A Comparison of Buddhism and Jainism

The Origins of Buddhism and Jainism

Buddhism and Jainism are two branches of the religion of Nirgantha. Jainism is founded on sound scientific reasoning and emphasizes knowledge perfections. Moreover, non-violence is its core principle. As an external and universal religion, Jainism opens itself to all living beings. Its founder, Lord Mahavira, was the contemporary of Lord Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.

Buddhism refers to the teachings of the historical Buddha. It believes that desire and attachment are the major sources of suffering and the liberation from suffering is its ultimate goal.Through the practices of Buddhism, one is supposed to attain nirvana.

Buddhism and Jainism almost believe in the same principles and philosophy. Meanwhile, both share some differences on some views.

The Similarities Between Buddhism and Jainism

    The Concept of God

    In Buddhist tradition, godlike figures are non-existent. The Buddha is the one who blesses all living beings and strives for the liberation from suffering. While in Jainism tradition, godly figures don’t exist either. However, Jains believe the presence of the Jinas and Kevalin who are superior to living beings. The Kevalins are indifferent to the well-being and stay unaffected.

    The Concept of Nirvana

    Both acknowledge the concept of nirvana. Buddhism believes that nirvana is freedom from the cycle of death and life, or liberation from suffering. But it attains nirvana simply from the physical and mental perspective. Only individual personality can achieve the stillness of mind.

    In Jain tradition, nirvana refers to a state of purity and enlightenment. It is the eternal souls that can achieve liberation from the cycle of death and life. A soul can be free by living a simple and austere life or by destroying one’s body through self-improvement.

    The Concept of Liberation

    The path to Buddhist liberation is to do good deeds and follow the Eightfold path, Five Precepts and Four Noble Truths.
    Jain practitioners attain liberation and perfect souls by observing right perception, right knowledge and right conduct.

    The Concept of Practices

    In Buddhist tradition, meditation or the mental concentration and mindfulness is the major practice. While for Jains, meditation is also essential for the attainment of liberation and purification.

    The Concept of Non-Violence

    Buddhism emphasizes the avoidance of taking the life of all living beings. Jainism acknowledges the high moral of non-violence.

The Differences Between Buddhism and Jainism

    The Concept of Karma

    Both believe in the universality of karma, the results of actions. But they differ in that Jainist karma is not only a result of one’s actions, but a real karmic substance attached to one.

    The Concept of Soul

    In Buddhism, soul is present in living things like animals and plants; while in Jainism, soul exists in every animate as well as inanimate things of the universe, including water, wind, fire, air and earth.

    The Concept of Equality

    Buddhism denies the caste system and admits that people from all walks of life are equal. Jainism admits people from all walks of life will fall into a specific class according to their virtue and spiritual life.

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