JAINISM - JAIN RELIGION
as a religious tradition was established in India about
the same time as Buddhism. Mahavira, one of the jinas
(conquerors) preached the Jain philosophy around the
same time that Buddhism began.
Like Buddhism, Jainism rose against the corruption in
the interpretation of Hinduism prevalent at the time.
The underlying philosophy of Jainism is that renunciation
of worldly desires and self-conquest leads to perfect
wisdom. This faith believes in total abstinence and
asceticism as practised by the Jinas and the Tirthankars
("crossing-makers"). The "crossing refers to the passage
from the material to the spiritual realm, from bondage
to freedom. Followers of this faith accept the popular
gods of Hinduism but they are placed lower than the
The focus of this religion has been purification of
the soul by means of right conduct, right faith and
right knowledge. This faith also enunciates complete
non-violence and the Jain monks can be seen with their
nose and mouth covered by a cloth mask to ensure that
they do not kill any germs or insects while breathing.
Today, Jainism has more than 3 million adherents in
India and finds wide acceptance because of its philosophy
of sympathy for all living beings.