Examine the impact of Jainism on Indian society.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The original question had to be edited.  Jainism's impact on Indian society can be seen in a couple of ways.  The first is that Jainism stresses a strong notion of secularism in its relationship between political orders and religion.  This is something that is seen in India today.  Even in the midst of dysfunctionality that can represent modern Indian government, there is a secular approach to political governance that is significant.  India is a country where Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians, amongst others, live in relative tolerance and political skepticism.  This exists politically and socially.  The Jain approach in embracing secularism and not seeing religion as a wedge issue to prevent political progress is evident in modern Indian society and government.

I would also argue that one of the Jains' profound impact on Indian society is to embrace a non- conformist view of spiritual identity.  For the Jains, the reverence or worship of God is not something to be done out of fear or out of social conformity.  It is an individualistic relationship, one that the individual has with the divine realm.  It is highly subjective, one in which the priest does not play an essential role and there is little presence of mediator.  The relationship shared between the individual and the divine is simply that- a relationship.  This is seen in Indian society today with Hinduism.  So much of the Hindu faith in India is predicated upon an individual's relationship with the divine.  While there are many people who embrace the religion out of fear and insecurity, one of the most distinctive differences between the dominant religion of Indian society, Hinduism, and other forms of worship is how the relationship between the individual and the divine is subjective and individualistic.  This is reflective of the Jain school of thought and is something seen in India today.

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