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Jainists, 600s B.C.E. - present

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Jainist Temple

Friends

India
Buddhists
Hindus


Technology

We did not invent weapons of any kind but mathematics were very prominent in
our lives. We were the first people to think of transfinite numbers, which are
numbers that are greater than finite numbers. They are a way to actually
calculate infinity. It's very lengthy stuff, so we will not bore you with the details.

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Here are some present-day members of the Jain Shvetambara (“White-robed”) sect
wearing a very essential piece of cloth we invented to prevent ourselves from
inhaling insects.

Culture

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Map of us Jainists in the present time in India. As you can see there are not
many of us left there, because some people found our faith too difficult to
follow.


Since we believe strongly in nonviolence, we take strict measues to ensure that
we do not harm the souls present on land and in the air. We brush the
ground before walking on it to make sure that we do not step on any small
insects that are not visible to the eye, and many of us wear masks so that any
movements we make are not harmful to the souls that surround us. A strict
vegetarian diet must be followed and even water is strained to remaove any small
creatures. Many jobs do not meet the requirements of Jainism due to their nature.
For example, farming involves violence since it depends on the killing of pests to
save crops.

Religion

The doctrines of Jainism first appeared around the seventh century B.C.E. but
only became popular in the late sixth century when a great teacher named
Vardhamana Mahavira began to practice our faith.

Jainism is the belief that everything in the universe has a soul. Objects that are
part of the Earth, such as trees and rocks, have trapped souls and go through
physical and psychological suffering. They can only be freed by getting rid of selfish
behavior and bad karma from previous lives. Followers of Jainism
practice ahimsa which is the belief of nonviolence to every living thing and its soul.
We do not believe in distinctions between people of different social classes
because everyone has a place in the universe. We believe in the three realms of the
universe: the heavens, the earth and hell. The heavens are made up of seven
levels and the top level is for freed souls. The earthly realm is divided by six
mountain ranges in seven different regions. There are eight hells and each one gets
colder until the bottom one. Unlike many other religions, when a person enters our
hell they do not stay there forever. When a person has served his punishment, he is
able to be freed.

Blog

Blog Entry One: 498 B.C.E. I, Vardhamana Mahavira, have finally reached
enlightenment. It has been a long journey, twelve years in fact. I left home twelve
years ago at the age of thirty so that I would be able to find salvation. I gave up
all my worldly goods and clothes. It has become my duty to teach others
detachment from the world. I have begun to share my story with a group of disciples.
I'm hoping that they will be able to spread this new faith and gain many followers.
I believe that this is truly the answer to enlightenment.

Blog Entry Two: 400 B.C.E. At first I was drawn to Jainism as a peasant from India.
The fact that class distinctions were nonexhistent made this religion very appealing.
After intense worship however, I feel that this religion asks too much. There are
extensive daily rituals which must be preformed in order to follow the rules. There is
almost no activity to partake in that does not involve harming a creature or soul in one
way or the other. The practices are too vigorous. Several people I know gave up their
farming jobs because they harmed animals that were trying to destroy their crops.

Blog Entry Three: It is the end of the first century and our religion has become
separated into two very distinct groups. The Digambaras are one of the groups and
they believe that a person should not own anything, clothing included. They also have
taken up the belief that women have to be reborn as men in order for them to be purified.
The second group, the Svetambaras, own some objects such as a robe, a alms bowl,
and a whisk broom.

The Wall


Bentley, Jerry H., and Herbert F. Ziegler
Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past. New York: McGraw-Hill,
2006

"monasticism." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 21
April 2007 <http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-38701>.

"Jain Beliefs." ReligionFacts. www.google.com April 21 2007
<http://www.religionfacts.com/jainism/beliefs.htm>
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