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Jainism (pronounced in English as IPA [ˈdʒeɪ.nɪzm̩]), traditionally known as Jain Dharma (जैन धर्म), is a dharmic religion and philosophy originating in Iron Age India. The Jains follow the teachings of Tirthankaras. The 24th Tirthankara Lord Mahavira lived in ca. 6th century BC. A small but influential minority in modern India, with growing immigrant communities in the United States, Western Europe, Africa, the Far East and elsewhere, Jains continue to sustain the ancient Shraman (श्रमण) or ascetic tradition.

Jains have significantly influenced the religious, ethical, political and economic spheres in India for more than two millennia. Jainism stresses spirituality independence and egalitarianism of all life with particular emphasis on non-violence. Self-control (व्रत, vratae) is vital for attaining Keval Gyan and eventually moksha, or realization of the soul's true nature.

The Jains have an ancient tradition of scholarship. The Jains are the best educated religious community in India (Jains in India according to 2001 census), and the Jain libraries are India's oldest[1].


File:Mathura ayagapatta3.jpg
Pre-Kushana Ayagapatta from Mathura

Jains believe all souls are equal because they all possess the potential of being liberated and attaining Moksha . Tirthankars and Siddhas are role models only because they have attained Moksha. Jains believe that every human is responsible for his/her actions and all living beings have an eternal soul, jiva. It insists that we live, think and act respectfully and honor the spiritual nature of all life. Jains view God as the unchanging traits of the pure soul of each living being, chiefly described as Infinite Knowledge, Perception, Consciousness, and Happiness (Anant Gyän, Anant Darshan, Anant Chäritra, and Anant Sukh). Jains do not believe in an omnipotent supreme being, creator or manager (karta), but rather in an eternal universe governed by natural laws and the interplay of its attributes (gunas) and matter (dravya).

Jain scriptures were written over a long period of time, but the most cited is the Tattvartha Sutra, or Book of Reality written by the monk-scholar, Umasvati almost 1800 years ago. The primary figures are Tirthankars. There are two main sects called Digambar and Shvetambar, and both believe in ahimsa (or ahinsā), asceticism, Karma in Jainism, sanskar, and jiva.

Compassion for all life, human and non-human, is central to Jainism. Human life is valued as a unique, rare opportunity to reach enlightenment. To kill any person, no matter what crime he may have committed, is considered unimaginably abhorrent. It is the only religion that requires monks and laity, from all its sects and traditions, to be vegetarian. Some Indian regions have been strongly influenced by Jains and often the majority of the local non-Jain population has also become vegetarian. History suggests that various strains of Hinduism became vegetarian due to strong Jain influences. In many towns, Jains run animal shelters. For example, Delhi has a bird hospital run by a Jain derasar, or temple.

Jainism's stance on nonviolence goes much beyond vegetarianism. Jains refuse food obtained with unnecessary cruelty. Many are vegan due to the violence of modern dairy farms. The Jain diet excludes most root vegetables, as they believe this destroys entire plants unnecessarily. Garlic and onions are avoided as these are seen as creating Kshaya (Jainism), meaning anger, hatred, and jealousy. Devout Jains do not eat, drink, or travel after sunset (Chauvihar) and rise before sunrise.

Anekantavada, a foundation of Jain philosophy, literally means "Nonsingular Conclusivity", or equivalently, "Non-one-endedness". Anekantavad consists of tools for overcoming inherent biases in any one perspective on any topic or in reality in general. Another tool is The Doctrine of Postulation, Syadvada. Anekantavad is defined as a multiplicity of viewpoints, for it stresses looking at things from others' perspectives.

Jains are usually very welcoming and friendly toward other faiths and often help with interfaith functions. Several non-Jain temples in India are administered by Jains.

