The present volume containing six articles on Jainism forms part of a series of books on different religious traditions, published by the Punjabi University, Patiala. The five preceding books were prepared and published on the occasion of the Quincentenary of Shri Guru Nanak Dev, in 1969. The present volume appears on the occasion of the observance of the Twenty-five hundredth anniversary of the Mahaparinivana of Bhagvan Mahavira, venerated as the twenty-fourth Tirthankara of Jainism. The religion which emerged from the tapasya and meditations of Vardhamana Mahavira is still a living faith in our country after the passage of twenty-five centuries since its principles were first enunciated. Vardhamana Mahavira is one of-the glorious names in the history of the spiritual thought of India, and India and the world rightly celebrate the completion of twenty-five centuries since his Mahaparinirvana, as a few years back was celebrated a similar anniversary concerning Gautama Buddha.
Jainism, although now the number of its adherents in our country is comparatively small, has made a great impact on the spiritual life and thought of our people. Its scheme of self-discipline, its moral code and particularly its doctrines of the binding nature of karma and the sovereignty of ahimsa have passed into the general belief-patterns of the Indian people. The Jaina faith survives in its ancient art and his magnificent temples, apart from its philosophy. This faith in the course of its 2500 year old history has inspired considerable artistic activity. The Jaina Viharas at Udayagiri date from the second century B.C. The finest examples of Jaina architecture are the two temples in Mount Abu: the Dilwara shrine and the Tejapala temple, both constructed of white marble. These temples contain extra-ordinary sculptures of exuberant beauty. A large number of Jaina images adorn the Mathura Museum while exquisite examples of Jaina painting may be seen in the Prince of Wales Museum at Bombay, Some beautiful pieces of Jaina painting are still in situ at Ellora. Several Jaina icons of gigantic size have been found in Karnataka, especially at Sravanabelogola and Karaikal. The numerically small Jain community in India is distinugished by acumen in business and industry, by large participation in the intellectual life of our country and the great philanthropic work of its leading members, which is so well-known all over the country.
Punjabi University has a well-established Department of Religious Studies, under whose aegis the academic study of Jainism along with a number of other important religious traditions forms part of one of the University's courses leading to research degrees. It is in fulfilment of the objectives of this Department that the present volume has been got prepared. Contributors to its pages are among the well-known scholars of Jainism. I earnestly hope that this book will be of interest to the general lay reader seeking to make a detailed study of Jainism as well as to the more advanced student of religion, exploring some of the higher aspects of its philosophy and ethical system.
Before closing I wish to express my grateful thanks to the scholars who have contributed learned articles to this volume, and to Professor Gurbachan Singh Talib, Head of the Guru Gobind Singh Department of Religious Studies, for his editorial labours.
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