Jainism is also called as Jina śāsana or Jain dharma

Jainism prescribes ahimsa (non-violence) towards all living beings to the most possible extent. Self-discipline and asceticism are thus major focuses of Jainism.2-jain-symbol

Jainism follow Jain Agamas and techings of Mahavira and all 24 Tirthankaras

The word “Jain” derives means jina (conqueror). A human being who has conquered all inner passions like attachment, desire, anger, pride, greed, etc. is called Jina. Followers of the path practiced and preached by the jinas are known as Jains.

mahavir-bhagwanji-rajasthanVardhamana Mahāvīra (599 BC – 527 BC (72 years)) is the 24th and last Tirthankara of this era. He appears in the tradition as one who, from the beginning, had followed a religion established long ago.

Parshvanatha, predecessor of Mahāvīra and the 23rd Tirthankara was a historical figure. He lived in the 9th century BCE.

24 Tirthankaras: Teachers and revivers of the Jain path started with Rishabhanatha (Adinath) 1st and concluded with Mahavira as 24th Tirthankara in the current era.

Prayer: purpose of prayer is to break the barriers of worldly attachments and desires and to assist in the liberation of the soul. Jains do not pray for any favors, material goods or rewards from the tirthankaras or monastics

Motto: “Parasparopagraho Jivanam” meaning The function of souls is to help one another

Ṇamōkāra mantra  is the most significant mantra in Jainism. This is the first prayer recited by the Jains while meditating. The mantra is also referred to as the Pancha Namaskāra Mantra, Navakāra Mantra or Namaskāra Mantra. While reciting this mantra, the devotee bows with respect to the Panch Parameshti (the Supreme Five) in order of the sanctity of their souls:

The Ṇamōkāra Mantra

Ṇamō Arihantāṇaṁ I bow to the Arihants, the Conquerors.
Ṇamō Siddhāṇaṁ I bow to the Siddhas.
Ṇamō Ayariyāṇaṁ I bow to the Acharyas.
Ṇamō Uvajjhāyāṇaṁ I bow to the Upadhyayas.
Ṇamō Lōē Savva Sāhūṇaṁ I bow to all the Sages of the world.
Ēsōpan̄caṇamōkkārō, savvapāvappaṇāsaṇō This five-fold salutation completely destroys all the sins.
Maṅgalā ṇaṁ ca savvēsiṁ, paḍamama havaī maṅgalaṁ And, of all auspicious mantras, it is indeed the foremost auspicious one.

1-jainism-ahimsa5 Main vows:

  • Ahimsa,
  • Aatya (not lying),
  • Asteya (non stealing),
  • Brahmacharya (chastity), and
  • Aparigraha.

Monks follow them completely whereas śrāvakas (householders) observe them partially.

  • Jains believe that Jainism is eternal;
  • Jain philosophy is that it separates body (matter) from the soul (consciousness) completely. Jains maintain that all living beings are really soul, intrinsically perfect and immortal. Souls in transmigration (that is, liability to repeated births and deaths) are said to be imprisoned in the body. Practitioners believe non-violence and self-control are the means to liberation.
  • Jain texts reject the idea of a creator deity and postulates an eternal universe. Jainism has a very elaborate framework on types of life and includes life-forms that may be invisible.
  • Jainism has 5-6 million followers in the world
  • Contemporary Jainism is divided into two major sects, Digambara and Śvētāmbara.

Main Teachings

Non-violence (ahiṃsā):

  • Ahiṃsā Parmo 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 for the resolve to halt the saṃsāra through relentless pursuit of truth and nonviolence.
  • Jains believe in avoiding harm to others through thoughts (mana), speech (vāchana), and actions (kāya).
  • After humans and animals, insects are the next living being offered protection in Jain practice, with avoidance of intentional harm to insects emphasized. For example, insects in the home are often escorted out instead of killed. Jainism teaches that intentional harm and the absence of compassion make an action more violent.
  • Violence or war in self-defense may be justified, but this must only be used as a last resort after peaceful measures have been thoroughly exhausted.


The second main principle of Jainism is anekāntavāda (non-absolutism). For Jains, non-absolutism means maintaining open-mindedness. This includes the recognition of all perspectives and a humble respect for differences in beliefs


The third main principle in Jainism is aparigraha (non-attachment) or non-grasping and includes non-materialism. Jainism emphasizes taking no more of something than is necessary.

