The vast majority of Jains are born into Jain families. Anyone can become a Jain if he or she accepts the teachings of the Jinas. Story literature abounds in examples of characters from other creeds, such as Hinduism or Buddhism, who met a Jain teacher and thus adopted ‘right faith’ and renounced worldly life. On a larger scale there are several instances of group conversions to Jainism that took place among warrior castes in medieval Rajasthan.
Jains do not try to convert non-believers to the Jain faith. They hold that all religions contain elements of the truth and can thus help people to advance along the path to final liberation.
In modern times, there have been isolated attempts to convert poor Indian communities to Jainism, but the purpose is more to promote Jain values in general.
Heavenly entities and gods decorate a temple ceiling
Image by Cactusbones – Sue Ann Harkey © CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0
Anyone can visit a Jain temple. Jains are usually happy to welcome people who are interested in their faith. There have, however, been debates in India about members of the dalit or ‘untouchable’ caste entering Jain temples.
Most working temples are open for prayer in the mornings.
Visitors to Jain temples should remove their shoes before going inside, as the worshippers do.