Jainism originated in ancient India around the 7th-5th century BCE. It is considered part of the Shramana tradition, which predates the Vedic culture.


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Table of Contents

Introduction to Jainism

Origins and Historical Background

  • Ancient Indian Roots: Jainism originated in ancient India around the 7th-5th century BCE.
  • Pre-Vedic Tradition: It is considered part of the Shramana tradition, which predates the Vedic culture.
  • Cyclic Time Concept: Jainism believes in an eternal universe governed by cyclic time, where the cosmos undergoes infinite cycles of rise and decline.

Founders and Key Figures

  • 24 Tirthankaras: Jainism venerates 24 Tirthankaras (spiritual teachers) who revitalized the Dharma (moral law) in different epochs.
  • Rishabhanatha: The first Tirthankara, also known as Adinatha, believed to have lived millions of years ago.
  • Mahavira: The 24th and most recent Tirthankara, born in 599 BCE as Vardhamana. He attained Kevala Jnana (omniscience) and is a major figure in shaping Jain doctrine.

Spread and Development

  • Early Spread: Jainism initially spread in Eastern India, particularly in regions like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Patronage by Rulers: Kings like Chandragupta Maurya and Kharavela of Kalinga supported Jainism, aiding its spread.
  • Migration and Diaspora: Jain communities later migrated to other parts of India and beyond, establishing temples and monastic orders.
  • Modern Presence: Today, Jainism is a significant religion in India, with a global diaspora maintaining its practices and traditions.

Core Beliefs and Principles

The Three Jewels

  1. Right Belief: Understanding the true nature of reality and having faith in the teachings.
  2. Right Knowledge: Gaining correct and true knowledge, free from doubt and ignorance.
  3. Right Conduct: Practicing ethical and moral behavior, aligning actions with right belief and knowledge.

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Ahimsa (Non-violence)

  • The principle of non-violence towards all living beings.
  • Emphasizes compassion and respect for all forms of life.

Aparigraha (Non-possessiveness)

  • The practice of non-attachment to material possessions.
  • Encourages simplicity and detachment from physical and emotional possessions.

Anekantavada (Multiplicity of Views)

  • The doctrine of many-sidedness or pluralism.
  • Recognizes the complexity of truth and encourages tolerance and open-mindedness towards different perspectives.

Sacred Texts and Literature

Agamas and Other Canonical Texts

  • Agamas: Sacred scriptures forming the basis of several religious traditions, particularly in Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.
  • Canonical Texts: Officially recognized religious texts that are considered authoritative and foundational for a religious community.

Jain Literature - Swetambar Texts, Digambara Texts

Key Philosophical Texts

  • Philosophical Texts: Writings that explore fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.
  • Key: Important works that have significantly influenced the development of philosophical thought within a tradition.
  • Examples: Works like the Upanishads in Hinduism, the Dhammapada in Buddhism, and the Tattvartha Sutra in Jainism.

Commentaries and Interpretations

  • Commentaries: Detailed explanations and analyses of sacred or philosophical texts, often written by scholars to clarify meanings and contexts.
  • Interpretations: Personal or scholarly views on the meanings of texts, which may vary widely and offer different perspectives.
  • Purpose: To provide deeper understanding, explain complex ideas, and apply ancient teachings to contemporary situations.

Practices and Rituals

Daily Rituals and Practices

Prayer And Dhyan - Jainworld

  • Daily Prayer: Many religions require followers to engage in prayer multiple times a day.
  • Meditation: Practiced to achieve spiritual growth and inner peace.
  • Offerings: Gifts of food, flowers, or other items to deities or spiritual beings.
  • Reading Sacred Texts: Regular reading or recitation of holy scriptures.
  • Acts of Charity: Daily acts of kindness and support for those in need.

Festivals and Celebrations

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  • Religious Holidays: Special days like Christmas, Eid, Diwali, or Hanukkah that celebrate significant events in a religion’s history.
  • Ritual Feasts: Large communal meals that are part of religious observances.
  • Processions: Public parades that often feature music, dancing, and religious symbols.
  • Fasting: Abstaining from food or drink for a set period as a form of devotion.
  • Ceremonial Dances: Performances that are part of the religious celebrations.

Pilgrimages and Holy Sites

15 Famous Jain Temples in India - Same Day Tour Blog

  • Pilgrimage Journeys: Travelling to sacred places as an act of devotion, such as Mecca for Muslims or the Ganges River for Hindus.
  • Shrines and Temples: Visiting places of worship to seek blessings or perform rituals.
  • Holy Cities: Cities like Jerusalem, Varanasi, or Vatican City, which hold great religious significance.
  • Miraculous Sites: Locations believed to have miraculous powers or connections to divine events.
  • Relics and Monuments: Viewing and venerating physical objects or structures considered holy.

