Ranakpur Jain Marble Temple

Ranakpur is a village near Sadri town in the Pali district of Rajasthan in western India. It is located between Jodhpur and Udaipur, in a valley on the western side of the Aravalli Range. Ranakpur is easily accessed by road from Udaipur. Ranakpur is widely known for its marble Jain temple, and for a much older Sun Temple which lies opposite the former.

Jain temple

The renowned Jain temple at Ranakpur is dedicated to Adinatha. Light colored marble has been used for the construction of this grand temple which occupies an area of approximately 60 x 62 meters. The temple, with its distinctive domes, shikhara, turrets and cupolas rises majestically from the slope of a hill. Over 1444 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail, support the temple. The pillars are all differently carved and no two pillars are the same. It is also said that it is impossible to count the pillars. Also all the statues face one or the other statue. There is one beautiful carving made out of a single marble rock where there 108 heads of snakes and numerous tails. One cannot find the end of the tails. The image faces all four cardinal directions. In the axis of the main entrance, on the western side, is the largest image.

The temple is designed as caumukha—with four faces. The construction of the temple and quadrupled image symbolize the Tirthankara's conquest of the four cardinal directions and hence the cosmos.

The dating of this temple is controversial but it is largely considered to be anywhere between the late 14th to mid-15th centuries. Inspired by a dream of a celestial vehicle, Dharna Shah, a Porwad, is said to have commissioned it, under the patronage of Rana Kumbha, then ruler of Mewad. The architect who oversaw the project is said to have been named Deepaka. There is an inscription on a pillar near the main shrine stating that in 1439 Deepaka, an architect, constructed the temple at the direction of Dharanka, a devoted Jain.

This temple was nominated as one of the top 77 wonders in a contest for the new seven wonders of the world.

Pali District (पाली जिला)

Pali District (पाली जिला) is a district of the state of Rajasthan in western India. The town of Pali is the district headquarters.

Villages that generally come under Pali District are Bijapur Padarla(Padalla) Sewadi Boya Bali Falna Bhatund Bhandar Nana Beda Basant Chauchori Punadiya Vingarla Khimel Sadadi etc.

The Aravalli Range forms the eastern boundary of the district. A zone of foothills lies to the west, through which run the many tributaries of the Luni River. The western portion of the district includes the alluvial plain of the Luni. Pali has an area of 12,387 km² and a population of 1,819,201 (2001 census), which increased 22.39% in the decade 1991-2001. It is bounded by 8 districts (which is highest number in Rajsthan), Nagaur District to the north, Ajmer District to the northeast, Rajsamand District to the east, Udaipur District to the southeast, Sirohi District to the southwest, Jalore District and Barmer District to the west, and Jodhpur District to the northwest.

Other towns in the district include Rani, Rajasthan, Sojat, Jaitaran, Sumerpur, Bali, India, Sanderao, Sadri, Takhatgarh, Bharunda Bamnera, Koliwara, Ranakpur, Marwar Junction, Bijowa and Raipur.

There are nine tehsils: Sojat, Jaitaran, Sumerpur, Bali, Desuri, Pali, Marwar Junction and Raipur.

Pali was city of Paliwal Brahmin's. It is said that in this city there lots of paliwal brahmin killed by mughal so they left Pali and take vow not to live in Pali any more.

Maharana Pratap was born in Pali at Nanihal near Dhanmandi kachedi. It was destroyed three times and reestablished again. Meera Bai born at kudki, Jaitaran in 1498. Pali has also famous Jain temples of Shri Varkana Parswanath Jain Tirth , Shri Ranakpur Jain Tirth, Shri RataMahaveer Jain Tirth , Shri Muchala Mahaveerji Jain Tirth, Gahanerao , Shri Narlai Jain Tirth, Shri Nadol Jain Tirth , Shri Astapadh Jain Tirth, Navlakha mandir ji these all have there separate interesting history. Shri Sonana Khetlaji's , at Aana Fair and Parshuram Mahadevji's Fair are important fairs celebrated here.

Jainism

Jainism is one of the oldest religions that originated in India. Jains believe that every soul is divine and has the potential to achieve God-consciousness. Any soul which has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state of supreme being is called jina (Conqueror or Victor). Jainism is the path to achieve this state. Jainism is often referred to as Jain Dharma (जैन धर्म) or Shraman Dharma or the religion of Nirgantha or religion of 'Vratyas' by ancient texts.

Jainism was revived by a lineage of 24 enlightened ascetics called tirthankaras culminating with Parsva (9th century BCE) and Mahavira (6th century BCE). In the modern world, it is a small but influential religious minority with as many as 10 million followers in India, and successful growing immigrant communities in North America, Western Europe, the Far East, Australia and elsewhere.

Jains have sustained the ancient Shraman (श्रमण) or ascetic religion and have significantly influenced other religious, ethical, political and economic spheres in India.

Jains have an ancient tradition of scholarship and have the highest degree of literacy in India. Jain libraries are India's oldest.

Principles and beliefs

Jainism differs from other religions in its concept of God. Every living soul is potentially divine. When the soul sheds its karmic bonds completely, it attains God-consciousness. It prescribes a path of non-violence to progress the soul to this ultimate goal.

A Jain is a follower of Jinas ('conquerors'). Jinas are spiritually advanced human beings who rediscover the dharma, become fully liberated and teach the spiritual path to benefit all living beings. Practicing Jains follow the teachings of 24 special Jinas who are known as Tirthankaras '('ford-makers', or 'those who have discovered and shown the way to salvation'). Tradition states that the 24th, and most recent, Tirthankar is Shri Mahavir, lived from 599 to 527 BCE. The 23rd Tirthankar, Shri Parsva, lived from 872 to 772 BC.

Jainism encourages spiritual development through reliance on and cultivation of one's own personal wisdom and self-control (व्रत, vrata). The goal of jainism is to realize the soul's true nature. 'Samyak darshan gyan charitrani moksha margah', meaning 'true/right perception, knowledge and conduct' ( known as the triple gems of Jainism) provides the path for attaining liberation (moksha) from samsara (the universal cycle of birth and death). Moksha is attained by liberation from all karma. Those who have attained moksha are called siddha (liberated souls), and those who are attached to the world through their karma are called samsarin (mundane souls). Every soul has to follow the path, as described by the Jinas (and revived by Tirthankaras), to attain the ultimate liberation.

Jaina tradition identifies Rishabha (also known as Adhinath) as the First Tirthankar of this declining (avasarpini) kalachakra (time cycle). The first Tirthankar, Rishabhdev/ Adhinath, appeared prior to the Indus Valley Civilization. The swastika symbol and naked statues resembling Jain monks, which archaeologists have found among the remains of the Indus Valley Civilization, tend to support this claim.

Jains hold that the Universe and Dharma are eternal, without beginning or end. However, the universe undergoes processes of cyclical change. The universe consists of living beings ('Jīva') and non-living beings ('Ajīva'). The samsarin (worldly) soul incarnates in various life forms during its journey over time. Human, sub-human (animal, insect, plant, etc.), super-human (deity or devas), and hell-being are the four macro forms of the samsari souls. All worldly relations of one's Jiva with other Jiva and Ajiva (non-living beings) are based on the accumulation of Karma and its conscious thoughts, speech and actions carried out in its current form.

The main Jain prayer (Namokar Mantra) therefore salutes the five special categories of souls that have attained God-consciousness or are on their way to achieving it, to emulate and follow these paths to salvation.

Another major characteristic of Jain belief is the emphasis on the consequences of not only physical but also mental behaviours.

Jain practices are derived from the above fundamentals. For example, the principle of non-violence seeks to minimize karmas which may limit the capabilities of the soul. Jainism views every soul as worthy of respect because it has the potential to become Siddha (Param-atma - 'pure soul'). Because all living beings possess a soul, great care and awareness is essential in one's actions in the incarnate world. Jainism emphasizes the equality of all life, advocating harmlessness towards all, whether these be creatures great or small. This policy extends even to microscopic organisms. Jainism acknowledges that every person has different capabilities and capacities and therefore assigns different duties for ascetics and householders. The 'great vows' (mahavrata) are prescribed for monks and 'limited vows' (anuvrata) are prescribed for householders.

There are five basic ethical principles (vows) prescribed. The degree to which these principles must be practiced is different for renunciant and householder. Thus:

    * Non-violence (Ahimsa) - to cause no harm to living beings.
* Truth (Satya) - to always speak the truth in a harmless manner.
* Non-stealing (Asteya) - to not take anything that is not willingly given.
* Celibacy (Brahmacarya) - to not indulge in sensual pleasures.
* Non-possession (Aparigraha) - to detach from people, places, and material things.

Ahimsa, 'Non-violence', is sometimes interpreted as not killing, but the concept goes far beyond that. It includes not harming or insulting other living beings either directly or indirectly through others. There can be even no room for thought to injure others, and no speech that influence others to inflict harm. It also includes respecting the view of others (non-absolutism and acceptance of multiple view points).

