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Jainism and Buddhism

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Last updated date: 24th Jul 2024
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About Jainism and Buddhism

In the ancient period, when the society was divided into varnas based on birth, Brahmins considered themselves as the most superior and dominated the society. During this time many spiritual leaders stood against the dominance of the Brahmin priests and two such great leaders of Magadha were Gautam Buddha and Mahavira Jain.  They founded the religions of Buddhism and Jainism respectively both based on the belief of faith and Karma. These religions were against the Brahmin belief of supremacy by birth. Both the founders belong to the Kshatriya family of northern India who decided to stand against the cruelty of the Brahmins.


Difference between Jainism and Buddhism 

The difference between the two religions is tabulated as follows:






Practices Involved

The practice of - Meditation, Eightfold Path, to perceive the right view, to get the right aspiration, to deliver a right speech, to conduct right action, to live in a right livelihood, to give the right effort, have the right mindfulness, focus with the right concentration.

The Five vows are - Truth, Non-violence, Non-stealing, Non-attachment, also control over the desires and senses. With a Greater emphasis on non-violence and also the truth. They also follow 3 jewels of the Right Perception, Right Knowledge, and the way to Right Conduct.

Place of Origin

It originated in the Magadh(modern Bihar and east UP)  Indian subcontinent

Originated in Magadh (modern Bihar), India.

Belief of God

The idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator is rejected by the Buddhists. The Buddha himself refuted the theistic argument that this universe was created by a self-conscious God.

Jainism does not believe in the one creator that is God.

Use of Statues and Pictures

They use statues, which are used as meditation objects, and it is revered as they reflect the qualities of the leader Buddha.

Common statutes.


Similarities between Jainism and Buddhism

The similarities between the two are listed as follows:

  • Both religions believe in faith and Karma.

  • Both of them are non-theistic religions.

  • They both had a common background associated with the Aryan Culture.

  • Both religions are founded by the Kshatriyas of Northern India.

  • Both the religions were against Vedas and the Vedic culture as well as against Brahmanism.

  • Both opposed the sacrifice of animals.

  • Both the leaders in their religion preached Satya, Ahimsa, Brahmacharya, and detachment from the materialistic world. 


Jainism History 

The origins of the religion Jainism are uncertain. The Jains claim that their religion is eternal, and they consider Rishabhanatha as the founder in the present time cycle, he who lived for 8,400,000 Purva years. Rishabhanatha is the first Tirthankara among the other 24 Tirthankaras who are considered mythical figures by historians.


Three Principles of Jainism 

Jainism is a religion that believes in self-help. In this religion, there are no gods or any spiritual beings who will help human beings. 

The three guiding principles followed by Jainism are called the 'three jewels', which are – 

  • Right Belief

  • Right Knowledge

  • Right Conduct

Also, the supreme principle of the Jain religion is following non-violence or ahimsa.


Mahavira and Buddha 

Mahavira is often regarded as the founder of Jainism, but the Jains believe that the 23 previous Tirthankaras also embraced the religion. Parshvanatha was born 273 years before Mahavira was born. Parshvanatha is a Tirthankara whom the modern Western historians considered to be a historical figure, who lived in about the 8th century BCE.

Buddhism religion's founder is Gautam Buddha. The word Buddha means the “enlightened one”. He believed that the path to enlightenment is attained by utilizing morality, meditation, and gaining wisdom. Buddha's most important teachings are known as The Four Noble Truths, which are essential to understand this religion.


Teachings of Mahavira

  1. One should always speak the truth.

  2. Control over self is very important.

  3. There is no logic in accumulating a lot of wealth that cannot be spent.

  4. Be honest with everybody.

  5. Following the path of non-violence.

  6. Be compassionate towards all living beings.

  7. Belief in the Soul and Karma

  8. Non-Belief in the one God

  9. Rejection of the Rituals

To get more idea about the common and different traits of Buddhism and Jainism, follow Vedantu. Get to know the insights of subject matter experts and prepare yourself. 

