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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Jainism \Jain"ism\, n. The heterodox Hindu religion, founded in the 6th century as a revolt against Hinduism; its most striking features are the exaltation of saints or holy mortals, called jins, above the ordinary Hindu gods, and the denial of a supreme being and of the divine origin and infallibility of the Vedas. Also, the sect comprising those adhering to Jainism. Jainism believes in immortality and the transmigration of the soul. It is intermediate between Brahmanism and Buddhism, having some things in common with each.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1858, from Jain + -ism. Jainist is attested from 1816.


Jainism ( or ), traditionally known as Jain dharma, is an ancient Indian religion belonging to the śramaṇa tradition. It prescribes ahimsa (non-violence) towards all living beings to the most possible extent. The three main principles of Jainism are ahimsa, anekantavada (non-absolutism), aparigraha (non-possessiveness). Followers of Jainism take five main vows: ahimsa, satya (not lying), asteya (non stealing), brahmacharya (chastity), and aparigraha. Monks follow them completely whereas śrāvakas (householders) observe them partially. Self-discipline and asceticism are thus major focuses of Jainism. Parasparopagraho Jivanam (The function of souls is to help one another) is the motto of Jainism.

The word "Jain" derives from the Sanskrit word jina (conqueror). A human being who has conquered all inner passions like attachment, desire, anger, pride, greed, etc. is called Jina. Followers of the path practiced and preached by the jinas are known as Jains.

Jains trace their history through a succession of twenty-four teachers and revivers of the Jain path known as tirthankaras. In the current era, this started with Rishabhanatha and concluded with Mahavira. Jains believe that Jainism is eternal; it has been and will be forgotten and revived from time to time. Jain philosophy is the oldest Indian philosophy that separates body (matter) from the soul (consciousness) completely. Jains maintain that all living beings are really soul, intrinsically perfect and immortal. Souls in transmigration (that is, liability to repeated births and deaths) are said to be imprisoned in the body. Practitioners believe non-violence and self-control are the means to liberation. Jain texts reject the idea of a creator deity and postulates an eternal universe. Jainism has a very elaborate framework on types of life and includes life-forms that may be invisible.

Mahatma Gandhi was greatly influenced by Jainism and adopted many Jain principles in his life.

The majority of Jains reside in India. With 4–6 million followers, Jainism is smaller than many major world religions. Outside of India, some of the largest Jain communities are found in the United States, Europe, Kenya, and Canada. Contemporary Jainism is divided into two major sects, Digambara and Śvētāmbara.

Namokar Mantra is the basic and most common prayer in Jainism. Major Jain festivals include Paryushana (aka Daslakshana), Mahavir Jayanti and Diwali.

Usage examples of "jainism".

Then he read the Bible, the Koran, and other major religious works: he covered Islam, Zoroastrianism, Mazdaism, Zarathustrianism, Dharma, Brahmanism, Hinduism, Vedanta, Jainism, Buddhism, Hinayana, Mahayana, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism and Confucianism.

In a flutelike voice, he sang of the sacred writings, or Vedas, composed well before the first millennium bc, and of the catalogue of magical yajnas, sacrificial formulas, mantras, and rituals that the Vedic religion embodied, and of the many schools, sects, and religions that had developed through the centuries: Sankhya, Yoga, Vedanta, Vaishnavas, Shaivas, Shak-tas, all of which were preached and practised under the separate canopies of Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, which in turn took their impetus from the original Vedic, changing and refining the basic precepts into a multiplicity of separate doctrines : Karma, avatar, samsara, dharma, trimurti, bhakti, maya.