The Jina or Jaina means ‘the conqueror’.  According to Jain tradition their religion is quite old, even earlier to Aryan Brahmanism. The Yajurveda mentions Rishabha, Ajinatha and Aristanemi. One of the Puranas describes Rishabha as an incarnation of Narayana.

Main aspects related to Jainism

  1. The Jain tradition has a succession of teachers called as Tirthankaras. There are a total of 24 Tirthankaras associated with Jainism.
  2. The first Tirthankara is believed to be Rishabhanath. The last Tirthankara is believed to Vardhaman Mahavira.
  3. It is believed that all Tirthankaras were Kshatriyas by birth.
  4. Vardhaman Mahavira
    • Believed to have lived between (540-468 BC)
    • He was born at Kundagrama near Vaishali.
    • Mahavira was a Kshatriya, son of Siddhartha (the head of Jnatrika clan) and Trishla
    • At the age of 30, he became an ascetic and left his home in the search for truth.
    • After 13 years of penance, he attained the highest spiritual knowledge called Kaivalya Jnan. He attained this at Jrimbhikgrama village under a sal tree aged 42.
    • Since this attainment he was called as Mahavira, Jina, Jitendriya (one who conquered his senses), Nigrantha (free from all bonds), and Kevalin.
    • He died aged 72 at a place called as Pava, near Rajagriha.
  1. Main teachings of Jainism
    • Jainism rejects the idea of a creator of the world as well as the authority of the Vedas.
    • Jainism believes that humans may be good or bad according to their actions and not on account of their birth.
    • The Jains believe in karma and in the transmigration of the soul
    • Salvation or nirvana comes on getting rid of the cycle of birth and rebirth, and can be attained by leading a pure life guided by the three-fold path of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct.
    • Right to conduct involves– not to steal, non-possession, ahimsa, not to lie and control of the senses.
    • The teachings of the Tirthankaras were compiled in 12 angas which were written down at Vallabhi in the 5th
  1. Jainism councils
    • First Jainism council: It was held at Pataliputra in the 3rd century BC. It was presided by Sthulabahu
    • Second Jainism council: It was held at Vallabhi in Gujarat in 512 AD. It was presided by Devardhigani. Angas were compiled during this time.
  1. Jains split into two groups- the Digambaras (sky clad) and Svetambaras (clothed in white).
  2. Difference between the two sects of Jainism
    • Digambaradenies liberation in the Whereas salvation in the Svetambaras has been accepted.
    • In Digambara, Tirthankara Mallinath is said to be a man. Whereas, in Shwetambar Mallinath has been accepted as Mallikumari.
    • Svetambaras believe that Mahavira married and a daughter was born to him. However, Digambara believe Mahavira remained unmarried.

Indian culture has been deeply influenced by Jainism ideas such as Ahimsa, and the positive way through which Jainism has contributed to the development of language, literature, art and architecture.