By Lawrence A. Babb
What does it suggest to worship beings that one believes are thoroughly detached to, and completely past the succeed in of, any type of worship whatever? How could the sort of dating with sacred beings impact the spiritual lifetime of a neighborhood? utilizing those questions as his aspect of departure, Lawrence A. Babb explores the ritual tradition of image-worshipping Svetambar Jains of the western Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan.Jainism strains its lineages again to the 9th century B.C.E. and is, besides Buddhism, the single surviving instance of India's old non-Vedic spiritual traditions. it truly is identified and celebrated for its systematic perform of non-violence and for the serious rigor of the asceticism it promotes. a special point of Babb's learn is his linking of the Jain culture to the social identification of current Jain communities.Babb concludes through displaying that Jain ritual tradition could be noticeable as a version on pan-Indian ritual styles. In illuminating this little-known non secular culture, he demonstrates that divine "absence" should be as wealthy as divine "presence" in its percentages for informing a spiritual reaction to the cosmos.
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Additional resources for Absent Lord: Ascetics and Kings in a Jain Ritual Culture (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society)
Human birth is "rare" (durlabh ) and in this vast cosmos very difficult to obtain. Sin is so easy, and the sins of one life can pursue you through ― 51 ― many births. Not only will sins send you to hell, but they will result in many births in the classes of two- to four-sensed creatures after you have emerged from below. Arunvijay reflects at length on the sin of abortion, and it is significant that, in his eyes, part of the horror of abortion is that it cuts the newly incarnated soul off from the possibility of a human existence.
One's mouth should be rinsed out before entering the temple. The worshiper should also avoid wearing items of clothing made of leather. My experience has been that Digambars enforce this rule more strictly than do Svetambars.  More demanding rules govern access to the inner shrine. Although Jains tend to be rather unfussy about the categories of persons who can enter this inner space (even non-Jain foreigners are not barred), those who enter must be freshly bathed and wearing special garments used only for this purpose.
Money actually changed hands, but it was not touched by either of the ascetics who were present. Instead it was counted out and given to the seller by a "servant" who accompanies these monks on their travels carrying money and other items. The vow of nonpossession has extremely important implications for the ritual culture of the Svetambar Jains. Ascetics cannot perform worship that involves physical offerings, although they can engage in mental forms of worship. This is because, having taken the vow of nonpossession, they have nothing to offer.