Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Antiquity of Jainism
Meaning of Jainism
Tradition of Tirthankara
Historicity of the Jaina tradition
Jaina tradition and Buddhism
  Jaina tradition and Hinduism
  Jaina tradition & archaeological evidence
   FUNDAMENTALS OF JAINISM
  Fundamental principles of Jainism
  Philosophy of Jainism
  Tattvas of Jainism
  Doctrines of Jainism
  Three-fold path of Salvation
   ETHICS OF JAINISM
  Prescription of Ethical Code
   {PRIVATE} DISTINCTIVENESS OF JAINA ETHICS
  Private distinctiveness of Jaina Ethics
  Importance assigned to five vratas
  Prominence given to Ahimsa
  Easy practicability of ethical code
  Commoness of ethical code
   DIVISIONS IN JAINISM
  Rise of sections in Jainism
  The Great Schism of Jainism
  The Digambara and Svetambara sects
  The Digambara sub-sects
  The Svetambara Sub-sects
   STATUS OF JAINISM IN INDIA
  Jainism in East India
  Jainism in Northern India
  Jainism in Western India
  Jainism In South India
  Contribution of Jainism to Indian Culture
  Jainism and other religions
  Significance of Jainism
  Glossary of Jaina terms
  Bibliography

STATUS OF JAINISM IN INDIA

 

6. JAINISM AND OTHER RELIGIONS

Jainism & Hinduism

Jainism & Buddism

Jainism & Islam


As Jainism, in all respects, is a religion of India, it has very close relations with other main religions of India like Hinduism and Buddhism. Formerly, it was thought that Jainism was a branch either of Buddhism or of Hinduism. But now it is an established fact that Jainism is a distinct religion of India and not a branch of any other religion. Similarly, it is also accepted that Jainism is an ancient religion of India and that it is older not only than Buddhism but also older than Vedic religion of the Hindus.

Since Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism, the three important ancient religions of India, have been living side by side for the last so many centuries, it is natural that they have influenced one another in many respects. It is also a fact that with the advent of Islam in India during the medieval period, Jainism and Islam came in contact and began to influence each other. In this way, intimate relations were established between Jainism and other major religions of India like Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. It is, therefore, worthwhile to see the nature of these relations so that our understanding of these religions will be more clear and our conception of Jaina religion will be more perfect.

JAINISM AND HINDUISM

In matters like theories of rebirth and salvation, descriptions of heaven, earth and hell, and belief in the fact that the prophets of religion take birth according to prescribed rules, we find similarities between Jainism and Hinduism. Since the disappearance of Buddhism from India, the Jainas and Hindus came closer to each other and that is why in social and religious life the Jains on the whole do not appear to be much different from the Hindus. In matters like dress and ornaments, occupations and professions, games and amusements, language and literature, outlook on life and behavior, superstitions, beliefs and practices, religious festivals and fasts, sacraments and rituals, there are various common things between Jainas and Hindus, and especially the vegetarian Hindus, in various geographical regions of India. In fact there are certain castes whose members are found in both the Hindus and the Jainas and to some extent marital relations are still maintained between the Jaina and Hindu sections of the same caste.

From these similarities between the Jainas and the Hindus, it should not be considered that the Jainas are a part of the Hindus or Jainism is a branch of Hinduism. On the contrary, if we compare Jainism and Hinduism, we find that the differences between them are very great and that their agreement is in respect of a few particulars only concerning the ordinary mode of living. Even the ceremonies which appear to be similar are in reality different in respect of their purport if carefully studied.

Hence the significant differences between Jainism and Hinduism can be briefly noted as follows:

Scriptures

The sacred books of the Hindus like Vedas, Smrtis, Puranas etc. are not accepted by the Jainas and the Hindus also do not recognize even a single scripture of the Jainas.

Origin of the world

While the Jainas regard the world as eternal, the Hindus hold it to have been made by a creator.

Objects of worship

In Jainism, worship is not offered to an eternal and eternally pure God, but to those great ones who have realized their high ideal and attained Godhood for themselves; in Hinduism worship is performed of many forms of one God who is the creator and the ruler of the world.

Purpose of worship

The significance of worship in Hinduism is also not the same as that in Jainism. In Jainism, there is no offering of food and the like, nor is a prayer made to the deity for boons. On the other hand, in Hinduism the attainment of the desired object is by the will of certain divine beings who are to be propitiated.

Practice of sacrifices

As Hinduism is a sacrificial religion, the performance of several sacrifices for a variety of reasons and for different duration has got an important place in it. This is not the case with Jainism and especially the animal sacrifices practiced by the Hindus have absolutely no place in Jainism.

Attainment of Salvation

While the Hindus believe that Gods alone can attain salvation, the Jainas consider that it is, the right of human beings only.

Path of salvation

The path of salvation prescribed by Jainism is only one and it is known as Ratnatraya-marga, i.e., the threefold path of Right Belief, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct, which is to be simultaneously pursued by all persons. But in Hinduism, there is no prescription of one single, definite and clear path of salvation. Instead, in Hinduism different ways have been laid down for the attainment of salvation by various religious preachers in different periods of time.

Idea about karma

The Hindus regard Karma as an invisible power but the Jainas think it as a form of matter which can stick to the soul.

Religious concepts

In Jainism there are various concepts like dharma, adharma, lesya, gunasthana etc., which are not found in Hindu spiritual ideology.

Principles in Logic

In the systems of Jaina logic there are distinctive principles like Syadvada, Nayavada, Niksepa etc.. which are not found in the Hindu system.

The liberated soul

According to Hinduism, the liberated soul enjoys eternal happiness in heaven or gets merged with Brahman i.e., the Primeval Being, the originator of the world. But as per Jainism, the soul after liberation remains for ever at the top of the loka, i.e., universe.

Religious objects

The Jaina deities, temples, places of pilgrimage, holy days, fasts, festivals, rituals and ceremonies are quite different from those of the Hindus.

Religious Practices

The peculiar Hindu practices like niyoga, i.e., levirate and sati, i.e., ascending the funeral pyre of the husband, are not approved by the Jainas. Further, a large number of Hindu religious practices. which are repugnant to Jainism, have been termed as mudhatas or stupid customs and beliefs and the true Jainas are required to be absolutely free from them. They are sun-worship, bath during eclipses, giving away money at the end of eclipses, fire-worship, the worship of edifices, ceremonial bathing in rivers and the ocean, adoration of trees, sacred offerings of boiled rice, religious suicide by falling from a precipice, bowing at the tail of a cow and taking cow's urine, etc.

From the facts mentioned above, it is evident that there are several items of religion on which there are basic differences between Jainism and Hinduism. It is also pertinent to note that these differences are persisting even up to the present day.