Jainism (pronounced [dʒɛːnɪzəm]), traditionally known as Jaina dharma, is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. It is one of the oldest religions of the world finding its roots in ancient India. Tradition says that this belief has been preached by a succession of twenty-four propagators of faith known as tirthankara. Jainism emphasises spiritual independence and equality between all forms of life. Practitioners of this religion believe that non-violence and self-control is the means by which they can obtain liberation from the cycle of reincarnations.
Jainism is a religious minority in India, with 4.2 million followers, and has adherents in immigrant communities in Belgium, the United States, in Canada, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. Jains have the highest degree of literacy for a religious community in India, and their manuscript libraries are the oldest in the country.