There are great differences as well as similarities when comparing Buddhism and Jainism. The major difference that stands out to me would the doctrines of these religions. Mahavira and Buddha parted ways over doctrine differences. Mahavira and Buddha were powerful and charismatic in the eyes of society. They both obtained the amazing skill to convince and influence which are extremely important in start-up religions. Naturally, these two religions often disagreed over finer aspects of their prospective beliefs. Buddhism was more defined in its criticizing of Jainism.
Both sought to convert others. The leaders of the two seemed to have put great efforts in support of finding converts. Both leaders, Buddha and Mahavira were from royal families. Mahavira was the last and most popular of the thirthakaras. These people worshipped in temples as “enlighten beings” who live on earth as humans. Buddhism was actually founded by Siddharta Gautama who later became Buddha entering his mother’s right side white elephant. Jainism and Buddhism were considered atheistic religions. Neither believes a “supreme God” exist.
However, Buddhism seems to be more agnostic due to speculation that Buddha refused to publicly denounce or dismissed the idea of a “supreme God”. Both Jainism and Buddhism believe that karma is the force that is responsible for suffering on earth. Unlike Buddhism, Jains believe karma is not just a result of ones actions. However, karma is a real substance that becomes attached to each jiva, like impurity, performing many actions while on earth. In Buddhism the eightfold Path and four Noble Truths are what are needed to minimize the effects of negative karma and strive for their ‘salvation’.
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Both religions believe in liberation. There are great differences regarding who achieves this. Jains believe souls become entangled in the causative phenomena and fall to the law of karma. If liberated souls are pure and divine, but if bound they result in birth and death. According to Jain doctrine, the soul can free itself from suffering of physical life by leading a pure life as taught the thirrthankaras. Buddhism does not believe eternal souls exist. Therefore liberation is physical and mental perspective.
This would be considered an individualistic approach. This indicates this person is not eternal neither Devine. Nirvana is a state in which the person’s personality becomes free. Buddhism opposed the order of the Vedic society system that divides people in caste. The Jain did not technically oppose the cast system; however everyone was treated equally under the umbrella of Jainism. Buddha’s teachings also revealed that humans suffered on earth as a direct result of negative karma, becoming attached and full of worldly desires.
The Buddhism belief is the world is filled with evil and discomfort. Man is bound to the cycle of births and deaths until righteously committed. Buddhism opposed rituals of Vedic religion and concentrated more on righteous living to achieve liberation. Jainism did not oppose religious rituals. They worshipped the thithankaras in Jain temples. Jain is an austere religion; it focuses more on the individual’s actions and purity for gaining liberation. Buddhism has gained more notoriety than Jainism worldwide, most likely due to its practices.
Besides, a major difference lies in the dominions of both the religions. Though both, Buddhism and Jainism, developed and originated individually in India, but difference how they went about teaching and converting. While Buddhism went abroad to other parts of the India, Central Asia, far eastern countries, and parts of North America and Europe as well. Jainism remained confined to India and seems to stagnate as it pertains to growth. Buddhism today is culturally diverse.
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