The origin of the Jaina faith can be traced out in the pre-historic time. The Jaina system believes in 24 Tirthankaras or the liberated propagators of the faith. Mahavira, the last Tirthankara, is regarded as the real founder of the system but not the founder as such because even before him Jaina teachings were existent. Although Mahavira is not regarded as the founder of the system, still his teachings gave a new outlook to Jaina system. Mahavira, who is also known as Vardhamana, was contemporary to Gautam Buddha.


Jainism is an ancient Indian religion of obscure origins. Jains claim it to be eternal, and consider Rishabhanatha, the first of 24 Jain tirthankaras, the founder in the present time cycle.Scholars such as Parikh have conjectured that images such as those of the bull in the Indus Valley Civilization seal are related to Jainism. It is one of the Śramaṇa traditions of ancient India, those that rejected the Vedas.According to the philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Jainism existed before the Vedas.Neminatha, the 22nd tirthankara, is presented as a cousin of Krishna in Jain Puranas and other texts.

 According to historians, the first 22 of the 24 tirthankaras were mythical figures.The 23rd tirthankara, Parshvanatha, is based on a historic human being of uncertain period, possibly the eighth to sixth century BCE. Mahāvīra and Buddha are generally accepted as contemporaries (circa 5th century BCE). The interaction between Jainism and Buddhism began with the Buddha;later, the two ascetic sramana (seeker) religions competed for followers as well as the merchant trade networks that sustained them. Buddhist and Jain texts sometimes have the same or similar titles but present different doctrines.



Jains consider the kings Bimbisara (c. 558–491 BCE), Ajatashatru (c. 492–460 BCE), and Udayin (c. 460–440 BCE) of the Haryanka dynasty as patrons of Jainism.[325] Jain tradition states that Chandragupta Maurya (322–298 BCE), the founder of the Mauryan Empire and grandfather of Ashoka, became a monk and disciple of Jain ascetic Bhadrabahu in the later part of his life Jain texts state that he died intentionally at Shravanabelagola by fasting.Versions of Chandragupta’s story appear in Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu texts.


The 3rd century BCE emperor Ashoka, in his pillar edicts, mentions the Niganthas (Jains).Tirthankara statues date back to the second century BC.Archeological evidence suggests that Mathura was an important Jain center between the 2nd century BCE and the 5th century CE. Inscriptions from the 1st and 2nd century CE already show the schism between Digambara and Śvētāmbara.There is inscriptional evidence for the presence of Jain monks in south India by the second or first centuries BC, and archaeological evidence of Jain monks in Saurashtra in Gujarat by the second century CE. Many ayagapata votive tablets were excavated from Kankali Tila, Mathura. These sculptures date from the 2nd century BCE to the 12th century CE.

 Royal patronage has been a key factor in the growth and decline of Jainism. According to legend of doubtful historicity, King Salivahana of the late 1st century CE was a patron of Jainism. In the second half of the 1st century CE, Hindu kings such as the Rashtrakuta dynasty sponsored major Jain cave temples. King Harshavardhana of the 7th century grew up in Shaivism, following his family, but he championed Jainism, Buddhism and all traditions of Hinduism.The Pallava King Mahendravarman I (600–630 CE) converted from Jainism to Shaivism under the influence of Appar.His work Mattavilasa Prahasana ridicules certain Shaiva sects and the Buddhists and expresses contempt for Jain ascetics.[340] The Yadava dynasty built many temples at the Ellora Caves between 700 and 1000 CE. King Āma of the 8th century converted to Jainism, and the Jain pilgrimage tradition was well established in his era.Mularaja (10th century CE), the founder of Chalukya dynasty, constructed a Jain temple, even though he was not a Jain.During the 11th century, Basava, a minister to the Jain Kalachuri king Bijjala, succeeded in converting numerous Jains to the Lingayat Shaivite sect. The Lingayats destroyed various temples belonging to Jains and adapted them to their use.The Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana (c. 1108–1152 CE) became a follower of the Vaishnava sect under the influence of Ramanuja, after which Vaishnavism grew rapidly in what is now Karnataka.



