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Jainism and Buddhism

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        Angel Peters

Jainism and Buddhism

Jainism and Buddhism originated in Asia among the people of Ancient India, the time in which they lifted to fame was considered a period of powerful religious churning. The key founders of Jainism and Buddhism, Mahavira and Buddha were fascinating leaders. Both of these men were fascinating leaders with an ability to creatively communicate with influential people; moreover, they were able to develop their communities around the ideal ology and doctrines they preached. Both of these men came from similar backgrounds, both rejecting a life of luxury for one of asceticism and the pursuit of truth (Jayaram). Though Jainism and Buddhism do follow very similar paths, they do have contrasting beliefs that makes them both very unique.

Mahavira was the major teacher for Jainism, he lived between 599-527 B.C.E. Mahavira was the prince of Kshatriya clan and renounced his position and his wealth at the age of 30 to wander as a spiritual seeker. He achieved liberation and perfection after 12 years. For, the next 30 years he spread his teachings. His followers came from all castes as Jainism did not follow the caste system (Fisher, 121-122).

Buddha is the founder of Buddhism, at the age of 29, Siddhartha Gautama a prince from Nepal renounced his position and wealth after seeing true suffering for the first time.  Buddha failed to reach enlightenment on his first path and after 6 years switched to a middle way that rejected self-indulgence and self-denial.  On the 6th lunar month the night of the full moon he reached enlightenment. He spread his teachings for the next 45 years to all religions and backgrounds, they also did not follow the caste system (Fisher, 137-141).

        Jainism and Buddhism are completely different religions; however, they do share many attributes, such as their leaders coming from the same background. These two religions originated as a transformation of Hindu religion, with two princes leaving home to find the truth and enlightenment. They both later divided into two sects: Jainism was divided into Svetambara and Digambara and Buddhism was divided into Mahayana and Hinayana later known as Theravada. (Fisher 122 & 151). Jains and Buddhist both deny the existence of god, Jains believe that the “universe is without beginning and that it has no creator or destroyer”, Buddhist believe “there is no personal god who created the world or to whom prayers can be directed”. However, they both did acknowledge the presence of gods, are higher than the position of humans  (Fisher, 124 & 143).  They both denied the authority of the Vedas and did not practice sacrifices or rituals which were a central element of the religion.  Instead they placed importance on non-violence, meditation and self-improvement and improvement in the world. The way to liberation or enlightenment from the circle of rebirths and deaths known as samsara was through self-discipline (Fisher, 125 & 146). They shared a belief in Nirvana, Jainism state of Nirvana was moksha’s, where a being loses its identity and is free from the cycle of life and death, Buddhism cycle of Nirvana is achieved when a being disappears, then they achieve freedom from the cycle of rebirth (Fisher. 124 & 149). Jainism and Buddhism aaccepted disciples from all castes and levels of society, they did not follow the caste systems.

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