24 Tirthankaras | Literature | Jain Tirth | Namokar Mantra
The values of Jain religion are based on five vows viz.- non-violence, devotion to truth, non-stealing, celibacy and non-possession. The entire life style of the Jain Shravak and the Jain Sadhu emanates from these vows and the foremost is non-violence.
Bhagwan Mahavir said,
"If you kill someone, it is yourself you kill. If you overpower someone, it is yourself you overpower. If you torment some one, it is yourself you torment. If you harm someone, it is yourself you harm."
A wise man knows this and so he does not kill, nor does he overpower or torment anyone.
Lord Mahavir's preaching was orally complied by his disciples into many texts. This knowledge was orally transferred from acharyas (gurus) to the disciples over the course of about one thousand years. In olden times, monks strictly followed the five great vows of Jainism. Even religious scriptures were considered possessions and therefore knowledge of the religion was never documented. Also, during the course of time many learned acharyas (elder monks) complied commentaries on the various subjects of the Jain religion.
Around 500 A.D., which was one thousand years after Lord Mahavir's nirvana (death), Jain acharyas realized that it was extremely difficult to keep memorizing the entire Jain literature complied by the many scholars of the past and present. In fact, significant knowledge was already lost and the rest was polluted with modifications and errors. Hence, they decided to document the Jain literature as known to them. In this time period two major sects, namely Digambar and Swetambar, were already in existence. A thousand years later (1500 A.D.), the Swetambar sect divided into three subsects known as Swetambar Murtipujak, Sthanakvasi, and Terapanthi. Differences exist among these sects in their acceptance of the validity of the documented Jain scriptures and literature.
This consists of original scriptures complied by Gandharas and Srut-kevalis. They are written in the Prakrit language.
This consists of commentary and explanation of Agam literature and independent works, complied by elder monks, nuns, and scholars. They are written in many languages such as Prakrit, Sanskrit, Old Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannad, Tamil, German, and English.