SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Jainism: History, Doctrine and the Contemporary World

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2018/2019
Year of study:
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 module

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

Assessment:  two 3,000 word essays at 50% each.                                                                                                          A TWO hour lecture and ONE hour tutorial each week.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules