Jainism is one of the oldest living religions in the world. Historically, it developed around 6th century BC in India. The primary teaching of Jainism is ‘Ahimsa’ which means non-violence. The word ‘Jain’ is originated from the word ‘Jina’ which means ‘conquering yourself’. Jainism is one of the oldest non theistic traditions of India which is contemporary and quite similar to Buddhism.
According to the Jain tradition, the founder of Jainism is Tirthankar Adinath. Tirthankar refers to a person who shows the passage for enlightment, perfect knowledge and ‘Nirvana’. Jainism believes in 24 Tirthankars and the last Tirthankar was Vardhaman Mahavir who was born in Kundalpur, India in 599 BC. He lived for 72 years and his first 30 years were spent as a prince. At the age of 30, he left his home in search of true knowledge. After 12 years of meditation he finally attended Kevalya (Pure Knowledge). He lived rest of his life as a saint preaching the basic principle of Jainism.
Mahavira, like Buddha, taught non violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-materialism and celibacy. He emphasized that one must control three things including mind, speech and body. He further elaborated that one must be careful for five things, which are, walking, communicating, eating, disposing body waste and handling fly whisks. He was a vegetarian and used to do regular fasting.
The aim of every Jain is to have three jewels, Right Knowledge (Samyak Gyaan), Right Conduct (Samyak Charitra) and Right Vision (Samyak Darshana). Tirthankar Mahavir got Moksha (liberation from life-cycle) at the age of 72. Jainism later evolved in two sects Shwetambar and Digambar. Today there are more than 4 million followers of Jainism in India and abroad.