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Home > History of religion > Jainism > Main theme of Jainism
Main theme of Jainism
Of all religions of the world, Jainism is the only religion which has the principle of Ahimsa as its central doctrine. The other religions also speak of Ahimsa whenever convenient but they never offer such loyalty to the principle of Ahimsa as is found in Jainism. In the Mahavirhistory of world religions, Jainism alone has given a unique position to the doctrine of Ahimsa and has based its ethical code entirely on the complete observance of the tenet of Ahimsa in all its aspects. Jainism is the only religion in the world which has given maximum attention to the important practical aspects of the theory of Ahimsa so that Ahimsa, in it`s minutest details, can be actually observed both by the lay followers and ascetics in their day to day life.

At the same time Jaina religion has got the unique distinction, among the religions of the world, of ably presenting in a scholastic and scientific manner the theoretical and philosophical side of the doctrine of Ahimsa by discussing it thoroughly not only from internal and absolute points of view but also from external and real points of view. In addition, the Jaina religion has earned special prestige in the world by giving equal emphasis on the negative and positive aspects of Ahimsa. On this basis Jainism has shown to the world in a perfect and convincing way the worth of the doctrine of Ahimsa by stating the basic principle, viz., "Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah" i. e. Ahimsa is the greatest religion. That is why Jaina Religion is considered as Ahimsa Religion and Jaina Culture as Ahimsa Culture. For understanding this utmost significance attached to the principle of Ahimsa in Jainism, it is quite necessary to see, in brief, the outstanding features of Jaina religion and the prominent aspects of the concept of Ahimsa as formulated in Jaina religion.

Jainism having its close association with Ajivikism is the oldest non-Aryan religion of India.

It is non-Vedic in the sense that it does not recognize the Veda as its religious scripture,does not admit caste distinction, and, is opposed to the Rgvedic religion. It accepts moksha and not heavenly abode as the highest human end. It also accepts non-Vedic Yoga and austerities as important means for securing liberation.

Unlike the Rigvedic principle, it accepts the four pillars of karma-samsara-jnana-mukti as its creed.

It is wholly atheistic, but intensely spiritual form of religion. As there is no place for God in its system, so Jainism regards the world as eternal in its on-goings.Mahavir Though Buddhism too accepts ahimsa as an important moral creed, yet ahimsa is the central teaching of Jainism (ahimsa parmo dharmah) and, accounts for the moral conduct of Jaina seekers and Sadhus.

From the viewpoint of essence, Jainism is dualistic, for it admits the distinction between the two entities of Jiva and Ajiva. But from the viewpoint of number it accepts the plurality of spirits and of atoms.

In order to give a system to its plural ontology it takes resort to anekantavada and syadvada.

Jaina doctrine of soul is very distinctive, for it admits spatial dimension to it. Again, Jainism also admits that karmas are like subtle material objects that cling to the soul. This shows that Jainism has very primitive concept of soul.

Main ThemeJainism, however, has a great deal of modern tone in the form of its rationalism. A Jaina thinker Ratna Shekhara in his book Sambadha Sattari states that each man can realize his own self-sameness of the soul by his own efforts without reference to any supernatural agency.

Unlike Hinduism and very much like Buddhism, Jainism is associated with the historical figure (of Lord Mahavira), who might not have originated Jainism, but has given an authoritative seal to its principal tenets.

Not only Jainism has no place for caste, it has no place for either Buddhist Scripture or the Rgveda as its religious scripture. It has its own religious books.
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