What are the Similarities and Differences Between Jainism and Buddhism ?

Similarities and Differences Between Jainism and Buddhism

There is much that is common between Jainism and Buddhism. Not only were there marked similarities in the careers of the founders of these two schools of philosophy, but both of them were also contemporary and originated in and around North India. Both possess a common background of Aryan culture. Certain common points in their philosophic content are also striking. Both of them reject the authority of the Vedas and the Vedic priests; Both repudiate the efficacy of ceremonies and rituals; both bitterly condemn animal sacrifices, and both ignore God. Jainism even emphatically denies any Supreme deity or creator, a man is his own architect. To both distinctions based on birth have no meaning; both subscribe to ahimsa, both believe in transmigration and both hold that karma experts a definite impact on the future. Both stress on service. Strangely enough, despite their strong regional orientation, both have accommodated many popular beliefs and superstitions.

Similarities Between Jainism and Buddhism

  1. Both Believed in faith and Karma.
  2. Both non-theistic religions
  3. Both had the common background of Aryan Culture
  4. Both Founded by Kshatriyas of North India.
  5. Both were against Vedas and Vedic culture as well as against Brahmanism and also opposed animal sacrifice
  6. Both preached Satya, Ahimsa, Brahmacharya and detachment from material comforts.
  7. Both appealed to the socially down-trodden, the Vaishyas who were economically powerful but were not granted corresponding social status, and the Sudras who were obviously oppressed.
  8. Both adopted an identical attitude towards trade. Not surprisingly, the first persons to become the Buddha’s lay followers were traders
  9. both did not follow elaborate rituals and ceremonies and thus were not expensive religions
  10. Despite their protestant character, neither waged a powerful struggle against the caste system and untouchability. On the contrary, Buddhism appears to have recognized the phenomenon of untouchability.
  11. Buddhism and Jainism tried to improve the position of slaves in some ways. The Digha Nikaya advised masters to treat their slaves decently. A Jaina text also states that daasas and dash, Karunakaras and Kamarkaris deserves to be well-maintained by their employees

Notwithstanding these close affinities, Jainism and Buddhism differ, at times widely on certain basic issues. Jainism glorifies self-mortification whereas Buddhism insists upon the pursuit of the Middle Path and the avoidance of the extremes. If Buddhism maintains “that everything lacks ego”, Jainism exhorts that “every object or particle in this world is tenanted by a soul’. The concept of deliverance and nirvana in the two sects are also not identical. There are also significant differences regarding the importance, role and structure of their respective Sangha organisation.

Differences between Jainism and Buddhism

Believed in the soul. Did not believe in the soul.
Prominence was given to lay followers. Prominence was given to Sangha and monks
Emphasised on extreme Ahimsa Liberal feelings and practical behaviours
Extreme methods of attaining salvation. Middle path: moderate method of attaining salvation
Mainly confined to India Spread rapidly to foreign lands
More liberal towards women Not very liberal towards women