Classroom Activities & Projects
Jainism and PadukaLevel: High school-Grade 11 to 12
- Understand the role of sign and symbol in religion
- Identify ways in which religion is reflected in specific works of art
- Identify the origin and significance of various symbols
- Identify sacred beliefs from a variety of religions and explain any commonalities
- Effectively communicate the results of research, using a variety of methods and forms
Go to the 'Ivory padukas' section of the web exhibition with your students and locate the Jain paduka. Discuss Ahimsa, or the avoidance of harm, as a fundamental tenet in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Explain that a reflection of this belief can be found in the design of the paduka, one of the oldest forms of Indian footwear. Paduka are stilted to reduce the risk of injury to insects and microscopic life by raising the sole of the foot off the ground.
The Jain paduka has metal hobnails along the bottom of the two stilts, keeping the surface that actually touches the ground to an absolute minimum. This reduces the possibility that the wearer will accidentally harm something underfoot. Students may wonder at the use of ivory. In observance of ahimsa, ivory was originally harvested in India from live domesticated elephants at no discomfort to the animal, or from already deceased elephants.
Research the five vows of Jainism, including ahimsa. Explain how Jains can manage their daily lives in the 21st century while adhering to these principles.