Jains believe that to attain spiritual advancement one must follow the five vows:
Non-violence: (Ahimsa) not giving any harm to any creature – Jains are strict vegetarians
Truthfulness: this includes avoiding saying what would be painful to others
Non-stealing: this includes avoiding greed and exploitation
Chastity: celibate monks and nuns are given great respect in the Jain tradition
Detachment: since the pleasures of this world are viewed as illusion, Jains try to limit their attachment to them
While every Jain should seek liberation, the path to liberation is a very demanding one that is achieved by only a few. The ideal for most Jains is therefore to live a good life in this world, by practice of the Three Jewels:
right knowledge: understanding how karma binds the soul
right faith: belief in the essentials of Jainism
right conduct: adherence to the five vows
The ultimate goal of Jainism the liberation of the self (jiva) from rebirth, which is attained through the elimination of accumulated karma (the consequences of previous actions). This occurs through both the disciplined cultivation of knowledge and control of bodily passions. When the passions have been utterly conquered and all karma has been removed, one becomes a Jina ("conqueror"), and is no longer subject to rebirth.
Any kind of harm to any form of life is to be avoided or minimized. Of course, the sustenance of one form of life depends upon the death of another, yet the followers of Jainism are required to limit the taking of life even for survival.
All living beings, human and other-than-human, have an equal right to life. Not only do humans have no absolute rights - to take, to control, or to subjugate other forms of life - but they also have extra obligations to practise nonviolence, and to be humble in the face of the mysterious, glorious, abundant and extraordinary phenomena of the living world.
The essence of Jainism is concern for the welfare of every being in the universe and for the health of the universe itself
Jainism is a religion of self-help.
The Svetambara canon (agama) consists of 45 texts: 11 Angas ("Parts")--a 12th, the Drstivada, is not extant--12 Upangas (subsidiary texts), 4 Mula-sutras (basic texts), 6 Cheda-sutras (concerned with discipline), 2 Culika-sutras (appendix texts), and 10 Prakirnakas (mixed, assorted texts). Digambaras give canonical status to two principal works in Prakrit: the Karmaprabhrta ("Chapters on Karman") and the Kasayaprabhrta ("Chapters on Kasayas") and accord great respect to several other works and commentaries.
Jainism dates to the 6th century B.C.E. in India.
Along with Hinduism and Buddhism, Jainism is one of the three most ancient of India's religions still in existence. Although Jainism has [fewer] followers than Hinduism and Sikhism it has had an influence on Indian culture for over 2,500 years, making significant contributions in philosophy, logic, art and architecture, grammar, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, and literature.