Jainism made a tremendous impact on the orthodox religious practices through heterodox sects. It also known as Jain Dharma. It advocated the interests of the people in a simple, short and intelligible way of salvation. The aim of Jain life is to achieve liberation of the soul.
Vardhaman Mahavira (539-467 BC)
1. He was the son of Kshatriya parents Siddhartha and Trisala and Kundagrama near Vaisali was his birth place.
2. Yasoda was his wife.
3. He attained the highest spiritual knowledge called Kevala Gnana after thirteen years of self-abasement. Then he called Mahavir & Jina.
4. He preached the doctrine of Jainism for thirty years and died at Pava near Rajagriha when he was 72 years old.
Causes for the Rise of Jainism
1. Religious unrest during 6th century BC
2. Complex rituals and sacrifices were too expensive and not acceptable by common masses in the later Vedic period.
3. Rise of priesthood gave silent rise of superstition and lengthy rituals.
4. Rigid Cast system.
5. Growth of trade led to the improvement of Vaisyas’s economic condition. As a result they wanted to improve their social status against Varna system. Therefore, they support newly emerged religion.
Teachings of Mahavira
1. Mahavira rejected the authority of the Vedas and the objected to the Vedic rituals.
2. He advocated the ethical code of life. I.e. Even practice of agriculture was considered sinful as it causes injury to the Earth, Worms and animals.
3. According to the Mahavira, the doctrine of ascetism and renunciation can only accompanied by the practice of starvation, nudity and other-form of self-torture.
Spread of Jainism
1. Through Sangha, Mahavira spread his teaching that consists of women & Men in the organised sangha.
2. Under the patronage of Chandragupta Maurya, Kharaveli of Kalinga and the royal dynasties of south India such as the Gangas, the Kadambas, the Chalukyas and the Rashtrkutas.
3. There are two sect of Jainism- Svetambar (White Clad) and Digambar (Sky clad or Naked).
4. First Jain Council was convened at Patliputra presided by Sthuulabahu who was the leader of Digambar during 3rd century BC.
5. Second Jain Council was held at Valabhi in 5th century AD. In this council the ‘Twelve Angas’ was compiled.