Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma (जैन धर्म), is a spiritual, religious and philosophical tradition of Indian origin dating back at least as far as the 9th century BC, but believed by Jains to stretch back many centuries into the very distant past. A Jain is a follower of Jinas ("the saints"), human beings who have rediscovered the dharma, become fully liberated and taught the spiritual path for the benefit of beings. Jains follow the teachings of 24 special Jinas who are known as Tirthankaras (‘ford-builders’). The 24th and most recent Tirthankar is Lord Mahavira who lived from 599 to 527 BCE according to traditional history. The 23rd Tirthankar of Jains, Lord Parsvanatha is now recognised as a historical person, who lived during 872 to 772 BC. Jaina tradition is unanimous in making Rishabha, as the First Tirthankar.
A major characteristic of Jain belief is the emphasis on the consequences of physical and mental behavior. Because Jains believe that everything is alive, in some sense, and that many beings possess a soul, great care and awareness is required in going about one’s business in the world. Jainism is a religious tradition in which all life is considered worthy of respect and it emphasises this equality of all life, advocating the protection of the smallest creatures. Jainism encourages spiritual independence (in the sense of relying on and cultivating one’s own personal wisdom) and self-control (व्रत, vratae) considered vital for spiritual development. The goal, as with other Indian religions, is moksha: realization of the soul’s true nature, a condition of omniscience (Kevala Jnana or Keval Gyana).
Jains are a small, influential religious minority with at least 4.2 million followers in modern India, and more in growing immigrant communities in the United States, Western Europe, the Far East including Australia and elsewhere. Jains sustain the ancient Shraman (श्रमण) or ascetic tradition and have significantly influenced the religious, ethical, political and economic spheres in India for over two millennia.
Jains have an ancient tradition of scholarship and the highest degree of literacy in India. Jain libraries are India’s oldest.
Parshvanatha, the twenty-third Tirthankara (ford maker) is the earliest Jain leader who can be reliably dated. According to scholars he probably flourished in 9th Century BCE.
Kalinga (Modern Orissa) was home to many Jains in the past. Rishabh, the first Tirthankar, was revered and worshipped in the ancient city Pithunda. This was destroyed by Mahapadma Nanda when he conquered Kalinga and brought the statue of Rishabhanatha to his capital in Magadh. Rishabhanatha is revered as the ‘Kalinga Jina’. Ashoka’s invasion and his Buddhist policy also subjugated Jains greatly in Kalinga. However, in the 1st century BCE Emperor Kharvela conquered Magadha and brought Rishabhnath’s statue back and installed it in Udaygiri, near his capital, Shishupalgadh. The Khandagiri and Udaygiri caves near Bhubaneswar are the only surviving stone Jain monuments in Orissa. Earlier buildings were made of wood and were destroyed.
Deciphering of the Brahmi script, India’s oldest script, believed to have been created by the first Tirthankara Rishabhanatha, by James Prinsep in 1788 enabled the reading of ancient inscriptions in India and established the antiquity of Jainism. Discovering Jain manuscripts, continues and has added significantly to retracing Jain history. Jain archaeological findings are often from Maurya, Sunga, Kishan, Gupta, Kalachuries, Rashtrakut, Chalukya, Chandel and Rajput and later periods. Several western and Indian scholars have contributed to the reconstruction of Jain history. Western historians like Bühler, Jacobi, and Indian scholars like Iravatham Mahadevan, worked on Tamil Brahmi inscriptions.
Jainism has been a major cultural, philosophical, social and political force since the dawn of civilization in Asia, and its ancient influence has been noted in other religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism.
This 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 Mahavira, Jainism was already an ancient, deeply entrenched faith and culture there. For connections between Buddhism and Jainism see Buddhism and Jainism. Over several thousand years, Jain influence on Hindu philosophy and religion has been considerable, while Hindu influence on Jain rituals may be observed in certain Jain sects.
For instance, the concept of puja is Jain. The Vedic Religion prescribed yajnas and havanas for pleasing god. Puja is a specifically Jain concept, arising from the Tamil words, "pu" (flower) and "ja" (offering).
