History of Jainism | History of Jainism

History of Jainism | History of Jainism

The word Jain is derived from ‘Jin’. The word ‘Jin’ meaning Jain means the conqueror (one who has conquered the senses). The word ‘Jin’ is first used for Mahavir Swami, the 24th and last Tirthankara of Jainism. The name of Jainism has come into existence from the time of Mahavir Swami. Prior to that Jainism was called Nirgrantha or Nirgund. The history of early Jainism is found in the texts named Bhagwatisutra, Kalpasutra and Parashishtaparvan. There were a total of 24 Tirthankaras in Jainism.

The founder, originator and first Tirthankara of Jainism was Swami Rishabhdev, who was born in Ikshvaku. The symbol of Rishabhdev is a bull. In the early Bhagavata Purana, Rishabhdev is considered an incarnation of Vishnu. Rishabhdev died on Mount Kailash i.e. Mount Kailash.

The 23rd and first historical Tirthankara of Jainism was Parshvanath, who was the son of Kashi King Ashwasen. Parshvanath, at the age of 30, left his home and performed austerity on Sammed Parvat and attained Kaivalya on the 84th day. The symbol of Parshvanath was the snake. He preached Jainism in Saket, Rajgriha, Hastinapur, Kaushambi, Shravasti for about 70 years and attained Nirvana at the age of 100. Parshvanath’s first follower was his mother Vama and his wife Prabhavati.

Biography and teachings of Mahavir Swami | Biography and teachings of Mahavir Swami

Mahavir Swami, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism, was born in 540 BC at Kundagram near Vaishali. Mahavir’s childhood name was Vardhman. They were of Kshatriya varna and Jantrika clan. His father’s name was Siddhartha and mother’s name was Trishala. His father was a prominent member of Vajji Sangh. Mahavir was married to a woman named Yashoda. He later became the father of a daughter.

At the age of 30, Mahavir left the house with the permission of his elder brother Nandivardhana. From the age of 13, he completely abandoned clothes and started living naked. Mahavir Swami first went to Nalanda in search of knowledge, where he met Makkhaliputra Goshal. After 12 years of rigorous penance, at the age of 42, Mahavir Swami attained knowledge under the Sal tree on the banks of river Rijupalika near Jambhika village.

After attaining knowledge, Mahavir Swami was given titles like Kevalin, Jin, Arha, Nirgranth. After attaining knowledge, Mahavir Swami spread his faith by visiting places like Champa, Vaishali, Rajgriha, Shravasti, Anga, Kaushal, Vidarbha, Magadha etc.

After preaching Jainism continuously for 30 years, Mahaparinirvana was attained at the age of 72 in 468 BC in the palace of Malla king Sastipala at a place called Pavapuri located near Rajagriha.

The details of the five Mahavratas of Jainism by Mahavir Swami are as follows-

1. Non-violence- It has been said to avoid all kinds of mental, physical and verbal violence.

2. Truth- It has been said to always speak truthful and sweet words.

3. Aparigraha- In this it has been said that the monks should avoid all kinds of property acquisition.

4. Asteya- It is said to avoid taking property of others without permission.

5. Brahmacharya- In this, it has been said that the monks should follow the vow of complete celibacy. It has been said for the householders to observe Anuvrat.


In Jainism, it has been said to follow the Triratna to avoid the consequences of this birth by eliminating the karma of the previous birth. These three gems are as follows-

1. Samyak Gyan- Knowledge of Truth.

2. Samyak Shraddha- belief in truth.

3. Right conduct – Right conduct by following righteousness and good conduct.

The symbol of Mahavir Swami is a lion.

Jain literature is called Agam. The important text of Jainism, Kalpasutra is written in Sanskrit. Important temples related to Jainism under architecture are Hathigumpha Temple (Orissa), Dilwara Temple, Mount Abu (Rajasthan), Gomateshwara Statue (Karnataka), Parshvanath built in Khajuraho, Temple of Adinath.

The first Jain council was held at Pataliputra between 322 and 298 BC during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, headed by Sthulabhadra. In this Jainism was divided into two parts Shvetambara and Digambara.

The second Jain council was held in 512 AD at Ballabhi, presided over by Devardhigani. In this, the texts of Jainism were finally compiled and written down and the number of 84 Agamas was fixed.

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