How to Learn About Jainism

It is common enough for Theologians to classify Jainism as a way of life, rather than a religion. Of course it is organized in a religious format, but anyone can embrace it, like Julia Roberts embracing Hinduism, and not converting to it. You can't convert to them, as per the teachings of these ancient religions. You are born into them. But what stands at the Centre is a tolerance of diverse religions and teachings, long as fanaticism is absent.


  1. Image of Tirthankara Mahāvīra (Ahinsa Sthal, Delhi)
    Become familiar with the roots of Jainism. India has been rich in religious diversity, and this is where Jainism traces its roots.
    • Jain texts point to 24 great teachers called Tirthankaras (those who build a ford across the ocean of transmigration). The last Tirthankara of present half cycle of time (Avasarpani) was Lord Mahāvīra who lived during 6th century B.C. After attaining omniscience, Tirthankara preach in a divine hall called samavasarana.
    • Digambar and Shvetamber- The monks belonging to the sky-clad (Digambara) sect practice nudity, while the monks belonging to the white-clad sect wear white clothes. There is hardly any major difference between the two sects. Shvetamber monks put a white cloth over their mouths to prevent them from accidentally inhaling insects.
  2. Image titled Learn About Jainism Step 2
    Understand the main precepts.
    • Reincarnation is central to Jainism teachings and beliefs. Souls, which are believed to be a unique substance in the universe, take different living forms in the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. This cycle has been going on forever, the universe has no beginning or end, it has always been and always will be. The ultimate goal is to get rid of one's karma on their soul so that they may end this cycle. Once this goal is reached their soul has attained all knowledge and it rests in the heavens forever (Nirvana). Recent studies on past life regression are but reiteration of this.
    • Karma theory is about actions and the results they bring to the soul's path. It is the simply the law of cause and effect with respect to the soul. E.g. One's life today is an outcome of past karma –good and bad. And ones actions today will affect what will happen to them in this or their future lives. In this life, as in the sailor , knowing that the winds are wayward, can bend the sails to minimize the harm that comes to his boat. No doubt the winds will exert their force. That is the seed of ancient actions; but equipped with the right knowledge and skill, she may just be able to steer clear without the possible damage by the winds.
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    Learn the sacred mantra, The Namokara Mantra:[1]
    • Ṇamō Arihantāṇaṁ- I bow to the Arihantas (Omniscient beings)
    • Ṇamō Siddhāṇaṁ- I bow to the Siddhas (Liberated souls)
    • Ṇamō Ayariyāṇaṁ- I bow to the Acharyas ("Preceptors")
    • Ṇamō Uvajjhāyāṇaṁ- I bow to the Upadhyay (Preceptors of less advanced ascetics)
    • Ṇamō Lōē Savva Sāhūṇaṁ- I bow to all the monks
  4. Image titled Learn About Jainism Step 3
    Study the way to get rid of one's karma. Knowledge of Seven fundamentals or truths (tattva) that constitute reality is essential. These are[2][3]
    • Jīva, the living or conscious substance, i.e., the soul;
    • ajīva, the non-living, i.e., the unconscious substance;
    • Āsrava, i.e., inflow of matter into the soul;
    • bandha, i.e., bondage;
    • stoppage- obstruction of the inflow of karmic matter into the soul (called samvara);
    • nirjarā, the removal of matter from the soul; and
    • moksha, i.e., freedom.
  5. 5
    Follow certain rules of doing good somewhat similar to the ten commandments. This is not just getting rid of past karma, but also the proposed conduct of life of an individual. These include the principles of:
    • Ahiṃsā- Not to hurt any living being by actions and thoughts. Out of the five types of living beings, a householder is forbidden to kill, or destroy, intentionally, all except the lowest (the one sensed, such as vegetables, herbs, cereals, etc., which are endowed with only the sense of touch).
    • Satya- Don't lie or speak what is not commendable.
    • Asteya- Not to take anything if not given.
    • Brahmacharya- Refrain from indulgence in sex-passion. Monks practice celibacy, whereas a householder (one with small vows) practice chastity.
    • Aparigraha (Non-possession)- Non-attachment to the possessions.
      • Most Jains uphold these principles by practicing vegetarianism, non-violence in thought, deed, and action. It must be clear that these are preliminary outlines. The depth and significance of each of these needs careful study and practice.
  6. Samayik
    Learn about the six essential duties prescribed for a śrāvaka (householder). These help the laity in achieving the principle of ahimsa which is necessary for his/her spiritual upliftment. The six duties are:[4]
    • Worship of Pañca-Parameṣṭhi (five supreme beings)
    • Following the preachings of Jain saints.
    • Study of Jain scriptures
    • Samayik (Meditation)
    • Following discipline in their daily engagement
    • Charity (dāna) of four kinds:
      • Ahara-dāna- donation of food
      • Ausadha-dāna- donation of medicine
      • Jnana-dāna- donation of knowledge
      • Abhaya-dāna- saving the life of a living being or giving of protection to someone under threat.


  • Check how Jainism is similar to Hinduism and Buddhism.
  • Check what Jainism Teachings have in Common with The Ten Commandments.
  • Anyone Can practise Jainism. It is a way of life.
  • Strict adherence to the precepts may not be evident in many modern Jainis.

Things You'll Need

  • An open attitude, a non violent approach, first to the self and then to others around you, and finally to all beings.

Sources and Citations

  1. Namokar Mantra
  2. S. A. Jain (1992) Reality Page No.-7
  3. What is Jainism (Page No.-3)
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Categories: Religion