Source: The Miami Herald
With perhaps 10 million adherents worldwide -- the vast majority of them in one country, India -- Jainism might be called a bit player on the stage of world religions. Florida International University religious studies professor Nathan Katz, however, would beg to differ.
Katz's years of religious study, combined with a healthy dose of interaction with Jain faculty members at FIU, has shown him Jainism's profound impact on both Buddhism and Hinduism. So, too, did Katz learn of Jainism's role in developing the philosophical ideal of nonviolence -- a torch later carried by Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr..
``Jainism is a very small religion numerically, but has had vast influence in the world,'' Katz said. ``It's very important in the global history of ideas.''
In addition to nonviolence, other central tenets of Jainism, according to Katz, are non-greed, respect for all forms of life, and religious pluralism.