An Introduction To Jainism ► [02] Jain Religion: Nomenclature

Posted: 27.11.2008

In the Jain canonical texts (called Agamas), the adjective ‘Arhat’ is appended with Lord Rsabha. The religion propounded by ‘Arhat’ is known as Arhata Dharma’. This is the ancient name of Jain religion. In ancient Vaidika literature such as Padampurana, Matsyapurana, Sivapurana etc., we find the allusion to Arhat Dharma.

The term ‘Arhat’ continued to be in vogue till Parsvanatha. Lord Mahavira was more popularly known as ‘Sramana Bhagavan’. During the time of Mahavira, the word ‘Nigrantha Pravacana’ was in vogue for Jain Religion. In the period of Mahavira and for two centuries after his emancipation, ‘Nigrantha Pravacana’ remained prevalent. Later on in the 3rd and 4th century, the name ‘Jain Religion’ came into existence. Mahavira being the last of 24 Tirthankars, a new pattern seemed to have set in and its followers were thereafter called ‘Jains’. At present, the word ‘Jain Religion’ denotes the complete tradition and teachings of Tirthankars.

The preaching’s of ‘Jina’ is the foundation of Jain Religion. One who has faith in preaching’s of ‘Jina’ and who practices it, is called a Jain. As the Buddhist religion was sponsored by ‘Jina’ (Arhat), is called Jain Religion. As the followers of Siva are called ‘Saivas’, the followers of Vishnu are called ‘Vaisnavas’, so also the followers of ‘Jina’ are called ‘Jains’.


Christ, Siva and Vishnu are personal names. But the term ‘Jina’ does not relate to any person. Jain religion does not believe in worshipping an individual. It worships the real qualities of a soul who has attained the state of Jina, i.e., one who has destroyed the veils of Karma on knowledge, intuition and power of soul.

Share this page on: