Jainism ReligionA Brief History on Jainism

The recorded history of Jainism dates back around 3500BC and is generally considered as one of the ancient religion in India. Historical evidence suggests that Jainism was known to the people of Indus Valley civilization. Excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro archaeological sites have revealed certain sacred symbols of the religion engraved on seals like the image of Lord Rishabha, Kayotsarga posture and swastika.

Scholars believe that Jainism existed even in the pre-Aryan times. The Rig-Veda, the Yajurveda and the Atharva Veda mention Jainism and its Tirthankars.  Even the religious books of Buddhists mention Jain religion as one of the ancient religions. Buddhists books mention Jain Tirthankars; in fact, before establishing Gautama Buddha followed Jains practice of penance.

The last of the Tirthankars was Lord Mahavir who attained Nirvana 470 years before the beginning of Vikrama Era. Lord Mahavir was the senior contemporary of Lord Buddha and he headed a large community of 36,000 nuns, 14,000 monks, 318,000 female lay votaries and 159,000 male lay votaries. These four layers of segregation constitute the four ‘tirtha’ of Jainism. After Lord Mahavir passed away, only two of the eleven principle disciples survived him.

Jainism has both kinds of monks – the Sacheleka (monks with clothes) and achelaka (monks without clothes). As with any other religion, the Jain literature is intense and deep in philosophical thoughts. The Jain literature was compiled by Srut-Kevlis and the Ganadharas, and their literature is also known as Agam literature. The Agam literature consists of 14 Purvas, 12 Ang-Pravishtha-Agams and Ang-bahya-Agams.

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