Religion in Canada

Jainism in Canada

Jains believe that in the present cycle of the universe, twenty-four great people have reached perfection through the centuries, and that these saints are role models and guides who have shown the way to others. These saints are called Tirthankaras. The greatest and most recent Tirthankara was Mahavira Naraputta Vardhamana. He lived in the sixth centure B.C.E. and was born into an aristocratic family but left home at age 30 to live the life of a wandering holy man. During this time he was tortured by his own devotion and by the ridicule of others. After twelve years he experienced a great liberation, free of all bondage to the ordinary world. He spent the rest of his life teaching. The eleven Angas are the teachings of Mahavira and are the heart of Jain scripture. There are also Upangas, which are a collection of rituals, laws, and miscellaneous texts.

Jainism rejects the belief in a creator God. Jains believe that the universe in eternal, that it has always existed, must continually change, and in that change structure arises on its own. Jains believe that the universe is made of two types of reality: there is spirit (jiva) which senses and feels, there is also matter (ajiva), which is not alive and has no consciousness. Jains believe that there is life and consciousness in everything, and thus believe that everything is capable of suffering and consciousness including inanimate objects, single-celled life forms, insects, animals, and humans. Because of this Jains are extremist believers in non-violence and austerity.

To Jains, humans are composed of a material side and a spiritual side and believe that people have the ability to understand their dual nature and must strive to overcome

their limitations. As a result, people can free themselves from the cycle of rebirth. Liberated spirits live on a higher realm where Mahavira and other tirthankaras exist.

Jains have five ethical recommendations that they strive to live by and which monks and nuns are expected to live by:




Chastity (meaning fidelity or celibacy for monks and nuns)

Non-Attachment (for lay people this means generosity, detachment and limiting one's possessions)

There are several branches of Jainism including: Digambaras, Shvetambaras, Sthanakavasis. All Jains worship at temples, which are usually very simple and contain statues of several Tirthankara including Mahavira. Although Jains do not believe in devotional acts, but the purification of individuals, the Hindu practice of Puja has been adopted by many Jains.

In Canada , there are approximately 2,455 Jains. In Toronto there is the B hagawan Mahavir Jain temple Toronto. There is also the Bhagawan Mahavir Jain temple in Edmonton. These are the two main temples in Canada.

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