Jainism

Jain Teachers in the New World

Jain Teachers in the New WorldWhile most Jain monastics remained in India, two Jains with monastic experience made the journey to America. In 1971 Muni (a term used to refer to certain Jain monks) Chitrabhanu ceased his monastic life, became a lay teacher, and moved to America. Another Jain monk, Acharya Sushil Kumar, remained a monk, but broke the prohibition on travel and traveled to the United States to teach and found an ashram in New Jersey.... Read more about Jain Teachers in the New World

Jain Immigration

Jain ImmigrationEthically prohibited from engaging in agriculture, over the years Jains have worked in business and professional trades. Jains have made new communities in the UK, in East Africa (especially Kenya), and in the United States and Canada.

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Jainism Outside India

Jainism Outside of IndiaJains have often worked as merchants, and their travels took them outside India. But because monastics travel exclusively on foot, the vast majority of Jain monastics remain in India. Creating strong communities with authoritative religious leadership outside of India has required innovation, and new patterns of Jain tradition have emerged.

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The Jain Symbol

The Jain SymbolA symbol to represent the Jain community was chosen in 1975 as part of the commemoration of the 2500th anniversary of Mahavira’s attainment of nirvana. The stylized hand is in a gesture of blessing, and on the palm is inscribed “ahimsa,” which for many is the essence of Jain ethical teachings. The phrase at the bottom of the symbol states “all life is bound together by mutual support and interdependence.” ... Read more about The Jain Symbol

Temples and Images

Temples and ImagesJain temples serve as vibrant centers for the interaction of monastics and laypeople. Here Jains pray, meditate, listen to sermons, sing religious songs, and perform rituals before images of the tirthankaras.

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Mendicants and Laity

Jain monastics depend on the laypeople for food and essentials. Possessing no permanent home, Jain monastics travel on foot and teach Jain tradition and scripture to laypeople. The monastics live a life of constant travel, with the exception of monsoon season, when they spend four months in one place.... Read more about Mendicants and Laity

An Ethic for Living

An Ethic for LivingJains speak of “Three Jewels” that serve as their standard for a good life: right vision, right knowledge, and right conduct. Right conduct is often expressed through five basic vows: nonviolence, truth, never stealing, chastity, and nonattachment.

 

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Ahimsa: Reverence for Life

Since all beings (humans, animals, and plants) in Jainism have a soul, the concept of ahimsa (nonviolence) is central to the tradition. The concept of ahimsa informs every aspect of Jain practice, behavior, and life. As a result Jains are vegetarians, and Jain monks and nuns often take precautions to avoid stepping on or injuring insects.... Read more about Ahimsa: Reverence for Life

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