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Jainism Beliefs

QUESTION: How do Jainism Beliefs differ from Hindu Beliefs?


Jainism is one of the religions of India. Jainism beliefs are generally distinguished from Hindu beliefs because of a refusal to accept the Brahmanic Vedas as authoritative. Jainism beliefs probably grew out of the teachings of Mahavira, a fifth-century B.C. contemporary of Gautama (the Buddha). Jainism is distinguished from Hinduism by its emphasis on asceticism and commitment to the principles of harmlessness, non-violence, and pacifism.1

The beliefs of Jainism maintain that every living being has a soul, every soul is subject to the law of karma, and every soul is potentially divine. Jain doctrine stresses spiritual development through attainment of wisdom, purification, non-violence, self-control, truthfulness, and non-materialism.

Jainism Beliefs – A Process of Enlightenment
Similar to Hinduism, Jainism beliefs also maintain various principles and practices related to meditation, karma, and reincarnation. The journey of the Jain is to shed past karmas through a process of mental and physical purification. Using various atonement rituals, scriptural studies, physical abstentions, fasting, and even celibacy, the ultimate goal is to escape the cycle of past karmas and attain enlightenment. Full enlightenment brings about Nirvana, the complete liberation of the soul from the cycles of birth and death.

1 C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 63.

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