Jainism one of the oldest religions in the world

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Jainism is a religion born in India in the same historical period in which Buddhism was born. It still counts many followers today and the most important principle of this belief is non-violence, as illustrated in the symbols of the open hand and the wheel of the Dharma and the Swastika.

An open hand with a dharma wheel and a svastika are symbols of one of the oldest religions in the world, although still widely practiced. His followers, who lead a sober, humble and simple life, aim at innate knowledge in the soul and at liberation from the cycle of reincarnations.

Let’s find out more about Jainism

Very often, in a too simplistic way, we link India to Hinduism, but in reality this nation, often considered as the guru of all nations, has given rise to an endless variety of spiritual pursuits. Some of them have remained currents of Hinduism while others have managed to reach the rank of true religions.

One of these religions born in India is Jainism or Janism, founded between the eighth and seventh centuries before Christ, more or less during the founding of Rome and the drafting of the Hebrew Bible.

The backbone of Jainism revolves around the doctrines of the twenty-four Tirthankaras or spiritual masters and saviors of the dharma, among which Mahavira, a contemporary of Buddha, stands out.

Mahavira left everything at the age of thirty to devote himself to the search for spiritual truth, meditating for twelve consecutive years before reaching what in Jainism is called omniscience, or the state of direct wisdom implicit in the awakened soul.

After attaining such enlightenment, Mahavira preached Jainism for three decades before attaining moksha or liberation, thus leaving our world.

The fundamental principles of Jainism

They are above all non-violence (aimsha), so important that it has graphically become the very symbol of religion (the palm of a hand bearing the wheel of dharma). This precept can push practitioners to wear masks in front of the mouth and nose to avoid compromising the existence of insects and other minute forms of life.

There follows a philosophical principle called anekantavada, that is the awareness that truth is expressed in a complex multitude of aspects, sometimes contradictory, and is never univocal. This principle avoids dogma.

The doctrine of Jainism

Other precepts of a character nature follow, such as non-attachment and the non-pursuit of pleasure, together with adherence to the truth (do not lie) and the prohibition of stealing. We note in many of these aspects characteristics common to some ancient Christian currents such as that of the Cathars.

According to the Jain doctrine, which can be defined as transtheistic, or neither theistic nor atheist, the material universe is made up of six basic elements. That create a framework for the principles of existence in which souls reincarnate experiencing the effects of good and bad karma within samsara.

Until the achievement of a liberation-salvation through three principles, a correct perception that leads to a correct knowledge which in turn generates a correct action.

Like Buddhism, of which it is contemporary, Jainism detaches itself from Vedic Hinduism based on caste, distancing itself from any kind of distinction between human beings, whether social, gender, religious or ethnic.

Even members of the same family, when engaged in religious practices, call each other brothers and sisters, even if there are different degrees of kinship.