What Is Jainism?
Jainism is an ancient religion that was founded in India. Its practitioners follow two basic principles: nonviolence and respect for all living things. To adhere to the 5 main vows, followers of Jainism must practice self-discipline and abstinence from worldly temptations. This religion has between 6 and 7 million followers spread all over the globe. This article takes a closer look at which countries have the largest Jain populations.
The Spread Of Jainism
During the 8th century BC, Jainism went through a revival period in which it gained more followers throughout India. This revival led to Jainism spreading to other nearby countries, such as present-day Sri Lanka. With increasing globalization, trade, and international immigration, Jainism has slowly made its way around the world. Today, it can be found in countries as far afield from India as the United States, Fiji, and Australia.
Countries With The Largest Jain Populations
India, the country where Jainism was founded, continues to have the largest population of Jains in the world. In addition to parents passing along the religion to their children, monks travel around the country educating the population about the ancient teachings and philosophy of the religion. The most important historic temples and other pilgrimage sites are also located here, including the Janma Bhumi Tirthankara. Estimates from 2005 show that over 5.14 million people practice Jainism in India today.
2. United States
The second-largest Jain population in the world can be found in the United States, although it follows behind India with a wide margin. Here, 79,459 people identify as practitioners of Jainism, a significant difference compared to the population in India. This number represents approximately 30% of the Jain population that lives outside of India. Jainism arrived in the US during the 20th century AD through a number of immigrants to the country. The largest wave of Jain immigrants occurred in the 1970s when Chitrabhanu arrived to give lectures at Harvard University and established a Jain center in New York City. Jainism continued to grow in the US over the following years and in the 1980s, the Federation of Jain Associations in North America was established. In addition to having the largest population of Jains outside of India, the US also has the largest number of Jain temples outside of India.
Kenya has the world’s third-largest Jain population with 68,848 practitioners reported in the country. Jainism has existed in this country for around a century and is concentrated in major cities: Nairobi and Mombasa. The Jain community celebrates their religion by holding festivals, conventions, and other programs.
4. United Kingdom
The fourth-largest Jain population in the world is in the United Kingdom, where around 16,869 people identify as practitioners of the religion. Jainism first arrived to the UK in the 19th century AD, evidenced by Hermann Jacobi’s discovery of Jain texts in 1873. In 1930, a Jain library was established by Champat Rai Jain, a comparative religious scholar who studied law in England between 1892 and 1897. The Jain population began to take off in the 1960s when the remaining British colonies in East Africa gained their freedom. Jains belonging to the Gujarati origin left the prior colonies for life in the UK. During the following decade, Idi Amin (former President of Uganda) established a policy to remove Asians from Uganda. This political movement resulted in increased Jain immigration to the UK.
The chart published below has more complete information about countries with the largest Jain populations in the world.