[Buddha-l] Hardships & Downfall of B. in I.

Artur Karp karp at uw.edu.pl
Thu Dec 13 02:13:18 MST 2012

Dear Christopher,

Re your question re the phenomenon of the survival of the Jains as a
religious community.

A short answer: cultural mimicry.

Longer - a quote from Giovanni Verardi's 1996 paper:

<<[226] Nor did the Jains survive (apart from a small minority)
because of having accepted humiliating (but forced) compromises with
Brahmanism. This is an
extremely interesting point for our discussion. Indeed, in order to
survive, they resorted to a sort of mimicry of the Brahman
institutions and behaviours, that if ,
on one hand, assured them their survival, caused their weakening and
the almost total loss of their identity. Jinasena, in the 8th century
(towards the end of which, referring to the most commonly accepted
chronology, that Śankara appeared, who was the greatest apostle of
orthodoxy and persecutor of heretics), incorporated the sixteen
samskaras of the Brahmans into the Jain system "almost in their
entirety, becoming part of a larger list of fifty-three kriyas
(actions) which marked all the important events of life"  (Jaini 1979:
293). A "class of 'Jaina brahmans' was introduced among the
Digambaras, entrusted with the care of the temples and the performance
of elaborate rituals" (ib.: 291), that could appear, in virtue of the
consequent acceptance of the Brahmanic bias against the śudras (ib.:
294) and of the concept of "twice-born"  (ib.: 289-90) - in one word,
of the caste system - as one of the different internal subdivisions of
the Brahmanic authority, and not as an elite which opposed it. The
forced adjustment of Jainism to the Brahmanism of the bhakti should
also be considered, (that is, the acceptance of most Brahmanic
divinities and of amended versions of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana
(the most Important (texts of the triumphant Vlshnuite ideology: cf.
ib.: 304-5; for the Ramayana of the Jains see however Thapar 1987:
14-5). Had Jain teachers ignored these texts - Jaini comments - "they
would have done so at the peril of their own society's
disintegration" (Jaini 1979: 304). Only on these terms were the Jains
allowed to survive as a community. From the Brahmanic point of view,
the Jina could be
described (this is usual stuff) as the Universal Spirit who is Śiva,
Dhatr, Sugata (i.e., the likewise neutralized Buddha), and Visnu (cf.
Pusalker, in Majumdar 1964: 296).
The point seems clear: the Brahmans only came to accept the Jains at
the moment in which, already deprived of their political power because
of heavy
persecutions, they were forced, even if unable to accept the Veda
(from which, for at least one aspect, they were less distant than the
Buddhists because of their
belief in atman), to accept the varnasramadharma which comes down from
it. To Brahmanic eyes this was the same, in the facts, as the
acceptance of the Veda
itself. It is only at this point that the doctrinal differences
between the two - [227] systems could be considered marginal with
respect to an "anthropologically" observed reality and, to repeat one
of the most famous (and in a certain sense most useful) claims by
Staal, that orthodoxy becomes a far less important concept
than orlhopraxis (Slaal 1983 a; 6; 1990 a: 8; on orthodoxy, see
below). The reaction of the Jains to this stale of enslavemenl was
only possible when the odd
man out, Islam, arrived on the Indian scene, becoming (it is still so
today) the new, true obstacle to the establishment of a complete
Brahmanic hegemony.>>

From: Giovanni Verardi, Religions, Rituals, and the Heaviness of
Indian History, Annali 56, pp. 226-227


Artur Karp
University of Warsaw

PS. If anyone would want to read the paper, I can send them a scan of it.

Artur K.

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