The books in English on Jaina Religion, the ancient and distinctive religion of India, written by foreign and Indian scholars, have been published mainly during the first half of the 20th century. Many of these books are meant for advanced students of religion and are not now readily available even for purposes of reference. Again, some of these books reveals a biased outlook or a sectarian approach. Further, a large number of these books are devoted largely to the delineation of philosophy of Jaina ? Religion and a few of them deal with the presentation of Jaina Arts and Jaina History in the different regions of India. In the circumstances a strong need was felt for a long time to have a concise book in English of an introductory nature dealing not only with the fundamental philosophy and ethics of Jaina Religion but also with the antiquity, spread and significance of Jaina Religion. It is hoped that the present compendious and authentic book of an academic nature entitled Aspects of Jaina Religion will satisfy this urgent need.
The book, in brief, traces the antiquity of Jainism from literary and archaeological sources; delineates the basic principles and elements of Jainism; elucidates the significant doctrines of Jainism; explains the tree fold salvation-path of Jainism; elaborates the ethical code prescribed by Jainism; brings out the distinctive features of Jaina Ethics; describes the sects and sub-sects of Jainism; depicts the history of Jainism in different parts of India; highlights the important contributions of Jainism to Indian culture; and analyses the significance of Jainism from a social point of view. The book also contains a Glossary of Philosophical and technical terms commonly used in Jainism and presents a Bibliography of selected books in English on Jaina Religion and Culture. It is, therefore, hoped that the book will be useful both to the academicians and the general readers desirous to have an objective, correct and proper understanding of various facets of Jaina Religion.
I am really glad to state that Padmabhushan Sahu Shriyans Prasad Jain, the most respected doyen of Jaina Community in India, was extremely keen and determined to have such an authentic and introductory book in English for the benefit of interested readers all over the world so that they can have an adequate comprehension not only about the basic tenets of Jainisum but also about the specific role played by Jaina Religion in enriching the social life and culture in India. I am, therefore, very grateful to Sahu Shriyans Prasadjr for giving necessary inspiration and extending constant encouragement to me in writing this book.
I am greatly indebted to the well-equipped library of Rajaram College, Kolhapur. My thanks are also due to Shri Mohan Patil for preparing the neat typescript of the book.
Vilas Adinath Sangave
Sahu Research Institute,
Shivaji University, Kolhapur
26th January, 1990.