Jain as a Community
163. In light of modern definitions and speculations, the Jain society may be
termed as "Jain Community" which states a particular form of social life, its
cultural and ethnic ideas and values. It is originally based on the Jain
principle of equality and equanimity, which stresses on the social and spiritual
individual, and rejects the idea of God as mediator, and replaces it with the
theory of Karma. It stresses on individual purification, which leads the society
in peace and order. It regulates not only the present life, but also the future.
Unlike the Vedic religion, the Jain Scriptures sets forth the responsibility of
ones deeds for deciding his caste. Jainism does not hold caste as a way of
people being judged. In other words, caste cannot be decided by birth but it is
one's own action or conduct, which decides the caste. It is said that by simply
shaving the head, one cannot be a Muni (monk) and by only adhering to
Kasayacivar (saffron clothing) one cannot claim to be a Tapasvi, a person who
resides in a jungle cannot be called a Sramana. As a matter of fact, they should
possess the attributes like Samata (equality and equanimity), Brahmacarya
(celibacy), Jnana (knowledge), Tapa (penance) and Caritra (conduct) with the
right attitude. This was the Varna system developed on the Rsabhadeva and his
son Bharata legend. They have their own system for marriage and other
164. The great devotional movement made an intensive impact on Jain society and
made it changed to the great extent. The great Heros Rama, Krsna, Pandavas and
others are accepted by Jainas as Salaka Mahapurusas and composed a large
quantity of literature on their life and works.
165. Jain Community in its historical and social perspective is a quite
distinct, independent and new society with its Congregationalist nature. It has
never abandoned the original spirit of Jainism. Therefore, the Jain community
cannot be said to be the part of the Vedic or Hindu community, though it carries
deep impact of it in the code of conduct of householders in the later period.
Like-wise, in spite of occupying a large portion of business and industry it
would not be a true speculation of the Jain community to be recognized only as
the business community.
166. Numerically, Jainas form a very small segment of the Indian population.
Approximately, 3.19 million followers, or may be a little more near about 12
millions according to the calculation of Jain society, of this religion account
for 0.48 percent of the total population as of 1981 census and thus ranked the
sixth largest religious group. However, Jainas are spread over all parts of
India and have contributed a lot in spite of being a small community in the
economic, political, cultural, social, and literal, art, architecture and
spiritual fields. They also never indulged in vicious and revengeful activities.
Therefore the Jain community has its own distinctive place in the religious and