What is Parasparopagraho Jivanam?

Parasparopagraho Jivanam comes from ancient Sanskrit. The words when translated into English roughly means that ‘everything in life is connected and dependent on each other’. This philosophical religious style of thinking believes that everything is important, everything has a soul, even a microbe or a worm or a beetle, all the way up to human beings. Followers of Jainism believe that science should be achieved through the observation of the things that exist without disturbing them.

Modern science studies things by doing just the opposite which is disturbing them for the purpose of observing. Some people say that Jainism represents the earliest belief that there were unseen microorganisms that existed and has therefore been attached to the earliest beginnings of modern science. Of course, the big thing that stands between this philosophical religion and science is the belief that observation should be done without disturbing the nature of things.

Modern science believes that disturbing things and seeing what happens is the best way of progressing scientific knowledge. Most modern science prefers to see itself as disconnected from philosophy or religious thinking. Those who follow the ideas of Jainism typically stress the ideas and philosophy of nonviolence and protecting nature and the natural harmony that it has created.

Declaration Of Nature

According to one of the leaders of this philosophy, if someone fails to recognize the interconnectedness of vegetation, air, water, and fire, they fail to understand the fundamental truths about themselves and their surroundings. This philosophy believes that everything that exists is dependent on one another and for that reason when the nature around us is not cared for then we put ourselves in jeopardy.

Jainism Motto

The actual phrase Parasparopagraho Jivanam is considered the motto of this philosophy. The center of this philosophy is about the harmony of nature and the pursuit of non-violent acts and that motto is considered its epiphany. It is said that this motto has been adopted and accepted by all sects and versions of this philosophical pursuit.

Anyone claiming an understanding of this phrase will believe in the preservation of nature and the ways of those things and circumstances found in nature. To disturb the harmony of one thing is to disturb the harmony of all things. Caring for and protecting all things in nature is thought to be the path to caring for oneself.

This philosophical religion from India simply teaches to love nature. Understand that all things including people are interconnected with all other things. It teaches that everything from a microscopic organism to human beings are important.

For more information, check out the following video:

Jainism: The 5 Main Vows & What They Mean

Jainism is a non-theistic religion, meaning there isn’t any focus on a god or deity entity that gives laws from heaven. Jainism comes from India where it was founded sometime around the 6th century BC as a sort of “counter-reaction” to the orthodox teachings of brahmanism at the time. Jainism teaches that salvation occurs through a multi-life process of striving for perfection with a strong emphasis on giving no harm to living creatures.

The tenants of the Jain faith come from five main vows, often called the five abstinences or the five ascetics. If you want to understand the Jain faith then you need to understand these.

#1: The Vow of Ahimsa (Non-Violence)
The most important of the vows, and the cornerstone of Jainism, is the vow of non-violence. This refers to the cornerstone belief that no living being has a right to injure, harm, or kill any other living being. This includes everything living: insects, plants, & animals. They understand that it’s impossible to survive without killing or injuring some life, so the goal is minimum killing.

Violence means every type: mental, emotional, and psychological count and need to be avoided as much as physical violence. Even thinking or imagining harm towards someone is considered forbidden violence.

#2: The Vow of Satya (Truthfulness)
The vow of truthfulness doesn’t just mean never lying and avoiding deception, but it goes one step further to demanding of followers to have the courage to tell the truth and kindly correct falsehoods in the open, even if that can mean harm to oneself.

#3: The Vow of Asteya (Not Stealing)
The vow of not stealing goes hand in hand with the vow of truth. This not only means the basic of not taking property that isn’t yours or credit for something you didn’t do, but also having a realistic understanding of what you need versus what would be comfortable. When taking alms or donations, not stealing means taking only the minimum of what you need – not more to be comfortable.

#4: The Vow of Aparigraha (Non-Acquisition)
This vow starts with the idea that the more attachment to material forms of wealth you have, the more you will fall into sin. While material wealth and possessions are the main focus, on the high level with monks this even goes to pushing away from the pleasures of sensation, feelings, or even relationships.

