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About Jain Dharma

  • Jain Dharma, Is an ancient Indian religion. Jainism followers are called "Jain", 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. Jains trace their history through a succession of twenty-four victorious saviors and teachers known as Tirthankaras, with the first as Rishabhanatha who is believed to have lived millions of years ago, and twenty fourth as the Mahavira around 500 BCE. Jains believe that Jainism is an eternal dharma with the Tirthankaras guiding every cycle of the Jain cosmology.
  • Motto of Jainism-Parasparopagraho Jivanam -The function of souls is to help one another
  • Basic prayer in Jainism-Namokar Mantra
  • 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.

Five main vows of Jainism:

  1. Aahimsa (Non-Violence) :- The first major vow taken by Jains is to cause no harm to other human beings, as well as all living beings. 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
  2. Satya (Truth):- 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
  3. Asteya (Not Stealing) A Jain layperson should not take anything that is not willingly given. A Jain mendicant should additionally ask for permission to take it if something is being given.
  4. Brahmacharya (Celibacy or Chastity) 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 partner.
  5. Aparigraha (Non-Attachment) Aparigraha means "non-possessiveness". This includes non-attachment to material and psychological possessions, avoiding craving and greed. Jain monks and nuns completely renounce property and social relations, own nothing and are attached to no one

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.


Painting with the message: "Ahiṃsā Paramo Dharma" (non-violence is the highest virtue or religion) 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

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 non-violence.

  • The principle of ahimsa (non-violence or non-injury) is a fundamental tenet of Jainism. It believes that one must abandon all violent activity, and without such a commitment to non-violence all religious behavior is worthless. 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
  • 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. Its theology teaches that one must neither kill another living being, nor cause another to kill, nor consent to any killing directly or indirectly.]Further Jainism emphasizes non-violence against all beings not only in action, but also in speech and in thought. It states that instead of hate or violence against anyone, "all living creatures must help each other". 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.
  • The idea of reverence for non-violence (ahimsa) is founded in Hindu and Buddhist canonical texts, and it may have origins in more ancient Brahmanical Vedic thoughts. However, no other Indian religion has developed the non-violence doctrine and its implications on everyday life as has Jainism.
  • 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 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.[ Causing injury to any being in any form creates bad karma which affects one's rebirth, future well being and suffering.
  • 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. 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". However, such examples in Jain texts that condone fighting and killing under certain circumstances, are relatively rare.

Many-sided reality (Anekāntavāda)

  • The second main principle of Jainism is Anekantavada or Anekantatva. 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". 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. 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". 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.
  • 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). 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. 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". 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 framework.
  • 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. 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. 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". The Five vows for Jain monks and nuns, for example, are strict requirements and there is no "perhaps, just one perspective".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.

Non-attachment (Aparigraha)

  • The third main principle in Jainism is aparigraha which means non-attachment to worldly possessions. For ascetics, Jainism requires a vow of complete non-possession of any property. For Jain laypersons, it recommends limited possession of property that has been honestly earned, and the giving away excess property to charity. According to Natubhai Shah, aparigraha applies to both material and psychic. Material possessions refer to various 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 to one's personality.
  • Attachments to the material or emotional possessions are viewed in Jainism as what leads to passions, which in turn leads to violence. Per the aparigraha principle, a Jain monk or nun is expected to be homeless and family-less with no emotional longings or attachments. The ascetic is a wandering mendicant in the Digambara tradition, or a resident mendicant in the Svetambara tradition.
  • 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). 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).


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. Ascetic life may include nakedness symbolizing non-possession 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). 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. According to John Cort, outer austerities include complete fasting, eating limited amounts, eating restricted items, abstaining from tasty foods, mortifying the flesh and guarding the flesh (avoiding anything that is a source of temptation). Inner austerities include expiation, confession, respecting and assisting mendicants, studying, meditation and ignoring bodily wants in order to abandon the body. The list of internal and external austerities in Jainism varies with the text and tradition. Asceticism is viewed as a means to control desires, and a means to purify the jiva (soul). The Tirthankaras of Jainism, such as the Mahavira (Vardhamana) set an example of leading an ascetic life by performing severe austere for twelve years.

Jainism in world

Followers of the path practised by the Jinas are known as Jains. The majority of Jains currently reside in India. With four to five million followers worldwide, 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, 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 have significant Jain populations. Outside India, Jain communities can be found in Europe, the United States, Canada and Kenya. 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. 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 in India. Further, Jain males have the highest work participation rates, while Jain females have the lowest work participation rates in India.

Jain festivals

Paryushana and Daslakshana, Mahavir Jayanti, and Diwali.


