What is the world’s most peaceful religion? Followers of many different religions claim that theirs is a “religion of peace”, but most of the time their claims belie the fact that many violent, harmful actions are carried out in the name of their religion every day all over the world.
There is one religion, however, which is the most peaceful that I have found. It is called Jainism and its core tenet is one of non-violence and respect for all living things. The followers of this religion believe that they can achieve enlightenment and transcendence of the material world by practicing nonviolence towards all living creatures. They literally would not hurt a fly.
They believe all living things, plants and animals, have a soul and that all souls are equal. For this reason they are strict vegetarians, except they take it a step further. They avoid eating root vegetables so they can avoid insects and other ground-dwelling organisms getting hurt during the harvesting of the vegetables. They can often be observed using a broom to gently sweep the path ahead of them to avoid accidently crushing an insect as they walk. And they sometimes cover their mouth with a muslin cloth to avoid accidentally swallowing a fly.
Jainism, or the Jain Dharma, originated in India in ancient times, although precise dating is difficult. There are some shared concepts with Hinduism and Buddhism, but Jainism should be regarded as its own separate religion. Any similarities are simply the result of the three religions all developing within the same region and drawing upon a similar cultural background.
Jains believe that their religion is eternal, with no original founder, but it is generally regarded by scholars to have formed sometime between the 7th and 5th centuries BCE. Jains believe “Tirthankaras” which means “Ford-Maker” are saviors who, in the past, were able to rise over the cycle of rebirths to forge a path for others to follow by teaching knowledge of how to properly practice Jainism and achieve purity of the soul. The last Tirthankara to appear was Mahavira (the 24th Tirthankara) in the 6th century BCE.
Today, Jainism is still most prevalent in India, but some small Jain communities can be found in the United States, Canada, the UK, Europe, and some African countries like Uganda and Kenya.
What do you think? Do you think Jainism qualifies as the most peaceful religion?