What is Jainism?

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What is Jainism?
Jainism refers to a non-theistic type of religion that is said to originate in India during the 6th century BC. It is also said that this religion came into being at around the same time as Buddhism. Followers of Jainism are called “Jains” and their religion dictates them to live their lives away from violence and instead focus on tolerance and harmony with other human beings. A typical Jain’s goal in life is to practice good deeds in order to liberate their souls from all types of karma. Some people refer to Jainism as “Jain Dharma”, “Samanam”, “Shraman Dharma”, or the main religious practice of “Nirgrantha”.

Followers of Jainism are mostly in India and reach to more than 4 million people. But there are also significant Jain communities all across the globe including the western parts of Europe, North America, Australia and the Far East region. Jains practice their religion by believing that almost all things in the world have a soul or “jiva” which is supposedly locked in a birth and/or rebirth cycle. And by means of the “three jewels” of good behavior, one can escape the cycle and achieve some sort of release called “moksha”. The three jewels are right knowledge, right belief, and right conduct. If jains are guided by these three principles in life, then they will be able to nourish their souls and liberate them from karma.

With great tolerance and acceptance of earthly things as part of Jainism teaching, followers typically live simple lives and have only the basic necessities required in the real world. Accumulating many material things is not part of the main teaching of Jainism. And since Jainism is considered a non-theistic religion, jains believe that no God or Supreme Being exists. Jains also believe in being gentle to other living things. No harm should be done to animals and plants and these practices are part of their goal to be released from the natural cycle of life and elevate their soul to liberation.

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