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JAIN ENCYCLOPEDIA: A CONCISE INTRODUCTION
Jain Dharma or Jain Religion is supposed to be the ancient most religion among the various religious traditions prevailing on Indian land since ancient times. This religion is especially based on the victory over sensual pleasures thus directing towards the eternal bliss of soul.
Jainism represents a symbiosis of the religious and scientific approaches for better living based on the foundations of Non-violence, Peace, Compassion and Humility towards all living beings. Jainism is the union of personal independence with social and ecological interdependence and believes in harmony and love towards all living beings. In fact, it is a way to lead the perfect life.
Jains believe that each living being is an integration of Soul and Body. Soul is an eternal non-material entity, which upon death takes re-birth and continues the cycle of life and death until liberation. Liberation is achieved only after the soul frees itself of all karmic influences of present and past lives.
All Souls are equal in their potential for attaining Enlightenment and Liberation. Different types of Karmas, however, limit this ability of the soul. Karma is understood as a form of subtle matter that adheres to the soul as a result of its actions of body, speech and mind. This accumulated Karma is the cause of the soul’s bondage in the cycle of birth and death.
 According to Jain Philosophy
According to Jain Philosophy, the ultimate aim of life is to liberate the soul form the cycle of birth and death. This is done by the elimination of all the bound Karmas and preventing further accumulation. When the soul progresses to its pure state of omniscient knowledge, free of all Karmas, it achieves Moksha or Nirvana.
Jain Tirthankars have enunciated the path to this omniscient knowledge fully & very elaborately. However, the challenge is applying these principles & theories in an age of Internet, cell phones, global warming, cultural & religious openness & so on. In ancient times the choices were minimal and the faith was strong. The choices in foods, travel, friends, places of worship, books, teachers and professions were extremely limited. On contrast, at the present world is diverse, complex, ever-changing and vibrant. Indeed, at every juncture, one faces hundreds of choices.( Ref.- Jain Way Of Life- Yogendra Jain )
In such a fast & vibrant world, where only physical & sensual pleasures have become the God, virtuousness is being retired from lives, money and strength have become the masters, JAIN ENCYCLOPEDIA /ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JAINISM is the humble effort of our's to present the maximum possible details, information, discussions & materials about DIGAMBER JAIN TRADITION, supposed to be the most primitive & perfect way of leading life. Our sincere wish is that the present and future generations may embrace and adopt the Jain Philosophy in their daily lives and we together may be able to create a new virtuous world through this most widely spread panorama of Internet.
Sometimes Jain Religion is quoted as an atheistic tradition, founded by Bhagwan Mahaveer in 540 B.C. but it is not the fact. According to ancient treatises of Jainism, it is well established that there is no Super-power namely God, who creates the Universe but any great Soul, who conquers over or sheds all the karmic attachments from self, becomes God and is placed on the top of the Universe known as Siddhashila. Such liberated soul never comes back to worldly transmigration from there and always remains engrossed in eternal bliss forever. Such a concept of ‘God’ is the specificity & theism of Jainism. Here ‘Karma’ is Vidhata, which entangles the soul in various forms (Paryaay) and forces it to undergo pleasures & sorrows.
Ancient Acharyas have described this religion as- Karmarateen Jaiteeti Jinah, Jino Devta Yasyasteeti Jainah that is, those who have conquered the karma-enemies, they are called as JIN and the devotees of JIN are called JAINS. In fact, Jain Religion is supposed to be a Universal, International and Popular Religion, not meant only for a particular community or caste. However, its principles are worth-following by the entire human-race.
Jain Tirthankars did-not care for getting victory over kingdoms but they made sincere & successful efforts for winning over self and this is the actual importance of human-life for all.
Jain Religion is prevailing on Indian land since unknown antiquity and Jain Tirthankars have introduced this tradition to the human-world from time to time. The names of 24 Tirthankars of the present era are as follows-
- Rishabhdev (Aadinath) Swami
- Ajitnath Swami
- Sambhavnath Swami
- Abhinandannath Swami
- Sumatinath Swami
- Padmaprabh Swami
- Suparshvanath Swami
- Chandraprabh Swami
- Pushpdantnath Swami
- Sheetalnath Swami
- Shreyansnath Swami
- Vasupujyanath Swami
- Vimalnath Swami
- Anantnath Swami
- Dharmanath Swami
- Shantinath Swami
- Kunthunath Swami
- Arahnath Swami
- Mallinath Swami
- Muni Suvratnath Swami
- Naminath Swami
- Neminath Swami
- Parshvanath Swami
- Mahaveer Swami
Thus, Mahaveer Swami is the 24th Tirthankar of the present era and not the founder of this ancient-most religion. However as He is the latest and nearest to us, His name is more familiar to the world. In fact, the principle of LIVE & LET LIVE was propounded by all the Tirthankars and not only by Bhagwan Mahaveer.
