The origin of Jainism still in mystery. In the Rigvedic hymns, there is a clear reference to Rishabha and Arishtanem tow of the Jaina Tirthankaras(i.e. Guru) Rishabha was described as the incarnation of Narayana in the Vishnu Purana & Bhagwat Purana

  • There are 24 Trithankaras in Jaina and all of them Kshatriyas.
  • First Tirthankara was Rishbhnath(Adinath) whose symbol is 'Bull or Ox'
  • 24th Tirthankara was Vardhamana Mahavira himself whose symbol was Lion.

Vardhama Mahavira (540-468 BC)

image of Mahavira

Vardhama Mahavira was born in 540 BC, in a Village near Vaishali in North Bihar. His father Siddhartha was the head of a famous Kshatriya Jantrika clan and his mother was Trishana, the sister of Lichchhavi Prince Chetak, whose daughter wedded to Bimbisara. Mahavira's family was connected with the royal family of Magadha. In the beginning, Mahavira led the life of a householder. His wife was named Yasoda and his daughter Anojja

Enlightenment and Teaching of Mahavira

In the search of truth, Mahavira became an ascetic at the age of 30. He kept on wandering for 12 years from place to place. At age of 42, he attained Kaivalya(perfect knowledge or supreme knowledge and final deliverance on the bank of river Rijupalika under a sal tree.

Mahavira got acclaimed as a Tirthankara, a kaivlya (supreme omniscient), a jina(conqueror), and an Arhant(blessed one). He propagated Jainism for 30 years and his mission tool him at to Kosala, Magadha, Mithalam Champa, etc. He passed away at the age of 72 in 468 BC at a place called Pawapuri near modern Rajgir. He became the head of a sect, called nirgranthas, who later came to be known as Jinas.


Mahavira believed in Karma and the transmigration of the soul, according to him, the universe is a product of nature. He also rejected the authority of the Vedas and Vedic rituals.
Jainas believed in the dualistic principle of jiva(eternal soul) and ajiva (eternal element) everywhere. The Jiva at and is affected by acts. it is a knowing self. The ajiva is atomic and unconscious.

According to him, every object is an agglomeration of ajjiva, with at least jiva enmeshed in it. They believe non-living substances also possessing a life which shouldn't be thus animals were believed to have three or ore jivas.


Jainism believed the entire world to be animated, including stones, rocks and even water.
The following terms are associated with doctrines of Jainism

  • Asceticism and penance were two pre requisites for freeing oneself from the cycle of birth and rebirth.
  • Monastic Existence was a necessary condition for saivation
  • Amhinsa(Non-Violence) means to cause no harm to the living beings.
  • Satya(Truthfulness) means always speak 'the truth'.
  • Asteya not to possess anything which isn't willingly offered.
  • Brahmacharya (celibacy) to exercise control over one's sense and to keep one free from indulgence.
  • Aparigraha(Possession) to observe detachment from peoples, place and material things.

Philosophy of Jainism

  • Jainism rejected the authority of the vedas and the vedic rituals.
  • World was not created, maintained and destroyed by a personal God.
  • Doesn't believe the existance of God.
  • Believe in Karma and transmigration of soul.

Major Philosohies.

  • Anekantavada
  • Syadvada
  • Nayavada

Ratnatraya(3 Gems)

  • Right Faith Referrring to the Lord Mahavira
  • Right Knowledge Knowledge of doctrine of Jainism
  • Right Conduct include the fullfilment of the 5 vows of Jainism.
    1. Ahimsa(non-violence)
    2. Satya(truth)
    3. Asateya(non-stealing)
    4. Aparigraha(non-possession)
    5. Brahmacharya(chastity)

Sects of Jainsm

Jains are divided into two major sects; the Digambara (meaning sky clad) sect and the Svetambara (meaning white clad) sect. Each of these sects is also divided into subgroups.

The two sects agree on the basics of Jainism, but disagree on:

  • details of the life of Mahavira
  • the spiritual status of women
  • whether monks should wear clothes
  • rituals
  • which texts should be accepted as scripture

Twelve Angas of Jainism.

The twelve angas of Jainism include.

  1. The Achara-anga.
  2. The Sutrakrita-anga
  3. The Sthana-anga
  4. The Samavaya-anga
  5. The Vyakhya-prajnapti
  6. The Jnatridharma-Katha-anga
  7. The Upasakadhyayna
  8. The Antkrit-Dasa-anga
  9. The Anuttropapadaka-Dasa-anga
  10. The Prasna-Vyakarana-anga
  11. The Vipaka-Sutra-anga
  12. The Drishti-Pravada-anga

Jaina Council

There was two Jaina Council (300BC)

  1. The First Jaina Council
    • Held at Patliputra
    • Result in the compilation of 12 Angas to replace the last 14 purvas. These texts were accepted by the Shvetambaras
  2. The Second Jaina Council(512 AD)
    1. Held at Vallabhi(Gujrat)
    2. Presided by Devaradhi Kshamasramana
    3. The purpose of this council was to collect the sacred texts and write them systematically.
    4. Resulting final compilation of 12 angas and 12 upangas.

Spread of Jainism

Mahavira organized the Sangha to spread his teachings. He admitted both men and women in the Sangha, which consisted of both monks and lay followers. The rapid spread of Jainism was due to the dedicated work of the members of the Sangha. It spread rapidly in Western India and Karnataka. Chandragupta Maurya, Kharavela of Kalinga, and the royal dynasties of south India such as the Gangas, the Kadambas, the Chalukyas, and the Rashtrakutas patronized Jainism.

By the end of the fourth century B.C., there was a serious famine in the Ganges valley. Many Jain monks led by Bhadrabagu and Chandragupta Maurya came to Sravana Belgola in Karnataka. Those who stayed back in north India were led by a monk named Sthulabahu who changed the code of conduct for the monks. This led to the division of Jainism into two sects Svetambaras (white-clad) and Digambaras (Sky-clad or Naked).

The first Jain Council was convened at Pataliputra by Sthulabahu, the leader of the Digambaras, at the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. The second Jain Council was held at Valabhi in the 5th century A.D. The final compilation of Jain literature called Twelve Angas was completed in this council.

Decline of Jainism

Various factors are responsible for the decline of Jainism in India.

Their indulgence in weird practices like not taking medicine even ill and in not plucking vegetables etc, confused the locals a lot.

Bimbhsara and Ajatshatru helped his religion in many, no king of the later dynasties extended help in its spread.

Also, Jainas did not make any efforts to spread their religion. Thus the Movement remained unnoticed.

Religious Text

The Jainas. opted for Prakrit, though at different places, text was written in the local languages as well. Mahavira himself preached in Ardha-Magadhi. Secondly, the Jaina philosophy has certainly enriched Indian thought.