Friday, September 3, 2010

A Nudist Religion?

Occasionally, the Professor learns something new. I had heard of Jains, and have even taught about them, but the other night, I learned something new about the Jains.
Jainism: Reverence for All Living Things
Jainism was founded by Nataputra Vardhamana, known as Mahavira, "Great Hero," who became an ascetic, who promoted pacifism and vegetarianism.   His followers believe that all living things have an eternal spirit and must be treated with reverence. The central ideas of their faith is Ahisma—nonviolence to all living things, Moksha—liberation from the cycle of death and reincarnation, and The Three Jewels—right knowledge, right faith, and right conduct.  There are five basic ethical principles (vows) prescribed. The degree to which these principles must be practiced is different for renunciant and householder. Thus:
1. Non-violence (Ahimsa) - to cause no harm to living beings.
2. Truth (Satya) - to always speak the truth in a harmless manner.
3. Non-stealing (Asteya) - to not take anything that is not willingly given.
4. Celibacy (Brahmacarya) - to not indulge in sensual pleasures.
5. Non-possession (Aparigraha) - to detach from people, places, and material things.
Jains mostly became scholars and merchants, but farmers, who periodically had to kill plants and animals, could not fully commit to Jainism, though some followed its tenements.  Jains are known to walk with a broom before them, sweeping away all living things, so as not to harm them.

Jain saints

Among Jains , there are two main sects- Shwethambara and Digambara. Shwethabars worship idols in pre-sainthood form while digambars worship god in the sainthood form.Nude saints are found in digambar jains community only.


Symbol of Great Sacrifice

Sainthood itself, according to principles, is a symbol of sacrifice. Jaina saints follow strict principles.In digambar community, saints are of three categories.
image 1. KSHULLAKA
2.AILLAKA, and
Kshullakas wear a saffron dhothi and a saffron cloth is put across their bust. Aillaks wear only a piece in the waist just cover their penis, and nirgranthas are fully nude. This is always followed irrespective of seasonal changes. Female saints (nuns) are allowed only for the first stage and they are called Aryikas. Other two stages are not allowed for them.
Principles followed by jaina nude saints are the following:
image 1. They will not take a bath or brush their teeth. They only wash their hands and feet and face after going for excretion. They just rub their teeth with their finger after eating food. But they are not permitted to use brush and bathe , as we do. The reason is that, by that action, microbes and other small organisms on our body may die. And , a nirgrantha is to see that no creature dies by his behavior.
2. They take food only once a day. imageThat too is a strict practice. They can not use dishes or dining table . They stand , stretch out their palms, and somebody puts food into their open palms. They test by perusing cleanly and, after confirming that no germ, nor any other dust is there in it, they eat it. If any such thing is found, they leave it there  and no food will be taken by them till next day.
3. If they hear any cry of an animal or of a person in distress etc., while taking food , they give up their food.
4. The food they take is simple and tasteless. They take rice, chapa made of wheat, some curry image(without salt), coconut water. The food is just to get minimum strength required to maintain life activities.
5. They often take 'hunger vow'-i.e., no food for the day. Sometimes, this hunger vow continues for up to eight days. The great nude saint of twentieth century, Acharya Shantisagarji Maharaj, had a total period of twenty-six years of hunger in his life span of seventy years.
6. They should not use vehicles for movement. They have to travel by walking only. And they walk faster than us! As they are not supposed to use vehicles, they cannot be seen in foreign countries. They are seen only in India.
image7. They do not use beds, sleeping bags, or bed sheets and rugs. They sleep on wooden planks or wooden cots, just with a mat on  it. In sleep also they do not change their side, with the idea that some germ moving there might be get killed.
8. They do not speak at night.
9. They are not expected to involve themselves in any worldly matters.
image10. Needless to say- they keep away from sex, not only physically, but also mentally.
11. They keep only the following items with them -a pincha (a  bundle of naturally fallen peacock feathers to brush away the dust while sitting), a kamandala (a wooden vessel to clean themselves after going for excretion), and shastras (religious books). They do not keep money or any valuable things.
image12. They are not supposed to get angry- even to someone who who is angry with them.
13. They don't even drink water after their regular food, i.e. once a day.
14. They remove their hairs on their face and head only with their hands/ They wont use tools for that.


Anonymous said...

ouch i am not pulling my face hair out sorry i am out of this saint hood Love<~Peter~>

Uncutplus said...


This group is a little too ascetic for me!

Just what IS there contribution to our human family?

JoeBlow said...

@Peter, I agree, they take things a little too far in their search for total enlightenment. They took the Hindu religion to the extreme. Besides, who wants a religion that says that you are not able to have sex, LOL.

@Uncutplus, Around 500 BCE, Indian philosophers were looking for a better way for enlightenment (or moksha). Mahavira and the Jains took the extreme. Siddhartha Gautama tried this type of asceticism and reached enlightenment after finding the "middle way." Gautama's religion, Buddhism, realized that extreme asceticism would not reach enlightenment nor would being too lax, but by following the middle way, then you could reach enlightenment. Both Jains and Buddhists refused to follow the Indian caste system that was such an integral part of Hinduism, which is probably their contribution. Plus there are some things that we can learn from the Jains, Ahisma (non-violence), Satya (speaking the truth), and Asteya (the morality of never cheating anyone). They take it to extreme, but I think the first three are admirable qualities. Now giving up sex and detaching form society, is a little too much for me.

Nachiket said...

Just want to drop a note about Jainism and its philosophy regarding Celibacy (Brahmacarya).
This particular practice is only for those people who want to be saint or say monk. Also, Celibacy (Brahmacarya) is strict practice until marriage. Sex is what Jainism allowed is only with your religiously/socially legally married partner.
Of-course there is another rule for the Jain people who rather prefer to stay in material world and follow non strict way of life is 'Ratnakarand Shravakachaar'.

Sex with different partners is not the way of life. Life is not just sex and pleasure. Sex is a thing which has to practice and share with only one partner in whole life, which is your legally married spouse.

@ Uncutplus: Western people understand material language only. So here is an answer to your question.
Just wiki or google for said things, 'Jain philosophy', 'Jaina mathematics' etc.

Jainism is a spiritual science. However, it deals with material sciences too. There are huge materials about physics, astronomy, mathematics, biology and even bio-technology in the ancient texts of Jainism.

One can find particle physics, theory of relativity and some descriptions about fusion in Jainism. Jainism informs us clearly about law of conservation of mass and energy. It also deals with wave particle nature of light and sound.
Jainism is the first to declare the universe as finite but unlimited. It also speaks about ether as medium of transportation of all materials.

Space (Akash), time (Kal), soul (Atma or Jeev), matter (Pudgal), ether (Dharmastikaya) and Adharmastikaya (Medium for rest) are six basic substances of universe according to Jainism. These are called Shad-Dravya.