Satya, 'truthfulness', is also to be practiced by all people. Given that non-violence has priority, all other principles yield to it, whenever there is a conflict. For example, if speaking truth will lead to violence, it is perfectly ethical to be silent. Thiruvalluvar in his Tamil classic devotes an entire chapter clarifying the definition of 'truthfulness'.

Asteya, 'non-stealing', is the strict adherence to one's own possessions, without desire to take another's. One should remain satisfied by whatever is earned through honest labour. Any attempt to squeeze others and/or exploit the weak is considered theft. Some of the guidelines for this principle are:

    * Always give people fair value for labor or product.
* Never take things which are not offered.
* Never take things that are placed, dropped or forgotten by others
* Never purchase cheaper things if the price is the result of improper method (e.g. pyramid scheme, illegal business, stolen goods, etc.)

Brahmacarya, 'monastic celibacy', is the complete abstinence from sex, which is only incumbent upon monastics. Householders practice monogamy as a way to uphold brahmacarya in spirit.

Aparigraha, 'non-possession', is the renounciation of property and wealth, before initiation into monkhood, without entertaining thoughts of the things renounced. This is done so one understands how to detach oneself from things and possessions including home and family so one may reach moksa. For householders, non possession is owning without attachment, because the notion of possession is illusory. The reality of life is that change is constant, thus objects owned by someone today will be property of someone else in future days. The householder is encouraged to discharge his or her duties to related people and objects as a trustee, without excessive attachment.

Main points

    * Every living being has a soul.
* Every soul is divine with innate, though typically unrealized, infinite knowledge, perception, power, and bliss.
* Therefore, regard every living being as yourself, harm no one, manifest benevolence for all living beings.
* Every soul is born as a celestial, human, sub-human or hellish being according to its own karmas.
* Every soul is the architect of its own life, here or hereafter.
* When a soul is freed from karmas, it becomes free and god-conscious, experiencing infinite knowledge, perception, power, and bliss.
* Right View, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct (triple gems of Jainism) provide the way to this realization. There is no supreme divine creator, owner, preserver or destroyer. The universe is self-regulated and every soul has the potential to achieve the status of god-consciousness (siddha) through one's own efforts.
* Non-violence (Ahimsa) is the foundation of right View, the existence of right Knowledge and the kernel of right Conduct. Non-violence is compassion and forgiveness in thoughts, words and actions toward all living beings. It includes respecting views of others (Non-absolutism).
* Control of the senses.
* Limit possessions and lead a pure life that is useful to yourself and others. Owning an object by itself is not possessiveness; however attachment to an object is. Non-possessiveness is the balancing of needs and desires while staying detached from our possessions.
* Enjoy the company of the holy and better qualified, be merciful to those afflicted and tolerate the perversely inclined.
* Four things are difficult to attain by a soul: 1, human birth, 2, knowledge of the law, 3, faith in the law and 4, practicing the right path.
* It is important not to waste human life in evil ways. Rather, strive to rise on the ladder of spiritual evolution.
* Navakar Mantra is the fundamental prayer in Jainism and can be recited at any time of the day. Praying by reciting this mantra, the devotee bows with respect to liberated souls still in human form (Arihantas), fully liberated souls (Siddhas), spiritual leaders (Acharyas), teachers (Upadyayas) and all the monks. By saluting them, Jains receive inspiration from them for the right path of true bliss and total freedom from the karma of their soul. In this main prayer, Jains do not ask for any favors or material benefits. This mantra serves as a simple gesture of deep respect towards beings who are more spiritually advanced. The mantra also reminds followers of the ultimate goal, nirvana or moksha.
* The goal of Jainism is liberation of the soul from the negative effects of unenlightened thoughts, speech and action. This goal is achieved through clearance of karmic obstructions by following the triple gems of Jainism.

Tirthankaras
Main article: Tirthankaras
See also: Parsva and Mahavir
The statue of Gomateshwara of Digambar tradition in Shravanabelagola, Karnataka is the tallest monolith of its kind in the world

Like other Indian religions, knowledge of the truth (dharma) is considered to have declined and revived cyclically throughout history. Those who rediscover dharma are called Tirthankara. The literal meaning of Tirthankar is 'ford-builder', or god. Jains, like Buddhists, compare the process of becoming a pure human to crossing a swift river, an endeavour requiring patience and care. A ford-builder has already crossed the river and can therefore guide others. One is called a 'victor' (Skt: Jina) because one has achieved liberation by one's own efforts. Like Buddhism, the purpose of Jain dharma is to undo the negative effects of karma through mental and physical purification. This process leads to liberation accompanied by a great natural inner peace.

Having purified one's soul of karmic impurities, a tirthankar is considered omniscient, and a role model. Identified as god, these individuals are called bhagavan, lord (e.g., Bhagavan Rishabha, Bhagavan Parshva, etc.). Tirthankar are not regarded as gods in the pantheistic or polytheistic sense, but rather as examplars who have awakened the divine spiritual qualities which lie dormant in each of us. There have been 24 Tirthankaras in what the Jains call the 'present age'. The last two Tirthankaras: Parsva and Mahavira are historical figures whose existence is recorded.

Mahavira established the fourfold community (chaturvidhi sangha) of monks, nuns, and male and female laypersons.

The 24 Tirthankaras, in chronological order, are Adinath (Rishabhnath), Ajitnath, Sambhavanath, Abhinandan Swami, Sumatinath, Padmaprabhu, Suparshvanath, Chandraprabhu, Pushpadanta (Suvidhinath), Sheetalnath, Shreyansanath, Vasupujya Swami, Vimalnath, Anantnath, Dharmanath, Shantinath, Kunthunath, Aranath, Mallinath, Munisuvrata Swami, Nami Nath, Neminath, Parshvanath and Mahavir (Vardhamana).

Doctrines

Jains believe that every human is responsible for his/her actions and all living beings have an eternal soul, jīva. Jains believe all souls are equal because they all possess the potential of being liberated and attaining moksha. Tirthankaras are role models only because they have attained moksha. Jains insist that we live, think and act respectfully and honor the spiritual nature of all life. Jains view God as the unchanging traits of the pure soul of each living being, described as Infinite Knowledge, Perception, Consciousness, and Happiness (Ananta Jnāna, Ananta Darshana, Ananta Cāritra and Ananta Sukha). Jains do not believe in an omnipotent supreme being, creator or manager (kartā), but rather in an eternal universe governed by natural laws.

Jains hold that this temporal world inflicts much misery and sorrow, thus to attain lasting bliss one must transcend the cycle of transmigration. Otherwise, one will remain eternally caught up in the never-ending cycle of transmigration. The only way to break out of this cycle is to practice detachment through rational perception, rational knowledge and rational conduct.

Jain scriptures were written over a long period of time, but the most cited is the Tattvartha Sutra, or 'Book of Reality' written by the monk-scholar, Umasvati (aka Umāsvāmi) almost 1800 years ago. The protagonists of this sutra are Tirthankaras. The two main sects of jainism are called Digambar and Svetambar, both sects affirm ahimsa (or ahinsā), asceticism, karma, sanskār, and jiva.

Though practice differs between the two sects, Jain doctrine is uniform, with great emphasis placed on rational perception, rational knowledge and rational conduct. {'samyagdarśanajñānacāritrāṇimokṣamārgaḥ', Tattvārthasūtra, 1.1}

Compassion for all life, both human and non-human, is central to Jainism. Human life is valued as a unique, rare opportunity to reach enlightenment. To kill any person, no matter their crime, is considered unimaginably abhorrent. It is the only religion that requires monks and laity, from all its sects and traditions, to be vegetarian.

History suggests that various strains of Hinduism became vegetarian due to strong Jain influences. Jains run animal shelters all over India. For example, Delhi has a bird hospital run by Jains. Every city and town in Bundelkhand has animal shelters run by Jains where all manner of animals are sheltered, even though the shelter is generally known as a Gaushala ('sacred cow').

Jainism's stance on nonviolence goes far beyond vegetarianism. Jains refuse food obtained with unnecessary cruelty. Many practice a lifestyle similar to veganism, due to the violence of modern dairy farms, and others exclude root vegetables from their diets to preserve the lives of these plants. Potatoes, garlic and onions in particular are avoided by Jains. Devout Jains do not eat, drink, or travel after sunset, and prefer to drink water that is boiled and then cooled to room temperature. Many Jains abstain from eating green vegetables and root vegetables one day each week. The particular day, determined by the lunar calendar is Ashtami (eighth day of the lunar month), New Moon, the second Ashtami and the Full Moon night.

Anekantavada, a foundation of Jain philosophy, literally means 'The Multiplicity of Reality', or equivalently, 'Non-one-endedness'. Anekantavada has tools for overcoming inherent biases in any one perspective on any topic or in reality in general. Anekantavada is defined as a multiplicity of viewpoints, for it stresses looking at things from others' perspectives.

Another tool is the Doctrine of Postulation, Syadva/Syadvada.

