“Jain” redirects here. For other uses, see Jain (disam- 1.1 Ahimsa (Non-violence)
Main article: Ahimsa in Jainism
The principle of ahimsa (non-violence or non-injury) is a
Jainism (/ˈdʒeɪnɪzəm/ or /ˈdʒaɪnɪzəm/ ), traditionally
known as Jain Dharma, is an ancient Indian religion.
Jainism followers are called “Jains”, a word derived from
the Sanskrit word jina (victor) and connoting the path of
victory in crossing over life’s stream of rebirths through
an ethical and spiritual life.[4] Jains trace their history
through a succession of twenty-four victorious saviors
and teachers known as Tirthankaras, with the first being
Rishabhanatha, who is believed to have lived millions of
years ago, and twenty-fourth being the Mahavira around
500 BCE. Jains believe that Jainism is an eternal dharma
with the Tirthankaras guiding every cycle of the Jain cosmology.
The main religious premises of Jainism are ahimsa
(“non-violence”), anekantavada (“many-sidedness”),
aparigraha (“non-attachment”) and asceticism. Followers of Jainism take five main vows: ahimsa
(“non-violence”), satya (“truth”), asteya (“not stealing”),
brahmacharya (“celibacy or chastity”), and aparigraha
(“non-attachment”). These principles have impacted Jain
culture in many ways, such as leading to a predominantly
vegetarian lifestyle that avoids harm to animals and their
life cycles. Parasparopagraho Jivanam (“the function of
souls is to help one another”) is the motto of Jainism.
Namokar Mantra is the most common and basic prayer
in Jainism.[5]
Painting with the message: "Ahiṃsā Paramo Dharma" (nonviolence is the highest virtue or religion)
fundamental tenet of Jainism.[7] It believes that one must
abandon all violent activity, and without such a commitment to non-violence all religious behavior is worthless.[7]
In Jain theology, it does not matter how correct or defensible the violence may be, one must not kill any being,
and “non-violence is one’s highest religious duty”.[7][8]
Jain texts such as Acaranga Sutra and Tattvarthasutra
state that one must renounce all killing of living beings,
whether tiny or large, movable or immovable.[9][10] Its
theology teaches that one must neither kill another living being, nor cause another to kill, nor consent to any
killing directly or indirectly.[9][8] Further Jainism emphasizes non-violence against all beings not only in action, but
also in speech and in thought.[9][10] It states that instead of
hate or violence against anyone, “all living creatures must
help each other”.[10][note 1] Violence negatively affects and
destroys one soul, particularly when the violence is done
with intent, hate or carelessness, or when one indirectly
causes or consents to the killing of a human or non-human
living being.[10]
Jainism has two major ancient sub-traditions,
Digambaras and Svetambaras; and several smaller
sub-traditions that emerged in the 2nd millennium CE.
The Digambaras and Svetambaras have different views
on ascetic practices, gender and which Jain texts can be
considered canonical. Jain mendicants are found in all
Jain sub-traditions, with laypersons (śrāvakas) supporting
the mendicants’ spiritual pursuits with resources.
Jainism has between four and five million followers, with
most Jains residing in India.[6] Outside India, some of the
largest Jain communities are present in Canada, Europe,
The idea of reverence for non-violence (ahimsa) is
Kenya, the United Kingdom, Suriname, Fiji, and the
founded in Hindu and Buddhist canonical texts, and it
United States. Major Jain festivals include Paryushana
may have origins in more ancient Brahmanical Vedic
and Daslakshana, Mahavir Jayanti, and Diwali.
thoughts.[7][12][13] However, no other Indian religion has
developed the non-violence doctrine and its implications
on everyday life as has Jainism.[14][15][16]
The theological basis of non-violence as the highest religious duty has been interpreted by some Jain scholars
to “not be driven by merit from giving or compassion
Main principles
1.2 Many-sided reality (Anekāntavāda)
Main article: Anekantavada
The second main principle of Jainism is Anekantavada or
Anekantatva.[24][25] This doctrine states that truth and reality is complex and always has multiple aspects. Reality
can be experienced, but it is not possible to totally express it with language. Human attempts to communicate
is Naya, or “partial expression of the truth”.[24] Language
is not Truth, but a means and attempt to express Truth.
From Truth, according to Mahavira, language returns and
not the other way around.[24][26] One can experience the
truth of a taste, but cannot fully express that taste through
language. Any attempts to express the experience is syāt,
or valid “in some respect” but it still remains a “perhaps,
just one perspective, incomplete”.[26] In the same way,
spiritual truths are complex, they have multiple aspects,
language cannot express their plurality, yet through effort
and appropriate karma they can be experienced.[24]
The hand with a wheel on the palm symbolizes Ahimsa in Jainism. The word in the middle is “ahimsa”. The wheel represents the dharmachakra, which stands for the resolve to halt the
saṃsāra (transmigration) through relentless pursuit of truth and
to other creatures, nor a duty to rescue all creatures”,
but resulting from “continual self discipline”, a cleansing
of the soul that leads to one’s own spiritual development
which ultimately effects one’s salvation and release from
rebirths.[17] Causing injury to any being in any form creates bad karma which affects one’s rebirth, future well
being and suffering.[18][19]
Late medieval Jain scholars re-examined the Ahimsa doctrine when one is faced with external threat or violence.
For example, they justified violence by monks to protect nuns.[20][21] According to Dundas, the Jain scholar
Jinadatta Suri wrote during a time of Muslim destruction of temples and persecution, that “anybody engaged
in a religious activity who was forced to fight and kill
somebody would not lose any spiritual merit but instead
attain deliverance”.[22] However, such examples in Jain
texts that condone fighting and killing under certain circumstances, are relatively rare.[20][note 2]
The Anekantavada premises of the Jains is ancient, as
evidenced by its mention in Buddhist texts such as the
Samaññaphala Sutta. The Jain Agamas suggest that Mahavira’s approach to answering all metaphysical philosophical questions was a “qualified yes” (syāt).[27][28]
These texts identify Anekantavada doctrine to be one
of the key differences between the teachings of the Mahavira and those of the Buddha. The Buddha taught the
Middle Way, rejecting extremes of the answer “it is” or “it
is not” to metaphysical questions. The Mahavira, in contrast, taught his followers to accept both “it is” and “it is
not”, with “perhaps” qualification and with reconciliation
to understand the Absolute Reality.[29] Syādvāda (predication logic) and Nayavāda (perspective epistemology) of
Jainism expand on the concept of anekāntavāda. Syādvāda recommends the expression of anekānta by prefixing the epithet syād to every phrase or expression describing the “permanent being”.[30][31] There is no creator
God in Jainism, the existence has neither beginning nor
end, and the permanent being is conceptualized as jiva
(soul) and ajiva (matter) within a dualistic anekantavada
In contemporary times, according to Paul Dundas, the
Anekantavada doctrine has been interpreted by many
Jains as intending to “promote a universal religious tolerance”, and a teaching of “plurality” and “benign attitude to other [ethical, religious] positions”. This is problematic and a misreading of Jain historical texts and Mahavira’s teachings, states Dundas.[33] The “many pointedness, multiple perspective” teachings of the Mahavira is a
doctrine about the nature of Absolute Reality and human
existence, and it is sometimes called “non-absolutism”
doctrine.[34] However, it is not a doctrine about tolerating
or condoning activities such as sacrificing or killing animals for food, violence against disbelievers or any other
living being as “perhaps right”.[33] The Five vows for Jain
monks and nuns, for example, are strict requirements and
there is no “perhaps, just one perspective”.[35] Similarly,
since ancient times, Jainism co-existed with Buddhism
and Hinduism, according to Dundas, but Jainism was
highly critical of the knowledge systems and ideologies
of its rivals, and vice versa.[36]
Jain texts such as Tattvartha Sutra and Uttaradhyayana
Sutra discuss ascetic austerities to great lengths and formulations. Six outer and six inner practices are most
common, and oft repeated in later Jain texts.[48] According to John Cort, outer austerities include complete
fasting, eating limited amounts, eating restricted items,
abstaining from tasty foods, mortifying the flesh and
1.3 Non-attachment (Aparigraha)
guarding the flesh (avoiding anything that is a source of
temptation).[49] Inner austerities include expiation, conMain article: Aparigraha
fession, respecting and assisting mendicants, studying,
meditation and ignoring bodily wants in order to abandon
The third main principle in Jainism is aparigraha which the body.
