The following questions were asked by the Jain youths over last few years. The answers presented here are not necessarily the ultimate ones. There could surely be better answers than those given below.
Answer-1: There are many books. For example, there are 45 canonical books (Jain Ägäms) according to the Shwetambar-Murtipujak tradition. In addition there are numerous books that provide details of Jain philosophy. If there is one book to be named for Jain philosophy, it would be “Tattvartha sutra” by Umaswati (also known as Umaswami). As a minimum, every Jain should have this book in their home and, should read and understand it.
Answer-2: The Sanskrit word for the religion is Dharma. Dharma means the nature of the thing. For all living beings, the soul is the real thing. The religion therefore means to see, to know and to realize the true nature of the soul. In other words, the laws of nature in truest and purest form are the religion.
Laws of nature lead us to the laws of self-initiative and self-effort. Without self-efforts and self-initiative, one cannot see, know or realize the true qualities of Self. That’s why Jainism relies a great deal on one's own efforts and initiatives, and laws of nature.
Our present fate is due to our past Karma. One can change it by self-effort .
Unlike other living beings, we, human beings, have reasoning mind and capacity to think rationally. We have curiosity. We want to live a peaceful, happy and simple life. Since the time immemorial, we curious human beings have been seeking answers to the questions such as: who am I? Who am I not? Who is God? Who made the universe? What is my relationship with the universe? What is my real nature? How can I achieve my own nature, my true self? How do I achieve permanent happiness? Right answers to these questions constitute the religion.
Answer-3: It is believed that Parshvanath and Lord Mahavir were historical entities.The name of Rushabhdev occurs in Vedic literature. This makes Jainism as old as the Vedic religion, if not older. Similarly, the existence of Jainism is mentioned in the canonical books of the Buddhism. Historians also agree that the Jainism is a pre-historical religion. Recent archeological discoveries like figures of Rushabhdev substantiate the Jain religion’s existence since five thousand years. There are tens of thousands of years old caves that have paintings echoing Jainism.
There has been countless time-cycles in the past. During each half time cycles (trillions and trillions of years long), we have 24 Tirthankars. Therefore, the Jain religion has been preached by our Tirthankars during each half cycle.
Extraordinary details on the practice “non-violence”, the concept of six substances of the universe, nine realities and many similar things preached in Jainism do support, represent and substantiate the laws of nature and the laws of universal balance. The Jain religion and the laws of nature are synonymous. Therefore, our religion has been in existence since the laws of nature have been in existence. Therefore, Jains believe that the Jain religion has been in existence since the time without beginning and will have no end.
Answer-4: Hindu and Jain, both religions are independent. It is a wrong belief that the Jain religion is derived from the Vedic religion. Because of the thousands of years of common history and parallel culture of Hindus and Jains, there are many similarities. Both religions preach that non-violence constitutes the supreme religion. Hindus and Jains are not distinguishable when it comes to their attitude towards the life. It should be also noted that there are some distinct differences between these two religions. The concept of “non-violence” is much more detailed in Jainism. We, Jains do not believe that the universe was created. We believe that the universe is self-regulated. No one decides for us what we should get. We believe that we are the master of our own destiny. There is no divine power who decides for us. We believe all living beings are equal and all human beings are capable of achieving the liberation regardless of their race, cast, sex or color. We do not believe that the souls who have gone to Moksha come back to earth (take a rebirth) to save the world.
Answer-5 We do not believe in any theory like “First Chicken or Egg.” If we were created then we can be destroyed. But our soul is immortal. Therefore, we could not have been created. We Jains believe that our souls were in existence since the time without beginning and will be in existence forever (has no end). There was no creation of the souls and will have no destruction of the souls. We move from one body to another until we achieve the liberation. After the liberation, we still exist forever in the pure soul form.
