Jain Agamas, how does it compare to the Pali Canon? Where can I find the translated Jain texts?

Despite Jainism existing in the same period as the Buddha, I am ashamed to say I have little to no knowledge on Jainism and its founder. I have come across sutras where the Buddha criticises the Jains, but having no context on what the Jains believed I find it difficult to wrap my head around these criticism.

Jainism has a lot of similarities with Buddhism and slightly predates the Buddha and I would love to read more about Jainism from the original texts because it seems to me that a good understanding of Jainism would lay a solid foundation of the Buddha’s time period .

Is there an introductory book in English that gives a good overview of what Jainism is all about. For example I am looking for a Jain counterpart for a book like “What the Buddha Taught” by Venerable Walpola Rahula.

Or even a website that has the entire Jain Agamas and other early texts translated into English. Similar to Suttacentral.com

I’ve actually taught a Jain text on the course i’m doing right now. That and others can be found at the indispensable site, Sacred Texts:


These are old translations, and like (it used to be) with the Suttas, it’s hard to find comprehensive modern translations.

As to introductions to Jainism, others would know better than I. But a good place to start would be Heinrich Zimmer’s Philosophies of India, which you can find on Internet Archive:

Zimmer was one of the true greats in the field of Indology, and represented an era of humanistic empathy that is sadly lacking in much scholarship today. His work on Indian mythology and storytelling is essential. Sadly he died just in the flower of his work, and most of his books were posthumously edited and published by his student, Joseph Campbell.

Worth noting, for the contemporary Ajivikas, AL Basham’s History and Doctrines of the Ajivikas is excellent.


For a first book take your pick between Jainism: an Introduction by Jeffery D. Long and The Jains by Paul Dundas.

Then for more depth see the core reading lists for the Jain Studies course at SOAS.

Jaina philosophy

Yoga and meditation in the Jaina tradition

Jaina philosophy in comparative perspective

Readings in Prakrit


Thanks Ajahn Sujato.
This should give me a good start into my reading on Jainism