Vol. 36 No. 3, June 1983, pp. 22-24
Jainism is one of the more ancient religions of India. This system of religious, philosophical, and ethical teachings derives its name from the Sanskrit name jina which signifies conqueror. Jainism was expounded by Mahavira more than 2500 years ago. Mahavira was born in 599 BCE in the region of Magadha and was a slightly older contemporary of the Buddha. The similarities between the two religions have led to much confusion, but by the late 19th century, Jainism was no longer regarded as an offshoot of Buddhism but as a religion in its own right. The Jains maintain that their religion is timeless and has been revealed again and again by countless teachers known as Tirthankaras - those who show the way to salvation. Although several schisms took place in the Jain community, the major and lasting of them has been the one that split it into Digambara and Shvetambara traditions.