means non-attachment to worldly possessions.[37] For as- The list of internal and external austerities in Jainism vary
cetics, Jainism requires a vow of complete non-possession with the text and tradition.[50][51] Asceticism is viewed
of any property. For Jain laypersons, it recommends lim- as a means to control desires, and a means to purify
ited possession of property that has been honestly earned, the jiva (soul).[45] The Tirthankaras of Jainism, such as
and the giving away excess property to charity.[37] Ac- the Mahavira (Vardhamana) set an example of leading
cording to Natubhai Shah, aparigraha applies to both ma- an ascetic life by performing severe austeries for twelve
terial and psychic. Material possessions refer to various years.[52][53][54]
forms of property. Psychic possessions refer to emotions,
likes and dislikes, attachments of any form. Unchecked
attachment to possessions is said to result in direct harm
2 Practices
to one’s personality.[38]
Attachments to the material or emotional possessions
are viewed in Jainism as what leads to passions, which
in turn leads to violence.[7] Per the aparigraha principle, a Jain monk or nun is expected to be homeless and
family-less with no emotional longings or attachments.[39]
The ascetic is a wandering mendicant in the Digambara tradition, or a resident mendicant in the Svetambara
In addition, Jain texts mention that “attachment to possessions” (parigraha) is of two kinds: attachment to internal possessions (ābhyantara parigraha), and attachment to external possessions (bāhya parigraha).[40] For
internal possessions, Jainism identifies four key passions
of the mind (kashaya): anger, pride (ego), deceitfulness,
and greed. In addition to the four passions of the mind,
the remaining ten internal passions are: wrong belief, the
three sex-passions (male sex-passion, female sex-passion,
neuter sex-passion), and the six defects (laughter, like,
dislike, sorrow, fear, disgust).[41][42]
Main article: Asceticism
Of all the major Indian religions, Jainism has had the
strongest austerities-driven ascetic tradition, and it is an
essential part of a mendicant’s spiritual pursuits.[43][44][45]
Ascetic life may include nakedness symbolizing nonpossession of even clothes, fasting, body mortification,
penance and other austerities, in order to burn away past
karma and stop producing new karma, both of which are
believed in Jainism to be essential for reaching siddha and
moksha (liberation from rebirths, salvation).[43][46][47]
2.1 Jain ethics and Five vows
Main article: Ethics of Jainism
See also: Yamas § Five Yamas
Jainism teaches five ethical duties, which it calls Five
vows. These are called anuvratas (small vows) for
Jain layperson, and mahavratas (great vows) for Jain
mendicants.[55] For both, its moral precepts preface that
the Jain has access to a guru (teacher, counsellor), deva
(Jina, god), doctrine, and that the individual is free from
five offences: doubts about the faith, indecisiveness about
the truths of Jainism, sincere desire for Jain teachings,
recognition of fellow Jains, and admiration for their spiritual pursuits.[56] Such a person undertakes the following
Five vows of Jainism:
1. Ahimsa: Ahimsa means intentional “non-violence "
or “noninjury”.[56] The first major vow taken by Jains
is to cause no harm to other human beings, as well as
all living beings.[56] This is the highest ethical duty
in Jainism, and it applies not only to one’s actions,
but demands that one be non-violent in one’s speech
and thoughts.[57][58]
2. Satya: Satya means “truth”. This vow is to always
speak the truth, neither lie, nor speak what is not
true, do not encourage others or approve anyone who
speaks the untruth.[57][55]
3. Asteya: Asteya means “not stealing”. A Jain layperson should not take anything that is not willingly
given.[56][59] A Jain mendicant should additionally
ask for permission to take it if something is being
2.2 Food and fasting
Main articles: Jain vegetarianism and Fasting in Jainism
The practice of non-violence towards all living beings has
led to Jain culture being vegetarian, with most Jains practicing lacto vegetarianism (no eggs). If there is violence
against animals during the production of dairy products,
veganism is encouraged.[68] Jain monks and nuns do not
eat root vegetables such as potatoes, onions and garlic because tiny organisms are injured when the plant is pulled
up, and because a bulb or tuber’s ability to sprout is seen
as characteristic of a living being.[69][note 3]
Jains fast on different occasions throughout the year, particularly during festivals.[70] This practice is called upavasa, tapasya or vrata.[71] According to Singh, this takes
on various forms and may be practised based on one’s
ability.[72] Some examples include Digambara fasting for
Dasa-laksana-parvan where a Jain layperson eats only
one or two meals per day, drinking only boiled water for
ten days, or a complete fast on the first and last day of the
festival.[73] These practices bring the layperson to mimic
the practices of a Jain mendicant during the festival.[73]
A similar practice is found among Svetambara Jains on
eight day paryusana with samvatsari-pratikramana.[74]
Nishidhi stone, depicting the vow of sallekhana, 14th century,
4. Brahmacharya: Brahmacharya means “celibacy”,
that is abstinence from sex and sensual pleasures
for Jain monks and nuns. For laypersons, brahmacharya vow means chastity, faithfulness to one’s
The fasting practice is believed to remove karma from
one’s soul and to gain merit (punya).[70] A “one day” fast
in Jain tradition lasts about 36 hours, starting at sunset before the day of fast and ending 48 minutes after the sunrise the day after.[70] Among laypeople, fasting is more
commonly observed by women, where it is believed that
this shows her piety, religious purity, gains her and her
family prestige, leads to merit earning and helps ensure
future well being for her family. Some religious fasts
are observed as a group, where Jain women socially bond
and support each other.[75] Long fasts are celebrated by
friends and families with special ceremonies.[75]
5. Aparigraha:
This includes non-attachment
to material and psychological possessions, avoiding
craving and greed.[55] Jain monks and nuns com- 2.3 Meditation
pletely renounce property and social relations, own
nothing and are attached to no one.[37][61]
Main article: Jain meditation
Supplementary vows and Sallekhana
Jainism also prescribes seven supplementary vows which
include three guņa vratas (“merit vows”) and four śikşā
The Sallekhana (or Santhara) vow is a “religious death”
ritual vow observed at the end of life, historically by Jain
monks and nuns, but rare in the modern age.[64] In this
vow, there is voluntary and gradual reduction of food
and liquid intake to end one’s life by choice and with
dispassion,[65][66] This is believed in Jainism to reduce
negative karma that affects a soul’s future rebirths.[67]
Jain nuns meditating, Right:
10th century
Gommateshwara statue depicting standing meditation (Kayotsarga posture)
Jainism considers meditation (dhyana) a necessary practice, but its goals are very different than those in Bud-
Rituals and worship
dhism and Hinduism.[76] In Jainism, meditation is concerned more with stopping karmic attachments and activity, not as a means to transformational insights or
self-realization in other Indian religions.[76] Meditation
in early Jain literature is a form of austerity and ascetic
practice in Jainism, while in late medieval era the practice adopts ideas from other Indian traditions. According
to Paul Dundas, this lack of meditative practices in early
Jain texts may be because substantial portions of ancient
Jain texts were lost.[76]
religious death through ascetic abandonment of food and
drinks.[86] The Digambara Jains follow the same theme,
but the details differ from Svetambaras, and according to
Dundas, the life cycle and religious rituals are closer to
the liturgy found among Hindu traditions.[86] The overlap
in Jain and Hindu rituals is largely in the life cycle (ritesof-passage) rituals, states Padmanabh Jaini, and likely
one that developed over time because Jains and Hindus
societies overlapped, and rituals were viewed as necessary and secular ceremonies.[88][89]
According to Padmanabh Jaini, Sāmāyika is a practice of
“brief periods in meditation” in Jainism which is a part of
siksavrata (ritual restraint).[77] The goal of Sāmāyika is to
achieve equanimity, and it is the second siksavrata.[note 4]
The samayika ritual is practiced at least three times a day
by mendicants, while a layperson includes it with other
ritual practices such as Puja in a Jain temple and doing
charity work.[78][79][80] According to Johnson, as well as
Jaini, samayika connotes more than meditation, and for
a Jain householder is the voluntary ritual practice of “assuming temporary ascetic status”.[81][note 5]
Jains do not believe in a creator god, but do ritually
worship numerous deities.[87] The Jinas are prominent
and a large focus of this ritualism, but they are not
the only deva in Jainism. A Jina as deva is not an
avatar (incarnation) in Jainism, but the highest state
of omniscience that an ascetic Tirthankara achieved.[90]
Out of the 24 Tirthankaras, the Jain devotional worship is predominantly centered around four: Mahavira,
Parshvanatha, Neminatha and Rishabhanatha.[91] Among
the non-Tirthankara saints, devotional worship is common for Bahubali among the Digambaras.[92] Some
of Jaina rituals remember the five life events of the
Tirthankaras called the Panch Kalyanaka are rituals such
as the Panch Kalyanaka Pratishtha Mahotsava, Panch
Kalyanaka Puja, and Snatrapuja.[93][94]
The Digambara Jain scholar Kundakunda, in his Pravacanasara states that a Jain mendicant should meditate on
“I, the pure self”. Anyone who considers his body or possessions as “I am this, this is mine” is on the wrong road,
while one who meditates, thinking the antithesis and “I
am not others, they are not mine, I am one knowledge”
is on the right road to meditating on the “soul, the pure
self”.[83][note 6]
Rituals and worship
Main article: Jain rituals
There are many rituals in Jainism’s various sects. Ac-
Praying at the feet of a statue of Bahubali
cording to Dundas, the ritualistic lay path among Svetambara Jains is “heavily imbued with ascetic values”,
where the rituals either revere or celebrate the ascetic
life of Tirthankaras, or mendicants, or progessively get
closer to psychologically and physically living ever more
like an ascetic.[86][87] The ultimate ritual is sallekhana, a
Jain worship may include ritual offerings and recitals.[95]
The basic worship ritual practised by Jains is darsana
(“seeing”) of deva, which includes Jina,[96] or other yaksas, gods and goddesses such as Brahmadeva, 52 Viras,
Padmavati,Ambika and 16 Vidyadevis (Sarasvati, Lakshmi, others).[97][98][99] The Terapanthi sub-tradition of
Digambaras do not worship many of the deities popular among mainstream Digambaras, and they limit their
ritual worship to Tirthankaras.[100] The worship ritual
is called the devapuja, is found in all Jaina subtraditions, which share common features.[101] Typically, the
Jaina layperson enters the temple inner sanctum in simple clothing and bare feet, with a plate filled with offerings, bows down, says the namaskara, completes his or
her litany and prayers, sometimes is assisted by the temple priest, leaves the offerings and then departs.[101]
Jain practices include performing abhisheka (“ceremonial bath”) of the images.[102] Some Jain sects employ
a pujari (also called upadhye) for rituals, who may be a
non-Jain (a Hindu), to perform special rituals and other
priestly duties at the temple.[103][104] More elaborate worship includes ritual offerings such as rice, fresh and dry
fruits, flowers, coconut, sweets, and money. Some may
light up a lamp with camphor and make auspicious marks
with sandalwood paste. Devotees also recite Jain texts,
particularly the life stories of the Tirthankaras.[105][95]
Celebrating Das Lakshana (Paryusana), Jain Center of America,
New York City
It lasts eight days for Svetambaras, and ten days among
the Digambaras.[111] It is a time when lay people fast and
pray. The five vows are emphasized during this time.[112]
Svetambaras recite the Kalpasutras, while Digambaras
read their own texts. The festival is an occasion where
The traditional Jains, like Buddhists and Hindus, be- Jains make active effort to stop cruelty towards other life
lieve in the efficacy of mantras and that certain sounds forms, freeing animals in captivity and preventing slaughand words are inherently auspicious, powerful and ter of animals.[111]
spiritual.[106][107] The most famous of the mantras,
broadly accepted in various sects of Jainism, is the Forgiveness
“five homage” (panca namaskara) mantra which is be- I forgive all living beings,
lieved to be eternal and existent since the first ford- may all living beings forgive me.
maker’s time.[106] The medieval era Jain worship prac- All in this world are my friends,
tices, according to Ellen Gough, also developed tantric I have no enemies.
diagrams of the Rishi-mandala where the Tirthankaras
—Jain festival prayer on the last day[113]
are portrayed.[108] The Tantric traditions within Jainism
use mantra and rituals that are believed to accrue merit The last day involves a focused prayer/meditation session known as Samvatsari. Jains consider this as a day
for rebirth realms.[109]
of atonement, granting forgiveness to others, seeking
forgiveness from all living beings, physically or mentally asking for forgiveness, resolving to treat everyone
2.5 Festivals
in the world as friends.[111] Forgiveness is asked by saying Micchami Dukkadam or Khamat Khamna to othMain article: Jain festivals
ers, which means, “If I have offended you in any way,
Jains celebrate many annual festivals. Many of the major festivals in Jainism fall in and around the comasu knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word or action,
then I seek your forgiveness.” The literal meaning of
(Sanskrit: caturmasa) period of the calendar. [110] It is
the four month monsoon period when the Jain ascetics Paryushana is “abiding” or “coming together”.
