Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

INTRODUCTION

SPEECH
PREFACE
FOREWORD
SIGNIFICANT FEATURES
  DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES
  RELIGIOUS SPLITS
  SOCIAL FISSIONS
  FLOURISHMENT AND DECLINE
  CURRENT FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES
  TABLES

CURRENT FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES

 

 

1. GROWING RELIGIOUS DISSENSIONS

 

          The important problem, which is undermining the strength of the Jaina community for the last so many centuries, is the existence of various religious divisions in the community. Up to the days of Lord Mahavira and even for some centuries later the Jaina Church remained one and undivided though some minor schisms had taken place during and after the time of Lord Mahavira. About the end of the first century A.D. the Jaina Church was finally split up into two rival sects which have vigorously maintained the rivalry to the present day. The two main sects, viz. the Digambara and the Shvetambara, were later kin split up into major and minor sub-sects some of which were revolutionary in the sense that they opposed the established practice of idol worship. Apart from the division of the Jaina Church into sects, and sub-sects, the Jainas were further divided, on a religious basis, into several sections and sub-sections like Sangha, Gana, Gachchha and Shakha.

 

          The Jainas did not stop with the creation of a large number of sects, sub-sects, sections and sub-sections in the community, but persistently made and are still making them by various means to perpetuate these divisions. Only a few wend places an common to both be Digambaras and the Shvetambaras, while each sect possesses its own numerous sacred places. Even those few common sacred places have, for all these years, become a constant bone of contention between the two sects as each sect tries to establish its claim of ownership over them by both fair and foul means. Crores of rupees have been spent and continue to be spent by both the parties on litigation. Generally the members of each sub-sect or sub-section build their own temples or places of worship. Thus among the Digambaras the Terapanthis and the Bisapan this have their separate temples and the Taranopan this their own Chaityalayas. The Murtipujaka Shvetambaras have their temples, while the Shvetambara Sthanakavasis visit their Upashrayas only. In big cities practically every important Gachchha possesses its temple where all the members of that Gachchha assemble on festival and, other ceremonial days. At Karanja in Vidarbha the members of Sena Gana and Balatkara Gana have their own temples. Further, A many plans the members of some important castes have their different temples. Again, the main sects have their own types of idols, methods of worship, places of pilgrim.. age, sacred books, Samskaras or sacraments, religious teachers and fasts and festivals. These differences have so much been magnified by both the -main sects that every sect considers itself as a true follower of Jainism, while it regards the other sect as fallen from the real path of Jainism.

 

          The differences have penetrated into the social field also, Formerly, marriages used to take place between the members belonging to different sects and sub-sects; but now there is a marked tendency to restrict the marital relations within the members of a particular sect or even a sub-sect. Each sect or sub-sect provides for its students facilities like boarding houses, scholarship funds, research grants etc. There is hardly any association which caters to the needs of students irrespective of sect or sub-sect. Even their religious educational institutions like Gurukulas and Pathashalas are separate for each sect or sub. sod. The members of practically every sect or sub-sect are being organised on an all-India basis. The Digambaras have organisations of an all-India character, viz. All India Digambara Jaina Mahasabha, Delhi, All India Digambara Jaina Sangha, Mathura and All India Digambara Jaina Mahasamiti, Delhi; and among the Shvetambaras each sub-sect has an alt-India organisation, viz. All India Slavetambara (Murtipujaka) Jaina Conference, Bombay; All India Shvetambara Sthanakavasi Jain Conference, Bombay; and Sri Jaina Shvetambara Terapanthi Mahasabha, Calcutta. These organisations have their provincial branches and official news-paper organs through which they try to stabilise their respective positions. It is true that there are some organisations of national and local and regional character like Bharata Jaina Maha mandala, Bombay, and Bombay Jaina Yuvaka Sangha, Bombay, which are meant for all Jainas, but it is a. fact that they are not popular as other sectarian organisations are. Sometimes it is reported that even the religious pontiffs of different sects and sub-sects try to accentuate the religious differences and sever the social relations, if any, existing between them.

 

          Thus it is quite evident that the Jainas have been segregated into different hostile camps on religious grounds. As a consequence we find that there is -nothing like religious unity among the followers of Jainism and this undoubtedly hinders the progress of the Jaina community. Since the Jainas have been spread throughout the length and breadth of India, there is a great divergence in their observance of various social customs and manners. In the circumstances the only bond that brings all Jainas together is the bond of religion, i.e. they are the followers of the same religion. It is, therefore, the paramount duty of the Jainas to see that the feeling of oneness is inculcated in the minds of the Jainas by several means. In fact, Jainism is one and undivided so far as its philosophy, fundamental principles and doctrines are concerned. The Jaina Church was united for a long time and its sects-and especially the sub-sects-arose at a comparatively late stage; in its history. There are not basic differences of a serious nature, from the point of view of the present age, between the sects and the sub-sects. According to the Jaina theory itself nobody, either male or female, can attain salvation in the current age. It is, therefore, quite futile to quarrel on points like �Savastra-mukti�, i.e. whether one can achieve Moksha while one wears the clothes; `Strimukti,� i.e. whether a woman can attain salvation; and `Kevali-Kavalahara`, i.e. whether an omniscient needs food or not. These three are the major points of differences between the Digambaras and the Shvetambaras and when they are not applicable in the present age there is no reason, why the sects should give more importance to the minor differences and estrange their relations. The same can be said about the relations between the Terapanthis and the Bisapanthis among the Digambaras and between the Sthanakavasis and the Terapanthis among the Shvetambaras as there are not much differences between them. The non-idolatrous sub-sects among both the sects may be allowed to worship in their own way but they should, in no case, be considered as aliens to Jainism. Thus more emphasis, in the first place, should invariably be given on these points of common nature, so that the feeling of hostility may be completely banished from the minds of Jainas belonging to different sects and sub-sects.

 

          With a view to foster this feeling several practical means will have to be adopted by both the sects. They should celebrate together the birth and death anniversary days of Lords Rshabha and Mahavira together instead of observing them separately. They should make it a point to visit the temples and places of warship of a11 sects and sub - sects and should join in the religious festivals of other sects. A11 sectarian organisations will have to be abolished forthwith and their place should: be taken by the organisations of all Jainas formed on local and regional and national basis. Naturally all other facilities and institutions must be kept free to all Jainas. The field of social relations must also be widened. They should not be kept restricted within the members of a particular sect or sub-sect. Efforts should be made to publish the literature stressing the essential unity in the Jaina Church. The religious pontiffs should be made to concentrate their energies on cementing the differences and establishing the cordial relations between the sects and sub-sects. If possible, common Samskaras, fasts and festivals should be evolved, so that many opportunities will be created for bringing all people together and maintaining closer relations between them.

 

          When concentrated and sincere efforts are made on above lines, it is hoped, the common religious bond will become firm and will foster the sense of unity among the Jainas, which is so essential for organising the Jaina community to continue its existence and to increase its prosperity.