What are the main beliefs of the Jain religion?

What do adherents of the Jain religion believe?

Jain religion

Jain Sadhavis (Female Jain ascetics) belonging to Sthanakvasi sect travelling on highway. Jain saints travel from cities to cities by foot. The only possession they have and carry are white unstiched clothes, a bowls for alms, a whisk to sweep insects from the road while they are walking so they are not crushed and a few books. Also note muhpatti, the white cloth over their mouths to prevent accidentally killing insects and germs while talking. CC BY 2.0/Wikimedia

Jainism is one of the oldest religions in the world. It teaches that non-violence and self-control free people from the cycle of reincarnation. Jains believe in spiritual independence and equality among all forms of life. Non-violence is a core value for Jains and it extends to diet, which is strictly vegetarian and includes fasting. Jains have ancient and extensive religious texts. They pray to escape worldly desires for the liberation of their souls.

How old is the Jain religion?

The Jain religion has its roots in ancient India. Though it is very old, Jains are a religious minority in India, with roughly 4.2 million followers. As long ago as the 6th century BCE, Vardhamana Mahavira became an influential teacher of Jainism.

What kind of diet do followers of the Jain religion eat?

Non-violence can be considered the most important religious duty for Jains. Non-violence in the Jain religion means applying it to every aspect of life, especially at mealtime. The diet of the Jain religion is very strict. It is vegetarian, does not allow onions and garlic, and sometimes excludes other root begetables like potatoes. Eggs and animal products are also forbidden. Root vegetables are excluded because of the tiny organisms that are injured during the harvesting of the plant. Honey is also not allowed, as it is considered violence against bees. Even harsh words can be a form of violence.

How far does non-violence go in the Jain religion?

Jains may choose not to go outside at night, as it is more likely that they will step on insects and other small creatures in the dark. Since, however, absolutely protection to all creatures is not possible, Jains rank living creatures based on how many senses they have. Interestingly enough, violence in self-defense is justified, even to the point of soldiers in combat. There have been Jain monarchs, military commanders and soldiers.

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