Jains are usually very welcoming and friendly toward other faiths and often help with interfaith functions. Several non-Jain temples in India are administered by Jains. A palpable presence in Indian culture, Jains have contributed to Indian philosophy, art, architecture, science, and to Mohandas Gandhi's politics, which led to the mainly non-violent movement for Indian independence. Note that Mohandas Gandhi's Mother was a devout Jain and Jain Monks visited his home regularly. He spent considerable time under the tutelage of Jain Monks learning the philosophies of non-violence and doing good always.

Creation and cosmology
Main article: Jain Cosmology
Bhaktamara Stotra and 10th couplet in Thirukural, a Tamil classic: A Tirthankara is a shelter from ocean of rebirths.

According to Jain beliefs, the universe was never created, nor will it ever cease to exist. Therefore, it is shaswat (infinite). It has no beginning or end, but time is cyclical with progressive and regressive spirituality phases.

Jains divide time into Utsarpinis (Progressive Time Cycle) and Avsarpinis (Regressive Time Cycle). An Utsarpini and an Avsarpini constitute one Time Cycle (Kalchakra). Every Utsarpini and Avsarpini is divided into six unequal periods known as Aras. During the Utsarpini half cycle, humanity develops from its worst to its best: ethics, progress, happiness, strength, health, and religion each start the cycle at their worst, before eventually completing the cycle at their best and starting the process again. During the Avsarpini half-cycle, these notions deteriorate from the best to the worst. Jains believe we are currently in the fifth Ara of the Avsarpini phase, with approximately 19,000 years until the next Ara. After this Ara we will enter the sixth phase. Which will be for approximately 21,000 years. After this Utsarpini phase will begin, continuing the infinite repetition of the Kalchakra.

Jains believe that at the upswing of each time cycle, people will lose religion again. All wishes will be granted by wish-granting trees (Kalpavrksa), and people will be born in sets of twins (Yugalika) with one boy and one girl who stay together all their lives. This symbolizes the fully integrated human with male and female characteristics in balance.

Jain philosophy is based upon eternal, universal truths. During the first and last two Aras, these truths lapse among humanity and then reappear through the teachings of enlightened humans, those who have reached moksa or total knowledge (Kevala Jnana), during the third and fourth Aras. Traditionally, in our universe and in our time, Lord Rishabha (ऋषभ) is regarded as the first to realize the truth. Lord Vardhamana (Mahavira) was the last Tirthankara to attain enlightenment (599-527 BCE). He was preceded by twenty-three others, making a total of twenty-four Tirthankaras.

It is important to note that the above description stands true 'in our universe and in our time' for Jains believe there have been infinite sets of 24 Tirthankaras, one for each half of the time cycle, and this will continue in the future. Hence, Jainism does not trace its origins to Rishabh Deva, the first, or finish with Mahavira, the twenty-fourth, Tirthankara.

According to Jainism, the Universe consists of infinite amount of Jiva (life force or souls), and the design resembles a man standing with his arms bent while resting his hands on his waist. The narrow waist part comprises various Kshetras, for vicharan (roaming) for humans, animals and plants. Currently we are in the Bharat Kshetra of Jambu Dweep (dweep means island).

The Deva Loka (Heavens) are at the symbolic 'chest' of Creation, where all Devas (demi gods) reside. Similarly beneath the 'waist' are the Narka Loka (Hell). There are seven Narka Lokas, each for a varying degree suffering a jiva has to go through to face the consequences of its paap karma (sins). From the first to the seventh Narka, the degree of suffering increases and light reaching it decreases (with no light in the seventh Narka).

The sidhha kshetra or moksha is situated at the symbolic forehead of the creation, where all the jivas having attained nirvana reside in a state of complete peace and eternal happiness. Outside the symbolic figure of this creation nothing but aloka or akaasha (sky) exists.
24 Tirthankars of Jainism

Lord Rishabha • Ajitnath • Sambhavanath • Abhinandannath • Sumatinath • Padmaprabha • Suparshvanath • Chandraprabha • Pushpadanta • Sheetalnath • Shreyansanath • Vasupujya • Vimalnath • Anantnath • Dharmanath • Shantinath • Kunthunath • Aranath • Mallinath • Munisuvrata • Naminatha • Neminatha • Parshva • Mahavira

Jain monks and nuns (Sadhu or Muni Maharaj)

In India there are thousands of Jain Monks, in categories like Acharya, Upadhyaya and Muni. Trainee ascetics are known as Ailaka and Ksullaka in the Digambar tradition.

There are two categories of ascetics, Sadhu (monk) and Sadhvi (nun). They practice the five Mahavratas, three Guptis and five Samitis:

Five Mahavratas

* Ahimsa: Non-violence in thought, word and deed
* Satya: Truth which is (hita) beneficial, (mita) succinct and (priya) pleasing
* Acaurya: Not accepting anything that has not been given to them by the owner
* Brahmacarya: Absolute purity of mind and body
* Aparigraha: Non-attachment to non-self objects

Three Guptis

* Managupti: Control of the mind
* Vacanagupti: Control of speech
* Kayagupti: Control of body

Five Samitis

* Irya Samiti: Carefulness while walking
* Bhasha Samiti: Carefulness while communicating
* Eshana Samiti: Carefulness while eating
* Adana Nikshepana Samiti: Carefulness while handling their fly-whisks, water gourds, etc.
* Pratishthapana Samiti: Carefulness while disposing of bodily waste matter

Male Digambara monks do not wear any clothes and are nude. They practice non-attachment to the body and hence, wear no clothes. Shvetambara monks and nuns wear white clothes. Shvetambaras believe that monks and nuns may wear simple un-stitched white clothes as long as they are not attached to them. Jain monks and nuns travel on foot. They do not use mechanical transport.

Digambar followers take up to eleven Pratimaye (oath). Monks take all eleven oaths. They eat only once a day. The Male Digambar monk (Maharajji) eat standing at one place in their palms without using any utensil.

Holidays

* Paryushan Parva, 10/8 (Digambar/Svetamber) day fasts, and for observe, 10/8 important principles.
* Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, Lord Mahavir's birth, it is popularly known as Mahavir Jayanti but the term 'jayanti' is inappropriate for a Tirthankar, as this term is used for mortals.
* Kshamavaani, The day for asking everyone's forgiveness.
* Diwali, the nirvana day of Lord Mahavira

Karma theory
Karma in Jainism conveys a totally different meaning than commonly understood in the Hindu philosophy and western civilization. It is not the so called inaccessible force that controls the fate of living beings in inexplicable ways. It does not mean 'deed', 'work', nor invisible, mystical force (adrsta), but a complex of very fine matter, imperceptible to the senses, which interacts with the soul, causing great changes. Karma, then, is something material (karmapaudgalam), which produces certain conditions, like a medical pill has many effects. According to Robert Zydendos, karma in Jainism is a system of laws, but natural rather than moral laws. In Jainism, actions that carry moral significance are considered to cause consequences in just the same way as physical actions that do not carry any moral significance. When one holds an apple in one's hand and then let go of the apple, the apple will fall: this is only natural. There is no judge, and no moral judgment involved, since this is a mechanical consequence of the physical action.

Customs and practices

The hand with a wheel on the palm symbolizes the Jain Vow of Ahimsa, meaning non-violence. The word in the middle is 'Ahimsa.' The wheel represents the dharmacakra, to halt the cycle of reincarnation through relentless pursuit of truth.

Jain monks and nuns practice strict asceticism and strive to make their current birth their last, thus ending their cycle of transmigration. The laity, who pursue less rigorous practices, strive to attain rational perception and to do as much good as possible and get closer to the goal of attaining freedom from the cycle of transmigration. Following strict ethics, the laity usually choose professions that revere and protect life and totally avoid violent livelihoods.

Jains practice Samayika, which is a Sanskrit word meaning equanimity and derived from samaya (the soul). The goal of samayika is to attain equanimity. Samayika is begun by achieving a balance in time. If this current moment is defined as a moving line between the past and the future, samayika happens by being fully aware, alert and conscious in that moving time line when one experiences atma, one's true nature, common to all life forms. Samayika is especially significant during Paryushana, a special period during the monsoon, and is practiced during the Samvatsari Pratikramana ritual.

Jains believe that Devas (demi-gods or celestial beings) cannot help jiva to obtain liberation, which must be achieved by individuals through their own efforts. In fact, Devas themselves cannot achieve liberation until they reincarnate as humans and undertake the difficult act of removing karma. Their efforts to attain the exalted state of Siddha, the permanent liberation of jiva from all involvement in worldly existence, must be their own.

The strict Jain ethical code for monks/nuns is:

   1. Ahimsa (Non-violence)
2. Satya (truth)
3. Achaurya or Asteya (non-stealing)
4. Brahmacharya (Celibacy)
5. Aparigraha (Non-attachment to temporal possessions)

Common men and women also have the five vows of non-violence, truth, non-stealing, celibacy and non-possession. It is not possible to observe these vows completely in day-to-day life and therefore followed to a limited extent. As these vows are limited in their scope, they are called ‘Anuvratas’. Apart from these, additionally there are seven vows designed to assist the householders in their spiritual journey.

