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Abstract

The research contained in this paper focuses on the religion of Jainism, its main principle of ahimsa, or nonviolence, and how that philosophy has evolved over the years, eventually inspiring today’s nonviolent movements. First, a look will be taken at the origin of Jainism, with a brief explanation of its most important principles and beliefs. Then, ahimsa is explained as it has been traditionally perceived by Jains. The recent evolution of the meaning of ahimsa and its impact on modern nonviolence movements is discussed, with a focus on the influence of second-generation Jains in the United States on the spread of the environmental movement in particular, as well as other prominent Jain figures who support this change in ideals. Finally, implications are made about the future of Jainism and how this renewed definition of ahimsa will affect the spread of the religion and its teachings of love and nonviolence around the world.