Vegetarianism is a hallmark of Jainism, in accordance with the principle of non-violence towards all beings. Strict followers will also limit dairy products, avoid root vegetables and avoid eating after sunset.

Fasting: Jains fast throughout the year, particularly during festivals.

Meditation: Jains have developed a type of meditation called sāmāyika, a term derived from the word samaya. The goal of sāmāyika is to achieve a feeling of perfect calmness and to understand the unchanging truth of the self.

4-jain-flag6 Duties:

Jains follow avashyakas: samayika (practising serenity), chaturvimshati (praising the tirthankara), vandan (respecting teachers and monks), pratikramana (introspection), kayotsarga (stillness), and pratyakhyana (renunciation).

Jain texts prescribe meditation on twelve forms of contemplation (bhāvanā) for those who wish to stop the influx of karmas that extend transmigration. These twelve reflections as mentioned in ancient Jain texts, like Tattvārthsūtra, Sarvārthasiddhi, Puruşārthasiddhyupāya are:

  1. anitya bhāvanā – the transitoriness of the world;
  2. aśaraņa bhāvanā – the helplessness of the soul;
  3. saṃsāra – the pain and suffering implied in transmigration;
  4. aikatva bhāvanā – the inability of another to share one’s suffering and sorrow;
  5. anyatva bhāvanā – the distinctiveness between the body and the soul;
  6. aśuci bhāvanā – the filthiness of the body;
  7. āsrava bhāvanā – influx of karmic matter;
  8. saṃvara bhāvanā – stoppage of karmic matter;
  9. nirjarā bhāvanā – gradual shedding of karmic matter;
  10. loka bhāvanā – the form and divisions of the universe and the nature of the conditions prevailing in the different regions – heavens, hells, and the like;
  11. bodhidurlabha bhāvanā – the extreme difficulty in obtaining human birth and, subsequently, in attaining true faith; and
  12. dharma bhāvanā – the truth promulgated by Tirthankaras.


Major Jain festivals include Paryushana (aka Daslakshana), Mahavir Jayanti, Diwali, Akshaya Tritiya and Raksha Bandhan


  • Recite Ṇamōkāra mantra
  • Darshan of of pure self in Jina idols such as Tirthankaras.
  • Panch Kalyanaka Pratishtha Mahotsava, panch kalyanaka puja, and snatra puja.
  • Abhisheka (ceremonial bath) of the idols.

Jain pilgrim (Tirtha) sites include:

  • Siddhakshetra – Site of the moksha of an arihant (kevalin) or Tirthankara, such as Mount Kailash, Shikharji, Girnar, Pawapuri and Champapuri (capital of Anga).
  • Atishayakshetra – Locations where divine events have occurred, such as Mahavirji, Rishabhdeo, Kundalpur, Tijara Jain Temple, Aharji.
  • Puranakshetra –  Places associated with lives of great men, such as Ayodhya, Vidisha, Hastinapur, and Rajgir.
  • Gyanakshetra –  Places associated with famous acharyas, or centers of learning, such as Shravanabelagola.


In Jainism, monasticism is encouraged and respected. Monks and nuns live extremely austere and ascetic lifestyles. They follow the five main vows strictly and observe complete abstinence. Jain monks and nuns have neither a permanent home nor any possessions. They do not use vehicles and always travel barefoot from one place to another, irrespective of the distance. They wander from place to place except during the months of Chaturmas. They do not prepare food and live only on what people offer them. Digambara monks and nuns carry a broom-like object, called a picchi (made from fallen peacock feathers) to sweep the ground ahead of them or before sitting down to avoid inadvertently crushing small insects

The monks of Jainism, whose presence is not needed for most Jain rituals, should not be confused with priests. However, some sects of Jainism often employ a pujari, who need not be a Jain, to perform special daily rituals and other priestly duties at the temple.


Dravya (Substance)

  • There are six simple substances in existence, namely, Soul, Matter, Time, Space, Dharma and Adharma.
  • Jain philosophers distinguish a substance from a body (or thing) by declaring the former to be a simple element or reality and the latter a compound of one or more substances or atoms.
  • No substance can ever be destroyed, There can be a partial or total destruction of a body or thing.