A palpable presence in Culture of India, Jains have contributed to Indian philosophy, art, architecture, science, and to Mahatma Gandhi's politics, which led to the mainly non-violent movement for India's independence movement.[1]

Bhaktamara Stotra: A 'Tirthankara' is a shelter from ocean of rebirths

Universal history and Jain cosmology

Main article: Jain cosmology

According to Jain beliefs, the universe was never created, nor will it ever cease to exist. Time is divided into Utsarpinis (Progressive Time Cycle) and Avsarpinis (Regressive Time Cycle). An Utsarpini and a Avsarpini constitute one Time Cycle (Kalchakra). Every Utsarpini and Avsarpini is divided into six unequal periods known as Aras. During the Utsarpini half cycle, ethics, progress, happiness, strength, age, body, religion, etc., go from the worst conditions to the best. During the Avsarpini half-cycle, these notions deteriorate from the best to the worst. Jains believe we are currently in the fifth Ara of the Avsarpini phase, with approximately 19,000 years until the next Ara. After this Avsarpini phase, the Utsarpini phase will begin, continuing the infinite repetition of the Kalchakra.

Jains also believe that at the upswing of each time cycle, people will lose religion again. All things people want will be given by wish-granting trees (Kalpa-vriksha), and people will be born in sets of twins (Yuglik) with one boy and one girl who stay together all their lives. This can be seen as a symbol of an integrated human with male and female characteristics balanced.

Jain philosophy is based upon eternal, universal truths, according to its followers. During the first and last two Aras, these truths lapse among humanity and then reappear through the teachings of enlightened humans, those who have reached enlightenment (concept) or total knowledge (Keval Jnan), during the third and fourth Aras. Traditionally, in our universe and in our time, Lord Rishabha (ऋषभ) is regarded as the first to realize the truth. Lord Vardhaman (Mahavira, महावीर) was the last Tirthankar to attain enlightenment (599-527 BCE), preceded by twenty-three Tirthankars making a total of twenty-four Tirthankars.

It is important to note that the above description stands true "in our universe and in our time" for Jains believe there have been infinite sets of 24 Tirthankars, one for each half of the time cycle, and this will continue in the future. Hence, Jainism does not trace its origins to Rishabh Dev, the first, or Mahavir, the twenty-fourth, Tirthankar.

Karma theory

Main article: Karma in Jainism

The Jain religion places great emphasis on the theory of Karma. Essentially, it means that all jivas reap what they sow. A happy or miserable existence is influenced by actions in previous births. These results may not occur in the same life, and what we sow is not limited to physical actions. Physical, verbal, and mental activities play a role in future situations. Karma_in_Jainism has long been an essential component of Jainism, and other Indian religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism.

Nine Tattvas

The backbone of the Jain philosophy, the nine Tattvas show how to attain salvation. Without knowing them, one cannot progress towards liberation. Jainism explains that Karma in Jainism is intertwined with these nine principles. They are:

  1. Jiva - Souls and living things
  2. Ajiva - Non-living things
  3. Punya - Good karma {Counted as Padaarth}
  4. Paap - Bad karma {Counted as Padaarth}
  5. Asrava - Influx of karma
  6. Bandha - The bondage of karma
  7. Samvara - The stoppage of influx of karma
  8. Nirjara - Shedding of karma
  9. Moksha - Liberation or Salvation

Some scriptures do not include Punya and Paap as Tattvas, as it is found that they consist of Karman particles, which are seen as Ajiv.

Beliefs and practices

File:Jainism logo.png
The hand with a wheel on the palm symbolizes the Jain Vow of Ahimsa, meaning nonviolence. The word in the middle is "ahimsa." The wheel represents the dharmacakra, to halt the cycle of reincarnation through relentless pursuit of truth.

Jain monks practice strict ascetic and strive to make this, or one of the coming births, their last. The laity, who pursue less rigorous practices, strive to attain rational faith and to do as much good as possible. Following strict ethics, the laity usually choose professions that revere and protect life and totally avoid violent livelihoods.

Jains practice Samayika, a word in the Prakrit language roughly meaning equanimity and derived from samay (time). The goal of Samayik is to transcend our daily experiences as "constantly changing" human beings, (Jiva), and identify with Atma, our "unchanging" reality. Samayik is begun by achieving a balance in time. If this current moment is defined as a moving line between the past and the future, Samayik happens by being fully aware, alert and conscious in that moving time line when one experiences Atma, one's true nature, common to all life. Samayik is especially significant during Paryushana, a special 8-day period during the monsoon, and is practiced during the ritual known as Samvatsari Pratikraman.

