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Paul Dundas The Jains Pdf 37

The Jains by Paul Dundas: A Summary of Chapter 37 on Jain Relativism and Attitudes towards Hinduism and Buddhism

paul dundas the jains pdf 37

The Jains is a book by Paul Dundas, a professor of Sanskrit at the University of Edinburgh, that provides a comprehensive introduction to Jainism, one of the worlds oldest and least-understood religions. The book covers the history, doctrine, scriptures, sects, ritual, and social aspects of Jainism, as well as its recent developments and challenges. In this article, we will summarize chapter 37 of the book, which deals with Jain relativism and attitudes towards Hinduism and Buddhism.

Jain Relativism

Jainism is known for its doctrine of anekantavada, or many-sidedness, which asserts that reality is complex and multifaceted, and that any statement or judgment can only be valid from a particular perspective or context. This doctrine implies a form of relativism, which rejects absolute or universal truth claims and encourages tolerance and dialogue among different viewpoints. However, Dundas argues that Jain relativism is not a form of skepticism or agnosticism, but rather a way of expressing the limitations of human knowledge and language in relation to the infinite nature of reality.

Dundas traces the origins of Jain relativism to the teachings of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, who used a method of sevenfold predication (saptabhangi) to answer questions about reality. This method involved giving seven possible answers to any question: affirmation, negation, affirmation and negation, indescribable, affirmation and indescribable, negation and indescribable, and affirmation, negation and indescribable. For example, when asked whether a soul exists or not, Mahavira would reply: A soul exists from some point of view; it does not exist from some point of view; it exists and does not exist from some point of view; it is indescribable from some point of view; it exists and is indescribable from some point of view; it does not exist and is indescribable from some point of view; it exists, does not exist and is indescribable from some point of view.

Dundas explains that this method was not meant to be evasive or contradictory, but rather to show the complexity and diversity of reality and the inadequacy of human language to capture it. He also notes that Jain relativism was not a form of moral relativism, as Jains still adhered to a strict code of ethics based on nonviolence (ahimsa) and self-discipline (tapas). Rather, Jain relativism was a way of acknowledging the diversity of human experience and perception, and avoiding dogmatism and fanaticism.

Jain Attitudes towards Hinduism and Buddhism

Dundas also discusses how Jain relativism influenced Jain attitudes towards Hinduism and Buddhism, two other major religions that emerged in India around the same time as Jainism. He argues that Jainism was neither hostile nor indifferent to these religions, but rather engaged in a constructive dialogue with them. He cites several examples of how Jains borrowed concepts and practices from Hinduism and Buddhism, such as cosmology, mythology, iconography, pilgrimage, monastic organization, meditation techniques, etc. He also shows how Jains adapted these elements to suit their own doctrinal framework and ethical values.

At the same time, Dundas points out that Jains also criticized Hinduism and Buddhism for their perceived flaws and shortcomings. For example, Jains rejected the authority of the Vedas (the sacred scriptures of Hinduism), the caste system (the hierarchical social order based on birth), the concept of God (the supreme creator and controller of the universe), the doctrine of karma (the law of cause and effect that determines ones destiny), the idea of nirvana (the state of liberation from suffering), etc. Jains also challenged Hindu and Buddhist claims to exclusivity or superiority by using their own methods of logic and argumentation.

Dundas concludes that Jain relativism enabled Jains to maintain their identity and integrity as a distinct religious community while also participating in the rich cultural and intellectual exchange that characterized ancient India. He suggests that Jain relativism can also offer valuable insights for contemporary inter c481cea774


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