Jīva (soul)

Jīva is distinguished from the remaining five substances (Matter, Time, Space, Dharma and Adharma), collectively called ajīva, by the intelligence with which the soul-substance is endowed, and which is not found in the other substances. The nature of the soul-substance is said to be freedom. In its modifications, it is said to be the subject of knowledge and enjoyment, or suffering, in varying degrees, according to its circumstances. Jain texts expound that all living beings are really soul, intrinsically perfect and immortal. Souls in transmigration are said to be embodied in the body as if in a prison.

Ajīva (Non-Soul)

  • Matter (Pudgala) is considered a non-intelligent substance consisting of an infinity of particles or atoms which are eternal. These atoms are said to possess sensible qualities, namely, taste, smell, color and, in certain forms, touch and sound.
  • Time is said to be the cause of continuity and succession. It is of two kinds: nishchaya and vyavhāra
  • Space (akāśa)- Space is divided by the Jainas into two parts, namely, the lokākāśa, that is the space occupied by the universe, and the alokākāśa, the portion beyond the universe. The lokākāśa is the portion in which are to be found the remaining five substances, i.e., souls, Matter, Time, Dharma and Adharma; but the alokākāśa is the region of pure space containing no other substance and lying stretched on all sides beyond bounds of the three worlds (the entire universe).
  • Dharma and Adharma are substances said to be helpful in the motion and stationary states of things, respectively, the former enabling them to move from place to place and the latter to come to rest from the condition of motion.

Tattva (Reality)

Jain philosophy is based on 7 fundamentals which are known as tattva, which attempt to explain the nature of karmas and provide solutions for the ultimate goal of liberation of the soul (moksha): These are:

  1. Jīva – the soul, which is characterized by consciousness
  2. Ajīva – non-living entities that consist of matter, space and time
  3. Āsrava (influx) – the inflow of auspicious and evil karmic matter into the soul
  4. Bandha (bondage) – mutual intermingling of the soul and karmas. The karma masks the jiva and restricts it from reaching its true potential of perfect knowledge and perception.
  5. Saṃvara (stoppage) – obstruction of the inflow of karmic matter into the soul
  6. Nirjarā (gradual dissociation) – the separation or falling off of part of karmic matter from the soul
  7. Moksha (liberation) – complete annihilation of all karmic matter (bound with any particular soul)

Soul and Karma

According to Jain belief, souls, intrinsically pure, possess the qualities of infinite knowledge, infinite perception, infinite bliss, and infinite energy in their ideal state. In reality, however, these qualities are found to be obstructed due to the soul’s association with karmic matter. The ultimate goal in Jainism is the realization of reality.


Jain texts state that there are ten vitalities or life-principles: the five senses, energy, respiration, life-duration, the organ of speech, and the mind. The table below summarizes the vitalities that living beings possess in accordance with their senses.

Number of vitalities Vitalities
Four Sense organ of touch, strength of body or energy, respiration, and life-duration.
Six The sense of taste and the organ of speech in addition to the former four.
Seven The sense of smell in addition to the former six.
Eight The sense of sight in addition to the former seven.
Nine The sense of hearing in addition to the former eight.
Ten Mind in addition to the above-mentioned nine vitalities.
  • Jain texts propound that the universe was never created, nor will it ever cease to exist. It is independent and self-sufficient, and does not require any superior power to govern it. Elaborate descriptions of the shape and function of the physical and metaphysical universe, and its constituents,
  • The universe is divided into three parts urdhva (upper) loka, Madhya (middle) loka, and adho (lower) loka.
  • It is made up of six constituents: Jīva, the living entity; Pudgala, matter; Dharma tattva, the substance responsible for motion; Adharma tattva, the substance responsible for rest; Akāśa, space; and Kāla, time.
  • Kalachakra: Kāla (time) is without beginning and eternal; the cosmic wheel of time, called kālachakra, rotates ceaselessly.
  • According to Jain cosmology, currently we are in the 5th ara of avasarpiṇī (half time cycle of degeneration). As of 2016, exactly 2,538 years have elapsed, and 18,460 years are still left.
  • The present age is one of sorrow and misery. In this ara, though religion is practiced in lax and diluted form, no liberation is possible. At the end of this ara, even the Jain religion will disappear, only to appear again with the advent of the first Tīrthankara after the 42,000 years of next utsarpiṇī are over.