Answer-6: Jainism has said that there is a life in the plant much before the science has proved it. It is true that vegetables and fruits, both have lives. The ideal situation for a Jain would be to eat the ripe fruit that has just fallen off a tree. Vegetables and fruits are one-sensed living beings. One-sensed living beings have only “touch” sense. Their development of consciousness (knowledge) is significantly less than the higher (two, three, four and five)-sensed living beings like us, animals, birds, etc. For example, the level of knowledge of one-sensed living beings is only a small fraction of one letter. It is impossible to live a life with absolute non-violence. We need to eat to survive and we need to earn to live as a “house-holder”. But the basis of Jainism is “non-violence”. Therefore, we must minimize the act of non-violence. Eating vegetables constitutes minimum act of violence because: 1) Animals have more life-force, called Prän and more knowledge (purer -much more developed- consciousness) than the vegetables. Therefore, killing animals constitutes the higher form of violence. 2) Many other living organisms reside in an animal body and They get multiplied in a dead body. 3) Vegetables have less living cells and more water content. 4) We do not kill the plant for vegetables. We take leaves, vegetables and fruits off the plants. By removing vegetables and fruits from a tree, we sometimes lengthen the life span of the tree. 5) Eating vegetables is healthier. 6) The anatomy (teeth, digestive system, tongue, etc.) of human beings is for eating vegetarian food.
Answer-7: a) The question implies that if we cannot eat meat of cow, how can we consume cow’s milk. When we eat cow’s meat, we kill the cow. When we use cow’s milk, we do not kill the cow. But we must make sure the cow’s milk is extracted without causing pain to it and the milk was in excess (we did not deprive the cow’s off-springs). If we do not remove the excess milk from cow, we may be doing more harm to it than help. When we use the butter and cheese, we should make sure that they (specially the cheese) do not contain any animal ingredients. Jainism considers that the use of milk and milk products is not conducive to spiritual advancement. There are people in US who are called vegans. Vegans do not eat dairy products.
b) We should choose a profession or a business that has minimum amount of violence. The Jain Ägams recommend staying away from the trades that involve sufferings and killing of animals, affect our environment and ecology, and pollute or dry-up our natural resources. Trades that involve weapons and explosives, fire, cutting of trees, fermented products like liquor, animal parts like ivory, leather and fur; lard, meat and honey; poisonous and toxic substances, animal testing & use and prostitution need to be avoided. Moreover, we should not buy stocks or otherwise invest in such businesses.
Answer-8: a) Dead bodies of animals contain lot of living organisms and that keeps on multiplying as time passes. Most organisms have the same color as of the meat. Therefore, eating meat of naturally dead animal does involve a high level of violence. Secondly, there is the risk of dying by eating the dead animal because it may contain deadly decease or our digestive system may not adjust to that meat-eating. It is of course hard to court death in absence of innocent food. There are, however, examples of Jain monks who died due to severe draught rather than eating meat or even drinking sentient water. As Jains believe that there is life after death, we should not worry about dying. One may argue that the human life is very difficult to attain. This is true. But the act of bad Karma (päp) like eating meat may lead to hell in the next life. Meat eating only when there is no other alternative is not acceptable to Jainism. If we practice the minor vows for house-holders, then we will not be traveling to an unknown area. We will be limiting our travels to the familiar areas. We will also be limiting our activities to the essential needs. By resorting to such precepts, one can avert such hypothetical situation. Jainism is more about prevention of wrong situations.
b) This is fallacious since purchasing creates demand and encourages others to kill. Thus it is equivalent to oneself committing the deed. The 'neat' packaging of meat hides the pain that occurred before. It is unfortunate that packaging keeps scenes of slaughterhouses off the minds of the consumers. Mahavir Bhagwan said, "It is Himsä (violence) - whether a man kills living beings himself/herself, or causes others to kill them, or gives consent to others to kill.”
Answer-9: The issue is not whether you eat from the dish containing meat on one side. The real issue is how to avoid such a situation. You should let your friend know that you are a vegetarian and you do not eat meat. In all probabilities your friend will understand and respect your belief and will not put you in a tough situation by serving you a dish that contains meat. If he/she does, then he/she may not be your friend.
