Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Jainism  -  Respect For All Life

The birth of Jainism
Mahavira the Path-Maker
The Enlightenment
The Rise of Jainism
  The Two Sects
  The Scriptures
  Rise and Fall
  Jain Beliefs-The Universe
  The Soul
  Karma and Rebirth
  The way of Salvation
  The Everyday Life of a Jain
  The Life of an Ascetic
  Ways of Worship
  Temples and Domestic Shrines
  Ninian Smart

The Birth of Jainism



The period from the seventh to the fifth centuries BC was a turning point in the intellectual and spiritual development of the whole world:  it produced, among others, the early Greek philosophers, the great Hebrew prophets, Confucius in China and Zoroaster in Persia.

For north India, the sixth century BC was a time of particular social, political and intellectual ferment.  The older and more familiar tribal structure of society was disintegrating.  In its place were appearing a few great regional kingdoms and a number of smaller tribal groupings known, as republics.  These kept some of the characteristics of tribal structure but had little political power, being dependent on the largest of the kingdoms.

In this transition period, when the old social order was passing away and a new one had not yet taken shape, many people felt themselves adrift, socially, and morally.  Religious confusion also arose as divergent streams of religious thought and practice came into contact and conflict.  It was probably from this conflict that the so-called heterodox teachers associated with Buddhism, Jainism and the Ajivikas sect emerged.  They, in turn, probably owed their origin to the Shramanas, the ancient religious teachers distinguished from the Brahmins by their doctrine of salvation through asceticism.  They were considered heterodox because they refused to accept the authority of the Vedas, the authoritative Hindu texts, and rejected the institutions of cast and sacrifice.