Jainism The path to liberation

Symbol of Ahimsa : Symbolizes the Jain vow of nonviolence

Unlike other religions, Jainism does not have only one founder. It is instead taught by Tirthankaras, teachers who show the way. Tirthankaras are among those who have reached the highest spiritual goal and teach others how to do so. There have only been 24 Tirthankaras in what Jains call "the present age".

Painting of Tirthankara Sumati

Tirthankaras teach many beliefs to Jains who wish to be liberated. They teach that the soul exists forever and is always independent and that it is responsible for what it does and can be liberated from reincarnation. Jains are taught that every living thing, from an ant to an elephant, has a soul. Each soul is believed to be associated with reincarnation and the only way to escape is to be liberated.

Some souls , or jivas, have actually achieved liberation and are now called siddhas. Siddhas do not have physical bodies are the beings most like gods, but are very different the general idea of gods, seeing as they do not create or destroy, you cannot have a relationship with them, they do not reward human beings or ask anything of them, and they do not intervene with or set laws for the universe.

Siddha

Jains do not actually believe in a god or gods, due to the fact the world has evil. Jains argue that if God or other gods existed, there would be no evil. Now even though they do not believe in a god or gods, they still do believe in divine beings.

Like most religions, Jains do have sacred texts. The most important being the teachings of Mahavira, who was the world's most recent tirthankara. These teachings had to be memorized by Jain monks and nuns because they could not have possession of religious books and they couldn't write. The scriptures have become lost along with many of the Jains required to remember them. In order to preserve the teachings, Jain nuns and monks were allowed to write and possess religious books in order to keep the scriptures out of danger.

Original Jain Scripture
Original Jain Scripture
English Translation

The impact of Jainism on its followers has changed their daily lives. They are expected to follow many rules and live by the lay Jain life code. They must respect animals and the environment and have a diet that reflects this. They must avoid any work that intentionally violates the rules which are: practice non violence, always be truthful, never steal, practice chasity, only possess what you need, limit your travel, limit your use of resources, avoid pointless sins, mediate, limit activity during certain times, live the life of a monk for a day, and always give to nuns, monks, and the poor.

All in all, the goal of all Jains is to live a life of harmlessness and renunciation. The goal is to take the path of liberation and achieve absolute bliss.

Sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/jainism/

http://religious-symbols.net/jain-symbols.html

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