Sunday, February 15, 2009

Buddhism & Jainism

15th Feb, 2009
Buddhism & Jainism

The school of Buddhism evolved in the eastern part of India in 563 BCE. More or less at the same time (in & around 550 BCE) another school, Jainism, with almost similar thoughts, was developing in the same part of India. The founder of Jainism, Lord Mahavira was a contemporary of Lord Buddha, the founder of Buddhism and even the Buddhist texts called Lord Mahavira 'an enlightened being'.
In the sixth century BCE and the preceding era, when both the schools of thought were developing and spreading their horizon, no rivalry seemed to have existed between them. This was because of the fact that both the religions almost believed in the same facts and philosophy of life. However, both differed on some of the views such as salvation and soul which led to their separate ways.

Similarities Between Buddhism And Jainism
On God

• Buddhism : The original Buddhist doctrine does not entail any godly figures, though the later Buddhist sects introduced some Godly figures. The Buddhists believe in the Godlike figures or the Bodhisattvas, who take interest in the welfare of the world and work for its liberation.

• Jainism : Alike Buddhism, Jainism also denies the existence of God, though they acknowledge the presence of the Jinas or Kevalins, who are higher than human beings in status but subject to change and evolution. However, unlike the Bodhisattvas, the Kevalins are rather indifferent to the prayers and problems and remain unaffected.

On Nirvana
• Buddhism : In Buddhism, nirvana is freedom from the cycle of rebirth, when a being turns into a state of non-being, or Sunya, looses its identity and becomes nothing.
• Jainism : In Jainism, nirvana is a state of moksha, where a being looses its identity and is free from the cycle of birth and death.

On Liberation

• Buddhism : The path of liberation in Buddhism goes through good conduct and good deeds, as mentioned in Eightfold path, Four Noble Truths, Five Preceptions and other moral conducts.
• Jainism : Similarly, the path of liberation in Jainism is to follow right perception, right knowledge, and right conduct. One has to overcome the worldly desires and feelings to attain liberation or to become a perfect soul.

On Yogic Practices

• Buddhism : Buddhism emphasises on the practice of mediation and other forms of Yoga to concentrate on inner self.

• Jainism : In Jainism as well, meditation and other yogic practices are essential for self purification and liberation.

On Non-Violence

• Buddhism : Buddhism is a peaceful religion with non-violence at the heart of its thoughts and behaviour.
• Jainism : Non-violence followed in action, thought, and speech is the highest morale in Jainism.

Difference Between Buddhism And Jainism
On Karma

• Buddhism : Buddhism believes in the universality of Karma, which is a result of one's action.
• Jainism : Jainism also believes in the universality of karma and its effect on human beings. But, unlike Buddhism, karma, according to Jainism, is not a mere effect of one's actions, but a real substance that flows into each individual body or jiva. This karmic substance remains with a being until good conduct and self purification eliminates them.

On Soul

• Buddhism : According to Buddhism, soul is an individuality that does exist in plants and animals, but not in non-living or inanimate things.
• Jainism : According to Jainism, soul is present in every animate and inanimate object of the universe including its elements - earth, water, wind, fire and air.

On The Status And Evolution of Individual Beings

• Buddhism : After Nirvana, there is no soul, but the individuality of an individual that passes into nothingness, which is beyond any description and speculation.
• Jainism : After Nirvana, the soul continues to remain as an individual soul, but in the highest state of purity and enlightenment.
Survival And Disappearence : Over a period of time, while Buddhism disappeared from the Indian soil, Jainism survived in India, with its teachings intact, mostly untouched by the overwhelming philosophy and practices of Hinduism, at the same time imparting to the later some of its noblest ideas.

Besides, a major difference lies in the dominions of both the religions. Though both, Buddhism and Jainism, originated and developed individually in the same geographical area of India, but difference lies in their spread. While Buddhism crossed the frontiers of its motherland and went to other parts of the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, far eastern countries, and parts of North America and Europe as well, whereas Jainism, on the other hand, remained confined to India, the land of its origin

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