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The Jaina teacher Mahāvīra.

Jaina (T. rgyal ba pa). One of the major early sects of Indian śramaṇa movement, a movement in the fifth-century BCE that included Buddhism among its groups.[1] "One of the founders of Jainism, Nirgrantha-Jñātīputra (P. Nigaṇṭha Nātaputta), who is also known by his title of Mahāvīra (Great Victor) (d. c. 488 BCE), was a contemporary of the Buddha and figures prominently in Buddhist literature."[1]

"The Jainas were the śramaṇa group closest to Buddhism in its beliefs and practices, and the Buddha often used their teachings as a foil in order to present his own interpretations of important religious principles."[1]

The Jaina theory of karma differed from the Buddhist theory. Buddhism emphasizes the importance of mental intention (cetana) as a key aspect of karma.[1] According to the Jaina, however, karma was "a physical substance created through previous unwholesome actions, which constrained the soul and hindered its ability to rise above the physical world to the highest sphere of being."[1] Thus, according to the Jaina, "the body had therefore to be rigorously cleansed of this karmic substance. The foundation of this cleansing process was the five great vows, the basic Jaina code of moral discipline, which parallel the Buddhist five precepts (pañcaśīla)."[1]

The Jainas also practiced more severe austerities than the Buddhists.[1]

The Jaina have two major ancient sub-traditions, the Digambaras and the Śvetāmbaras, which hold different views on ascetic practices, gender, and the texts considered canonical.[2] The Digambara tradition "took the prohibition against material possessions so strictly that their male adherents were forbidden from even wearing clothing."[1] Hence, translations of Pali texts frequently refer to the Jaina as "naked ascetics."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Jaina.
  2. 32px-Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg.png Jainism, Wikipedia


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