Jainism in the 21st Century,
Jainism in the 21st Century
The world is made up of many religions. People subscribe to a certain religion because of different factors. The most common factor is birth. People often adopt the religion of their parents or the place surrounding their birth. Each religion has fundamental principles that differentiate it from the rest of other religions. For the purpose of this essay, focus is directed to Jainism, which is one of the world’s religions from India. With a follower equal to 5% of today’s Indian population, Jainism is rated as the most peace-loving religion in the world(Chand n.p). The doctrinal necessity of the followers to be non-violent is the underlying reason that make the religion to be the most peaceful. However, there has been lots of dynamism affecting humanity and this has led to a shake-up of the ideologies upheld by most religions. The 21st century came with increased technology and this has also led to increased information access. All these factors have affected traditional believes in Jainism and are making upcoming generations to question the logic of the faiths they uphold. This leaves no doubt that aspects of the 21st century have affected Jainism. This paper will look into how Jainism has been affected by information and technology. It will also examine the sacrificial lifestyle, an individual subscribing to Jainism, has to go through in the 21st century. Towards the end of the essay, a personal opinion,onhow easy or hard is it to subscribe to Jainism, will be stated with reference to the impact from 21st century lifestyle.
Sacrificial Nature of Jainism
Each religion in the world has some elements of sacrifice to make. However, for the case of Jainism, every follower has to be prepared to sacrifice a bit extra. It is not easy to uphold the doctrine of nonviolence in a world that is pervasively violent (Aristarkhova640). With nearly six million people committed to nonviolence in a world of more than seven billion people who do not care about anything, then the population of the Jains is just a drop-in-the-ocean. These group of people is bombarded by all manner of temptations to defy their faith. To be a true Jain, you must be a highly disciplined individual. You must master your emotions and be a position to exercise high levels of self-control. This is an absolute personal sacrifice in a modern generation context.
The sacrificial nature of Jainism manifest itself in many dimensions. Looking at it through the lens of diet, the Jains have lots of “don’ts.” Every Jain is supposed to strictly adhere to a vegetarian diet. This is irrespective of whether there is somebody watching over him or not. Besides this the whole essence is to make sure an individual does not take foods that cause violence. Other foods apart from vegetable have living organisms in them and consuming them would mean defying the sanctity of life of the souls in those organisms (Aristarkhova638). The Jains are not even supposed to take eggs. In a world that loves food delicacies of every kind, this must be a real sacrifice for the Jains. The situation even becomes more sacrificial in the context of young people who love immense energy giving foods. Very few people can withstand this sacrifice and perhaps this is why the population of the Jains in the world is still small. Still on diet, the Jains voluntarily deny their bodies food and are supposed to eat only during the day if they really have to eat. They fast a lot and, in fact, those who fast often and for long are praised by the other believers. The essence of fasting is built on the premise that the participants will less energy in their body and hence this will make them to be less violent(Chand n.p). This is absolute sacrifice as the individual commits his own body in observation of the doctrine. The believer denies the body food it requires to grow. Additionally, even in normal meal times, people are supposed to eat less than enough for the same reason.
From an economical dimension, every Jain must refrain from being a material pervert(Chand n.p). The 21st century is a century that exalts the rich and wealthy people in the society. This means that every Jain must deny himself this glory. Being a material pervert means that you have signed up for violence as scramble for material things will cause an individual to be violent at some point or use methods that undermine human dignity (Numark 27). In this regard, to live the course of the faith, one has to choose to have no love for material things. Everybody should aim to have only what is enough. This is a serious issue because it also denies the Jains the right of having many children. Many children means you will have to fight to get resources for raising the children and hence this will cause to defiance to the founding principle of Jainism (Flugel 91).
The sacrificial nature of Jainism is also manifest from a career point of view. A Jain is not just supposed to pick on any career for the sake of placing a meal on the table or paying the bills(Chand n.p. Before any Jain picks on a certain career, he must examine whether that career upholds the fundamental principle of the religion or not. A career that leads to violence of any magnitude is considered to be bad and should not be pursued(Chand n.p). For this reason, rarely will you find a Jain who is soldier. Picking on a career includes even choosing what one takes in school. In this context, the element of sacrificing what one is gifted in or what one absolutely loves is manifested.
How Information and Technology has affected Jainism
In the wake of globalization and interconnectedness through the internet, Jainism has been affected. Today nearly all people can access huge volumes of information from different parts of the world. One of the impact of availability of information is the aspect of growth of logic in questioning social believes and values. Today’s generation is critically analyzing all aspects of Jainism to find out whether they conform to premises of logic and sense(Flugel 91). With growth of technology, people have been able to critically air out their opinions regarding the faith professed by the Jains and drawing the lines where truth and lie lies(Flugel 91).
The growth of information and technology has led to realization that there are rich Jains, yet the faith does not advocate for the same(Chand n.p). Also through exchange of ideas, it has been found out that Jainism does not uphold ideologies of materialism for wrong reasons of cyclical time cycle.
Medical developments have led to new ways of birth controls. Though it is not known how many Jains use this methods, the argument posted against the use of this methods is weak. For example, use of condoms is perceived as a way of killing sperms(Chand n.p). This brings the question of when does life begin according to Jainism because biologically life begins when fertilization is initiated.
Has the 21 century lifestyle made it hard or easier to be a Jain?
Though Jainism is a good channel for global peace, its requirements and consideration of trivial things is wanting. The religion says no violence, but authorizes self-defense. The religion allows consumption of milk, but illegalizes consumption of eggs. The religion declares itself as a strictly vegetarian sect yet condones consumption of green vegetables during rainy season. There are some bits that do not make sense and this thinking has been opened up due to exposure of the followers of the religion to information. As a result, there are some changes that are taking place in the religion. Today, the religion only upholds the ideology of nonviolence at moderated levels. This is because it is very true that in a world flooded with immeasurable information and heightened technology, violence of some form cannot be avoided. There will be times when violence will erupt because people living together will hurt one other. That is the natural nature of man. However, the means to restore the peace is the realistic thing to pursue.
The modern generation loves itself beyond measure. The young people love eating food. They love pursuing what they love without being hindered by any social or religious beliefs. They are unwilling to trade their happiness for anything. In this respect, it would be very difficult for people in the 21st century to sign up for Jainism, which is sacrificial in nature (Chand n.p). Jainism is a religion of personal sacrifice and modern lifestyle, which is self-centered, will not give room for perpetuation of it.
Therefore, not only does the 21st century make it difficult for people join Jainism, but also guarantee that people will never ever think about it. Perhaps maybe when the world will be in a big war, then they will remember a region that encourage nonviolent lifestyle. Since possibility of such a war is dismal, so are the chances of being a Jain.
List of references
Aristarkhova, Irina. ‘Thou Shall Not Harm All Living Beings: Feminism, Jainism, And Animals’. Hypatia 27.3 (2012): 636-650. Web.
Chand, Shugan. ‘Relevance Of Jainism In 21St Century’. HereNow4u: Portal on Jainism and next level consciousness. N.p., 2009. Web. 25 June 2015.
Flugel, Peter. ‘Jainism And Society’. BSO 69.01 (2006): 91. Web.
Numark, Mitch. ‘The Scottish ‘Discovery’ Of Jainism In Nineteenth-Century Bombay’. Journal of Scottish Historical Studies 33.1 (2013): 20-51. Web.