Jainism, traditionally known as Jain dharma, is an ancient Indian religion that prescribes the path of ahimsa (non-violence) towards all living beings. Jains believe that a human being who has conquered all inner passions comes to possess omniscience; such a person is called a Jina (conqueror). The path practiced and preached by Jinas is Jainism, and the followers of the path are called Jains.
Jain philosophy distinguishes the soul (consciousnesses) from the body (matter). Jains believe that all living beings are really soul, intrinsically perfect and immortal. Souls in transmigration (that is, still undergoing repeated births and deaths) are said to be imprisoned in the body. Ahi?s? (non-violence) and self-control are said to be the means to liberation. The liberated souls free from sa?s?ra (transmigration) are worshiped as God. Ahimsa (non-violence) and Anekantavada (non-absolutism or multiplicity of viewpoints) are the major teachings of Jainism.
Jain texts reject the idea of a creator or destroyer God and postulate an eternal universe. Jain cosmology divides the worldly cycle of time into two parts (avasarpi and utsarpi). According to Jain belief, in every half-cycle of time, twenty-four Tirthankaras grace this part of the Universe to teach the unchanging doctrine of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. The word Tirthankara signifies the founder of a tirtha, which means a fordable passage across a sea. The Tirthankaras show the 'fordable . . . more