Jain Sects and Sub-sects

Digambara vs. Svetambara

Major Differences in Beliefs and Practices

  • Clothing:

    • Digambara (Sky-clad):
      • Monks do not wear clothes, symbolizing the rejection of all material possessions.
    • Svetambara (White-clad):
      • Monks and nuns wear white clothes, symbolizing purity and simplicity.

What beliefs distinguish the Digambara branch? - Quora

  • Moksha (Liberation):


    • Digambara:
      • Belief that women cannot attain liberation and must be reborn as men to do so.
    • Svetambara:
      • Belief that women can attain liberation.
  • Scriptures:

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    • Digambara:
      • Believe that the original scriptures (Agamas) were lost and do not accept the current Svetambara texts.
    • Svetambara:
      • Accept and follow the Agamas as their primary scriptures.
  • Idols and Icons:

How did Jainism get itself into idol worship from ascetic ways of life? -  Quora

    • Digambara:
      • Idols are naked and depicted without any ornaments.
    • Svetambara:
      • Idols are clothed and often adorned with ornaments and decorations.
  • Food Practices:

    • Digambara:
      • Strict fasting and dietary restrictions, monks do not use any utensils and eat from their hands.
    • Svetambara:
      • Less stringent dietary practices, allowing the use of simple utensils.
  • Monastic Practices:

    • Digambara:
      • Monks carry a small broom made of peacock feathers to gently sweep the ground to avoid harming any living creatures.
    • Svetambara:
      • Monks and nuns use a white broom (Ogho) for the same purpose.

Other Sub-sects and Movements

  1. Terapanthi (Svetambara Sub-sect):

    • Founded by Acharya Bhikshu in the 18th century.
    • Emphasizes strict monastic discipline and a simplified ritualistic approach.
  2. Sthanakvasi (Svetambara Sub-sect):

    • Originated in the 17th century, focusing on meditation and inner purity.
    • Rejects idol worship, emphasizing a more ascetic lifestyle.
  3. Taranpanthi (Digambara Sub-sect):

    • Also known as Samaiya panth, founded by Tarana Swami.
    • Focuses on spiritual readings and devotion rather than temple worship.
  4. Murtipujaka (Svetambara Sub-sect):

    • Largest Svetambara sub-sect, emphasizing idol worship and temple rituals.
    • Known for the elaborate temples and intricate idol decorations.
  5. Kanjisvami Panth (Digambara Sub-sect):

    • Followers of Kanji Swami, who revitalized the teachings of Kundakunda and focused on spiritual enlightenment and inner purity.
  6. Gacchas:

    • Sub-divisions within the Svetambara sect, based on lineages of monastic teachers.
    • Examples include the Kharatara Gaccha and the Tapa Gaccha, each with its own monastic discipline and rituals.


Summary of Jainism’s Core Teachings and Practices

  • Non-Violence (Ahimsa)

    • Central principle advocating non-harm to all living beings.
    • Practiced through vegetarianism and compassionate behavior.
  • Truthfulness (Satya)

    • Commitment to speaking the truth.
    • Avoidance of lies and deceit.
  • Non-Stealing (Asteya)

    • Respect for others’ property.
    • Refraining from theft and dishonesty.
  • Chastity (Brahmacharya)

    • Practice of self-control and purity.
    • Celibacy for monks, fidelity for laypeople.
  • Non-Possessiveness (Aparigraha)

    • Limiting material possessions.
    • Emphasizing simplicity and detachment from wealth.
  • Spiritual Progress through Self-Discipline

    • Regular meditation and prayer.
    • Fasting and other ascetic practices to purify the soul.
  • Respect for All Life Forms

    • Recognition of the intrinsic value of all creatures.
    • Strict adherence to practices that minimize harm.
  • Karma and Reincarnation

    • Belief in the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
    • Actions (karma) influence future lives, emphasizing ethical living.
  • Spiritual Liberation (Moksha)

    • Ultimate goal of freeing the soul from the cycle of reincarnation.
    • Achieved through right knowledge, right faith, and right conduct.


Jainism doesn’t have a single holy book like the Bible or Quran. Instead, it has a vast collection of scriptures called the Agamas. These texts were originally transmitted orally and later compiled in Prakrit languages. The core principles and teachings of Jainism are found within the Agamas, along with narratives about the Tirthankaras.

Jainism is an ancient Indian religion that emphasizes non-violence, right conduct, and liberation from the cycle of rebirth. Jains believe in achieving moksha (liberation) through ethical living, self-discipline, and right knowledge.

There isn’t a single universally accepted definition of Jainism. Here are two perspectives:

  • An Eternal Religion: Jains believe their religion has existed eternally, with its core principles being revealed by enlightened beings (Tirthankaras) throughout history.
  • A Philosophy of Non-Violence: Another perspective emphasizes Jainism’s core principles like ahimsa (non-violence), anekantavada (many-sidedness), and aparigraha (non-possession), forming a philosophy for achieving liberation.

