THE JAINA PHILOSOPHY
The Origin of Jainism.
Notwithstanding the radical differences in their philosophical notions Jainism and Buddhism, which were originally both orders of monks outside the pale of Brahmanism, present some resemblance in outward appearance, and some European scholars who became acquainted with Jainism through inadequate samples of Jaina literature easily persuaded themselves that it was an offshoot of Buddhism, and even Indians unacquainted with Jaina literature are often found to commit the same mistake. But it has now been proved beyond doubt that this idea is wrong and Jainism is at least as old as Buddhism. The oldest Buddhist works frequently mention the Jains as a rival sect, under their old name Nigantha and their leader Nataputta Varddhamana Mahavira, the last prophet of the Jains. The canonical books of the Jains mention as contemporaries of Mahavira the same kings as reigned during Buddha’s career.
Thus Mahavira was a contemporary of Buddha, but unlike Buddha he was neither the author of the religion nor the founder of the sect, but a monk who having espoused the Jaina creed afterwards became the seer and the last prophet (Tirtha@nkara) of Jainism[Footnote ref 1]. His predecessor Pars’va, the last Tirtha@nkara but one, is said to have died 250 years before Mahavira, while Pars’va’s predecessor Ari@s@tanemi is said to have died 84,000 years before Mahavira’s Nirva@na. The story in Uttaradhyayanasutra that a disciple of Pars’va met a disciple of Mahavira and brought about the union of the old Jainism and that propounded by Mahavira seems to suggest that this Pars’va was probably a historical person.
According to the belief of the orthodox Jains, the Jaina religion is eternal, and it has been revealed again and again in every one of the endless succeeding periods of the world by innumerable Tirthankaras. In the present period the first Tirtha@nkara was @R@sabha and the last, the 24th, was Vardhamana Mahavira. All
[Footnote 1: See Jacobi’s article on Jainism, E. R.E.]
Tirtha@nkaras have reached mok@sa at their death, and they neither care for nor have any influence on worldly affairs, but yet they are regarded as “Gods” by the Jains and are worshipped [Footnote ref 1].
Two Sects of Jainism [Footnote ref 2].
There are two main sects of Jains, S’vetambaras (wearers of white cloths) and Digambaras (the naked). They are generally agreed on all the fundamental principles of Jainism. The tenets peculiar to the Digambaras are firstly that perfect saints such as the Tirtha@nkaras live without food, secondly that the embryo of Mahavira was not removed from the womb of Devananda to that of Tris’ala as the S’vetambaras contend,