An Introduction To Jain Philosophy | #9 | 2022 Centobibliennial Reading

This is one of the few English-translated books about Jain philosophy that I could find. It will be a good start nonetheless.


This book provides the basic information about the religion of Jainism, which was founded in India and centers its belief around non-violence and harmony with oneself. It provides the religious, cultural, and historical information about Jainism, though this book is technically not scripture.

Parveen Jain

He is a PhD who has been a prominent voice in the Jain and Hindu communities in the San Francisco area for three decades. He has also become an entrepreneur who has founded many technology companies in Silicon Valley.


The important theme throughout this book is the importance of achieving enlightenment in the next life by avoiding the many sins in this world. This is done in order to stall the endless cycle of reincarnation. It makes it clear that everyone is alone in their reincarnation journey in its most honest way possible. As for hell, it is described not in the Christian notion, rather as a temporary purgatory.

Transitional states are another important theme when it comes to the soul. The process of completely divorcing oneself from the vices of this world, such as violence, possessiveness, and urges, is a difficult one, with only a few exceptions, such as self-defense or taking care of one’s own house. What makes a difference is intention or lack of intention behind a sin being committed. Karma can immediately attach to oneself whenever there is intent to harm either another person or the self.

The relationship between the individual and the society is another key component of Jainism, since it strictly centers around non-violence. This not only includes unjustified violence, rather it includes the violence within one’s own mind.

There are also two main practitioners in Jainism. One of them is the ascetic, who practices dharma as much as possible in order to achieve enlightenment. Another is the householder, who is responsible for assisting the ascetic, and for upholding the community in order to function in the first place. Although possessiveness is a sin, having a business itself does not preclude someone from karma, since it is used to benefit the community as a whole.

Another component is the relationship between the individual and all other living things. Since non-violence is the main precept, eating meat is prohibited along with plants that are uprooted. Even killing a bug inside of a house is best avoided as best as possible.

A major theme in Jainism is the concept of the Ultimate Truth, which applies to every belief system. Jains believe that every faith has some bearing when it comes to the Ultimate Truth, which is to do no harm. The book argues that Jainism is, therefore, egalitarian in belief and never judges anyone for having a different faith.

Historical Context

One of the most important figure in Jainism is the tirthankar Mahavira, who was a prince who abandoned his life of privilege in order to practice what would become Jainism. His teachings would eventually split into different schools of Jain thought.

Another important historical figure was instrumental in the founding of what would become India and he was King Rshabhadeva. He is included along with many other kings who converted to Jainism and spread the word throughout south and west Asia. The concept of non-violence also helped to harmonize the relationship between the Aryans and the Dravidians.


When discussing the concept of substance, I found similarities between it and Ludwig von Bertalanffy’s theory of systems. Substance consists of agreeing and disagreeing properties essential to achieving enlightenment. Likewise, Bertalanffy saw systems as having inner workings that perform unique functions based on whether there is internal or external input. In this way, the human spirit is pretty similar to electronics.

Connecting To The Previous Book

I can see how this book would connect to the German verb dictionary. It may not be evident at first, but then you read about the Mahavira spreading his message through the vernacular tongue, which helped gain him a following. It would be possible to gain any following in Germany if only one could use the verbs that are incredibly important for forming sentences.

Writing Style

The frequent use of penance is used throughout the book about Jainism. This is because it is used to refer to the Jain being able to conquer their temptations and vices in order to seek enlightenment.

As for the issue of dogmatism, it is generally avoided in Jainism because every form has its own complexity. As such, it employs phrases such as “it might be,” “it may be,” and “in some respect.”

Another thing to note is that Sanskrit is an important language throughout this book, and there are many footnotes explaining which term means.

Real-World Application

This would be appropriate for those wanting to learn about Jainism, because there is not a lot of material in the English language detailing it. Praveen did mention that Jains believe that we are in the dark eon, which is not hard to agree with, since there is a lot of reasons why that would be the case. It would be beneficial, then, to consult with Jainism in these dark, trying times.

Inspiration To Myself

Jainism is a religion that carries a lot of responsibilities, so I do not know if I would ever be dedicated to it, in all honesty. It would not be a faith that I would seriously look into any time soon.

Though, I will say that there are important precepts and ways of viewing the world. The viewership of the world itself is an interesting precept, since the world is incredibly complicated and there is no singular way of perceiving it. It is also important to note that life is based upon making lives for everyone and everything else as tolerable and manageable as possible.


Although I do give this a very decent review, I would still recommend this book for only a few people–specifically those who would be dedicated to the teachings of Mahavira, because it is not an easy path to take.

Recommend This To…

  • Those non-Jains who are interested in following this path, but do not have enough material to research that is in the English language.


  • Jain, Praveen. “An Introduction To Jain Philosophy.” DK Printworld. 2019.
  • Von Bertalanffy, Ludwig. “General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications.” Revised 18th Edition (2015). George Braziller. 1969.

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