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Department of the Study of Religions

Jainism: History, Doctrine and the Contemporary World

Course Code:
15PSRC024
Unit value:
1
Year of study:
Any
Taught in:
Full Year
The aim of this MA course is to introduce students to key aspects of Jainism. It will focus on the doctrinal and social history of Jainism, on the Jaina paths of salvation, Jaina asceticism and monasticism, Jaina communities and Jaina sectarianism, and on religious practices. These include, the rites of purification or āvaśyaka rites, self-mortification, tapasya, meditation, dhyāna, temple worship, pūjā, charity, dāna, vegetarianism and the Jaina practice of sallekhanā, death through self-starvation. The course will conclude with an overview of Jaina philosophical pluralism and modern Jaina ecology.
The structure of the course is broadly historical, but material will be drawn from both textual and ethnographic sources. The key subjects will be the history of Jainism, the Jaina prophets and Jaina scriptures, Jaina doctrines of non-violence, Jaina schools and sects, contemporary religious and social practices, and Jainism in the modern world.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

The aim of this course is to introduce students to important aspects of Jainism.

On completion of the course students should:

  • be familiar with the central issues of the Jain tradition;
  • be able to specify the major historical changes within Jainism;
  • understand the ways in which contemporary Jain practices relate to other religious and cultural traditions.

Method of assessment

Coursework: two 2,500-3,000 word essays. Assessment: three hour exam paper 40%, essays 60%.