Jainism is an ancient religion, born in India, which prescribes a life of non-violence for all living beings. From the position of Jainism, every living being has a soul. The interaction of soul with environment influences karma and causes the cycles of birth and rebirth. The ultimate goal of every creature is to leave the cycles of karma and reach nirvana ”“ the state of everlasting peace.
The word “jain”ť originates from Sanskrit concept of “jin”ť, meaning “conqueror”ť ”“ the living being who has conquered the lower nature and passed to a supreme state of existence.
One of core principles for Jains is not to hurt any creature intentionally and minimize hurt if unavoidable hard is done. In general, the rules of Jainism are rather strict; they require complete austerity for Jain monks and somewhat easier, but still quite severe rules for lay Jains. Lay Jains are expected to follow twelve vows: five Anuvratas (non-violence, non-possession, non-stealing, truthfulness and chastity vows), three Gunavratas (vows excluding waste of energy and resources) and four Siksavratas (self-discipline). For Jains living in modern society, it is quite difficult to follow all these vows since the structure of our society and activities includes many situations contradictory to the vows, for example public transport, food preparation, specifics of various professions etc. Actually, lay Jains do not master to follow all the vows currently, though they do attempt. Jain monks have even stricter limitations ”“ they have severe fasts, need to live in celibacy, they study almost all day long and have to give up all material possessions.
In my opinion, the ideas of Jainism are quite reasonable but the requirements of the religion are quite strict and place too many limitations on human beings.