Mahavir Jayanti celebrates the birth of Mahāvīra. It is
celebrated on the 13th day of the luni-solar month of
Chaitra in the traditional Indian calendar. This typically
falls in March or April of the Gregorian calendar.[115][116]
The festivities include visiting Jain temples and pilgrimages to shrines, reading Jain texts and processions of Mahavira by the community. At his legendary birthplace of
in Bihar, north of Patna, special events are
The most important annual Jain festival is called the Kundagrama [115]
Paryushana by Svetambaras, and Dasa lakshana parva
by the Digambaras. It is celebrated from the 12th day Diwali is observed by Jains as the anniversary of
of waning moon in the traditional luni-solar month of Mahāvīra’s attainment of moksha.[117] The Hindu festiBhadrapada in the Indian calendar. This typically falls in val of Diwali is also celebrated on the same date (KarAugust or September of the Gregorian calendar.[111][112] tika Amavasya). Jain temples, homes, offices, and shops
are mandated to remain in residence at one place in the
Jain tradition, rather than be traveling or going around
Indian villages and towns begging for alms and collecting food but never staying in one place for more than a
month. The comasu period allows all four orders of the
Jain community to be together and participate in the festive remembrances.[110]
are decorated with lights and diyas (“small oil lamps”).
The lights are symbolic of knowledge or removal of ignorance. Sweets are often distributed. On Diwali morning,
Nirvan Ladoo is offered after praying to Mahāvīra in all
Jain temples across the world. The Jain new year starts
right after Diwali.[117] Some other festivals celebrated by
Jains are Akshaya Tritiya and Raksha Bandhan, similar
to those in the Hindu communities.[118][119]
A Svetambara nun (early 20thcentury)
Main article: Jain monasticism
A Digambara nun
Digambara monk
Svetambara-Deravasi monk
Jainism monastic organization is a part of Jain society called sangh.[120] A sangh has a four-fold order, or
caturvidh, sakal sangh.[120] This consists of sadhu (male
ascetics, muni), sadhvi (female ascetics, aryika), śrāvaka
(“laymen”), and śrāvikā (“laywoman”).[121][122] The latter two support the ascetics and their monastic organizations called gacch or samuday, in autonomous regional
Jain congregations.[120]
Digambar tradition has two main monastic orders Mula
Sangh and the Kashtha Sangh, both led by Bhattarakas.
Other notable monastic orders include the Digambara
Terapanth emerged in the 17th century.[123] Svetambaras
have their own sanghs, but unlike Digambaras which predominantly have had “sadhu sanghs” (male monastic organizations), they have major sadhu and sadhvi sanghs
(monks and nuns).[124]
According to Svetambara Jain texts, from Kalpasutras onwards, its monastic community has had more sadhvis than
sadhus (female than male mendicants). In Tapa Gacch
of the modern era, the ratio of sadhvis to sadhus (nuns
to monks) is about 3.5 to 1.[125] In contrast to Svetambara, the Digambara sect monastic community has been
predominantly males.[126] In the traditional Digambara
tradition, a male human being is considered closest to
the apex with the potential to achieve his soul’s liberation from rebirths through asceticism. Women must gain
karmic merit, to be reborn as man, and only then can
they achieve spiritual liberation in the Digambara sect
of Jainism.[127][128] The Svetambaras disagree with the
Digambaras, believing that women too can achieve liberation from Saṃsāra through ascetic practices.[128][129]
The Jain monastic organization shares many parallels
with those found in Buddhist and Brahmanical-Hindu
monasticism.[130][131] They all have similar rules, hierarchical structure, practices such as not traveling during the four month monsoon season and celibacy.[131]
According to William Johnston, this is not likely from
mutual borrowing of ideas but because these traditions
emerged out of the same ancient Indian monastic traditions that preceded the Buddha and the Mahavira.[130]
There are some differences. For example, the Jain and
Hindu monastic community has been traditionally more
mobile and itinerant lifestyle, while Buddhist monks have
favored belonging to a sangha (monastery) and staying in
its premises.[132] Buddhist monastic rules forbid a monk
to go outside without wearing the sangha’s distinctive
ruddy robe, or to use wooden bowls.[130] In contrast, Jain
monastic rules have either required no clothes (Digambara) or white (Svetambara) and the use of wooden or
empty gourd as the begging bowl.[130] The Jain monastic
rules have encouraged the use of mouth cover, as well as a
broom-like object to gently remove any insect that comes
in their path.[133][134][135]
Digambara Mahavira iconography
Traditions and sects
Main article: Jain schools and branches
Svetambara Simandhar Swami
Digambaras and Svetambaras
Other than rejecting or accepting different ancient Jain
texts, Digambaras and Svetambaras differ in other sigThe Jain community is divided into two major
nificant ways such as:
denominations, Digambara and Śvētāmbara. Monks
of the Digambara (“sky-clad”) tradition do not wear
• Svetambaras trace their practices and dress code to
clothes. Female monastics of the Digambara sect wear
the teachings of Parshvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara,
unstitched plain white sarees and are referred to as
which they believe taught only Four restraints (a
Aryikas. Śvētāmbara (“white-clad”) monastics on the
claim, scholars state are confirmed by the another hand, wear white seamless clothes.
cient Buddhist texts that discuss Jaina monastic
During Chandragupta Maurya’s reign, Jain tradition
life). Mahavira taught Five vows, which Digamstates that Acharya Bhadrabahu predicted a twelve-yearbara follow.[143][144][145] The Digambara sect dislong famine and moved to Karnataka with his disciagrees with the Svetambara interpretations,[146] and
ples. Sthulabhadra, a pupil of Acharya Bhadrabahu,
they reject the theory of difference in Parshvanatha
stayed in Magadha.[137] Later, when followers of Acharya
and Mahavira’s teachings.[144]
Bhadrabahu returned, they found that those who had
stayed at Magadha had started wearing white clothes,
• Digambaras believe that both Parshvanatha and Mawhich was unacceptable to the others who remained
havira remained unmarried, whereas Śvētāmbara
naked.[138] This is how Jains believe that the Digambelieve that the 23rd and 24th did indeed marry. Acbara and Śvētāmbara schism began, with the former
cording to the Svetambara version, Parshva married
being naked while the latter wore white clothes.[139]
Prabhavati,[147] and Mahavira married Yashoda who
Digambara saw this as being opposed to the Jain tenets
bore him a daughter named Priyadarshana.[148][149]
which, according to them, required complete nudity. In
The two sects also differ on the origin of Trishala,
the 5th-century CE, the Council of Valabhi was orgaMahavira’s mother,[148] as well as the details of
nized by Svetambara, which Digambara did not attend.
Tirthankara’s biographies such as how many auspiAt the council, the Svetambara adopted the texts they
cious dreams their mothers had when they were in
had preserved as canonical scriptures, which Digamthe wombs.[150]
bara have ever since rejected. This council solidi• Digambara believe Rishabha, Vasupujya and
fied the historic schism between these two major tradiNeminatha were the three Tirthankaras who
tions of Jainism.[140][141] The earliest record of Digambara beliefs is contained in the Prakrit Suttapahuda of
reached omniscience while in sitting posture and
other Tirthankaras were in standing ascetic posture.
In contrast, Svetambaras believe it was Rishabha, 4 Beliefs and philosophy
Nemi and Mahavira who were the three in sitting
Main article: Jain philosophy
• Digambara monasticism rules are more rigid.[152]
Dravya (“Substance”)
• Digambara iconography are plain, Svetambara icons
are decorated and colored to be more lifelike.[152]
Main article: Dravya
The dravya in Jainism are fundamental entities, called
Excavations at Mathura revealed Jain statues from the
time of the Kushan Empire (c. 1st century CE).
Tirthankara represented without clothes, and monks with
cloth wrapped around the left arm, are identified as the
Ardhaphalaka (“half-clothed”) mentioned in texts. The
Yapaniyas, believed to have originated from the Ardhaphalaka, followed Digambara nudity along with several Śvētāmbara beliefs.[153]
Other sub-traditions
Each of the two major Jain traditions evolved into subtraditions over time. For example, the devotional worship traditions of Svetambara are referred to as Murtipujakas, those who live in and around Jain temples became Deravasi or Mandira-margi, those who avoid temples and pursue their spirituality at a designated monastic
meeting place came to be known as Sthānakavāsī.[154][155]
About the 18th century, the Svetambara and Digambara traditions saw an emergence of separate Terapanthi movements.[155][156][157] Some scholars such as Malvaniya state that these ideas entered Jainism from an influence of Islam, while others such as Dundas state that
these ideas, debates and movements can be traced in more
ancient texts than the start of Islam.[158]
Chart showing the classification of dravya and astikaya
astikaya (literally, “collection that exists”).[163] They are
believed to be eternal, and the ontological building blocks
that constitute and explain all existence, whether perceived or not.[163][164]
According to the Svetambara tradition of Jainism, there
are five eternal substances in existence: Soul (jiva), Matter (pudgala), Space (akasha), motion (Dharma) and rest
(Adharma).[165][note 7] To this list of five, the Digambara
Jain tradition adds “Time” (kala) as the sixth eternal
substance.[165][163][167] In both traditions, the substance of
space is conceptualized as “world space” (lokakasha) and
“non-world space” (alokiakasha). Further, both soul and
matter are considered as active ontological substances,
Another categorization
In 20th century, new religious movements around the while the rest are inactive.