#5: The Vow of Brahmacarya (Chaste Living)
In this case chaste living means the total and complete abstinence from sensual pleasure, including thoughts, as well as abstaining from the various pleasures of the senses which can mean music from the ears, spices for the taste, the beauty of a member of the opposite sex on the eyes, etc.

These are the main 5 vows of Jainism.

What Is Asceticism?

Have you ever heard of the term asceticism? This is a way of life, one that revolves around a very significant focus on self-discipline. It requires the practitioner to avoid any and all forms of indulgence, and though they claim not to be religious, it is often done for personal reasons. The most famous representation of an ascetic was the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, a man who founded the religion that we call Buddhism today. Instead of becoming a lawyer, he practiced asceticism before he received enlightenment in order to understand the nature of the world and universe. Let’s go over what asceticism is, what you can accomplish, and the different ways of going about this path toward achieving some form of spiritual enlightenment.

What Does An Ascetic Believe

Those that practice asceticism believe that by depriving yourself of the pleasures of the world, you can find deeper truths. There are a couple forms of asceticism which include natural asceticism which is a very simplistic way of life and unnatural asceticism which involves inflicting pain upon the body. In either case, the main focus of the ascetic is to move toward what they believe to be a spiritual transformation. This ideology has been found in many religions including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and even Taoism.

What Is The End Goal Of Asceticism?

The primary goal of asceticism is to become a better person, one that is not affected by the outside or external environment. We are all focused upon our lives, and what we can detect with our five senses, and the goal of the aesthetic is to not be controlled by the thoughts and impulses that your environment can provide. The primary goal is to ignore worldly pleasures, and embrace the spiritual world, from which these people believe they have originated from.

If you have ever wondered what asceticism is about, it really comes down to realizing your true nature. Through isolation, and denial of the world and all that it has to offer, you are able to connect with the universe. Another way of looking at the final result of asceticism is to awaken to your true nature. Either way, it is the goal of the practitioner to become a better person, and the only way that they believe that this can happen is to either experience suffering to a great degree or simply avoid interacting with worldly pleasures that are in your local environment.

Do you still find yourself asking what asceticism is? This video should have you covered!

What is the Concept of Aparigraha?

Aparigraha is a concept relating to the absence of possessiveness. This is one of the main virtues of Jainism. Aparigraha is the opposite of parigrah. Parigrah relates to keeping things or possessions because they are necessary.

One way to think of aparigraha is being aware of change in life. It is inevitable and it happens constantly. You may wish your children could remain babies, but you know that they must change and grow into adults. You yourself must grow older with every passing day. This is aparigraha -the living understanding that there is no way to hold on to anything including moments of time. There is no way to truly possess anything.

If you try to hold on to the past, for example, you can make yourself depressed or anguished. It is only by awakening to the lessons that come with letting go and not holding on that we find true peace.

As a word, it is closest to the Sanskrit word vairagya. This is the word for detachment. This is a path that India’s holy men take when they leave all worldly possessions behind and go on to live lives of austerity.

It is fine to possess material objects for the purpose of using them in life. For instance, owning a cup or a spoon has a use for one to feed oneself. However, it is the possession or hoarding of objects or things for the purpose of having more that becomes the antithesis of aparigraha. Respecting oneself and others as well as being aware of earthly needs is important but so is distinguishing those needs from wants.

There are physical needs but when the senses begin approaching desires for the sake of satisfying those desires there is a problem. This behavior leads to taking more than what is needed or to being dishonest or stealing from others.

The word can be broken down to mean grab or take. This is the essence of Graha. The pari refers to taking on all sides. The “a” negates these two words making the meaning of the whole word that of non-accumulation or detachment.

Many people who practice yoga will also practice Aparigraha as it is one of the Yamas. There are poses that help one to physically practice the art of non-attachment. The balance is found between taking and receiving as well as keeping and letting go.

