Bulletin for the Study of Religion, Vol 39, No 2 (2010)

Some Contemporary Views on Jaina Values and Conduct Among Indian Lay Jainas from Jaipur and Delhi

Tomasz Pokinko
Issued Date: 11 May 2010


This paper is based on interviews conducted in India in the summer of 2007 with seven lay Jainas from Jaipur and Delhi: three men and four women, with ages ranging from early twenties to late sixties. The questions I am interested in are: what is the main Jaina value or values according to my interviewees? In particular, what is the place and status of ahimsa (nonviolence) among contemporary notions of value, and is ahimsa repositioned or redefined in the contemporary context? Do Jaina values impact the social sphere and if so, how? In what ways does a particular form of conduct result as a consequence of those values? What does this say about the ways contemporary Indian lay Jainas imagine society? In analyzing the positions of my interviewees, I note similarities to and differences from the position of a group of Terapanthi nuns, whom I also interviewed. By means of my ethnographic material, I demonstrate that Jaina normative moral theory, though rooted in ahimsa, nevertheless exhibits flexibility based on individual and socio-historical contexts.

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DOI: 10.1558/bsor.v39i2.004


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