The Golden Books series of Indian religions is specially planned and designed for the general educated reader in India and abroad, who in the 21st century of the Third Millennium, wants to know about them to contribute his lot to the fast growing globalisation of world cultures. It includes Vedic, Upanishadic, Buddhistic and Jain religions, the mainstay of Indian culture, which have made their mark in various ways in Asia and the West since olden times. In terror-stricken modern times also, they are trying to play their role in setting things right and devising a new, eclectic way of life.
Indian religions have lots of philosophy and hundreds of scriptures with commentaries and commentaries on commentaries, which present a highly complicated picture especially in comparison to one-book religion-cultures. The Golden Books select the most important and the best of them, translated into simple, easy and understandable English, by learned scholars and present them in capsule form for wider use and benefit.
Jainism is a most interesting religio-cultural group, comparable to Buddhism, which holds immediate attention by the unique customs and practices of its white-clad and unclad- 'clad-by-air' - mendicants. But it much older to Buddhism, and much stricter in matters of non-killing, the special theory of India, brought over by Gandhi to modern times and used in an unexpected context. Its philosophy is also much more fundamental as well as elaborate, and more convincing in comparison to the six Hindu as well as many Buddhistic philosophies. The Syadvada/Anekantavada is a gem, to say the least. The scriptures are very many, which extended to poetry, drams, etc. Here is a selection of the most pertinent and the best of these, which succeed in presenting a comprehensive picture of its concepts, practices of the holy order and laity, and life in general. The reader will find parts of the work quite interesting and enlightening.
INDIA BOOK VARSITY provides the best of philosophy, religion, arts and history of the most ancient, essentially thought-oriented, secular-democratic, federative and peace-loving community and culture-India-for the new generation now spread all over the world, looking for their roots, identity and seeking authentic knowledge about it.
This is in part a revival of already published works of great quality by Western scholars over a century ago, thoroughly edited, keeping in view the mindset and requirements of the present-day fast progressing youth, and the globalisation of life in all its aspects.
Any ideas and suggestions, as well as support, would be welcome.
The Series-Editor, Mahendra Kulasrestha, has been the first editor of the well known Orient Paperbacks and has been associated with the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Mumbai, V. Vedic Research Inst., Hoshiarpur, Pb.; Vision Books; Hind Pocket Books; Rajpal and Sons; Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust; HUDCO; DDA (Slum Wing); SEWA Delhi. etc. He has planed and edited the useful Public Concerns Series, and been Consultant Editor of International Books Update.
His books include: Japan-An Enigma, An Anthology of Japanese Literature in Hindi, Tagore Centenary Volume, The Genius of Tagore, Aspects of Indian Culture, World Poetry Number of a Hindi Literary Magazine, An Anthology of Hindi Short Stories, Existence and Other Poems (English translations of Amrita Pritam's poems), A study of 14 Western philosophers in Hindi, etc.
'Jainism is universal, a world-religion that tries to include all the beings. Not only human beings but also animals, gods, inhabitants of hell, can absorb its teachings.... It turns to all men without any distinction of race and caste - "conversions of the people coming from lower classes like gardeners, painters, etc., are not uncommon even today" (G. Buhler)
'The Jain mission did not only comprise the Hindu culture, but also tried to win over the uncivilised non-Aryan tribes... they extended their propaganda also to the Mlechchhas who had immigrated to Inida... They tried to propagate even outside the boundaries of India... They have converted people even in England and America... Jainism knows no national borders like, say, Hinduism.' - Helmuth von Glasenapp in Der Jainsismus
'Mahavira was a man who honoured all life, and if you believe in his teachings, do something to honour life.' - Khushwant Singh
According to Jainism, Reality is uncreated and eternal. Every object possesses infinite characters both in regard to what it is and what it is not. It has its modes and qualities through which persists the essential substance through all the times. This basic substance is permanent while its modes etc. emerge as well as disappear. Both permanence and change are facts of existence. The soul and its consciousness are eternal, but is subjected to pain and pleasure, superimposed by modes like the body, all of which keep changing.
The substances are real, and are six in numbers, broadly divided into living and non-living. The soul is a living unit of consciousness, and the infinite in number. These may be free or in bondage, the latter may possess only one or more sense organs, the former being associated with earth, water, fire, wind, etc., and the latter being different according to the number of sense organs they possess. These classifications and names etc. of these are amazingly detailed in Jaina scriptures.
The elaborate presentations of every given subject is another special feature of Jaina doctrines, to be found in no other system of the world. Those related to cosmology, universe, its inhabitants, the middle and nether worlds, the world of gods, the history of the world, its periods and eras, its great men, even the world-periods and holy men of the future, anything and everything about life that one can imagine of, is most astounding and engrossing. The doctrine of Karma is equally fantastic, most meticulously worked out about the journey of the soul from its lowest state to liberation.
The Nayavada and Syadvada are two other unique features of Jainism, their very own singular contributions to world-logic systems. The former is an instrument of analysis which, by a most judicious search and balance of viewpoints, presents perhaps the best approach to reality, which also saves humanity form all kinds of extremism, dogmatism and fanaticism, a rare virtue in view especially of the modern times.
Syadvada, or the logic of 'somehow', emphasises the conditional or relative character of every life-situation. It regards objectivity as complex, knowledge limited, speech imperfect, and therefore, believes that nothing can be described as plain 'yes' or 'no'. It formulates the answers in seven ways: (1) Somehow A is B; (2) Somehow A is not B; (3) Somehow A is indescribable; (4) Somehow A is B and is also not B; (5) Somehow A is B and is also indescribable; (6) Somehow A is not B and is also indescribable; and (7) Somehow A is B and also is not B, and is also indescribable.
Jainism is thus an ocean of thought and I am sometimes surprised that it has not yet received its due in world philosophy. Its conjectures, as well as practices, may or may not be right, but it does provide a landscape of philosophical deliberations which cannot and should not be avoided or ignored. The present editor has derived the utmost pleasure and satisfaction out of the labour on this work
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