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