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Jains in the WorldReligious Values and Ideology in India$
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John E. Cort

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195132342

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195132343.001.0001

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Holy Asceticism

Holy Asceticism

(p.118) 5 Holy Asceticism
Jains in the World

John E. Cort (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

A key aspect of Jain religious practice involves a wide range of activities falling under the rubric of asceticism (tapas). The model ascetic in the Jain tradition is the 24th and final Jina of this time period, Mahavira. Mendicants engage in asceticism that is shaped by their vows (mahavrata) and the obligatory ritual actions (avasyaka). For the laity, asceticism is more a matter of food and diet, in particular, the continual effort to restrict the amount of harm done to living beings in the preparation and consumption of food, emphasizing the cardinal Jain ethical principle of ahimsa (nonharm). Asceticism both advances the Jain person toward the ideological goal of liberation and improves his or her worldly well‐being.

Keywords:   asceticism, ahimsa, avasyaka, diet, food, Mahavira, tapas, vow

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