Special Issue "Jainism Studies"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 March 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Anne Vallely
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Associate Professor, Classics and Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Ottawa, 75 Laurier Ave E, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada
Interests: Jaina Studies; Anthropology of South Asia; Animal Studies; Death, Dying, Grief; Contemplative Studies; Religion and healing; Psychedelics and mystical experience; Phenomenology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to invite your participation in a special issue of Religions, entitled “New Directions in Jaina Studies”. Religions (ISSN 2077-1444) is an open-access online journal devoted to the scientific study of religion. Published by MDPI, its website is found at: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/religions/

Until quite recently, the academic study of Jainism (outside of India) was largely a solitary pursuit, undertaken by just a handful of scholars, and mainly focused on the translation of texts. Much has changed. Over the past twenty years, academic interest in the Jaina tradition has grown exponentially and has paralleled, in interesting ways, renewed efforts by Jains themselves to have their tradition recognized as a distinct and ancient expression of South Asian religiosity. Jainism’s influence on India’s long history is now better recognized and more avidly studied. The growing ecological crisis too, has likely contributed to the upsurge of interest in Jainism, as environmentalists and animal activists have found in its teachings a message of sanity for a world tinkering on madness. In 2009, the Jainism Studies Unit was established by the America Academy of Religion in recognition of the growth of the academic study of Jainism. Today Jainism is treated as an indispensable hermeneutic within South Asian Studies, disclosing new ways of seeing and being—often strikingly so. This volume is dedicated to examining some of these new ways. This volume on “new directions” in Jain Studies will contain some of best and most exciting contributions of emerging Jain scholars, and provide a glimpse of the breadth and scope of the emerging field.

Prof. Dr. Anne Vallely
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Anekāntavāda and Dialogic Identity Construction
Religions 2019, 10(12), 642; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120642 - 20 Nov 2019
Abstract
While strong religious identity is often associated with violence, Jainism, one of the world’s oldest practiced religions, is often regarded as one of the most peaceful religions and has nevertheless persisted through history. In this article, I am arguing that one of the [...] Read more.
While strong religious identity is often associated with violence, Jainism, one of the world’s oldest practiced religions, is often regarded as one of the most peaceful religions and has nevertheless persisted through history. In this article, I am arguing that one of the reasons for this persistence is the community’s strategy of dialogic identity construction. The teaching of anekāntavāda allows Jainas to both engage with other views constructively and to maintain a coherent sense of self. The article presents an overview of this mechanism in different contexts from the debates of classical Indian philosophy to contemporary associations of anekāntavāda with science. Central to the argument is the observation that anekāntavāda is in all these contexts used to stabilize Jaina identity, and that anekāntavāda should therefore not be interpreted as a form of relativism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jainism Studies)
Open AccessArticle
‘Tataḥ Śrī-Gurus-Tasmai Sūrimantraṃ Dadyāt’, ‘Then the Venerable Guru Ought to Give Him the Sūrimantra’: Early Modern Digambara Jaina Bhaṭṭāraka Consecrations
Religions 2019, 10(6), 369; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060369 - 04 Jun 2019
Abstract
As recent research on the former bhaṭṭāraka lineages of Western and Central India has shown, the early modern Digambara tradition, rather than constituting a distinct, and defective, ‘bhaṭṭāraka era’, shows much similarity to contemporary Digambara Jainism. Bhaṭṭārakas were regarded and venerated [...] Read more.
As recent research on the former bhaṭṭāraka lineages of Western and Central India has shown, the early modern Digambara tradition, rather than constituting a distinct, and defective, ‘bhaṭṭāraka era’, shows much similarity to contemporary Digambara Jainism. Bhaṭṭārakas were regarded and venerated as ideal renouncers. Many of their practices accorded to those of today’s Digambara munis, and the bhaṭṭāraka saṅghas also featured renouncers of the muni and ācārya ranks, long thought to have abruptly become obsolete in the late medieval period. This new understanding of early modern Digambara Jainism is corroborated by the present article, which deals with early modern bhaṭṭāraka consecration rituals (paṭṭābhiṣeka, dīkṣā). The study is mainly based on two genres of sources. Sanskrit bhaṭṭāraka consecration manuals (dīkṣā-vidhi, pada-sthāpanā-vidhi), firstly, outline the preparations, the ritual proceedings, and the festivities to be held. Some vernacular songs of praise (gīta, etc.) of individual bhaṭṭārakas, secondly, focus specifically on their consecrations. These song compositions confirm many of the manuals’ prescriptions, while also adding elements not attested in the latter. Read in conjunction, both sources allow a relatively detailed understanding of early modern bhaṭṭāraka consecrations, show they closely resembled contemporary Digambara initiations, and confirm the former venerability of early modern bhaṭṭārakas in their own times. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jainism Studies)
Open AccessArticle
So That It Might Become Clear: The Methods and Purposes of Narrative Abridgement in Early Modern Jain Purāṇic Composition
Religions 2019, 10(6), 355; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060355 - 30 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Scholars have long known that Jain authors from the early centuries of the common era composed their own versions of the story of Rāma, prince of Ayodhyā. Further, the differences between Jain and Brahminical versions of the narrative are well documented. Less studied [...] Read more.