With 10 to 12 million followers, Jainism is among the smallest of the major world religions, but in India its influence is much more than these numbers would suggest. Jains live throughout India; Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat have the largest Jain population among Indian states. Karnataka, Bundelkhand and Madhya Pradesh have relatively large Jain populations. There is a large following in Punjab, especially in Ludhiana and Patiala, and there used to be many Jains in Lahore (Punjab’s historic capital) and other cities before the Partition of 1947, after which many fled to India. There are many Jain communities 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 United States, United Kingdom, Canada and East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) have large Jain communities. 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. In Belgium the very successful Indian diamond community, almost all of which are Jain are also establishing a temple to strengthen Jain values in and across Western Europe.
It is generally believed that the Jain sangha divided into two major sects, Digambar and Svetambar, about 200 years after Mahāvīra’s nirvana. 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 southern India. Twelve years later they returned to find the Shvetambar sect, and in 453 the Valabhi council edited and compiled traditional Shwetambar scriptures. The differences between the two sects are minor and relatively obscure.
Diagramatic representation of Schisms within Jainism along with the timelines.In Sanskrit, ambar refers to a covering generally, or a garment in particular. Dig, an older form of disha, refers to the cardinal directions. Digambar therefore means "covered by the four directions", or "sky-clad". Svet means white and Svetambars wear white garments.
Digambar Jain monks do not wear clothes because they believe clothes are like other possessions, increase dependency and desire for material things, and desire for anything ultimately leads to sorrow. Svetambar Jain monks, on the other hand, 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 each sect’s literature.
Digambars believe that women cannot attain moksha in the same birth, while Svetambars believe that women may attain liberation and that Mallinath, a Tirthankar, was a woman. The difference is because Digambar ascetism requires nudity. As nudity is impractical for women, it follows that without it they cannot attain moksha.
Digambars believe that Mahavir was not married, whereas Shvetambars believe the princely Mahavir was married and had a daughter. The two sects also differ on the origin of Mata Trishala, Mahavira’s mother.
Sthanakavasis and Digambars believe that only the first five lines are formally part of the Namokara Mantra (the main Jain prayer), 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. Tirthankaras, represented without clothes and monks, with cloth wrapped around the left arm, are identified as Ardhaphalaka and mentioned in some texts. The Yapaniya sect, believed to have originated from the Ardhaphalaka, follows Digambara nudity, along with several Shvetambara beliefs.
Svetambaras are further divided into sub-sects, such as Sthanakavasi, Terapanthi and Deravasi. Some are murtipujak (revering statues) while non-murtipujak Jains refuse statues or images. Shvetamber follow the 12 agam literature (voice of omniscient). 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.
Jains, like Buddhists, do not have a teacher of our age. For Jains, Mahavira is the first or most recent teacher of the Way. Like other Indian religions, knowledge of the truth (dharma) is considered to have declined and then revived cyclically over the course of history. Those who rediscover dharma are called Tirthankara. The literal meaning of Tirthankar is ‘ford-builder’. Jains, like Buddhists, compare the process of becoming a pure human being to crossing a swift river – an endeavour requiring patience and care. A ford-builder is someone who has themselves already crossed the river and can therefore able guide others. S/he is called a ‘victor’ (Skt: Jina) because s/he has achieved liberation by their own efforts. A Jain follows a Jina. Note that the Buddha Gotama was sometimes referred to as Jina. Like Buddhadharma, the purpose of Jain dharma is mental and physical purification to undo the negative effects of karma. The goal of this process is liberation accompanied by a great natural inner peace.
A tirthankar is considered omniscient, a role model but not a god. There have been 24 Tirthankaras in what the Jains call the ‘present age’. Historical records the last two Tirthankaras: Parshvanath and Mahavir (the 23rd and 24th).
The 24 tirthankaras in chronological order are – Adinath (or Rishabhnath), Ajitanath, Sambhavanath, Abhinandananath, Sumatinath, Padmaprabh, Suparshvanath, Chandraprabhu, Pushpadantanath (or Suvidhinath), Sheetalanath, Shreyansanath, Vasupujya, Vimalanath, Anantanath, Dharmanath, Shantinath, Kunthunath, Aranath, Mallinath, Munisuvratanath, Naminath, Neminath, Parshvanath and Mahavir (or Vardhamana).
