Jainism is one of the oldest religions of the world, based on the philosophy of Ahimsa or reverence for all living beings. Jains are widely acknowledged as having made major contributions to the art, literature and culture of India and have been vegetarians for thousands of years. The last prophet was Mahavira, or the Great Hero, who lived in 559BCE. Jainism originated in India and has spread throughout the world. There are Jain temples in a number of places in the UK including London, Leicester and Manchester. Worldwide there are about seven million adherents.

The resources contained in the list of subjects below are a basic introduction to the facts and beliefs of Jainism. They are a portal or window into the world Jainism and by following the websites and bibliographies, an enquirer may discover more and more about this faith.

The six units are based on the QCA non-statutory framework for Religious Education and the Areas of Enquiry. They provide not only a comprehensive guide to the factual and belief structures of Jainism, but also address the issues that Jainism encounters as it engages with the 21st century.

This section was written by Dr Atul Shah.

Atul Shah was born in Kenya and migrated to the UK in 1980 to study at the London School of Economics, where he obtained a BSc, MSc and PhD. He was lecturer at the University of Bristol, University of Maryland – USA, and University of Essex. Atul is a broadcaster on BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and BBC Asian Network and helped launch the BBC website on Jainism. For two decades, Atul has implemented rare vision and initiatives for the Jain community in the UK and globally and is a sought after speaker on the Jain tradition.

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