, and may did not depict a true swastika.

There might be other reasons that this is such a popular early design. Many cultures have spiritual or religious teachings based on the four elements: wind, water, fire and earth. Some historians believe that each arm of an early swastika represents each of these respective elements, while the whole represents the sun. Other historians believe that the arms are symbolic of each of the four seasons. The swastika pops up repeatedly throughout history whenever the number “four” is important to an idea or culture.

Other uses of the swastika as a symbol occurred in early Iran, Bulgaria, and Egypt. Even earlier, the Illyrians, Celts, Greeks, Germans, and Slavs used it often. Because of its pervasiveness in so many different parts of the world, some historians believe it to be a symbol of the universe.

Civil rights have come a long way since World War II, and although the current global push toward ultra-conservative political policies seems to underpin the idea that the past can indeed come back to haunt us, perhaps it’s time to forget about the swastika’s meaning to Nazi Germany. Certainly, the association with racism and murder remains, but the symbol is so much more than that to so many people around the world who fight for peace and prosperity between all of nature’s creatures.