Standing Jain Bronze with inlaid bone eyes
18.8 cm high
Jainism (/ˈdʒeɪnɪzəm/ or /ˈdʒaɪnɪzəm/), traditionally known as the Jainasāsana or Jainadharma, belongs to the śramaṇa traditions and is one of the oldest Indian religions. It prescribes a path of nonviolence (ahimsa) towards all living beings. Practitioners believe nonviolence and self-control are the means to liberation. The three main principles of Jainism are nonviolence, non-absolutism (anekantavada) and non-possessiveness (aparigraha). Followers of Jainism take 5 major vows: nonviolence, not lying, not stealing (asteya), chastity, and non-attachment. Asceticism is thus a major focus of Jainism.
The word “Jain” derives from the Sanskrit word jina “victor”. A human being who has conquered all inner passions and achieved enlightenment is called a jina.
Jains trace their history through a succession of twenty-four jinas who were also teachers and revivers of the Jain path known as tirthankaras starting with Rishabha and concluding with Mahavira, who was a contemporary of Gautama Buddha.