Jainism is a non-theistic religion that developed from Hinduism
in the Indian sub-continent at about the same time as Buddhism. Jainism comes from a Sanskrit verb ji
, 'to conquer'. Jains practice ascetism, as did the man counted as Jainism's founder, Mahavira, a possible contemporary of the Buddha. Aceticism is necessary for release of the soul and enlightenment, which means freedom from the continual transmigrations of the soul at the death of the body. Karma binds the soul to the body. Mahavira is thought to have deliberately fasted to death, following the ascetic practice named salekhana
. Ascetism by means of the three jewels (right faith, knowledge, and conduct) can release the soul or at least elevate it to a higher home in the next reincarnation. Sin, on the other hand, leads to a lower home for the soul in the next reincarnation.
The Jains and Their Creed
Jainism. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved February 16, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.search.eb.com/eb/article-9105858
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There are many other components of Jainism including the practice of not killing anything, even to eat. Jainism has 2 main sects: the Shvetambara ('White-robed') and the Digambara ('Sky-clad'). The Sky-clad are naked.
The last or 24th of the perfect beings, according to Jainism, who are known as Tirthankaras, was Mahavira (Vardhamana).