ajiva, the latter being
teachings of Kanji Swami and Shrimad Rajchandra
Gender and spiritual liberation
A male human being is considered closest to the apex with
the potential to achieve liberation, particularly through
asceticism. In the Digambara traditional belief, women
must gain karmic merit, to be reborn as man, and
only then can they achieve spiritual liberation.[127][128]
However, this view has been historically debated within
Jainism and different Jaina sects have expressed different views, particularly the Svetambara sect that believes that women too can achieve spritual liberation
from rebirths in Saṃsāra.[128][129] The Śvētāmbaras state
the 19th Tirthankara Māllīnātha was female.[161] However, Digambara reject this, and worship Mallinatha as a
Jīva (“Soul”), Ajīva (“Non-Soul”)
Main articles: Jīva (Jainism) and Ajiva
Jiva means soul in Jainism, and is also called jivatman.[168] It is a core concept and the fundamental focus
of the Jain theology.[163][169] The soul is believed to be
eternal, and a substance that undergoes constant modifications, in every life, after every rebirth of a living
being.[163][170] Jiva consists of pure consciousness in the
Jain thought, has innate “free will” that causes it to act,
but is believed to be intangible and formless.[163] It is the
soul that experiences existence and gains knowledge, not
mind nor body both believed to a heap of matter.[171][172]
Jain philosophy further believes that the soul is the mechanism of rebirth, karma accumulation, and is of same size
in all living beings, such as a human being, a tiny insect
and a large elephant. Jiva is everywhere, filling and infused in every minuscule part of the entire loka (realm
of existence), according to Jainism.[171] The soul has the
potential to reach omniscience and eternal bliss, end the
cycles of rebirth and associated suffering, which is the
goal of Jain spirituality.[171][173]
• The sentient (jiva, soul)
The jiva is believed to rely on other dravya to
function.[163] The Jain philosophy completely separates
body (matter) from the soul (consciousness).[165] Souls
reside in bodies and journey endlessly through saṃsāra
(that is, realms of existence through cycles of rebirths and
• Bad karma (papa, negatives), found in the tattva theory of Svetambara, but not of Digambaras
• The insentient (ajiva)
• The karmic influx (Āsrava) to the soul
• Good karma (punya, merits), found in the tattva theory of Svetambara, but not of Digambaras
• The bondage (Bandha) of karmic particles to the
soul, thereby causing its change, which cumulatively
determines the future rebirths[182][183]
Jivas are believed to be of two types, stationary and mo• The stoppage (Saṃvara) of karmic influx
bile. Illustration of the former are plants, while mov• The dissociation and wiping away of past karmic
ing jivas include examples such as human beings, anparticles (Nirjarā) from the soul
imals, gods, hell beings and insects.[175] Jivas are further classified in Jain philosophy by assigned number of
• The liberation (Moksha)
senses which range from one sensory organ to five sen[175]
sory organs.
Inert world such as air, fire or clod of
in Jain philosophy is considered as “faith
dirt, considered non-sensate in contemporary science, are The true insight
The spiritual goal in Jainism is to reach
asserted in historic texts of Jainism to be living and with
but for most Jain laypersons and as[176]
sensory powers.
cetics it is to accumulate good karma that leads to better
Ajiva consists of everything other than jiva.[177] Life pro- rebirth and a step closer to liberation.[184][185]
cesses such as breath, means of knowledge such as language, all emotional and biological experiences such as
pleasure and pain are all believed in Jainism to be made 4.3 Soul and Karma
of pudgala (matter). These interact with tattva or reality
to create, bind, destroy or unbind karma particles to the Main article: Karma in Jainism
Dharma as a metaphysical substance in Jain philosophy,
states Dundas, may be understood as “that which carries”
instead of literal sense of ordinary physical motion. Thus,
dharma includes all verbal and mental activity, that contribute to karma and purification of the soul.[175]
Tattva (“Reality”)
According to Jainism, the existence of “a bound and ever
changing soul” is a self-evident truth, an axiom which
does not need to be proven.[186] There are numerous
souls, but every one of them has three qualities (Guṇa):
consciousness (caitanya, most important quality of soul),
bliss (sukha) and vibrational energy (virya).[187] The vibration draws karmic particles to the soul and creates
bondages, but is also what adds merit or demerit to the
Main article: Tattva (Jainism)
Tattva connotes “Reality, Truth” in Jain philosophy, and Karma, like in other Indian religions, connotes in Jainism the universal cause and effect law. However, it is envisioned as a material substance (subtle matter) that can
bind to the soul, travel with the soul substance in bound
form between rebirths, and affect the suffering and happiness experienced by the jiva in the lokas.[188] Karma
also is believed to obscure and obstruct the innate nature
and striving of the soul, as well as its spiritual potential in
next rebirth.[189]
The relationship between the soul and karma, states Padmanabh Jaini, can be explained with the analogy of gold.
Like gold is always found mixed with impurities in its
original state, Jainism holds that the soul is not pure at
The 7 Tattvas of Jain philosophy
its origin, but is always impure and defiled such like natis the framework for salvation. According to Digambara ural gold. One can exert effort and purify gold, simiJains, there are seven tattvas, while Svetambaras believe larly, Jainism states that the defiled soul can be purified
in nine tattvas:[180][181][178]
by proper refining methodology.[190] Karma either defiles
the soul further, or refines it to a cleaner state, and this
affects the future rebirths.[191] Karma is thus an efficient
cause (nimitta) in Jain philosophy, but not the material
cause (upadana). The soul is believed to be the material
Tirthankara-nama-karma is a special type of karma,
bondage of which raises a soul to the supreme status of a
Classification of Saṃsāri Jīvas (transmigrating souls) in Jainism
Jain texts state that souls exist as “clothed with material
bodies”, where it entirely fills up the body.[194] There are
five types of bodies in the Jaina thought: earthly (e.g.
most humans, animals and plants), metamorphic (e.g.
gods, hell beings, fine matter, some animals and a few humans who can morph because of their perfections), transference type (e.g. good and pure substances realized by
ascetics), fiery (e.g. heat that transforms or digests food),
and karmic (the substrate where the karmic particles reside and which make the soul ever changing).[195]
Souls are reborn in various realms of existence depending on their
karmas, according to Jainism.
but not assumed in the Buddhist traditions. However,
Saṃsāra or the cycle of rebirths, has a definite beginning and end in Jainism.[203] The Jaina theosophy, unlike Hindu and Buddhist theosophies, asserts that each
soul passes through 8,400,000 birth-situations, as they
circle through Saṃsāra.[204][205] As the soul cycles, states
Padmanabh Jaini, Jainism traditions believe that it goes
through five types of bodies: earth bodies, water bodies,
fire bodies, air bodies and vegetable lives.[206] With all
human and non-human activities, such as rainfall, agriculture, eating and even breathing, minuscule living beings are taking birth or dying, their souls are believed
to be constantly changing bodies. Perturbing, harming or killing any life form, including any human being, is considered a sin in Jainism, with negative karmic
Jain philosophy further divides the earthly body by symmetry, number of sensory organs, vitalities (ayus), functional capabilities and whether one body hosts one soul
or one body hosts many.[196] Every living being has one
to five senses, three balas (power of body, language and
mind), respiration (inhalation and exhalation), and lifeduration.[197][198] All living beings, in every realm including the gods and hell beings, accrue and destroy
eight types of karma according to the elaborate theories in Jain texts.[199] Elaborate descriptions of the
shape and function of the physical and metaphysical universe, and its constituents, are also provided in the Jain
texts.[200][201] All of these elaborate theories attempt to
illustrate and consistently explain the Jain karma theory
in a deeply moral framework, much like Buddhism and Souls begin their journey in a primordial state, and exist
Hinduism but with significant differences in the details in a state of consciousness continuum that is constantly
evolving through Saṃsāra.[209] Some evolve to a higher
and assumptions.[202]
state, some regress asserts the Jaina theory, a movement
that is driven by the karma.[210] Further, Jaina traditions
believe that there exist Abhavya (incapable), or a class of
4.4 Saṃsāra
souls that can never attain moksha (liberation).[203][211]
Main articles: Saṃsāra (Jainism) and Vitalism (Jainism) The Abhavya state of soul is entered after an intentional
The conceptual framework of the Saṃsāra doctrine dif- and shockingly evil act.[212] Jainism considers souls as
fers between the Jainism traditions and other Indian reli- pluralistic each in a karma-samsara cycle, and does not
gions. For instance, in Jaina traditions, soul (jiva) is ac- subscribe to Advaita style nondualism of Hinduism, or
cepted as a truth, as is assumed in the Hindu traditions, Advaya style nondualism of Buddhism.[211] A liberated
soul in Jainism is one who has gone beyond Saṃsāra, is Thus, the worldly cycle of time is divided into two
at the apex, is omniscient, remains there eternally, and is parts or half-cycles, ascending utsarpiṇī (“ascending”)
known as a Siddha.[213]
and avasarpiṇī (“descending”).[167] Utsarpiṇī is a period of progressive prosperity, where happiness increases,
while avasarpiṇī is a period of increasing sorrow and
4.5 Cosmology
immorality.[217][218] According to Jain cosmology, it is
currently the 5th ara of avasarpiṇī (half time cycle of deMain article: Jain cosmology
generation). The present age is one of sorrow and misery,
Jain texts propound that the universe consists of many of religious decline, where the height and shape of living
beings shrink. The Jain thought holds that after the sixth
ara, the universe will be reawakened in the new cycle and
the start of utsarpiṇī aras.[219][220][221]
According to Jain texts, sixty-three illustrious beings,
called śalākāpuruṣas, are born on this earth in every Dukhama-sukhamā ara.[222] The Jain universal history is a compilation of the deeds of these illustrious
persons.[223] They comprise twenty-four Tīrthaṅkaras,
twelve chakravartins, nine balabhadra, nine narayana,
and nine pratinarayana.[224][222]
Rebirth loka (realms of existence) in Jain cosmology.[214]
eternal lokas (realms of existence). As in Buddhism and
Hinduism, Jain cosmology believes both time and the universe are eternal without beginning and end, and that the
universe is transient (impermanent in attributes) at the
same time.[201][168] The universe, body, matter and time
are considered in Jain philosophy as separate from the
soul (jiva or jivatman). Their interaction explains life,
living, death, rebirth.[168]
Worship of Kunthunatha, the 17th Tirthankara and 6th
Division of time in Jain cosmology.
