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6.3: Religion in the Indian Subcontinent

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    The Rise of Hinduism

    Hinduism evolved as a synthesis of cultures and traditions, including the Indo-Aryan Vedic religion.

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

    Explain the evolution of hinduism

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

    • The Vedic religion was influenced by local cultures and traditions adopted by Indo- Aryans  as they spread throughout India. Vedic ritualism heavily influenced the rise of Hinduism, which rose to prominence after c. 400 BCE.
    • The Vedas — the oldest texts of the Hindu religion—describe deities, mythology, and instructions for religious rituals.
    • The  Upanishads  are a collection of Vedic texts particularly important to Hinduism that contain revealed truths concerning the nature of ultimate reality, and describing the character and form of human salvation.
    • During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Hindu Vijayanagar Empire served as a barrier against Muslim invasion, fostering a reconstruction of Hindu life and administration. The Hindu Maratha Confederacy rose to power in the 18th century and eventually overthrew Muslim rule in India.

    Key Terms

    • moksha: The character and
      form of human salvation, as described in the Upanishads.
    • Sramana: Meaning “seeker,” Sramana refers to several Indian religious movements that existed alongside the Vedic religion, the historical predecessor of modern Hinduism.
    • brahman: The nature of ultimate reality, as described in the Upanishads.
    • Upanishads: A collection of Vedic texts that contain the earliest emergence of some of the central religious concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

    Hinduism is considered one of the oldest religions in the world. Western scholars regard Hinduism as a synthesis, or fusion, of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no stated founder. This synthesis is believed to have developed after Vedic times, between 500 BCE and 300 CE. However, Vedic ritualism, a composite of Indo-Aryan and Harappan culture, contributed to the deities and traditions of Hinduism. The Indo-Aryan Vedas remain the oldest scriptures of the Hindu religion, which has grown culturally and geographically through modern times to become one of the world’s four major religions.

    The Vedas

    Vedas, meaning “knowledge,” were written in Vedic Sanskrit between 1500 and 500 BCE in the northwestern region of the Indian Subcontinent. There are four Indo-Aryan Vedas: the Rig Veda contains hymns about mythology; the Sama Veda consists mainly of hymns about religious rituals; the Yajur Veda contains instructions for religious rituals; and the Atharva Veda consists of spells against enemies, sorcerers and diseases. (Depending on the source consulted, these are spelled, for example, either Sama Veda or Samaveda.) The Rig Veda is the largest and considered the most important of the collection, containing 1,028 hymns divided into ten books, called mandalas.

    The Aryan pantheon of gods is described in great detail in the Rig Veda. However, the religious practices and deities are not uniformly consistent in these sacred texts, probably because the Aryans themselves were not a homogenous group. While spreading through the Indian subcontinent, it is probable their initial religious beliefs and practices were shaped by the absorption of local religious traditions.

    According to the hymns of the Rig Veda, the most important deities were Agni, the god of Fire, and the intermediary between the gods and humans; Indra, the god of Heavens and War, protector of the Aryans against their enemies; Surya, the Sun god; Vayu, the god of Wind; and Prthivi, the goddess of Earth.

    Agni, god of fire, is shown riding a ram.

    Modern Hindu representation of Agni, god of fire: The Rig Veda describes the varied deities of Vedic religion. These gods persisted as Vedic religion was assimilated into Hinduism.

    The Upanishads

    The Upanishads are a collection of Vedic texts that contain the earliest emergence of some of the central religious concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Also known as Vedanta, “the end of the Veda,” the collection is one of the sacred texts of Hinduism thought to contain revealed truths concerning the nature of ultimate reality, or brahman, and describing the character and form of human salvation, called moksha. The Upanishads are found in the conclusion of the commentaries on the Vedas, and have been passed down by oral tradition.

    Hindu Synthesis

    Sramana, meaning “seeker,” refers to several Indian religious movements, including Buddhism and Jainism, that existed alongside the Vedic religion—the historical predecessor of modern Hinduism. The Sramana traditions drove the so-called Hindu synthesis after the Vedic period that spread to southern Indian and parts of Southeast Asia. As it spread, this new Hinduism assimilated popular non-Vedic gods and other traditions from local cultures, and integrated societal divisions, called the caste system. It is also thought to have included both Buddhist and Sramana influences.

