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A ancient religion compatible with a modern ecological consciousness.

Jainism is an ancient religion that originated in India and teaches that the way to liberation is to live with respect for all beings, including animals. Most Jains live in India where the latest census found 3.2 million Jains.

The essence of Jainism is concern for the welfare of every being in the universe and for the health of the environment.

Jains believe that animals and plants, as well as human beings, contain living souls. Each of these souls, whatever species it may be in, is considered of equal value and should be treated with respect and compassion. Christians, Muslims and Jews might be well advised to pick up a few clues about respect for the environment by entering into dialogue with Jains.

Websites on or about Jainism

BBC Religion & Ethics: Jainism

Basic information on history, beliefs, etc., plus illustrated feature articles.

Institute of Jainology
"Our mission is to propogate Jain philosophy and its values through art, culture, and education."

"A non-commerical collaborative effort to be the comprehesive resource for Jainism."

Jain Spirit Online
"Sharing Jain values globally."

Jain World
"This web site combines the aspirations of JAINS around the globe and is being positioned to link various aspects of our lives like - religious, social, philosophical, cultural etc. cutting across all barriers."

Religious Movements Homepage: Jainism
An excellent resource from the University of Virginia.

More Websites on or about Jainism

Jainism as defined by widely respected reference works:

Jain. Follower of the spiritual conquerors (jina) and teachers who give the Jain religion its name. Jainism had emerged as a distinct soteriological path by the 6th century BCE, although the designation Jain does not itself appear until the early common era, perhaps in acknowledgement by the world-renouncing mendicant ascetics, around whom the religion had originally revolved, of the validity of the lay vocation.

Jainism teaches the means, envisioned as a combination of right faith, knowledge and conduct enacted through strict adherence to the requirements of a doctrine of nonviolence (ahimsa), by which human beings can escape the deletrious effects of the consequences of their previous actions (see karma in Jainism), realize the innate potential of the soul (jiva) and gain enlightenment, envisaged as full omniscience (kevalin), and final release from rebirth (moksha).

Atheist in its denial of the existence of a creator divinity overseeing human affairs, Jainism nonetheless acknowledges the divinity within its saving teachers (tirthankara) and elaborate patterns of worship, ritual and devotion have emerged in the course of the religion's history, similar to those found in Hinduism but with a distinctively Jain gloss.

From John R. Hinnels, ed., The Penguin Dictionary of Religions, 2nd ed.jainism (1997). Text © Penguin Books.

Jainism traces its roots to a succession of 24 Jinas ("those who overcome", or conqueror) in ancient East India. The first Jina is traditionally believed to have been a giant who lived 8.4 million years ago. The most recent and last Jina was Vardhamana (a.k.a. Mahavira, "The Great Hero") He was born in 550 BCE) and was the founder of the Jain community. He attained enlightenment after 13 years of deprivation. In 420 BCE, he committed the act of salekhana which is fasting to death. Each Jina has "conquered love and hate, pleasure and pain, attachment and aversion, and has thereby freed `his' soul from the karmas obscuring knowledge, perception, truth, and ability..."

Jainism is a syncretistic religion, which contains many elements similar to Hinduism and Buddhism. The world's almost 4 million Jains are almost entirely located in India. There are about 1,410 in Canada (1991 census).

From Religious Tolerance.org

Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation
It is not longer an option for Christians and others to engage in constructive conversation and cooperation with the religious other; it is a matter of survival.

Can Christians Alone Be Saved?
"I am the way, the truth and the light, no one comes to the Father but by me," said Jesus. Does this mean that only Christians can be saved?

Other World Religions

The Top Dozen Religions of the World
What are the largest religions of the world? What are their membership statistics, relative size, locations, rankings? Find out now simply by looking at out chart and map below.

What is Hinduism?

What is Islam?

What is Buddhism?

What is Judaism?

What is Zoroastrianism?


Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.

For further information about Charles Henderson.