Answer-10: The philisophy of Chärväka did not believe in the concepts of soul and Karma. That philosophy laid down to eat, spend and materially enjoy the life even if you have to borrow. They claimed that no one knows whether there is a next life.
First of all, one practices the religion to attain the long-lasting happiness. Such happiness can be achieved by removing the causes of all miseries. Enjoying the material world may bring temporary happiness, but no one can attain the lasting happiness through material things. We know that money, power, name, etc. do not guarantee the happiness. How do we get rid of the miseries? The root cause of all our miseries is attachment and aversion. When we get what we want we feel happy (this is attachment) and we become unhappy when we do not get what we want (this is aversion). The rules and regulations are designed to reduce our attachment and aversion. However, one should not be forced to practice what is not appealing to his/her common sense. One should adopt the minor vows according to his/her own capacity, and then gradually progress from there.
The religion is for guiding us to find the inner (permanent) happiness. The goal of the long-lasting happiness is not limited to only this life. We believe that we had lives in past and will have lives in future until we achieve the liberation (perfect happiness). Now, the next question is - how do we know that we had previous lives and/or we will have a next life?
There are four ways to decide on the things like whether there were previous lives and/or there is a next life. These four ways are: 1) self-experience, 2) believe in the people who have experienced it or what is said in the Jain Ägäms (Canonical books). 3) by inference and 4) by analogy. In this fifth segment of the regressive half-time cycle, we do not have the people with self-experience. We have Jain Ägams that can be trusted. But in today’s world, one may ask for rationale. One has to rationalize two major aspects:: 1) belief in the existence of soul and 2) belief in the theory of Karma. The existence of soul can be reasoned out by comparing a dead body and a living being. The differences between these two
bodies are consciousness, feeling energy, ability to act etc. These differences constitute the characteristics of the soul. This leads us to believe that there is a substance like soul.
The theory of Karma rests on the observance of various phenomena. Why are we not equal at the time of birth? Why are some happy and some aren’t? Why are some healthy and some aren’t? Why are some good looking and some aren’t? Why are some rich and some aren’t? The rational explanation is that there has to be some aspect that makes everyone different. Per Jainism, that aspect is called “Karma”. At the time of our birth, each one of us has a different impact of Karma and that makes us different from each other. We must be carrying such Karma from the previous life. Similarly, we add or subtract to the Karma every moment. With good-positive self-effort, we can change the impact of our Karma. As the impact decreases, the more realized are the characteristics of soul. As we know, someone gets more reward for good work in this life, while someone gets less or no reward for the same amount of good work. Why? One kills one person and gets a death sentence. While someone else kills one hundred persons and still goes free . The reward is not equal. Therefore, there has to be a next life to take care of such discrepancies.
The next question is - why don’t we remember our previous life? There are eight different types of Karmas. One them is knowledge-obscuring Karma. The existence of that Karma does not let us completely realize the knowledge component of our consciousness (soul). There are five reasons that activate the knowledge-obscuring Karma: place, time, substance, emotions and transition to next life. We do not remember everything we know at every place, at every time. during every emotional experience and at every substance-encounter. The time, the place, the feeling and the substance involve in a particular situation decides how, when and where of its memory. The transition of our soul (with our Karman body and tejas body) to the next life activates the knowledge-obstructing Karma. Therefore, we do not remember the previous life. Since this transition to another body is an extraordinary event as compared to other events in our life, it makes us forget about our previous life.
The next question is - what happens when I remember my previous life? If this happens, this could be the most fortunate moment of our life. We will trust every thing that is said in our Ägäms. Our life will spiritually be more focused.
Answer-11: There are two types of vows, one for the monks and one for house-holders. The vows for monks are called the major vows (Maha Vrata). In the practice of Maha Vrata, total abstinence from violence, falsehood, stealing, carnality and possessiveness is observed. The vows for the house-holders are called minor vows (Anu Vrata). House-holders observe the vows of restraining from gross violence, lies, stealing, sexual activities and accumulation. These vows are not as strict as the major vows. Each house-holder can observe such vows according to place, time, feeling, capacity and profession. The degree of the practice can thus vary. A house-holder takes the vows with certain conditions that he/she thinks can practice without feeling miserable. Observance of minor vows by house-holders and major vows by Jain monks has been prevalent without significant compromise since Bhagavän Mahavir’s time.