Jains believe that Deva (Hinduism) (angels or celestial beings) cannot help jiva to obtain liberation. This must be achieved by individuals through their own efforts. In fact, devas themselves cannot achieve liberation until they reincarnate as humans and undertake the difficult act of removing karma. Their efforts to attain the exalted state of God in Jainism, the permanent liberation of jiva from all involvement in worldly existence, must be their own.

The Jain ethical code is taken very seriously. Five vows are followed by both laity and monks/nuns. These are:

  1. Ahimsa (Non-violence)
  2. Satya (truth)
  3. Asteya (non-stealing)
  4. Brahmacharya (chastity)
  5. Aparigraha (non-possession or non-possessiveness)

For laypersons, 'chastity' means confining sexual experiences to marriage. For monks/nuns, it means complete celibacy.

Nonviolence includes being vegetarian, and some choose to be vegan. Jains are expected to be non-violent in thought, word and deed, both toward humans and toward every other possible living creature, including even themselves.Jain monks walk barefoot and sweep the ground in front of them to avoid killing any insect. Even though all life is considered sacred by the Jains, human life is deemed by them to be the highest form of life. It is for this reason that it is considered vital never to harm or upset any person.

While performing holy deeds, Svetambar Jains wear cloths (Muhapatti) over their mouths and noses to avoid saliva falling on texts or revered images. Some even go so far as to wear either the Muhapatti or possibly a small card over their mouths so as to avoid accidentally inhaling even a single insect when awake. This last practice is only observed by some extreme practioners. Many health giving concepts have been entwined within the Jain religion.Jains do not drink unboiled water because it contains billions of micro-organisms.This practice of drinking boiled water is nothing to do with non violence as believed by many, but to do with health. In the ancient times, one might get ill by drinking unboiled water, which in turn would prevent one from remaining in equanimity (as illness can make one less tolerant).

True spirituality, according to enlightened Jains ,starts when one attains samyak darshan (self realisation) ie experience of being one with the soul rather than with the body).Self realised souls are said to be on the correct path to moksha(Striving to remain in the nature of the soul). The nature of the soul is detachment from worldy life and being in a state of pure knowledge and bliss. Attachment to worldy life binds new karmas and traps one in a cycle of birth ,death and suffering.In the worldy life there is always duality love and hate ,suffering and pleasure etc. one cannot have one without the other.

Jain Dharma share some aspects of its beliefs with Hinduism.Both share the theory of Karma and reincarnation and also revere the same Devas and Devis (heavenly beings). The Jain version of the Ramayana and Mahabharata is different from Hindu beliefs. The Jains believe that Rama attained Moksha (liberation) while Hindus believe that he was a reincarnation of God. Jains do not believe in God the creator. Enlightened Hindus, however, (such as Yogis) do share the same beliefs as enlightened Jains.

Along with the Five Vows, Jains avoid harboring ill will towards others and practice forgiveness. They believe that atma (soul) can lead one to becoming Parmatma (liberated soul) and this must come from one's inner self. Jains refrain from all violence (Ahimsa) and have named 18 activities, called Päpsthänaks, that should be eradicated:

  1. Pranatipaat --- Violence
  2. Mrushavaad --- Lie
  3. Adattadaan--- Theft
  4. Maithun --- Unchaste behaviour
  5. Parigraha --- Possessiveness
  6. Krodh --- Anger
  7. Mann --- Arrogance
  8. Maya (Jainism) --- Illusion
  9. Lobh--- Greed
  10. Raag --- Attachment
  11. Dvesh --- Hate
  12. Kalaha --- (Agitation)
  13. Abhyakhyan --- Accusation
  14. Paishoonya --- Gossip
  15. Par-parivad --- Criticism
  16. Rati-Arati --- Likes and Dislikes
  17. Maya-moso --- Malice
  18. Mithyya Darshan Shalya --- belief

Mahatma Gandhi was deeply influenced by Jain tenets (particularly through the guidance of Shrimad Rajchandra) such as peaceful, protective living, honesty and made it an integral part of his own Gandhism[2].

Jainism has a very distinct idea underlying Tirthankar worship. The physical form is not to be worshipped, but it is the Gunas (virtues, qualities) which are praised. Tirthankars are only role-models, and sub-sects, like Sthanakvasi, refuse to worship statues.

