Outline of Jainism

Jainism  traditionally known as Jain Dharma, is an ancient Indian religion. Followers of Jainism are called “Jains“, a word derived from the Sanskrit word jina, meaning “victor”. Jains trace their spiritual ideas and history through a succession of twenty-four leaders or tirthankaras, with the first being Rishabhanatha, who according to Jain tradition lived millions of years ago, the twenty-third tirthankara Parshvanatha in 900 BCE, and the twenty-fourth tirthankara the Mahāvīra around 500 BCE. Jains believe that Jainism is an eternal dharma with the tirthankaras guiding every cycle of the Jain cosmology. Their canonical religious texts are called Agamas and Paramagamas.

Hutheesing Jain Temple

Hutheesing Jain Temple

The Jain emblem

The Jain emblem

The main religious premises of Jainism are ahiṃsā (non-violence), anekāntavāda (many-sidedness), aparigraha (non-attachment) and asceticism. Devout Jains take five main vows: ahiṃsā (non-violence), satya (truth), asteya (not stealing), brahmacharya (sexual continence), and aparigraha (non-possessiveness). These principles have affected Jain culture in many ways, such as leading to a predominantly vegetarian lifestyle. Parasparopagraho Jīvānām (the function of souls is to help one another) is its motto and the Ṇamōkāra mantra is its most common and basic prayer.

Jainism has two major ancient sub-traditions, Digambaras and Śvētāmbaras, with different views on ascetic practices, gender and which texts can be considered canonical; both have mendicants supported by laypersons (śrāvakas). The religion has between four and five million followers, mostly in India. Outside India, some of the largest communities are in Canada, Europe, and the United States. Jainism is growing in Japan, where more than 5,000 ethnic Japanese families have converted to Jainism. Major festivals include Paryushana and DaslakshanaAshtanikaMahavir Janma Kalyanak, and Dipawali.

Common concepts in Indian religions

Indian Religions

Articles about Jainism

Beliefs and philosophy

Main principles

Art and architecture


See also