The swastika is an important Jain symbol. Its four arms symbolize the four realms of existence in which rebirth occurs according to Jainism: humans, heavenly beings, hellish beings and non-humans (plants and animals). This is conceptually similar to the six realms of rebirth represented by bhavachakra in Buddhism. 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 Jainism to lead one to the state of spiritual perfection, a state that is symbolically represented by a crescent and one dot on top representing the liberated soul.

Symbol of Ahimsa

The hand with a wheel on the palm symbolizes ahismā in Jainism with ahiṃsā written in the middle. The wheel represents the dharmachakra, which stands for the resolve to halt the saṃsāra through the relentless pursuit of ahimsā.


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". 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." According to Anne Vallely, this mantra is from sutra 5.21 of Umaswati's Tattvarthasutra, and it means "souls render service to one another".


The five colors of the Jain flag represent the Pañca-Parameṣṭhi and the five vows, small as well as great:

  • 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").
  • Yellow – represents the acharya the Masters of Adepts. The colour also stands for achaurva ("non-stealing").
  • 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").

Jain History

The origins of Jainism are obscure. The Jains claim their religion to be eternal, and consider Rishabhanatha to be the founder in the present time-cycle, the first of 24 Jain Tirthankaras in Jain belief, and someone who lived for 8,400,000 purva years. According to one hypothesis, such as by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first vice president of India, Jainism was in existence before the Vedas were composed. According to historians, of the 24 Tirthankaras, the first 22 were mythical figures who are believed in Jainism to have lived more than 85,000 years ago, each of whom were five to hundred times taller than average human beings and lived for thousands of years. The 23rd Tirthankara Parshvanatha is generally accepted to be based on an ancient historic human being. Jainism, like Buddhism, is one of the Sramana traditions of ancient India, those that rejected the Vedas and developed their own scriptures. 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 Saurashtra in Gujarat by the second century CE. Statues of Jain Tirthankara have been found dating back to second century BC.

Political History:- Information regarding the political history of Jainism is uncertain and fragmentary. Jains consider the king Bimbisara (c. 558–491 BCE), Ajatashatru (c. 492–460 BCE), and Udayin (c. 460-440 BCE) of the Haryanka dynasty as a patron of Jainism. 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. 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. 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. There state Jain texts, he died by fasting, a Jaina ascetic method of ending one's life by choice (Sallenkana vrata). The 3rd century BCE emperor Ashoka, in his pillar edicts, mentions several ancient Indian religious groups including the Niganthas (Jaina). 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. 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. King Harshavardhana of 7th century, grew up in Shaivism following family, but he championed Jainism, Buddhism and all traditions of Hinduism. King Ama of 8th-century converted to Jainism, and Jaina pilgrimage tradition was well established in his era. Mularaja, the founder of Chalukya dynasty constructed a Jain temple, even though he was not a Jain. 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, and Yadava dynasty built many of the middle and later Jain group of temples at the Ellora Caves between 700 and 1000 CE. Mahavira and Buddha are generally accepted as contemporaries (circa 5th century BCE). The interaction between Jainism and Buddhism began with the Buddha. Buddhist texts refer to Mahavira as Nigantha Nataputta. Beyond the times of the Mahavira and the Buddha, the two ascetic sramana religions competed for followers, as well merchant trade networks that sustained them. 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.

Royal patronage has been a key factor in the growth as well as decline of Jainism. The Pallava king Mahendravarman I (600–630 CE) converted from Jainism to Shaivism under the influence of Appar. His work Mattavilasa Prahasana ridicules certain Shaiva sects and the Buddhists and also expresses contempt towards Jain ascetics. Sambandar converted the contemporary Pandya king to Shaivism. During the 11th century, Basava, a minister to the Jain king Bijjala, succeeded in converting numerous Jains to the Lingayat Shaivite sect. The Lingayats destroyed various temples belonging to Jains and adapted them to their use. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 11th-century Tamil language text of Nambiyandar Nambi on Sampantar. This event is considered doubtful because it is not mentioned in texts of Campantar, nor any other Hindu or Jain texts for four centuries. K. A. Nilakanta Sastri states that the story is "little more than an unpleasant legend and cannot be treated as history". Lingayatism, a tradition championed by Basava, is attributed to have converted numerous Jains to their new movement and destroyed various Jain temples in north Karnataka. The Jain and Hindu communities have often been very close and mutually accepting. Some Hindu temples have included a Jain Tirthankara within its premises in a place of honor. Similarly numerous temple complexes feature both Hindu and Jain monuments, with Badami cave temples and Khajuraho among some of the most well known. The ruins of Jain temples in Nagarparkar, Pakistan. Jainism faced persecution during and after the Muslim conquests on the Indian subcontinent. Muslims rulers, such as Mahmud Ghazni (1001), Mohammad Ghori (1175) and Ala-ud-din Muhammed Shah Khilji (1298) further oppressed the Jain community. 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. After Akbar, Jains faced an intense period of Muslim persecution in the 17th-century. 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 subcontinent.