Comparison of Jainism and Buddhism

Comparison of Jainism and Buddhism

Jainism refers to a religion that originated in India, which teaches that nonviolence is the best way to attain liberation, founded by Mahavira (Long, 2011). Buddhism also started in India and is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, commonly referred to as Buddha (Harvey, 2012). The founders of both religions came from royal families. Nevertheless, although the two religions originated from India, Jainism has largely been confined to India while Buddhism has spread to other countries in Asia, Europe, and North America.

One of the fundamental spiritual beliefs of Buddhism is the four noble truths; that is, suffering (Dukkha), its cause (Samudaya), the realization that suffering can be stopped (Nirodha) and ending the suffering (Magga) (Harvey, 2012). Moreover, Buddhists believe in Karma, which is the belief that past deeds affect people in future. Buddhists also believe that existence is endless, uncertain, impermanent and full of suffering. When people die, they are reincarnated and they can only escape from this cycle by being liberated, or by attaining “Nirvana” (Harvey, 2012). Buddhists also believe that there is no God. Conversely, one of the beliefs in Jainism is that the highest religion is non-injury or Dharma. This belief can be achieved through the right knowledge, belief, and conduct (Long, 2011). Jains also believe in Karma. They believe that one’s present happiness is caused by the quality of deeds in the past life. Moreover, Jains believe in reincarnation. They believe that after death, the soul is reborn in another body and the next life is determined by karma (Long, 2011). Moreover, Jains believe that a being can attain deliverance after being completely freed from karma.

Both religions are similar in that they believe in the freedom from the cycle of existence or Nirvana (Gwynne, 2011). Both religions also believe in Karma. Another similarity is that both religions believe that for a being to be liberated, it has to go through a path of good conduct and deeds. Both religions also believe in non-violence and peace. Furthermore, both religions do not believe that God exists. However, these religions have different beliefs about karma. According to Buddhism, karma is universal and results from one’s deeds. In contrast, Jains believe that karma is not just a consequence of one’s actions but a substance, which remains in a being until it, is eliminated by purity (Gwynne, 2011). Moreover, Jains believe in the existence of a soul in every living and non-living thing whereas Buddhists do not believe in souls. Furthermore, Buddhists believe that a person’s individuality ceases to exist after liberation while Jains believe that the soul continues to exist in a state of utmost enlightenment and purity.

Jains practice monasticism after taking the vows of non-violence, celibacy, truth, non-possessiveness and non-stealing (Long, 2011). The nuns and monks adopt a simple life of not wearing shoes and putting on simple clothes. Jains worship at home or in temples, where they practice rituals such as chanting and anointing gods’ images. They also engage in fasting and pilgrimage. Moreover, Jains meditate with the aim of achieving peace of mind (Long, 2011). Buddhists practice meditation and venerating of the Buddha (Harvey, 2012). They also visit sacred sites and worship at home or in temples. Buddhists also pray using aids such as prayer beads and wheels (Harvey, 2012).

         Even though Jainism originated in India, today it is practiced in other parts of the world. Nevertheless, some of the traditional practices of Jainism have been abandoned. For example, few Jains fully observe the rite of fasting each new-moon and full-moon day. However, some practices such as vegetarianism and non-violence are still upheld today. For example, monks cover their mouth and nose to avoid inhaling any insects. Buddhism is also practiced in many parts of the world. Buddhist practices in the world have been affected by modernization and this has led to the emergence of new forms of Buddhism such as humanistic Buddhism and engaged Buddhism (Harvey, 2012).



Gwynne, P. (2011). World Religions in Practice: A comparative Introduction. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Harvey, P. (2012). An introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, history and practices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Long, J. (2011). Jainism: Key Themes. Religion Compass, 5(9), 501-510.

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