Nonviolence includes vegetarianism. Jains are expected to be non-violent in thought, word, and deed, both toward humans and toward all other living beings, including their own selves. Jain monks and nuns walk barefoot and sweep the ground in front of them to avoid killing insects or other tiny beings. Even though all life is considered sacred by the Jains, human life is deemed the highest form of life. For this reason, it is considered vital never to harm or upset any person.

For laypersons, brahmacharya means either confining sex to marriage or complete celibacy. For monks and nuns, it means complete celibacy.

While performing holy deeds, Svetambara Jains wear cloths, muhapatti, over their mouths and noses to avoid saliva falling on texts or revered images. It is not the case, as is sometimes believed, that this is to avoid accidentally inhaling insects. Many healthy concepts are entwined. For example, Jains drink only boiled water. In ancient times, a person might get ill by drinking unboiled water, which could prevent equanimity, and illness may engender intolerance.

True spirituality, according to enlightened Jains, starts when one attains Samyak darshana, or true perception. Such souls are on the path to moksha, striving to remain in the nature of the soul. This is characterized by knowing and observing only all worldly affairs, without raag (attachment) and dwesh (repulsion), a state of pure knowledge and bliss. Attachment to worldly life collects new karmas, and traps one in birth, death, and suffering. Worldly life has a dual nature (for example, love and hate, suffering and pleasure, etc.), for the perception of one state cannot exist without the contrasting perception of the other.

Jain Dharma shares some beliefs with Hinduism. Both believe in karma and reincarnation. However, the Jain version of the Ramayana and Mahabharata is different from Hindu beliefs, for example. Generally, Hindus believe that Rama was a reincarnation of God, whereas Jains believe he attained moksha (liberation) because they are free from any belief in a creator god.

Along with the Five Vows, Jains avoid harboring ill will and practice forgiveness. They believe that atma (soul) can lead one to becoming parmatma (liberated soul) and this must come from one's inner self. Jains refrain from all violence (Ahimsa) and recommend that sinful activities be avoided.

Mahatma Gandhi was deeply influenced (particularly through the guidance of Shrimad Rajchandra) by Jain tenets such as peaceful, protective living and honesty, and made them an integral part of his own philosophy. Jainism has a distinct idea underlying Tirthankar worship. The physical form is not worshiped, but their Gunas (virtues, qualities) are praised. Tirthankaras remain role-models, and sects such as the Sthanakavasi stringently reject statue worship.

Jain fasting

Fasting is a tool for doing Tapa and to attach to your inner-being. It is a part of Jain festivals. It is three types based on the level of austerity; Uttam, Madhyam and Jaghanya; first being the most stringent:

1. Uttam: Renounce all worldly things including food & water on the day of fasting and eat only once on the eve & next day of fasting.
2. Madhyam: Food & water is not taken on the day of fast.
3. Jaghanya: Eat only once on the day.

During fasting a person immerses himself in religious activities (worshiping, serving the saints & be in their proximity, reading scriptures, Tapa, and donate to the right candidates - Supatra).

Most Jains fast at special times, like during festivals (known as Parva. Paryushana and Ashthanhika are the main Parvas which occurs 3 times in a year), and on holy days (eighth & fourteenth days of the moon cycle). Paryushana is the most prominent festival, lasting eight days for Svetambara Jains and ten days for Digambars, during the monsoon. The monsoon is considered the best time of fasting due to lenient weather. However, a Jain may fast at any time, especially if s/he feels some error has been committed. Variations in fasts encourage Jains to do whatever they can to maintain self control.

A unique ritual in this religion involves a holy fasting until death; it is called sallekhana. Through this one achieves a death with dignity and dispassion as well as no more negative karma. When a person is aware of approaching death, and feels that s/he has completed all duties, s/he willingly ceases to eat or drink gradually. This form of dying is also called Santhara / Samaadhi. It can be as long as 12 years with gradual reduction in food intake. Considered extremely spiritual and creditable, with all awareness of the transitory nature of human experience, it has recently led to a controversy. In Rajasthan, a lawyer petitioned the High Court of Rajasthan to declare santhara illegal. Jains see santhara as spiritual detachment, a declaration that a person has finished with this world and now chooses to leave. This choice however requires a great deal of spiritual accomplishment and maturity as a pre-requisite.

Jain worship and rituals

Every day most Jains bow and say their universal prayer, the 'Namokara Mantra', aka the Navkar Mantra, Parmesthi Mantra, Panch Namaskar Mantra, Anadhi Nidhan Mantra. Jains have built temples, or Basadi or Derasar, where images of tirthankaras are revered. Rituals may be elaborate because symbolic objects are offered and Tirthankaras praised in song. But some sects refuse to enter temples or revere images. All Jains accept that images of Tirthankaras are merely symbolic reminders of their paths to attain moksha. Jains are clear that the Jinas reside in moksha and are completely detached from the world.

Jain rituals include:

* Pancakalyanaka Pratishtha
* Pratikramana
* Samayika
* Guru Vandana, Chaitya Vandana, and other sutras to honor ascetics.

Over time, some sections of Jains also pray deities, which are yakshas and yakshinis.

History

Jainism timeline

Pre-history
Prior to 10th Century BCE : The first 22 Tīrthaṇkara — Ṛṣabha to Neminātha.
History
The age of Tīrthaṇkaras

2000–1500 BCE: Terracotta seals excavated at site suggest links of Jainism with Indus Valley civilization. Mention of Jain Tīrthaṇkaras in Vedas indicates pre-historic origins of Jainism.

877–777 BCE: The period of Pārśva, the 23rd Tīrthaṇkaras

599–527 BCE: The age of Māhavīra, the 24th Tīrthaṇkaras of Jainism

527 BCE: Nirvāṇa of Māhavīra, Kevala Jñāna of his chief disciple Ganadhara Gautama and origin of Divāli.
The age of Kevalins

523 BCE: As per Jain cosmology, the end of the 4th āra Duḥṣama-suṣamā and start of 5th āra Duḥṣama (sorrow and misery). The age of sorrow is said to have started three years and eight and a half months after the nirvana of Māhavīra.

527–463 BCE: The Reign of the Kevalins — Gautama, Sudharma and Jambusvami
The age of Sruta-kevali's

463–367 BCE:

* The reign of the Sruta-kevali's.
* First Council held at Pataliputra for compilation of Jain Agamas.
* Gradual loss of Purvas.
* Start of Schism in Jainism in two main sects — Śvetāmbara and Digambara.

320–298 BCE: The reign of Chandragupta Maurya. became a Jain ascetic at the end of his reign.

2nd century BCE: Khāravela, reign of King of Kalinga (Orissa). Reinstallation of Jina image taken by Nanda Kings of Magadha as per Hathigumpha inscription

The Agamic Age

156 CE: Recitation of Ṣaṭkhaṇdāgama and Kaṣāyapahuda by Ācārya Dharasena to ĀcāryaPuṣpadanta and Ācārya Bhūtabali in Candragumpha in Mount Girnar. (683 years after Māhavīra)

2nd Century CE: Kundakunda, founder of Mūla sangha– the main Digambara ascetic lineage.

2nd – 3rd Century CE: Compilation of Tattvārthasūtra by Umāsvāti (Umāsvāmi). This was the first major Jain work in Sanskrit.

300 CE: Two simultaneous councils for compilation of Āgamas, 827 years after Māhavīra – Mathura Council headed by Ācārya Skandila and The First Valabhi Council headed by Ācārya Nāgārjuna.

453 or 466 CE Second Valabhi Council headed by Devarddhi Ganin, that is, 980 or 993 AV – Final redaction and compilation of Śvetāmbara Canons.

The Age of Logic

4th – 16th Century CE, also known as the age of logic, was the period of development of Jain logic, Philosophy and Yoga. Various original texts, commentaries and expositions were written. The main Ācāryas were – Samantabhadra, Siddhasena Divākara, Akalanka, Haribhadra, Mānikyanandi, Vidyānandi, Prabhācandra, Hemacandra, Yaśovijaya. For a detailed chronological list of Jain philosopher-monks see Jain Philosophers. It was also a period of formation of modern Jain communities and extensive Jain contribution to Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi and Gujarati Literature.

981 CE: Construction of Gommaṭeśvara – Statue of Lord Bāhubalī (18 meters- 57 feet, worlds tallest monolithic free standing structure), at Sravana Belagola, Karnataka by Cāmuṇḍarāya, the General-in-chief and Prime Minister of the Gaṅga kings of Mysore.