According to the Jain texts, the universe is divided
into three parts, the upper, middle, and lower worlds,
called respectively urdhva loka, madhya loka, and adho
loka.[215] As with the realms of existences, Kāla (“time”)
is without beginning and eternal;[167] the cosmic wheel of
time, called kālachakra, rotates ceaselessly. According to
Jain texts, in this part of the universe, there are six periods of time within two aeons (ara), and in the first aeon
the universe generates, and in the next it degenerates.[216]
A chakravartī is an emperor of the world and lord of
the material realm.[222] Though he possesses worldly
power, he often finds his ambitions dwarfed by the vastness of the cosmos. Jain puranas give a list of twelve
chakravartins (“universal monarchs”). They are golden
in complexion.[225] One of the chakravartins mentioned
in Jain scriptures is Bharata Chakravartin. Jain texts
like Harivamsa Purana and Hindu Texts like Vishnu Purana state that Indian subcontinent came to be known as
Bharata varsha in his memory.[226][227]
There are nine sets of balabhadra, narayana, and
pratinarayana. The balabhadra and narayana are
brothers.[228] Balabhadra are nonviolent heroes,
narayana are violent heroes, and pratinarayana the vil-
lains. According to the legends, the narayana ultimately
kill the pratinarayana. Of the nine balabhadra, eight
attain liberation and the last goes to heaven. On death,
the narayana go to hell because of their violent exploits,
even if these were intended to uphold righteousness.[229]
realm of existence.[240][241] Those souls who live in the
body of a god, do so because of their positive karma.
They have metamorphic body, that is they are believed
in Jain thought to be able to change their body at will.
The gods live a life of happiness, fun and frolic, whose
wishes are automatically fulfilled.[242] They also possess
a more transcendent knowledge about material things and
can anticipate events in the human realms.[242] However,
once their past karmic merit is exhausted, the souls leave
the “god body” and are reborn again as humans, animals
or other beings.[242][243]
Jain cosmology divides the worldly cycle of time into two
parts (avasarpiṇī and utsarpiṇī ). According to Jain belief, in every half-cycle of time, twenty-four Tīrthaṅkaras
are born in the human realm to discover and teach the
Jain doctrine appropriate for that era.[230][231][232] The
word tīrthankara signifies the founder of a tirtha, which
means a fordable passage across a sea. The Tīrthaṅkaras
show the 'fordable path' across the sea of interminable
births and deaths.[233] Rishabhanatha is said to be the 4.7 Epistemology
first Tīrthankara of the present half-cycle (avasarpiṇī ).
Mahāvīra (6th century BC) is revered as the twenty fourth Main article: Jain epistemology
tīrthankara of avasarpiṇī.[234][235] Jain texts explain that
Jainism has always existed and will always exist.[223]
Jain philosophy accepts three reliable means of knowlIn Jainism, perfect souls with the body are called arihant edge (pramana). It holds that correct knowledge is based
(“victors”) and perfect souls without the body are called on perception (pratyaksa), inference (anumana) and testimony (sabda or the word of scriptures).[244][245] These
Siddhas (“liberated souls”).[213][236][237]
ideas are elaborated in Jain texts such as Tattvarthasutra, Parvacanasara, Nandi and Anuyogadvarini.[246][245]
4.6 God
Some Jain texts add analogy (upamana) as the fourth reliable means, in a manner similar to epistemological theories found in other Indian religions.[247]
In Jainism, jnāna (“knowledge”) is said to be of five
kinds—Kevala Jnana (“Omniscience”), Śrutu Jñāna
(“Scriptural Knowledge”), Mati Jñāna (“Sensory Knowledge”), Avadhi Jñāna (“Clairvoyance”), and Manah
prayāya Jñāna (“Telepathy”).[248] According to the Jain
text Tattvartha sutra, the first two are indirect knowledge
and the remaining three are direct knowledge.[249]
4.8 Salvation, liberation
Jain miniature painting of 24 Tirthankaras, Jaipur, c. 1850
Main articles: Moksha (Jainism), Ratnatraya, and
According to Jainism, purification of soul and lib-
Main article: God in Jainism
See also: Pañca-Parameṣṭhi
According to Jainism, the universe was never created, nor
will it ever cease to exist. It is independent and selfsufficient, does not require a creator, nor any superior
power to govern it, nor a judge nor destroyer.[168][238] In
this belief, it is distinct from the monotheistic Abrahamic
religions, it is similar to Buddhism, and it shares premises
with the non-theistic part of the spectrum of diverse beliefs found in different traditions within Hindu philosophy and distinct from theistic Hindu traditions.[239]
Jain texts reject the idea of a creator, ruler or destroyer
God and postulate an eternal universe. However, Jainism
believes in the world of gods and hell beings who are born The three shikhar (top) of a Jain temple represents Ratnatraya
and who die to be reborn like living beings in the earthly (three jewels)
eration can be achieved through the path of three
1. Samyak darśana (“Correct View”)– Faith in basic
tenets of Jainism, acceptance of the self-evident
truth of soul (jīva)[252]
2. Samyak jnana (“Correct Knowledge” – Knowledge of the tattvas without any doubt or
3. Samyak charitra (Correct Conduct) – behavior consistent with the Five vows[253]
Jain texts often add samyak tap (Correct Asceticism) as
the fourth jewel, thereby emphasizing their belief in ascetic practices as the means to liberation (moksha).[254]
The four jewels of orthodox Jain ideology are called The Suryaprajnaptisutra, a 4th or 3rd century BCE astronomy
of Svetambara Jains. Above: its manuscript from c. 1500
moksha marg.[250] According to Jain texts, the liberated text [260]
pure soul (Siddha) goes up to the summit of universe
(Siddhashila) and dwells there in eternal bliss.[255]
Scriptures and texts
Main articles: Jain literature and Jain Agamas
Jain scriptures are called Agamas. They are believed
to have been verbally transmitted from one generation
to next, much like the ancient Buddhist and Hindu
texts, by the oral tradition.[256] The Jain tradition believes that their religion is eternal, and the teachings of
their first Tirthankara Rishabhanatha were their scriptures millions of years ago.[257] The mythology states that
the Tirthankara taught in a divine preaching hall called
samavasarana, which were heard by the gods, the ascetics and the laypersons. The discourse delivered is
called Śhrut Jnāna and comprises eleven angas and fourteen purvas.[258] The discourse is remembered and transmitted by the Ganadharas (chief disciples), and is composed of twelve angas (“departments”). It is symbolically
represented by a tree with twelve branches.[259]
An araha (worthy one) speaks meaning, according to the
Jain tradition, that meaning is then converted into sutra
(sutta) by his disciples, and from such sutras emerge the
doctrine.[261] The creation and transmission of the Agama
is the work of disciples in Jainism. These texts, historically for Jains, have represented the truths uttered by their
Tirthankaras, particularly the Mahavira.[261] In every cycle of Jain cosmology, 24 Tirthankaras appear and so do
the Jain scriptures for that ara.[257] The spoken scriptural
language is believed to be Ardhamagadhi by the Svetambara Jains, and a form of sonic resonance by the Digambara Jains. These then become coded into duvala samgagani pidaga (twelve limbed baskets by disciples), but
transmitted orally.[256] In the 980th year after Mahavira’s
death (~5th century CE), the texts were written down for
the first time by the Council of Valabhi.[262]
Stella depicting Śhrut Jnāna, or complete scriptural knowledge
The Svetambaras believe that they have the original Jain
scriptures. The Svetambara belief is denied by the
Digambaras, who instead believe that the scriptures were
lost.[261][263] The Svetambaras state that their collection
of 45 works represent a continuous tradition, though they
accept that their collection too is incomplete because of a
lost Anga text and four lost Purva texts.[264] The Digambara sect of Jainism believes that Āchārya Bhutabali was
the last ascetic who had partial knowledge of the original
canon. According to them, Digambara Āchāryas recreated the oldest-known Digambara Jain texts, including
the four anuyoga.[265][266][267] According to von Glasenapp, the Digambara texts partially agree with the enumerations and works of older Svetambara texts, but there
are also gross differences between the texts of the two
major Jain traditions, in many cases.[263]
The Digambara Jain texts in Karnataka are unusual, in
that they were written under the patronage of kings and
regional aristocrats. These Jain texts describe warrior violence and martial valor as equivalent to a “fully committed Jain ascetic”. They thus set aside the religious
premise of absolute non-violence, possibly reflecting an
effort to syncretise various doctrines and beliefs found in
Hinduism and Jainism.[287]
The Svetambara consider their 45 texts collection as
canonical.[264] The Digambaras created a secondary
canon between 600 and 900 CE, compiling it into four
groups: history, cosmography, philosophy and ethics.[268]
This “four set” collection is called the “four Vedas” by the
Digambaras.[268][note 8]
Jain manuscript libraries, called bhandaras inside Jain
temples, are the oldest surviving in India.[288] Jain libraries, including the Svetambara collections at Patan,
Gujarat and Jaiselmer, Rajasthan, as well as the
Digambara collections in Karnataka temples, have a
large number of well-preserved manuscripts.[288][289] The
manuscripts in the Jain libraries include Jaina literature,
as well as Hindu and Buddhist texts, and almost all their
texts have been dated to about or after the 11th century
CE.[290] The largest and most valuable libraries are found
in Thar desert, hidden in the underground vaults of Jain
temples. These collections have witnessed insect damage, and only a small portion of these manuscripts have
been published and studied by scholars.[290]
The most popular and influential texts of Jainism have
been its non-canonical literature. Of these, the Kalpa Sūtras are particularly popular among Svetambaras, which
they attribute to Bhadrabahu (c. 300 BCE). This ancient scholar is revered in the Digambara tradition, and
they believe it is he who led their migration into ancient
south Karnataka region, and created their tradition.[270]
Svetambaras disagree, and they believe that Bhadrabahu
moved to Nepal, not into peninsular India.[270] Both
traditions, however, consider his Niryuktis and Samhitas as important texts. The earliest surviving Sanskrit 6 Comparison with Buddhism and
text by Umaswati called the Tattvarthasutra is considHinduism
ered authoritative Jain philosophy text by all traditions
of Jainism.
