What is Jainism?
New Delhi: Jainism is one of the oldest Indian religions. It prescribes a path of selfless love towards all living beings. The three main principles of Jainism are: non-violence, non-absolutism and non-possessiveness. Practitioners believe non-violence and self-control are the means to spiritual liberation. They take five major vows: chastity, non-attachment, non-violence, speaking truth, and not stealing.
The word "Jain" derives from the Sanskrit word jina (conqueror). A human being who has conquered all inner passions such as attachment, desire, anger, pride and greed, and, therefore, possesses pure infinite knowledge is called aACAyjina'. Followers of the path practised by the aACAyjinas' are known as Jains. Traditionally, the religion was known as Jina dharma.
Jains fast throughout the year, particularly during festivals. This fasting is of various types and based on individual ability. Some examples include eating only one or two meals per day, drinking only water all day, not eating after sunset, not eating processed foods and eating food without sugar/oil/salt etc.
Two purposes of fasting are to exercise self-control and to clear the mind to devote more mental energy to prayer.
The majority of Jains currently reside in India. However, with only six million followers, Jainism is relatively small compared to major world religions. The largest populations of Jains in India are concentrated in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu also have significant Jain populations. Outside India, large Jain communities can be found in the US and Europe. Several Jain temples have been built in both these places. Smaller Jain communities also exist in Kenya and Canada.
Jains developed a system of philosophy and ethics that had a great impact on Indian culture. They have contributed to the culture and language in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.
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