Jainism came to prominence in the 6th century B.C.E. when Vardhamana Mahavira propagated the religion.
Jain religion is believed to have been founded by Rishabhanath who is also called Rishabhadev.
Jains believe that there were 24 great teachers or Tirthankaras, the last of whom is Vardhamana Mahavira.
He was born at Kundagrama near Vaisali in 599 BCE.
His parents were Kshatriyas. His Father was Siddhartha who was the Head of Jnatrika Clan and his Mother Trishala who was the sister of Lichchhavi chief Chetaka.
Chetaka’s daughter married Haryanka King Bimbisara which makes Mahavira a relative of the Magadhan Ruler.
Mahavira was married to Yasoda and had a daughter Anojja or Priyadarsana.
He renounced his home and became a wandering ascetic at the age of 30.
He went on a truth searching journey for 12 years and spend those years practicing severe austerities, fasting and meditation.
He is said to have attained perfect/infinite knowledge (kevalajnana) at the age of 42 on the banks of the Rijupalika river.
It is believed that through kevalajnana, he conquered misery and happiness.
Because of this conquest, he came to be known as ‘Mahavira’ or The Great Hero or ‘Jina’ i.e, the conqueror and his followers were known as ‘Jainas’.
He passed away and became a Siddha (fully liberated) at the age of 72 in 527 BCE at Pavapuri near Patna.
The ideals of Jainism:
Jainism rejects the idea of a creator of the world (God) as well as the authority of the Vedas.
The Jains believe in karma and in the transmigration of the soul.
The philosophy of Jains believe that salvation or nirvana comes on getting rid of the cycle of birth and rebirth and can be attained by leading a pure life guided by the three-fold path of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct.
The right conduct involves not to steal (Asteya), non-possession (Aparigraha), nonviolence (Ahimsa), not to lie and control of the senses (Bramacharya).