Jains believe that every human is responsible for his/her actions and all living beings have an eternal soul, jīva. Jains believe all souls are equal because they all possess the potential of being liberated and attaining Moksha. Tirthankaras are role models only because they have attained Moksha. Jains insist 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, described as Infinite Knowledge, Perception, Consciousness, and Happiness (Ananta Jnāna, Ananta Darshana, Ananta Cāritra, and Ananta Sukha). Jains do not believe in an omnipotent supreme being, creator or manager (kartā), but rather in an eternal universe governed by natural laws.
Jains hold that this temporal world holds much misery and sorrow and hence to attain lasting bliss one must transcend the cycle of transmigration. Otherwise, one will remain eternally caught up in the never-ending cycle of transmigration. The only way to break out of this cycle is to practice detachment through rational perception, rational knowledge and rational conduct.
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 (aka Umāsvāmi) almost 1800 years ago. The primary figures are Tirthankaras. The two main sects called Digambar and Svetambar, both believe in Ahinsa (or ahinsā), asceticism, karma, sanskār, and jiva.
Differences between the two main sects are mainly conduct related. Doctrinally, Jainism is uniform with great emphasis placed on rational perception, rational knowledge and rational conduct. "samyagdarśanajñānacāritrāṇimokṣamārgaḥ", Tattvārthasūtra, 1.1
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 their crime, 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 the majority of the local non-Jain population is vegetarian.
History suggests that various strains of Hinduism became vegetarian due to strong Jain influences. Jains run animal shelters all over India. For example, Delhi has a bird hospital run by Jains. Every city and town in Bundelkhand has animal shelters run by Jains where all manner of animals are sheltered, even though the shelter is generally known as a Gaushala.
Jainism’s stance on nonviolence goes far beyond vegetarianism. Jains refuse food obtained with unnecessary cruelty. Many practice a lifestyle similar to Veganism due to the violence of modern dairy farms, and others exclude root vegetables from their diets to preserve the lives of these plants. Potatoes, garlic and onions in particular are avoided by Jains. Devout Jains do not eat, drink, or travel after sunset and prefer to drink water that is boiled and then cooled to room temperature. Many Jains abstain from eating green vegetables and root vegetables one day each week. The particular day, determined by the lunar calendar is Ashtami (eighth day of the lunar month), New Moon, the second Ashtami and the Full Moon night.
Anekantavada, a foundation of Jain philosophy, literally means "The Multiplicity of Reality", or equivalently, "Non-one-endedness". Anekantavada has tools for overcoming inherent biases in any one perspective on any topic or in reality in general. Another tool is The Doctrine of Postulation, Syādvāda. Anekantavada 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 Indian culture, Jains have contributed to Indian philosophy, art, architecture, science, and to Mohandas Gandhi’s politics, which led to the mainly non-violent movement for Indian independence.
According to Jain beliefs, the universe was never created, nor will it ever cease to exist. Therefore, it is shaswat (infinite). It has no beginning or end, but time is cyclical with progressive and regressive spirituality phases.
ains divide time 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, humanity develops from its worst to its best: ethics, progress, happiness, strength, health, and religion each start the cycle at their worst, before eventually completing the cycle at their best and starting the process again. 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 believe that at the upswing of each time cycle, people will lose religion again. All wishes will be granted by wish-granting trees (Kalpavrksa), and people will be born in sets of twins (Yugalika) with one boy and one girl who stay together all their lives: a symbol of an integrated human with male and female characteristics balanced.
Jain philosophy is based upon eternal, universal truths. 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 or total knowledge (Kevala Jnana), 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 Vardhamana (Mahavira, महावीर) was the last Tirthankara to attain enlightenment (599-527 BCE). He was preceded by twenty-three others, making a total of twenty-four Tirthankaras.
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 Tirthankaras, one for each half of the time cycle, and this will continue in the future. Hence, Jainism does not trace its origins to Rishabh Deva, the first, or finish with Mahavira, the twenty-fourth, Tirthankara.
