Jain World
Sub-Categories of Antiquity of Jainism
Meaning of Jainism
Tradition of Tirthankara
Historicity of the Jaina tradition
Jaina tradition and Buddhism
  Jaina tradition and Hinduism
  Jaina tradition & archaeological evidence
  Fundamental principles of Jainism
  Philosophy of Jainism
  Tattvas of Jainism
  Doctrines of Jainism
  Three-fold path of Salvation
  Prescription of Ethical Code
  Private distinctiveness of Jaina Ethics
  Importance assigned to five vratas
  Prominence given to Ahimsa
  Easy practicability of ethical code
  Commoness of ethical code
  Rise of sections in Jainism
  The Great Schism of Jainism
  The Digambara and Svetambara sects
  The Digambara sub-sects
  The Svetambara Sub-sects
  Jainism in East India
  Jainism in Northern India
  Jainism in Western India
  Jainism In South India
  Contribution of Jainism to Indian Culture
  Jainism and other religions
  Significance of Jainism
  Glossary of Jaina terms

1. Meaning of Jainism

Literally Jina means a conqueror, that is, one who has conquered the worldly passions like desire, hatred, anger, greed, pride, etc. by one's own strenuous efforts and has been liberated himself from the bonds of worldly existence, the cycle of births and deaths. Jina, therefore, is a human being and not a supernatural being or an incarnation of an all mighty God. Hence the term Jina is applied to a person who is a spiritual victor.

Further, human beings have the potentiality to become Jinas and, as such, Jinas are persons of this world who have attained supreme knowledge, subjugated their passion and are free from all sorts of attachment and aversion. Jainism is thus a set of principles preached by the Jinas. Hence Jainism is not an apauruseya religion, i.e., a religion propounded by a non-human being or based on a sacred book of non-human origin. On the contrary it is a religion of purely human origin and is preached by one who has attained omniscience and self-control by his own personal efforts. In short, Jainism is the substance of the preaching of those perfect souls who have attained the state of Jainas.

Again, the term Jainism, connotes the religion professed by the Jainas, i.e. the followers of the path practiced and preached by the Jinas. This term Jainism is an English rendering of the original Sanskrit word Jaina-dharma or Jina-dharma. That is why some German Jainologists, like Leumann, Winternitz and Schubring, prefer the term Jinismus or Jinism. Both the terms are, however, correct since Jainism means the religion followed by the Jinas and Jainism means the religion of the Jina. But between the two terms, Jainism and Jinism, the former is more popular and in current use both in literature and common parlance.