10th Century CE: Emergence of Śvetāmbara Gacchas out of which, most prominent are – Tapā Gachha, and Kharatara Gaccha

11th–12th Century CE: Construction of Delwara temples at Mount Ābu built by the Jain ministers of the king of Gujarat, Vastupāla and Tejapāla

13th Century CE: Emergence of institution of Bhattāraka

1474 CE: Establishment of non-image worshipping Śvetāmbara sect of Sthānakvasi established by a Jain layman, Lonka Shah.

1506 CE: Establishment of Taranapantha Digambara sect

1683 CE: Establishment of Digambara sect of Terapantha by a Śvetāmbara layman, Banarasidas

1760 CE: Separation of Ācārya Bhikṣu from Sthānakavasi and establishment of Śvetāmbara Terāpantha sect.

1901 CE: Establishment of Kavi Pantha based on the teachings of Srimad Rājacandra (1867 – 1901)

1934 CE: Separation of Kānjisvāmi from Sthānakavasi and establishment of Digambara Kānjipantha
Main article: History of Jainism
Parshvanatha, the twenty-third Tirthankar, is the earliest Jain leader who can be reliably dated. According to scholars, he probably lived in the 9th Century BCE. In the sixth century BCE, Vardhamana Mahavira became one of the most influential Jainism teachers. He built up a large group of disciples that learned from his teachings and followed him as he taught an ascetic doctrine in order to achieve enlightenment. The disciples referred to him as Jina, which means 'the conqueror' and later his followers would use this title to refer to themselves.

It is generally accepted that Jainism started spreading in south India from the third century BCE. i.e. since the time when Badrabahu, a preacher of this religion and the head of the monks' community, came to Karnataka from Bihar.

Kalinga (modern Orissa and Osiaji) was home to many Jains in the past. Rishabh, the first Tirthankar, was revered and worshipped in the ancient city Pithunda. This was destroyed by Mahapadma Nanda when he conquered Kalinga and brought the statue of Rishabhanatha to his capital in Magadh. Rishabhanatha is revered as the Kalinga Jina. Ashoka's invasion and his Buddhist policy also subjugated Jains greatly in Kalinga. However, in the 1st century BCE Emperor Kharvela conquered Magadha and brought Rishabhnath's statue back and installed it in Udaygiri, near his capital, Shishupalgadh. The Khandagiri and Udaygiri caves near Bhubaneswar are the only surviving stone Jain monuments in Orissa. Earlier buildings were made of wood and were destroyed.

Deciphering of the Brahmi script by James Prinsep in 1788 enabled the reading of ancient inscriptions in India and established the antiquity of Jainism. The discovery of Jain manuscripts has added significantly to retracing Jain history. Archaeologists have encountered Jain remains and artifacts at Maurya, Sunga, Kishan, Gupta, Kalachuries, Rashtrakut, Chalukya, Chandel and Rajput as well as later sites. Several western and Indian scholars have contributed to the reconstruction of Jain history. Western historians like Bühler, Jacobi, and Indian scholars like Iravatham Mahadevan, worked on Tamil Brahmi inscriptions.

Geographical spread and influence

Jainism has been a major cultural, philosophical, social and political force since the dawn of civilization in Asia, and its ancient influence has been noted in other religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism.

This pervasive influence of Jain culture and philosophy in ancient Bihar may have given rise to Buddhism. The Buddhists have always maintained that during the time of Buddha and Mahavira (who, according to the Pali canon, were contemporaries), Jainism was already an ancient, deeply entrenched faith and culture there. (For connections between Buddhism and Jainism see Buddhism and Jainism). Over several thousand years, Jain influence on Hindu philosophy and religion has been considerable, while Hindu influence on Jain rituals may be observed in certain Jain sects. Certain Vedic Hindu holy books contain beautiful narrations about various figures who were adopted by Jains as Tirthankars (e.g., Lord Rishabdev).

For instance, the concept of puja is Jain. The Vedic Religion prescribed yajnas and havanas for pleasing god. Puja is a specifically Jain concept, arising from the Kannada words, 'pu' (flower) and 'ja' (offering).

With 10 to 12 million followers, Jainism is among the smallest of the major world religions, but in India its influence is much greater than these numbers would suggest. Jains live throughout India. Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat have the largest Jain populations among Indian states. Karnataka, Bundelkhand and Madhya Pradesh have relatively large Jain populations. There is a large following in Punjab, especially in Ludhiana and Patiala, and there used to be many Jains in Lahore (Punjab's historic capital) and other cities before the Partition of 1947, after which many fled to India. There are many Jain communities in different parts of India and around the world. They may speak local languages or follow different rituals but essentially follow the same principles.

Outside India, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) have large Jain communities. Jainism is presently a strong faith in the United States and several Jain temples have been built there. American Jainism accommodates all the sects. Smaller Jain communities exist in Nepal, South Africa, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Fiji, and Suriname. In Belgium the very successful Indian diamond community, almost all of whom are Jain, are also establishing a temple to strengthen Jain values in and across Western Europe.

Denominations

It is generally believed that the Jain sangha divided into two major sects, Digambar and Svetambar, about 200 years after Mahāvīra's nirvana. Some historians believe there was no clear division until the 5th century. In the book Outlines of Jainism, it states, 'It seems certain that even at the time of Mahāvīra the two sects were in existence, though he was able to maintain at least a semblance of unity between them. The final 'parting of ways' came much later'. The best available information indicates that the chief Jain monk, Acharya Bhadrabahu, according to the Svetambara version of the split between the two sects, foresaw a 12-year famine and led about 12,000 Digambar followers to southern India. Twelve years later they returned to find the Svetambara sect, and in 453 the Valabhi council edited and compiled the traditional Svetambara scriptures.

The differences between the two sects are minor and relatively obscure. Digambar Jain monks do not wear clothes because they believe clothes, like other possessions, increase dependency and desire for material things, and desire for anything ultimately leads to sorrow. Svetambar Jain monks, on the other hand, wear white, seamless clothes for practical reasons, and believe there is nothing in Jain scripture that condemns wearing clothes. Sadhvis (nuns) of both sects wear white. In Sanskrit, ambar refers to a covering generally, or a garment in particular. Dig, an older form of disha, refers to the cardinal directions. Digambar therefore means 'covered by the four directions', or 'sky-clad'. Svet means white and Svetambars wear white garments.

Digambars believe that women cannot attain moksha in the same birth, while Svetambars believe that women may attain liberation and that Mallinath, a Tirthankar, was a woman. The difference is because Digambar asceticism requires nudity. As nudity is impractical for women, it follows that without it they cannot attain moksha. This is based on the belief that women cannot reach perfect purity (yathakhyata), 'Their lack of clothes can, therefore, be a hindrance to their leading a holy life'. The earliest record of this belief is contained in the Prakrit Suttapahuda of the Digambara mendicant Kundakunda (c. second century A.D.).

Digambars believe that Mahavir was not married, whereas Svetambars believe Mahavir was married and had a daughter. The two sects also differ on the origin of Mata Trishala, Mahavira's mother.

Sthanakavasis and Digambars believe that only the first five lines are formally part of the Namokara Mantra (the main Jain prayer), whereas Svetambaras believe all nine form the mantra. Other differences are minor and not based on major points of doctrine.
Diagramatic representation of schisms within Jainism along with the timelines.

Excavations at Mathura revealed many Jain statues from the Kushana period. Tirthankaras, represented without clothes, and monks with cloth wrapped around the left arm are identified as Ardhaphalaka and mentioned in some texts. The Yapaniya sect, believed to have originated from the Ardhaphalaka, follows Digambara nudity, along with several Svetambara beliefs.

Svetambaras are further divided into sub-sects, such as Sthanakavasi, Terapanthi and Deravasi. Some are murtipujak (revering statues) while non-Murtipujak Jains refuse statues or images. Svetambar follow the 12 agam literature (voice of omniscient).

Most simply call themselves Jains and follow general traditions rather than specific sectarian practices. In 1974 a committee with representatives from every sect compiled a new text called the Samana Suttam.

Jain symbolism

The holiest symbol is a simple swastika. A Jain swastika is normally associated with the three dots on the top accompanied with a crest and a dot. Another important symbol incorporates a wheel on the palm of a hand, symbolizing Ahimsa. Other major Jain symbols include:

* 24 Lanchhanas (symbols) of the Tirthankaras
* Triratna and Shrivatsa symbols
* A Tirthankar's or Chakravarti's mother dreams
* Dharmacakra and Siddha-chakra
* Eight auspicious symbols (The Asta Mangalas). Their names are (in series of pictures)

1. Swastika -Signifies peace and well-being
2. Shrivatsa -A mark manifested on the centre of the Jina's chest, signifying a pure soul.
3. Nandyavartya -Large swastika with nine corners
4. Vardha­manaka -A shallow earthen dish used for lamps, suggests an increase in wealth, fame and merit due to a Jina's grace.
5. Bhadrasana -Throne, considered auspicious because it is sanctified by the blessed Jina's feet.
6. Kalasha -Pot filled with pure water signifying wisdom and completeness
7. Minayugala -A fish couple. It signifies Cupid's banners coming to worship the Jina after defeating the God of Love
8. Darpana -The mirror reflects one's true self because of its clarity

The fylfot (swastika) is among the holiest of Jain symbols. Worshippers use rice grains to create a fylfot around the temple altar.

