Shwetambar is a primary sect in Jainism
. The literal meaning of 'Shwetambar' is ‘clad in white clothes’. The monks belonging to this sect always wear white robes and carry a small bowl for collecting alms.
The Shwetambar sect was formed owing to a dispute over the authenticity of the Jain scriptures. The
Digambar, which is the other major sect in the religion, have its own versions of the scriptures. The Shwetambar still adhere to the original scripts, which number to a total of 45. The Shwetambar also differ from the Digambar in various other aspects. They believe that women can also lead an ascetic life and achieve ‘Moksha’. They do not believe in the renunciation of clothes for achieving higher spiritual state.
The members of Shwetambar sect are known for their belief in extreme non-violence. Apart from refusing to take non-vegetarian food, they resort to wearing white mask over their mouth to avoid even the accidental consumption of a micro-organism.
The Shwetambar sect is further made up of Murtipujaka, Stanakvasi and Terapanthi sub-sects. Out of these sub-sects, only the Murtipujaka sub-sect believes in idol worship.