India is a
land of spirituality where great persons were born to sing immortal songs.
The places stamped by their holy feet became famous as sacred places.
Idols of Tirthankara- Parmatmas, promoters of Jainisim, were installed
there. India has a large number of such sacred places. they are powerful
means of crossing the samsara. They provide an opportunity to cure the
disease of transmigration. They are made sacred by the touch of holy feet
of Arihanta- Tirthankaras. They save pilgrims who get free from worldly
affairs and often journey to the temples. The atmosphere of sacred places
on high mountains, river banks of level land is filled with the ringing
sound of words of wisdom uttered by patrons of spirituality. Sacred places
are silent but they tell immortal stories of holy selfs of Tirthankaras
and other saintly beings . Picture writings and various kinds of idols
convey the message of Tirthankaras. The name of sacred places tells
glorious stories of its past history, its architecture, its culture,its
prosperity and the mind of the masses. Visits of monks and nuns preserve
the sacredness of sacred places. Jain temples are also not mere buildings
of clay, stone and mortar. Our houses are also made of the same material
but there is a vast difference between the two sacred places are that
purify the pilgrims. Your mind feels sudden joy and teems with bright
thoughts. You recover from greed of money and spend it. Fellow-feeling is
promoted and pilgrims from different nations and cities live with love.
Wonderful is the influence of sacred places. Go to Mt. Shaturnjaya. When
you reach its foot, you feel the eagerness to see, God, give him gifts and
gain piety. The voice from within comes resounding, " Let me sing your
virtues and praise you. From a distance I have come, please appear before
me." Go to Shnkhevaraji and your mind will be filled with bright thoughts
of purification. You will feel that your self is totally transformed. You
will return dancing and jumping as if you have gained something. You sing
with joy -" O, Shankhesvara! You turn a mere stone into a philosopher's
stone and you turn dross into gold." Go to Mt. Sametashikhara. The land of
nirvana of twenty Tirthankaras will sing immortal songs and great you. -
"Come, worship God's feet and make your life's journey successful." A
sacred place has special features. It is a place that purifies millions of
lives. it is a place that inspires one to leave off greed of money.
Special features of sacred places of Jains :-
It is said
that there are as many gods in India as there are humans. This statement
is of course discerning. But the omniscient God of Jains says that the
embodied pure self in its own form is identical with the Supreme being. As
the cover of Karmic body opens, the self appears as the Supreme being .
this is a special feature of Jain philosophy. It is a special feature of
sacred places of Jains that they are regarded to be supermundane in the
sense that the worship offered in the sacred places of Jains, had nothing
to do with worldly beliefs Tirthanlaras say, " Worship God and become
God." Perfect cleanliness is maintained in sacred places of Jains. The
atmosphere is clam holy because eating, sleeping and sitting idly are
prohibited there. Cleanliness of body, clothes vessels and possible purity
of mind are insisted on.The management of sacred places of Jains is not in
the hands of individual owners. The sangha looks after their management.
Almost all necessities are provided in small as well as big sacred places.
The Jain Sangha believes that pilgrims should be helped in their spiritual
pursuits, Pilgrims also extend their possible co-operation in maintaining
the sacred places in a dignified way. In Jain philosophy, Tirthankaras are
held in very high esteem. The past, present and future groups of twenty
four Tirthamkaraas and the presently journeying twenty Tirthankaras alone
are regarded to be worthy of worship. They have their own dignified
position in Sacred Places. Endowed with perfect knowledge and pure
conduct, the Tirthankaras alone are promoters of religion. It is
Tirthankaras who render splendour to the Sacred Places.
The Significance Of Visiting Sacred Places :-
are innocent places which are free from worldly affairs. They who visit
sacred places try to live an innocent life. Sacred places remind us of the
holy life of Tirthankaras. Worthy people sing God's virtues and become one
with God. Devotional sentiments permeate thought sacred places. Pilgrims
who visit sacred places can not but sing the virtues of God. Only sacred
places promote welfare and bring happiness. Sins are washed off, there.
People who are agonised by worldly agonies get peace there. The modern man
has developed hill stations but nowhere can man get the peace that sacred
places offer. Hill stations cannot liberate you from sins. Sacred places
make the present life and the subsequent lives happy.
A Brief Outline Of The Jain Religion :-
Let us first understand
certain terms. A Jina is he who subdues attachment. The followers of Jinas
are Jains.The way of good life tempered compassion and concern for welfare
of others is dharma.
