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A South Asian religious tradition which takes its name from those who follow the teachings and example of authoritative teachers called Jina ('conqueror').
Sometimes considered an offshoot of Hinduism, Jainism was founded in the 6th-century BC, in India, by Vardhamana Mahavira.
Jainism has two traditions. The Svetambara ('white-robed') follow a canon of scripture containing the sermons and dialogues of Vardhamana Mahavira. The other, the Digambara ('sky-clad or naked'), believe the original teachings have been lost but the original message is preserved; Monks and nuns vows nudity.
Jainism holds that twenty-four Jinas appear in succession throughout regular temporal movements in the course of eternity and communicate the unchanging doctrine of correct knowledge, correct faith, and correct behavior. Their sacred texts are the Agama (the dialogues and discourses of Mahavira), the Cheda-sutras (the rules of asceticism) and the Culika-sutras (texts on the nature of the mind and knowledge).
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Sources: (1) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (2) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group.
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