Jainism: History, Society, Philosophy and Practice
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Jainism is a tradition which dates back thousands of years, which is unbelievably rich and profound, and which has certain unmistakable signs of identity. Contrary to what some might think, it is not in any sense a poor relation of Buddhism, nor is a strange, atheistic and ascetic sect within Hinduism. Jainism is, above all, the religion of non-violence (ahimsa), an ideal which all other religions of India were subsequently to make theirs and which was made universal by Gandhi in the 20th century. Like Buddhism, Jainism is a religion without God which paradoxically opens to the truly sacred in the deepest reaches of all living beings in the cosmos. And it is also the religion of non-absolutism (anekantavada), a particular form of philosophical pluralism, which seems astonishingly modern.
Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful.
A Grade A excellent Text, written lucidly and clear. period.
By G. Ridgeway
First things first, I cannot express how excellently written this text is. I was actually very surprised that once I started into the book with how clear, down to earth and in such an understandable conversational tone that this book is written, Paniker clearly having a deep understanding of Jainism. This being said, I was also very surprised that there are no other reviews of this text. For sake of an excuse, perhaps the topic of Jainism just doesn't have the interest.... But I am still unsure.
I actually purchased this book quite a short time ago, and having very little knowledge on Jainism I was very excited for its arrival, and I devoured it in just a few days.
This book is well written as I stated above, it starts out with an excellent and thorough explanation of the Cosmology of Jainism and then works in the stories and history of the Jinas, or those who achieved release from samsara, or basically the endless cycle of rebirths. Then moves on to its growth as a society, to its practices, and much more.
As what is stated several times in the text, Jainism, is usually thought of by westerners as a form of highly ascetic Hinduism, or even a sub sect of Buddhism. But this is not the case, it is a tradition all its own. Though to understand not only Jainism, but Indian spirituality in general, we have to gain an understanding of cross pollination and evolving spirituality. The Indian view has always been more live and let live, and mercurial, then what we in the west have become used to throughout the centuries.
This book covers a lot of ground, The author does a great job of showing you the length and breadth of what is Jainism, and by the time you reach the end of the text, (At least I did) have a very good understanding of the beauty and deep wisdom which can benefit our modern world more than ever.
Now this is a scholarly book, and the author expounds this, but also states that the book is written with the lay reader in mind, and states at the outset that the book has been written in a context with both of these things in mind and for once I can say that the author absolutely delivers!
Overall, this is an excellent book. If you have any interest at all in Indian Religion, whatever the flavor, you should really take the time and read this book. Because yes the main focus is Jainism, but you come away with a much deeper understanding of the many Indian beliefs than the title alone states.
As far as purchasing this book, don't buy it for the 60+ dollars directly from amazon. Under the New editions for sale, there is a seller called "South Asia Books" which sell brand new copies for under 30 dollars. It comes quickly, well packaged and in great shape, and you will save yourself a lot of money. I ordered my copy through them and couldn't be happier. Quite honestly, they are one of the best sellers I have purchased books from through amazon, and I highly recommend them if you happen to find another book which may be sold through them.
If you are interested in this text, get it, I will be very surprised if you are disappointed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
Best survey book on Jainism in English
My favorite overview book on Jainism. A much needed survey of this topic that contains alot of knowledge hard to come across through a cursory google search
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Not very religious but wonderful perspective
Well writen. It's a bit of a read but well worth it if you want to take the time to understand Jainism. Not very religious but wonderful perspective