    Splinter and Rise of Hinduism

    During the reign of the Gupta Empire (between 320-550 CE), which included the period known as the Golden Age of India, the first known stone and cave temples dedicated to Hindu deities were built. After the Gupta period, central power disintegrated and religion became regionalized to an extent, with variants arising within Hinduism and competing with each other, as well as sects of Buddhism and Jainism. Over time, Buddhism declined but some of its practices were integrated into Hinduism, with large Hindu temples being built in South and Southeast Asia.

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    The Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple in Delhi, the world’s largest Hindu temple: Hinduism evolved as a combination of various cultures and traditions, including Vedic religion and the Upanishads.

    The Hindu religion maintained its presence and continued to grow despite a long period of Muslim rule in India, from 1200-1750 CE, during which Hindus endured violence as Islam grew to become what is now the second largest religion in India, behind Hinduism. Akbar I, emperor of the ruling Mughal Dynasty in India from 1556-1605 CE, ended official persecution of non-Muslims and recognized Hinduism, protected Hindu temples, and abolished discriminatory taxes against Hindus.

    Hindu Prominence

    During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Hindu Vijayanagar Empire had arisen and served as a barrier against invasion by Muslim rulers to the north, fostering a reconstruction of Hindu life and administration. Vidyaranya, a minister and mentor to three generations of kings in the Vijayanagar Empire beginning around 1336, helped spread the historical and cultural influence of Shankara—an Indian philosopher of the 8th century CE credited with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hinduism.

    The Hindu Maratha Confederacy rose to power in the 18th century and eventually overthrew Muslim rule in India. In the 19th century, the Indian subcontinent became a western colony during the period of the British Raj (the name of the British ruling government) beginning in 1858.

    Through the period of the Raj, until its end in 1947, there was a Hindu resurgence, known as the Bengali Renaissance, in the Bengal region of India. It included a cultural, social, intellectual, and artistic movement. Indology, an academic study of Indian culture, was also established in the 19th century, and spread knowledge of Vedic philosophy and literature and promoted western interest in Hinduism.

    In the 20th century, Hinduism gained prominence as a political force and source of national identity in India. According to the 2011 census, Hindus account for almost 80% of India’s population of 1.21 billion people, with 960 million practitioners. Other nations with large Hindu populations include Nepal, with 23 million followers, and Bangladesh, with 15 million. Hinduism counts over 1 billion adherents across the globe, or approximately 15% of the world’s population.

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    Singapore Diwali Decorations: Diwali decorations in Little India are part of an annual Hindu celebration in Singapore, where there are over 260,000 Hindus.

    The Sramana Movement

    Sramana broke with Vedic Hinduism over the authority of the Brahmins and the need to follow ascetic lives.

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

    Understand the Sramana movement

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

    • Sramana was an ancient Indian religious movement with origins in the Vedic religion. However, it took a divergent path, rejecting Vedic Hindu ritualism and the authority of the Brahmins —the traditional priests of the Hindu religion.
    • Sramanas were those who practiced an ascetic, or strict and self-denying, lifestyle in pursuit of spiritual liberation. They are commonly known as monks.
    • The Sramana movement gave rise to  Jainism  and  Buddhism.

    Key Terms

    • Sramana: An ancient Indian religious movement that began as an offshoot of the Vedic religion and focused on ascetic lifestyle and principles.
    • Vedic Religion: The historical predecessor of modern Hinduism. The Vedas are the oldest scriptures in the Hindu religion.
    • Sramanas: Sramana followers who renounced married and domestic life, and adopted an ascetic path. The Sramanas rejected the authority of the Brahmins.
    • Brahmin: A member of a caste in Vedic Hinduism, consisting of priests and teachers who are held as intermediaries between deities and followers, and who are considered the protectors of the sacred learning found in the Vedas.
    • ascetic: A person who practices severe self-discipline and abstention from worldly pleasures as a way of seeking spiritual enlightenment and freedom.