Jain symbols

The swastika (a.k.a. swastika) is among the holiest of Jain symbols. Worshippers use rice grains to create fylfot around the temple altar.

The holiest symbol is a simple swastika. Another incorporates a wheel on the palm of a hand.

Major Jain symbols include:

  • 24 Lanchhanas for Tirthankaras
  • The Ashtamangals
  • Triratna and Shrivatsa symbols
  • A Tirthankar's or Chakravarti's mother dreams
  • Dharmacakra and Siddha-chakra

Jain fasting

Main article: Fasting in Jainism

Fasting is common among Jains and a part of Jain festivals. Most Jains fast at special times, during festivals, and on holy days. Paryushan is the most prominent festival, lasting eight days in Svetambara Jain tradition and ten days in Digambar Jain tradition during the monsoon. The monsoon is a time of fasting. However, a Jain may fast at any time, especially if he or she feels some error has been committed. Variations in fasts encourage Jains to do whatever they can to maintain whatever self control is possible for the individual.

Some Jains also revere a special practice, wherein a person, who is aware that he or she may die soon, and feels he has completed all duties in this life, ceases to eat or drink unto death. This form of dying is called as Sallekhana. It is considered to be an extremely spiritual merit. This has recently led to a controversy in India, where in the State of Rajasthan, a lawyer has filed a writ petition seeking the High Court of Rajasthan to hold that Sallekhana is an illegal practice. However, Jains do not see Sallekhana as a form of suicide, but rather as a ritual.

Jain literature

The oldest Jain literature is in Shauraseni and Ardha-Magadhi Prakrit (Agama (texts, Agama-Tulya, Siddhanta texts, etc). Many classical texts are in Sanskrit (Tatthavartha Sutra, Puranas, Kosh, Shravakachar, mathematics, Nighantus etc). "Aabhidhan Rajendra Kosh" written by Acharya Rajendrasuri, is only one available Jain encyclopedia or Jain dictionary to understand the Jain Prakrit, Sanskrit, and Ardha-Magadhi and other Jain languages, words, their use and references with in oldest Jain literature. Later Jain literature was written in Apabhramsha (Kahas, rasas, and grammars), Hindi (Chhahdhal, Mokshamarg Prakashak, and others), Tamil (Jivakacintamani, Kural, and others), and Kannada (Vaddaradhane and various other texts). The Tatthavartha Sutra, Padma Puran (Ram Charitra), Jin PravachanRahasya-Kosh, Chhahdhal and Shravakachars such as Ratnakarandak Shravakachar and Shravak Dharma Prakash may be downloaded at http://www.AtmaDharma.com See Jain literature for more details.

Jain worship and rituals

Every day most Jains bow and say their universal prayer, the Namokar Mantra. Jains have built temples, or Basadi, where images of Tirthankars are venerated. Jain rituals may be elaborate because symbolic objects are offered and Tirthankars praised in song. But some Jain sects refuse to enter temples or venerate images, considering them simply guides. Sadhumargi Svetambara Jains, such as the Terapanthi, regard holy statues or temples as totally unnecessary.

Jain rituals include:

  • Panch-kalyanak Pratishtha
  • Pratikraman
  • Samayika
  • Guru-Vandana, Chaitya Vandan, and other sutras to honor ascetics.

Jain marriage ceremonies and family rites are usually variations of orthodox Hinduism rituals. Further, the similarity among Marwari Jain culture and Hindu culture is so strong that it is difficult to separate them. Many say the reason is because of common roots.[citation needed] Also, Marwari Hindus converted to Jainism so as to leave violence and attain vegetarianism.

Digambar and Shvetambar traditions

It is generally believed that the Jain sangha (Jainism) divided into two major sects, Digambar and Shvetambar, about 200 years after Mahavira's nirvan. Some historians believe there was no clear division until the 5th century. The best available information indicates that the chief Jain monk, Acharya Bhadrabahu, foresaw famine and led about 12,000 Digambar followers to South India. Twelve years later, they returned to find the Shvetambar sect and in 453, the Valabhi council edited and compiled traditional Shvetambar scriptures. In sanskrit, ambar [pronounced as 'umber'] means a covering like a garment. 'Dig', an older form of 'disha', means the North, east, south and west directions. Digamber, therefore means, those whose garment is only the four directions. 'Shwet' means white and shwetambers are those who wear white coverings.

