|Mahavira Jain temple India (PCV Dave/flickr.com)|
|Jain shape of the universe, dharma, peace|
India is generally known as the land of [Indus River Valley, which gave rise to the British catch-all name for the spirituality or religion there as that of the] Hindus, who form a majority of more than 80 percent.
But actually, like the United States, India represents one of the most religiously complex and diverse regions of the world, being homeland to four important religions: Hinduism [and the proto-religion Vedic Brahmanism], Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism [not to mention the 100+ million Muslims, who came from the neighboring Islamic countries just to the west and who built the Taj Mahal, India's architectural masterpiece].
|Sky-clad ford makers aid crossing over (wiki)|
Jainism was founded by a contemporary of the Buddha, the great sage Vardhamana (599-527 BC), who is generally known by his title "Mahavira," which means "Great Hero."
[Both names are merely honorific titles, and for a long time the Buddha was also called "Mahavira." Therefore, in Buddhist sutras and history, Mahavira is never called "Mahavira" but rather the Nigantha Nataputta, the Possessionless-shraman Son-of-Nata]
According to Jain cosmology, the world was created perfect but has steadily decayed ever since. Throughout the course of human history, 24 spiritual heroes or "ford-makers" (tirthankaras) have revealed the "ford" [place to crossing over] (think of the fording of a river) or "path to liberation" and salvation for humankind.
The last and greatest of these was Mahavira. Born in northern India to an aristocratic [Vedic] family, Mahavira renounced the world at age 30 to become a wandering seeker [non-Brahminical, Vedas-rejecting shraman] for salvation (a sadhu).
After 12 years of severe fasting, meditation, and asceticism, Mahavira obtained a complete knowledge of spiritual reality and truth. The remaining 30 years of his life were spent in teaching and in forming his new religious community.
|Jains are largely limited to India (AP)|
Although [born into Brahmin priest-dominated Vedic Brahmanism], [like Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha] Mahavira rejected...castes, [animal] sacrifices, and [sacred] scriptures.
The controlling principle of Jain religion and ethics is the idea of nonviolence (ahimsa). Thus, Jains must avoid any act of violence, even in the mind [but not, apparently, through proxy -- for it is said that as bankers and financiers, their is no kind of violence and harming they do not do by financing business endeavors in India].
According to Mahavira, "All things living, all things breathing, all things whatever, should not be slain or treated with violence or insulted or injured or tortured or driven away."
The vegetarianism often associated with India derives in part from Jainism. Indeed, so strict is the Jain view of nonviolence to any living thing that extremely ascetic Jains [most of them nuns since Mahavira ordained women before the Buddha, both of them being part of the non-Brahmin, non-Vedic movement that went against the grain of mainstream religion at the time], believing plants are living spiritual beings, abandon eating altogether... More
Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly
Isn't it curious that the Shamans (shramanas, "wanderers") went against the establishment Brahmins (brahmanas, "temple-priests") in ancient Vedic-Brahmanism, which was influential in the Near East and Central Asia, and another name for the three main Western religions is the "A-brahamic faiths"[non-Brahamic]?
It suggests that what became Hinduism is quite akin to the messianic traditions of Mahayana Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodox conformity -- religions used to rule large numbers of "faithful" followers, in spite of the fact that the Buddha and Mahavira (and probably the real Jesus or Issa) were wisdom teachers.
Each year at Easter, Orthodox Christians join in an ancient ritual symbolizing the spread of the light and hope of resurrection to the world from the traditional tomb of Christ in Jerusalem.
Papal conclaves have changed over time, but they offer a fascinating window into both the Roman Catholic Church and the history of Europe.
"Allah" is not pagan term — it means "God" [and "Islam" means "surrender"]