Jainism is one of the world’s oldest religions, and simply stated- a way of life; the Jain faith is set apart by belief in and adherence to principles of non-violence (ahimsa), non-absolutism (anekantvaad), and detachment/non-possessiveneness (aparigrah).
Ahimsa extends to every form of life and refers to the abolition of violent thoughts, speech, and actions; this principle encourages universal friendship (maitri), benevolence (pramod), compassion (karuna), and forgiveness (kshama). Vegetarianism is a fundamental tenet of Jainism, based on the ideology that every living being in existence possesses an eternal soul; the preparation and consumption of a Jain diet involves minimizing violence, accepting only what is indispensable for human survival.
Anekantvaad refers to the multiplicity of viewpoints; to understand the complete truth, every individual’s perspective and aspect of a given situation must be considered; this principle encourages tolerance, harmony and peaceful coexistence.
Aparigrah refers to detachment from worldly possessions, along with the overcoming of inner vices that contribute to uncontrolled desires; this principle promotes selflessness, generosity, and philanthropy. Jains believe that attachment and delusion (moh) is the leading cause of harmful elements that inhibit spiritual advancement.
Jainism outlines a path of purification and self-realization; by acquiring the correct knowledge (samyak gyaan), insight/faith (samyak darshan), and conduct (samyak charitra), one progresses to achieve a supreme state of spiritual well-being and perfection.