    Sramana was an ancient Indian religious movement that began as an offshoot of the Vedic religion and gave rise to other similar but varying movements, including Buddhism and Jainism. Sramana, meaning “seeker,” was a tradition that began around 800-600 BCE when new philosophical groups, who believed in a more austere path to spiritual freedom, rejected the authority of the Brahmins (the priests of Vedic Hinduism ). Modern Hinduism can be regarded as a combination of Vedic and Sramana traditions; it is substantially influenced by both.

    Vedic Roots

    The Vedic Religion was the historical predecessor of modern Hinduism. The Vedic Period refers to the time period from approximately 1750-500 BCE, during which Indo- Aryans settled into northern India, bringing with them specific religious traditions. Most history of this period is derived from the Vedas, the oldest scriptures in the Hindu religion. Vedas, meaning “knowledge,” were composed by the Aryans in Vedic Sanskrit between 1500 and 500 BCE, in the northwestern region the Indian subcontinent.

    There are four Indo-Aryan Vedas: the Rig Veda contains hymns about their mythology; the Sama Veda consists mainly of hymns about religious rituals; the Yajur Veda contains instructions for religious rituals; and the Atharva Veda consists of spells against enemies, sorcerers, and diseases. (Depending on the source consulted, these are spelled, for example, either Rig Veda or Rigveda.)

    Sramana Origins

    Several Sramana movements are known to have existed in India before the 6th century BCE. Sramana existed in parallel to, but separate from, Vedic Hinduism. The dominant Vedic ritualism contrasted with the beliefs of the Sramanas followers who renounced married and domestic life and adopted an ascetic path, one of severe self-discipline and abstention from all indulgence, in order to achieve spiritual liberation. The Sramanas rejected the authority of the Brahmins, who were considered the protectors of the sacred learning found in the Vedas.

    Brahmin is a caste, or social group, in Vedic Hinduism consisting of priests and teachers who are held as intermediaries between deities and followers. Brahmins are traditionally responsible for religious rituals in temples, and for reciting hymns and prayers during rite of passage rituals, such as weddings.

    In India, Sramana originally referred to any ascetic, recluse, or religious practitioner who renounced secular life and society in order to focus solely on finding religious truth. Sramana evolved in India over two phases: the Paccekabuddha, the tradition of the individual ascetic, the “lone Buddha” who leaves the world behind; and the Savaka, the phase of disciples, or those who gather together as a community, such as a sect of monks.

    Sramana Traditions

    A “tradition” is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society, with symbolic meaning or special significance. Sramana traditions drew upon established Brahmin concepts to formulate their own doctrines.

    The Sramana traditions subscribe to diverse philosophies,  and at times significantly disagree with each other, as well as with orthodox Hinduism and its six schools of Hindu philosophy. The differences range from a belief that every individual has a soul, to the assertion that there is no soul. In terms of lifestyle, Sramana traditions include a wide range of beliefs that can vary, from vegetarianism to meat eating, and from family life to extreme asceticism denying all worldly pleasures.

    The varied Sramana movements arose in the same circles of ancient India that led to the development of Yogic practices, which include the Hindu philosophy of following a course of physical and mental discipline in order to attain liberation from the material world, and a union between the self and a supreme being or principle.

    The Sramana traditions drove the so-called Hindu synthesis after the Vedic period, which spread to southern Indian and parts of Southeast Asia. As it spread, this new Hinduism assimilated popular non-Vedic gods and other traditions from local cultures, as well as the integrated societal divisions, called the caste system.

    Sramaṇa traditions later gave rise to Yoga, Jainism, Buddhism, and some schools of Hinduism. They also led to popular concepts in all major Indian religions, such as saṃsāra, the cycle of birth and death, and mokshaliberation from that cycle.

    Buddhism

    After attaining Enlightenment, Siddhartha Gautama became known as the Buddha, and taught a Middle Way that became a major world religion, known as Buddhism.

