Comparative Analysis of Religions: Jainism and Catholicism

Jainism, originally known as Jain Dharma, is defined as a nontheistic ancient Indian religion. The foundation of their religion is heavily based on the idea of nonviolence and not harming anything while they are on earth. Their ultimate goal is to be freed of their tainted soul and be reincarnated into another life. Catholicism is defined as the faith and practice of the roman catholic church. Catholics believe in the Holy Trinity, and their ultimate goal is to be with God in Heaven.

Jainism can definitely be considered a legitimate religion. According to the law of legally defined religions, a true religion has to have a set of beliefs and rituals. For the Jains, they have six essential duties. These duties are the following: Worship of Pañca-Parameṣṭhi (five supreme beings), following the preachings of Jain saints, the study of Jain scripture, Samayika: practising serenity and meditation, following discipline in their daily engagement, and the charity of four kinds (donation of food, medicine, knowledge, and protecting others that are under threat). This law also states that there has to be a set of specific people that ‘adhere’ for any specific religion to be considered legitimate. Jainism has many priests, but these priests are unlike the priests of many other religions in that they are only there to help with the rituals, and don't have the special status in the eyes of divine beings that some religions give their priests. In addition to Jain priests, monks also have a heavy influence on its followers. These are just a few of the many examples on why Jainism deserves to be considered a valid religion.

Although Catholicism and Jainism are very similar in multiple ways, they do have many differences to be acknowledged. One of those being how Jainism believes that the soul will be reincarnated. Catholics believe that once your life is over, you don't get to live on, instead you go to Heaven or Hell for eternity. Another significant difference is how Jains believe that God came down to earth in human form twenty-four times. Catholics believe that God came to save us only one time. This time being our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. A few similarities I would like to mention include the fact that both religions reject all things material. Jains do in fact do a much better job at succeeding in this vow. Catholics and Jains also do their part in helping the poor, needy, and less fortunate. Jains go out of their way to save others that are under threat, such as helpless animals, and the homeless. Catholics partake in this by volunteering with the poor, and donating their time.

There are many notable differences in Catholicism and Jainism. I think the most notable one though is the fact that Jains don't exactly believe in one God. Jains believe in 24 different God-like figures. According to Jainism, every God (Arihants) is born as a human. Once these humans reach a form in which their souls are entirely pure, they become an Arihants. Jains and Catholic also pray differently. Jains pray entirely to become closer to God. Unlike Catholics, who pray to become closer to God, but also for material things and goods. Another thing that Jains do is focus entirely on breaking down the barrier of the real-world and the after life. They do this by worshipping the four Tirthankaras. Catholics do worship statues of the Virgin Mary and of Jesus Christ, but they do not devote themselves to worshipping statues and images as much as Jains do. Finally, Jains dedicate a lot of their life to helping animals and insects. Some devoted Jains even carry around a broom with them at all times, so as not to harm any living creature. Catholics do not care as heavily about animals. Catholics instead focus more on people.

As an evangelist and a disciple of Jesus Christ I think there are so many reasons to convert to Catholicism. There may even be too many to count. There is one point that stands out to me amongst the others though, and this is the idea of one God. A God that loves us, cherishes us, and a God that puts us first. Jains believe in multiple God-like beings. This just does not seem as satisfactory as having one all-knowing, all-loving God. Another reason that stands out to me is how Catholics are allowed to own materialistic things. Jains are not allowed to own materialistic things. Catholics are to only ‘live simply’. Two more important facts include the idea that we go to Heaven after we die, and that we are allowed to eat animal products (except Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent).

To end I would like to say that Jainism and Catholicism are two wildly different religions. Catholicism is based around one God, while Jainism has a total of 24. Both religions are considered legitimate and valid religions by the ‘Religion Defined Law’, but it is difficult to compare such drastically different religions. I would like to state that both religions are special and unique in their own ways, and this essay was only mildly got into the contrasts of each belief system.  

16 December 2021
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