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 celebrations.
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 human society.