Jainism and Buddhism

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Buddhism and Jainism are the two branches of the Shramana tradition that still exist today. Jainism is largely confined to India, whereas Buddhism has only flourished abroad. However the two traditions share notable similarities A shramana is a wandering monk in certain ascetic traditions of ancient India including Jainism, Buddhism, and Ajivika religion (now extinct). Famous srama?a include religious leaders Mahavira and Gautama Buddha. Traditionally, a srama?a is one who renounces the world and leads an ascetic life for the purpose of spiritual development and liberation.

Typically sramaas assert that human beings are responsible for their own deeds and reap the fruits of those deeds, for good or ill. Liberation, therefore, may be achieved by anybody irrespective of caste, creed, color or culture (in contrast to certain historical caste-based traditions) providing the necessary effort is made. Jain philosophy Jainism derives its philosophy from the teachings and lives of the twenty-four Tirthankaras (ford-makers or enligtened teachers), of whom Mahavira was the last.

Jain Acaryas – Umasvati (Umasvami), Kundakunda, Haribhadra, Yasovijaya and others further developed and reorganized Jain philosophy in its present form. The distinguishing features of Jain philosophy are its belief in the independent existence of soul and matter, predominance of karma, the denial of a creative and omnipotent God, belief in an eternal and uncreated universe, a strong emphasis on non-violence, an accent on relativity and multiple facets of truth, and morality and ethics based on liberation of the soul.

The Jain philosophy of Anekantavada and Syadvada, which posits that the truth or reality is perceived differently from different points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth, have made very important contributions to ancient Indian philosophy, especially in the areas of skepticism and relativity.

Buddhist philosophy

Buddhist philosophy is a system of beliefs based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, a Nepali prince later known as the Buddha. Buddhism is a non-theistic philosophy, one whose tenets are not especially concerned with the existence or nonexistence of a God or gods and which denies the existence of a creator god. The question of God is largely irrelevant in Theravada Buddhism, though most sects of Mahayana Buddhism, notably Tibetan Buddhism and most of East Asian Buddhism (in the Shurangama Mantra and Great Compassion Mantra) do regularly practice with a number of gods (as Dharmapalas and Wrathful Deities, Four Heavenly Kings, and Five Wisdom Kings) drawn from both the Mahayana Sutras and Buddhist Tantras sometimes combined with local indigenous belief systems.

The Buddha criticized all concepts of metaphysical being and non-being. A major distinguishing feature of its philosophy is the rejection (anatman) of a permanent, self-existent soul (atman). 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 Disappearance

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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