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.
Mahatma Gandhi was a large proponent for the practice of Ahimsa.
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.
The story of the blind men and the elephant is a perfect example of Anekantvaad.
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.
Jain monks take a vow of aparigrah, renouncing their worldly possessions and living with only the bare necessities. Followers of Jainism may practice aparigrah by trying to limit their possessions and attachment to worldliness as much as possible for each individual.
 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.
Mount Girnar in Gujarat, India is a  holy pilgrimage site for Jains. Interesting coincidence: turn your head 90 degrees to the right and look at the picture–doesn’t it look like the facial profile of a Thirthankara?!
Posted by:Priyanka

I am a Board Certified Physician Assistant with a passion for helping others achieve their optimal health through a plant-based lifestyle. On this blog, I share simple recipes, wellness tips, and ways to practice compassionate living rooted in Jain values of non-violence, non-attachment, and non-absolutism.

4 replies on “What is Jainism?

  1. Hey there Priyanka! My name is Kailee and I’m in high school. My friend, Christa, and I are doing a project in our world religion class and we picked Jainism to research. We came across this blog and found it very interesting! We were wondering if you would be open to an interview either over the phone or even Skype to get a better understanding of Jainism? We love your blog and can’t wait to try some of your recipes!!
    Thank you!
    – Kailee and Christa


  2. Hey,
    I am Aastha Bapna pursuing MS in Computer Science from University of South Carolina. I loved reading your blogs. I am eager to get involved in Jain groups in USA. Let me know if there are any which you know of.


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