According to Jainism, the Universe consists of infinite amount of Jiva'(life force or souls), and the design resembles a man standing with his arms bent while resting his hands on his waist. The narrow waist part comprises various ‘Kshetras’, for ‘vicharan’ (roaming) for humans, animals and plants. Currently we are in the Bharat Kshetra of ‘Jambu Dweep’ (dweep means island).
The Deva’ Loka (Heavens) are at the symbolic ‘chest’ of Creation, where all Devas (demi gods) reside. Similarly beneath the ‘waist’ are the Narka Loka (Hell). There are such Seven Narka Lokas, each for a varying degree suffering a jiva’ has to go through to face the consequences of its paap’ karma (sins). From the first to the seventh Narka, the degree of suffering increases and Light reaching it decreases (with no light in the seventh Narka).
Jain philosophy (Sanskrit: Jain darsana; जैन दर्शन) deals extensively with the problems of metaphysics, reality, cosmology, ontology, epistemology and divinity. Jainism is essentially a transtheistic religion of ancient Indian. It is a continuation of the ancient Śramaṇa tradition which co-existed with the Vedic tradition since ancient times. The distinguishing features of Jain philosophy are its belief on independent existence of soul and matter, neither denial nor acceptance of a creative and omnipotent God, an eternal,and hence uncreated universe, a strong emphasis on non-violence, on relativity and multiple facets of truth, and morality and ethics based on liberation of souls. Jain philosophy explains the rationale of being and existence, the nature of the Universe and its constituents, the nature of bondage and the means to achieve liberation. It is described as ascetic because of its strong emphasis on self-control, austerities and renunciation and called a model of philosophical liberalism for its insistence that truth is relative and multifaceted and for its willingness to accommodate all possible view-points of rival philosophies. It has been compared to Western concepts of subjectivism and moral relativism. Jainism strongly upholds the individual nature of soul and personal responsibility for one’s decisions; and that self-reliance and individual efforts alone are responsible for one’s liberation. In this matter, it is similar to individualism and Objectivism.
In Jainism, truth or reality is perceived differently depending on different points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth. Jain doctrine states that, an object has infinite modes of existence and qualities and, as such, cannot be completely perceived in all its aspects and manifestations, due to inherent human limitations. Only Kevalins – the omniscient beings – can totally comprehend objects and that others can knowing only a part. Consequently, no one view can represent the absolute truth. In the process, the Jains have their doctrines of relativity used for logic and reasoning –
Anekāntavāda – literally, "Non-one-endedness", "Nonsingular Conclusivity", the idea that no one perspective holds the complete truth;
Syādvāda – the theory of conditioned predication and;
Nayavāda – The theory of partial standpoints.
These philosophical concepts contributed immensely to Indian philosophy, especially in skepticism and relativity.
The sidhha kshetra or moksha is situated at the symbolic forehead of the creation, where all the jivas having attained nirvana reside in a state of complete peace and eternal happiness. Outside the symbolic figure of this creation nothing but aloka or akaasha (sky) exists.
Karma in Jainism conveys a totally different meaning as commonly understood in the Hindu philosophy and western civilization. It is not the so called inaccessible force that controls the fate of living beings in inexplicable ways. It does not mean "deed", "work", nor invisible, mystical force (adrsta), but a complex of very fine matter, imperceptible to the senses, which interacts with the soul, causing great changes. Karma, then, is something material (karmapaudgalam), which produces certain conditions, like a medical pill has many effects. According to Robert Zydendos, karma in Jainism is a system of laws, but natural rather than moral laws. In Jainism, actions that carry moral significance are considered to cause consequences in just the same way as physical actions that do not carry any moral significance. When one holds an apple in one’s hand and then let go of the apple, the apple will fall: this is only natural. There is no judge, and no moral judgment involved, since this is a mechanical consequence of the physical action.
Jain monks and nuns practice strict asceticism and strive to make their current birth their last, thus ending their cycle of transmigration. The laity, who pursue less rigorous practices, strive to attain rational perception and to do as much good as possible and get closer to the goal of attaining freedom from the cycle of transmigration. Following strict ethics, the laity usually choose professions that revere and protect life and totally avoid violent livelihoods.