His text has the same importance in Jainism as Vedanta Sutras and Yogasutras have Main articles: Buddhism and Jainism and Jainism and
in Hinduism.[274][271][275]
In the Digambara tradition, the texts written by Kundakunda are highly revered and have been historically influential.[276][277][278] Other important Jain texts
include Samayasara, Ratnakaranda śrāvakācāra, and
Influence on Indian literature
Parts of the Sangam literature in Tamil is attributed
to Jaina authors. The authenticity and interpolations
are controversial, because the Sangam literature presents
Hindu ideas.[280] Some scholars state that the Jain portions of the Sangam literature was added about or after
the 8th-century CE, and it is not the ancient layer.[281]
Tamil Jain texts such as the Cīvaka Cintāmaṇi and
Nālaṭiyār are credited to Digambara Jain authors.[282][283]
These texts have seen interpolations and revisions. For
example, it is generally accepted now that the Jain nun
Kanti inserted a 445 verse poem into Cīvaka Cintāmaṇi in
the 12th-century.[284][285] The Tamil Jain literature, states
Dundas, has been “lovingly studied and commented upon
for centuries by Hindus as well as Jains”.[283] The themes
of two of the Tamil epics, including the Silapadikkaram,
have an embedded influence of Jainism.[283]
Jain scholars also contributed to Kannada literature.[286]
Jainism differs from both Buddhism and Hinduism in
its ontological premises. All of them believe in impermanence, but Buddhism incorporates, amongst other
things, the premise of anatta (non-self, no eternal self
or soul). Hinduism incorporates the premise of an eternal unchanging atman (self, soul), while Jainism incorporates the premises of a jiva (self, soul) that is both eternal and changing.[291][292][170] In Jaina thought, there are
infinite eternal jivas, predominantly all of which are in
their cycles of rebirth, and a few who have liberated themselves through an ascetic life and become siddhas.[293] In
contrast to Jainism, Hindu philosophies express a spectrum of views, ranging from nondualism where all souls
are identical as Brahman and posited as interconnected
one, to dualism where souls are same and have Brahmannature but are different from Brahman, and to other
ideas.[294][295][296] Further, in Hindu thought, Jainismstyle asceticism is not emphasized, rather liberation is
achievable through alternate paths such as Jnana yoga,
Karma yoga and Bhakti yoga.[297][298][299]
While both Hinduism and Jainism believe “soul exists” to
be a self-evident truth, most Hindu systems consider it to
be eternally present, infinite and the constant (vibhu) but
some Hindu scholars proposed soul to be atomic. The
Hindu thought generally discusses Atman and Brahman
through a monistic or dualistic framework. In contrast,
the Jaina thought denies the Hindu metaphysical concept
of Brahman, and Jain philosophy considers the soul to be
ever changing and bound to the body or matter for each
lifetime, thereby having a finite size that infuses the entire
body of a living being.[300]
Some early colonial scholars stated that Jainism like Buddhism was, in part, a rejection of the caste system in
Hinduism.[301][302] Later scholars, such as Gombrich state
that this notion is an error for which “mainly Western authors are responsible”.[303] A caste system has been a historic part of Jain society.[304][305][306] According to Vilas Adinath Sangave, “caste system is a universal feature of the Jaina community”, and the focus of Jainism
has been the spiritual liberation of the individual rather
than social reforms.[307][note 9] According to Padamnath
Jaini, the 8th-century Digambara scholar Jinasena stated
that Jain king Bharata, the son of first Tirthankara named
Rishabhanatha, invented the caste system by performing A 7th-century Jain Sittanavasal Cave painting, Tamil Nadu.
the ahimsa (non-violence) test, with Jain Brahmins being
those who followed the non-violence precept.[310]
All three religions share concepts and doctrines such as
karma and rebirth, have similar ritual festival grammar,
mythologies and monastic traditions.[311][312][313] They do
not believe in eternal heaven or hell or judgment day.
Jainism, like Buddhism and Hinduism, grants the freedom to choose beliefs such as in gods or no-gods, agree
or disagree with core teachings, participate or not participate in prayers, rituals and festivals. They all consider
ethical values such as non-violence to be important,[314]
and link suffering to craving, individual’s actions, intents
and karma, and believe spirituality is a means to enlightened peace, bliss and eternal liberation (moksha).[315][316]
Jainism is similar to Buddhism in epistemically rejecting
the Vedas and the Hindu metaphysical concept for Reality called Brahman. Jainism and Hinduism, however,
both believe “soul exists” as a self-evident truth, and in
their historic theology and practice have been more similar than with Buddhism.[317][315] Jains and Hindus have Ayagapata, 200 CE, Kankali Tila
frequently intermarried over their history, particularly in
northern, central and western regions of India.[304][318]
Art and architecture
Main article: Jain art
Jainism has contributed significantly to Indian art and
architecture. Jain arts focus around life legends of
tirthankara or other important people, particularly with
them in a seated or standing meditative posture. Yakshas
and yakshinis, attendant spirits who guard the tirthankara,
are usually shown with them.[319] The earliest known Jain
image is in the Patna museum. It is dated approximately
1st-century BCE Jain rock
to the 3rd century BCE.[319] Bronze images of Pārśva can Inscriptions at a Udaygiri-Khandagiri
be seen in the Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai, and in
the Patna museum; these are dated to the 2nd century
Ayagapata is a type of votive tablets used for donation 7.1 Temples
and worship in Jainism in early centuries.These tablets are
decorated with objects and designs central to Jain worship such as the stupa, dharmacakra and triratna. They
Main article: Jain temple
present simultaneous trends or image and symbol worship. Numerous such stone tablets were discovered during excavations at ancient Jain sites like Kankali Tila near
Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, India. The practice of donating these tablets is documented from 1st century BCE to
3rd century CE.[322][323][324]
Samavasarana, a preaching hall of Tirthankaras with various beings concentrically placed, is an important theme
of Jain art.[325]
The Jain tower in Chittor, Rajasthan, is a good example
of Jain architecture.[326] Decorated manuscripts are preserved in Jain libraries, containing diagrams from Jain
cosmology.[327] Most of the paintings and illustrations depict historical events, known as Panch Kalyanaka, from
the life of the tirthankara. Rishabha, the first tirthankara,
is usually depicted in either the lotus position or kayotsarga, the standing position. He is distinguished from
other tirthankara by the long locks of hair falling to his
shoulders. Bull images also appear in his sculptures.[328]
In paintings, incidents from his life, like his marriage and
Indra’s marking his forehead, are depicted. Other paintings show him presenting a pottery bowl to his followers;
he is also seen painting a house, weaving, and being visited by his mother Marudevi.[329] Each of the twenty-four
tirthankara is associated with distinctive emblems, which
are listed in such texts as Tiloyapannati, Kahavaali and
Mount Abu
Major pilgrimage and temple sites in Jainism.
A Jain temple, Derasar or Basadi is a place of worship for
Jains.[331] Jain temples are built with various architectural
designs,[332] but there are mainly two type of Jain temples:
1. Shikar-bandhi Jain temple (one with a dome)
found on the nearby beds. The Sittannavasal cavern continued to be the “Holy Sramana Abode” until the 7th
2. Ghar Jain temple (Jain house temple – one without and 8th centuries. Inscriptions over the remaining stone
a dome).
beds name mendicants such as Tol kunrattu Kadavulan,
Tirunilan, Tiruppuranan, Tittaicharanan, Sri Purrnacandran, Thiruchatthan, Ilangowthaman, Sri Ulagathithan,
There is always a main deity also known as moolnayak
and Nityakaran Pattakali as monks.[350]
in every Jain temple placed inside a sanctum called
“Gambhara” (Garbha Griha). A manastambha (column The 8th century Kazhugumalai temple marks the revival
of honor) is a pillar that is often constructed in front of of Jainism in South India.[351]
Jain temples.
There are 26 caves, 200 stone beds, 60 inscriptions, and 7.2 Pilgrimages
over 100 sculptures in and around Madurai. This is also
the site where Jain ascetics wrote great epics and books Main article: Tirtha (Jainism)
on grammar in Tamil.[333]
Jain Tirtha (“pilgrim”) sites are divided into the following
Ancient Jain monuments include the Udaigiri Hills near
Bhelsa (Vidisha) in Madhya Pradesh, the Ellora in Maharashtra, the Palitana temples in Gujarat, and the Jain temples at Dilwara Temples near Mount Abu, Rajasthan.[334]
Chaumukha temple in Ranakpur is considered one of
the most beautiful Jain temple and famous for detailed
carvings.[335][336] According to Jain texts, Shikharji is the
place where twenty of the twenty-four Jain Tīrthaṅkaras
along with many other monks attained moksha (died
without being reborn, with their soul in Siddhashila). The
Shikharji site in northeastern Jharkhand is therefore a
revered pilgrimage site.[337][note 10] The Palitana temples
are the holiest shrine for the Svetambara Murtipujaka
sect.[339] Along with Shikharji the two sites are considered the holiest of all pilgrimage sites by the Jain comJal Mandir at Shikharji, is said to be the place where 20
tirthankars achieved Nirvana.
The Jain complex, Khajuraho and Jain Narayana temple are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[341][342] categories:[352]
Shravanabelagola, Saavira Kambada Basadi or 1000 pillars and Brahma Jinalaya are important Jain centers in
• Siddhakshetra – Site of the moksha of an ariKarnataka.[343][344][345][346]
hant (kevalin) or Tirthankara, such as: Ashtapada,
Shikharji, Girnar, Pawapuri, Palitana, MangiThe Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves dating back to the
Tungi, and Champapuri (capital of Anga).
2nd–1st century BCE are dedicated to Jainism. They
are rich with carvings of Jain tirthanakars and deities
with inscriptions including the Hathigumpha inscription
(“Elephant Cave” inscription).[347][348] Jain cave temples
at Badami, Mangi-Tungi and the Ellora Caves are considered important.[349]
The Sittanavasal Cave temple is regarded as one of the
finest examples of Jain art. It is the oldest and most famous Jain centre in the region. It possesses both an early
Jain cave shelter, and a medieval rock-cut temple with excellent fresco paintings comparable to Ajantha paintings;
the steep hill contains an isolated but spacious cavern.
Locally, this cavern is known as “Eladipattam”, a name
that is derived from the seven holes cut into the rock that
serve as steps leading to the shelter. Within the cave there
are seventeen stone beds aligned in rows; each of these
has a raised portion that could have served as a pillowloft. The largest stone bed has a distinct Tamil-Brahmi
inscription assignable to the 2nd century BCE, and some
inscriptions belonging to the 8th century BCE are also
• Atishayakshetra – Locations where divine events
have occurred, such as: Mahavirji, Rishabhdeo,
Kundalpur, Tijara, and Aharji.
