The folllowing sample essay on Sikhism Vs Jainism discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
Jainism is a religion of severity. Its goal is passionless detachment, reached only through the most severe and disciplined lifestyles, culminating in death by voluntary self-starvation. The aim is to achieve the goal solely by self-effort without the help of God or gods;
Although these self-imposed austerities often include benefit for others.
Jains have long been active in promoting public welfare. They are known especially for their endowment of schools and hospitals for people and animals. ‘Ahimsa’ meaning non-violence is the basis of Jainism. Sikhism based on a loving and ever-present God experience in the here and now is much less concerned with ‘other worldliness’. The stress is on this life, this existence and achievement of a state of physical/spiritual equipoise through constant engagement in the Divine Being (Naam).
The Sikh religion is perceived as possessing two basic features, one being a mystical aspect the other more aggressive, military and world affirming.
Jains constitute what is the only major religion in the world that is unconditionally vegetarian. The Sikh book of Laws, the Rehat Meryada only rejects the eating of meat which is ‘halal’-or kosher.
The focal point of worship is different between the two religions.
Jainism’s rejection of God does not entail rejection of prayer and worship-contemplation.
Jains contemplate on images of Lord Mahavir (meaning Great Hero) or other Jainas- (previous Tirathankaras).
The Sikhs pray on the teachings of their eternal guru, the ‘living guru’, Guru Granth Sahib and their ten masters before. This is not worshipped as a holy book – It is the knowledge therein that the Sikh adopts into his way of life. Ultimately for a Sikh, God id the profound realisation based on mature reflection of saints and prophets regardless of their religion, caste, class or status in human society.
Jains do not believe in a creator God – ‘you are the controller of your destiny as in the laws of physics’. The meditative focus of the Jains is on the inner light or the Tirathankaras (ones who reached salvation). They believe in energy having it’s own intelligence – the theory of evolution. In Jainism there is no concept of a holy book. It was only introduced when the British courts of Law in their time in India, required one for oath taking procedures. It was at this time that the Kalpasutra containing a biography of Lord Mahavira written by a monk called Bhadrabahu, after the demise of Mahavira. This is one of 45 books of his writings on logic, universe, code of conduct etc. Mahavira and the other unorthodox teachers of his age were primarily interested in seeking liberation from the wheel of rebirths.
Sikhs believe in there being a God without parallel and meditate on the One who is the Absolute Truth – a formless God. Sikhism promotes belief in the Grace of God. They believe that God may forgive and pardon humans for their sins and wrongs – Sikhs believe in a loving God. Jains talk about forgiveness without involving God in it. Sikhism is theistic (believe in God) and Jainism is atheistic (don’t believe in God’s existence).
Jains observe fasting during the festival of Paryushan/ Samtsari. Sikhism does not sanction any kind of fasting.
Explain the main beliefs/ teachings of Jainism, comparing where appropriate, with the teachings of Sikhism (own faith)
Jainism is a non-Vedic Indian religion (they do not believe in the teachings of the Vedas). The Vedic religions accept the authority of the Vedas and Vedic literature (Hinduism).
Whereas Jainism accepts the authority of its own Agamas and Agamas literature- Holy Scriptures, Jainism completely rejects the notion of a creator God, an external entity. Jainism is a representation f the Sramanic culture. Jainism is humanistic in its approach and spiritualistic in its depth. Religious fervour and moral earnestness are closely associated and subscribe to the view ‘ Religion if taken seriously and rationally will be deeply moral, but it is not morality.’
Sikhism is a whole life socio-political religion. It’s aim is to uplift the personal lives of individuals to a higher social and spiritual levels. Sikhism believes in the Oneness of God, a formless God and teaches against idol worship in any form. Jainism promotes belief in worship of a living god as Mahavir and other Tirathankaras, though they do not idolise these saintly figures. Jains worship the idea of attaining a god-like status within themselves.
Jains do not believe that the universe has been created by a super-being and adopt belief in the scientific theory of the ‘Big-Bang’, laws of physics – energy having its own intelligence- theory of evolution.
There are similarities like setting aside a portion of one’s earnings towards charity and welfare of the creation and faith.
Sikhism places great importance on the underlying spirit (dharam) of religion, which is the recognition and dedicated pursuance of one’s duty in life. Jainism is close to this ideal although it is much more prescriptive.
