THE JAINS. 83 this day it forms, with Christianity and Islam, one of the three great religions of the world ; and the most numerously followed of the three. The Jains. — Even in India Buddhism did not altogether die. Many of its doctrines still live in Hinduism. It also left behind a special sect, the Jains, who number about 1 millions in India. Like the Buddhists, they deny the authority of the Veda, except in so far as it agrees with their own tenets ; disregard sacrifice ; practise a strict morality ; believe that their past arid future states depend upon their own actions rather than on any external deity ; and refuse to kill either man or beast. The Jains divide time into three eras ; and adore twenty- four Jtnas, or just men made perfect, in the past age, twenty-four in the present, and twenty-four in the era to come. The colossal statues of this great company of saints stand in their temples. They choose wooded mountains and the most lovely retreats of nature for their places of pilgrimage, and cover them with ex- quisitely carved shrines in white marble or dazzling stucco. The Jains of India are usually merchants or bankers. Their charity is boundless ; and they form the chief supporters of the beast hospitals, which the old Buddhistic tenderness for animals has left in many of the cities of India. They claim, not without evidence, that the Jain religion is even older than Buddhism ; and that the teaching of Buddha was based on the Jain faith. The Present Influence of Buddhism in India. — Bud- dhism is still the religion of Burma, and has there nearly seven millions of followers, or nine-tenths of the population. The Bud- dhist monasteries have from ancient times been schools for the young as well as religious houses for the monks ; and they now form the basis of the British system of Public Instruction through- out Burma. In all the rest of British India there are only about 133,000 pure Buddhists, chiefly in the Bengal Districts adjacent to Burma, and in the remote valleys of the Himalayan ranges. From time to time Buddhism seems to take a new start in Lower Bengal, and Buddhist journals are published in Calcutta and elsewhere. The Jain faith, an allied religion to Indian Buddhism, has been described in the last paragraph. But the noblest survivals of Buddhism in India are to be found not among any
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/87
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