Best Notes on Jainism and Buddhism

Jainism and Buddhism religions – cause of their origin – founders – important point-wise notes for different competitive exams

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Religious Movements: Jainism and Buddhism

In the Post-Vedic Period, Numerous religious sects (or movements) arose because the Vedic philosophy had lost its original purity.

Major Cause of Religious Movements

Spread of a new agricultural economy

When Later Vedic people migrated to the eastern UP and Bihar region, these areas were favourable to cultivation but were highly dense forested. The new agricultural economy based on the iron ploughshare required the use of bullocks and could not flourish without animal husbandry. But the Vedic culture practices the killing of cattle in sacrifices. This hampered the progress of the new agriculture.

Division of Varna System based on the birth

The division of the varna system based on birth created social tension among Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras.

The Kshatriya reacted against the supreme privilege enjoyed by the Brahmanas. The Vaishyas were those who were paying a large amount of tax. Shudras were not Aryans so they were forced to become slaves and untouchables.

Degradation of Vedic religion

The Vedic religion had become very complex and had degenerated into superstitions, dogmas (beliefs), and rituals.

These are the 3 major reasons to rose religious movements (or Sects) in the post-Vedic period. Of all the religious sects Buddhism and Jainism were the most successful. Gautama Buddha was the founder of Buddhism and Rishabhanath was the founder of Jainism.

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Buddhism

Buddha’s Life

  • Names: Gautama, Siddharta, Shakya Muni 
  • Born in 563 BC on Vaisakha Purnima day at Lumbinivana (Rummindehi District, Nepal) in the Sakya Kshatriya clan 
  • Father – Suddhodhana, republican king of Kapilvastu 
  • Mother – Mahaprajapati Gautami 
  • Stepmother – Mahaprajapati Gautami 
  • Wife – Yasodhara 
  • Son – Rahul 
  • The four sights to be proved as the turning point in Buddha’s life are – an old man, a diseased person, a dead body, and an ascetic 
  • Left home at the age of 29, known as Mahabhinishkramana (great going forth). 
  • First teacher – Alara Kalama (learned Meditation) 
  • Enlightenment at the age of 35 years, under a pipal tree at Uruvella (Bodh Gaya) [River – Niranjana, modern name: Falgu], 49 days of continuous meditation, Enlightenment known as Nirvana
  • Deliver his first sermon at Sarnath, known as Dharmachakra Pravartana (Turning of the wheel of law) 
  • Died at the age of 80 in 483 BC at Kushinagar, Known as Mahaparinirvana (final blowing out) 
Jainism and Buddhism

Doctrine of Buddhism

  • There are four Noble truths
    1. Life is full of sorrow (Dukha) 
    2. There are causes of sorrow (Dukha Samudaya) 
    3. This sorrow can be stopped (Dukha Nirodha) 
    4. There is a path leading to the cessation of sorrow. (Dukha Nirodha Gamini Pratipada)
  • As per the Buddha, “Desire” is the root cause of sorrow. 
  • The ultimate aim of life is to attain nirvana, the eternal state of peace and bliss, which means liberation from the cycle of birth and death. 
  • Ashtangika Marga (also known as 8 fold path) are –
    1. Right observation 
    2. Right determination 
    3. Right Speech 
    4. Right action 
    5. Right Livelihood 
    6. Right exercise 
    7. Right memory 
    8. Right meditation
  • Triratna i.e. three Jwels of Buddhism are –
    1. Buddha (the enlightened) 
    2. Dharma (doctrine) 
    3. Sangha (commune)
  • The main Buddhist Literature was written in Pali Texts. 
  • The original texts were written on palm leaves and kept in 3 baskets called Tripitaka. These are Vinay Pitaka (Monestic code), Sutta Pitaka (Buddha’s sayings) and Abhidhamma pitaka (religious discourses of Buddha). 
  • Sects of Buddhism

Hinayana (i.e. the Lesser Vehicle) 

Mahayana (the Greater Vehicle) 

Vajrayana 

  • The followers believed in the original teaching of Buddha. 
  • They sought individual salvation through self-discipline and meditation. 
  • Did not believe in idol – worship. 
  • Text language – Pali 
  • The followers believed in the heavenliness of Buddha. 
  • They sought the salvation of all through the grace and help of Buddha. 
  • They believed in idol worship. 
  • Text language – Sanskrit 
  • The followers believe in supernatural powers of Buddha. 
  • They sought the salvation could be best attained by acquiring the magical power (called Vajra) 
  • Buddhist Council

