Jainism and Hinduism

Ganesh Deivashikamani ganesh_d at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 13 12:00:24 CDT 1999

Thanks very much  Jaldhar
It was short and sweet.

Ganesh Deivasikhamani

>From: "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM>
>Reply-To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
>Subject: Re: Jainism and Hinduism
>Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 18:24:55 -0400
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>On Mon, 12 Jul 1999, Ganesh Deivashikamani wrote:
> > Dear Advaitains/Friends
> >
> > Can anyone englighten me on the difference between Jainism and Hinduism.
> > Because many of the jains seems to worship our Gods  like
> > and at the same time their Gods(Thirthangas) also.
> > Is Jainism similar to Buddhism that argues based on 'SoonyaVadha' or
> > 'Nothingness'? or do they have anything similar to 'Advaita' ?
> >
>In terms of philosophy Jainism is just as heretical as Buddhism and our
>Acharyas have reacted to it with as much disfavor as Buddhism.  The Jain
>philosophers have not been slow to respond.  Yet if you were to tell this
>to the average man in the street--Jain or Hindu--they would be
>flabbergasted to hear it because today, for all intents and purposes,
>Jainism is just another Hindu sect.  In Gujarat, where there is big
>Shvetambara Jain community, Jains intermarry with Vaishnavas--providing
>they are of the same caste.  As you mentioned Jains worship our Gods.  At
>Diwali I sometimes do Lakshmi Puja for Jain neighbors.  They also believe
>in Ganesh Bhagawan and Krshna Bhagawan a lot.  (And it goes the other way
>too.  I know a mantra which my Father learnt from a Jain muni.)  Although
>they have their own sutras (agamas), there are also Jain versions of
>Ramayana, Mahabharata, Padma Purana etc.  Not to mention, Jain munis have
>written commentaries on Yoga sutras, vyakarana, and tarkashastras etc.
>So as you can see all the classic reasons for calling a darshan nastika no
>longer seem to apply on the everyday level.
>Philosophically, however there is a big difference which munis and learned
>Jain laymen are well aware of.  The Jain philosophy is called syadavada.
>In Sanskrit syat is the conditional form of the verb to be.  According to
>Jains, there are six different combinations of existence and non-existence
>all of which should be conditionally be regarded as true.  Shunyavada
>would only be one of those views.  Down the line both Astikas and
>Bauddhas have criticized syadavada for being to wishy-washy.
>Given, the impossibility of knowing truth fully, sentient beings should
>minimize the impact they have on the world lest they commit some sin.
>This is why for Jains, ahimsa is of the highest importance.  On my last
>trip to India I noticed a big building near our house which never had any
>lights on at night.  I asked my uncle why and he said it was an upashraya
>or meditation hall for Jain laymen and they never  kept lights on at night
>because they were concerned mosquitos and other small insects which are
>attracted to lights might fly into the bulbs and burn themselves up!
>The end goal is liberation from the bonds of karma but the atma retains
>its individuality so it not like the Advaita concept of moksha at all.
>The Tirthankars are those perfect souls who had the power to fully explain
>the path to liberation.  There are 24 in each yugachakra and Mahavira was
>the last in this present one.
>By looking at Jainism I think we can shed some light on the relationship
>between Hinduism and Buddhism in ancient India.  While the educated may
>have debated back and forth on the merits of one view or another, at the
>popular level beliefs and actions were probably quite similiar. Maybe why
>Buddhism died out in India was it was very centralized in big monastaries
>while Astika and Jain maths were smaller and more spread out.  So when the
>Muslim invasions began, Buddhism was effectively decapitated and its lay
>followers were absorbed back into the mainstream they had never really
>left.  The others were disrupted but eventually managed to recover.
>Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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