Notably, Mahatma Gandhi was greatly influenced by Jainism and adopted many Jain principles in his life.
The word "Jain" derives from the Sanskrit word jina (conqueror).
A soldier acting in self-defense is a different type of violence from someone killing another person out of hatred or revenge.
Violence or war in self-defense may be justified, but this must only be used as a last resort after peaceful measures have been thoroughly exhausted.
For this reason, vegetarianism is a hallmark of Jain identity, with the majority of Jains practicing lacto vegetarianism.
The second main principle of Jainism is anekāntavāda (non-absolutism).
For Jains, non-absolutism means maintaining open-mindedness. This includes the recognition of all perspectives and a humble respect for differences in beliefs.
Although they admit that plants must be destroyed for the sake of food, they accept such violence only as much as it is necessary for human survival.
Strict Jains, including monastics, do not eat root vegetables such as potatoes, onions and garlic because tiny organisms are injured when the plant is pulled up and because a bulb or tuber's ability to sprout is seen as characteristic of a living being.
Jain monks and nuns observe these vows absolutely whereas householders (śrāvakas) observe them within their practical limitations.