Jains practice Samayika, which is a Sanskrit word meaning equanimity and derived from samaya (the soul). The goal of Samayika is to attain equanimity. Samayika is begun by achieving a balance in time. If this current moment is defined as a moving line between the past and the future, Samayika 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 forms. Samayika is especially significant during Paryushana, a special period during the monsoon, and is practiced during the Samvatsari Pratikramana ritual.
Jains believe that Devas (demi-gods or celestial beings) cannot help jiva to obtain liberation, which 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 Siddha, the permanent liberation of jiva from all involvement in worldly existence, must be their own.
The strict Jain ethical code for both laity and monks/nuns is:
‘Achaurya Or Asteya’ (non-stealing)
Aparigraha (Non-attachment to temporal possessions)
For laypersons, ‘brahmacharya’ means either confining sex to marriage or complete celibacy. For monks/nuns, it means complete celibacy.
Nonviolence includes vegetarianism. Jains are expected to be non-violent in thought, word, and deed, both toward humans and toward all other living beings, including their own selves. Jain monks and nuns walk barefoot and sweep the ground in front of them to avoid killing insects or other tiny beings. Even though all life is considered sacred by the Jains, human life is deemed the highest form of life. For this reason, it is considered vital never to harm or upset any person.
While performing holy deeds, Svetambara Jains wear cloths, muhapatti, over their mouths and noses to avoid saliva falling on texts or revered images. It is incorrect to say that this to avoid accidentally inhaling insects, because obviously it is rare to encounter insects! Many healthy concepts are entwined. For example, Jains drink only boiled water. In ancient times, a person might get ill by drinking unboiled water, which could prevent equanimity, and illness may engender intolerance.
True spirituality, according to enlightened Jains, starts when one attains Samyak darshana, or true perception. Such souls are on the path to moksha, striving to remain in the nature of the soul. This is characterized by knowing and observing only all worldly affairs, without raag(attachment) and dwesh(repulsion), a state of pure knowledge and bliss. Attachment to worldly life collects new karmas, and traps one in birth, death, and suffering. Worldly life has a dual nature (for example, love and hate, suffering and pleasure, etc.), for the perception of one state cannot exist without the contrasting perception of the other.
Jain Dharma shares some beliefs with Hinduism. Both believe in karma and reincarnation. However, the Jain version of the Ramayana and Mahabharata is different from Hindu beliefs, for example. Generally, Hindus believe that Rama was a reincarnation of God, whereas Jains believe he attained moksha (liberation) because they are free from any belief in a creator – god. (Note: some Hindus, such as Yogis, accept aspects of Jain Dharma.)
Along with the Five Vows, Jains avoid harboring ill will 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 (Ahinsa) and recommend that sinful activities be avoided.
Mahatma Gandhi was deeply influenced (particularly through the guidance of Shrimad Rajchandra) by Jain tenets such as peaceful, protective living and honesty, and made them an integral part of his own philosophy. Jainism has a distinct idea underlying Tirthankar worship. The physical form is not worshiped, but their Gunas (virtues, qualities) are praised. Tirthankaras remain role-models, and sects such as the Sthanakavasi stringently reject statue worship.
Fasting is common among Jains and a part of Jain festivals. Most Jains fast at special times, during festivals, and on holy days. Paryushana is the most prominent festival, lasting eight days for Svetambara Jains and ten days for Digambars, during the monsoon. The monsoon is a time of fasting. However, a Jain may fast at any time, especially if s/he feels some error has been committed. Variations in fasts encourage Jains to do whatever they can to maintain self control.
Some Jains revere a special practice. When a person is aware of approaching death, and feels that s/he has completed all duties, s/he willingly ceases to eat or drink. This form of dying is called santhara. Considered extremely spiritual and creditable, with all awareness of the transitory nature of human experience, it has recently led to a controversy. In Rajasthan, a lawyer petitioned the High Court of Rajasthan to declare Santhara illegal. Jains see Santhara as spiritual detachment, a declaration that a person has finished with this world and now chooses to leave.
 Jain worship and rituals
Main article: Jain rituals and festivals
Every day most Jains bow and say their universal prayer, the Namokara Mantra, aka the Navkar Mantra. Jains have built temples, or Basadi or Derasar, where images of Tirthankaras are revered. Rituals may be elaborate because symbolic objects are offered and Tirthankaras praised in song. But some sects refuse to enter temples or revere images. All Jains accept that images of Tirthankaras are merely symbolic reminders of their paths to attain moksha. Jains are clear that the Jinas reside in moksha and are completely detached from the world.