The following table depicts the six aras of avasarpiṇī

Name of the Ara Degree of happiness Duration of Ara Average height of people Average lifespan of people
Sukhama-sukhamā Utmost happiness and no sorrow 400 trillion sāgaropamas Six miles tall Three palyopama years
Sukhamā Moderate happiness and no sorrow 300 trillion sāgaropamas Four miles tall Two palyopama Years
Sukhama-dukhamā Happiness with very little sorrow 200 trillion sāgaropamas Two miles tall One palyopama years
Dukhama-sukhamā Happiness with little sorrow 100 trillion sāgaropamas 1500 meters 705.6 quintillion years
Dukhamā Sorrow with very little Happiness 21,000 years 6 feet 130 years maximum
Dukhama- dukhamā Extreme sorrow and misery 21,000 years 2 feet 16–20 years

This trend will start reversing at the onset of utsarpinī kāl with the Dukhama-dukhamā ara being the first ara of utsarpinī (half-time cycle of regeneration).

A chakravartī is an emperor of the world and lord of the material realm. Though he possesses worldly power, he often finds his ambitions dwarfed by the vastness of the cosmos.

5 kinds of Jnāna (knowledge):

  • Kevala Jnana (Omniscience)
  • Śrutu Jñāna (Scriptural Knowledge)
  • Mati Jñāna (Sensory Knowledge)
  • Avadhi Jñāna (Clairvoyance)
  • Manah prayāya Jñāna (Telepathy)

The first two are regarded as indirect knowledge and the remaining three as direct knowledge.

Jain Agamas

After the attainment of Kevala Jnāna (omniscience), the tirthankara discourses in a divine preaching hall called samavasarana. The discourse delivered is called Śhrut Jnāna and comprises eleven angas and fourteen purvas. The discourse is recorded by Ganadharas (chief disciples), and is composed of twelve angas (departments). It is generally represented by a tree with twelve branches.

Historically, the Jain Agamas were based on the teachings of Mahāvīra, the last Tīrthankara of the present half cycle. The Agamas were memorised and passed on through the ages. They were lost because of famine that caused the death of several saints within a thousand years of Mahāvīra’s death. These comprise thirty-two works: eleven angās, twelve upanga āgamas, four chedasūtras, four mūlasūtras, and the last, a pratikraman, or Avashyak sūtra.

‌right faith, right knowledge and right conduct‍—‌together constitute the direct path to liberation.

3 fold path to liberation:

  1. Right View (samyak darśana)–Belief in substances like soul (Ātman) and non-soul without delusions.
  2. Right Knowledge (samyak jnana)–Knowledge of the substances (tattvas) without any doubt or misapprehension.
  3. Right Conduct (samyak charitra)–Being free from attachment, a right believer does not commit hiṃsā (injury).

Stages on the Path

In Jain philosophy, the fourteen stages through which a soul must pass in order to attain liberation (moksha) are called Gunasthāna.

Gunasthāna Explanation
1. Mithyātva Gross ignorance. The stage of wrong believer
2. Sasādana Vanishing faith, i.e., the condition of the mind while actually falling down from the fourth stage to the first stage.
3. Mishradrshti Mixed faith and false belief.
4. Avirata samyagdrshti Right Faith unaccompanied by Right Conduct.
5. Deśavirata The stage of partial self-control (Śrāvaka)
6. Pramatta Sanyati First step of life as a Jain muni (monk). The stage of complete self-discipline, although sometimes brought into wavering through negligence.
7. Apramatta Sanyati Complete observance of Mahavratas (Major Vows)
8. Apūrvakaraņa New channels of thought.
9. Anivāttibādara-sāmparāya Advanced thought-activity
10. Sukshma sāmparāya Slight greed left to be controlled or destroyed.
11. Upaśānta-kasāya The passions are still associated with the soul, but they are temporarily out of effect on the soul.
12. Ksīna kasāya Desirelessness, i.e., complete eradication of greed
13. Sayoga kevali (Arihant) Omniscience with vibrations. Sa means “with” and yoga refers to the three channels of activity, i.e., mind, speech and body.
14. Ayoga kevali The stage of omniscience without any activity. This stage is followed by the soul’s destruction of the aghātiā karmas.

