Chapter 14: JAINISM AND BUDDHISM
The complex rituals and sacrifices of the Brahmins
in the later Vedic period weren’t acceptable to the common
people. The sacrifices and rituals were too expensive and
mantras and superstitions confused the people. The teachings of
the Upanishads were philosophical in nature and weren’t easily
understood. The common man needed simple, short and intelligible
ways to salvation. The religious teachings should be in a
language known to them. Jainism and Buddhism fulfilled this
The rigid caste system was also another reason that
the new religions were accepted easily. The varna system gave
highest status to Brahmins. This caused resentment in
kshatriyas. The merchant class i.e. vaishyas wanted to improve
their status in society as they were economically and socially
more forward. The varna system didn’t allow this. It should
be noted that this merchant class embraced these new
Jainism had 24 tirthankars, 1st was
Rishabdev, 23rd Parshvanath.
He is the 24th tirthankar of Jainism.
His original birth was in a kshatriya family. He was married
with a daughter. At age of 30 he gave up his old life and became
an ascetic. After 12 years of wandering in the 13th
year he attained salvation or highest spiritual level known as
keval gnana. His followers called him Mahavir or Jina. They
became the Jains. Mahavir preached for 30 years and died at 72
yrs at Pavna.
Triratnas of Mahavir: Right faith, right
conduct and right knowledge.
Mahavir believed in five vows: truth,
ahimsa, no stealing, no owning property and immoral life. He
rejected the Vedas and Vedic rituals.
Jainsm believes that there is no god and world is
without a creator. All objects have a soul and feel pain and
possess life. The universe functions on a law.
Mahavir organised sangha to spread his teachings.
The growth of Jainism is due to the work of Sangha. In
Bihar there was a famine and Bhadrabagu and
ChandraGupta Maurya came to Sravana Belgola in Karnataka. The
monks who remained were led by Sthulabagu. This created two
sects in Jainism: Svetambar [white clad] and Digambar [sky clad
The first Jain council was held at Patliputra and
held by Sthulabagu the leader of Svetambar. The second Jain
council was held at Vallabhi and the final compilation of 12
angas of Jain literature was done.
The founder of Buddhism, Gautam Buddha was born in
Lumbini. He too was of kshatriya clan. He was married with a
son. But he left home to become an ascetic. He wandered for 7
years and under different teachers but couldn’t get
enlightenment. Finally under the bodhi tree in bodh gaya on
banks of niranjan river after deep penance he attained
He became Buddha or the enlightened one. Buddha
means “A person who knows good,bad and suffereing”.
He gave his first sermon at Sarnath at deer park.
He died at 80 in kusinagara. There are 29 Buddhas, Gautam is 28th
and Maitreya was 29th.
The kings Bimbisara and Ajatashatru became his
disciples. Buddha visited places like Benares, Rajagriha,
Sravasti, Vaisali, Nalanda, Pataligrama and also Magadha too
Buddhist Chaityas are places of worship. viharas
are monastery and Sangharam are monastary or school.
Boddhisattvas are yet to attain
enlightenment. Stupas are dome shaped structures were
mortal remains of monks are kept.
Four noble truths:
- World is full of sufferings
- Desire is cause of all sufferings
- Remove desire and remove sufferings
- Desire can be removed from eight fold path
Buddha didn’t accept or reject god. He was a
rationalist and didn’t believe in blind faith. He never dealt
with metaphysical questions like god, soul but focused on
problems concerning man. He believed karma. He was against any
Buddha organised the religious disciples into
sanghas. The work of these sanghas made Buddhism into a large
religion. Two hundred years after Buddhas death Emperor Ashok
embraced Buddhism and through missionary efforts spread it to
west asia and Ceylon. Thus Buddhism became a world
- First Buddhist council was Convened by
Ajatashatru at rajgir
- Second Buddhist council was Convened at Vaisali
- Third Buddhist council was convened at Patliputra
by Emperor Ashok. The Tri-Pitakas [Sutta, Vinaya and
Abhidhamma] were compiled.
- Fourth Buddhist council was convened by Kanishka
at Kashmir. Here a second sect of Buddhism emerged called
The Buddhism preached by Buddha and
propagated by Ashok was Hinayana.
Causes of decline of
Revival of brahminism and the rise of bhagavatism
Adoption of Sanskrit in place of pali by monks
Increase in sacrifice and idol worship due to advent
of Mahayana led to lowering of moral values
Destruction of Buddhist monuments by Huns and the
Buddhism to Indian culture:
Creation of chaityas and viharas in different areas
of the country. Stupa’s too were beautiful peice of art.
Concept of ahimsa became popular. It was the chief
contribution. It later became one of our nations cherished values.
Promotion of education through residential
universities like nalanda, vikramshila and taxila.
Language of pali and other local languages developed
through Buddhas teachings.
- Ajanta caves were discovered by british.
They had carvings of buddhas life. Jataka tales inscribed.
- Ellora caves: Hindu, Buddhist and Jain
- Bhimbetka: stone Age paintings.
- Elephanta: Shiva, Parvati deities