Jainism : as a Religion
8. Jainism is a Dharma, synonymous with English word Religion. The translated term “Religion” has been derived from the latten verb “Religare” meaning to bind together or from “Religere” meaning to execute” painstakingly which suggest both groups identity and ritual. Its combined form connotes that religion is to impose binding duties and required observances on its adherents. On this basis, it can be defined expressing valuation or designations and certain kinds of beliefs and practices. The word Dharma in our Indian tradition is derived from the verb Dhr to bear that indicates that Dharma is a base of all entities (Dharanad dharma mityahurdharmao dharayate praja (Mahabharata, Karmaparva, 69).
9. Hundreds of definitions of Dharma and Religion have been made in different Perspectives. I need not go into them. As regards the Jain tradition, it has two broad meanings: one is generic in usage and the other, technical and specific to the use of the term. Dharma in technical sense is the basis for dynamism in life that helps in our movement or motion. It is opposed to Adharma, stillness or rest. No other system of thought in India has conceived these two terms in such a fashion as in Jain system. It is possible that these two terms may signify the moral connotations of life with its movement and death.
10. The generic term Dharma has two levels of meaning: one is metaphysical and the other one is ethical and moral. Jain philosophers defined the Dharma as follows:l) that which saves the being from worldly sorrows (Sansaradukkhatah sattvan yo dharatyuttame sukhe- Ratnakatranda Sravakacara, 2; cf. Sarvarthasiddhi, 9.2, Caritrasara, 3.1 etc.).2) To observe non- violence, compassion, restraint, right penance, brotherhood, forgiveness, truth and other human qualities (Dhammo dayavisuddho- Bodhapahud, 25; cf. Sarvarthasiddhi, 9.7Rajavartika, 6.l3.5 etc.)3) Ratnatraya (Right faith, Right knowledge, and Right conduct) is Dharma (Sadrastijnanavrttani dharmam dharmesvara viduh – Ratnakaranda Sravakacara, 3, Dhavala, Pustaka, 8,p.92 etc.)4) Nature of the entity is Dharma or nature of purified soul is Dharma (Niscayadharma) ï¿½ Vatthusahavo dhammo, Pravacanasara, 7-8 etc.)5) Devotion, donation, worship, service, etc. are included into practical aspects of religion (Pancaparamesthyadibhaktiparinamarupa. vyavaharadharmastavaducyate- Pravacanasara Tat.Vr. 8.9 etc.).
11. All these definitions are related to each other with different aspects. Acarya Kundakunda, for instance, defined the Dharma in several ways: Vatthusahavo dhammo, Rayannatayam ca dhammo, Carittam khalu dhammo, khamadidasaviho Bhavo dhammo and so on. These definitions are associated with right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct, which are called Ratnatraya. The Ratnatrayas constitute together the path of emancipation from all Karmas or Moksa. The religion cannot be observed without Ratnatraya. Here the observation of ten kinds of religion becomes essential in Jain tradition : Ksama (forbearance), Mardava (humility), Arjava (uprightness), Satya (truthfulness), Sauca (desirelessness), Samyama (self-discipline), Tapa (self-mortification), Tyaga (renunciation), Akincanya (poverty), and Brahmacarya (celibacy) (Tattvarthasutra, 9.6; Thananga, 10.16 etc.).
12. All these Dharmas in Jain tradition carry the adjective “Uttama” which indicates the right attitude of the follower towards all the aspects of religion with great spirituality and profundity (Sarvarthasiddhi, 9.6). They do not have any relation with wealth of fame (Rajavartika, 9.6.26; Caritrasara, 1.58). This tenfold ascetic Dharma consists of four elements: Dana ((almsgiving), Sila (virtue), Tapas (ascetic practices), and Bhava (spiritual attitude).
13. This is the generic meaning of Dharma indicating the metaphysical, ethical and moral attitude to human values. It relates with the ultimate aim of life (liberation or Moksa). The traditional Jain view does not accept the grace of God or help from any external agency for achieving the final goal. The Bhakti element is of course there but it is from the conventional or practical point of view (Vyavaharanaya) and not from real standpoint (Niscayanaya). Any one could achieve this goal by one’s own efforts. Non-possession, non- violence and vegetarianism have their roots in such efforts. This is the humanistic approach to the goal of life.
14. The religion in Jain Sramana cultural system is of two types: one is pertaining to individual, and the other one is concerned with the society. Individualistic religion is meant for spiritual aggrandizement and pleasure of temporal and next world of all beings whereas the other one confines to the prosperity of the society or community for mundane gratification and nation as well. It is of view that the caste system depends on one’s deeds (Kammana jati) and not on birth. Maitri (friendship), Karuna (compassion), Mudita or Pramoda (sympathetic joy), and Madhyasthabhava (impartiality) are the cultivation of the social emotions