Why is Jain Yoga so inaccessible?

Mahavira, by unknown indian artist

Practitioners of Jainism amount to less than 2 million in India. There are a number of reasons why Yoga practices of the Jain Tradition are so inaccessible.

  1. The strict adherence to Ahimsa (non-violence) makes Jain Yoga difficult to practice. Over millennia the Jain Tradition has maintained this principle of non-violence as the highest. All practitioners are strict vegetarians. Not just meat is forbidden, but also roots such as potatoes and onions. It was impossible for persons engaging in farming for instance to observe this principle of non-violence since ploughing the earth meant destruction of microscopic life forms. Thus the practitioners of the Jain tradition have over centuries been affluent merchants, jewellers and traders.
  2. The vows taken by monks and nuns are so strict that it is almost impossible to keep these vows in modern life. Monks and nuns may not use any form of transport and keep their mouths covered to prevent accidently destruction of life. They may eat only in the homes of Jains, where food has been cooked according to strict rules.
  3. The philosophy of the Jains is the only one of all gnostic traditions that has been neither influenced by historical changes nor by contact to religions of the book such as Islam and Christianity. At the same time it is too inflexible and many modern Jain families are not able to maintain their strict rules of adherence.
  4. While texts of Hindu and Buddha Dharma have been translated into English and have thus become available to many outside the community, the same has not been the case with Jain Dharma. The books remain in the ancient language of Pali or in the local languages, mainly Gujarati or Hindi.
  5. Most teachers of Hindu and Buddhist Dharma have sought out students all over the world and taught in many languages. These teachings are not available generally in English or any other non-indian languages, since most of the teachers, mainly monks called "munis" and nuns called "sadhavi" speak only local Indian languages.

Book Recommendations

A History of Indian Philosophy (5 volume set)

Comments:

Shilpa from Mumbai:
The strict adherence to Ahimsa (non-violence) makes Jain Yoga difficult to practice. So true! Even observing a one day fast means only drinking boiled water, cooled only in a mud-pot. And one can drink water only after completing the worship rituals in the morning and the last sip is to be taken by sunset and after that nothing.
Also it requires a lot of courage not kill any pests or insects but throw them out of the house by either picking them by hand or with some thing else without harming them.
Jain philosophy is great but sometimes due to lack of understanding, one tends to be fanatic and in the process does mental himsa or violence to others around. I have had close contact from childhood with a lot of Jaina followers. And my aim is to not label any one but being human sometimes we do tend to misconceptualise and become rigid.

L. C. J from Jabalpur, India:
Jain Yoga is meant to purify one's soul which is surrounded by many evil Karmas.There are definite procedures laid down in Jain scriptures following which may make one to progress towards salvation. Even if a small part of the procedure is followed, one will be blessed with many spiritual achievements

Ashok from vijayawada:
Jain philosophy is great.I think it is one of best religion.I am waiting when indian hindus know the greatness of Jain philosophy.Anyway i am a hindu but i won't accept brahmanism.

Zeus from Tokyo:
Jainism is unique but impractical in current world. It flourished when there was peace. But when the war started it started to vanish. No jain is allowed to be a soldier or join defense. Farmers aren't allowed to produce main vegitables as they are roots. It is ancient religion, it's true. But its philosophy, doctrines are hard to follow as they are impractical. Ahimsa is a great thing but it's also true that WAR is in the blood of human beings. It can't be stopped. One the other hand,i n hinduism things are much vast and practical. Karma is another dilemma in both religion, whereas in hinduism karma is denoted as compulsory that we do, in fact it make us do karma even if we don't want to do. Even our gods too bound by it. In jainism, to get rid off past karmas, do nothing...no karma,no deeds....kinda strange.
But I honor Jainism....infact all the streams, may be different..all lead to the sea.

Rajendra from chennai, india:
Also jain farmers have been cultivating land in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for centuries. Jain's belief is that farming was originally taught by their first Tirthankara Rishabanath when the world became a karma bhoomi (need to work for livelihood) from bhoga bhoomi (world with kalpatharus,wish fulfilling treees)

Priya from Delhi:
Nice!! Thanks for sharing

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