Yoga and Meditation in the Jaina Tradition

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Religions and Philosophies

Module overview

The course offers an introduction to yoga and meditation in the the context of the Jaina path of liberation. The historical roots of contemporary Jaina practices of asceticism and meditation will be explored with refenrence to their metaphysical and soteriological rational and institutionalisation in Jaina mendicant and lay traditions in India and the UK. The later influence of Patañjali and later Hindu philosophy and yoga practices on medieval Jaina philosophers writing on Jaina-Yoga will be demonstrated. The course concludes with a survey of the new teachings and techniques of competing modern schools of yoga and meditation.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • LO1.  to account for the history and principal doctrines of the Jaina traditions
  • LO2.  to discuss the differences between different schools of Jaina yoga and meditation
  • LO3.  to analyze the distinctive contribution and influence of the Jaina tradition on contemporary yoga philosophy and practic


10 lectures, of one hour's duration each per week; as well as 10 seminars, of one hour's duration each per week.

Scope and syllabus

  • Lecture 1: Roots of Jaina Yoga and Meditation
  • Lecture 2: Film: The Frontiers of Peace
  • Lecture 3: Pārśva, Mahāvīra, and Gośāla
  • Lecture 4: Body and Soul: Karma, Bondage and Liberation in Early Jainism
  • Lecture 5: The Jaina Cosmos and its Inhabitants
  • Lecture 6: The Jaina Path of Liberation
  • Lecture 7: Sallekhanā: The Religious Practice of Voluntary Death
  • Lecture 8: Asceticism and Meditation
  • Lecture 9: The Influence of Patañjali on Jaina-Yoga: Haribhadra, Śubhacandra and Hemacandra
  • Lecture 10: Modern Forms of Jaina Meditation

Method of assessment

  • One reaction paper of 750 words (20%)
  • One essay of 2,500 words (80%)

Suggested reading

Core reading:

  • Dundas, Paul. The Jains. 2nd Edition. London: Routledge, (1992) 2002.
  • Glasenapp, Helmuth von. Jainism. An Indian Religion of Salvation. Translated by Shridhar B. Shroti. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, (1925) 1998.
  • Jaini, Padmanabh S. The Jaina Path of Purification. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979.
  • Schubring, Walther. The Doctrine of the Jainas. Described after the Old Sources. Tr. Wolfgang Beurlen. 2nd English Edition. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, (1935) 2000.


Heleen De Jonckheere


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules