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A tradition that has less than 6 million adherents worldwide, Jainism is overwhelmingly found in one geographic location (India). These facts, and because it is ethnically homogeneous, nonproselytizing, and world renouncing, would seem to disqualify itself on many counts from a “global religion” status. Jainism, however, over the latter half of the 20th century, has successfully adapted its message of world renunciation to fit the dictates of a global religion.

Background

The tradition of Jainism gets its name from great spiritual masters called Jinas, meaning “conquerors.” They have taught that life, in all its myriad expressions (human, animal, insect, plant, water, earth, air, and fire), possesses an eternal quality that is noble and worthy of respect. Each eternal quality embodied in persons, animals, and things is called ...

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