Who Are The Digambaras?

Digambara is a part of Jainism which is part of Hinduism. It is a word that means sky and directions. It actually refers to garments that those that practice this form of Hinduism will wear, representing the four different elements. What is odd about this word is that it is representative of Hindus that do not wear any clothing at all. They carry a broom, one that has peacock feathers, and that is specifically for the purpose of cleaning. They do have a container that contained water, and a book that has Scripture, but clothing is not an option. They were once called naked philosophers, and archaeology has shown that there was this great movement toward nudity centuries ago.

What Is A Digambaras?

Digambaras are those that follow Digambara. These are individuals that not only avoid clothing, but they avoid bathing as well. They practice nonviolence, and they only drink water from a gourd, eating food only once a day. The reason they do not bathe is that they actually believe that doing so would destroy organisms that are currently living in the water. Therefore, they have a high value for life of any kind, even that which is unseen, contributing to the activities that they do every day.

When Did This Start?

This apparently started back in the fourth century BCE. It was the result of the division which occurred at the Ganges. To separate sects decided to go their separate ways, with the Digambaras deciding to choose to no longer wear clothing. This observance of nudity became part of their culture and an integral part of their belief system. They also believe that a perfect saint within their religion does not actually need food to stay alive. They also believe that they should never be married and that women cannot progress unless they come back as a man. When you see depictions of them, not only are they naked, but they are always presented with downcast eyes. Much of what they believed was completely lost by the second century CE, and what we have today are the remnants of that belief system.

Today, those that follow Digambara Jains from India to California worship idols that are completely naked. They are considered to be omniscient beings that have achieved liberated souls, in those that are naked are representative of being stripped of every material bond, part of the path to reaching freedom and enlightenment.

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