Abstract and Keywords
This chapter reviews cases of conversion to the Jain tradition and suggests that Jains have an affirmative view of conversion and have actively responded to shifting social contexts in attempts to attract converts. The Jain tradition emerged with the proselytizing endeavors of a charismatic ascetic teacher, Mahavira. Since then, Jains have actively sought to keep Jain adherents and attract new ones by constructing religious practices and ideas appropriate to particular religious markets. They have offered potential converts merit gained by devotion to monastic teachers and rituals to popular deities believed to deliver benefits to their devotees. Contemporary proselytizing endeavors by Jain monastic teachers and the Jain laity have succeeded in informing a global audience about the Jain tradition through programs for social reform based on a reconstruction of the ethic of ahimsa and forms of modern yoga, such as preksha dhyana of the Jain Shvetambara Terapanth.
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