Jainism and Vedanta: A Comparative Study – Uma Majmudar, PhD.

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October 20, 2019

Jainism, one of the major religions of the world, is as old as Hinduism, if not older! As an ancient faith tradition, Jainism is particularly relevant in today’s volatile environment of religious intolerance and violence all around. It places primary emphasis on nonviolence (ahimsa), compassion toward all (jiva-daya), openness to multiple aspects of truth (anekantavada), and aparigraha (non-possession). Because of these and other spiritual disciplines, Jainism bears a striking similarity to Vedanta in its vision of the permanence of the ‘Self,” and its ultimate goal of liberation or moksha from the incessant cycle of birth-death-and- rebirth. Especially striking is its strong stress on ethical self-disciplines for the purity of the sou, which students of Vedanta — including those of Patanjali’s Yogasutra — know very well! After introducing the basic tenets of Jainism, Dr. Majmudar will explore the areas of philosophical and practical similarities and dissimilarities between Jainism and Vedanta. These will be offered with a caveat that, while differences are there, they are not so vital as to pull them asunder. The overall picture that emerges is of a mutually enhancing, congruent kinship between two of the world’s oldest faith traditions.