Jainism occupies itself with a religious outlook:
1 The nature of the self
2 The goal of human pursuance
3 The doctrine of karma
4 The meaning of spiritual awakening
5 The incentives to a spiritual life
6 The performance of spiritual exercises – such as control of five senses.
The Sikh way of life relies on truthful conduct and a short formal code of discipline- Rehat Meryada, based on some basic injunctions issued by the Tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh. The Sikhs seek daily guidance from the Word Guru, the eternal Guru, Guru Granth Sahib and the teachings therein.
Sikhism believes in the existence of one Omnipotent reality called Waheguru.
Jainism does not promote belief in a creator, they worship the idea of attaining god-like status within themselves.
The Jain mysticism turns around two concepts – Self ( atmaan) and higher Self (Paramatmaan). Each soul is a potential god i.e. Paramatmaan. As soon as the karmic limitations are removed the self realises its real nature and a state of pure perfection. Now the various innate capacities of the soul find their full expression and the soul exhibits its potential divinity.
Mahavira is the figure behind Jainism-believed to be the 24 Tirathankar-Ford maker in the current era of cosmic decline. He found salvation and became a completed soul, Kevalin and conqueror Jina. The name Jain is derived from Jina.Mahavir taught for 30 years before passing away at Pava,near Patna in Bihar.
Mahavir was much more of a rationalist than the Brahaminists – He rejected revelation and based his religious scheme on logic and experience. He accepted the somewhat pessimistic view of the human situation and was concerned for release. As he saw the situation, the human soul was enmeshed in matter and could only gain liberation through losing it’s accumulation of actions and their consequences.
At the heart of the Sikh religion lies the idea of the guru. God is perceived to be the true Guru-his divine and creative Word(Shabad) came to mankind in a distinctive way through ten historical figures each of whom was called a guru. God is one, the ultimate and eternal guru(satguru) who provides enlightenment and understanding for the disciple, by his own Grace. In is transcendent state he is beyond description. God’s grace enables sincere devotees to experience Him through worship and meditation. In its origin the sikh religion possesses a strong mystical and devotional basis.
For Jains the Three Jewels to attain salvation are
* Right knowledge
* Right faith
* Right conduct
Right knowledge comes through the Jain creed, Right faith through believing in it and Right conduct through following it. The first two are worthless without the last so Jain monks and nuns, laymen and laywomen take vows of right conduct, the most important and all embracing of which is non-violence.
For the sikh way of life,the founder of Sikhism taught the practice of truthful living
* Kirt karo – earn your living by honest means
* Naam Jap – meditate on the Oneness of God, One Absolute Truth
* Vand shakna – share your earnings with the needy.
A3: Discuss the main beliefs on Jainism comparing them with the fundamental beliefs of Sikhism. (includes main vows)
The four classes recognised by Jains are different to the quadruple division of society of the Vedic religion.
The basis of division of classes in Jainism not birth but conduct. The divisions are known as
1. Sramanas monks ) homeless mendicants
2. Sramanis nuns )
3. Sravakas laymen ) householders
4. Sravikas laywomen )
Jainism gives full freedom to all human beings to observe the vows. It provides equal opportunity to all persons to practice self discipline according to their capacity. The observers of vows are divided into two broad categories-ascetics and lay people. The ascetic observes great vows – Mahavratas since he/she ceases completely from violence. The lay votary practices small vows – Anuvratas – in as much he/she desists partially from violence etc. Hence the ascetic vows are complete or great whereas the lay-votary’s vows are partial or small.
E.g. The lay votary is forbidden to commit gross violence i.e. destruction of higher forms of life – those with more than one sense organ
But the ascetic is prohibited to commit subtle violence also i.e. taking of lower forms of life – beings with one sense organ.
The five great vows for an ascetic are in the form of non-violence, non-truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy, and non-possessiveness.
An ascetic is also enjoined to practice the sixth vow of abstention from taking food and drink after sunset. The ascetic is also forbidden to commit any sin i.e. violence etc in any form. He is enjoined upon to refrain from all the sinful activities – subtle and gross, physical, vocal, and mental. He neither commits a sin himself nor causes others to commit it; nor approves of its committal by others.
The Jains accept the Hindu idea and beliefs in that the soul is always reincarnated, (reborn), and karma (deeds). In direct opposition to Buddhism, it teaches the existence of Self as a stable and external principle.