This article made a comparison between Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. There are many similarities and dissimilarities between these religions. We have discussed the comparison between Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism in detail.

Gautama Buddha had no intention to establish a new religion. He himself was a Kshetriya prince who drew his inspiration from the teachings of the Upanishads.”

Buddhism was merely an offshoot of Hinduism. Thus Buddhism was not far away from Hinduism. There were certain points of resemblance and comparison between Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism which are as follows:

Similarities Between Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Salvation

Buddhism teaches a man to lead a virtuous life. Hinduism is also based on such principles. The chief aim of human life is to attain Moksha by following the ethical code and leading a virtuous life. Hinduism is also based on such principles. The chief aim of human life is to attain Moksha. Thus both religions lay stress upon attaining salvation.

Common Rise

As Hinduism was becoming rigid day by day, people began to hate the bloody Yajnas and religious dogmas. Both these religions raised a voice against the shortcomings of Hinduism and gained ground. Thus, both Jainism and Buddhism were protestant religious movements.

Principle of Ahimsa

Both Buddhism and Jainism religion gave no significance to the Vedas and Sanskrit language. The superiority of the Vedas was not accepted by either of the founders. Both of them preached their teachings in the spoken language and the Sanskrit language began t0 lose its importance.

The opposition of the Vedas and Sanskrit

Both Buddhism and Jainism religions gave no significance to the Vedas and Sanskrit language. The superiority of the Vedas was not accepted by either of the founders. Both of them preached their teachings in the spoken language and the Sanskrit language began to lose its importance.

Against the Supremacy of the Brahmins

The two religions did not accept the supremacy of the Brahmins. According to Jainism and Buddhism, the Brahmins were not helpful in the way of salvation.

No Belief in Animal Sacrifices and the Yajnas

Neither of the religions believed in animal sacrifices and Yajnas. They always discouraged the performance of expensive animal sacrifices and Yajnas. Salvation cannot be attained by killing others.

Belief in the Theory of Karma

The theory of Karma was subscribed to by both religions. None can escape the consequences of Karma. Hence good deeds should be performed to attained salvation.

Division in both Religions

Both religions were, later on, divided into two sects. Jainism was divided into Svetambara and Digambara, and Buddhism was divided into Hinayana and Mahayana.

Dissimilarities Between Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Though there were many similarities and comparisons between Jainism and Buddhism, yet they differ from each other in many respects. The dissimilarities between Jainism and Buddhism are as follows:

Self-Mortification and Middle Path

Jainism believes in fasts and self-mortification. The Jains consider it a virtue to face self-imposed suffering. But Buddha never recommended such self-sufferings or fasting for a long time. Buddha advised his followers to follow the middle path in order to attain salvation.

Principle of Ahimsa

Undoubtedly, both of these religions were in favor of Ahimsa but there was a lot of difference in the degree of its applicability. Jainism believed in non-violence in thought, word, and deed, but Buddhism did not follow it to such an extreme.

Though the Buddha teaches his disciples not to kill any animal, yet he allowed his disciples to take meat under certain conditions. Thus, Buddhism does not give great importance to Ahimsa as in Jainism.

Existence of God

Both religions had divergent opinions about the existence of God. Gautama Buddha always maintains silence over the question or inquiry about the existence of God, but Mahavira Swami rejected the existence of God, and never believed that he is the Creator, Omnipotent and Omnipresent, and controls the entire universe.

The Difference in Dress and Conduct

People belonging to the Swetambara sect of Jainism wear white clothes, while the Digambaras accepted nudity. But the followers of Buddhism, whether Hinayana or Mahayana cover their bodies with suitable clothes

The Sangha Organization

The organization of the Buddhist Sangha was far better than that of the Jain Sangha. The Buddhist monks preached their religion in a systematic way, and spread their religion far and wide. Jainism failed to extend itself widely for want of a systematic and methodical organization. The Jain monks did not have as much missionary zeal as was possessed by the Buddhist monks.

Theory of Nirvana

In Jainism, Nirvana means the end of human life, but in Buddhism Nirvana stands for true knowledge which enables man to free himself from the bondage of life and the cycle of birth and death.

Soul

Buddhism does not have any faith in the existence of Soul whereas Jainism believes that the soul exists in every living being.

Royal Support

Buddhism received not only the royal support of the kings, like Ashoka and Kanishka, but also got their fun cooperation for the expansion of the religion. Jainism failed to receive the patronage of such great rules.