The Guide To Understanding Anekantavada

The principle of Syadvada, or Anekantavada, is one of the most valuable contributions in Jainism to global thought. Also referred to as the Philosophy of Non-absolutism or the theory of Relatively, this doctrine proves to show us how to realize the many aspects of the truth.

Every Substance Has Many Distinct Aspects

Bhagavan Mahavira stated that every substance on Earth has an infinite number of qualities or attributes, and these qualities can be seen from many different angles. Similar to the many sides of a prism, or the two unique sides of a coin, a similar situation can be viewed differently depending on the viewpoint.

For example, a woman can be a mother of a daughter and a daughter of a mom. She can also be someone’s niece, sister, aunt, grandmother, sister-in-law, etc.

Another example is location. You may live in a state that is considered southern by those who live in the north, or the state could be considered west for those who live east.

As a result, every substance or situation should be viewed from different sides so the underlying truth can be realized in all of its aspects. This doctrine aims to help people understand things from a viewpoint of others. When a person ignores other angles of a situation or substance, he or she will never fully realize the truth in its many aspects.

How To Reach The Kingdom Of Truth

Anekantavada teaches that through diverse ways, the truth can be found. The doctrine also teaches that humans should never impose their thoughts, opinions or views on someone else. Instead, we should try to reconcile with these thoughts and views. Therefore, if this principle is practiced in earnest, we will be able to remove our selfish, biased and short-sighted viewpoint.

We should remove disharmony and discord from our lives and replace them with harmony and concord by tolerant not only in our lives, but also how we treat those around us.

Can Be Applied To All Parts Of Life

Through this principle, we can be shown how to respect differing opinions of everyone in the world. As free thinkers, we can appreciate this principle for being the cornerstone of many democracies around the globe without using drugs. Unity can be established during diversity. This Jainism principle also promises there will the reconciliation of conflicting thoughts, systems, religions and ideologies.

Therefore, it is considered a powerful instrument for peace around the world.

Anekantavada has considered every possible situation in life. It has analyzed these situations and has guided people towards the correct path.

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

What Is Ahisma And How To Apply It In Your Life

What is Ahimsa and how can you practice it in your daily life? Read on to learn more about Ahimsa. We will also explain how to practice it.

What Is Ahimsa
In short, it is the practice of not harming anything living, and this goes for lifeless objects too. The practice is more about intent instead of committing action. For example, it doesn’t necessarily mean to not harm or kill because this is inevitable if you eat meat or plants or if you accidentally step on insects. What it really is all about is being non-violent and having a benevolence attitude.

Furthermore, Ahimsa is a major component of yoga. If you want to live a yogic life and a more fulfilling one, then you should practice it. Below are a few ways you can do it.

Don’t be violent towards living things is how you can apply Ahimsa to your daily life. This can be interpreted different ways, but generally speaking you want to do your best to not lose your temper and lay hands on another person or anything living. If possible, you should try to go vegan or eat foods that do the least amount of damage to the environment.

Another thing you want to do is be as friendly to the earth as you possibly can be. Recycle whenever you have the opportunity to do so and do don’t litter. Instead of getting around via car, you should walk and take bike rides. Not only that, but support local farmers markets and local businesses because they don’t rely on transportation as much as larger companies.

A good way to practice Ahimsa is to get out of a negative mindset and keep your mind and body healthy. Don’t do drugs or take part in self-harm, and be compassionate towards others. You can do small things such as give people compliments, smile at them because they will smile back and this will make you feel good. Every time you get up in the morning, think of the things you are the most grateful for and then say thank you for those things before you head to bed in the evening.

There are many benefits of practicing Ahimsa. Now that you know how to implement it into your daily life, you should definitely do it. As time goes by, you will start to notice the benefits and you will feel better and more empowered and at ease with yourself and the world.

Who Is Mahavira?

The religion of Jainism has millions of followers on the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. However, it is not well-known in the Western World. Immigration of some citizens, the Internet, universal laws, and globalization of mass media and culture are changing that though. If you’re curious about this faith, you’ll come across a certain name quite often, leading to the inevitable question, just who is Mahavira?

