EVOLUTION AND SPREAD OF BUDDHISM AND JAINISM – A COMPARISON

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EVOLUTION AND SPREAD OF BUDDHISM AND JAINISM – A COMPARISON

INTRODUCTION

Buddhism and Jainism have emerged in the same region, approximately in the same period and patronized by kings in the same region. It will be interesting to study the emergence and development of both Buddha and Jaina religions .6th century BCE witnessed a growing opposition to ritualistic orthodox ideas of Brahmanas. This resulted in emergence of developed religions of Buddhism and Jainism & heterodox ideas.As causes for emergence of two religions are common and hence many of their principles are similar.

THE RISE OF NEW RELIGIOUS IDEAS

Vedic religious practices were cumbersome and glorified meaningless ceremonies. Also sacrifices and rituals increased and became more elaborate and expensive. Due to Varna system many sects prohibited from following the religious rituals. Growing importance of sacrifices and rituals established the domination of Brahmanas. Therefore Powerful rulers, rich merchants rejected the social positions defined for them by Varna as Buddhism and Jainism rejected Varna and hence attracted Vaishyas and Kshatriyas

TEACHINGS OF THE BUDDHA

Buddha has preached the Four Noble Truths and an Eight Fold Path to attain NIRVANA- salvation

Four Noble Truths

  1. The world is full of suffering.
  2. All suffering have a cause: desire, ignorance and attachment are causes of suffering.
  3. The suffering could be removed by destroying its cause.
  4. In order to end suffering one must know right path

Eight-Fold Path (Ashtangika Marga) consists of the following principles:

  1. Finding the right view: world is filled with sorrow generated by desire. The ending of desire will lead to the liberation of soul.
  2. Right aim. It seeks to avoid enjoyment of the senses and luxury. It aims to love humanity and increase the happiness of others.
  3. Right speech, which seeks to emphasize the speaking of truth always
  4. Right action, which is understood to be unselfish action.
  5. Right livelihood. It instructs that a man should live by honest means.
  6. Right effort. It is the proper way of controlling one’s senses so as to prevent bad thoughts. It is through correct mental exercises that one can destroy desire & attachment
  7. Right mindfulness. It is the understanding of the idea that the body is impermanent and meditation is the means for removal of worldly evils
  8. Right concentration. The observation of it will lead to peace. Meditation will unravel the real true

Buddhism laid great emphasis on law of karma -the present is determined by past actions and the condition of man in this life and the next depends upon his own actions.We are born again &again to reap fruits of our karma. An individual who has no sins in this will not born again. Thus, the doctrine of karma is an essential part of the Buddha’s teachings.

He preached nirvana which means the shedding of all desires and ending of sufferings. Nirvana  finally leads to freedom from rebirth. Prayers and sacrifices will not end desire and hence will not help in attaining the Nirvana

Unlike Vedic religion he laid emphasis on moral life of an individual. Neither he accepted nor rejected existence of god. Buddhism also did not believe in the existence of soul. Also He emphasized on the spirit of love. Love all living beings by following ahimsa (non-killing) . Also Buddha preached that both severe asceticism as well as luxurious life should be avoided.

DEVELOPMENT OF BUDDHISM

Buddhism was accepted by a large section of Magadha, Kosala & Kaushambi People. Republics of Shakyas, Vajjis and Mallas also accepted the Buddhism. Ashoka & Kanishka made Buddhism state religion and patronised spread of Buddhism to Central &West Asia, Sri Lanka .Appeal of Buddhism to a large section of population was because of the following factors:

  1. Emphasis on practical morality- acceptable solution & simple philosophy
  2. The ideas of social equality –rich merchant Ananthapidika to courtesan Amrapali • Wide range of people rich merchant to courtesans got due respect
  3. The use of popular language (Pali) unlike Sanskrit
  4. Kings patronage –Mahendra and Sanghamitra went to Sri Lanka to preach Buddhism. • The institution of Sangha helped to organize the spread of Buddhism effectively

4th Council was organised during reign of Kanishka in Kashmir was attended largely by Hinayanists of north India. It compiled 3 commentaries (Vibhashas) of 3 Pitakas. It decided certain controversial questions of differences between the Sarvastivada teachers of Kashmir & Gandhara

TEACHINGS OF MAHAVIRA

Parshvanatha ,23rd Tirthankara of Jaina advocated four principles-Truth,Non-violence,Non-possession,Not to receive anything which was not voluntarily given.

