Hindu values Rejected by the Jain Community
The Jain community rejects ideals of ‘master narrative Hinduism’ reflected in the scriptural authority and writings of the Vedas, Brahamanas, Upanisads, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana and Dharmasatras. Based on their belief in the inviolability of all life, they deny the efficacy of sacrifice and refuse to accord divinity to Hindu gods such as Brahma, Visnu, and the great avataras or Siva. They also reject other Hindu values and practices including the sacred thread economy with Gayatri Mantra (Ahimsa 18).
The Jain members reject the Hindu-belief that battle field death is equal to holy martyrdom, a belief recorded in Bhagavad Gita and upheld in traditional Hindu culture. In addition, they reject Hindu writings where Krsna encourages Arjuna to participate in the battlefield to enter heaven. This rejection is explained by Jain’s belief that death with hatred (or violence) is not salutary and causes unwholesome birth in an animal or in hell (Ahimsa 4-6).
The Jain members live with strict adherence to basic tenets of non-violence and inviolability of life. Therefore, they reject Hindu practices such as sacrifices, military service and use of toxic chemicals, consumption of meat, acts of violence, lust for possessions, revenge and other values which contravene their basic tenets of non-violence (Ahimsa 7-9).
Unlike ideals of ‘master narrative Hinduism’, the Jain Mendicants (major vow-takers or Mahavrata) and Jain laymen (minor vow-takers or Anuvrata) renounce all forms of violence including sacrificial, sacerdotal, and familial or sports violence. This is because of their belief that each living thing possesses a soul which takes up a new body after death.
The new body depends on the soul’s volitional activity and is acquired by drawing itself a subtle kind of matter (Karman). In addition, they reject the superstitious Hindu belief of sacredness of a cow and only consider its life as inviolate (Ahimsa 4).
The way Jain Practice Promotes Other Values
The Jain religious practice of renunciation of violence and inviolability to life is the basic explanation of how it promotes other values. This is because Jain people strictly commit to their religious laws which regulate their day to day application of Ahimsa (Cunningham and Kelsey 75).
The Jain people, unlike Hindus, believe that death in the battle field is not equal to holy martyrdom. This is depicted by the utterances of Mahavira which shows that death with hatred and violence cannot be salutary hence causes unwholesome rebirth of the soul in an animal or hell. In the history of Jain people, acts of war are rarely glorified.
Only those who shun violence are glorified as depicted in Mahaviras utterances. This contributes to other values unlike the traditional Hindu belief which attributes death in battle field to Holy Martyrdom (Cunningham and Kelsey 77).
The practice of the Jain to adhere strictly to Ahimsa in daily activity contributes to other societal values. The Jain doctrine of multiple perspectives (Anekantavada) requires them to recognize validity of their opponent’s point of view and choose a common ground, thereby avoiding confrontation and enhancing reconciliation.
The promotion of other values can also be explained by the Jain doctrine of qualified assertion (Syadvada) which inflicts a way of religious discipline in Jain community. This is because this doctrine forbids taking of all plant, animal or human life (Cunningham and Kelsey 81).
Jainism opposed the caste system and sacrificial activities. Its followers refrained from hurting animal life and considered vegetarianism, austerity and purity of body and soul to be liberated from sufferings of the materialistic world. Therefore, values of the Jain community revolved around truth, non-stealing, non-ownership of property, inviolability of life and strict adherence to chastity. All these values acted in a positive way to promote other values as they prevented confrontations which could lead to violent acts (Cunningham and Kelsey 82).
From the above essay of Jain community, we note that their values promote other societal values. Their belief to shun violence in line with their religious doctrine promotes western values of non violence with nuclear or chemical weapons hence boosting the western anti-nuclear advocacy against acts of terrorism and violence (Ahimsa 11).
Ahimsa: A Jain Way of Spiritual Discipline. Collected Papers on Jain Studies. Print.
Cunningham, Lawrence, and John Kelsey. The Sacred Quest: An Invitation to the Study of Religion. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001. Print.