Founded by Rishabhdeva or Adinath, Jainism came into prominence in the sixth century B.C. under Vardhamana Mahavira, who was born at Kunda­grama, near Vai­shali in Bihar. At the age of thirty, he left his home and wandered as a naked monk for thirteen months. He attained enlightenment on the bank of Rijupalka river, sitting under a ‘Sal’ tree. After living for seventy-two years, he got salvation at Majjhima Pava, now identified with Pavapuri.

The word Jina means conqueror. It is not the conquest of the worldly things, but conquest of oneself, one's desires and attachments. The prophets and saints of the faith are called Tirthankaras. Jainism says world is not the creation of any god, it exists because of certain universal laws. Jainism is often regarded as a religion of atheists. Jainas believe that life exists not only in humans and animals, but also in objects like stones, water, tree etc. The Jiva (life) corresponds to the soul. The soul is corrupted by its contact with matter, hence the role of Karma, the cycle of rebirth and death. The highest aim should be to release the soul from material bondage. This is achieved not by the mercy of god but by the effort of the individual himself. A man attains Nirvana when he combines right conviction, knowledge and conduct.

The Jainas are strict vegetarian. The main rule of conduct is Ahimsa or non violence. The Jainas are divided into two groups, the laymen Sravaka and the monks or saints Sramanas. The lives of both are regulated by strict codes of conduct, behaviour and movement. They take care to avoid any kind of harm to animals, worms and insects. Jainism never spread beyond India. There are two groups or sects within Jainism, the Svetambaras and the Digambaras. The term Svetambara means one who is clad in white and Digambara means one who is clad with space or with nothing.

The motive and purpose of Jain worship is very different from worship in many other religions - in fact it would seem that Jain principles make worship both unnecessary and futile.

Famous Jain temples:

  • The Great Bahubali also called as Gomateshwara is situated at Shravanabelagola in the Hassan district of Karnataka. The 60 feet gigantic statue of Bahubali is situated in Vindyagiri Hill at Shravanabelagola.
  • DilwaraJain Temples at Mount Abu is built by marble and counted among one of the finest monuments of India.
  • The Ranakpur Jain Temple is located in the Pali district of Rajasthan, between the two beautiful cities of Rajasthan, Jodhpur and Udaipur on the valley of the Aravalli ranges.

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