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

    Understand the development of Buddhism as a major world religion

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

    • Sramanas  were those who practiced an ascetic, or strict and self-denying, lifestyle in pursuit of spiritual liberation. They are commonly known as monks.
    • The Sramana movement gave rise to  Buddhism, a non-theistic religion that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs, and practices, and arose when Siddhartha Gautama began following Sramana traditions in the 5th century BCE.
    • Following his ” Enlightenment,” Siddhartha became known as Buddha, or “Awakened One.” He began teaching a Middle Way to spiritual Nirvana, a release from all earthly burdens.
    • Buddhism has spread to become one of the world’s great religions, with an estimated 488 million followers.

    Key Terms

    • Noble Eightfold Path: The eight concepts taught by Buddha as the means to achieving Nirvana.
    • Nirvana: A sublime state
      that marks the release from the cycle of rebirths, known in the Sramana tradition as samsara.
    • Sramana: An offshoot of the Vedic religion that promoted an ascetic lifestyle; Sramana gave rise to Buddhism and other similar traditions.
    • Siddhartha Gautama: An aristocratic young man who gave up worldly comforts to follow Sramana, then attained Enlightenment and became known as the Buddha, teaching a Middle Way toward spiritual Nirvana.

    Buddhism arose between 500-300 BCE, when Siddhartha Gautama, a young man from an aristocratic family, left behind his worldly comforts to seek spiritual enlightenment. He became a teacher commonly known as the Buddha, meaning “the awakened one,” and Buddhism spread to become a non-theistic religion that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs, and practices largely based on his teachings.

    Sramana Origins

    Buddhism is based on an ancient Indian religious philosophy called Sramana, which began as an offshoot of the Vedic religion. Several Sramana movements are known to have existed in India before the 6th century BCE. Sramana existed in parallel to, but separate from, Vedic Hinduism, which followed the teachings and rituals found in the Vedas, the most ancient texts of the Vedic religion. Sramana, meaning “seeker,” was a tradition that began when new philosophical groups who believed in a more austere path to spiritual freedom rejected the authority of the Vedas and the Brahmins, the priests of Vedic Hinduism, around 800-600 BCE.

    Sramana promoted spiritual concepts that became popular in all major Indian religions, such as saṃsāra, the cycle of birth and death, and moksha liberation from that cycle. The Sramanas renounced married and domestic life, and adopted an ascetic path— one of severe self-discipline and abstention from all indulgence—in order to achieve spiritual liberation. Sramaṇa traditions (or its religious and moral practices) later gave rise to varying schools of Hinduism, as well as Yoga, Jainism, and Buddhism.

    Origins of Buddhism

    Early texts suggest Siddhartha Gautama was born into the Shakya Clan, a community on the eastern edge of the Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. His father was an elected chieftain, or oligarch, of the small republic. Gautama is thought to have been born in modern-day Nepal, and raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilvastu, which may have been in Nepal or India. Most scholars agree that he taught and founded a monastic order during the reign of the Magadha Empire. In addition to the Vedic Brahmins, the Buddha’s lifetime coincided with the flourishing of influential Sramana schools of thought, including Jainism.

    Buddhist teachings explain that Siddhartha was a young man from a respected family, who renounced his family and left his father’s palace at age 29 in search of truth and enlightenment through Sramana. Siddhartha began this quest through a period of starvation and, according to legend, grew so thin he could feel his hands if he placed one on his back and the other on his stomach. This explains statues that depict Buddha as thin and withered, rather than the better known depiction of him seated with a large belly.

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    Emaciated Fasting Buddha: This statue in Chiang Mai, Thailand, depicts the Buddha practicing severe asceticism before his Enlightenment.

    Buddha lived as a Sramana ascetic for approximately six years until he had an “awakening” in a place called Bodh Gaya, in the Gaya district of the modern Indian state of Bihar. Sitting under what became known as the Bodhi Tree, Siddhartha discovered what Buddhists call the Noble Eightfold Path, and attained Buddhatva, or Enlightenment, which is said to be a state of being completely free of lust (raga), hatred (dosa), and delusion (moha).

    Siddhartha, thereafter known as Buddha, or “awakened one,” was recognized by his followers, called Buddhists, as an enlightened teacher. He taught what he called the Middle Way or Middle Path, the character of the Noble Eightfold Path. This includes eight concepts to be sought after: right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right samadhi (the state of intense concentration brought on through meditation).

