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Ahimsa Parmo Dharma | The defining characteristics of soul are: knowledge, perception, conduct (activity), austerity, potency (capability) and cognitive faculty (No other entity possesses these qualities). | Parasparo Upgraha Jivanam
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Jain Beliefs and Practices

 

"Samyakdarshangyancharitrani Mokshmargasya" is the fundamental principal of Jainism. It means: "True Perception, True/Right Knowledge and True/Right Conduct" is the path to attain Moksha. Moksha is attained by getting liberated from all Karma. Those who have attained Moksha are called Sidhdhatma (Omniscient Soul) and those who are attached to the world & other souls through Karma are called Sansari (living beings). Every soul has to follow the path of Moksh as described.

The universe has two components "Jīva" and "Ajīva". There are Anant (Infinite) Jiva which are caterorised as Sidhdha and Sansari. The Sansari (worldly) Soul takes various form of life using Ajiva and all worldly relations are formed based on Karma. Humanbeing, Animal, Deity / Angel, Hell-being are four forms of these souls known as the Paryaaya or Gati.

Jainism beliefs & practices are purely derived from the structure defined as above. e.g. Non-violence can simply relate to minimizing new Karmas to get attached to the soul, every soul is considered worthy of respect as it has potential to become Sidhdha (Param-atma - pure soul), materialistic things are consumed as little as possible, meditation is practiced to free yourself from your thoughts - both Shubh (good) or Ashubh (bad) etc..

The belief that all living beings possess a soul, requires a great care and awareness in going about one's business in the world. Jainism is a religion in which all life is considered worthy of respect and it emphasizes this equality of all life, advocating the protection of even the smallest creatures. This goes as far as the life of microscopic organisms. A major characteristic of Jain belief is the emphasis on the consequences of not only physical but also mental behaviors.

A Jain is a follower of Jinas ("conquerors"), specially gifted human beings who have rediscovered the dharma, became fully liberated and taught the spiritual path for the benefit of all living beings. Jains follow the teachings of 24 special Jinas who are known as Tirthankaras ('ford-makers', those who have discovered and shown the way to salvation). The 24th and most recent Tirthankar is Shri Mahaveera, who lived from 599 to 527 BCE according to traditional history. The 23rd Tirthankar, Shri Parsvanatha, is now recognised as a historical person, who lived during 872 to 772 BC.

Jainism encourages spiritual development through reliance on and cultivating one's own personal wisdom and self-control (व्रत, vratae). The goal is realization of the soul's true nature.

Jaina tradition is unanimous in naming Rishabha (also known as Adhinath) as the First Tirthankar of this descending (avasarpini) kalachakra (time cycle).[11] The first Tirthankar, Rishabhdev/ Adhinath appeared prior to the Indus Valley Civilization. The Jain Swastika symbol and naked statues resembling the Jain monks amongst the remains of the Indus Valley Civilization, do substantiate claims.

Jainism believes that the Universe and Dharma have no beginning and no ending. However it goes through a process of cyclical change. Jains believe it is approx. 8.4 million years old in its current cyclic period. Therefore there is no concept of a creator of the universe within Jainism.

Jainism differs from other religions in its concept of God. According to its belief, there is no overarching supreme divine creator, owner, preserver or destroyer. Every living soul is potentially divine and the Sidhhas who have completely eliminated their karmic bonding, thereby ending their cycle of birth and death, have attained God-consciousness.

The main Jain prayer (Namokar Mantra) therefore salutes the five special categories of souls that have attained God-consciousness or are on their way to achieving it, so as to emulate and follow their path to salvation.

Om Namah

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