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The Jains (The Library of Religious Beliefs and Practices) 2nd Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415266062
ISBN-10: 0415266068
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul Dundas is senior lecturer in Sanskrit in the School of Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh, specialising in middle Indo-Aryan philology and the Jain religion. He is the author of The Sattasai and its Commentators
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Product Details

  • Series: The Library of Religious Beliefs and Practices
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (August 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415266068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415266062
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book gets really detailed, and it's hard to keep track of some of the histories and nuances in philosophy. Nonetheless, my mother was amazed at how completely the author covered Jainism, and I'm learning alot myself (we're both Jain).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author does a very thorough job introducing the reader to Jainism, its history, its sacred days, its customs and its sects. Indian language vocabulary is also well-explained (mostly Sanskrit). The one thing grossly lacking in this book is citation of scripture. As I recall, there may be a sentence or two of Jain scripture in the entire book. It has long been my belief that the best way to learn about the beliefs of any religion is through its own source text(s). The author does state that there is no definitive canon of Jain scripture, but the book could have been made about 25% larger through some reasonable scriptural selection, or, alternatively, 25% of the existing content could have been cut to provide the reader some feel for Jain scripture. This is the only negative critcism that I have to offer. Aside from this one criticism, this is an excellent book and I recommend it highly.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Paul Dundas has produced some serious and valuable scholarship on Jainism. Academics wishing a deeper appreciation and understanding of Jainism than most introductions can give will like Dundas' work. Beginners will find it hard to digest. Dundas has successfully and critically presented a broad account of Jain beliefs and history. The strength of the book -- its thoroughness and density --also may be a deterrent to the new reader.
The Jains, a small religious group believing in an immortal soul, are indigenous to India, and affirm many of the ideas of their Hindu counterparts, but are critical of other Hindu doctrines. Jains do not have a traditional place for "God" or "Gods", but do for the omniscient Fordmakers. Dundas work in portraying the Jains will have lasting value.
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Reviewed by Dr. Andrea Diem-Lane

Paul Dundas’ book on Jainism, The Jains, is indeed an impressive tome, detailing the differences between the two major sects, the Svetambara and the Digambara, and highlighting key Jain doctrines. Moreover, the author extends great effort clarifying the role of the ascetic and of the layperson, and walking the reader through the rich history of the Jain tradition, from the Fordmakers to the medieval period to recent times. In the introduction to the text, Dundas asserts his goal to “alert students of world religions to the richness of Jain history and to present it as far as possible in terms of the experience of those Jains, past and present, ascetic and lay, who have participated within it.” His phenomenological and social-historical approach gives the reader a sense of a Jain world view, albeit analyzed from a scholarly perspective.

“Universal History,” as Dundas calls it, is the Jain’s version of the history of the world, and so all events, historical or religious, are reinterpreted in light of this. For instance, many Jains view the Hindu Vedic writings as really written by a Bharata, “the first Jain universal emperor of this world era” and Rama and Krishna of Hindu lore as Jain laymen. Even the Hindu goddess of wisdom, Sarasvati, is revered as a Jain. While there is an attempt in Jainism to incorporate Hindu themes and figures, there is also an animosity for Vedic sacrifice and the lack of commitment by numerous Hindus to follow the message of ahimsa.

Ahimsa, states Dundas, is the main distinctive feature that sets Jainism apart from other Indian traditions.
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The Jains (The Library of Religious Beliefs and Practices)
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