    His insights were intended to help sentient beings end their suffering through the elimination of ignorance and craving. This could be achieved through understanding the noble path, which is the way to achieve the sublime state of Nirvana. The literal meaning of Nirvana in the Sanskrit language is “blowing out” or “quenching,” and is the ultimate spiritual goal of Buddhism. It marks the release from the cycle of rebirths, known in the Sramana tradition as samsara.

    Another important Buddhist concept is Bodhisattva, a Sanskrit word for anyone who has been motivated by great compassion and a wish to attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings—those who have a conscious awareness of the self but are in contrast with buddhahood. Sentient beings are characteristically not yet enlightened and are thus confined to the death, rebirth and dukkha (suffering) found in the cycle of samsara. Bodhisattvas, therefore, are those who have set themselves on the path toward enlightenment and hope to benefit others through their journey. Depictions of the bodhisattva path are a popular subject in Buddhist art.

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    Bodhisattva: Clay sculpture of a bodhisattva, Afghanistan, 7th century.

    Rise of Buddhism

    Buddha is thought to have died around 483 BCE, after 45 years of travel and teaching. Buddhists believe he passed into a state of Nirvana. Small communities of monks and nuns, known as bhikkus, sprung up along the routes Buddha traveled. Buddhism was overshadowed by the more dominant Hindu religion, but this began to change in the 3rd century BCE; this was when one of the Indian subcontinent’s great rulers, Ashoka I of the Maurya Empire, renounced wars, despite having waged war to build his own kingdom. In a major break from others rulers of the time, he converted to Buddhism.

    Ashoka promoted the religion’s expansion by deploying monks to spread Buddha’s teaching. This began a wave of conversion throughout India as well as in surrounding nations, such as Nepal, Tibet, and Burma, but also further afield in Asia, including in China and Japan. Over time Buddhism grew, as greater numbers of people became aware of its teachings, including those in western nations, eventually becoming one of the major religions practiced around the world.

    Today, Buddhism is practiced by an estimated 488 million people. China is the nation with the largest number of Buddhists, approximately 244 million followers, or more than 18% of its total population. Other countries that have a large number of Buddhists among their populations include Myanmar with 48.4 million, Japan with 45.8 million, Sri Lanka with 14.2 million, Cambodia with 13.7 million, South Korea with 11 million, Thailand, Laos, Singapore, Taiwan, and Nepal. The United States is home to an estimated 1.2 million Buddhists, or 1.2% of the American population.

    Jainism

    Jainism is a pre-Buddhist religion with roots in the Sramana tradition. It focuses on karma.

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

    • Understand the origins and principles of Jainism

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

    • Sramanas  were those who practiced an ascetic, or strict and self-denying, lifestyle in pursuit of spiritual liberation. They are commonly known as monks.
    • The Sramana movement gave rise to  Jainism, which is considered an independent, pre-Buddhist religion with possible roots in the Indus Valley Civilization.
    • The predominance of karma is one of the key features of Jainism. Karma is the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous lives; it determines his or her fate in future existences.

    Key Terms

    • karma: The principle of causality in which intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that person; this is a key concept in Jainism, as well as in Hinduism and Buddhism.
    • ascetic: A person who practices severe self-discipline and abstention from worldly pleasures in order to attain a higher level of spirituality.
    • Jainism: An Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence toward all living beings, and emphasizes spiritual independence and equality between all forms of life.
    • saṃsāra: The repeating cycle of birth, life, and death (reincarnation) within Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

    Jainism, one of the world’s major religions, is believed to have roots in the Indus Valley Civilization, and follows aspects of the Sramana traditions of asceticism—self-denial and control in order to achieve a higher level of spirituality. Although Jainism is considered pre-Buddhist, the two religions have a link through a focus on karma—the concept that good deeds in one life will lead to a better existence in the next life. The ultimate aim of Jainism is to achieve liberation of the soul.

    Sramana Origins

    Jainism is based on an ancient Indian religious philosophy called Sramana, which began as an offshoot of the Vedic religion. Several Sramana movements are known to have existed in India before the 6th century BCE. Sramana existed in parallel to, but separate from, Vedic Hinduism, which followed the teachings and rituals found in the Vedas, the most ancient texts of the Vedic religion. Sramana, meaning “seeker,” was a tradition that began around 800-600 BCE, when new philosophical groups, who believed in a more austere path to spiritual freedom, rejected the authority of the Vedas and the Brahmins (the priests of Vedic Hinduism).