Answer-12: It is true that human life is difficult to attain and the world’s population is increasing. Jainism says the human life is difficult to attain in this universe. That is said in respect to the human population in the universe. We do not have knowledge whether the population of human beings in universe is increasing or not. If it is increasing, it has an explanation that these people must have done good deeds in their past lives. The good deeds (Karma) to attain a human life include qualities like tolerance, straightforwardness, universal friendship and respecting all living beings. Therefore, the human life is difficult to attain. Intentional violence, attachment, meat-eating and killing of five-sensed lives lead to the life in hell. Deceit, cheating, manipulation and purposeful lying lead to a lower form of the life. Restraint, austerity, etc., lead to the life in heaven. The one sensed living beings are infinitely more than all other living beings combined. There are more two-sensed lives than three-sensed lives and onwards. The human beings are less than any other living being. In addition, the human beings are the only ones who have the capacity of rational thinking and conduct. This enables them to eradicate their Karmas. Therefore, the human life is the “must” before one can attain the liberation (Moksha).
Answer-13: There are five supreme entities: Arihants have 12 unique qualities, Siddhas have 8, Acharyas have 36, Upadhyayas have 25, and. Sädhus have 27. There are thus 108 unique qualities of these five supreme entities. Each bead in the rosary represents one such quality.
Answer-14: There are eight major types of Karmas: 1) Knowledge-Obscuring, Jnänvarniya Karma, 2) Perception-Obscuring, Darshanvarniya Karma, 3) Vigor-Obstructing, Antaray Karma, 4) Deluding, Mohniya Karma, 5) Situation-Conferrling, Vedniya Karma, 6) Body-Making, Nam Karma, 7) Status-determining, Gotra Karma and 8) Age span-Determining, Ayushya Karma. The first four are the destructive (ghäti) Karmas. They defile the real nature of the soul. The last four Karmas are non-destructive (aghäti) Karmas. When the first four Karmas are eradicated, the person becomes keveli and achieves perfect knowledge, perfect perception and perfect conduct. But there are two types of kevelis: 1. Ordinary and 2. Tirthankar. Ordinary kevalis do not show the path of purification to others, while Tirthankar kevalis preach the path of the purification (liberation - Moksha) to all living beings. Tirthankar means who leads us across the ocean of suffering. Tirthankar is not the founder of the religion, he/she is the propagator of truth, and path of liberation which has been preached by other Tirthankars. When a kevali, whether he/she is an ordinary or Tirthankar keveli, achieves Nirvän, he/she eradicates the remaining four (aghäti) Karmas and becomes a Sidhdha. For example, Bhagavän Mahavir became a Sidddha after his Nirvän. Since he was a Tirthankar kevali we still call him a Tirthankar.
Answer-15: It is true that They all look same. They have chosen the same path of liberation by renouncing their worldly attachments and have taken the same great vows as required for a Jain monk. However, Acharya is the head of the religious order. He is a spiritual leader and monk-scholar, responsible for maintaining the rules of conduct, providing spiritual guidance and handling the organizational needs. Upädyäya is the teacher, who has a detailed knowledge of Jain canonical books. The monks other than Ächärya and Upädyäya are Sädhus.
Answer-16: If we had 23 Tirthankars, then we would have a question why there are only 23, no more or no less? There are certain realities that do not need (or have) an explanation. They are just facts. So is the number of Tirthankars.
