The Jains, by Paul Dundas

Note: The following are notes from the above book. I found the book seminal, eye-opening, life-changing. I recommend that you buy and read the entire book. Only by reading the entire book will you get the whole picture. The following quotes, I hope, will whet your appetite. --Colby Glass


Dundas, Paul. The Jains. London: Routledge, 1992.

"The Sanskrit word Jaina derives from jina, 'conquerer,' an epithet given to a line of human teachers who, having overcome the passions... teach... non-violence...

"The Jains share with the Hindus the notion of the Kaliyuga, the Corrupt Age, which for them involves a gradual diminishment of culture, religion, and eventually even human stature. This age, in which we are living now (11)...

""Jainism emerged, along with Buddhism, towards the end of a time of great social transformation in north India which is usually called the Vedic period...

"The Jains, along with the Buddhists, accepted the ideas of Karma and rebirth as representing basic facts of human experience...

"... rebirth is undesirable and that it is possible by controlling or stopping one's actions to put an end to it and attain a state of deliverance (moksha) which lies beyond action (13)...

"...minimizing the performance of external action and an accompanying control of inner activity (14)...

"... Mahavira is generally treated as being the founder of Jainism... one of a chain of teachers...

"Enlightenment in Jainism does not involve union with any sort of Absolute... but is instead clearly held to be a transcendent knowledge and vision which gives direct and simultaneous access to all forms of reality in the universe in every temporal and spatial dimension (30)...

"True understanding embodies itself in non-violence through an awareness that all living creatures, including oneself, do not wish to suffer in any way...

"...action, whether done, caused or condoned by oneself, brings about rebirth, and the world is in a state of suffering caused by the actions of ignorant people who do not know that they are surrounded by life-forms...

"The Jains share with all other Indian religions a belief in the efficacy of mantras andhold that certain syllables, words or phrases are charged with power... The most famous of all Jain mantras... is the 'Five Homages'... "Homage to the omniscient ones. Homage to the liberated ones. Homage to the teachers. Homage to the preceptors. Homage to all onks in the world"...

"The oldest manuscript libraries in India are those of the Jains (72)...

"...the basic concerns of the Jain religion: 'The way to deliverance is right faith (darshana), knowledge and behaviour'...

"These came to be known as the Three Jewels and both in name and in their prominence within Jainism can be compared with the Three Jewels of Buddhism (the Buddha, his teachings and the community).... (75)...

"The loka [world or existence] is without beginning or end. To this extent, Jainism is an atheistic religion in as much as it regards it as an illegitimate conclusion that there is a conscious creator who can intervene in or control the affairs of living creatures...

"Rebirth -- At death, the jiva leaves its body and progresses to its next place of birth virtually instantaneously. As with other Indian religions, the mental state at the precise moment of death is regarded by Jains as being particularly important for determing the nature of the next body...

"...a calm death free from rancour, frustration or pain, with mind fixed on religious principles... will ensure a positive rebirth...

"Jain relativism... took the view that all religions were essentially the same and that adherents of different faiths had to have respect for the truths which were to be found in other traditions...

"...the sixth spoke of the wheel will culminate in a conflagration in which human beings who have degenerated to dwarves living in caves, having forgotten the social skills, will disappear, and the current world era will come to an end" (235).


Colby Glass, MLIS