Culture

While Jains represent less than 1% of the Indian population, their contributions to culture and society in India are considerable. Jainism had a major influence in developing a system of philosophy and ethics that had a major impact on all aspects of Indian culture in all ages. Scholarly research and evidences have shown that philosophical concepts considered typically Indian – Karma, Ahimsa, Moksa, reincarnation and like - either originate in the sramana school of thought or were propagated and developed by Jaina teachers.

Jains have also wielded great influence on the culture and language of Karnatak, Southern India and Gujarat most significantly. The earliest known Gujarati text, Bharat-Bahubali Ras, was written by a Jain monk. Some important people in Gujarat's Jain history were Acharya Hemacandra Suri and his pupil, the Calukya ruler Kumarapala.

Jains are among the wealthiest Indians. They run numerous schools, colleges and hospitals and are important patrons of the Somapuras, the traditional temple architects in Gujarat. Jains have greatly influenced Gujarati cuisine. Gujarat is predominantly vegetarian (see Jain vegetarianism), and its food is mild as onions and garlic are omitted. Though the Jains form only 0.42% of the population of India, their contribution to the exchequer by way of income tax is an astounding 24% of the total tax collected.

Jains encourage their monks to do research and obtain higher education. Jain monks and nuns, particularly in Rajasthan, have published numerous research monographs. This is unique among Indian religious groups and parallels Christian clergy. The 2001 census states that Jains are India's most literate community and that India's oldest libraries at Patan and Jaisalmer are preserved by Jain institutions.

Jain literature

Jains have contributed to India's classical and popular literature. For example, almost all early Kannada literature and many Tamil works were written by Jains.

* Some of the oldest known books in Hindi and Gujarati were written by Jain scholars. The first autobiography in Hindi, Ardha-Kathanaka was written by a Jain, Banarasidasa, an ardent follower of Acarya Kundakunda who lived in Agra.
* Several Tamil classics are written by Jains or with Jain beliefs and values as the core subject.
* Practically all the known texts in the Apabhramsha language are Jain works.

The oldest Jain literature is in Shauraseni and Ardha-Magadhi Prakrit (Agamas, Agama-Tulya, Siddhanta texts, etc). Many classical texts are in Sanskrit (Tatvartha Sutra, Puranas, Kosh, Sravakacara, mathematics, Nighantus etc). 'Abhidhana Rajendra Kosha' written by Acharya Rajendrasuri, is only one available Jain encyclopedia or Jain dictionary to understand the Jain Prakrit, Sanskrit, and Ardha-Magadhi and other Jain languages, words, their use and references with in oldest Jain literature. Later Jain literature was written in Apabhramsha (Kahas, rasas, and grammars), Hindi (Chhahadhala, Mokshamarga Prakashaka, and others), Tamil (Jivakacintamani and others), and Kannada (Vaddaradhane and various other texts). Jain versions of Ramayana and Mahabharata are found in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhramsha and Kannada.

Jainism and other religions
See also: Buddhism and Jainism , Jainism and Islam , and Jainism and Sikhism

Jains are not a part of the Vedic Religion (Hinduism). Ancient India had two philosophical streams of thought: The Shramana philosophical schools, represented by Jainism , and the Brahmana/Vedic/Puranic schools represented by Vedanta, Vaishnava and other movements. Both streams are subsets of the Dharmic family of faith and have existed side by side for many thousands of years, influencing each other.

The Hindu scholar, Lokmanya Tilak credited Jainism with influencing Hinduism and thus leading to the cessation of animal sacrifice in Vedic rituals. Bal Gangadhar Tilak has described Jainism as the originator of Ahimsa and wrote in a letter printed in Bombay Samachar, Mumbai:10 Dec, 1904: 'In ancient times, innumerable animals were butchered in sacrifices. Evidence in support of this is found in various poetic compositions such as the Meghaduta. Swami Vivekananda also credited Jainism as influencing force behind the Indian culture.

'What could have saved Indian society from the ponderous burden of omnifarious ritualistic ceremonialism, with its animal and other sacrifices, which all but crushed the very life of it, except the Jain revolution which took its strong stand exclusively on chaste morals and philosophical truths? Jains were the first great ascetics. 'Don't injure any, do good to all that you can and that is all the morality and ethics, and that is all the work there is, and the rest is all nonsense.. Throw it away.' And then they went to work and elaborated this one principle, and it is a most wonderful ideal: how all that we call ethics they simply bring out from one great principle of non-injury and doing good.'

* Relationship between Jainism and Hinduism - According to the Encyclopædia Britannica Article on Hinduism,'..With Jainism which always remained an Indian religion, Hinduism has so much in common, especially in social institutions and ritual life, that nowadays Hindus tend to consider it a Hindu sect. Many Jains also are inclined to fraternization..'
* Independent Religion - From the Encyclopædia Britannica Article on Jainism: '..Along with Hinduism and Buddhism, it is one of the three most ancient Indian religious traditions still in existence. ..While often employing concepts shared with Hinduism and Buddhism, the result of a common cultural and linguistic background, the Jain tradition must be regarded as an independent phenomenon. It is an integral part of South Asian religious belief and practice, but it is not a Hindu sect or Buddhist heresy, as earlier scholars believed.' The author Koenraad Elst in his book, Who is a Hindu?, summarises on the similarities between Jains and the mainstream Hindu society.
* Monier Williams, in his article of Jainism, mentions that Jainas outdo every other Indian sect in carrying the prohibition of himsa to the most prosperous extremes.
Languages used in Jain literature

Jain literature exists in Prakrit, Sanskrit, Tamil, Apabhramsha, Rajasthani, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Kutchi, Kannada, Tulu, Telugu, Dhundhari (Old Marwari), English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Russian.

Constitutional status of Jainism in India
Main article: Legal Status of Jainism as a Distinct Religion

In 2005 the Supreme Court of India in a judgment stated that Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are sub-sects or 'special faiths' of Hinduism, and are governed under the ambit of Hindu laws. In the same year however, it declined to issue a writ of Mandamus towards granting Jains the status of a religious minority throughout India. The Court noted that Jains have been declared a minority in 5 states already, and left it to the rest of the States to decide on the minority status of Jain religion.

In 2006 the Supreme Court in a judgment pertaining to a state, opined that 'Jain Religion is indisputably not a part of the Hindu Religion'. (para 25, Committee of Management Kanya Junior High School Bal Vidya Mandir, Etah, U.P. v. Sachiv, U.P. Basic Shiksha Parishad, Allahabad, U.P. and Ors., Per Dalveer Bhandari J., Civil Appeal No. 9595 of 2003, decided On: 21.08.2006, Supreme Court of India)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jain

Rājasthān (Devanāgarī: राजस्थान)

Rājasthān (Devanāgarī: राजस्थान), is the largest state of the Republic of India in terms of area. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert (Thar Desert), which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with Pakistan. The region borders Pakistan to the west, Gujarat to the southwest, Madhya Pradesh to the southeast, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to the northeast and Punjab to the north. Rajasthan covers an area of 132,150 sq mi or 342,269 km² (about the size of Germany).

The state capital is Jaipur. Geographical features include the Thar Desert along north-western Rajasthan and the termination of the Ghaggar River near the archaeological ruins at Kalibanga, which are the oldest in the subcontinent discovered so far.

One of the world's oldest mountain ranges, the Aravalli Range, cradles the only hill station of Rajasthan, Mount Abu, and its world-famous Dilwara Temples, a sacred pilgrimage for Jains. Eastern Rajasthan has two national tiger reserves, Ranthambore and Sariska, as well as Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, once famous for its bird life.

Rajasthan was formed on 30 March 1949, when all erstwhile princely states ruled by Rajputs, known as Rajputana, merged into the Dominion of India. The only difference between erstwhile Rajputana and Rajasthan is that certain portions of what had been British India, in the former province of Ajmer-Merwara, were included. Portions lying geographically outside of Rajputana such as the Sumel-Tappa area were given to Madhya Pradesh.

History

The Indus Valley Civilization, one of the world's first and oldest civilizations centred around Rajasthan. Kalibangan in Hanumangarh district, Rajasthan was a major provincial capital of the Indus Valley Civilization. Traditionally the Rajputs, Naths, Jats, Bhils, Ahirs, Gujars, Meenas and some other tribes made a great contribution in building the state of Rajasthan. All these tribes suffered great difficulties to protect their culture and the land. Millions of them were martyred for this land. ‘The Hinduan Suraj’ title to Udaipur was due to Bargujars and Bhils. Jats had been fighting since beginning. Gujars had been exterminated in Bhinmal and Ajmer areas fighting with the invaders. Bhils once ruled Kota and Bundi. Bargujars were sardars in Alwar, Jodhpur and Ajmer areas. Bargujars and Meenas were ruler of Dhundhar region, Bundi. The earlier contributions of warriors and protectors of the land — Bargujars, Jats, Bhils, Gujars and Meenas — were neglected and lost in history.

