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The history and origin of Jainism religion in India is very interesting. Read this section on introduction to Jainism.

Jainism

It is a common misconception among people that Jainism religion was started by Lord Mahavira. The truth is that Jainism existed long before Lord Mahavira was born. Lord Mahavira reformed Jainism and gave it more exposure. Thus, the history and origin of Jainism dates back to many centuries before Lord Mahavira was born. The religion of Jainism is based on philosophy and the concept of Dharma. Read on this section which is essentially an introduction to Jainism.

The Jains basically follow the teachings of 24 Tirthankaras or Enlightened spiritual leaders. Lord Mahavira was the 24th and last Tirthankara. He lived in approximately around 6th Century B.C. The Jains have influenced many cultures with their teachings and philosophies. They emphasize on non - violent form of living and treating all life forms with respect. They believe that self control is essential for the attainment of omniscience or infinite knowledge. The realization of infinite knowledge leads to Moksha or Nirvana.

The Jains are supposed to be the most educated religious community of India. Some of India's oldest libraries are of the Jains. The Jains are essentially of two types:
Digambaras: Jains who believed that monks should not wear clothes
Shwetambaras: Jains who believed that monks can wear only white clothes

Beliefs and Practices
The Jains believe in reincarnation. To free themselves of the cycle of birth and death, they practice asceticism that is stringent in nature. They basically struggle to make their present birth the last one. Their professions are chosen carefully and revolve around the protection of lives or doing good deeds for others. The ethical code followed by the Jains is very strict in nature and the ethics are followed with much dedication and sincerity. The Jains believe in the following principles and ethics.

Ahimsa
The Jains believe in Ahimsa or non-violence. They adopt Ahimsa as a way of life. Non violence does not mean only being calm and letting others live peacefully. It means that one should be peaceful in thought as well as action. All monks are strict vegetarians and regard even the tiniest insect as a sacred form of life.

Satya
Jains believe in speaking the Satya or truth always. They believe that falsehood is a deterrent in the attainment of Nirvana and is not useful in one's life. Not speaking the truth or running away from it is worthless and does not change the nature of truth.

Asteya
Jains believe in not stealing from others. They believe in being content with whatever they have. According to the Jains, nothing is permanent, not even one's body. Materialistic pleasures only hamper spiritual growth and create only a temporary sense of satisfaction.

Brahmacarya
Jains believe in being loyal to just one spouse for the entire life span. They believe that monogamy is the best way of life and is also a respect to the person you are spending your life with.

Aparigraha
Aparigraha means detachment from materialistic possessions. It means to possess only a few or basic required materials for a lifetime. In the life of a monk, material pleasures have no importance and in fact cease to be of any importance as time goes by.

They are recommended to lead life in four basic stages. The first stage is called Brahmacharya - ashram which means the life of a student. The second stage is called Grihasth - ashram which means having a family or leading a family life. The third stage is known as Vanaprasth - ashram which means doing social services and finishing off family responsibilities. The last and final stage of life is known as Sanyast - ashram which means abandonment of family life and adopting the life of an ascetic or a saint.