JAINA DHARMA: A LITTLE KNOWN FAITH
FOR DEEPER UNDERSTANDING AND ENRICHING LIFE
The primary aim in jotting down a few introductory notes on Jaina dharma is one of discovering what is true and holy (Vatican II, Nostra Aetate 2) in it for mutual enrichment. Reading and understanding life from a perspective other than our own does create a helpful atmosphere for Interreligious and cultural dialogue. The goal of life that we all cherish seems similar but the path that we undertake to achieve that goal varies. The religious consciousness of the Jains varies considerably from all other faiths, especially from the Semitic religions. The root of non-violence and renunciation in India could be traced to the Jaina and other sramana religious traditions of India. Rooted in Indian cultural ethos also means sharing their elements enshrined in the various ritualistic and faith traditions of India. Jaina way of life offers an opening for such an understanding and osmosis. By opening ourselves to such an osmosis ‘we are opening ourselves to God’ (John Paul II in his address to the Pontifical Secretariat for Non-Christians, 28 April 1987, n. 38) and to ‘God’s ongoing dialogue with humanity’ (GC 34, Our Mission and Interreligious Dialogue, n. 133). India has never been the same as it is claimed now. It was Buddhist and Jain at one time before it is called Hindu India. The following pages might evoke ideas similar to and/or different from one’s own approaches and understanding of reality and life. But they are for our mutual enrichment.
Dharma, a word synonymous with Religion, in Jainism has two broad meanings: one is generic in usage and the other, technical and specific to the use of the term. Dharma in technical sense is the basis for dynamism in life, helps movement or motion and, as such, it is opposed to adharma, stillness or rest. They are the media or the occasioning cause for motion and of rest respectively, just as water is helpful for a fish to move about. No...