Jainism lays heavy emphasis on non-violence (ahimsa) and the believers of this religion, whether a monk or a householder, follow a very strict, well disciplined life. In fact, the householders are supposed to evolve to the monkhood in the later stages of life as was the case with the Hinduism in the Vedic era.
The first Tirthankar, Rishabhdev flourished prior to the Indus Valley Civilization and has been referred to as Lord Vishnu in the Puraanas. This name is also mentioned in the Vedas. This shows the inseparability of the two religions in the earlier times. His sons, Bharat and Bahubali (his 57 feet high statue at Shravanabelgo in Karnataka is quite famous) are well known in the Indian history.
The ancient Indian script, Braahmi, is believed to be named after his (Rishabhdev's) daughter. He was followed by 23 other Tirthankars who did not necessarily follow in a continuous manner, one after another. Their names are:
The Jains believe that the Indus Valley
Civilization flourished during the times
between the third and the ninth
The Aryans arrived into India
The Aryanization of India complete
The birth places of the 13th, 19 - 21, and 24th Tirthankaras were in Bihar ; and on the hills of Parasnath (Shikharjee), 20 out of 24 Tirthankaras obtained nirvana. Lord Mahavira obtained nirvana at Pawapuri in Bihar.
Magadha was the center of Jainism in the written history of India. Starting with Bimbisar, the kings of the Nanda dynasty and the early Maurya dynasty were believers of Jainism, according to the Jain literature.The Hindus consider them to be the believers in the Hinduism. Lord Mahavira gave his first sermon on the Vipula Peak at Rajgir. He was born at Vaishali in a noble family. They practised democracy in Vaishali, and some of the remains of the glories of those days, is still preserved in a museum there. It includes, potteries, coins, and other pieces of art. The 23rd and the 24th Tirthankaras had tremendous impact on Hinduism which had degenerated because of (a) the practice of the untouchability of the shudras, (b) the animal sacrifices in the yajnas, and (c) the dominance by the brahmin caste in the religious matters. Both these Tirthankaras were kshatrias and were princes. Lord Mahavira was given a name - Vardhamana, which means rising or growing, by his parents because the family saw its prosperity after his birth. They were strict followers of the 23rd Tirthankara who had lived around 250 years before Lord Mahavira. Vardhamana renounced the world at the age of 30, became ascetic and then spiritually advanced through the stages of Arhat to Kevalin or Jina (conqueror of the self). In the Pali Buddhist texts, he is referred to as the Niggantha Nataputta. After leaving home, for twelve years, he devoted himself to self discipline and practised severest penance and austerities. He preached for the next 30 years, i.e. until the age of 72 when he obtained nirvana. His first sermon was at Mount Vipula, one of the five hills surrounding Rajgir. His first disciple was Indrabhuti Gautama. The female ascetics of the order were headed by Chandana and the male laity, by Shrenika also called Bimbisara, the emperor of Magadha. In his teachings, women had equal role to play. They were not looked down upon.
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