Jainism is an ancient religion from India that teaches that the way to liberation and bliss is to live a life of harmlessness and renunciation.
The aim of Jain life is to achieve liberation of the soul.
Along with other Indian systems, it prescribes a path to liberation (Moksha), which consists of the three jewels (trinity or ratna-traya) of Jainism:
- right perception
- right knowledge
- right conduct
Right perception creates an awareness of reality or truth, right knowledge impels the person to proper action, and proper conduct leads him to the attainment of the total freedom. They must coexist in a person if one is to make any progress on the path of liberation.
Right perception consists in seeing the true nature of every substance of the universe. Jainism advocates that one should first try to know, comprehend, and understand the nature of reality, one’s own self, religious goal, and the path. One should analyze it, examine it, test it, and verify it, and then, if satisfied, be convinced of its truth and efficacy.
Right perception or faith makes us realize the reality of life and the seriousness of our purpose in life. Right knowledge is the true, correct, proper, and relevant knowledge of the reality, the tattvas.
Mainly one has to know the following:
Six Universal Entities (Substances) soul, matter, motion, rest, space, and time.
Nine Tattvas (Principles) Jiva, Ajiva, Asrava, Bandh, Punya, Papa, Samvara, Nirjara, and Moksha.
Philosophically, this is known as the theory of non-absolutism (Anekantavada) and calls for an attitude of openness. Our limitations of knowledge dictate a style of relativity. The style of Syadvada allows no room for assertions. This Jain theory of knowledge, incorporating the two principles of non-absolutism and relativity, has made an esteemed contribution toward liberalizing the mind of human being.
Right knowledge makes us examine in detail the matter brought into the mind by right conviction. Both are mental processes. Right knowledge must be free from three main defects: doubt, delusion, and indefiniteness.
Proper, correct, appropriate, and truly natural conduct of the living being (soul) is known as right conduct. The main purpose of a human being is to free himself from attachment (raga) and aversion (dvesha). That is to be free from all impure activities of thought, word, and deed. This will attain the state of perfect equanimity.
For practical purposes, right conduct comprises ethical codes, rules, and disciplines which an aspirant is required to pursue the ultimate freedom.
This resolves into taking the five vows of an ascetic or householder.
- Ahimsa – Non-violence
- Satya – Truth
- Achaurya – Non-stealing
- Brahmacharya – Chastity
- Aparigraha – Non-possession/Non-attachment
Right faith and right knowledge are required for right conduct, and all are interdependent.