According to Jain-scriptures, tradition of 24 Tirthankars has occurred since infinite past and will continue upto infinite future. It means 24 Tirthankars have occurred in past infinite times and will occur infinite times in future also.
 Main Principles Of Jainism
All the Tirthankars adopted Jaineshwari Deeksha i.e. Naked Digambar Mudra and followed five Mahavratas- Ahimsa, Satya, Achaurya, Brahmacharya and Aparigrah. Pichchhi (made of peacock feathers) and Kamandalu (Wooden) were the two symbols of them. After Deeksha, each Tirthankar Mahamuni followed full silence and performed hard penance upto obtaining Omniscience (Kevalgyan).
The Omniscient Bhagwan, seated in His Samavsaran (Divine Preaching Assembly) described 6 Dravyas and 7 Tattvas elaborately through His Divya-Dhvani. This wide & vast Ocean of Knowledge was understood by Gandharas (Chief disciples of Bhagwan) and was refered as Dwadashang, which was later compiled as JAIN-SCRIPTURES by different Acharyas.
Tirthankar Lord preached to follow Five Principles-
- AHIMSA i.e. Non-violence
- SATYA i.e. Truthfulness
- ACHAURYA i.e. Non-stealing
- BRAHMACHARYA i.e. Celibacy
- APARIGRAH i.e. Non-possession
These Five Vows are against Five Sins-
Those who follow the five principles or vows in totality, they are called as Mahavratis but those who follow these partially, they are called as Anuvratis. In fact, Mahavratis are Jain Sadhus-Jain Munis & Aryikas, While Anuvratis are Shravakas or Householders.
Those, who never follow these five vows and remain indulged into five types of sins, they earn sinful karmas and invite various misfortunes in their present life along with getting birth in hells & animals in their next lives. This is the underlying concept in Jain-Philosophy.
Jain Scriptures also direct the person for the renunciation of the 7 vices first. They are-
- Eating Meat/egg etc.
- Drinking Wine
- Going to Prostitutes
- Enjoying other’s wife
These vices expel the virtuousness from a person and such a person can never go forward on the path of Eternal Bliss. Even today, these vices & many other offshoots of them are prevalent in the society and people lose all their mental peace & health for these. Only vices-free life produces fruitful consequences.
The Non-violence, described in Jainism is very unique. It directs its follower to have compassion not only for human-beings but also for the entire surrounding creature-world. The vegetation-plants, trees, water, fire etc. all have to be conserved because all of them have living souls. Such ecologically-friendly principle is present in Jainism since ancient times. Even the thought or feeling of creating harm to others is supposed to be Bhav-Himsa and is to be avoided. However, to protect self, own religion, own family, own society and own country against some violent-unjustified person, is also the duty of a householder even with the use of weapons. In fact the world-wide problem of mutual-hatred, terrorism, violence & destruction needs the solution, enunciated by Jainism.
The fundamental MANTRA of Jain Dharma is supposed to be eternal and it greets the five supreme stages and not to some particular individuals.
It means, I bow down to all the Arihants, Siddhas, Acharyas, Upadhyayas and Sadhus. These five are called Panch-Permeshthis.
We have to understand the attributes of Panch-Permeshthis by further studies.
 Reason Behind this Project
About 2000 years back from today, during the time of Bhadrabahu Muniraj, Jain Community was divided into 2 sects- Digambar and Shwetambar. There are distinct peculiarities of each of these two sects, which will be detailed further. The major difference is that Digambar Sadhus (males) remain naked, while Shwetambar Sadhus wear white clothes. Here, in JAIN ENCYCLOPEDIA, the Digambar tradition is being detailed elaborately.
Thus, in precise, we have to understand that Jain Dharma is an eternal concept of leading meaningful life. It is beneficial not for a particular person only but simultaneously it is for the advantage of the entire creature-world.
To disperse & popularize the universal principles of this unique religion and many more, we have taken up this mega-project of preparing JAIN ENCYCLOPEDIA on Internet. We dream to present that ocean of knowledge, which gifts the nectar of real Gyan to its follower.
 Main Heads of the Project
Main Heads of the project are as follows:-
- Basic Knowledge of Jainism
- Jain Literature
- Jain Teerths & Temples
- Jain Sadhus & Sadhvis
- Jain Community (Details of 84 Jatis)
- Jain Vastu & Jyotish
- History of Jainism
- Jain Libraries & Manuscripts
- Jain Magazines & News Papers
- Jain Scholars
- Jain Science
- Jain Architecture & Sculpture
- Jain Vratas
- Special Articles
- Jain Universe (Teen Lok)
- Jain Geography
- Jain Astronomy (Jyotirlok)
- Jain Calender (Panchang)
- Jain Samvat
- Jain Bhajans (Audio & Video)
- Jain Dictionary
- Jain Artis