Scholars have long known that Jain authors from the early centuries of the common era composed their own versions of the story of Rāma, prince of Ayodhyā. Further, the differences between Jain and Brahminical versions of the narrative are well documented. Less studied are later versions of Jain Rāma narratives, particularly those composed during the early modern period. This paper examines one such version of the Rāma story, the fifteenth-century Sanskrit Padmapurāṇa by the Digambara author Brahma Jinadāsa. The paper compares Jinadāsa’s work with an earlier text, the seventh-century Sanskrit Padmapurāṇa, authored by Raviṣeṇa, as Jinadāsa explains that he has at hand a copy of his predecessor’s work and is recomposing it to make it “clear”. The paper thus demonstrates the multiple strategies of abridgement Jinadāsa employs in recomposing Raviṣeṇa’s earlier narrative and that, to Jinadāsa, this project of narrative abridgement was also one of clarification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jainism Studies)
Open AccessArticle
‘Examining Religion’ through Generations of Jain Audiences: The Circulation of the Dharmaparīkṣā
Religions 2019, 10(5), 308; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050308 - 07 May 2019
Abstract
Indian literary traditions, both religious and non-religious, have dealt with literature in a fluid way, repeating and reusing narrative motifs, stories and characters over and over again. In recognition of this, the current paper will focus on one particular textual tradition within Jainism [...] Read more.
Indian literary traditions, both religious and non-religious, have dealt with literature in a fluid way, repeating and reusing narrative motifs, stories and characters over and over again. In recognition of this, the current paper will focus on one particular textual tradition within Jainism of works titled Dharmaparīkṣā and will trace its circulation. This didactic narrative, designed to convince a Jain audience of the correctness of Jainism over other traditions, was first composed in the tenth century in Apabhraṃśa and is best known in its eleventh-century Sanskrit version by the Digambara author Amitagati. Tracing it from a tenth-century context into modernity, across both classical and vernacular languages, will demonstrate the popularity of this narrative genre within Jain circles. The paper will focus on the materiality of manuscripts, looking at language and form, place of preservation, affiliation of the authors and/or scribe, and patronage. Next to highlighting a previously underestimated category of texts, such a historical overview of a particular literary circulation will prove illuminating on broader levels: it will show networks of transmission within the Jain community, illustrate different types of mediation of one literary tradition, and overall, enrich our knowledge of Jain literary culture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jainism Studies)
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Open AccessArticle
Jain Narrative Literature in Brajbhāṣā: Discussions from an Understudied Field
Religions 2019, 10(4), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040262 - 11 Apr 2019
Abstract
Jain narrative literature in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Apabhraṃśa is rightly recognised as one of South Asia’s great cultural heritages and a vital source of material for insight into premodern Jain teachings, practices, and everyday life. However, Jain studies is yet to fully engage [...] Read more.
Jain narrative literature in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Apabhraṃśa is rightly recognised as one of South Asia’s great cultural heritages and a vital source of material for insight into premodern Jain teachings, practices, and everyday life. However, Jain studies is yet to fully engage with the rich archive of Jain narrative literature in Brajbhāṣā, and a wealth of untapped manuscript material is waiting to be explored. In this article, I argue that by going beyond the too-broad moniker of “Jain Hindī literature” to recognise Jain narrative literature in Brajbhāṣā as a distinct category, we may better understand the Jains of early modern North India as partakers of a wider literary and religious culture. More particularly, by comparing the form and religious outlook of Rāmcand Bālak’s Sītācarit, a seventeenth-century Rāmāyaṇa treatment, with the works of the more well-known Banārsīdās, we see that even amongst the Jains who used Brajbhāṣā, considerable variety of outlooks and approaches existed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jainism Studies)
Open AccessArticle
Roots, Routes, and Routers: Social and Digital Dynamics in the Jain Diaspora
Religions 2019, 10(4), 252; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040252 - 06 Apr 2019
Abstract
In the past three decades, Jains living in diaspora have been instrumental in the digital boom of Jainism-related websites, social media accounts, and mobile applications. Arguably, the increased availability and pervasive use of different kinds of digital media impacts how individuals deal with [...] Read more.
