The Development of Jainism
Jainism is a religion and philosophy of India that, along with Hinduism and Buddhism, is one of the three most ancient religions still in existence in that country. It dates to 3,000
The name Jainism comes from the Sanskrit meaning “to conquer.” Conquer in this context means conquering inner feelings of hate, greed, and selfishness. For Jains, the objective in life is to renounce materialistic needs in order to achieve bliss or moksha.
In Jainism, twenty-four significant perfected historical figures act as teachers in the search for perfection. These teachers operate in cycles of history. Jains look at time as eternal and formless, so the teachers, called Tirthankaras, appear from time to time to preach the Jain religious way. Each of the Tirthankaras has attained absolute freedom because they have broken away from the cycle of rebirths. Another sixty-four gods and goddesses, great souls, luminaries, and others are involved in the teaching as well.
Jainism's influence on Indian philosophy, logic, art, architecture, grammar, mathematics, astronomy, and astrology has, in many ways, been greater than Hinduism and Buddhism, which have far more adherents. However, unlike those two, Jainism hasn't spread as far; the bulk of the adherents are in India, although there are a few small communities in the United States.
The Tirthanakas offer human beings a means to cross the ocean of samsara — the cycle of existence. Chief among these Tirthanakas was the Jain leader Mahavira (599–527