Jain rituals include:
Guru-Vandana, Chaitya Vandana, and other sutras to honor ascetics.
The holiest symbol is a simple swastika. Another important symbol incorporates a wheel on the palm of a hand, symbolizing Ahinsa.
Other major Jain symbols include:
24 Lanchhanas (symbols) of the Tirthankaras
Triratna and Shrivatsa symbols
A Tirthankar’s or Chakravarti’s mother dreams
Dharmacakra and Siddha-chakra
Eight auspicious symbols (The Asta Mangalas). Their names are (in series of pictures)
Svastika -Signifies peace and well-being
Shrivatsa -A mark manifested on the centre of the Jina’s chest, signifying a pure soul.
Nandyavartya -Large svastika with nine corners
Vardha-manaka -A shallow earthen dish used for lamps, suggests an increase in wealth, fame and merit due to a Jina’s grace.
Bhadrasana -Throne, considered auspicious because it is sanctified by the blessed Jina’s feet.
Kalasha -Pot filled with pure water signifying wisdom and completeness
Minayugala -A fish couple. It signifies Cupid’s banners coming to worship the Jina after defeating the God of Love
Darpana -The mirror reflects one’s true self because of its clarity
While Jains represent less than 1% of the Indian population, their contributions to culture and society in India are considerable. Jainism had a major influence in developing a system of philosophy and ethics that had a major impact on all aspects of Indian culture in all ages : from Upanishads to Mahatma Gandhi. The scholarly research and evidences have shown that philosophical concepts considered typically Indian – Karma, Ahinsa, Moksa, reincarnation and like – either originate in the sramana school of thought or were propagated and developed by Jaina teachers. These concepts were later assimilated in Hinduism and other religions, often in a different form and with different meanings.
Jains have also wielded great influence on the culture and language of Karnatak, Southern India and Gujarat most significantly. The earliest known Gujarati text, Bharat-Bahubali Ras, was written by a Jain monk. Some important people in Gujarat’s Jain history were Acharya Hemacandra Suri and his pupil, the Calukya ruler Kumarapala.
Jains are both among the wealthiest Indians and the most philanthropic. They run numerous schools, colleges and hospitals and are important patrons of the Somapuras, the traditional temple architects in Gujarat. Jains have greatly influenced Gujarati cuisine. Gujarat is predominantly vegetarian (as is Jainism; see Jain vegetarianism), and its food is mild 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 literature and Tamil literature was authored by Jains.
Some of the oldest known books in Hindi and Gujarati were written by Jain scholars. The first autobiography in Hindi, [Ardha-Kathanaka] was written by a Jain, Banarasidasa, an ardent follower of Acarya Kundakunda who lived in Agra.
Several Tamil classics 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.
The oldest Jain literature is in Shauraseni and Ardha-Magadhi Prakrit (Agamas, Agama-Tulya, Siddhanta texts, etc). Many classical texts are in Sanskrit (Tatvartha Sutra, Puranas, Kosh, Sravakacara, mathematics, Nighantus etc). "Abhidhana Rajendra Kosha" 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 (Chhahadhala, Mokshamarga Prakashaka, and others), Tamil (Jivakacintamani, Kural, and others), and Kannada (Vaddaradhane and various other texts). Jain versions of Ramayana and Mahabharata are found in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhramsha and Kannada.
Main article: Jain Monks and Nuns
Palitana TirthaIn India there are thousands of Jain Monks, in categories like Acharya, Upadhyaya and Muni. Trainee ascetics are known as Ailaka and Ksullaka in the Digambar tradition.
