jain religion

The Jain theory of causation holds that a cause and its effect are always identical in nature and hence a conscious and immaterial entity like God cannot create a material entity like the universe. Furthermore, according to the Jain concept of divinity, any soul who destroys its karmas and desires achieves liberation (nirvana). A soul who destroys all its passions and desires has no desire to interfere in the working of the universe. Moral rewards and sufferings are not the work of a divine being, but a result of an innate moral order in the cosmos; a self-regulating mechanism whereby the individual reaps the fruits of his own actions through the workings of the karmas.
The Jain religion in India teaches that because all life is essentially interrelated and interconnected, all living beings should be considered sacred and be respected. This belief forms the basis of the doctrine of ahimsa, which has been translated into English variously as “reverence for life,” “nonviolence,” and “dynamic compassion.”
—  Nathaniel Altman in Sacred Trees

Seated Jain Tirthankara, Solanki period (ca. 900–1250), ca. first half 11th century
India, Gujarat or Rajasthan
White marble

H. 38 7/8 in. (98.7 cm)
Purchase, Florence and Herbert Irving Gift, 1992 (1992.131)

This superb white marble sculpture represents one of the twenty-four tirthankaras (“crossers of the ford”) or jinas (“victorious ones”, i.e., conquerors of desire) of the Jain religion. There is very little physical difference between representations of seated Buddhas and those of tirthankaras in Indian art: both are considered enlightened beings and display the markings appropriate for such personages. In addition, however, there are a few marks specific to either Buddhas or tirthankaras. The auspicious srivatsa mark on the chest and the lack of the urna (tuft of hair between the eyes) indicates that our image is a tirthankara.

Representations of Jain figures follow a very conservative iconographic and artistic tradition. Since the inactive, almost nude figure with passive expression does not lend itself to dramatic sculptural interpretation, the burden of aesthetic success rests on the skillful and sensitive rendition and manipulation of simple forms into a well-proportioned, visually pleasing sculptural unity. metmuseum

External image

A symbol of Jainism consisting of a hand and a wheel reading “ahimsa”, the Jain vow of non-violence.

Jainism (pronounced /ˈdʒeɪnɪzəm/, in Indian English /ˈdʒaɪnɪzəmis) an Indian religion that prescribes pacifism and a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state of supreme being is called Jina (Conqueror or Victor). Jainism is also referred to as Shraman (self-reliant) Dharma or the religion of Nirgantha (who does not have attachments and aversions) by ancient texts. Jainism is commonly referred to as Jain Dharma in Hindi and Samanam in Tamil.

Jain doctrine teaches that Jainism has always existed and will always exist, but for academic purposes, historians date the foundation of organized Jainism to sometime between the 9th and the 6th centuries BCE.  Some have speculated that the religion may have its roots in much earlier times, reflecting native spirituality prior to the Indo-Aryan migration into India. In the modern world, it is a small but influential religious minority with as many as 4.2 million followers in India, and successful growing immigrant communities in North America, Western Europe, the Far East, Australia and elsewhere.

Jains have successfully sustained this longstanding religion to the present day and have significantly influenced and contributed to ethical, political and economic spheres in India. Jains have an ancient tradition of scholarship and have the highest degree of literacy for a religious community in India. Jain libraries are the oldest in the country. Tamil Jains and Kannada Jains who are native to their regions, residing in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka respectively since early the 1st century BCE, are distinguishable from North Indian Jains in some of their routines and practices, but the core philosophies and belief systems are the same for all Jain communities. wiki

Jain Tīrthaṅkara | तीर्थंकर ; Sumati | सुमती ; Gouache and silver on paper (18th century), Deccan, India.