Comparative Study of Buddhism and Jainism

Buddhism and Jainism (Comparison)

Buddhism and Jainism are the two great religion that emerged from India. Both these religion were supporter of the “Theory of non-violence and equality”. However, there religions developed different outlooks as regards the fundamental problems.


There are several points of differences in regard to the fundamental principles of Buddhism and Jainism.

  • Jainism believed in the doctrine of severe penance and self-chastisement. The doctrine of Jainism preached how in numerous ways the human body was to suffer physical torture. But Buddhist religion advocated middle course, i.e., a balance was to be struck up between rigorous practice of austerities and the desire of sensual enjoyment.
  • Buddha is silent about the existence of God. He did not enter into any discussion about whether God exists or not. But the Jainas did not recognize the existence of God at all.
  • Both the Buddhists and the Jainas organized ‘Sanghas’ for preaching of their religious teachings, but the Buddhist `Sanghas’ are more scientific and realistic than the Jaina Sanghas’. It is because of their better organization that they were capable of preaching their religious views over a vast area of the country. The Jainas lagged behind because of their weak organization.
  • Both sects have their different holy scriptures. The name of the Buddhist scripture is ‘Tripitaka’, while that of the Jainas is `Angama’.
  • According to the Buddhists, – the pursuit of ‘Astangika Marga’ makes it possible for a marl to attain Nirvana, or emancipation from worldly suffering. The Jainas say that a man can have emancipation provided that he follows `Triratna’ i.e., right religious belief, right knowledge and right conduct.
  • As regards the use of dress by the two sects a difference can be noticed. One of the Jaina sects is called the ‘Digamabara’ sects. They remain nude and worship the nude gods and goddesses. But the Buddhists do not like this nudeness. Infact they hate it.
  • The Buddhists worship their saints. They are called Bodhisattva. On the other hand, the Jainas worship only twenty four `Tirthankaras’ or holy saints.

The result was that while Buddhism earned the distinction of being a great world religion, Jainism remained contented with being confined to a particular region of India.


Notwithstanding the differences narrated above, certain similarities between the Buddhism and Jainism religion cannot escape our observation.

  • The religions appeared as reform movements; both of them were in favor of the practice of non-violence,
  • Both were averse to caste system,
  • Both religions opposed the Vedas, the superiority of the Brahamanas, the Sanskrit and, ritualistic ceremonies that required immolation of animals,
  • Both religions gave much weight to honest conduct, law of Karma, and Nirvana, and
  • Both believed in democratic organization.

The matter which becomes clear amidst so many similarities and differences between the two religions is the organizational superiority of Buddhism. The wide organizational capability and the basic ethical tenets explain the spread of greater influence over a large part of India by the Buddhists than that by the Jainas.

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