In short, Mahavira is the man who is widely regarded as being the individual that gave the religion of Jainism it’s modern-day form. It should be noted that the recognition he gets for doing this is done so rather broadly. He’s actually sometimes called the founder of the faith, which he is not.

Mahavira is the most recent tirthankara of this world, and the last one of the current age. It’s actually a little more accurate to consider him as a reformer that popularized an ancient lifestyle instead of someone that founded a religion.

Mahavira was born in Vardhmana, which is in the northeastern region of India. Traditionally, his birthdate is listed as 599 BCE, although a number of contemporary scholars list it as 540 BCE and even later.

The man was royalty, a prince whose parents were King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala. They were members of the kshatriya, or warrior, caste. They followed the teachings of Parshva.

Around the age of 30, Mahavira’s parents both died, and he fled the royal palace so he could live in the lifestyle of a sadhana, or ascetic, renouncing all worldly comforts and pleasures. Over the following decade, he went through serious bouts of meditation and fasting. In this period, he allegedly attained a form of enlightenment, leading to his name of Mahavira.

He added studied and preached Parshva’s four Jain principles of no possessions, no lying, no stealing, and no violence, but added chastity to the mix as well. Tradition holds that his community of Jainism followers included 14,000 monks on top of 36,000 nuns at the time of his death.

Jainism continued to grow, eventually spreading into central and even western India before being challenged by the growth of Hinduism before starting to bounce back in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Jainism is considered one of the four primary Indian religions, also sometimes coupled together as the Dharmic faiths. On top of geographic proximity, there are many common historical roots and common beliefs between Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism.

Attached below is a video about Mahavira. Watch it now to learn even more about this interesting aspect of Jain Culture!

Who is Shalivahana?

Many of the legends that are passed down from antiquity are based on a small kernel of truth, even though they are greatly distorted over centuries or millennia. Shalivahana was supposedly an emperor who ruled over parts of ancient India, and we believe this contemporary legend was based on a real man (or men). His seat of power, according to the stories, was located in Pratishthana, or today’s Paithan, Maharashtra. We’ll never know for sure, but we can discuss what we hear from the stories as they were passed down.

Part of the reason we’ll never know for sure how accurate the stories about Shalivahana really are is that many of them contradict one another. Another legendary emperor, Vikramaditya of Ujjain, is often intertwined in stories about Shalivahana. In some, Shalivahana has a familial relation with Vikramaditya, while in others the two are enemies. Then again, who is to say both stories cannot be true to some extent? These stories often present the two rivals as promoters of different types of language, with Vikramaditya promoting Sanskrit and Shalivahana promoting Prakrit.

We know that some of the later stories about Shalivahana as they developed were based on mistakes or a desire for historical parallels to other events. For example, the historian Dineshchandra Sircar wrote that some legends may have arisen because of the oft-told association between the aforementioned Vikramaditya and the Vikrama era he began in order to commemorate his successful invasion of Ujjain. It is surmised that either the natives wished to create their own distinguished history by eliminating foreign name association or that scholars of the time merely wished to adopt their own versions of already existing legends. Either way, we know they aren’t entirely accurate, and it casts doubt on the earliest representations of Shalivahana that we do have.

Many present-day scholars have a different working theory that pieces together bits of ancient history using law firm case management. It is thought that perhaps stories of Shalivahana were adopted by weaving together the exploits of more than one Satavahana king. The assumption is that Shalivahana is no different than the term Satavahana, which is used as a family name for the line of kings of the same name. In similar fashion, Vikramaditya was a legend that stole stories from multiple real-world kings after their individual exploits were lost to the ages. Legends are often formed in this way.

Believers in Jainism believe that Shalivahana was a Jain, but historians believe this to be false based on a connection with Shiva. Some believe that around 400,000 Gathas, or poems, were written by Shalivahana or the figures whom his legend represents. Will we ever know the truth behind Shalivahana for certain? Probably not, but his legend remains a part of ancient Indian history.