Rajasthan includes most of Rajputana, which comprises a number of Rajput kingdoms as well as Jat kingdoms and a Muslim kingdom. The Jats were rulers in Bharatpur and Dholpur. Tonk was ruled by a Muslim Nawab. Jodhpur, Bikaner, Udaipur, and Jaipur were some of the main Rajput states. Rajput families rose to prominence in the 6th century CE. The Rajputs resisted the Muslim incursions into India, although a number of Rajput kingdoms eventually became subservient to the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire during those empires' peak of expansion.

Mewar led others in resistance to Muslim rule: Rana Sanga fought the Battle of Khanua against Babur with Bargujar allies, the founder of the Mughal empire; and Maharana Pratap Singh resisted Akbar in Haldighati, the Bargujars were Rana's main allies. Other rulers like Raja Maan Singh of Amber were trusted allies of Muslims rulers. As the Mughal empire weakened, the Rajputs reasserted their independence. With the decline of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century, Rajputana came under attack from the Marathas and Pindaris, and the Maratha general Scindia captured Ajmer. The Rajput kings concluded treaties with the British in the early 19th century, accepting British sovereignty in return for local autonomy. Following the Mughal tradition as well as its strategic location Ajmer became a province of British India, while the autonomous Rajput states, the Muslim state Tonk, and the Jat states (Bharatpur and Dholpur) were organized into the Rajputana Agency.

The Marwaris (people from Marwar) and Rajasthan's formerly independent kingdoms created a rich architectural and cultural heritage, seen today in their numerous forts and palaces (Mahals and Havelis) which are enriched by features of Muslim and Jain architecture. The development of the frescos in Rajasthan is linked with the history of the Marwaris, who have also played a crucial role in the economic development of the region.

Geography

The main geographic features of Rajasthan are the Thar Desert and the Aravalli Range, which runs through the state from southwest to northeast, almost from one end to the other, for more than 850 km. Mount Abu is at the southwestern end of the range, separated from the main ranges by the West Banas River, although a series of broken ridges continues into Haryana in the direction of Delhi where it can be seen as outcrops in the form of the Raisina Hill and the ridges farther north. About three-fifths of Rajasthan lies northwest of the Aravallis, leaving two-fifths on the east and south.

The northwestern portion of Rajasthan is generally sandy and dry. Most of the region is covered by the Thar Desert, which extends into adjoining portions of Pakistan. The Aravalli Range does not intercept the moisture-giving southwest monsoon winds off the Arabian Sea,as it lies in a direction parallel to that of the coming monsoon winds, leaving the northwestern region in a rain shadow. The Thar Desert is thinly populated; the town of Bikaner is the largest city in the desert. The Northwestern thorn scrub forests lie in a band around the Thar Desert, between the desert and the Aravallis. This region receives less than 400 mm of rain in an average year. Summer temperatures can exceed 45 °C in the summer months and drop below freezing in the winter. The Godwar, Marwar, and Shekhawati regions lie in the thorn scrub forest zone, along with the city of Jodhpur. The Luni River and its tributaries are the major river system of Godwar and Marwar regions, draining the western slopes of the Aravallis and emptying southwest into the great Rann of Kutch wetland in neighboring Gujarat. This river is saline in the lower reaches and remains potable only up to Balotara in Barmer district. The Ghaggar River, which originates in Haryana, is an intermittent stream that disappears into the sands of the Thar Desert in the northern corner of the state and is seen as a remnant of the primitive Saraswati river.

The Aravalli Range and the lands to the east and southeast of the range are generally more fertile and better watered. This region is home to the Kathiarbar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion, with tropical dry broadleaf forests that include teak, Acacia, and other trees. The hilly Vagad region lies in southernmost Rajasthan, on the border with Gujarat. With the exception of Mount Abu, Vagad is the wettest region in Rajasthan, and the most heavily forested. North of Vagad lies the Mewar region, home to the cities of Udaipur and Chittaurgarh. The Hadoti region lies to the southeast, on the border with Madhya Pradesh. North of Hadoti and Mewar is the Dhundhar region, home to the state capital of Jaipur. Mewat, the easternmost region of Rajasthan, borders Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Eastern and southeastern Rajasthan is drained by the Banas and Chambal rivers, tributaries of the Ganges.

The Aravali Range runs across the state from the southwest peak Guru Shikhar (Mount Abu), which is 1,722 m in height, to Khetri in the northeast. This divides the state into 60% in the northwest of the range and 40% in the southeast. The northwest tract is sandy and unproductive with little water but improves gradually from desert land in the far west and northwest to comparatively fertile and habitable land towards the east. The area includes the Thar Desert. The south-eastern area, higher in elevation (100 to 350 m above sea level) and more fertile, has a very diversified topography. in the south lies the hilly tract of Mewar. In the southeast, a large area within the districts of Kota and Bundi forms a tableland. To the northeast of these districts is a rugged region (badlands) following the line of the Chambal River. Farther north the country levels out; the flat plains of the northeastern Bharatpur district are part of an alluvial basin.Major tribe in region Ajmer is Rawat.

Districts

Seven divisions of the districts.
Rajasthan is divided into 33 districts and seven divisions:

* Ajmer Division: Ajmer, Bhilwara, Nagaur, Tonk.
* Bharatpur Division: Bharatpur, Dholpur, Karauli, Sawai Madhopur.
* Bikaner Division: Bikaner, Churu, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh.
* Jaipur Division: Jaipur, Alwar, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Dausa.
* Jodhpur Division: Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Jodhpur District, Pali, Sirohi.
* Kota Division: Baran, Bundi, Jhalawar, Kota.
* Udaipur Division: Banswara District, Chittorgarh District, Pratapgarh District, Dungarpur District, Udaipur, Rajsamand

Government and politics

The Umaid Bhawan Palace is one of the largest royal palaces in the world. Rajasthan's royal families continue to play a major role in the state's politics.
The Kings had much power even after Independence until Indira Gandhi took away much of their power.
The Jain temple of Ranakpur.

Rajasthan's politics has mainly been dominated by the two state stalwarts, namely, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Mohan Lal Sukhadia of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress respectively. Shri Sukhadia ruled Rajasthan for 17 years and died in February 1982 while Shri Shekhawat is now in the national political horizon. The earlier politics were dominated by the Congress party. The main opposition party was the Bharatiya Jansangh, headed by Rajasthan's most popular leader Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and the Swatantra party headed by former rulers of Rajasthan. The Congress rule was untouched till the year 1962. But in the year 1967, Jansangh headed by Shekhawat and Swatantra party headed by Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur reached the majority point, but couldn't form a government. In 1972, the Congress won a landslide victory following the victory in the 1971 war. But after the declaration of emergency, Shekhawat became immensely popular, especially after he was forced to be arrested and was sent to Rohtak Jail in Haryana. As soon as the emergency was lifted, a joint opposition Janta Party won a thundering landslide victory winning 151 of the 200 seats. Shekhawat became the Chief Minister. The government was dismissed by Indira Gandhi in 1980 after she restored power in Delhi. In the 1980 elections, the Janta Party split at the centre giving the Congress a victory in Rajasthan.

Indira Gandhi was assassinated in the year 1984, and in the year 1985, a sympathy wave let the Congress sail through in the elections. But in 1989, which could be called a Shekhawat wave, the BJP-JD alliance won all 25 Lok Sabha seats and 140 of 200 seats in the assembly. Shekhawat became the Chief Minister for the second term. Though Janta Dal took back its support to the Shekhawat government, Shekhawat teared apart the JD and continued to rule as the Chief Minister thus earning the title of master manipulator. After the Babri Mosque demolition in Ayodhya, Shekhawat government was suspended by the P.M., Narsimha Rao and President's rule was enforced in Rajasthan. Election took place in the year 1993 in which his party won even after the breaking of its alliance with the Janta Dal.But the then governor Bali Ram Bhagat didn't allow Shekhawat to form the government, but after immense pressure from Shekhawat, who reached the majority point after supports from independents like Sardar Gurjant Singh,Rani Narendra Kanwar, Sujan Singh Yadav, Rohitashva Kumar Sharma, Kr. Arun Singh, Sundar Lal etc. crossed the majority line of 101 seats in the assembly. Shekhawat became the Chief Minister for the third term. This time he ran a successful third term. This was pehaps the diamond phase for Rajasthan as it led to all-round development and Rajasthan also gained identity on the globe as a rapidly developing and beautiful state.Shekhawat introduced Heritage, Desert, Rural, Wildlife tourism to Rajasthan In 1998 elections, the BJP lost heavily due to the onion price rise issue. Ashok Gehlot ran a 5 year government.But he lost the Lok Sabha elections in 1999, only 6 months after its victory in the assembly elections. Shekhawat became the Vice-President of India in the year 2002 so he had to leave Rajasthan politics and the BJP. He appointed Vasundhara Raje as his successor. She led the BJP in 2003 elections and led it to a victory. She was the Chief Minister of Rajasthan from 2003 - 2008. Narpat Singh Rajvi was the Health Minister, Ghanshyam Tiwari was the Food Minister, and Gulab Chand Kataria was the Home Minister. The BJP won the 2004 Lok Sabha elections from here as well. But the tables turned in December 2008, when the infighting within the BJP, Raje's perceived autocratic and despotic rule, and the police excesses in the Gujjar-Meena agitation combined to overcome the incumbent Raje government's development and growth planks, and the Congress emerged victorious with the support of some independent MLA's. Ashok Gehlot was sworn-in as the new Chief Minister of Rajasthan.

