Jainism in Westminster
The name Jainism comes from the term Jaina which means the devotee of Jinas (Spiritual Victors). Jinas are so called because they are believed to have won victory over passions of attachment, aversion, etc. that defile the soul. They are enlightened human teachers and are also called Tirthankaras.
Mahavira, whose name means "the most courageous one" is believed by Jains to be the latest of these Tirthankaras and to have been born into a Kshatriya (noble) family in 599 B.C. in that part of India now known as Bihar. Mahavir lived and taught for 72 years.
The code of conduct of Jains is based on five vows: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (devotion to truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Aparigraha (non-possessiveness) and Brahmacharya (chastity). Ahimsa (non-violence) is the anchor of Jainism and is one of the basic virtues.
Vegetarianism is a way of life for a Jain. Jiva Daya - the practice of vegetarianism is seen as an instrument for the practice of non-violence and peaceful co-existence. Jainism teaches that life is sacred and that all possible kindness should be shown towards all the living things. Jainism is the faith of some 5 million or more people around the world. In the UK there are many Jain 'Sanghs', collectively numbering almost 30,000. The first Jain temple in Europe was unveiled in Leicester in August 1985. The Jain community in London is known as Bhakti Mandal.
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