Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Jainism Mean?

Jainism is one of the oldest Indian religions, alongside Hinduism and Buddhism. It teaches a path of self-discipline, asceticism, and non-violence (ahimsa), which is the most fundamental principle of the religion.

Followers of Jainism are called Jains. They seek spiritual development through the cultivation of personal wisdom and self-control via the five main vows: ahimsa, satya, ("truth/truthfulness"), asteya (not stealing), brahmacharya ("chastity") and aparigraha ("non-possessiveness" or "non-attachment"). All Jains are strict vegetarians.

Jains believe in the threefold path to moksha (spiritual liberation), which consists of the Three Jewels of Jainism: right view, right knowledge and right conduct. Jainism values the practice of yoga as playing a key role in the achievement of moksha.


Yogapedia Explains Jainism

Jainism rejects the idea of a creator or destroyer god. Instead, Jains believe in an eternal Universe, one which was never created and will never cease to exist.

Monasticism is very much supported in Jainism. Monks and nuns must follow the five vows absolutely and they live extremely ascetic lifestyles. They do not have a permanent home or any possessions and they always travel barefoot from one place to another. Jains practice a special type of meditation called samayika, with a goal of achieving perfect calmness and understanding the unchanging Truth of the Self.

According to ancient Jain texts, yoga is the sum of all the activities of mind, speech and body. "Tattvarthasutra," from the second century C.E., states that yoga is an essential element in the path to liberation. The five major vows of Jainism are very similar to the five yamas ("disciplines") of "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali," which indicates a history of strong cross-fertilization between these traditions.

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