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Jainism: Recommended Introductory Books
Absent Lord: Ascetics and Kings in a Jain Ritual Culture by
What does it mean to worship beings that one believes are completely indifferent to, and entirely beyond the reach of, any form of worship whatsoever? How would such a relationship with sacred beings affect the religious life of a community? Using these questions as his point of departure, Lawrence A. Babb explores the ritual culture of image-worshipping Svetambar Jains of the western Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Jainism traces its lineages back to the ninth century B.C.E. and is, along with Buddhism, the only surviving example of India's ancient non-Vedic religious traditions. It is known and celebrated for its systematic practice of non-violence and for the intense rigor of the asceticism it promotes. A unique aspect of Babb's study is his linking of the Jain tradition to the social identity of existing Jain communities. Babb concludes by showing that Jain ritual culture can be seen as a variation on pan-Indian ritual patterns. In illuminating this little-known religious tradition, he demonstrates that divine "absence" can be as rich as divine "presence" in its possibilities for informing a religious response to the cosmos.
The A to Z of Jainism by
"This is a unique quick-reference book about a religion with an unbroken history of more than 2,500 years, and one which has influenced India's culture throughout this period. At the core of Jainism's teachings is non-violence (ahimsa). In Jainism, non-violence extends to man's relationship with all natural life, a sensitivity being articulated anew in contemporary times by a concern for the environment and animal rights. Truth, non-stealing, celibacy and non-possessiveness are the other central teachings of Jainism.This book covers all important touchstones of Jainism in more than 450 crisp, alphabetical entries." - Publisher
Framing the Jina by
"This book is an interpretive analysis of the role of icons (images) of the Jina (the perfected, liberated, and enlightened teachers) in Jainism. The book places different interpretive frames around the icon to understand some of the many ways that Jina icons have functioned in Jainism. Most of these frames are iconophilic narratives to account for and defend the origin, presence, and history of the Jina icons. There are also iconoclastic critiques of icons as idols that depict the introduction and worship of icons as a corruption of original Jainism. The Jain narratives include cosmological depictions of the universe, “mythical” accounts from Jain narrative history, and “historical” accounts located within India. Interpretation of the frames involves comparative discussions of materials from Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. It also involves comparative analysis of scripture and mandalas. The book fits within the growing field of scholarship on images and icons in the world's religious traditions." - Oxford University Press
Jainism: An Introduction by
Jainism evokes images of monks wearing face-masks to protect insects and mico-organisms from being inhaled. Or of Jains sweeping the ground in front of them to ensure that living creatures are not inadvertently crushed: a practice of non-violence so radical as to defy easy comprehension. Yet for all its apparent exoticism, Jainism is still little understood in the West. What is this mysterious philosophy which originated in the 6th century BCE, whose absolute requirement is vegetarianism, and which now commands a following of four million adherents both in its native India and diaspora communities across the globe?In his welcome new treatment of the Jain religion, Long makes an ancient tradition fully intelligible to the modern reader. Plunging back more than two and a half millennia, to the plains of northern India and the life of a prince who - much like the Buddha - gave up a life of luxury to pursue enlightenment, Long traces the history of the Jain community from founding sage Mahavira to the present day. He explores asceticism, worship, the life of the Jain layperson, relations between Jainism and other Indic traditions, the Jain philosophy of relativity, and the implications of Jain ideals for the contemporary world. The book presents Jainism in a way that is authentic and engaging to specialists and non-specialists alike.
The Jains by
"The Indian religion of Jainism, whose central tenet involves non-violence to all creatures, is one of the world's oldest and least-understood faiths. Dundas looks at Jainism in its social and doctrinal context, explaining its history, sects, scriptures and ritual, and describing how the Jains have, over 2500 years, defined themselves as a unique religious community. This revised and expanded edition takes account of new research into Jainism." - Routledge
Understanding Jainism by
"Jainism is Buddhism's often overlooked cousin. As the only surviving examples of ancient India's non-Vedic religious traditions, the two religions are often grouped together as 'heterodoxies', but this is to ignore deep differences between Jain and Buddhist beliefs and practices. Unlike Buddhism, Jainism has hardly spread beyond the Indian subcontinent but Jainism survives in India where it is a prominent element in the mix of Indian religions today. As an introduction to Jainism as a religious tradition and way of life, this book pays due attention to Jainism's history and doctrinal basics. However the author emphasises the ways in which formal Jain teachings are manifested in the practices of both laity and the monastic elite; explores the distinctive Jain systems of cosmographic and biological knowledge and describes how Jainism is woven into the social identities of Jain communities in modern India." - Dunedin Academic Press
Jainism: Recommended Introductory Articles and Databases
JAINA: Federation of Jain Associations in North America This link opens in a new window
This database is for research on Jains in North America and beyond. Holdings include digital copies of hand-written Shastras from the library of Digamber Jain Syadwad Mahavidyalya Varansi under the guidance of Shri Narendra Kumar Jain, President IDJO.
Jaine eLibrary This link opens in a new window
"The Jain eLibrary website is an online collection of Jain scriptures, Jain manuscripts, Jain dictionary, Jain encyclopedia, Jain articles, Jain magazines, and ancient and contemporary Jain books in English, Hindi, Gujarati, and other languages. It contains Shvetämbar Ägams, Digambar Shästras, Four Anuyogas, Commentary literature, Präkrit and Sanskrut literature, and ancient and modern literature representing all aspects of Jainism. It also includes the literature of various Jain sects. Catalogues of Jain manuscripts of various Jain libraries add to the diversity of this collection."
Jainpedia This link opens in a new window
"The JAINpedia project was created by the Institute of Jainology (IoJ) after the successful 2006 publication of the Catalogue of the Jain Collection at the British Library. Launched at Buckingham Palace by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, the book was co-authored by Professor Nalini Balbir. The IoJ conceived the JAINpedia project in 2007 with the vision of making the Jain collections in major UK institutions more accessible to the public. The ambitious plan opens up these important holdings through public exhibitions, events and a media-rich website featuring over 5,000 folios and original contextual material. The project is supported by the Jain community worldwide and the Heritage Lottery Fund in the UK."