  • Digambar Jain monks do not wear clothes because they believe clothes are like other possessions, increasing dependency and desire for material things, and desire for anything ultimately leads to sorrow.
  • Shvetambar Jain monks wear white seamless clothes for practical reasons and believe there is nothing in Jain scripture that condemns wearing clothes. Sadhvis (nuns) of both sects wear white. These differing views arise from different interpretations of the same holy books. There are minor differences in the enumeration and validity of each sect's literature.
  • Digambars believe that women cannot attain moksha in the same birth, while Shvetambars believe that women may certainly attain liberation and that Mallinath, a Tirthankar, was female.
  • Digambars believe that Mahavir was not married while Shvetambars believe the princely Mahavir was married and had a daughter.
  • They also differ on the origin of Mata Trishala, the mother of Mahavira.
  • Apart from doubts about women attaining moksha, another difference is in the first Jain prayer, the Namokar Mantra. Sthanakvasis and Digambars believe that only the first five lines are formally part of the Namokar mantra, whereas Svetambaras believe all nine form the mantra. Other differences are minor and not based on major points of doctrine.

Excavations at Mathura revealed many Jain statues from the Kushana period. Tirthankars are represented without clothes and monks, with cloth wrapped around the left arm, are identified as 'ardha-phalak' and mentioned in some texts. The Yapaniaya sect, believed to have originated from the Ardha-phalak, follows Digambar nudity, along with several Shvetambar beliefs.

Both groups are subdivided into sects, such as Sthanakvasi, Terapanthi, Deravasi, and Bisapantha. Some are 'murtipujak' (idol worshippers) while 'non murtipujak', refuse statues or images. Most simply call themselves Jains and follow general traditions rather than specific sectarian practices.

In 1974, a committee with representatives from every sect compiled a new text called the Samana Suttam.

Geographical spread and influence

Jain temple in Ranakpur

Jain philosophy and culture have been a major cultural, philosophical, social and political force since the dawn of civilization in Asia, and its ancient influence has been traced beyond the borders of modern India into the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions. At various times, Jainism was found all over South Asia including Sri Lanka and what are now Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Afghanistan.

The pervasive influence of Jain culture and philosophy in ancient Bihar possibly gave rise to Buddhism. The Buddhists have always maintained that during the time of Buddha and Mahavir, Jainism was already an ancient and deeply entrenched faith and culture in the region. For a discussion about the connections between Jainism and Buddhism see Jainism and Buddhism.

Over several thousand years, Jain influence on Hindu philosophy and religion has been considerable, while Hindu influence on Jain temple worship and rituals may be observed in certain Jain sects. For a detailed discussion see Jainism and Hinduism.

With 10 to 12 million followers,[2] Jainism is among the smallest of the Major religious groups, but in India its influence is much more than these numbers would suggest. Jains live throughout India; Maharashtra, Jainism in Rajasthan and Gujarat have the largest Jain population among Indian states. Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh have relatively large Jain populations. There is a large following in Punjab, India, especially in Ludhiana and Patiala, and there were many Jains in Lahore (Punjab's historic capital) and other cities before the Partition of India of 1947, after which many fled to India.

There are 85 Jain Jain community in different parts of India and around the world. They may speak local languages or follow different rituals but essentially follow the same principles.

Outside India, the Jainism in the United States, Jainism in the United Kingdom, Canada and East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) have large Jain communities today. Jainism is presently a strong faith in the United States and several Jain temples have been built there. American Jainism accommodates all the sects. Smaller Jain communities exist in Nepal, South Africa, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Fiji, and Suriname.

Jain contributions to Indian culture

While Jains represent only 0.4% of the Indian population, their contributions to culture and society in India are considerable. Jainism has influenced Gujarat most significantly. The earliest known Gujarati text, Bharat-Bahubali Ras, was written by a Jain monk. Some of the most important people in Gujarat's Jain history were Acharya Hemachandra Suri and his pupil, the Chalukya ruler Kumarpal.

Jains are both among the wealthiest of Indians and the most philanthropic. They run numerous schools, colleges and hospitals and are some of the most important patrons of the Somapuras, the traditional temple architects in Gujarat. Though Jainism is slowly declining in India, it is rapidly expanding in the West as non-Indians convert to the religion.