Who is Chandragupta Maurya?

When we discuss ancient history, parts of the world often get overlooked in favor of those which we’re more familiar with here in the west. The Indian Emperor Chandragupta Maurya was the first to rule the Mauryan Empire from 322 BCE until 298 BCE. At its peak, the Mauryan Empire was the largest to ever grace Indian lands and rivaled the other largest empires of the time period. This empire was important for the region because smaller states ruled independently prior to Chandragupta, who helped unify them into what could be considered a more cohesive country with an organized government and prosperous economy.

The road to success was a difficult one, and while on it Chandragupta crossed paths with one of history’s better-known figures–Alexander the Great.

Only four years before Chandragupta put together his empire, Alexander the Great fought with King Porus, a ruler of one of India’s local states located in Paurava (what we know today as Punjab). Alexander eventually managed to defeat this new rival king, and in doing so created a powerful new ally. He made King Porus ruler of those regions of India that had already been conquered and were thus under Macedonian rule.

Chandragupta was in exile while these events played out, and happened to be living his life as a fugitive within one of Alexander’s camps. His opposition to Macedonian influence was clear, and he eventually put together an army. Although his forces were small in comparison to those he fought, he managed to overcome the odds through careful manipulation of other factors. He manufactured the conditions necessary to throw the Magadha kingdom into civil war and then swept in with his own forces to seize power.

The Mauryan Dynasty that Chandragupta created lasted through 185 BCE and India prospered during this time. He was an efficient ruler, and his empire saw the building of roads, mines, irrigation canals, and temples, all of which led to a robust economy.

Religious diversity also prospered under his rule. Buddhism, Ajivika, and Jainism all gained traction in the decades that followed. Chandragupta himself became a Jainist monk. In doing so, he should have forsaken wealth and power–which he obviously did after his rule had ended. Jains were known to be vegetarians because they believe in all living creatures striving to help one another as part of an ancient dharma. Today, there are still millions of Jains who practice in similar ways to the ancient religion, and most still live in India.

Chandragupta passed the throne to his son Bindusara in 298 BCE and perhaps died of self-starvation in a cave around 297 BCE. No one knows for sure, but that’s where his story ends.

Who Is Rishabhanatha?

This word Rishabhanatha in Jainism means bull, but it is also referential of a mystical leader, one that is thought to have lived eons ago. It is thought that he was one of 24 teachers, those that are part of Jain cosmology, specifically this first half of the cycle. He is often referenced as the Ford maker, a person that has helped uncountable people escape the Wheel of Samsara. By helping them avoid this cycle of rebirth, he has reached a level of reverence that is very high. According to traditional accounts, he was initially born to a queen and king located in North India, and later married to have 99 sons and one daughter call Brahmi. At a later time he began to wander, abstaining from food for an entire year. It is from there, these humble beginnings, that he went on to live millions of purva years and was described as being 1200 feet tall. His teachings were then disseminated, many of which are still taught today.

Temples Dedicated To Rishabhanatha

There are many temples that are dedicated to Rishabhanatha including those that stand as high as 108 feet tall. He is thought to be the avatar of Vishnu, and is discussed in many parts of Buddhist literature. His statues are often sitting in the lotus position, or they can be standing, and there are also paintings. He is a very important in Hindu mythology, and was thought to have practiced asceticism for millions of years. It was only after he returned to Ashtapada that he finally died from his fasting. These temples, therefore, depict some of the stories and try to represent him in a physical manner that can be understood.

This basic overview of what Rishabhanatha is is just a cursory explanation of this very popular deity in Jainism. He is just one of 24 Tirthankaras, a Savior who was named by his mother after she had 14 auspicious dreams. These saviors are able to cross over, not being affected by the stream of life, death and rebirth. He is a symbol of freedom that many people look to as they are trying to improve their chances of not having to reincarnate again. What is so important about this figure is that he is a representation of what all of us are able to do. He is simply representative of someone that used asceticism to purify himself in order to escape the possibility of reincarnation.