What is Jainism?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series discusses Jainism, the religion in which I was raised and that held its annual convention last week in Detroit, Michigan.

In the video, I reference an old post detailing my problems with Jainism and you can read that post here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    going for another 270 comment posts, Hemant? heh.

    Jains are just another religion, afaic. no more or less silly than any of the others. they are a small minority that isn’t really on anyone else’s radar that often, with a couple of exceptions. to me, they have value for showing other religious people how widely belief can vary. the more religions a person comes to know, the more obvious how absurd those really are.

  • Tim

    All religions are silly but I am not sure that all religions are equally silly.

    Compare the Christian belief that there was a garden of Eden with the Mormon belief that there was a garden of Eden and it was in Missouri (Davies County I think) . From a purely mathemetical point of view the probably of a garden of eden in Missouri is lower than the probably of a garden of Eden anywhere.

    The more details a religion claims to know the more silly it is. There is a scale from Dieism on one end to things like Mormonism and Scientology on the other.

  • tallpenguin

    If Jains subscribe to non-violence against even the tiniest of organisms, what would be their view of antibiotics?

  • Tainda

    Jackson County actually and the only reason I know this is because I live here and I was raised RLDS. That loon could have picked a MUCH better place than Missouri to claim eden lol

  • http://manojpontificates.blogspot.com/ Manoj

    The post ‘The Problems with Jainism’ on July 3, 2011 is by a “Guest Contributor”. Here you reference it as “my problems with Jainism”. Were you the guest contributor?

  • Tim

    I stand corrected. I’ve never been to Missouri

  • Tainda

    You’re so lucky!

  • anniewhoo

    I was wondering that too. And chemotherapy?

  • anniewhoo

    I am really enjoying the Atheist Voice series. I think the time period is just perfect… not too long, but enough time to share some interesting information and ideas.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

    Yes, that was me. When I moved to Patheos, all my old posts went into that category

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

    My understanding is that things like antibiotics are a necessary “evil” but you better balance it out with some good karma, somehow

  • ekchakkar

    So you found a worldview that works for you. Great! I see that you are choosing to use that worldview to convince others — or at least inform them — of its superiority because it relies on better reason and logic.

    In the video, I’m happy that you start off your comments on a positive note about Jainism. In the latter part of your comments, you lay out the problems you have with the religion (karma, reincarnation and tirthankar).

    You are an atheist that disagrees with a group of other atheists who believe in karma. This is a small difference in worldview, hardly the basis, imho, for launching an attack on the entire religion. A more logical approach would be to open a dialogue with Jains on how both worldviews can be used to produce better citizens and address the numerous global challenges.

    Well-mannered as your comments are, they still seek confrontation and will eventually divide. Why?

  • Robster

    I was getting excited, I thought that Jainism was the worship of Tarzan’s shapely other half, but no.

  • TCC

    It’s too bad, as we all know that Missouri loves company. (Thank you, I’ll be here all week.)

  • Ek Chakkar


    Do you have written source for your understanding so that we may also read up on such contemplations by Jains?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

    I don’t believe I said anything untrue about Jainism — beliefs that are stated all over the Internet — but please let me know if you see anything to the contrary!

  • Ek Chakkar

    Wow! The internet! That’s such a big place =:).

    I’m looking for a few written sources, or even just one source, which you consider to have informed your understanding that a necessary ‘evil’ like antibiotics is to be balanced with good karma. It’s better to stay away from reading something on Wikipedia and then assuming, “Oh! This is probably the type of ideas which informed his understanding.”

  • John2find

    Hi Hemant,

    I think you might be knowing me from your other post> Problem with Jainisim, if not, probably you are too busy to take care of replies you get or you are not an honest blogger to bother what your audience do respond to you back or you manage answering people only which suits your various reasons.

    Just to bring it to your notice :

    My understanding of your last post , make me think > its not “Problem in Jainism”, indeed its your Queries or confusions you have about Jainism , which once you failed to explain to yourself , later which you asserted as fallacy in tenets of Jainism.

    And I think You failed to explain > Time cycle, Karma, reincarnation, strict vegetarianism, thithankaras …. , to yourself, rather than lack of evidence to support this tenets.
    Why I claim you failed to understand Jainism, in reference to Time cycle, Karma, reincarnation, strict vegetarianism, thithankaras …. , was explained by me in my reply I gave to your last post.

    Seeing you fairly active in this post , I am expecting a reply from you this time for the explanation I gave regarding >> Time cycle, Karma, reincarnation, strict vegetarianism, thithankaras .
    And I believe that this time , you will not be only interested in replying people who presented weak arguments to refute your claims, but also people who got the highest likes.


  • Jains of Canada

    Dear Hemant Mehta, Jains are ALREADY considered Atheists! as we do not believe in the concept ”GOD” created us. Jainism believes in power of nature. Tirtankars = Gods they are only like path guides, according to Jainism there are innumerable gods. Even I & you can become gods if we do good deeds (Karma). Since these innumerable gods are all those people who did good Karmas they are now gods. Tirtankars preached the path of non-violence (Ahimsa), Unnecessary possession (Aprigarh) & Multi point view (Anekantvad) & reformed the society at their time they are worshipped as gods.

    They why do we need god if god cannot create, protect us? When one see the Idol of Tirtankaras, they should get inspiration to achieve good karmas and there by help the society.

    I dont pray, I hardly go to Jain Basadis (temple) as living in Canada its not easy to find one. But in heart I am a good Jain. I follow strict vegetarianism trying to be vegan. Help people morally or financially (If its really needed). Anekantvad has helped me always to balance my anger as it reminds me to judge people based on situation, time & other point of view. Off late I have understood the Aprigarh concept. It needs level of maturity to understand Jainism. As it is not all about idol worship & hell or heaven.

  • Jains of Canada

    *Then why do we need god? If god cannot creat, protect us?

  • Daves

    If all the People start following Jainism not as a religion but as an inspiration than I am sure ” This World will be the most peaceful place To Live in ” !! ( I would like if they can watch praveen rishiji maharaj on you tube and attend his seminars), it really makes u change the way u think !! :)