Jainism and Buddhism – History Study Materials


Jainism and Buddhism – History Study Materials

As a result of a revolt against the supremacy of Brahmanical priests, several new schools of philosophy, which opposed Brahmanism, were developed and led by the Kshatriyas of the royal families of Magadh, who later helped in the propagation of Jainism and Buddhism. From the sixth century onwards, the records and chronology of Indian history became more definitive and reliable.

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            Jainism is also a non-Brahminical religion, founded as a result of the revolt against the Brahmanism of the sixth century BC. Some sources place Jainism as one of the oldest religions, belonging to the era of Rig Veda. Jainism rejects the Vedas and condemns the caste system. It believed in Thirtankaras and rejects the existence of God as a Paramatma.

The Founder

            Jainism was founded by Rishabha, who was the father of King Bharata the first Chakravarti of India. Rishabha was succeeded by 23 other Tirthankaras. Jainism became a major religion under Vardhamana Mahavira who was the 24th Tirthankara or Prophet of Jainism.

Triratna or Three Gems of Jainism

The following three gems ate the route to moksha or liberation or deliverance according to Jainism:

  • Right Faith (firm belief in the omniscient Lord Mahaveera)
  • Right Knowledge (understanding the doctrines of jainism)
  • Right Conduct (fulfilment of the great five vows of Jainism)—(i) nonviolence, (ii) truthfulness (iii) no stealing, (iv) no attachment to property and (v) brahmacharya or chastity.

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            Buddhism, the fourth greatest religion in the world, originated in Indis. It received state patronage from kings like Ashoka the Great, and it spread toneighbouring countries like Myanmar. Sri Lanka, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand.

In Hinduism, Buddha is considered to be the ninth avatar of Vishnu. There are many stories about Buddha’s lives and are called Jatakas. Jataka Tales shows haw he acquired greater knowledge and strength as he was reborn to another life. There are many versions of his lives.

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            Buddhism was founded by Gautama Siddhartha who was a Kshatriya prince of the Saka clan. He left his family at the age of 29 in search of truth (also called the Great Renunciation) and wandered for approximately seven years; Siddhartha received enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, under a pipal tree and became the Buddha. He delivered his first sermon at Sarnath in Banaras and spread his message for approximately 40 years, before dying at the age of 80 in 487 BC at Kushinagar in Deoria district of eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Doctrines of Buddhism

The main precepts of Buddhism are

(a) The Four Greaf Truths

(i) The world is full of sorrow and misery.

(ii) The cause of all pain and misery is desire,

(iii) Pain and misery can be ended by killing or controlling desire.

(iv) Desire can be controlled by following the eight-fold path.

(b) The Eight-Fold Path, Right faith, Right thought, Right action, Right means of livelihood Right exertion of efforts, Right speech, Right remembrance and Right concentration or meditation.

(c) Belife in Nirvans When desire ceases, rebirth ceases and nirvana, a state of bliss and rest is attained, that is freedom from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth is gained by following the eight-fold path.

(d) Belife in Ahimsa One should not cause injury to any living being, animal or man.

(e) Law of Karma Man reaps the fruit of his past deeds.

(f) Existence of God Buddhism is silent about the existence of God.

Place Year Chairmanship King Result of the Event


483 BC Mahakassapa Ajatashartu At this Council, Upali lone of the chief disciples) recited the first part of the Tripitaka—the Buddhist sacred text written in Pali language. The first part, which is called Vinaya Pitaka, contains rules of the order. The second part of the Tripitaka Suttapitaka, containing the great collection of Buddha’s sermons on matters of doctrine and ethical beliefs, was read by Ananda.


383 BC sabakmi Kalasoka At the second General Council meeting held at Vaishali, a schism resulted, ostensibly, over small points of monastic discipline and the followers divided into Sthavirmadins or Theravadins and Mahasanghikas.
Pataliputra 250 BC Mogalipatta Tissa Ashoka The third Council meeting held at Pataliputra resulted in the expulsion of many heretics and the establishment of the Sthavirmada School as an orthodox school. Here, in this Council, the third part of the Tripitaka—the Katha Vatthu of Abhidhamma Pitaka, which deals with psychology and the philosophy of Buddhism, was coded in Pali.
4. Tambapanni (Sri Lanka) 29 BC Mahinda Vattagewani Main reason for its convening was the realisation that it was now not possible for the majority of works to retain the entire Tripitaka in their memories. The aim was achieved by monk Maharakkhita and 500 other monks.
Kundalvana (Kashmir) AD 72 Vasumitra (President)

Asvaghosa (V.P.)

Kanishka (Kushan ruler) The development of new ideas resulted in the division of Buddhism into the Mahayana and Hinayana sects. Codification of Sarvastivadin doctrine as Mahavibhasa took place.

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