One of the oldest Indian religions, the history of Jainism dates back to more than 3000 years. Like Hinduism and Buddhism, Jain Dharma also stemmed in the Indian Continent and has several similarities with the two traditions. Mahavira was the founders/preachers who brought this religion to the world. And despite being established by as many as 24 teachers, this ancient-world tradition is based on and strictly abides by a set of specific ideas!
Fasting is a very common part of Jain life, including festivals and special occasions and holidays. One of their prominent festivals is Pajushan that lasts eight and ten days in Svetambara Jain tradition and Digambar Jain traditions, respectively.
Though the Jains may fast at any point of time, the monsoon is the best fasting time for them. Fasting is also one of the ways of compensating for a sin in Jain Dharma. There are variations in fasts, so that complete self-control can be attained without any problem.
5. Worship and Religious Rituals
Bowing and chanting their universal prayer is an everyday activity for most Jains. Images of Tirthankaras are kept and worshiped in Jain temples or Derasar. Since Tirthankaras are praised in songs and symbolic objects offered, most Jain rituals may be detailed.
Opposite to that, many Jain sects refuse to go to temples and worship images. Every Jain, however, accepts that Tirthankaras and their images are religious symbols that remind them of the path shown and teachings given by them. They consider attaining salvation as the ultimate purpose of life and detaching from the world is one of the ways to successfully achieve it.
4. The Idea of Existential Suffering
Jains believe that this world is full of sorrow and miseries, and one must go beyond the cycle of transmigration in order to attain eternal bliss. If not, we will have to remain ceaselessly caught up in this immeasurable cycle of transmigration.
The religion maintains that practicing detachment with help of rational perception, knowledge and conduct is the only way out when it comes to breaking out this cycle.
3. The concept of Tirthankaras and Ahimsa
The concept of Tirthankaras is one of the most distinguishing features of Jain Dharma. Tirthankaras are not Gods, but pure souls who have successfully crossed worldly bondages to reach the other side of everlasting freedom. Mahavira comes last in the sequential order of the 24 Tirthankaras in Jainism.
Another unique and great feature of Jain Dharma is Ahimsa, that is, compassion to all living beings. This belief makes Jainism the only religion on earth wherein all monks and followers need to be vegetarians, regardless of which tradition they come from. In India, the population influenced by Jain Dharma is strictly vegetarian. There are many animal shelters in many towns, including a bird hospital in Delhi that is run by a Jain temple!
Jain Dharma is the biggest religion in the world to lay emphasis on Karma. Karma is based on the belief that all living beings reap what they sow, and all happy or miserable existences are influenced by actions of the previous life.
What we sow may not be restricted to physical actions only, but include all verbal and mental activities too. Along with Jain Dharma, Karma is an essential aspect of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.
1. Soul Is Unborn and Eternal
As per Jainism, souls are uncreated, eternal and equal, and reside in animate and inanimate objects both. They all have the ability to free themselves and attain Moksha (salvation) by virtue of their sincere efforts.
Jain Dharma is of the belief that the fate of every being is the end result of their past actions. And that the release of every soul depends upon its karma and cleanness of endeavor. It denies the existence of anything like divine intervention. Jains regard Tirthankaras as pure beings and revere them for their teachings. They believe that Tirthankaras come to life from time to time as per a preset pattern, teaching people the principle of liberation and pave their way.