    Sramana promoted spiritual concepts that became popular in all major Indian religions, such as saṃsāra, the cycle of birth and death, and moksha liberation from that cycle. The Sramanas renounced married and domestic life and adopted an ascetic path (one of severe self-discipline and abstention from all indulgence) in order to achieve spiritual liberation. Sramaṇa traditions (or religious and moral practices) later gave rise to varying schools of Hinduism, as well as Yoga, Buddhism, and Jainism.

    Origins of Jainism

    Jainism is considered an independent, pre-Buddhist religion that began c. 700 BCE, although its origins are disputed. Some scholars claim Jainism has its roots in the Indus Valley Civilization, reflecting native spirituality prior to the Indo-Aryan migration into India.

    Various seals from Indus Valley Civilizations bear resemblance to Rishabha, the first Jain as the visual representation of Vishnu. Many relics depict Jain symbols, including standing nude male figures, images with serpent-heads, and the bull symbol of Vrshabadeva. However, other scholars believe the Sramana traditions were separate and contemporaneous with Indo-Aryan religious practices of the historical Vedic religion.

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    An Elaborate Mirpur Jain Temple Wall: The Jain Temple in Mirpur, India, was built c. 800 CE.

    Jainism Beliefs

    The distinguishing features of Jain philosophy are its belief in the independent existence of soul and matter; the denial of a creative and omnipotent God, combined with a belief in an eternal universe; and a strong emphasis on non-violence, morality, and ethics. The word Jain derives from the Sanskrit word jina, meaning conqueror, and the ultimate aim of Jain life is to achieve liberation of the soul.

    The predominance of karma is one of the key features of Jainism. Karma is the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous lives that determine his or her fate in future existences. A Sanskrit word, karma means action, word, or deed. Its focus is on the spiritual principle of cause and effect, with individual actions influencing individual effects. Good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and deeds produce bad karma and future suffering. Karma is a concept associated with rebirth, or the idea that death is the beginning of a new existence. This idea also appears in other Asian religions, including Buddhism.

    The motto of Jainism is Parasparopagraho Jivanam, meaning “the function of souls is to help one another.” This is associated with the idea of good deeds, and is incorporated into the main principles of Jainism: ahimsa, non-violence; anekantavada, non-absolutism; and aparigraha, non-possessiveness or non-attachment. Followers take five main vows that include ahimsa and aparigraha, as well as satya, not lying; asteya, not stealing; and brahmacharya, chastity. Jain monks and nuns adhere to these vows absolutely, placing Jainism squarely in the ascetic and self-discipline traditions of Sramana.

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    Jain Monk: An image of a Jain monk meditating over religious texts.

    Jainism Followers

    The majority of Jains live in India, which counts between 4 and 6 million followers. Some of the largest Jain communities outside India are in the United States, which has more than 79,000 followers; Kenya, which has nearly 69,000 adherents; the United Kingdom, which counts nearly 17,000 followers; and Canada, with approximately 12,000 followers. Other countries with notable Jain populations include Tanzania, Nepal, Uganda, Burma, Malaysia, South Africa, Fiji, Australia, and Japan.

    Contemporary Jainism is divided into two major schools, or sects, called Digambara and Svetambara. The Svetambara, meaning “white clad,” describes its ascetic adherents’ practice of wearing white clothes, while the monks of the “sky clad” Digambara do not wear clothing at all, a practice upon which they disagree.

    The most important religious festival of Jainism is Mahavir Jayanti, which celebrates the birth of Mahavira—the 24th and last Tirthankara, or teaching god. Other important festivals include Diwali, marking the Nirvana, or liberation, of Mahavira’s soul; and the holy event of Paryushana, also known as Das Lakshana, which is a period of between eight and ten days in August or September of fasting, prayer, and meditation.

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    Paryushana Celebrations: Followers of Jainism celebrate Paryushana at the Jain Center of America in New York City.

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