Bahai News - Striking a balance key to religion: Jainism will be explored as part of interfaith series
Striking a balance key to religion: Jainism will be explored as
part of interfaith series
DAILY MAIL STAFF
Speak the truth. Avoid violence. Harm no living creature. Respect
the opinions of others. These are elements of a gentle and giving
religion called Jainism.
"We pray for uplifting of the soul but not material things," said
Naresh Shah of Cross Lanes. "One has to strike a balance between life
and spiritual life. Greed can destroy anybody. Anger and hatred don't
Shah, an engineer with the state Department of Environmental
Protection, said there are nine Jain families in the Charleston area,
three in Beckley and six in the Huntington-Ashland vicinity.
"We do not meet regularly for worship, but we meet during social
functions at the India Center along with many other Indian families,"
"Jainism: a Religion of Non-Violence" is the seventh in the
ongoing series entitled "Interfaith Growing-Growing in Unity by
Understanding Diversity." Each month a different religion or faith
group in the Kanawha Valley is featured in the series presented by
the Kanawha Valley Interfaith Council. Sessions so far have included
Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Baha'i, Buddhism and Native American
The session on Jainism is set for 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the India
Center, 800 Green Road off Corridor G. Sessions are free and open to
The Jainism session is sponsored by Kanawha Valley Interfaith
Council, the Hindu Worship Center and the Vedanta Society of West
Virginia. The program will include speakers, question-and-answer
period, and refreshments.
Keynote speaker is Bruce Costain, director of education for the
Jain Center of Columbus, Ohio.
Jainism, an ancient religion of India, does not adhere to the
philosophy of a creator but states life is an ongoing cycle with no
beginning or end.
"The whole Jain philosophy is centered on soul and the soul is
potentially divine," Naresh said.
Through reincarnation one may continually upgrade the soul until a
divine status is reached that ends the cycle of life and death
allowing the soul to remain in a state of bliss or heaven.
Historically, Jainism has been known by many names, including
Jina, which means a conqueror. This refers to one who has conquered
desire, hatred, anger, greed and pride. All humans have the potential
to become Jinas and be viewed as Gods in Jainism. There are 24
Tirthankaras (Jain Gods) that are to be worshipped. Lord Mahavir was
Jains strive for a "proper conduct" of nonviolence, self-
purification, compassion, penance, austerity and meditation. Jains
believe one may be reincarnated based on decisions and actions of the
current life cycle.
Jains are vegetarians due to their belief in the sacredness of all
life. They also believe in unconditional love.
"We have multiplicity of viewpoint," Naresh added. "We respect
different opinions. The truth is many sided. Everything is relative.
Nothing is absolute. Things can change depending on time and place.
We respect all religions. We don't say that one is right."
While Naresh owns more than 40 books on Jainism, he said the
basics are simple, with things falling into place through kindness
He added that the interfaith sessions offer an excellent
opportunity for understanding each other.
For more information on Jainism check out the Web sites
www.jainworld.com or www.jainism.org.
Religious leaders who are interested in sponsoring an evening
explaining their faith may send a written request on letterhead to
the Rev. Linda Geronilla, 92 Cook Drive, Charleston, WV 25314.
Writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith can be reached at 348-1246 or by e-
mail at email@example.com.
©Copyright 2001, Charleston Daily Mail
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