Answer-17: We have more information on the lives of Rushabhdev, Shantinath, Mallinath, Neminath, Parasnath, and Mahavir Swami because there have been many extraordinary, impressive, unique and message-oriented incidents in the lives of these Tirthankars as compared to others. Rushabhdev introduced the necessary things to ease the transition from primitive life to an organized one. For example he introduced, arts of men and women, languages, tools, business and farming, governing body to handle state affairs, etc. Also there were extraordinary events in his and his children’s lives. In case of Shantinäth, there was an event of the previous life of Shantinäth that he was willing to give his own flesh to save a bird. That event emphasized the importance of non-violence. Mallinäth was a woman, and there is a event in her life that she defused the war and convinced marriage-seeking princes, who wanted to marry her, to initiate as monks. There is a very famous event in the life of Neminäth, the chapter of Nem and Rajul. Lord Mahavir had several extraordinary and exceptional events in his life; encounter with Sangamdev, facing chandkausik, association and encounter with Goshalak, recorded discussion with his to-be eleven disciples, case of Chandanbäla, etc. There are no significant events in the lives of other Tirthankars like these six Tirthankaras.
Answer-18: We have been told by Lord Mahavir who attained the perfect knowledge. The preaching of the Lord Mahavir was passed on to us by his main disciples. The perfect knowledge means the knowledge of past, present and future about all the living beings and non-living substances..
Answer-19: Paryushana means to stay closer, to stay closer to the self - to our soul (Ätmä). Paryushana parva consists of eight (Shwetambar tradition) to ten days (Digambar tradition) . During that period, Jains practice various restraints like not eating (fasting) or eating only one meal a day and spend more time spiritually (like listening to Jain gurus, reading religious books, etc.). The last day of thie period is called Samvatsari (annual ceremony of atonement), when people undertake atonement of wrong activities during the previous 12 months. They admit their sins and pray for forgiveness (ksama). Admission of sins and praying for forgiveness are directed towards the spiritual teachers, family members, friends and others regardless of age or sex. Letters are written to the people they know and who were not approachable in person on the Samvatsari day acknowledging the wrong doings and seeking the forgiveness. The aspirant on his part gives forgiveness to all living beings and asks for the same favor from others. This is usually done through the Samvatsari Pratikraman (Pratikraman means to return from sins or faults) and raises the real spirit of universal friendship and goodwill: (Khämemi savvajive savve Jiva khamantu me ! Mitti me savvabhuesu veram majjha na kenai (It means - I forgive to all living beings; may all of them forgive me.I have a friendship with all living beings and hostility towards none). The pratyäkhyäna (renunciation of certain things) aspect is very elaborate during the Paryushana parva. The Samvatsari Pratikraman is considered a highly important practice during the Paryushana parva which is the most important Jain festival.
Answer-20: We pray/worship to pay our respects to the Tirthankars because They have attained liberation and have laid down the path of liberation. We want to get inspiration to become like them. By praying them, we receive the spiritual incentive to follow the right path of purification. We do not pray/worship for any favors or material benefits from the Tirthankars or from monks and nuns.
There are eight things involved in worshipping (puja) the Tirthankaras: 1. Jal Puja: (Water) 2. Chandan Puja: (Sandal-wood) 3. Pushpa Puja: (Flower) 4. Dhup Puja: (Incense) 5. Dipak Puja: (Candle) 6. Akshat Puja: (Rice) 7. Naivedya Puja: (Sweet food) 8. Fal Puja: (Fruit). Symbolically each item represents a specific religious virtue which one should reflect (contemplate) in his/her mind while performing puja.
Answer-21: The worshipping place provides the necessary environment for spiritual up-liftment just as the school provides for education. One who is spiritually advanced, can continue the spiritual activity at any place. But for most of the Sansäris (house-holders) we need to depend upon outside sources such as temple to make initial progress in the spiritual direction. It is also acceptable that one can practice his/her religion from home as long as he/she achieves the similar or better results. For most people, the combination of both is recommended.
Answer-22: According to Jainism the dreams are not only thoughts, images and emotions during the sleep; the dreams could be indicative of our past experiences as well as what will happen in future. Per Jainism, we get dreams due to: 1) experiences in this life, 2) what we heard, 3) experiences of our previous life, 4) gas, cough or acidity problems, 5) own-nature of our soul, 6) worries, 7) contact with heavenly beings, 8) religious experiences or acts, and 9) activation of good or bad Karma. First six types of dreams may not be fruitful, but the last three dreams can be fruitful. Per Jainism, we should not go back to sleep if we see the best dream.
