Jainism is a religion practiced predominantly in India. Some of its concepts have similarities with Hinduism and Buddhism. This religious system is believed to have prehistoric origins, dating back to 3000 BC.
The central figure in Jainism is the ‘Jina’ or ‘Tirthankar.’ Jina literally means ‘conqueror,’ referring to the god who has conquered love, hate, pleasure, pain, attachment, aversion and similar humanly qualities. The Jains refer to Jina as their god. There are 24 Jinas in Jain religion. The last Jina is Lord Mahavir, who founded the Jain community. The sacred text of Jain religion is the ‘Tattvarthadhigama-sutra.’
The foremost rule of Jainism is ‘ahimsa’ or non-violence. This principle of non-violence is to be followed by every Jains in thoughts, action and deeds at both individual and social levels. A Jain must have deep compassion for all forms of life, ranging from human beings, animals to the microscopic living organisms.
The Jain code of conduct is made up of 5 vows namely ‘Satya’ (truthfulness), ‘Asteya’ (non-stealing), ‘Aparigraha’ (non-possessiveness), and ‘
Brahmacharya’ (chastity). Stress is given on ‘aparigraha’ or non-possessiveness towards material things. This vow is implemented through self-control, penance, avoiding over-indulgence, cutting on one’s need and reducing one’s urges.
Due to the compassion for living beings, a Jain follows a strict vegetarian diet. Even among the plants, they exclude some materials like roots and certain fruits from their diet, on the belief that these parts contain a greater number of living beings.
The Jain community is made up of two sects;
shwetambar. The monks belonging to the Digambara sect abstain from wearing any forms of clothing, which they believe will lead to salvation. Contrary to this the shwetambar sect do not stress on nakedness to obtain liberty.