• Puranakshetra – Places associated with lives of great
men, such as: Ayodhya, Vidisha, Hastinapur, and
• Gyanakshetra – Places associated with famous acharyas, or centers of learning, such as
Outside contemporary India, Jain communities had built
temples in locations such as Nagarparkar, Sindh (Pakistan). However, according to a UNESCO tentative world
heritage site application, Nagarparkar was not a “major
religious centre or a place of pilgrimage” for Jainism, but
it was once an important cultural landscape before “the
last remaining Jain community left the area in 1947 at
Statues and sculptures
Main article: Jain sculpture
Jain sculptures are mainly
Tirthankara Suparshvanatha, 14th century, marble
ings and the worship of tīrthankara, were excavated from
Kankali Tila, Mathura. These sculptures date from the
2nd century BCE to the 12th century CE.[360]
12th-century statue of Rishabhanatha at Bawangaja, Madhya
Tīrthaṅkaras. A sculpture could depict any of the
twenty-four Tīrthaṅkaras images depicting Parshvanatha,
Rishabhanatha or Mahāvīra being more popular. These
Tīrthaṅkaras usually depicted in the lotus position or
kayotsarga.[354] Sculptures of chaumukha (“quadruple”)
images are also popular Jainism. Sculptures of Arihant,
Bahubali, and protector deities like Ambika are also
found. Tirthanakar idols look similar and are differentiated on the basis of the symbol belonging to each
tirthanakar except Parshvanatha. Statues of Parshvanath
have a snake crown on head. There are a few differences
between the Digambara and the Svetambara depictions
of idols.[355] Digambara images are naked without
any beautification, whereas Svetambara depictions are
clothed and decorated with temporary ornaments.[355]
7.4 Symbols
Main article: Jain symbols
Jain icons and arts incorporate symbols such as swastika,
The swastika is an important Jain symbol. Its four
arms symbolise the four realms of existence in which
rebirth occurs according to Jainism: humans, heavenly beings, hellish beings and non-humans (plants and
animals).[361][362] This is conceptually similar to the
six realms of rebirth represented by bhavachakra in
Buddhism.[361] It is usually shown with three dots on the
top, which represent the three jewels mentioned in ancient texts such as Tattvartha sutra and Uttaradhyayana
sutra: correct faith, correct understanding and correct
conduct. These jewels are the means believed in JainA monolithic, 18-metre (59-foot) statue of Bahubali, re- ism to lead one to the state of spiritual perfection, a state
ferred to as Gommateshvara, built in 981 AD by the that is symbolically represented by a crescent and one dot
Ganga minister and commander Chavundaraya, is situ- on top representing the liberated soul.[363]
ated on a hilltop in Shravanabelagola in the Hassan district of Karnataka state. This statue was voted as the Symbol of Ahimsa
first in the SMS poll Seven Wonders of India conducted The hand with a wheel on the palm symbolizes ahismā in
by The Times of India.[356] The Statue of Ahimsa (de- Jainism with ahiṃsā written in the middle. The wheel
picting Rishabhanatha) was erected in the Nashik dis- represents the dharmachakra, which stands for the retrict in 2015 which is 33 m (108 ft) tall.[357] Idols made solve to halt the saṃsāra through the relentless pursuit
from Ashtadhatu (literally “eight metals”), Akota Bronze, of ahimsā.
brass, gold, silver, stone monoliths, rock cut, and precious Om
stones are popular in Jainism.[358][359]
A large number of ayagapata, votive tablets for offer- In Jainism, Om is considered a condensed form of
reference to the Pañca-Parameṣṭhi, by their initials
A+A+A+U+M (o3m). According to Dravyasamgraha
by Acharya Nemicandra, AAAUM (or just Om) is one syllable short form of the initials of the five parameshthis:
"Arihant, Ashiri, Acharya, Upajjhaya, Muni".[364][365]
The Om symbol is also used in ancient Jain scriptures to
represent the five lines of the Namokar Mantra.
Jain emblem
In 1974, on the 2500th anniversary of the nirvana of
Mahavira, the Jain community chose one image as an
emblem to be the main identifying symbol for Jainism.
The overall shape depicts the three loka (realms of rebirth) of Jain cosmology i.e., heaven, human world and
hell. The semi-circular topmost portion symbolizes Siddhashila, which is a zone beyond the three realms. The
Jain swastika is present in the top portion, and the symbol of Ahimsa in the lower portion. At the bottom
of the emblem is the Jain mantra, Parasparopagraho
Jivanam. According to Vilas Sangave, the mantra
means “all life is bound together by mutual support and
interdependence.”[366] According to Anne Vallely, this
mantra is from sutra 5.21 of Umaswati’s Tattvarthasutra,
and it means “souls render service to one another”.[367]
Jain flag
The Jain emblem
Jain Flag
The five colours of the Jain flag represent the PañcaParameṣṭhi and the five vows, small as well as great:[368]
• White – represents the arihants, souls who have
conquered all passions (anger, attachments, aversion) and have attained omniscience and eternal bliss
through self-realization. It also denotes peace or
ahimsa (“non-violence ").
• Red – represents the Siddha, souls that have attained
salvation and truth. It also denotes satya (“truthfulness”)
Om in Jainism
• Yellow – represents the acharya the Masters of
Adepts. The colour also stands for achaurva (“nonstealing”).
Political history
• Green – represents the upadhyaya (“adepts”), those
who teach scriptures to monks. It also signifies
brahmacharya (“chastity”).
• Black – represents the Jain ascetics. It also signifies
aparigraha (“non-possession”).
The Ashtamangala are a set of eight auspicious symbols,
which are different in the Digambara and Śvētāmbara
In the Digambara tradition, the eight auspicious symbols are Parasol, Dhvaja, Kalasha, Fly-whisk, Mirror,
Chair, Hand fan and Vessel. In the Śvētāmbara tradition,
these are Swastika, Srivatsa, Nandavarta, Vardhmanaka
(“food vessel”), Bhadrasana (“seat”), Kalasha (“pot”),
Darpan (“mirror”) and Pair of fish.[369]
Main article: History of Jainism
Quadruple Jain Image, excavated from Kankali Tila, c. 1st century CE
Ancient sculpture depicting Parshvanatha at Thirakoil, Tamil
were five to hundred times taller than average human
beings and lived for thousands of years.[375][376][377] The
23rd Tirthankara Parshvanatha is generally accepted to
be based on an ancient historic human being.[378][379][380]
Jainism, like Buddhism, is one of the Sramana traditions
of ancient India, those that rejected the Vedas and developed their own scriptures.[381][382]
There is inscriptional evidence for the presence of Jain
monks in south India by the second or first centuries BC,
and archaeological evidence of Jain monks in Saurash[383]
Statues of
The origins of Jainism are obscure.
The tra in Gujarat by the second century CE.
to second
Jains claim their religion to be eternal, and consider
Rishabhanatha to be the founder in the present timecycle, the first of 24 Jain Tirthankaras in Jain belief,
and someone who lived for 8,400,000 purva years.[372]
According to one hypothesis, such as by Sarvepalli Rad- 8.2 Political history
hakrishnan, the first vice president of India, Jainism was
in existence before the Vedas were composed.[373][374] Information regarding the political history of Jainism
According to historians, of the 24 Tirthankaras, the first is uncertain and fragmentary. Jains consider the king
22 were mythical figures who are believed in Jainism to Bimbisara (c. 558–491 BCE), Ajatashatru (c. 492–460
have lived more than 85,000 years ago, each of whom BCE), and Udayin (c. 460-440 BCE) of the Haryanka
See also: Timeline of Jainism and Śramaṇa
According to another Jain legend, king Salivahana of late
1st century CE was a patron of Jainism, as were many
others in the early centuries of the 1st millennium CE.
But, states von Glasenapp, the historicity of these stories
are difficult to establish.[394] Archeological evidence suggests that Mathura was an important Jain centre between
2nd century BCE and the 5th century CE. Inscriptions
from the 1st and 2nd century CE shows that the schism
of Digambara and Svetambara had already happened.[395]
Chandragupta Maurya built one of the largest empires in ancient
India. According to Jain history, he then renounced it all, and
became a Jain monk in 297 BCE.[385]
King Harshavardhana of 7th century, grew up in Shaivism
following family, but he championed Jainism, Buddhism
and all traditions of Hinduism.[396] King Ama of 8thcentury converted to Jainism, and Jaina pilgrimage tradition was well established in his era.[397] Mularaja, the
founder of Chalukya dynasty constructed a Jain temple,
even though he was not a Jain.[398]
In the second half of the 1st century CE, Hindu kings
sponsored and helped build major Jaina caves temples.
For example, the Hindu Rashtrakuta dynasty started the
early group of Jain temples,[399] and Yadava dynasty built
many of the middle and later Jain group of temples at the
Ellora Caves between 700 and 1000 CE.[400][401][402]
8.3 Interaction with other religions
Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves built by King Kharavela of
Mahameghavahana dynasty in 2nd century BCE
dynasty as a patron of Jainism.[386]
Jain tradition states that Chandragupta Maurya (322–
298 BCE), the founder of Mauryan Empire and grandfather of Ashoka, became a monk and disciple of Jain
ascetic Bhadrabahu during later part of his life. According to historians, Chandragupta story appears in
various versions in Buddhist, Jain and Hindu texts.[387]
Broadly, Chandragupta was born in a humble family,
abandoned, raised as a son by another family, then with
the training and counsel of Chanakya of Arthashastra
fame ultimately built one of the largest empires in ancient India.[388][389][390] According to Jain history, late
in his life, Chandragupta renounced the empire he built
and handed over his power to his son, became a Jaina
monk, and headed to meditate and pursue spirituality in
the Deccan region, under the Jaina teacher Bhadrabahu
at Shravanabelagola.[391] There state Jain texts, he died
by fasting, a Jaina ascetic method of ending one’s life by
choice (Sallenkana vrata).[388][392][389] The 3rd century
BCE emperor Ashoka, in his pillar edicts, mentions several ancient Indian religious groups including the Niganthas (Jaina).[393]
Chaumukha Sculpture, LACMA, 6th century
Mahavira and Buddha are generally accepted as contemporaries (circa 5th century BCE).[403][404] The interaction between Jainism and Buddhism began with the Buddha. Buddhist texts refer to Mahavira as Nigantha Nataputta.[405]
Beyond the times of the Mahavira and the Buddha,
Colonial era
the two ascetic sramana religions competed for followers, as well merchant trade networks that sustained
them.[132][406] Their mutual interaction, along with those
of Hindu traditions have been significant, and in some
cases the titles of the Buddhist and Jaina texts are same
or similar but present different doctrines.[407]
ful because it is not mentioned in texts of Campantar, nor any other Hindu or Jain texts for four
centuries.[420][421][422][423] K. A. Nilakanta Sastri states
that the story is “little more than an unpleasant legend
and cannot be treated as history”.[424] Lingayatism, a tradition championed by Basava, is attributed to have conand deRoyal patronage has been a key factor in the growth verted numerous Jains to their new movement [425]
as well as decline of Jainism.
