It has between 4-5 million adherents, most of which live in India. It was believed to have been founded approximately 500 BCE, but the first teacher, or tirthankara, was said to have existed millions of years before that. And the name for each practitioner, Jain, comes from the Sanskrit word, ‘Jina‘, which means victor. Jainism is the lesser known great faith of India.
Jains are vegetarian with the more devout also being vegan. Monks and nuns of the faith do not eat certain root vegetables such as potatoes, onions and garlic, as tiny organisms may be harmed during the harvesting, as well as believing that such tubers show signs of higher life due to their ability to sprout.
One of the central tenets of the Jain faith is non-violence, including to animals. There is also truth, not stealing, chastity and non-attachment. Paraspagopragraho Jivanam is the motto of Jainism and means, The function of the souls is to help one another. There are different sects (well it’s a religion after all), with some arguing that men and women are equal, and others that men are closer to perfection and women must hope to die and be reborn as men to achieve eventual peace. Jains do believe in rebirth and karma.
The Jain faith is non-theistic and as such is closer to the philosophy of Buddhism in that respect, but it has a number of schools of thought. It is currently the 15th most followed faith in the world. Take a look at the video for more on this exotic and mystical religion which has the swastika is one of its most important symbols. Given the fact that the Jains are peaceful, the irony in how the swastika was later used (and abused) in Europe should be evident.