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Unformatted text preview: 1 Daniel J. Pool World Thought and Culture I Prof. Edmondson and Prof. Rickman Paper II 06/30/09 The Path(s) of Enlightenment: Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism Three of the world¶s most dynamic and ancient religions developed in India around the same time. Though each burrowed from, evolved because of, or came into conflict with each other; Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism are more than religions but cross-sections of an entire culture and time period. In order to better understand what these ideas are one must study their histories, their teachings, and their reactions to each other. Jainism, allegedly the oldest of the three (Gopalan 4), was a religion of nonviolence spread by Prince Mah v ra. The name of the religion is derived from the claim that twenty-four Jinas1 or ³expounders´ of their beliefs (called dharma) came and went before Mah v ra (Banerjee 147). As Mah v ra is famous for the wide spread of Jainas thought. Jainism rejected a single god-head (Gopalan 38), the creation or destruction of the worldly planes (Pratt 258), and the need for possessions thus forcing followers to relay on themselves only to reach a higher state of being. Other practices include; non-violence, celibacy, and the idea of karma. Jainas are known for going to the extent of wearing facemasks to avoid the accidental death of flying insects.
1 Pratt, page 254, says differently Jainas means conqueror as in the conqueror of the self and fate. 2 Buddhism was begun in six-century B.C. by a young contemporary of Mah v ra (Banerjee 148). Prince Siddh rtha Gautama, the Buddha was to become a ruler, but turned to religion. The story goes that he slipped out of his father¶s palace and saw an old man, a sick person, a dead body, and a monk, seeing this he denounced the Vedic traditions and became a Jainas monk. He practiced denying himself earthly delights in order to reach greater knowledge. After nearly dying, Gautama renounced the idea of Jainism and went to mediate by-himself in order to reach enlightenment or nirvana. After defeating his inner demons, Gautama began teaching that man was only held back from happiness by his attachments to worldly pleasures. Also that man did not need to rebirth over and over into pain and death, but could if they so wanted, one could stop the cycle and exists as pure being only. Hinduism is more correctly several religions (Banerjee 1). After a long list of successive invasions, conquests, and migrations the word Hindu was a Muslim word for any non-Muslim Indian and means ³idol worshiper´ (Klostermaier 17) and used as an umbrella for the religiocultural ideas of India. Three ideas persist though out all; 1) there is one great creator god, 2) all manifestations of being are really just manifestations of this one god, and 3) that man may approach god by entering the universal conscious by meditation or other assorted means (Rosen 17). Stating that man dies and is reborn into his status (ruler, priest, or slave), this axis of society, called dharma, told how the universe was structured and directed. Hinduism changed as more sects and cults joined main-steam religion, gods became more or less popular and practices came and went with the ebb and flow of the culture. Hinduism is praised as being henotheistic, or having one supreme god while recognizing many others. The major partition in thought arose in the six-century B.C. Notably Jainism and Buddhism broke up many of the Vedic schools (Hinduism predators) of religion. Both Mah v ra 3 and Gautama taught that; anyone of any chaste could worship and become enlightened, that the greatest battle was with inner demons, down played the roles of the gods, and encouraged the non-violence as taught in the Dhammapada or Buddhists text. The Brahmanism had taught that war could be a form of worship in the Bhagavad Gita (Rosen 107), that only the Brahma (priest chaste) could become enlightened, and that the gods and other ethereal beings were important parts of life. The ideals of Jainism and Buddhism threatened the state¶s power with great outside pressure by foreign powers. In order to keep peace and unite the people Hinduism combined with the other beliefs of the day, adding Buddha as an avatar or minor god of Hinduism (Pratt 526), in this way protecting the ancient ideals of India. In conclusion, the study of Indian religion shows how entwined their religionist and cultural ideals are. The history of India is a story of cause and reaction to suffering and life. Though the concepts may be diverse at first, all systems have a way of reaching a pseudo intellectual equilibrium. All said and done these theories are all very similar, if not at their formation, then in their merging. 4 Work Cited Banerjee, P. Early Indian religions. New York: Wiley, 1973. Print. Nash Library. Gopalan, Subramania. Outlines of Jainism. New York: Halsted, 1973. Print. Nash Library. Klostermaier, Klaus K. A Survey of Hinduism. New York: State University of New York, 2007. Print. Nash Library. Pratt, James B. India and Its Faiths, A Traveller¶s Record. Boston:MA, 1915. Print. Nash Library. Rosen, Steven J. Essential Hinduism. New York: Praeger, 2006. Print. Nash Library. ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2011 for the course RLST 110 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.
- Spring '08