Jainism is one of the oldest religions in the world. It encompasses several facets of life. It views life as having four expressions. Life may be heavenly, referring to deity and souls that have attained nirvana. It views human life as the second highest life form. Sub human life, the third life form, includes every living thing that is not human such as plants and animals. Finally, there are hellish beings that are lower than sub human life forms. Jainism teaches that a soul moves from one of these life forms to another in a cyclic manner depending on its Karma.
There is the concept of the triple gems of Jainism that all adherents observe. This refers to having the right knowledge, the right perception and engaging in right actions during this spiritual journey to liberation. Their practice affects a soul’s karma. Karma may be good or bad, with the practice of the triple gems forming the basis for good or bad karma, which mature at some time in the future. No one is sure which karma will mature at what point hence all adherents do their best to ensure that they do not accumulate bad karma.
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The five cardinal principles in Jainism include Ahimsa – not injuring living beings, Satya – speaking in truth always without endangering anyone, Asteya – not stealing or coveting anyone else’s property, Brahmacharya – celibacy, and Aparigraha – detachment from materialism and relationships.
Jainism in practice finds expression through different sects. They all have a place for monks, who tend to live by a stricter code compared to households. In a household, adherents practice Jainism to the best of their ability. All adherents are strict vegetarians because of respect for all forms of life. In contemporary society, the Mahatma Gandhi led revolt against British colonization of India demonstrates the efficacy of the Jain non- violence philosophy.
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