Museum keeping the faith

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The Independent Online
A reconstruction of a temple (right) forms part of an exhibition about the ancient Indian religion of Jainism, which has opened at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. Scores of sculptures and paintings will illustrate the 2,500-year-old artistic tradition of one of India's most important yet least-known religions, writes David Keys.

The faith - a form of spiritual humanism - was founded in its present form by Vardhamana Jnatriputra, an Indian prince who become a beggar and then a religious teacher.

He taught that all conscious life was equally valuable, and that to kill or harm any human or animal was morally wrong.

He said life should be lived simply and believed in reincarnation. But he rejected the idea of predestination, and of God, and taught that there is no creator or supreme power.

8 "The Peaceful Liberators, Jain Art from India", is at the V&A and ends on 18 February.

Photograph: Geraint Lewis