Important Teachings of Jainism
Jainism is a very old religion. Though there had been twenty three Tirthankar’s before Lord Mahavir, yet this religion became very popular with the name of its twenty-fourth Tirthankar ‘Lord Mahavir’. Generally people consider this religion to be the contemporary of Buddhism. But now it is well known that Jainism is much older than Buddhism. Some of the important teachings of Jainism are as follows.
Jainism lays great stress upon non-violence. It teaches that there is life in all, small and great creatures and plants. Not even the minutest creature is to be harmed. The highest from of ‘Ahimsa’ is practiced by the Jain munis.
Non-violence cannot be followed without the practice of truth. A man who tells a lie hurts others. Only a true follower of truth can live by non-violence. So non-violence and truth go hand in hand. That is why Jainism makes it obligatory on everyone to speak the truth.
Jain scriptures teach that the greatest duty of man is to love all creatures. One who hates his fellow beings and other living beings, can never be a follower of Jainism. One who loves his fellow beings and is ready to sacrifice his all for them can alone follow it. Thus, love for all is another important teaching of Jainism.
According to Jainism, everyone should lead a simple life. This teaching is based on high philosophy. One who lives a life of great comfort and luxury does so at the cost of others. Those who earn large amounts of wealth do so by exploiting others. They deprive others even of their ordinary requirements. Thus, they go against the principle of non-violence. A true follower of Jainism must live a very simple life. He must have minimum wants. He must lean to control his desires. Minimization of wants and simple living is the fundamental principle of Jainism.
Jainism teaches us to have faith in our own actions. There is no place for fatalism. “As you sow, so you reap”, is an oft quoted saying. In Jainism, this saying has been given a philosophical basis. We cannot achieve salvation without doing good actions. As Jainism believes in transmigration of soul, so we cannot get rid of our actions. We have to bear the brunt of out past actions in our future births. So the whole philosophy of Jainism revolves round this basics theory of action or ‘Karma’. If we suffer and miseries begin to surround us, it is a sure sign that we must have done misdeeds in some previous life. So Jainism teaches us to do noble actions.
Jainism does not recognize God as the supreme entity as is done in Hindu religion. Sometimes people call it a Godless religion. But this shows their ignorance. In Jainism, soul is given the highest place. If a man does noble deeds, birth after birth, the soul itself becomes the ‘Supreme’. So in other words soul is God. It is not a Godless religion, but it gives a new interpretation of God.
Jainism is based on soul principles. Its deep philosophy cannot be challenged by any one. No arguments can show that its teachings are wrong. But we find that the followers of Jainism are only few in numbers. They are found only in certain parts of India. The main reason of this is that Jainism is rigid in its principles. Hence, it is not very easy for the common people to practice it. Its high and sound principles are impediment in its way.