• Curated commentaries on the Jain cosmos

  • 26 August, 2019

    Let's pledge a #PlasticFreeParyushan!

     

    Paryushan, the Jain festival of forgiveness, very simply put, is a process of cleansing one’s mind and body. This powerful festival gives everyone an opportunity to think about how to be kinder to each other and to all beings. According to Jain texts, a person can stop the influx of karma following various kinds of carefulness. One of these ways is known as utsarga samiti, that instructs that a Jain should dispose wastes without injuring any living being.

     

    Originally, in the literal sense it only referred to bodily wastes, as explained in the sutra:

    sthandile sthavarajamgamajantuvarjite nirikṣya pramṛjya ca mutrapurisadinamntsarga utsargasamitih.”

     

    Jainism places an emphasis on the spirit rather than the literal wording of a sutra. So, we can infer that the notion of carefulness should apply to all wastes, especially modern, industrial wastes, which are destructive in nature. These wastes also include plastics and other synthetic chemicals.

    22 April, 2019

    //In 1656 CE, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's son Murad Baksh (the then Governor of Gujarat) granted Palitana villages to the prominent Jain merchant Shantidas Jhaveri, a Svetambara Jain and an influential merchant and money lender in the period. Earlier, Emperor Akbar had issued an edict granting special status to Shatrunjaya, protecting the area and thus allowing Jain tradition to flourish uninhibited. Subsequently all taxes were also exempted and the temple town prospered.//

     

    24 Feb, 2019

    "I have realized that Jainism is having a deep impact on me. It has some amazing thoughts — forgiveness, non-violence, only use what you really need and anekantvad. It means if somebody has a totally opposing view to yours and you are fully convinced in your view, you should still keep a window open thinking the other person might be right. Also to recognize that he or she has a right to opposing thoughts." ~Aamir Khan

    6 Sept, 2018

    Today is a historic day for India. A diversity of sexual expression is no longer considered criminal, as it formerly was due to an archaic law inherited from the British Empire. In Jain literature, there is a recognition of three broad categories of physical sexual characteristics: pumlinga (male), strilinga (female), napumsakalinga (neither clearly male nor female). There is also a recognition of three broad modes of psychological sexual expression: pumveda (attraction towards females), striveda (attraction towards males), napumsakaveda (attraction towards any gender, not always clearly defined).

    6 May, 2018

    Inscriptions in Tamil Brahmi at Perumalmalai and a Jain idol carving near Samanarmalai, Tamil Nadu. These writings, idols and the caves are attributed to the Jain monks who lived in these areas more than 2000 years ago. Though most people don't know about it, Jains have had a huge impact on Tamil Nadu through culture and language.

    4 May, 2018

    We got published in the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) South Asia blog! The article below is an account of the Mahamasthakabhisheka of the Gomateshvara bahubali idol at Shravanabelagola that took place this year.

     

    //At Sharavanabelagola, a giant monolith of a man standing in meditation is bathed in sacred substances once every 12 years. The statue is of Bahubali, one of the most popular characters in Jain mythology. Locally, this monolith is also known as the Gomateshvara. Coconut water, sugarcane juice, milk, turmeric, perfumes, medicinal herbs, sandalwood, vermillion, etc. are poured on the head of the idol from pots carried by devotees up a scaffolding set up behind the idol which is more than 57 feet high. These substances are typically poured from 1008 kalashas or pots on each day for about two weeks. This ceremony is known as the Mahamastakabhisheka, or the Great Head Anointment.//

    29 March, 2018

    Happy Mahavira Jayanti to all our readers! Around two and a half millennia ago, Mahavira was born in the Indian subcontinent. In the Jain tradition, he is considered the 24th and last tirthankara of our times. Read more: Eventually, Mahavira or 'the great hero', like all great Jain ascetics, stepped away from his ascribed place in society and became a monk. However, through his journeys, he was not in complete seclusion. He kept interacting with people and other beings, as he delved deeper and deeper into his spirit. Stories of these interactions are also told as some examples of ahinsa in practice. Over time, he completely overcame the inner enemies: krodha (anger), lobha (greed), mana (ego), and maya (deceit), leading to inner bliss, and, at the end of his life, to the final liberation of moksha. On Mahavira Jayanti, let us remind ourselves of his message of true ahinsa; in thought, speech, and action. Let us remind ourselves of what Mahavira represents: that spirit is the destination, and ahinsa is the way.

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