Jainism and Buddhism | Ancient History of India

Jainism and Buddhism are two ancient Indian religions that emerged around the same time in the 5th and 6th centuries BCE. They share many similarities, such as a focus on non-violence, ethical behavior, and spiritual purity, but they also have some distinct differences.


The main differences between Jainism and Buddhism are that Jains believe in the immortality of the soul and Buddhists do not. Additionally, Jains see karma as being about good and bad deeds leading to different rebirths while Buddhists see it as being about cause and effect.

  • 6th century was a period of intellectual awakening
  • Existed to reformed the socio – religious organizations
  • The aim of these religions is to remove the superstitious beliefs, unwanted religious rituals and the caste discrimination
  • Gautama Buddha was the founder of Buddhism


  • In Jainism, 24 Tirthankaras were worshipped.
  • The first Tirthankara was Adhinathar, who was known as Rishabadeva
  • Vardhamana Mahavira is the last Tirthankara. (24th)
  • Vardhamana Mahavira lived during B.C.534 – B.C.462
  • His father was Siddhartha
  • His mother was Trisala.
  • Wife was Yasodha
  • Performed penance for 12 years
  • He treated both joy and sorrow equally
  • Jian” which means the “Conqueror”
  • People also called him as “Mahavira”.
  • Why are people born? Why do they die? What are the causes for their sufferings?
  • These were the important questions that arose in him

Previous birth

  • Mahavira never accepted this
  • Human beings are responsible for their own problems


  • Should not harm any
  • Preached a restricted life
  • Principles of ‘Ahimsa’ or ‘Non-Violence’
  • Jains starved and subjected themselves to all bodily hardships.

Trade & Commerce

  • Should not wage war or do agriculture.
  • Trade and commerce was their occupation

Three Gems or Triratna

  • Right Knowledge
  • Right Knowledge
  • Right Action

The Five Doctrines

  • Ahimsa (Non-Violence
  • Satya (Truth)
  • Asatya (Non Stealing)
  • Aprigraha (Non-possession)
  • Brahmacharya (Celibacy

Kings who followed Jainism

  • Chandragupta Maurya
  • Kalingathu Karavelen
  • Koon Pandian
  • Mahendravarma Pallava I

Contribution of Jains to Tamil Literature:

  • Sillapathigaram
  • Chivgachinthamani,
  • Literature and Grammar works
  • Yapperungalaviruthi, Neminatham, Nannool, Agaporulvillakam, Naladiar, Nanmanikadikai, Pazhamozhi

Contribution of Jains to architecture:

  • Rajasthan – Dilwara temple at Mount Abu
  • Kajiraho – Chittoor, Ranakpur Temples of Jains


  • Udaiyagiri
  • Hathigumpa
  • Girnar
  • Saravanabelagola
  • Kazhugumala
  • The statue of Gomateswara at Shravanabelagola is at Karnataka

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  • Gautama Buddha was the founder of Buddhism
  • Original name was Siddhartha
  • Lived during 563 B.C. – 483 B.C
  • Born at Kapilavastu in Nepal
  • Father, Suddhodhana belonged to the Sakya dynasty
  • Mother, Mayadevi died at the seventh day of his birth
  • Got married at the age of 16
  • Siddhartha, who was enlightened under a pipal tree at Gaya became Buddha.
  • The meaning of the word ‘Buddha’ is a person who knows what is good, what is bad and what is suffering.


  • Life is full of miseries
  • We should strive to overcome the sorrows by not being greedy
  • Not telling lies and not harming others.
  • Right speech and right livelihood
  • Opposed caste discrimination
  • Buddha’s principles on suffering are the Four Noble Truths
  • The principles on conduct are the ‘Eight Fold Paths

The Four Noble Truths are

  • Life is full of sorrow
  • Desire is the cause of sorrow
  • Sorrow can be ended by giving up desire
  • The eightfold path is the way to end sorrow

Eight – Fold Paths to overcome desire:

  • Right belief
  • Right speech
  • Right living
  • Right effort
  • Right thought
  • Right action
  • Right meditation

Buddhist monks

  • The organization of the monks was called as ‘Sangam’
  • The most important followers among King were Ashoka.

Jainism and Buddhism were at their zenith till the 6th century. Buddhism split into Hinayana and Mahayana


  • Accepted Buddha’s principles. No idol worship


  • Worshipped Buddha as God. Idol worship
  • Even today Buddhism is followed in Ceylon, Burma, Tibet, China, Japan and Thailand.
  • The kings who followed Buddhism, Ashoka, Kanishka and Harsha

Historical Monuments

  • The Jataka tales describes the history of Buddhism
  • The Jataka stories are depicted at Gaya, Sanchi and Bur cut
  • Anantha and Ellora Cave paintings, which are in Aurangabad at Maharastra describe the fame of Buddha
  • Gandhara art also belongs to Buddhism
  • The prayer halls of the Buddhist monks are called Chaityas
  • Their monasteries are called Viharas
  • They are of rock cut structures


The Buddhist religious texts are called Tripitakas.

  • Vinaya Pitaka
  • Sutta Pitaka
  • Abhidhamma Pitaka

Manimekalai and Kundalakesi are Buddhist literature.

The books written by Jain monks:

  • Sillapathikaram, Nannool (Grammar)
  • Chivagacinthamani; Vallayapathi (Literature)
  • Religious text: Angas and Purvas.


A book of Sri Lanka says that Tripitakas was written during the reign of Vattakkamini Abayan

In Pali language it is called as Tripitakas which means three baskets.

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