Jain monuments in Nagarparkar, Pakistan The ruins of Gori Jain temples in Nagarparkar, Pakistan, a pilgrimage site before 1947.

Jainism faced persecution during and after the Muslim conquests on the Indian subcontinent.Muslims rulers, such as Mahmud Ghazni (1001), Mohammad Ghori (1175) and Ala-ud-din Muhammed Shah Khalji (1298) further oppressed the Jain community.They vandalised idols and destroyed temples or converted them into mosques. They also burned Jain books and killed Jains. There were significant exceptions, such as Emperor Akbar (1542–1605) whose legendary religious tolerance, out of respect for Jains, ordered the release of caged birds and banned the killing of animals on the Jain festival of Paryusan.After Akbar, Jains faced an intense period of Muslim persecution in the 17th century.The Jain community were the traditional bankers and financiers, and this significantly impacted the Muslim rulers. However, they rarely were a part of the political power during the Islamic rule period of the Indian subcontinent.

 Colonial era

Colonial era reports and Christian missions variously viewed Jainism as a sect of Hinduism, a sect of Buddhism, or a distinct religion.Christian missionaries were frustrated at Jain people without pagan creator gods refusing to convert to Christianity, while colonial era Jain scholars such as Champat Rai Jain defended Jainism against criticism and misrepresentation by Christian activists.Missionaries of Christianity and Islam considered Jain traditions idolatrous and superstitious.These criticisms, states John Cort, were flawed and ignored similar practices within sects of Christianity.



The British colonial government in India and Indian princely states passed laws that made roaming naked an arrestable crime, particularly impacting Digambara monks.The Akhil Bharatiya Jain Samaj opposed this law, arguing that it interfered with Jain religious rights. Acharya Shantisagar entered Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1927, but was forced to cover his body. He then led an India-wide tour as the naked monk with his followers, to various Digambara sacred sites, and was welcomed by kings of the Maharashtra provinces.Shantisagar fasted to oppose the restrictions imposed on Digambara monks by the British Raj and prompted their discontinuance.The laws were abolished by India after independence.


The Jainas admit three sources of knowledge. They are respectively: Perception,inference and testimony. The Jaina shows that inference produces valid knowledge when it obeys the logical rules of correctness. Like inference, testimony also produces valid knowledge when it is the report of a reliable authority. From these sources of knowledge, it can be held that Jainas admit two kinds of knowledge. They are immediate and mediate or direct and indirect.

According to Jaina system, knowledge is again, divided into two kinds. The first one is Pramana. It means knowledge of a thing as it is. The second one is Naya. It means the knowledge of a thing in its relation. Naya means a standpoint of thought about a thing. Nyaya, as a pramana, holds that we can get partial knowledge of a thing. So, Partial knowledge of different aspects of a thing is called Naya. It is not at all possible to get complete knowledge of a thing. Therefore, according to Jaina, truth is relative to our different standpoints of thought about a thing.

The Jaina system holds that there are seven nayas. The first four nayas are called‗Artha Naya‘, because they relate to objects or meanings. The last three are called‗Sabda Naya‘, because they relate to words. Naya involves a fallacy, when we take it asabsolute (final statement of a thing). This fallacy in Naya is called naya bhasa.


The Jaina metaphysics holds that reality (dravya/substance) possesses innumerable qualities. So, an object possesses infinite number of characteristics of its own. But it is not possible for ordinary people to comprehend all the qualities of a thing. People can know only some qualities. Therefore, the Jaina metaphysics is relativistic pluralism. It is also called anekantavada in the sense that an object or a thing includes infinite number of characteristics. Ordinary people cannot cover all the aspects of a thin g. So,different standpoints or a statement of a thing is called anekantavada. Again, Jainametaphysics is relativistic in the sense that no statement or a standpoint of a thing can claim to be absolute. Therefore, all truths are relative in comparison to others.Every standpoints or statements are partially true. So, the Jaina metaphysics is called anekantavada or manyness of reality.