Answer-23: There is a book on dreams in Jainism that explains significance of dreams, types of dreams and results of dreams. In that book, it is stated that all Tirthankars’ mothers get the same 14 dreams at the time of conception. .
Queen Trishala, the mother of Lord Mahavir at midnight saw fourteen beautiful and wholesome dreams after conception. They were: 1. Elephant 2. Bull 3. Lion 4. Goddess Laxmi 5. Garland of Flowers 6. Full Moon 7. Sun 8. Large Flag 9. Silver Urn 10. Lotus-Lake 11. Milky-Sea 12. Celestial Air-plane 13. Heap of Gems 14. Smokeless Fire.
1. Elephant: She saw a big, tall, and impetuous elephant. It had two pairs of tusks. The color of the elephant was white and its whiteness was superior to the color of marble. This dream indicates that her son will guide the spiritual chariot, and save human beings from misery, greed, and attraction of life.
2. Bull: The color of the bull was also white, but it was brighter than white lotuses. It glowed with beauty and radiated light all around. It was noble, grand, and had a majestic hump. It had fine, bright, and soft hair on its body. Its horns were superb and sharply-pointed. This dream indicates that her son will be a spiritual teacher of great ascetics, kings, and other great personalities.
3. Lion: Its claws were beautiful and well-poised. The lion had a large well-rounded head and extremely sharp teeth. Its lips were perfect, its color was red, and its eyes were sharp and glowing. Its tail was impressively long and well-shaped. Queen Trishala saw this lion descending towards her and entering her mouth. This dream indicates that her son will be as powerful and strong as a lion. He will be fearless, mighty, and capable of ruling over the world.
4. Goddess Laxmi: The fourth dream Queen Trishala saw was of the Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth, prosperity and power. She was seated at the top of mountain Himalaya. Her feet had a sheen of golden turtle. She had a delicate and soft fingers. Her black hairs were tiny, soft, and delicate. She wore rows of pearls interlaced with emeralds and a garland of gold. A pair of earring hung over her shoulders with dazzling beauty. She held a pair of bright lotuses. This dream indicates that her son will attain great wealth, power, prosperity.
5. Garland of Flowers: The fifth dream Queen Trishala saw was of a celestial garland of flowers descending from the sky. It smelled of mixed fragrances of different flowers. The whole universe was filled with fragrance. The flowers were white and woven into the garland. They bloomed during all different seasons. A swarm of bees flocked to it and they made a humming sound around the region. This dream indicates that the fragrance of her son's preaching will spread over the entire universe.
6. Full Moon: The sixth dream queen Trishala saw was of a full moon. It presented an auspicious sight. The moon was at its full glory. It awoke the lilies to bloom fully. It was bright like a well polished mirror. The moon radiated whiteness like a swan. It inspired the oceans to surge skyward. The beautiful moon looked like a radiant beauty-mark in the sky. This dream indicates that her son will have a great physical structure, and be pleasing to all living beings of the universe.
7. Sun: The seventh dream Queen Trishala saw was of a huge disc of sun. The sun was shining, and destroying darkness. It was red like the flame of the forest. Lotuses bloomed at its touch. The sun is the lamp of the sky and the lord of planets. The sun rose and and put to end the evil activities of the creatures who thrive at night. This dream indicates that the teaching of her son will destroy anger, greed, ego, lust, pride, etc. from the life of the people.
8. Large Flag: The eighth dream Queen Trishala saw was of a very large flag flutterling from a golden staff. The flag fluttered softly in the gentle breeze. It attracted the eyes of all. Peacock feathers decorated its crown. A radiant white lion was on it. This dream indicates that her son will be great, noble, and well respected leader of the family.
9. Silver Urn: The ninth dream Queen Trishala saw was of a silver urn (Kälsh) full of crystal-clear water. It was a magnificent, beautiful, and bright pot. It shone like gold and was a joy to behold. It was garlanded with strings of lotuses and other flowers. The pot was holy and untouched by anything sinful. This dream indicates that her son will be perfect in all virtues.
