Jainism is one of the oldest religions of the indian subcontinent founded by mahavira, the 24thtirthankar. There are about 4 million jains worldwide including their flourishing communities in europe and the united states . The problems jainism faces as a minority religion are mainly due to several sects or traditions within it . Jainism is a salvation religion.
For jain devotion of trithankars generates a positive mental strength and religious merit in the worshipper, which leads eventually to good rebirth. Jains believe tjat the universe inhabited by human beings is subject to a continuous clcle of time represented by the upward and downward turning of a wheel. As the wheel turns up, conditions become progressively better; and as it turns down, conditions get worse. Jains believe that seventy years after mahavia’s death, the wheel of time enterd the present era, one in which conditions are too bad for fordmakers to preach.
Ahimsa-non-violence is the supreme principle of jainism. It preaches people not only to refrain from harming human beings but also all living beings including plants. Jainism believes in self-purification. Another key element leading to salvation, apart from ahimsa, is self control. The word jain is based on the sanskrit word “jina” which means “one who has conquered himself”. It advocates fasts for jains, the life of renunciation led by mahavira provides the best illustratuin as regards karma. Jains lead an ascetic life which attracts a large number of women.
Jains revere in the virtue of giving, the moral being that giving for religious purposes is the cause of worldly prosperity. They further believe in universal brotherhood. Jainism advocates right faith, right knowledge and right conduct.
Jainsm has two major sects viz. Digambaras – “sky clad” and shvetambaras –“white clad”. The sacred literatures of both the sects are written in a highly specialized language and fully understood only by learned monks. Recently, i. E. Since 19th century simpler editions are being made available to the common jain followers.
Jainism is also considered to be a social religion, which is actively engaged with modern concern such as care for rnvironment. Non – violence (ahimsa) and self-control are the supreme principles of jainism which ultimately leads to salvation i.e.release of the soul from further rebirth. Ceremonies and rituals in jain temples are based on the daily worship.
Mahavira's message was one of asceticism; he preached that it is necessary to abound on home and family to detach oneself from all karma and fain salvation.