Buddhist Council 

Venue 

Chairman 

Patron 

result 

1st Buddhist Council 

Rajgriha 

Mahakassapa 

Ajatshatru 

Compilation of Sutta Pitaka and Vinay Pitaka 

2nd Buddhist Council 

Vaishali 

Sabbakami 

Kalashoka 

 

3rd Buddhist Council 

Patliputra 

Mogaliputta Tissa 

Ashoka 

 

4th Buddhist Council 

Kashmir 

Vasumitra 

Ashvaghosa (Vice-chairman) 

Kanishka 

The division of Buddhists into Hinayan and Mahayan 

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Jainism and Vardaman Mahavira

  • There were 24 teachers in Jainism called tirthankaras. The first tirthankaras was Rishabh deva associated with Ajodhya. The 23rd tirthankaras was Parsvanatha hailed from Banaras, abandoned royal life and became an ascetic. The earliest important teachings of Jainism are attributed to Parsvanatha. His successor Vardhamana Mahavira (24th Tirthankaras) who was the real founder of Jainism. 
  • Vardhamana Mahavira was born in 540 BC in a village Kundgrama near Vaishali in Bihar. 
  • His father Siddhartha was the head of a famous Kshatriya clan and Mother Trishala was the sister of the Lichchhavi chief Chetaka, whose daughter was married to Bimbisara. Thus, Mahavira’s family was connected with the royal family of Magadh. 
  • Mahavira was married to Yashoda (daughter of Samarvira King). They have a daughter Anonja Priyadarshini whose husband Jamali had become the first disciple of Mahavira. 
  • At the age of 30, he abandoned the world and became an ascetic. He wandered for twelve years, not staying for over a day in a village and not more than five days in a town. During the course of his long journey of 12 years, he never changed his clothes and abandoned them altogether at the age of 42 when he attained omniscience (Kaivalya or supreme knowledge) 
  • He delivered his first sermon at Pava to his 11 disciples known as Gandharas/Gandharvas. 
  • Through Kaivalya he conquered misery and happiness. Because of this conquest he is known as Mahavira or the great hero or Jina (the Conqueror) and his followers are known as Jainas. 
  • He passed away at the age of 72 in 468 BC at a place called Pavapuri near modern Rajgir.

Doctrines of Jainism

  • 5 Vows or doctrines of Jainism (Pancha Mahavaratas)
    1. Ahimsa (do not commit violence, non-injury) 
    2. Satya (do not tell a lie) 
    3. Asteya (do not steal) 
    4. Aparigraha (do not hoard) 
    5. Brahmacharya (Chastity)
  • Although Parshva the 23rd tirthankara had asked his followers to cover the upper and lower portions of their bodies, Mahavira asked them to discard their clothing altogether. This implies that Mahavira asked his followers to lead a more austere life. Because of this , in later times, Jainism split into two sects: Shvetambaras or those who donned white garments and Digambaras who remained naked. 
  • Jainism did not condemn the varna system as Buddhism did. According to Mahavira, a person is born in a high or in al lower varna as a consequence of his sins committed or virtues acquired by his in his previous birth. In his opinion, by leading pure and meritorious life, members of the lower castes can achieve liberation. Jainism principally aims at the attainment of freedom from worldly bonds. No ritual is necessary for such liberation. It can be obtained through right knowledge, right faith and right action. 
  • Jewels or triratnas – Right Knowledge, Right Faith and Right Action 
  • Mahavira preached his teachings in Prakrit language. 
  • As Jainism did not very clearly differentiate itself from the Brahmanical religion, it failed to attract the masses. Also, Jainism prohibited the practice of war and even agriculture for its followers because both involve the killing of living beings. So, Jainas principally confined themselves to trade and mercantile activities. 
  • In the 200 years after the death of Mahavira, there was a great famine. Because of that, many Jainas migrated to the south under the leadership of Bhadrabahu. While many had stayed in Magadha under the leadership of Sthalabahu. When famine ended, they returned but found some difference in the Jaina ascetics living style against the religious rules. The southerns began to be now called as Digambaras and the Magadhans called as Shvetambaras.

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Last updated: August 18, 2023 Updated on 9:42 AM