In the past three decades, Jains living in diaspora have been instrumental in the digital boom of Jainism-related websites, social media accounts, and mobile applications. Arguably, the increased availability and pervasive use of different kinds of digital media impacts how individuals deal with their roots; for example, it allows for greater contact with family and friends, but also with religious figures, back in India. It also impacts upon routes—for example, it provides new ways for individual Jains to find each other, organize, coordinate, and put down roots in their current country of residence. Using extensive corpora of Jainism-related websites and mobile applications (2013–2018), as well as ethnographic data derived from participant observation, interviews, and focus groups conducted in the United States, United Kingdom, and Belgian Jain communities (2014–2017), this article examines patterns of use of digital media for social and religious purposes by Jain individuals and investigates media strategies adopted by Jain diasporic organizations. It attempts to explain commonalities and differences in digital engagement across different geographic locations by looking at differences in migration history and the layout of the local Jain communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jainism Studies)
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Open AccessArticle
Aesthetic Pleasure in the Worship of the Jina: Understanding Performance in Jain Devotional Culture
Religions 2019, 10(4), 251; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040251 - 05 Apr 2019
Abstract
Performance has long been recognized to be a meaningful component in the worship of the Jina. This paper will focus on a particular aspect of devotional performance and historicize the phenomenon of ritual re-enactment of the Jina’s biography, a practice that remains significant [...] Read more.
Performance has long been recognized to be a meaningful component in the worship of the Jina. This paper will focus on a particular aspect of devotional performance and historicize the phenomenon of ritual re-enactment of the Jina’s biography, a practice that remains significant to temple worship today. This paper will argue that the performance of the enlightened soul’s biography was familiar to Jains already in the early centuries of the common era and was not confined to the five auspicious events (kalyāṇakas). In a Śvetāmabara canonical text called the Rāyapaseṇiyasutta, this re-enactment is part of a greater, highly pleasurable spectacle that evokes a variety of aesthetic emotions, including erotic emotion, in the audience of monks. Through this discussion I will question the dichotomies between aesthetic pleasure and ritual efficacy and between drama and meritorious conduct and show that aesthetic pleasure, which lies at the heart of Jina worship, defines its meritorious value in the eyes of the devotees. The more splendid and aesthetically pleasing one’s expression of devotion, the more efficacious it is believed to be. I propose that the significance of the aesthetic element in devotional performance for laypeople stems from their temporary transformation into gods and goddesses. Celestial beings, as the paradigmatic enjoyers (bhoktṛ) of sensual pleasures, spend their life-spans relishing joy and rapture. As such, the pleasurable experiences of laypeople are essential for the veracity of their ritual transformation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jainism Studies)
Open AccessArticle
Bioethics and Jainism: From Ahiṃsā to an Applied Ethics of Carefulness
Religions 2019, 10(4), 243; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040243 - 01 Apr 2019
Abstract
Although Jainism has been largely absent from discourses in bioethics and religion, its rich account of life, nonviolence, and contextual ethical response has much to offer the discussion within and beyond the Jain community. In this essay, I explore three possible reasons for [...] Read more.
Although Jainism has been largely absent from discourses in bioethics and religion, its rich account of life, nonviolence, and contextual ethical response has much to offer the discussion within and beyond the Jain community. In this essay, I explore three possible reasons for this discursive absence, followed by an analysis of medical treatment in the Jain tradition—from rare accommodations in canonical texts to increasing acceptance in the post-canonical period, up to the present. I argue that the nonviolent restraint required by the ideal of ahiṃsā is accompanied by applied tools of carefulness (apramatta) that enable the evolution of medicine. These applied tools are derived from the earliest canonical strata and offer a distinct contribution to current bioethical discourses, demanding a more robust account of: (1) pervasive life forms; (2) desires and aversions that motivate behavior; (3) direct and indirect modes of harm; and (4) efforts to reduce harm in one’s given context. I conclude by examining these tools of carefulness briefly in light of contemporary Jain attitudes toward reproductive ethics, such as abortion and in vitro fertilization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jainism Studies)
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Open AccessArticle
Jainism, Yoga, and Ecology: A Course in Contemplative Practice for a World in Pain
Religions 2019, 10(4), 232; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040232 - 28 Mar 2019
Abstract
This article proposes an introductory course to Jainism vis-à-vis the categories of yoga and ecology. Following a short introduction, the main section of this paper introduces the contents of the syllabus for this upper division undergraduate theological studies course. Students will learn not [...] Read more.
This article proposes an introductory course to Jainism vis-à-vis the categories of yoga and ecology. Following a short introduction, the main section of this paper introduces the contents of the syllabus for this upper division undergraduate theological studies course. Students will learn not only the history and philosophy of Jainism, but will also undertake basic Jain contemplative practices. Contemplative practice is used not merely as a technique of self-care, but rather, following some of Jainism’s foundational textual sources, first and foremost as a method for helping students to form a sense of ethical relationship and empathy with the world around them. Using such a pedagogical approach, which I situate as a specific form of “high-impact” learning, I suggest that at the completion of the course students will be better equipped to respond to our shared social and environmental crises. This article serves as both an introduction of this course to the academic community, as well as an invitation to scholars and professors of South Asian religious traditions to adopt the pedagogical approach proposed herein. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jainism Studies)
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