Mahavira , 24th Tirthankara has added celibacy (brahmacharya).He believed that soul (jiva) and matter (ajiva) are two basic existing elements;Soul is in a state of bondage created by desire accumulated through previous births.Soul can be relieved of bondage and final liberation of soul (moksha) becomes “the pure soul”.Man is creator of his own destiny and could attain moksha by pursuing a life of purity, virtue and renunciation; Moksha (nirvana) can be attained by observing three principles (ratnatraya): Right belief, Right knowledge, and Right action.He advocated a life of severe asceticism & extreme penance to attain nirvana; He believed world was not created by any supreme creator; eternal law of decay development.He thought that all objects had a soul and believed that they feel pain or influence of injury. He rejected authority of Vedas and objected to Vedic rituals and supremacy of Brahmanas .A code of conduct was prescribed both for the householders and monks.

A householder had to observe the following five vows to avoid EVIL KARMANon-injury,Non –stealing, Non-adultery,Speaking the truth,and Non-possession.

He also preached that a householder should feed cooked food to the needy every day.Lay worshippers should not take to agriculture, as it destructs plants and insects.Monks had to abandon all worldly possessions, walk such that not to kill or injure any being . He had to train himself so as not to be affected by objects of the senses.

Jainism believed monastic life was essential to attain salvation. Original doctrines taught by Mahavira were contained in 14 old texts known as the Purvas.

DEVELOPMENT OF JAINISM SPREAD OF JAINISM

Mahavira had 11 disciples known as Ganadharas (heads of schools). Arya Sudharma was the only Ganadhara who survived Mahavira and became the 1st Thera (chief preacher).Jaina order in the days of late Nanda king was administered by two Theras namely a) Sambhutavijaya  and b) Bhadrabahu – contemporary of Chandragupta Maurya Mahavira’s followers slowly spread and received royal patronage of Udayin, the successor of Ajatashatru and Chandragupta Maurya .During early centuries of CE Mathura and Ujjain became great centres of Jainism

Jainism’s success was more remarkable than that of Buddhism due to popular dialect – Prakrit (Jaina literature was also written in Ardhamagadhi)  simple and homely morals prescribed to the masses attracted the people

patronage extended by the kings helped Jainism to gain a prominent place.

BUDDHISM & JAINISM – COMMON FEATURES

  1. Both Buddha and Mahavira were born in same region and approximately same period
  2. Both were Kshatriya princes who renounced royal life and became ascetic at the age of 29
  3. Buddha and Mahavira have rejected vedas, rituals and animal sacrifices
  4. Buddhism and Jainism were against assigning social status by birth as suggested by Varna
  5. Both religions did not preach existence of God
  6. Both religions were against dominance of Brahmanas over other sects of the society
  7. People from all walks of life from Kings to merchants to courtesans were admitted
  8. Buddhism and Jain texts were written in Pali and Prakrit respectively
  9. Karma and Nirvana are important principles of both Buddhism and Jainism
  10. Both religions preached non violence and vegetarian food and supported preserving the cattle; Buddha accepted non vegetarian in certain countries
  11. Both religions have strong religious institutions and code of conduct for monks and nuns
  12. Both the religions were patronised by kings and emperors

BUDDHISM & JAINISM – DIFFERENCES

  1. Buddha was founder of the religion while Mahavira was the 24th preacher of Jaina
  2. Severe asceticism and luxurious life are discouraged by Buddhism; Jain prefers asceticism
  3. Buddha- nirvana is attained by shedding of all desires;Jaina- by observing right belief.
  4. Right knowledge and right action
  5. Jaina believes in SOUL while Buddhism does not believe in soul
  6. Buddhism texts were written in Pali and Jaina texts were written in Prakrit
  7. In Jaina lay worshippers should avoid agriculture as it would kill the plants and insects

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