10. Lotus-Lake: The tenth dream Queen Trishala saw was of a lotus lake (padma-sagar). Thousands of lotuses were floating on the lake which opened at the touch of the sun's rays. The lotuses imparted a sweet fragrance. There were swarms of fish in the lake. Its water glowed like flames of fire. The lily-leaves were floating on the water. This dream indicates that her son will help to liberate the human beings who are tangled in the cycle of birth, death, and misery.
11. Milky-sea: The eleventh dream Queen Trishala saw was of a milky sea. Its water swelled out in all directions, rising to great heights with turbulent motions. Winds blew and created waves. A great commotion was created in the sea by huge sea animals. Great rivers fell into the sea, producing huge whirlpools. This dream indicates that her son will navigate through the ocean of birth, death, and misery leading to Moksha or liberation.
12. Celestial air-plane: The twelfth dream Queen Trishala saw was of a celestial airplane. The airplane had eight thousands magnificent gold pillars studded with gems. The plane was framed with sheets of gold and garlands of pearls. It was decorated with rows of murals depicting bulls, horses, men, crocodiles, birds, children, deers, elephants, wild animals, and lotus flowers. The plane resounded with celestial music. It was saturated with an intoxicating aroma of incense fumes. It was illuminated with a bright silvery light. This dream indicates that all gods and goddesses in heaven will respect and salute his spiritual teaching and will obey him.
13. Heap of Gems: The thirteenth dream Queen Trishala saw was of a great heap of gems, as high as Mount Meru. There were gems and precious stones of all types and kinds. These gems were heaped over the earth and they illuminated the entire sky. This dream indicates that her son will have infinite virtues and wisdom.
14. Smokeless Fire: The fourteenth dream queen Trishala saw was of a smokeless fire. The fire burned with great intensity and emitted a radiant glow. Great quantities of pure ghee was being poured on the fire. It burned with numerous flames. This dream indicates that the wisdom of her son will excel the wisdom of all other great people.
Answer-24: About 170 years after Mahavir's Nirvän, Acharya Bhadrabahu Swami became the head of the Jain order. That time. Chandra Gupta Maurya was the king in Magadha. During that time a famine occurred for twelve years. (This is a historical fact). Acharya Bhadrabhahu had predicted that long famine and realized that it will be very difficult for monks to strictly follow religion (Five Mahavrats, no clothes, beg food in hands, etc.). Therefore he, along with twelve thousands of his disciples, migrated to south and settled there so that they can follow the strict religious rules. The remaining monks were led by Acharya Sthulibhadra and he relaxed some of the rules for the monks for survival during this famine. That was the primary cause of the separation of Digambar and Shwetambar sects. However, the real separation occurred during the time of Acharya Vajrasen (six hundred years after Mahavir's Nirvän). It is a fact that Mahavir did not wear clothes after renunciation. However, his disciples were of both types (clad as well as unclad). The disciples of Parshwanath (23rd Tirthankar) wore white clothes.
Shwetambar Jains are also divided into two major subsects: Shwetambar Murti Pujak (Idol worshiper) and Shwetambar Sthanakwasi (Non-idol worshiper). There is an offshoot among Sthanakwasis which is known as Terapanthi. Digambar Jains are divided into three major subsects: Bisa Panth that accepts Bhattarak's authority, Terah Panth which does not accept such authority, and Taran Panth- Non-Murti pujak sect .
The essential philosophy of all Jain sects is similar. The similarities exist in many areas: 1. Concept of God 2. Every soul has the potential for becoming God or Siddha. 3. Metaphysics, 4. The universe composed of six substances, 5. Philosophy of Karma, 6. The seven/nine fundamentals (tattvas) 7. Right perception (Samyag Darshan), Right Knowledge (Samyag Jnan) and Right Conduct (Samyak Charitra) as the path of liberation. 10. five vows, 11.Five meticulosities (Samities), 12 Control over mental, verbal and physical activities (Three Gupties), 13 Multiplicity of view points (Anekantwad/Syadwad), 14) Five types of Knowledge (Jnan), 15 Fourteen Stages of elevation (Gunasthanak), 16 Twelve reflections (Bhavanas), 17 Four types of Meditations (Dhyan), 18 Six types of Leshyas (psychic coloration), 19 Emergence of 12 Tirthankars in each half time cycle, 20 Namaskar Maha Mantra and 21 Authority of Tattvartha Sutra are recognized by all the Jain sects.
