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Understanding Jainism

Lawrence A. Babb

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Product Details
23 Apr 2015
Dunedin Academic Press
176 pages - 138 x 216 x 15mm
Understanding Faith
Jainism is Buddhism’s often overlooked cousin. As the only surviving examples of ancient India’s non-Vedic religious traditions, the two religions are often grouped together as ‘heterodoxies’, but this is to ignore deep differences between Jain and Buddhist beliefs and practices. Unlike Buddhism, Jainism has hardly spread beyond the Indian subcontinent but Jainism survives in India where it is a prominent element in the mix of Indian religions today.
As an introduction to Jainism as a religious tradition and way of life, this book pays due attention to Jainism’s history and doctrinal basics. However the author emphasises the ways in which formal Jain teachings are manifested in the practices of both laity and the monastic elite; explores the distinctive Jain systems of cosmographic and biological knowledge and describes how Jainism is woven into the social identities of Jain communities in modern India.
Introduction. 1: Charter; 2: In History; 3: Liberation’s Roadmap; 4: Strivers; 5: Supporters; 6: A Moral Cosmos; 7: Social Context. Afterword. Glossary. Bibliography. Further Reading. Index.
Trained as a social anthropologist, Lawrence A. Babb is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Amherst College. He is the author of several books dealing with religion and society in India.

'Understanding Jainism fulfils its aims well. The list of further reading points the student to a wide range of resources, and the glossary gives succinct definitions of key terms. Babb writes fluently, his explanations are clear, his language accessible. This is an excellent starting point for those with little or no knowledge of Jainism. This is a worthwhile addition to the shelves of any theological library and for any individual who wishes to begin to understand Jainism better.'
Interreligious Insight

'This short monograph is in the Dunedin ‘Understanding Faith’ series edited by Frank Whaling, and it provides a fresh, well-structured, clearly written account of Jainism that is appropriate for undergraduate students and interested general readers alike. Babb cleverly weaves together methodological and interpretive issues with the history of the Jains and a sketch of the religion as it is practised in the twenty-first century… To sum up, Babb has written an intelligent book that is a pleasure to read, and deserves a wide readership.'
Journal for the Academic Study of Religion

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