There are two categories of ascetics. Sadhu (monk) and Sadhvi (nun). They practice the five Mahavratas, three Guptis and five Samitis:
अहिंसा Ahimsa: Non-violence in thought, word and deed
सत्य Satya: Truth which is (hita) beneficial, (mita) succinct and (priya) pleasing
अचौर्य Acaurya: Not accepting anything that has not been given to them by the owner
ब्रह्मचर्य Brahmacarya: Absolute purity of mind and body
अपरिग्रह Aparigraha: Non-attachment to non-self objects
मनगुप्ती Managupti: Control of the mind
वचनगुप्ती Vacanagupti: Control of speech
कायगुप्ती Kayagupti: Control of body
ईर्या समिति Irya Samiti: Carefulness while walking
भाषा समिति Bhasha Samiti: Carefulness while communicating
एषणा समिति Eshana Samiti: Carefulness while eating
आदान निक्षेपण समिति Adana Nikshepana Samiti: Carefulness while handling their fly-whisks, water gourds, etc.
प्रतिष्ठापना समिति Pratishthapana Samiti: Carefulness while disposing of bodily waste matter
Male Digambara monks do not wear any clothes and are nude. They practise non-attachment to the body and hence, wear no clothes. Shvetambara monks and nuns wear white clothes. Shvetambaras believe that monks and nuns may wear simple un-stitched white clothes as long as they are not attached to them. Jain monks and nuns travel on foot. They do not use mechanical transport.
 Holy days
Paryushan Parva, 10/8 (Digambar/SVetambar) day fasts, and for observe, 10/8 important principles.
Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, Lord Mahavir’s birth,it is popularly known as ‘Mahavir Jayanti’ but the term ‘jayanti’ is inappropriate for a Tirthankar, as this term is used for mortals.
Kshamavaani, The day for asking everyone’s forgiveness.
 Jainism and other religions
See also: Buddhism and Jainism , Jainism and Islam , and Jainism and Sikhism
Jainism, while having no creator God, is not atheistic. The notion of god is replaced by the notion of "the very nature of things" (vastu-svs-bhavah-dharmah).
Jains are not a part of the Vedic Religion (Hinduism). Ancient India had two philosophical streams of thought: The Shramana philosophical schools, represented by Jainism and Buddhism; and the Brahmana/Vedic/Puranic schools represented by Vedanta, Vaishnava and other movements. Both streams are subset of the Dharmic family of faith and have existed side by side for many thousands of years, influencing each other.
The Hindu scholar, Lokmanya Tilak credited Jainism with influencing Hinduism and thus leading to the cessation of animal sacrifice in Vedic rituals. Bal Gangadhar Tilak has described Jainism as the originator of Ahinsa and wrote in a letter printed in Bombay Samachar, Mumbai:10 Dec, 1904: "In ancient times, innumerable animals were butchered in sacrifices. Evidence in support of this is found in various poetic compositions such as the Meghaduta. But the credit for the disappearance of this terrible massacre from the Brahminical religion goes to Jainism."
Swami Vivekananda also credited Jainsim as influencing force behind the Indian culture.
"What could have saved Indian society from the ponderous burden of omnifarious ritualistic ceremonialism, with its animal and other sacrifices, which all but crushed the very life of it, except the Jain revolution which took its strong stand exclusively on chaste morals and philosophical truths?..
Jains were the first great ascetics. "Don’t injure any, do good to all that you can and that is all the morality and ethics, and that is all the work there is, and the rest is all nonsense… Throw it away." And then they went to work and elaborated this one principle, and it is a most wonderful ideal: how all that we call ethics they simply bring out from one great principle of non-injury and doing good."
Relationship between Jainism and Hinduism-To quote from the Encyclopædia Britannica Article on Hinduism,"…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…"
Independent Religion – From the Encyclopædia Britannica Article on Jainism: "…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." The author Koenraad Elst in his book, Who is a Hindu?, summarises on the similaries between Jains and the mainstream Hindu society.
 Languages used in Jain literature
Jain literature exists in Prakrit, Sanskrit, Tamil, Apabhramsha, Rajasthani, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Kutchi, Kannada, Tulu, Telugu, Dhundhari (Old Marwari), English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Russian.
 Constitutional status of Jainism in India
Main article: Legal Status of Jainism as a Distinct Religion
In 2005 the Supreme Court of India in a judgment stated that Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are sub-sects or ‘special faiths’ of Hinduism, and are governed under the ambit of Hindu laws. In the same year however, it 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.
In 2006 the Supreme Court in a judgment pertaining to a state, 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
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