Jainism and Buddhism: RS Sharma Notes
Jainism and Buddhism are two ancient Indian religions that emerged during the same historical period and share some common philosophical principles. Both religions rejected certain aspects of the Vedic tradition and introduced new ideas that challenged prevailing religious and social norms. Here’s an overview of Jainism and Buddhism:
1. Founder: Jainism was founded by Lord Mahavira, who was born in the 6th century BCE in present-day Bihar, India. He is considered the 24th Tirthankara (spiritual teacher) in Jain tradition.
2. Fundamental Principles: Jainism is based on the principles of non-violence (ahimsa), non-possessiveness (aparigraha), and non-lying (satya). The emphasis on ahimsa is one of its defining characteristics, as Jains strive to avoid harm to all living beings.
3. Concept of Karma: Jainism shares the concept of karma with other Indian religions. According to Jainism, every action, thought, or intention generates karma, which influences the cycle of birth and rebirth.
4. Three Jewels: The three fundamental principles of Jainism are known as the Three Jewels (Ratnatraya): Right Faith, Right Knowledge, and Right Conduct. These guide a Jain’s moral and spiritual journey towards liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death (samsara).
5. Asceticism and Non-Attachment: Jain monks and nuns practice rigorous asceticism and non-attachment to worldly possessions, leading a life of simplicity and detachment.
6. Scriptures: Jainism’s sacred texts are called Agamas or Sutras. The teachings of Lord Mahavira are preserved in these scriptures.
1. Founder: Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, who later became known as Buddha or the “Enlightened One.” He was born in the 5th century BCE in Lumbini, Nepal.
2. Four Noble Truths: Buddhism’s core teachings are encapsulated in the Four Noble Truths, which highlight the existence of suffering (dukkha), the origin of suffering (tanha – craving), the cessation of suffering (nirvana), and the path leading to the cessation of suffering (the Noble Eightfold Path).
3. Middle Way: Buddha advocated the Middle Way, which is a balanced and moderate approach to life, avoiding extremes of indulgence and asceticism.
4. Anatman (No-Self): One of the central philosophical tenets of Buddhism is the concept of anatman, which asserts that there is no permanent and unchanging self (soul) and that the individual is a collection of ever-changing elements.
5. Rejection of Vedic Rituals: Like Jainism, Buddhism rejected the efficacy of Vedic rituals and the caste system, advocating a more egalitarian and direct path to spiritual realization.
6. Tripitaka: Buddhism’s sacred scriptures are called the Tripitaka (Three Baskets), which include the Vinaya Pitaka (monastic rules), the Sutta Pitaka (Buddha’s discourses), and the Abhidhamma Pitaka (philosophical analysis).
Both Jainism and Buddhism made significant contributions to Indian philosophical thought and influenced the cultural and religious landscape of the Indian subcontinent and beyond. They both emphasized ethical living, compassion, and the pursuit of spiritual liberation, offering alternative paths to salvation compared to the Vedic tradition of their time. Today, both religions continue to be practised and revered by millions of followers worldwide.