Ahimsa means non-violence and is a central ethical precept for Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. For the Jain tradition ahimsa is especially important. It includes keeping a strict a strict vegetarian diet and avoiding occupations such as farming that may involve the unwitting destruction of life. Jain monks and nuns carry a variety of brooms, taking special care not to heedlessly crush tiny insects as they sit or walk. Some will even wear a white cloth mouth-covering to avoid inhaling microscopic organisms. Close contact with the Jain community in his native Gujarat influenced Mahatma... Read more about ahimsa
The major division of Jains is between the Shvetambara and Digambara traditions. The majority of Shvetambaras are Murtipujaks who, as their name indicates, perform puja (worship) before the murtis (images) of the Jinas or Tirthankaras.
A mantra is a sequence of spiritually-potent sounds or syllables used for meditation, prayer, or to accompany ritual enactments. Mantras are important in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions. The repeated oral or mental recitation of a mantra is said to concentrate the awareness of the practitioner, thereby disclosing the roots of consciousness or awakening the power of a divine reality. Mantras also play a central role in ritual and magical practices. In the Buddhist tradition, a mantra may contain within it the sacred power and cosmic energies of a Buddha or bodhisattva. The mantra... Read more about mantra
In the Jain tradition, kevalajnana or kaivalya is the supreme, omniscient knowledge of the self and the universe. A person who has attained such enlightenment, called a kevalin, can comprehend the past, present, and future states of all objects, not only knowing their deeds and desires, but also their various forms upon successive rebirths. Tirthankaras have attained kevalajnana and have become teachers of this path of realization.
The Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA) is an umbrella organization encompassing the approximately 60 Jain centers in the United States and Canada. Since its first meeting in 1981, JAINA has held conventions every two years in various cities. Its publication Jain Digest chronicles the activities of North America’s Jain communities.
A tirtha is a spiritual “ford” or “crossing place,” and, by extension, a place of pilgrimage, often situated on a riverbank, a hilltop, or in a place of special natural beauty. There are many Hindu and Jain tirthas in India and, increasingly, in the United States.
Virchand Raghavji Gandhi (1864-1901) represented the Jain tradition at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. He proved to be a very eloquent spokesman for his tradition at the Parliament and on a subsequent lecture tour to major U.S. cities. V.R. Gandhi returned to India in 1895 and came once again to lecture in the U.S. in 1896.