FAQs on Jainism and Buddhism

1. What are Varnas?

The varnas which are known since a hymn in the Rigveda are the oldest surviving Indian text which portrays and identifies the Brahman priest, the Kshatriya noble, the Vaishya who is the commoner, and the Shudra who works as a servant. They are issued forth at creation from the mouth, arms, thighs, and feet of the primaeval person or the Purusha.

Varna while in context means the "colour, race, tribe, species, kind, sort, nature, character, quality, property" of an object or a people which in some Vedic and medieval texts are being referred to. Varna is the four social classes in the Manu Smriti.

2. What is Aryan Culture?

Aryan is the name that is given to a people who speak an archaic Indo -European Language. They settled in prehistoric times in the ancient Iran of the northern Indian subcontinent. The theory of the Aryan race was evident in the mid-19th century, which remained prevalent until the mid-20th century. The hypothesis said, those probably the light-skinned Aryans were the group who invaded and then conquered ancient India from the north and those whose literature, religion, and the modes of social organization subsequently shaped the course of the Indian culture, mainly the Vedic Religion.  

3. What do you mean by Ahimsa?

Ahimsa is a term that means not to do any harm. This word is derived from the Sanskrit root hiṃs – which means to strike; hiṃsā is an injury or harm. While, a-hiṃsā is the opposite of harm, i.e., non harming or non-violence. This is an important tenet in most Indian religions.

4. What are the main beliefs of Buddhism?

Gautam Buddha being a Hindu by birth founded the religion of Buddhism to support his beliefs which are reflected in the religion. He changed his religion in the search of a more tolerant religion. The main beliefs are as follows:

  • The main focus of the religion is to achieve enlightenment to get inner peace.

  • Enlightenment can only be attained through wisdom, morality, and meditation.

  • They do not believe in the sacrifice of animals and self-indulgence.

  • The main principles of religion lay on the four noble truths of life.

  • They believe in rebirth or reincarnation and karma which according to them is the decider of cause and effect.

  • They believe in idol worship. They also worship at home or in temples.

5. What is the goal of Buddhism and Jainism?

Buddha founded the religion of Buddhism with an aim of releasing one from the cycle of phenomenal existence which is the actual cause of suffering. He believed that only truth and karma can bring an end to all inherent sufferings and can release an individual from the cycle of rebirth.

Jainism also believes in the concept of rebirth. The main goal of the religion is to attain moksha by an accumulation of all good karmas which will ultimately bring them liberation and ultimate salvation.

However, both these religions move towards the same goal of attaining release from the cycle of painful rebirth with the help of good karma.

6. What is the present status of Buddhism in the world?

The world can now understand the way of life with the help of Buddhism and get solutions to many questions in their mind. This religion gives supremacy to no one and is so acceptable worldwide. The main countries that follow the religion in the world are China, Japan, Korea, and the majority in Tibet. India is the country of origin of the religion. Around 9-10% of the world population practice Buddhism. However, the percentage is expected to decline not because of the fact that its beliefs are not accepted wholeheartedly but because of the fact of low fertility rate in Buddhism compared to other religions.

7. What are the main principles on which Jainism stands?

The main principle of Jainism is non-violence. It also believes in truth is the ultimate reality and it has multi-sidedness and can not always be expressed in simple language. Jainism gives special emphasis to the truth. The other principles include non-attachment. Jainism is one of the great religions which teaches us to get free from all attachments for worldly possessions.  Possessions of any form like property and belongings on one side and emotions, pleasure on the other side. Jainism teaches the actual values of life like truth, not to steal, and not to do any kind of violence.

8. What are the main sects of Jainism?

Jainism is mainly divided into two sects on the basis of the difference in their beliefs about the life of the founder, status of women on the spiritual front, type of clothes, certain rituals, and also the scripts in which the religion should be scribed. The two sects are Svetambara or the sect that wear white clothes and Digambara the one who believes in a hard life and stays without clothes. Digambara is believed to follow the main and original teachings of Mahavira. Digambara follows a tough life because they think that is the only way to attain a true life as a monk is supposed to do. They perform minimal body functions and stay inactive from all worldly pleasures and activities. Such harshness and hard life may be the reason behind only 2% of the population following the religion worldwide.