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Jainism exercised a great influence on the social and cultural life of India

Updated on March 23, 2016

spread of jainism


Spread of Jainism

Mahavira was a kshatriya prince of the Lichchhavis, a clan that was associated with Vajji sangha.

On reaching of the age 30 years, Mahavira renounced his home and went to live in a forest. To attain knowledge, he wandered from place to place alone and led a tough and lonely life for about twelve years. Finally, he attained enlightenment and through this knowledge, he conquered both sorrow and happiness. He was regarded as Jain, `the great conqueror' and his followers were called Jains.

Mahavira taught a simple doctrine to attain knowledge and enlightenment. He preached that men and women who wished to know the truth must leave their homes. He believed in leading a simple. He was against rituals and sacrifices.

Mahavira preached That the main aim of human beings in their life is to set the soul free and not to be born again in this world.

Language played a very important role in the spread of Jainism. Like the Buddha,

Mahavira taught in Prakrit, a language that was common and spoken by the majority. The teachings of Mahavira and his followers spread orally for several centuries before they were written down as texts about 1500 years ago at Vallabhi in Gujarat. The Jains, later got divided into two groups or sects – the digambar or the sky – clad (those who do not wear any clothes) and the svetambaras or white – clad (those who wear only white clothes).

life and resort to a saintly way of life dedicated to penance




The Jain way of life

Five rules

The Jain religion prescribe five rules of conduct for its followers, known as the panch mahavrata or the five great vows. There are 1) non – violence (Ahimsa), 2) truth (Satya), 3) non – stealing (Asteya), 4) non – possession (Aparigraha) and, 5) control of the desire for the pleasures of the senses (Brahmacharya). It is believed b y the Jains that a person can free himself from the bondage of karma by observing these five rules in his life.

Impact of Jainism

Jainism exercised a great influence on the social , religious and cultural life of India.

Social life – Although Jainism rejected the caste system in theory, it did not do much to bring down the barriers of caste in society. But the Jain doctrine of Ahimsa greatly modified Hindu religion. The Jains laid great stress on this principle with the result that Indian society came to have regard for all animate beings. The popularity of vegetarianism in India is, to a large extent, due to the influence of Jainism. By preaching the brotherhood of man and undertaking works of public utility, Jainism did great service to Indian society.

Religious life – By putting forward simple principles and denouncing expensive and complex rituals existing in the Hindu religion, Jainism exercised a reformatory influence. Jain missionaries carried on their activities throughout the country. The rising tide of Jainism threatened the brahmanical faith. To meet this challenge, the latter recognized itself and established it own mathas in different parts of the country.

Cultural life – A highest Mahabali Sculpture at Shravanabelagola (Karnataka), Dilwara temples at Mount Abu, cave temples at Udayagiri and Ellora are the famous.

In modern times, The father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi employed ahimsa or non - violence as a political weapon for achieving independence of India from British rule. To manage with the minimum necessities of life, to bear no ill – will even towards enemies and opponents, to take recourse to long fasts for the purification of the soul and to undertake long tours on foot are some of the basic features of the Jain way of life.

Mahavir Fair and Festival


Mahavir Jayanti at India, Fairs


The lord Mahavir travelled extensively as a preacher in the kingdoms

Mahavir was born at Kundagrama, now known as Basukunda in the modern district Vaishali in Norh Bihar. Nothing is certain about his date of birth, but historians believe that he was born in about 540 BC. His father Siddhartha was a kshatriya ruler of the region and his mother, Trishala, hailed from the Royal family of the Lichchhavi clan. He was married to Yashoda, and had a daughter from her. He had a spiritual bent of mind from early childhood and showed little interest in material comforts and wordly pleasures. Eventually, he left his home at the age of thirty and practised penance in search of true knowledge. After twelve years of rigorous penance and meditation, he attained divine enlightenment called `Kaivalya'. He lived a life of supreme detachment wordly ties and became `Jina'. Meaning the conqueror of the five sense. His followers, therefore, came to be known as `Jains'. The followers of the earlier prophets of this religion were known as Nirgranthas or people without ties or bonds.

The lord Mahavir travelled extensively as a preacher in the kingdoms of Magadha, Videha (north Bihar) and Anga (Bhagalpur in Bihar) and other neighbouring regions. As he was connected with the royal families of these kingdoms, he received a warm welcome wherever he went. At the age of 72, in about 468 BC., he breathed his last at Pava near Rajagriha (modern Rajgir in Bihar). At that time he had about 14,000 followers. Mahavir is said to have been in personal touch with Bimbisara and Ajatasatru, (rulers of Magadha) who, according to the Jain writings, adopted his teachings.

The teachings of Jainism can be divided into their – 1). doctrines about the nature of existence and the goal of life and 2). the code of conduct which leads to the achievement of that goal.

Jain Temple



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    • 10000001 profile imageAUTHOR

      madugundu krishna 

      3 years ago from Yemmiganur

      thanks for reading

    • Adrien Richards profile image


      3 years ago

      beautiful pictures, so you think vegetarian came through Jainism, well, Buddha died in eating a bad donated piece of pork. The Hindus were not very vegetarian before in the Vedas or did this start in the time of Krishna?You have extremely beautiful pictures in your blogs one wonders people are not rushing here.

    • 10000001 profile imageAUTHOR

      madugundu krishna 

      3 years ago from Yemmiganur

      thanks for reading

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Some interesting facts mentioned by you.

      I think there is one more fact or the practice of eating food before sun set by followers of Jainism which upholds ahimsa. It stresses the fact that insects may not enter your mouth while eating.


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