A god in his palace attended by female musicians and dancers in a manuscript of Śrīcandra’s Saṃgrahaṇīratna.

Jainism introduction

An overview of articles and British Library resources relating to the Jain relgion.

Introduction

Jainism is one of the oldest surviving religious traditions of India being already well-established in the 6th-5th century BCE. Jains do not believe in a creator god and worship a lineage of spiritual masters called Jinas (‘Conquerors’) or Tīrthaṅkaras (‘Ford-makers’). Mahāvīra, the twenty-fourth Jina, unlike his predecessors is believed to be a historical figure and lived probably in the 6th century BCE. The Jain faith’s primary concern is to purify and liberate the soul from the perpetual cycle of death and rebirth. The Jinas, practising meditation and conforming to fundamental vows such as non-violence and truthfulness, have overcome attachment and desire and set the supreme example for all Jain followers. The path to liberation is defined by three main principles, the so-called three jewels of Jainism: right faith, right understanding and right conduct.

Contents

An introduction to the Jain faith

Professor Nalini Balbir introduces the Jain religion, describing its key features, practices and expressions of faith.

Jain scripture (sources of wisdom and authority)

What is the source of authority in the Jain religion? Professor Nalini Balbir explores this question and outlines the Jain scriptures and their languages.

Jain cosmology

Professor Nalini Balbir introduces the distinctive cosmology of the Jain religion, discussing how it is structured and understood by followers of the faith.

 

Other resources