Early History of Jainism

Jainism traces its roots to a succession of 24 Jinas ("those who overcome") in ancient East India. The first Jina is traditionally believed to have been a giant who lived 8.4 million years ago. The most recent and last Jina was Vardhamana (aka Mahavira, "The Great Hero", born 550 BCE) who was the founder of the Jain community. He attained enlightenment after 13 years of deprivation. In 420 BCE, he committed the act of salekhana which is fasting to death.

Jainism is a syncretistic religion, which contains many elements similar to Hinduism and Buddhism. The world's almost 4 million Jains are almost entirely located in India. There are about 1,410 in Canada (1991 census).

Jainist Beliefs and Practices

Divisions among Jains

There are two groups of Jains:

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