At the second-to-last stage, a soul destroys all inimical karmas, including the knowledge-obscuring karma which results in the manifestation of infinite knowledge (Kevala Jnana), which is said to be the true nature of every soul.

Those who pass the last stage are called siddha and become fully established in Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct. According to Jain texts, after the total destruction of karmas the released pure soul (Siddha) goes up to the summit of universe (Siddhashila) and dwells there in eternal bliss.

The soul removes its ignorance (mithyatva) at the 4th stage, vowlessness (avirati) at the 6th stage, passions (kashaya) at the 12th stage, and yoga (activities of body, mind and speech) at the 14th stage, and thus attains liberation.


  • In Jainism, perfect souls with the body are called Arihant (victors) and perfect souls without the body are called Siddhas (liberated souls). Tirthankara is an Arihant who helps others to achieve liberation. Tirthankaras become role models for those seeking liberation. They are also called human spiritual guides. They reorganise the four-fold order that consists of male ascetics (muni), female ascetics (aryika), laymen (śrāvaka) and laywomen (śrāvikā).
  • Jainism does not teach the dependency on any supreme being for enlightenment. The tirthankara is a guide and teacher who points the way to enlightenment, but the struggle for enlightenment is one’s own.
  • In the nature of things the true God should be free from the faults and weaknesses of the lower nature; He alone is free from hunger, thirst, senility, disease, birth, death, fear, pride, attachment, aversion, infatuation, worry, conceit, hatred, uneasiness, sweat, sleep and surprise is called a God.


Once a major religion, Jainism declined due to a number of factors, including proselytizing by other religious groups, persecution, withdrawal of royal patronage, sectarian fragmentation and the absence of central leadership. Since the time of Mahāvīra, Jainism faced rivalry with Buddhism and the various Hindu sects. The Jains suffered isolated violent persecutions by these groups, but the main factor responsible for the decline of their religion was the success of Hindu reformist movements.

Schools and branches

The Jain community is divided into two Digambara and Śvētāmbara. Monks of the Digambara (“sky-clad”) tradition do not wear clothes. Female monastics of the Digambara sect wear unstitched plain white sarees and are referred to as Aryikas. Śvētāmbara (“white-clad”) monastics on the other hand, wear white seamless clothes.

Jain literature

The Digambara sect of Jainism maintains that the Agamas were lost during the same famine in which the purvas were lost. According to the Digambaras, Āchārya Bhutabali was the last ascetic who had partial knowledge of the original canon. Later on, some learned Āchāryas started to restore, compile, and put into written words the teachings of Lord Mahāvīra, that were the subject matter of Aagamas. Āchārya Dharasen, in the first century CE, guided two Āchāryas, Āchārya Pushpadant and Āchārya Bhutabali, to put these teachings in written form. The two Āchāryas wrote, on palm leaves, Ṣaṭkhaṅḍāgama – among the oldest-known Digambara Jaina texts. Digambara texts include two main texts, four Pratham-Anuyog, three charn-anuyoga, four karan-anuyoga and twelve dravya-anuyoga.

Art and architecture


  • Jain caves at Udaigiri Hills near Bhelsa (Vidisha) in Madhya Pradesh and
  • Ellora in Maharashtra, and the Jain temples at
  • Dilwara near Mount Abu, Rajasthan.

Statues and sculptures

  • Bahubali: A monolithic, 18-metre (59-foot) statue, referred to as Gommateshvara, built by the Ganga minister and commander Chavundaraya, is situated on a hilltop in Shravanabelagola in the Hassan, Karnataka.
  • A Statue of Ahimsa 33 m tall (depicting Rishabhanatha) was erected in 2015.

Swastika is an important Jain symbol. The four arms of the swastika symbolize the four states of existence according to Jainism:

  1. Heavenly being (devas)
  2. Human being
  3. Hellish being
  4. Tiryancha (subhuman like flora or fauna)

Jain principles summarizes:

  • asceticism,
  • compassion for all forms of life,
  • the importance of vows for self-discipline,
  • vegetarianism,
  • fasting for self-purification, and
  • mutual tolerance among people of different creeds.

Source: Wikipedia, Jain Agamas, Tattvārthsūtra, Sarvārthasiddhi, Puruşārthasiddhyupāya, Samayasara, Ratnakaranda śrāvakācāra, and Niyamasara.

Jain religion teaches us the simple living and self-realization

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