Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
PREFACE
FORWARD
INTRODUCTION
SAPTABHANGI SYSTEM
THE TATTVAS
  THE NATURE OF KARMA (Karma ka swroop)
  ASRAVA
  BANDHA
  SAMVARA
  NIRJARA
  MOKSHA
  STAGES ON THE PATH - GUNASTHANAS
  DHARMA IN PRACTICE
  COMPARATIVE ANTIQUITY OF JAINISM
  SOUL-SUBSTANCE
  Vairagya Bhavana

COMPARATIVE ANTIQUITY OF JAINISM


 

 

     The above conclusion is amply supported by the testimony of the Jaina Books; but even Hinduism acknowledges the great antiquity of Jainism, naming its Founder Rishabha Deva, who lived, according to the testimony of certain of the Hindu Puranas, millions of years ago. That religion flourished so far back in the past might be questioned by those who have not studied it as a science; but there is nothing surprising in its antiquity if humanity itself was present --and modern science tells up that man has peopled the Earth for hundreds of millions of years -- then.

 

     It should be stated that the Jainas can not be Hindu dissenters by any possibility. Whenever there is a division in a community the bulk of the creed remains the same and common to the parts or branches thus formed. The differences arise in respect of a few matters only. But if we regard Hinduism as non-allegorical and then compare it with Jainism, the differences are very great. Their agreement is in respect of a few particulars only, excepting those matters, which concern the ordinary mode and living (civilization). Even the ceremonies, which appear to be similar are, in reality different in respect of their purport, if carefully studied. The Jainas regard the world as eternal; the Hindus hold it to have been created by a creator. Worship in Jainism is offered only to men who have attained the perfection of Godhood, but to no one else; in Hinduism its object is supposed to be a god who is the creator and ruler of the world. Hinduism believes in a large number of additional gods; in Jainism there is no room for any one in the class of Gods except Perfect Men.

 

     The significance of worship itself is different in the two religions. In Jainism the idea is only that of walking in the footsteps of a Model, to become like Him; there is no prayer and no offering of food and unguents to please the Deity. In Hinduism it is the propitiation of gods for which worship is performed. In respect of their Scriptures also great differences prevail between Jainism and Hinduism. Not one of the Books of the Hindus is acceptable to the Jainas, nor do the Hindus acknowledge a single composition of the latter. The contents of these scriptures also differ very materially. Not one part of the four Vedas and the 18 Puranas of the Hindus is included in the Jaina Scriptures, nor is any part of the Jaina Sacred Literature included in the Hindu Books. The matters in respect of which there seems to be an agreement between the two communities are purely social; their significance wherever they have a religious bearings is divergent. Ordinary agreement in respect of such matters is naturally to be expected wherever two communities are found living together for thousands of years, especially if intermarriages take place among them, as between the Hindus and the Jainas. Thus, there is not an iota of evidence to support the notion that Jainas are Hindu dissenters.

 

To sum up: there are three possible views of the relationship between Jainism and Hinduism namely,

 

1. That the former is the child of the latter,

2. That the latter is the child of the former; and

3. That the two are parallel creeds, which have existed side by side without the one being an off- shoot of the other.

 

Of these, the first is a pure assumption, and not supported by any evidence extrinsic or intrinsic; the second rests on the intrinsic evidence, and proceeds on the basis of the Vedas having an esoteric, that is to say, an allegorical interpretation; and the third is the only remaining alternative which will hold good if the allegorical theory is to be rejected for any adequate reason. When the scholars will approach the question from the standpoint of the allegorical interpretation of the Vedas the true view will come to prevail easily then.

 

I shall now conclude this article by quoting the following weighty observations of Sir Kumaraswami Sastri, the officiating Chief Justice of the Madras High Court and a learned Hindu Scholar (see in re B. Gentappa v. B. Eramma, Indian Law Reports, Madras series, Vol. 50, pp, 229-230):--

 

"Were the matter res integra I would be inclined to hold that modern research has shown that Jains are not Hindu dissenters but that Jainism has an origin and history long anterior to the Smritis and Commentaries which are recognized authorities on Hindu Law and usage. In fact, Maha Veera, the last of the Jain Tirthankar, was a contemporary of Buddha and died about 527 B.C. The Jain religion refers to a number of previous Tirthankar and there can be little doubt that Jainism as a distinct religion was flourishing several centuries before Christ. In fact Jainism rejects the authority of the Vedas which form the bed-rock of Hinduism and denies the efficacy of the various ceremonies which Hindus consider essential."

 

"There is a great force in the observations of Holloway, J. in Rithucurn Lalla v. Soojan Mull Lalla (9 Madras Jurist 21) that Hindu Law cannot be applied to them. So far as Jain Law is concerned it has its own law books of which Bhadrabahu Samhita is an important one. Vardhamanaa Niti and Arhana Niti by the great Jain teacher Hemachandra deal also with Jain Law. No doubt by long association with Hindus who form the bulk of the population Jainism has assimilated several of the customs and ceremonial practices of the Hindus, but this is no ground for applying Hindu Law as developed by Vignaneswara and other commentators, several centuries after Jainism was a distinct and separate religion with its own religion ceremonial and legal systems, en bloc to Jains and throwing on them the onus of showing that they are not bound by the law as laid down by Jain Law-givers. It seems to me that in considering questions of Jain Law relating to adoption, succession and partition we have to see what the law as expounded by Jain Law-givers is and to throw the onus on those who assert that in any particular matter the Jains have adopted Hindu Law and custom and have not followed the law as laid down by their own Law-givers."