The following, however, are the major differences. 1 Agams: Digambar Jains believe that all the original Ägams (Äng and Purva Ägams) have been lost. Most of them might have been lost during the twelve years of famine that occurred during the time of the Chandra Gupta Maurya (300 B.C.). They recognize other books written by great Acharyas like Kundkunacharya. Shwetambar Jains believe that 600 years after Lord Mahavir's Nirvan all Purva Ägams were lost or not remembered by monks and hence were not saved. Only Ang and Non-Ang Ägams could be preserved. 2 Life after kevaljnan: Digambars believe that after attaining Kevaljnan, Tirthankars and other Kevaljnanis do not eat or drink; while Shwetambars believe that they continue to eat and drink like other human beings and continue to lead the renunciate life for the remaining period of their life. 3 Sex of Tirthankars: Digambars believe that all the Tirthankars are necessarily male and there is no exception. Shwetambars believe that generally they are male but in the present series of 24 Tirthankars, the nineteenth Tirthankar, Mallinath was a female and that was an exception to the rule. 4 Sex of other Kevalis: Digambars believe that only males can attain liberation. A female has to be reborn as a male in order to attain liberation. Shwetambars believe that both males and females can attain liberation. 5. Clothes and Food: Digambar monks do not wear any clothes. They beg for food in their hands and eat only once a day. Shwetambar monks and nuns wear white clothes and they beg food in pots generally once a day. They bring the food to Upashraya or other place of their residence and ask their Guru for permission to eat their meal. They do not eat food in the presence of laymen. 6. Mahavir's conception: Shwetambars believe that Mahavir's fetus was transferred from mother Devananda (Bhraman family) to mother Trishala (Kshatriya family), while Digambars believe that he was conceived by mother Trishala and the question of fetus transfer does not arise. 7 Marital status of Mahavir: Digambars believe that Mahavir was not married, while Shwetambars believe that Mahavir was married with Yashoda and they had a daughter named Priyadarshan. 8. Tirthankara's Murti (Idol): The Tirthankar's idol can have ornaments and decorations, and their eyes look toward the worshiper in Shwetambar Murti Pujak sect. Digambar idols do not have ornaments and their eyes are turned downward in meditating position. 9. Pratikraman, Samayik, and Puja rituals are different.
It can be seen that all Jain sects have remarkable similarity in their philosophy despite minor areas of disagreements. Recently, there have been several collaborative works by all major sects. Jains from different sects outside India seem to have more unity and harmony..
(In alphabetical order)
1. "Dravya Sangraha" by Nemichandra Siddhantideva (1125), originally edited in English by Sarat Chandra Ghosal (1917), Republished by Shri Chandrapraph Digambar Maindir Trust, Bombay (1986).
2. "Essential of Jainism", edited by Dr. Prem Suman Jain, Jain Center of Greater Boston, Wellesley, Mass., USA (1984).
3. "The Jaina Path of Purification" by P. S. Jaini, published by University of California, Berkeley, USA (1978).
4. “Ahimsä Beyond Vegetarianism” by Youths of Jain Center of Southern California,
5. “Guidance for Jainism by Bhdrabahu Vijay,
6. “Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian, Choose Yourself” by Gopi Nath Aggarwal,
7. “Vegetarianism: Answers to the most commonly asked questions” by The North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS),
8. Electronic material from Dr. Prem Gada and Pravin Shah,
9. Lectures by Dhirubhai D. Pandit, 1994-95
10. Various issues of Jain Study Circular and Jaina Digest,
11. Many other Jain books.