Dharma is the pure nature of self. There are many kinds of dharma which
serve as instrumental causes of manifestation of self.
Forbearance, softness, sincerity, freedom from greed, thoughtfulness,
restraint, penance,renunciation, freedom from the sense of ownership and
celibacy- these excellent virtues are kinds of what is supreme dharma.
They had to right faith, right knowledge and right conduct.
That which holds is dharma. Dharma upholds those who go astray and fall
into miseries. Dharma brings cquanimity in universal consciousness.
It is a special feature of the Jain religion that its promulgator is the
omniscient Vitaraga (one who is free from attachment) who showers only
love and mercy on worldly souls and shows them the right path. Externally,
the Jain religion purifies practical life and internally, it purifies the
soul. The result of both these purifications is realisation of the self
which leads to the final liberation and unobtructed bliss. The human soul
is capable of final liberation. He who worships ultimate purity attains
the final liberation. The chief mantra of Jain religion is the Navkar
Mantra. There are four shelters - Arihanta, Siddha, The monk and the
religion promulgated by omniscient Gods. The Jain religion believes in
twenty- four Tirthankars and the last of them is Mahavira. The Tirthankara
does not take birth again because he has no stock of karmic defilemt.
Every Tirthankara establishes the fourfold sangha of monks , nunes, laymen
and laywomen. There are four conditions of soul after death - the life of
gods, the life of humans, the life of lower animals and the life of
hellish beings. The Jain monk keeps the five great vows- ahimsa,
truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy and non- attachment. Especially, it
preaches compassion.The Jain religion believes that the self can attain
the pure state of emancipation by means of right faith, right knowledge
and right conduct. The conduct of a layperson consists of the five minor
laws and he keeps twelve vows in all. Besides a layperson worships God,
bows down to guru and visits sacred places. The ultimate means of final
liberation according to the Jain religion is meditation. The Jain religion
shows various spiritual stages by means of the nine tattvas, reals. It
says that the universe is autonomously managed by the six dravyas. The
Jain religion believes in God who subdues attachment, gets absolute
purification, attains nirvana and is not born again because he has no
stock of karmic partides necessary for a rebirth. He has no desire to do
anything and bear the fruits of his doings. Since he is omniscient he
knows the whole world as it is.
What is the contribution of Jainism to society ?
The Jain religion believes
in the pure state of the self and teaches purification. It teaches to
cultivate the attitude of friendliness, admiration, compassion and
indifference towards all living beings. Not a king, nor an emperor, nor a
pauper nor anyone else can get happiness by paining or hurting others. All
living beings have an equal right to live. It is man who can think well of
miseries of others. Of course, a householder's life involves some
violence, but Jainism teaches us do even indispensable duties with
awareness and carefulness. In order to avoid indulgence in even little
violence , they who are entitled to emancipation, renounce the world and
live a restrained life. "Live and let live ." - this is the motto of Jainism.Human life is too highly valuable to be entrusted to non-
restraint. If a diamond falls from the hands of a merchant sitting on the
desk in ship in the midst of the sea, he cannot get it back. Similarly, if
the human life is wasted by indulging in pleasures of senses, spiritual
diseases such as anger etc. Selfish acts and worldly affairs, it is
extremely difficult to get a human birth again and the best aim of human
life is realization of self. For this, vices should be scaled down and
virtues should be scaled up. It is necessary to live a restrained life
preached by guru. The man who does not desire unhappiness and desires
happiness, should abstain from worldly affairs and devote himself to God's
worship. In order to develop innocent love, nobility, equanimity,
integrity and good conduct, he should engage in worship and keep company
with saintly people. Know that the samsara is full of miseries and in
order to cross it, practise the pure religion. If you live a householder's
life, insist on ethics, good conduct and kindness and aspire to live a
monk's life. If you think that have gained nothing in the life that you
lived, grasp this instruction and you will get peace and
happiness.Forbearance is an excellent virtue of Jains and its festival is
"Samvatsari" or "Kshamapana Day". If during the whole year, insects or
animals are hurt, if someone is pained or offended by activities of mind,
speech or body, you should beseech forgiveness. This quality has purifying
and philosophical significance. It reduces the burden of karma. By virtue
of the excellent quality of forgiveness, great selfs have attained the
final liberation.The Jain religion is not a sect but it is a way of living
an excellent life. Without distinctions of class, colour or creed, all can
follow it. He who strives, succeeds.