Jainism vs. Sikhism Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 21 September 2016

Jainism vs. Sikhism

Read the assigned chapters for the week and complete the following table. Be as specific as possible when identifying practices, beliefs, rituals, and historical elements.

Cite sources in APA formatting.

Core Beliefs

1. Jainism, believing that reality and existence are eternal, does not believe in a Creator force or entity (Molloy, 2013). 1. Sikhism believes in a strict Monotheism, and that all names and titles that humans apply to God are limited because God is beyond all human conception (Molloy, 2013).

2. Jainism believes in the existence of Karma and its influence on the cycle of Rebirth. Unlike other religions that share this belief, Jains believe that more than just animals and insects possess a spirit that is subject to karma and rebirth (Molloy, 2013). 2. Sikhs believe in reincarnation, and that karma influences the cycle of rebirth, with the goal being to accumulate enough karma to obtain freedom from the cycle of reincarnation and be absorbed by God (Molloy, 2013).

3. Jainism believes in five ethical positions that are required for monks and nuns (to varying degrees) and recommended to laypersons. The First is Nonviolence, also known as Ahimsa, which requires the believer to bring no harm to any life-form. The second is Nonlying, as the Jains believe the lying or exaggeration may bring harm to the parties involved. The third is Nonstealing, the desire to steal comes from being attached, to the object or the world, and can cause pain to others. The forth is Chastity, among the monks and nuns it is taken as full celibacy, and among the laypeople, as fidelity to the believers marital partner.

Finally, the fifth is nonattachment, that to progress spiritually, the believer must limit their attachment to worldly objects and people, taken to the extreme among some monks to mean detachment from all including family, and clothes (Molloy, 2013). 3. Sikhs believe in the five sacred components of attire by those initiated into the Khalsa. The first is the Kesh, or uncut hair and beard, with a turban worn by the males. The second is the Khanga, or wooden hair comb, to be worn with the hair at all times. The third is the Kach, a pair of special cotton undergarments. The fourth is the Kirpan, a sword or dagger that is worn at all time. And lastly the Kara, a bracelet of steel worn to symbolize strength (Molloy, 2013).

4. The Jains believe that in the current cycle of the universe, 24 people have reached perfection and have escaped the cycle of rebirth, they are known as Tirthankara, and that they should be role-model and emulated, but not worshiped (Molloy, 2013). 4. Sikhs believe that the scriptures, known as Adi Granth, to contain the spirit of all the past Gurus of Sikhism and revere it as the last, and final guru. When faced with difficult and troubling questions, Sikhs believe that consulting the Adi Granth, or Guru Granth Sahib, by opening the book at random will provide answers (Molloy, 2013).

5. The Jains do believe in the presence of gods, but believe they are also subject to the karma and the cycle of rebirth, and that after they use their positive karma as gods, they are reborn as lesser beings again. Also that, while gods, they are not the Creators (Molloy, 2013). 5. Sikhs believe the use of Military Self-defense to protect themselves and the faith is morally correct. Such a position is unusual in the religious environment of India where nonviolence is common. (Molloy, 2013).

Part 2

Respond to the following questions in 150 to 200 words:

1. What do you think is the most important similarity and which is the most important difference? Use specifics to support your answer. The most significant similarity between Jainism and Sikhism is their continued belief in karma and the cycle of rebirth. This similarity shows that while Sikhism may have been influenced by Islamic teachings, that both faiths have retained a non-linear idea of the progression of time that is integral to Hinduism. The most important difference is each of the religion’s views of violence.

The Jains believe in ahimsa, a requirement to bring no harm to anything that bear a living soul, monk and nuns going so far as to brush aside insects before walking so they are not stepped on, and the laypersons avoiding farming because plowing may cause harm to small animals and insects. The Sikhs, however, believe in the use of violence to defend them self’s and their faith, possessing within their faith a military order, the Khalsa, who wear a dagger or sword known as a kirpan at all times. This belief is also evident in the followers of Sikhism to join and participate in the militaries of the country they reside. (Molloy, 2013)

2. Consider the following statement: Sallekhana (“holy death”) violates the Jain principle of ahimsa because it is an act of violence against oneself. Using examples from Ch. 5 of your text, what points might a follower of Jainism make to argue against this statement? Ahimsa is the prohibition of causing harm. Ahimsa requires that all care must be taken so that one does not bring harm to another living soul, whether it is physical, mental, spiritual or emotional. To remain attached to the material, and the objects of this life will also bring spiritual harm to oneself. Sallekhana is an extension of the practice of fasting.

The participant prepares himself for the next life by detaching from the current life, taking in only water and spiritual guidance. This practice is not a violent act against one’s body, but a natural progression at the end of one’s life. This extended fasting is only Sallekhana when willfully taken at the end of a full like as a culmination of one’s detachment from the material and as a sign of one’s virtue. Sallakhana is not an escape from one’s troubles in this life through suicide, but a releasing of this life in order to proceed to the next life in a proper fashion. (Molloy, 2013)


Molloy, M. V. (2013). Experiencing the world’s religions: Tradition, challenge, and change (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Nill Companies, Inc.

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