Jains have greatly influenced Gujarati cuisine. Gujarat is predominantly vegetarian (as is Jainism), and its food has a mild aroma as onions and garlic are omitted.

Jains encourage their monks to do research and obtain higher education. Jain monks and nuns, particularly in Rajasthan, have published numerous research monographs. This is unique among Indian religious groups and parallels Christian clergy.

The 2001 census states that Jains are India's most literate community and that India's oldest libraries at Patan and Jaisalmer are preserved by Jain institutions.


Jains have contributed to India's classical and popular literature. For example, almost all early Kannada language literature is of Jain origin.

  • Some of the oldest known books in Hindi and Gujarati were written by Jain scholars.
  • Several Tamil language Sangam are written by Jains or with Jain beliefs and values as the core subject.
  • Practically all the known texts in the Apabhramsha language are Jain works.

Jainism and Indian archaeology

Archaeological evidence such as various seals and other artifacts from the Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3000–1500 BCE) has been cited by some scholars as attesting to the faith's roots in Proto-Indo-Iranian India, before the Out of India theory of Iranians and Indo-Aryans.

Kalinga (Modern Orissa) was home to many Jains in the past. Rishabhnath was revered and worshipped in the ancient city Pithunda which was destroyed by Mahapadma Nanda when he conquered Kalinga and brought the idol of Rishabhnath to his capital in Magadh. Rishabhnath is revered as 'Kalinga Jin'. Ashoka's invasion and his Buddhist policy also subjugated Jains greatly in Kalinga. However Emperor Kharvela in the 1st century BC conquered Magadha and brought back Rishabhnath's idol and installed it in Udaygiri near his capital Shishupalgarh. The Khandagiri and Udaygiri caves near Bhubaneswar are the only stone monuments dedicated to Jainism surviving in Orissa. Much of the earlier buildings were in wood which were destroyed.

Decipherment of Brahmi by James Prinsep in 1788 enabled the reading of ancient inscriptions in India, which established the antiquity of Jainism. Discovery of Jain manuscripts, a process that continues today, has added significantly to retracing the history of Jainism.

Jain archaeological findings are often from Maurya, Sunga, Kushan, Gupta, Kalachuries, Rashtrakut, Chalukya, Chandel and Rajput and later periods.

Several western and Indian scholars have contributed to the reconstruction of Jain history. They include western historians like Bühler, Jacobi, and Indian scholars like Iravatham Mahadevan, who has worked on Tamil Brahmi inscriptions.

Holy sites

Palitana Tirtha


  • Jain Temples in the West
  • Jain Community Associations/ Study Centres in the West

Holy days

  • Paryushana Parva, 10/8 (Digambar/Shwetambar) day fasts, and for observe, 10/8 important principles.
  • Mahavir Jayanti, Lord Mahavir's birth.
  • Diwali, commemorates Lord Mahavir's attainment of nirvan.
  • Kshamavaani, The day for asking everyone's forgiveness.
  • Shawani Hirshnadi, The celebration of Hirsh's triumph over evil.

The Jain Calendar gives the dates for major Jain festivals, vrats and fairs.

Legal status in India

In 2005, the Supreme Court of India declined to issue a writ of Mandamus towards granting Jains the status of a religious minority throughout India. The Court noted that Jains have been declared a minority in 5 states already, and left it to the rest of the States to decide on the minority status of Jain religion.[3]

U.P. Basic Shiksha Parishad Judgment

In 2006, the Supreme Court opined that "Jain Religion is indisputably not a part of the Hindu Religion". (para 25, Committee of Management Kanya Junior High School Bal Vidya Mandir, Etah, U.P. v. Sachiv, U.P. Basic Shiksha Parishad, Allahabad, U.P. and Ors., Per Dalveer Bhandari J., Civil Appeal No. 9595 of 2003, decided On: 21.08.2006, Supreme Court of India) [2]

Jainism and other religions

South Asia has a rich history of diverse philosophies. Connections among these are discussed at:

  • Relationship between Jainism and Hinduism-To quote from the Encyclopædia Britannica Article on Hinduism,[4]"...With Jainism which always remained an Indian religion, Hinduism has so much in common, especially in social institutions and ritual life, that nowadays Hindus tend to consider it a Hindu sect. Many Jains also are inclined to fraternization..." "...Along with Hinduism and Buddhism, it is one of the three most ancient Indian religious traditions still in existence. ...While often employing concepts shared with Hinduism and Buddhism, the result of a common cultural and linguistic background, the Jain tradition must be regarded as an independent phenomenon. It is an integral part of South Asian religious belief and practice, but it is not a Hindu sect or Buddhist heresy, as earlier scholars believed."[5]
  • Jainism and Buddhism
  • Jainism and Sikhism

Even though Jainism is of Indian origin, it shared some principles with the Hellenic tradition, specially with Stoic and Pythagorean philosophies of Europe. Comparisons with Abrahamic religions can be found at:

  • Jainism and Christianity
  • Jainism and Judaism
  • Jainism and Islam

See also


  • Asceticism
  • List of Jains
  • Veganism
  • American Jainism
  • Jain community
    • South: Tulu Jains, Jainism in Karnataka, Tamil Jains, Jainism in Kerala
    • West: Jainism in Mumbai, Jainism in Gujarat, Jains of Maharashtra,
    • North: Jainism in Delhi, Jainism in Rajasthan
    • Center: Jainism in Bundelkhand
    • East: Jainism in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa
  • Jain Cosmology
  • Jains in India according to 2001 census
  • Tirtha, List of Jain Temples (Holy Sites of Jains)
  • Fasting in Jains (Jain Fasting)
  • Santhara
  • Jain Karmic Theory (Theory of Karma in Jains)
  • Legal Status of Jainism as a Distinct Religion
  • Jain rituals and festivals
  • Derasar
  • Jain Meditation


  1. The Jain Knowledge Warehouses: Traditional Libraries in India, John E. Cort, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 115, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1995), pp. 77-87
  2. Basic Faith Group Information



  • Jain, Duli C. (Editor), Studies In Jainism: Primer, Jain Study Circle, 1997.
  • Parik, Vastupal Jainism and the New Spirituality, Peace Publications, 2002.

Detailed Introduction

  • Shah, Natubhai, Jainism : The World of Conquerors, Motilal Banarsidass, 2004.
  • Jaini, Padmanabh S., Jaina Path of Purification, Motilal Banarsidass, 2001.
  • Titze, Kurt, Jainism : A Pictorial Guide to the Religion of Non-Violence, Mohtilal Banarsidass, 1998.
  • Wiley, Kristi, Historical Dictionary of Jainism, Scarecrow Press, 2004.
  • Mishra, Mamta, Bharatiya Darshan, Kala Prakashan, Varanasi, 2000.
  • Lawrence A. Babb, Absent Lord, University of California Press, 1996.
  • Vallely, Anne, Guardians of the Transcendent, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002. (Jain nuns)
  • Kelting, Whitney, Singing to the Jinas, New York: Oxford, 2001. (Jain laywomen)
  • The Assembly of Listeners, edited by Michael Carrithers and Caroline Humphrey, 5-14. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
  • Clermont & Dix Edited by Dilip Surana Jainisme and temples of Mount Abu and Ranakpur. Jodhpur India Gyan Gaurav publishers Revised print 2006

Specialized sources

  • Mary Pat Fisher, Living Religions (5th Edition), 2003, p.130
  • Bhaskar, Bhagchandra Jain, Jainism in Buddhist Literature. Alok Prakashan: Nagpur, 1972.
  • Campbell, Joseph, Oriental Mythology, 1962.
  • Nakamura, Hajime, Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts. Kosei Publishing: Tokyo, 2000.
  • Ramachandran, T.N., Harrappa and Jainism 1987.
  • Subramaniyam, Ka Naa, Tiruvalluvar and his Tirukkural. Bharatiya Jnanpith: New Delhi 1987.
  • Thomas, Edward, Jainism, or the Early Faith of Asoka. Asian Educational Services: New Delhi, 1995 (reprint of the original by Trubner: London, 1877).
  • Cort, John, Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India', New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • Jain Philosophy, Webb, Mark Owen
  • Vallely, Anne, Guardians of the Transcendent, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002.
  • Kelting, Whitney, Singing to the Jinas, New York: Oxford, 2002.

External links