Chapter

Holy Asceticism

John E. Cort

in Jains in the World

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780195132342
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834112 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195132343.003.0006
 						Holy Asceticism

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A key aspect of Jain religious practice involves a wide range of activities falling under the rubric of asceticism (tapas). The model ascetic in the Jain tradition is the 24th and final Jina of this time period, Mahavira. Mendicants engage in asceticism that is shaped by their vows (mahavrata) and the obligatory ritual actions (avasyaka). For the laity, asceticism is more a matter of food and diet, in particular, the continual effort to restrict the amount of harm done to living beings in the preparation and consumption of food, emphasizing the cardinal Jain ethical principle of ahimsa (nonharm). Asceticism both advances the Jain person toward the ideological goal of liberation and improves his or her worldly well‐being.

Keywords: asceticism; ahimsa; avasyaka; diet; food; Mahavira; tapas; vow

Chapter.  13000 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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