Friday, September 6, 2013


Jainism was founded in the 6th century BC by Vardhamana, known as Mahavira or “Great Hero” (the 24th of the Tirthankaras) Jainas or “Conquerors” (whence the name Jainism), in protest against the orthodox Vedic ritualistic cult of the period.

The evolution of Hinduism is heavily dependent upon Jainism and Yoga (the non-Aryan tradition). Jainism and Yoga represent the primordial traditions of India. In fact, we could see Hinduism as the Indianization of these traditions (Hegel's Master/Salve, i.e. non-Aryans gradually modified the Aryan elements). 

World-negative or life-politik? There is in Hinduism a world-negative aspect that seems opposed to the influence of the Aryan conqueror. This attitude is so opposed to the delight in life, which is found in the Vedic Hymns that it would be difficult to understand how this pessimistic attitude could derive from that source. A devaluation of the world as non-being, as confinement, as meaningless, as a source of confusion, even duhkha (suffering) which represents the most significant aspect of the entire spiritual development of India. Is this a form of Nihilism?

We don't have an account of the objective world presented in such oppressive and alienating terms as we do in Jainism and Yoga. Schopenhauer (another pesimist) sees something positive about all this. He points out the  exceptional awareness of the human condition in Jainism and Hinduism in general. To wrap it up, we are affected not only by the afflictions of the external world, but even more by the inner limitations of our own being (a world-view ultimately accepted by the Aryans).

Some elements:

Ascetism: Hindu wanderers were known as Munis ("silent ones"). These are men who choose the homeless life, without wife, children or possessions of any sort, except robe, staff, begging bowl and drinking cup.

What's the meaning of ascetism? It brings human nature closer to the "spiritual" a performance of onself at "disengagement" from life. Perhaps it's a way to understand the limits of the "body-experience" before the physical phase of the "death experience" is upon oneself. We could see asceticism as a strengthening of spiritual faculties leading to contentment, something not entirely ignored by Greek philosophers. As a matter of fact, asceticism (from the Greek áskēsis: "exercise" or "training" in the sense of athletic training) describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures, often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals. One way to look at it is the rejection of some pleasures just in order to excercise one's will power. Willing "no" is a form of tweak one's self-control = self-power. Autarchy.

Atheism: There is a strong current of atheism in early Hindu thought, a current that can be traced to the early non-Aryan elements of Hinduism. This comes as a result of the Shankya. It is also found in Jainism and Buddhism.

Jainism asserts that every soul is divine and capable of attaining perfection. The universe can be divided into:

Jiva (soul) and Ajiva (non-soul). The living and the non-living, by coming into contact with each other, forge certain energies which bring about birth, death and various experiences of life. The process could be stopped, and the energies already forged destroyed, by a course of discipline leading to moksha. ahimsa: (skt non-harming) the Jaina doctrine of non-violence.

Jaina is based on the practice of Ratnatraya, comprising:

(a) the right knowledge, (b) right faith and (c) right conduct. They must be cultivated at once. Right faith leads to calmness and tranquility, but right faith leads to perfection only when followed by right conduct (so, this idea Lutheran of sola fide is not enough). Knowledge without faith and conduct is futile. Right conduct is spontaneous, not a forced mechanical quality. Attainment of right conduct is a gradual process.

Jīva: The essence of living entities is called jiva, a substance which is different from the body that houses it. Consciousness, knowledge and perception are its fundamental attributes.
Ajīva: Non-living entities that consist of matter, space and time fall into the category of ajiva.
Asrava: The interaction between jīva and ajīva causes the influx of karma (a particular form of ajiva) into the soul, to which it then adheres. (More on karma in a forthcoming post).

Bandha: Karma masks the jiva and restricts it from having its true potential of perfect knowledge and perception.
Saṃvara: Stopping the influx of additional karma through right conduct.
Nirjarā: Shredding or burning up karma by performing asceticism.
Mokṣha: The jiva which has removed its karma is said to be liberated and to have its pure, intrinsic quality of perfect knowledge in its true form.

Other terms in Jaina Philosophy:

Karman: Bits of material, generated by the person’s actions, that bind themselves to the life-monad or soul through many births. This has the effect of thwarting the full realization and freedom of the soul.

Kalpa: A world cycle. A period of time comprising 4,320,000 yrs. Pali-kappa is an endlessly long period of time. The metaphor is that of a piece of silk rubbed one on a solid piece of rock one cubic mile in size every 1000 yrs. When this wears the rock away, a kalpa has passed.

Kevala: state of omniscience. Kevala is necessarily accompanied by freedom from karmic obstruction by direct experience of the soul’s pure form, unblemished by its attachment of matter.