The spirit of a city, of a state, of a nation, of the world, all very simple. The world sings if you listen.
Jainism, for being a minority faith, has had a seemingly inordinate impact on Hindu culture and Indian culture in general. Even leading to the Sikh movement with the addition of Islam to India. Part of which was the impact of what amounted to Indian paganism making it what it is now. There was a tradition of animal sacrifice before the ascetics had their influence, and in modern reckoning Ghandi was inspired by the doctrines of Jainism. His mother was a devout Jina, which is the term for the followers of Jainism.
The Jinas revere those who became pure souls. They assume a role similar to gods in other faiths, but are not treated as divinities in the conventional sense. They do not feel that worship of the Saints can grant you liberation in their reverence to the “ford builders”, as one of their terms means. They see that the example of the Saint can aid those here in seeking liberation, and are acknowledged to have displayed precious virtues on the path. This is where they differ with the Vedantic faith in which the avatars are seen as literal embodiments of the gods. In the unity of India, under what amounts to a theocratic caste system, Jainism was given legitimacy though marginalized.
In Jainism the Saints are still our equals, just whole and in bliss. Perhaps it can be seen as the ultimate maturation of the soul. Even if a Saint is god like, in Jainism no worshiping that Saint will grant you liberation.
A ‘Saint’ is still in a human body? No, they are beyond. Humanity can become pure souls, but they do not become omniscient there by.
Jnana is a goal of Jainism. Right perception. And the Jains don’t see it as possible through devotion to the gods. Rationalism is held as a virtue in Jainism. Though it’s a minority faith many of it’s members pursue a higher education as a matter of course, rather than adhering to the traditional caste/trade path. Though officially no longer the law in India, that is still to a degree adhered to as a community value.
You’d say Jainism actually has more in common with Buddhism than Hinduism? Yes, actually. It differs in that it takes a deistic view. That the spiritual realities have substance and that you are moving in those realms, rather than focusing on the illusory nature of perception.
Do Jainists have nudist priests? Only one sect, but yes. They practice radical non attachment. The other sect embraces very simple garb. A white seamless robe. They differ in their views, but hold the same basic tenants.
What gods do they have? Officially, they have none, nor do they refute the Indian deities. They acknowledge the forces of nature depicted by the Indian deities, but do not believe that one can achieve liberation by worship of these deities. Instead, they see the children of the more animalistic gods as Jivas, and their doctrine teaches that they must be treated as kin. So the abuse of say a work elephant is seen as very wrong in their view. It’s not lower than humanity, nor is any other creature in Jainism, nor any object. Thus their doctrine of non possessiveness and why one sects monks stay nude.
Is it one sect that sweeps the ground in from of them as they walk, and wear masks to avoid killing insects? This is actually a Jain practice in general, careful walking, but no, not mask wearing. That is Vedantic, a Bahkti practice.
Seeking to identify with the divinity, Jainism varies in its regard to idolatry. Some are semi tolerant and accept the value of imagery as a symbol of the virtues they seek to embody, and others refuse to acknowledge any image or even enter anything like a temple. The nudist monks tend to adhere to not even entering a temple, thus them sitting by the Ganges.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.