Jainism is classified as a non-theistic religion. Jains don’t believe in a creator God who controls the universe. Instead, they focus on individual effort and attaining liberation through right conduct and self-realization. The Tirthankaras are revered as enlightened beings who achieved moksha, but not as deities who control fate.


1. What is the central concept in Jainism?

  • A) Karma
  • B) Dharma
  • C) Yoga
  • D) Moksha
  • Correct Answer: A) Karma

2. Who is considered the founder of Jainism?

  • A) Buddha
  • B) Mahavira
  • C) Guru Nanak
  • D) Adi Shankaracharya
  • Correct Answer: B) Mahavira

3. Which of the following is not one of the Five Vows (Mahavrata) in Jainism?

  • A) Non-violence (Ahimsa)
  • B) Truthfulness (Satya)
  • C) Non-attachment (Aparigraha)
  • D) Wealth (Artha)
  • Correct Answer: D) Wealth (Artha)

4. What does the term “Jina” mean in Jainism?

  • A) King
  • B) Conqueror
  • C) Teacher
  • D) Devotee
  • Correct Answer: B) Conqueror

5. Which symbol represents Jainism?

  • A) Star of David
  • B) Crescent Moon
  • C) Swastika
  • D) Jain Prateek Chihna (Symbol)
  • Correct Answer: D) Jain Prateek Chihna (Symbol)

6. What is the holy book of Jainism?

  • A) Bhagavad Gita
  • B) Vedas
  • C) Tripitaka
  • D) Agamas
  • Correct Answer: D) Agamas

7. What is the primary goal of Jainism?

  • A) Liberation of the soul (Moksha)
  • B) Wealth and prosperity (Artha)
  • C) Power and control (Kama)
  • D) Social harmony (Dharma)
  • Correct Answer: A) Liberation of the soul (Moksha)

8. How many Tirthankaras (spiritual teachers) are recognized in Jainism?

  • A) 24
  • B) 10
  • C) 12
  • D) 1008
  • Correct Answer: A) 24

9. What is the name of the Jain festival that celebrates Lord Mahavira’s birth?

  • A) Diwali
  • B) Navaratri
  • C) Mahavir Jayanti
  • D) Paryushana
  • Correct Answer: C) Mahavir Jayanti

10. Which of the following is not a Jain sect?

  • A) Digambara
  • B) Shvetambara
  • C) Sthanakvasi
  • D) Vedanta
  • Correct Answer: D) Vedanta

11. What is the Jain concept of “Anekantavada”?

  • A) Non-violence
  • B) Truthfulness
  • C) Non-absolutism
  • D) Non-attachment
  • Correct Answer: C) Non-absolutism

12. What is the main language of Jain religious texts?

  • A) Sanskrit
  • B) Pali
  • C) Prakrit
  • D) Tamil
  • Correct Answer: C) Prakrit

13. Who is the 23rd Tirthankara of Jainism?

  • A) Parshvanatha
  • B) Rishabhanatha
  • C) Mahavira
  • D) Parsva
  • Correct Answer: A) Parshvanatha

14. Which city is considered a significant center of Jain pilgrimage?

  • A) Varanasi
  • B) Bodh Gaya
  • C) Mount Abu
  • D) Puri
  • Correct Answer: C) Mount Abu

15. What is the term for the non-violence towards all living beings in Jainism?

  • A) Ahimsa
  • B) Satya
  • C) Asteya
  • D) Brahmacharya
  • Correct Answer: A) Ahimsa

16. What is the Jain practice of fasting called?

  • A) Upvas
  • B) Puja
  • C) Yajna
  • D) Satsang
  • Correct Answer: A) Upvas

17. Which animal is often associated with Lord Mahavira?

  • A) Cow
  • B) Lion
  • C) Horse
  • D) Elephant
  • Correct Answer: B) Lion

18. What does “Ahimsa Paramo Dharma” signify in Jainism?

  • A) Non-violence is the highest duty
  • B) Truth is the highest duty
  • C) Charity is the highest duty
  • D) Devotion is the highest duty
  • Correct Answer: A) Non-violence is the highest duty

19. Which of the following is a Jain temple architecture style characterized by an open hall for prayer?

  • A) Nagara
  • B) Dravida
  • C) Vesara
  • D) Chaumukha
  • Correct Answer: D) Chaumukha

20. Who was Lord Mahavira’s spiritual guide?

  • A) Gautama Buddha
  • B) Parsva
  • C) Rishabhanatha
  • D) Indrabhuti Gautama
  • Correct Answer: D) Indrabhuti Gautama
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