Jainism, also known as Jain Dharma, is an Indian religion. Jainism traces its spiritual ideas and history through the succession of twenty-four tirthankaras (supreme preachers of Dharma), with the first in the current time cycle being Rishabhadeva, whom the tradition holds to have lived millions of years ago, the twenty-third tirthankara Parshvanatha, whom historians date to the 9th century BCE, and the twenty-fourth tirthankara Mahavira, around 600 BCE. Jainism is considered to be an eternal dharma with the tirthankaras guiding every time cycle of the cosmology. The three main pillars of Jainism are ahiṃsā (non-violence), anekāntavāda (non-absolutism), and aparigraha (asceticism).

Jain monks take five main vows: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth), Asteya (not stealing), Brahmacharya (chastity), and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness). These principles have affected Jain culture in many ways, such as leading to a predominantly lacto-vegetarian lifestyle. Parasparopagraho jīvānām (the function of souls is to help one another) is the faith’s motto, and the Namokar Mantra is its most common and strongest prayer.

Jainism is one of the oldest religions still practiced today. It has two major ancient sub-traditions, Digambaras and Śvētāmbaras, which hold different views on ascetic practices, gender, and the texts considered canonical. Both sub-traditions have mendicants supported by laypersons (śrāvakas and śrāvikas). The Śvētāmbara tradition in turn has three sub-traditions: Mandirvāsī, Deravasi, and Sthānakavasī.The religion has between four and five million followers, known as Jains or Jainas, who reside mostly in India, where they numbered around 4.5 million at the 2011 census. Outside India, some of the largest Jain communities can be found in Canada, Europe, and the United States. Japan is also home to a fast-growing community of converts.Major festivals include Paryushana and Das Lakshana, Ashtanika, Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, Akshaya Tritiya, and Dipawali.

The 5 Fundamental Principles are:

1. Non-violence(Ahimsa)

Among the five vows, non-violence (Ahimsa) is the cardinal principle of Jainism and hence it is known as the cornerstone of Jainism. Non-violence is the supreme religion (Ahimsa parmo dharma). It is repeatedly said in Jain literature; “Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being.”

2. Truth(Satya)

Anger, greed, fear, and jokes are the breeding grounds of untruth. To speak the truth requires moral courage. Only those who have conquered greed, fear, anger, jealousy, ego, and frivolity can speak the truth.

3. Non-stealing (Achaurya or Asteya)

Stealing consists of taking another’s property without his consent, or by unjust or immoral methods. Further, one should not take anything which does not belong to him. It does not entitle one to take away a thing, which may be lying, unattended or unclaimed. One should observe this vow very strictly, and should not touch even a worthless thing, which does not belong to him. When accepting alms, help, or aid one should not take more then what is minimum needed. To take more than one’s need is also considered theft in Jainism.

4. Celibacy / Chastity (Brahmacharya)

Total abstinence from sensual pleasure and the pleasure of all five senses are called celibacy. Sensual pleasure is an infatuating force, which sets aside all virtues and reason at the time of indulgence. This vow of controlling sensuality is very difficult to observe in its subtle form. One may refrain from physical indulgence but may still think of the pleasures of sensualism, which is prohibited in Jainism.

5. Non-attachment / Non-possession (Aparigraha)

Jainism believes that the more worldly wealth a person possesses, the more he is likely to commit sin to acquire and maintain the possession, and in a long run he may be unhappy. The worldly wealth creates attachments, which will continuously result in greed, jealousy, selfishness, ego, hatred, violence, etc. Lord Mahavir has said that wants and desires have no end, and only the sky is the limit for them.