Thus we see that Buddhism and Jainism were two independent religions in spite of some similarities and dissimilarities.

Theory of Karma

Hinduism and Buddhism both believe in the theory of Karma and rebirth. The man reaps what he sows. This is what the Upanishads and the Vedic literature teach us. The Buddha always emphasizes that this life and the next rest on our Karmas. The Aryans and the Buddhists, both repose faith in the transmigration of soul and rebirth, which concept is based on the theory of Karma.

Toleration

Neither of the religions suggests cruel treatment and behavior towards the followers of other religions. Hindus never acted like fanatics and allowed other religions to flourish. Buddhists also followed the path of toleration and never condemned any religion.

Idol Worship was Not Prevalent

The Hindus of the Vedic period were worshippers of nature. They had no idols of their gods and goddesses to worship. In the same way, the followers of Buddhism had no idols to worship. The Buddha condemned the worship of images. But with the passage of time, followers of both religions began to worship idols.

Stress on Morality

Both religions laid stress on leading a pure and sacred life. They paid their attention to the purity and piety of mind, action, and speech. Neither of the religions looked favorably on a man of bad conduct and of abusive language.

These similarities make it all the more clear that Buddhism was not a new faith but an offshoot of Hinduism. However, there were some points of difference between the two religions.

Dissimilarities between Hinduism and Buddhism

Ahimsa

The principle of Ahimsa was recognized by both religions. But Buddhism adopted animal sacrifice with great force. The Aryans use to take meat but it was considered a sin to kill an animal in Buddhism. The Buddha strictly prohibited his followers from harming or injuring living beings.

Existence of God

Hindus believe in the existence of God, who is Omnipotent and omnipresent. But Buddha always kept mum on the question of God. He stressed the notion that man himself is the maker of his destiny and God plays no part in the attainment of Moksha. A man owns efforts and good Karmas help him in achieving salvation.

Caste System

Gautama Buddha condemned the caste system, and he put his faith in the equality of mankind. He considered every individual suitable for achieving salvation without any distinction of caste. In Hinduism, the form of the caste system was very rigid. The entire Hindu society was very miserable. They could neither read nor listen to the religious Scriptures. The door of salvation was forever closed on them. Thus, Buddhism and Hinduism were kept apart, regarding their attitude towards caste system.

The Importance of the Vedas and Sanskrit

In Hinduism, the Vedas were regarded as divine books and storehouses of knowledge. Sanskrit was supposed to be the language of Gods and Angels, and too much importance was given to the Sanskrit language. However, Lord Buddha adopted the spoken language as the medium of his preaching and all the Buddhist literature was written in Pali. According to Lord Buddha, the Vedas do not play any role in the attainment of Moksha.

The Supremacy of the Brahmins

Excessive importance was accorded to Brahmins. They were regarded as Budva. Nothing from birth to death could be done without the help of a Brahmin. Therefore, their position was very strong in Hinduism. But Gautama Buddha preached equality of all mankind. Hence no special privilege was granted to the Brahmins. They were neither impediments nor helpful in the way to salvation. Thus, the importance of the priestly class declined due to the influence of Buddhism.

Sacrifices and Yajnas

Hinduism had a deep faith in animal sacrifices and Yajnas. The followers of Hinduism believed that in case a man intended to attain salvation, he should perform animal sacrifices and Yajnas according to the rituals. But the Buddha denounced the futility of both. He regarded them as quite useless and sheer wastage of money. Also, he condemns animal sacrifices at the time of Yajnas.

The Buddhist Sangha

The establishment of the Buddhist Sangha helped a lot in the development of Buddhism. The missionary spirit of the monks proved advantageous for the spread of Buddhism. Hinduism did not have any such organization. Therefore they could not work for the spread of their religion systematically. If the followers of Hinduism also established such an organization, Hinduism must have flourished.

Conclusion

During the comparison between Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism we came across many similarities and dissimilarities. However, it is worth to mention that these religion lives in harmony, peace, and respect each culture. Right from Ancient Indian History, we can see these religions have flourished in India.

Source: Mohammed Rafi Komol & O. Jnanendra Singh

An Extreme Useful Guide to History of Ancient India, Book

Note: There are some changes in the Length and Text of the Article.

You may also like:

Role of Religion in India

Major Languages in India

Bhakti Movement