• Jainism is of ancient origin & believed to have 24 Tirthankaras / Great teachers in their religion
  • 1st one was Rishabdev (Born in Ayodhya) who is said to have laid the foundation of orderly human society & realised that the source of Jaina philosophy was Adinath.
  • 23rd was Parshavnath (Born in Varanasi) & Last and 24th was Vardhamana Mahavira (Born 540 BC at Kundangrama near Vaishali)


Vardhamana Mahavira

Father Sidhhartha Head of Jnatrika Clan
Mother Trishla Sister of Lichchhavi chief chetaka, whose daughter married to Bimbisara

Mahavira’s family was connected to royal family of Magadha


  • In search of truth Mahavira abandoned the world at the age of 30 & became ascetic & medicated for 12 years practicing austerities.
  • In 13th year, at the age of 42, he attained Kaivalya (Juan) under Sal tree at Timbhikagrama
  • Kaivalya One who conquered misery & happiness And because of this conquest he is known as Mahavira or great hero or jina (the conqueror) & his followers Jainas
  • He propagated religion for 30 years & passed away at the age of 72 at Pavapuri near Rajgir


3 principles of Jainism → Triratnas

  • Right faith (believe in teachings & wisdom of Mahavira)
  • Right Knowledge (Acceptance of theory that there is no god & world has been existing without a creator & all objects possess a soul)
  • Right conduct (Refers to observance of 5 great vows)
  • Ahimsa
  • Satya
  • Asteya (Not to steal)
  • Parigraha (Not to acquire property)
  • Brahamcharya (observe continence / not to led immoral life added by Mahavira)


Teaching of Jainism

  • Rejected the authority of Vedas & objected to Vedic rituals & sacrifices
  • Even practice of agriculture was considered sinful as it caused injury to earth, worms & animals
  • Doctrine of ascetism & renunciation was carried to great lengths by practice of starvation, Nudity & other form of self-tortures (Penance for all sins committed)
  • Although Parvanath (23rd Teacher) asked people to cover their upper & lower body part but Mahavira asked them to discard cloths altogether ( Extreme austerity)
  • Mahavira did not condemn Verna system as Buddhism did as according to Mahavira , a person born in higher or lower verna is the consequences of the sins of past life & through penance & meritorious life they can attain liberation
  • Jainism mainly aimed at freedom of Individual from worldly bonds


Twelve small vows (anuvrats) of Jainism

Five anuvrats

  1. avoiding injury to mobile beings which have two or more senses or desisting from deliberate acts of violence
  2. truthfulness to avoid false statements out of extreme affection for someone or out of hatred for someone
  3. refraining from taking anything not given
  4. desisting from sexual relationship with anyone other than one’s spouse
  5. voluntarily limiting the possession of all forms of assets
The Seven supplementaries

  1. refraining from movement beyond a limited area
  2. restricting a movement to even a more limited area
  3. refraining from wanton destruction of the environment by thought, word or deed
  4. keeping aloof from a sinful conduct for a set period of time (observing samayik)
  5. fasting on sacred days and observing special restrictions at secluded places
  6. limiting the use of consumable and non-consumable goods
  7. Sharing your food or resources with guests or wandering ascetics.

Spread of Jainism

  • Admitted both women and shudras in its order of followers
  • Used prakrit (common language) for preaching instead of sanskrit
  • 200 years after the death of Mahavira, there was a serious famine in Ganga valley. Many Jain followers led by Chandragupta Maurya & Bhadrabahu left for south (Karnataka) & rest stayed back under the leadership of Sthalbahu. Emmigrants spread Jainism in south India.
  • Meanwhile Sthalbahu changed the code of conduct for the monks which led to division of Jainism into 2 sects Swetambars (White clad / Northerners) & Digambars ( Naked / Sky Clad / Southerners)
  • 1st Jain council was held at Pataliputra led by Sthalbahu & 2nd was held at Valabhi where 12 Anagas of Swetambars were finally compiled


Contribution of Jainism

  • 1st serious attempt to mitigate evil of verna system & ritualistic vedic system
  • Adoption of Prakrit by Jainas helped in its growth & many regional languages grew out of Prakrit especially Shauraseni, out of which Marathi grew
  • Jainas composed earliest important work in “ Apabhramsha” & prepared its 1st grammar
  • Jainism also contributed to the growth of Kannada
  • Basadis Jains Monastic establishments
  • Jainism religious literature is written in “Ardhamagadhi” & text were finally compiled at Valabhi (Gujrat)
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