The Pallava king
Mahendravarman I (600–630 CE) converted from Jain- The Jain and Hindu communities have often been very
ism to Shaivism under the influence of Appar.[409] His close and mutually accepting. Some Hindu temples have
work Mattavilasa Prahasana ridicules certain Shaiva included a Jain Tirthankara within its premises in a place
sects and the Buddhists and also expresses contempt to- of honor.[426][427] Similarly numerous temple complexes
wards Jain ascetics.[410] Sambandar converted the con- feature both Hindu and Jain monuments, with Badami
temporary Pandya king to Shaivism. During the 11th cave temples and Khajuraho among some of the most well
century, Basava, a minister to the Jain king Bijjala, suc- known.[428][429]
ceeded in converting numerous Jains to the Lingayat
Shaivite sect. The Lingayats destroyed various temples
belonging to Jains and adapted them to their use.[411] The
Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana (c. 1108–1152 CE) became a follower of the Vaishnava sect under the influence of Ramanuja, after which Vaishnavism grew rapidly
in what is now Karnataka.[412]
The ruins of Jain temples in Nagarparkar, Pakistan.[430]
The Indra Sabha cave at the Ellora Caves, are co-located with
Hindu and Buddhist monuments.
Jainism and Hinduism influenced each other. Jain texts
declare some of the Hindu gods as blood relatives of legendary Tirthankaras. Neminatha, the 22nd Tirthankara
for example is presented as a cousin of Krishna in Jain
Puranas and other texts.[413][414] However, Jain scholars
such as Haribhadra also wrote satires against Hindu gods,
mocking them with novel outrageous stories where the
gods misbehave and act unethically.[415][416] The Hindu
gods are presented by some Jain writers as persecuting or
tempting or afraid of or serving a legendary Jina before
he gains omniscience. In other stories, one or more Jinas
easily defeat the Hindu deities such as Vishnu, or Rama
and Sita come to pay respect to a Jina at a major Jain
pilgrimage site such as Mount Satrunjaya.[417]
According to a Shaivite legend, an alleged massacre
of 8,000 Jain monks happened in the 7th-century
which is claimed for the first time in an 11thcentury Tamil language text of Nambiyandar Nambi
on Sampantar.[418][419] This event is considered doubt-
Jainism faced persecution during and after the Muslim
conquests on the Indian subcontinent.[431] Muslims rulers,
such as Mahmud Ghazni (1001), Mohammad Ghori
(1175) and Ala-ud-din Muhammed Shah Khilji (1298)
further oppressed the Jain community.[432] They vandalised idols and destroyed temples or converted them
into mosques. They also burned Jain books and killed
Jains. There were significant exceptions, such as Emperor Akbar (1542–1605) whose legendary religious tolerance, out of respect for Jains, ordered release of caged
birds and banned killing of animals on the Jain festival of
Paryusan.[433] After Akbar, Jains faced an intense period
of Muslim persecution in the 17th-century.[434][435]
The Jain community were the traditional bankers and
financiers, and this significantly impacted the Muslim
rulers. However, they rarely were a part of the political power during the Islamic rule period of the Indian
8.4 Colonial era
Colonial era reports and Christian missions variously
viewed Jains from being a sect of Hinduism[437] or Buddhism, to being a distinct religion.[438][439] According to
Padmanath Jaini, Christian missionaries expressed ex-
treme frustration at Jain people without pagan creator
gods refusing to convert to Christianity, and colonial era
Jain scholars such as Champat Rai Jain defended Jainism from criticism and misrepresentation from Christian activists.[440] Missionaries of Christianity and Islam considered Jain traditions as idolatrous and a false
religion,[441] characterized Jain temples and icons such of
those of Jina are false idols and superstitious practices.
These criticisms, states John Cort, were flawed and also
ignored similar practices within sects of Christianity.[442]
have significant Jain populations.[446] Outside India, Jain
communities can be found in Europe, the United States,
Canada[447] and Kenya.[448]
Jains have the highest literacy rate (87%) in India, in the
7-years to oldest age group, according to its 2011 census.
The Jaina community also has the highest number of college graduates.[449] Excluding the retired senior citizens,
Jain literacy rate in India exceeded 97%. The female to
male child sex ratio in the 0-6 year age was second lowest for Jains (870 girls per 1,000 boys), higher than Sikhs
The British colonial government in India, as well as In- in India. Further, Jain males have the highest work pardian princely states, passed laws that made monks roam- ticipation rates, while Jain females have the lowest work
ing naked in streets a crime, one that led to arrest. This participation rates in India.[450]
law particularly impacted the Digambara monks.[443] The Major Jain Communities :
Akhil Bharatiya Jaina Samaj opposed this law, and argued that it interfered with the religious rights of Jains.
Acharya Shantisagar entered Bombay (now Mumbai)
in 1927, but was forced to cover his body. He then
led a India-wide tour as the naked monk with his followers, to various Digambara sacred sites, and he was
welcomed by kings of the Maharashtra provinces.[443]
Shantisagar fasted to oppose the restrictions imposed on
Digambara monks by British Raj and prompted their
discontinuance.[444] The colonial era laws that banned
naked monks remained effective through the World War
II, and they were abolished by independent India after it
gained independence.[445]
Jains in the modern era
Main article: Jain community
Followers of the path practised by the Jinas are known
Jain Temple complex, Deogarh
• Jain Bunt are a Jain community from Karnataka,
• Saraks is a community in Jharkhand, Bihar, Bengal,
and Orissa. They have been followers of Jainism
since ancient time.[452]
• Porwal community that originated in southern
Rajasthan, India.[453]
• Parwar is a major Jain community from the
Bundelkhand region, which is largely in Madhya
Pradesh and Lalitpur District, Jhansi.
• Agrawal Jain of Hisar, Haryana.
Ancient temple of Pakbirra, Purulia
as Jains.[3][217] The majority of Jains currently reside in
India. With four to five million followers worldwide,[6]
Jainism is relatively small compared to major world religions. Jains form 0.37% of India's population. Most
of them are concentrated in the states of Maharashtra
(1.4 million in 2011,[446] 31.46% of Indian Jains),
Rajasthan (13.97%), Gujarat (13.02%) and Madhya
Pradesh (12.74%). Karnataka (9.89%), Uttar Pradesh
(4.79%), Delhi (3.73%) and Tamil Nadu (2.01%) also
• Sarawagi or Khandelwali originated from Khandela,
a historical town in northern Rajasthan.
• Bagherwal from Baghera (currently known as Ajmer
district) a princely state in Rajasthan, a community
of Digambar sect.
• Shrimal, originally from Rajasthan, Shrimal town in
southern Rajasthan. The Shrimal (Srimal) Jain are
part of the Oswal merchant and minister caste that
is found primarily in the north of India.
• Oswal are a Jain community with origins in the
Marwar region of Rajasthan and Tharparkar district
in Sindh.[454]
• Jaiswal are mainly located in the Gwalior and Agra
• Navnat emerged as a result of blending of several
smaller Jain communities in East Africa as well as
in Gujarat itself in early 20th century.[455]
Jainism is both criticised and praised for some of its practices and beliefs. Mahatma Gandhi was greatly influenced
by Jainism.[456] He said:
No religion in the World has explained the
principle of Ahimsa so deeply and systematically as is discussed with its applicability in
every human life in Jainism. As and when
the benevolent principle of Ahimsa or nonviolence will be ascribed for practice by the
people of the world to achieve their end of
life in this world and beyond. Jainism is sure
to have the uppermost status and Mahāvīra is
sure to be respected as the greatest authority
on Ahimsa.[457]
Swami Vivekananda appreciated the role of Jainism in the
development of Indian religious philosophy. In his words,
he asks:
What could have saved Indian society from
the ponderous burden of omnifarious ritualistic
ceremonialism, with its animal and other sacrifices, which all but crushed the very life of it,
except the Jain revolution which took its strong
stand exclusively on chaste morals and philosophical truths?[458]
See also
• Criticism of Jainism
12 Notes
[1] This view, however, is not shared by all Jain sub-traditions.
The Terapanthi Jain tradition, with about 250,000 followers, for example considers both good karma such as compassionate helping / charity, and bad karma such as sin,
as binding one’s soul to worldly morality. It states that either karma leads to a negation of “absolute non-violence”
principle, given man’s limited perspective. It recommends
that the monk or nun seeking salvation must avoid hurting
or helping any being in any form.[11]
[2] Jain literature, just like Buddhist and Hindu literature, has
also debated the aspects of violence and non-violence in
food creation.[23]
[3] In Jainism, the ahimsa precept for a mendicant requires
avoidance of touching or disturbing any living being including plants. It also mandates never swimming in water,
nor lighting up fire or extinguish it, nor thrashing arms in
the air as such actions can torment or hurt other beings
that live in those states of matter.[18]
[4] The first is desavakasika (staying in a restrained surrounding, cutting down worldly activities). The third is posadhopavasa (fasting on the 8th and 14th days on lunar waxing and waning cycles). The fourth is dana (giving alms
to Jain monks, nuns or spiritual people).[77]
[5] According to Dundas, samayika seems to have meant 'correct behavior' in early Jainism.[82]
[6] This meditative focus contrasts with anatta focus of Buddhism, and the atman focus in various vedanta schools of
Hinduism such as advaita and vishistadvaita schools.[84][85]
[7] The ontological categories and definition of dharma as
motion, and adharma as rest, is unique to Jainism among
Indian religions.[166] However, like other Indian religions,
dharma also means “moral virtue” in Jainism, while adharma also means “immorality, unethical behavior”.[165]
[8] Not to be confused with the four Vedas of Hinduism.[269]
[9] According to Richard Gombrich and other scholars, Buddhism too was not a rejection or rebellion against any
ancient caste system and it too was focussed on individual’s liberation from rebirths and suffering. Caste system
in Buddhist societies and monasteries outside India have
been documented. Gombrich states, “Some modernists
go so far as to say that the Buddha was against caste altogether: this is not the case, but is one of the mistakes
pcked up from western authors.”[308][303][309]
[10] Some texts refer to the place as Mount Sammeta.[338]
• Jain law
• Nonviolence
13 References
• Jainism and non-creationism
13.1 Citations
• Dharma (Jainism)
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• List of Jains
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• File:1000-Pillar-Temple-Moodbidri-Left-Side-View.JPG
1000-Pillar-Temple-Moodbidri-Left-Side-View.JPG License: CC BY 3.0 Contributors: Own work Original artist: Vaikoovery
• File:A_Jain_ritual_offerings_and_puja_recital_at_a_temple,_worship_in_Jainism.jpg Source:
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