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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.