Economy

Rajasthan's economy is primarily agricultural and pastoral. Wheat and barley are cultivated over large areas, as are pulses, sugarcane, and oilseeds. Cotton and tobacco are cash crops. Rajasthan is among the largest producers of edible oils in India and the second largest producer of oilseeds. Rajasthan is also the biggest wool-producing state in India and the main opium producer and consumer. There are mainly two crop seasons. The water for irrigation comes from wells and tanks. The Indira Gandhi Canal irrigates northwestern Rajasthan.

The main industries are mineral based, agriculture based, and textiles. Rajasthan is the second largest producer of polyester fibre in India. The Bhilwara District produces more cloth than Bhiwandi, Maharashtra. Several prominent chemical and engineering companies are located in the town of Kota, in western Rajasthan. Rajasthan is pre-eminent in quarrying and mining in India. The state is the second largest source of cement in India. It has rich salt deposits at Sambhar, copper mines at Khetri and zinc mines at Dariba, Zawar mines at Zawarmala for zinc, rampura aghucha (opencast) near Bhilwara. Dimensional stone mining is also undertaken in Rajasthan: Jodhpur sandstone is mostly used in monuments, important buildings, residential buildings, etc. This stone is termed 'chittar patthar'.

Endowed with natural beauty and a great history, tourism is a flourishing industry in Rajasthan. The palaces of Jaipur, lakes of Udaipur, and desert forts of Jodhpur, Bikaner & Jaisalmer are among the most preferred destination of many tourists, Indian and foreign. Tourism accounts for eight percent of the state's domestic product. Many old and neglected palaces and forts have been converted into heritage hotels. Tourism has increased employment in the hospitality sector. Rajasthan is now the preferred destination for IT companies and North India's largest integrated IT park is located in Jaipur and is named as Mahindra World City Jaipur covering nearly 3,000 acres (12 km2) of land. Some of the companies operating in Rajasthan include Infosys, Genpact, Wipro, Truworth, Deusche Bank, NEI, MICO,Honda Siel Cars, Coca Cola , Gillete etc.

Demographics

Rajasthan has a mainly Rajasthani population. Hindus account for 88.8% of the population. Muslims make up 8.5%, Sikhs 1.4% and Jains 1.2% of the population. The state of Rajasthan is also populated by Sindhis, who came to Rajasthan from Sindh province (now in Pakistan) during the India-Pakistan separation in 1947.

The mother tongue of the majority of people in Rajasthan is Rajasthani. Rajasthani and Hindi are the most widely used languages in Rajasthan. After independence, Rajasthani was used as a medium of instruction, along with Hindi and English, in some schools. Some other languages used in Rajasthan are Sindhi and Punjabi.
See also: List of people from Rajasthan

Culture

Rajasthan is culturally rich and has artistic and cultural traditions which reflect the ancient Indian way of life. There is rich and varied folk culture from villages which is often depicted symbolic of the state. Highly cultivated classical music and dance with its own distinct style is part of the cultural tradition of Rajasthan. The music is uncomplicated and songs depict day-to-day relationships and chores, more often focused around fetching water from wells or ponds.

The Ghoomar dance from Udaipur and Kalbeliya dance of Jaisalmer have gained international recognition. Folk music is a vital part of Rajasthani culture. Kathputali, Bhopa, Chang, Teratali, Ghindar, Kachchhighori, Tejaji etc. are the examples of the traditional Rajasthani culture. Folk songs are commonly ballads which relate heroic deeds and love stories; and religious or devotional songs known as bhajans and banis (often accompanied by musical instruments like dholak, sitar, sarangi etc.) are also sung.
A decorate Indian elephant during a fair in Jaipur, India

Rajasthan is known for its traditional, colorful art. The block prints, tie and dye prints, Bagaru prints, Sanganer prints, Zari embroidery are major export products from Rajasthan. Handicraft items like wooden furniture and handicrafts, carpets, blue pottery are some of the things commonly found here. Rajasthan is a shoppers' paradise, with beautiful goods found at low prices. Reflecting the colorful Rajasthani culture, Rajasthani clothes have a lot of mirror-work and embroidery. A Rajasthani traditional dress for females comprises an ankle length skirt and a short top, also known as a lehenga or a chaniya choli. A piece of cloth is used to cover the head, both for protection from heat and maintenance of modesty. Rajasthani dresses are usually designed in bright colours like blue, yellow and orange.

Rajasthan is famous for the majestic forts, intricately carved temples and decorated havelis, which were built by Bargujar kings in previous ages, they were the soul of pre-muslim era Rajasthan. Jantar Mantar, Dilwara Temples, Chittorgarh Fort, Lake Palace Hotel, City Palaces, Jaisalmer Havelis are part of the true architectural heritage of India. Jaipur, the Pink City, is noted for the ancient houses made of a type of sand stone dominated by a pink hue. At Ajmer, the white marble Bara-dari on the Anasagar lake is exquisite. Jain Temples dot Rajasthan from north to south and east to west. Dilwara Temples of Mount Abu, Ranakpur Temple dedicated to Lord Adinath near Udaipur, Jain temples in the fort complexes of Chittor, Jaisalmer and Kumbhalgarh, Lodarva Jain temples, Bhandasar Temple of Bikaner are some of the best examples.

Rajasthan is often called a shopper's paradise. Rajasthan is famous for textiles, semi-precious stones and handicrafts. The attractive designs of jewellery and clothes are eye-catching and invite shoppers. Rajasthani furniture has intricate carvings and bright colours. Rajasthani handicrafts are in demand due to the intricate work on them. Above all, Rajasthan's shopping appeals to both tourists and people from other parts of India due to its cheap prices for quality goods.

The main religious festivals are Deepawali, Holi, Gangaur, Teej, Gogaji, Makar Sankranti and Janmashtami, as the main religion is Hinduism. Rajasthan's desert festival is celebrated with great zest and zeal. This festival is held once a year during winters. Dressed in brilliantly hued costumes, the people of the desert dance and sing haunting ballads of valor, romance and tragedy. There are fairs with snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. Camels, of course, play a stellar role in this festival.

Flora and fauna

Though a large percentage of the total area is desert, and even though there is little forest cover, Rajasthan has a rich and varied flora and fauna. The natural vegetation is classed as Northern Desert Thorn Forest (Champion 1936). These occur in small clumps scattered in a more or less open forms. Density and size of patches increase from west to east following the increase in rainfall.

Some wildlife species, which are fast vanishing in other parts of India, are found in the desert in large numbers such as the Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps), the Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), the Indian Gazelle (Gazella bennettii) and the Indian Wild Ass.

The Desert National Park, Jaisalmer, spread over an area of 3162 km², is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert, and its diverse fauna. Great Indian Bustard, Blackbuck, chinkara, desert fox, Bengal fox, wolf, desert cat etc. can be easily seen here. Seashells and massive fossilized tree trunks in this park record the geological history of the desert. The region is a haven for migratory and resident birds of the desert. One can see many eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel and vultures. Short-toed Eagles (Circaetus gallicus), Tawny Eagles (Aquila rapax), Spotted Eagles (Aquila clanga), Laggar Falcons (Falco jugger) and kestrels are the commonest of these.

Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is a very small sanctuary in Churu District, 210 km from Jaipur, in the Shekhawati region. This sanctuary is home to a large population of graceful Blackbuck. Desert Fox and desert cat can also be spotted along with typical avifauna such as partridge and sand grouse.

Transport

Rajasthan is is connected by many national highways. Most renowned being NH-8, which is India's first 4-8 lane highway. Rajasthan also has a good inter city surface transport system both in terms of railways and bus network. All important and tourist cities are connected by air, rail and road.

Statistics

* Population: 56.47 million (2001 Census, estimated at more than 58 million now)
* Cities and Towns: 222
* Major cities: Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Kota, Ajmer, Bikaner, Sikar, Churu, Bharatpur, Bhilwara, Alwar, Sri Ganganagar ,Pali,Makrana, Bundi,chittorgarh, Didwana, Sujangarh, Nagaur, Sikar
* Roads: 61,520 km. (2,846 km National Highway)
* National highways crossing Rajasthan: Delhi-Ahmedabad, Agra-Bikaner, Jaipur-Bhopal and Bhatinda-Kandla
* Climate: Generally dry with monsoon during July-August
* Districts: 33
* Languages: English and Hindi commonly used, as well as indigenous Rajasthani languages
* Literacy: 61.03%
* In the Indian province of Rajasthan alone for instance, between the years 1999 and 2002, crimes against Dalits by upper caste average at about 8024 a year, with 76 killings and 1838 cases of rape.


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