From Jaina metaphysics it can be derived that knowledge is relative. In this context it can be said that human knowledge is relative and limited regarding an innumerable character of an object. From the epistemological standpoint we can know only some characters of an object; this is called Syadvada‘. Again, from the metaphysical standpoint this is called anekantavada, because an object has infinite number of characteristics indeed, the two doctrines like Syadvada and Anekantavada are the two sides of the same coin. We commit a mistake in Jaina metaphysics when we regard a statement or a standpoint as an ultimate or absolute view, regarding an object. Then we commit a fallacy of anekantatavada.


Jainas‘ philosophy is realistic and relativistic pluralism. Its metaphysical side is anekantavada while logical and epistemological side is Syadavada, in fact, both are these are two aspects of one philosophy.According to Jaina school of philosophy, there are innumerable, material atoms andinnumerable, individual souls, that is, there are innumerable dravyas or substances which arc all separately and individually real- and each possesses innumerable

aspects of its own. A thing has got infinite number of characters. Some of these characteristics are permanent, essential and unchanging (attributes or gunas), for example, consciousness while some other characteristics are accidental, nonessential and changing (modes or prayaya), for example, desire, pain, pleasure, love, hate, etc. It is Jainas‘ doctrine of manyness of reality known as anekantavada.

But, it is not possible‘ for ordinary persons like us to know all the qualities or aspects of a thing. We can know only some qualities of» some things from a particular point of view. To know all the aspects of a thing is to become omniscient. But, human knowledge is necessarily relative, conditional and limited and so, are all our judgments. This epistemological and logical theory of Jainas is known as Syadavada.

As a matter of fact, both anekantavada and Syadavada are the two aspects of same teaching, that is, realistic and relativistic pluralism. The metaphysical side that reality has innumerable characteristics is anekantavada while epistemological and logical side that reality has we can know only some aspects of reality and therefore all our judgments are necessarily relative is Syadvada. Syadvada It is the theory of relativity of knowledge. According to Jain philosophy, reality has infinite aspects. But, ordinary persons like us can know only some of these aspects.

Therefore, all our judgments are necessary, relative, conditional and limited. Such partial knowledge is naya and judgments based on it are also naya. Thus, Syadvada holds that all our judgments are partial and relative.

So, syat‘ or relatively speaking or viewed from a particular point of view which is necessarily related to other viewpoints must precede all our judgments so that limitations of this judgment and possibility of other alternative judgment from other point of view may be clearly borne in mind.

Absolute affirmation and absolute negation both are wrong. All judgments are conditional. This is not a self-contradictory position because the very nature of reality is indeterminate and infinitely complex and further affirmation and negation are not made from same point of view. Infinitely complex reality admits all opposite predicates from different points of views. It is real as well as unreal, as well as universal, permanent as well as momentary. Jainas explain Syadvada with the help of the analogy of blind persons and an elephant.

According to Jainas, we can know an object in three ways:

1. Mistaking a partial truth for a whole and absolute truth is durniti or badjudgment.

2. A mere statement of relative truth without calling it either absolute or relative is naya.

3. A statement of partial truth knowing that it is only partial, relative and conditional is pramana or valid judgment.

Every naya in order to become pramana must be qualified by syat. Syat is said to be the symbol of truth. When the word syat is used, we get 7 forms of judgments, which are known as Saptabhanginaya. These seven judgments are:

1. Syat Asti – relatively, a thing is real.

2. Syat nasti — relatively, a thing is unreal.

3. Syat Asti nasti — relatively, a thing is real and unreal – Asti and nasti are not

from same point of view.

4. Syat avaktyam — relatively, a thing is indescribable.

5. Syat Asti avaktyam — relatively, a thing is real and indescribable.

6. Syat nasti avaktyam — relatively, a thing is unreal and indescribable.

7. Syat Asti nasti avaktyam — relatively, a thing is real and unreal and


indescribable. Rope and snake — both real and unreal

We will update this section……

We will update this section……

We will update this section……

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